Prosciutto Bread

Being a homemade bread, this will keep fresh for about 3 days and makes one big round loaf.  If you won’t be eating it all right away then freeze leftovers.

2 pkgs. yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp.)
1/2 cup warmed milk
4 large eggs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 stick butter, melted then cooled
3 1/2 – 4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 slices Swiss cheese cut into dice
5 slices prosciutto, cut into dice

Place the milk into a large mixing bowl and whisk in the yeast; let sit for 10 minutes to get foamy. Beat in the eggs, oil and butter until they’re blended well. Add the flour, salt and pepper and stir with a wooden spoon until it forms a dough. Now work in the cheeses and prosciutto – dump the contents of the bowl onto a floured counter top and knead the dough working everything in. This will take about 4 minutes, adding more flour as needed. Shape dough into a large round and place onto a baking sheet that you lined with parchment paper or you have greased. Let it rise for 2 full hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake the loaf for 45 minutes. Cool completely then slice and eat.

Homemade Pizza – Your Way

Yes, make the dough from scratch then put on anything you choose. It’s great fun for the kids! This dough makes one cookie sheet (jelly roll pan) sized pizza, but you can divide it into two smaller pizzas and let your kids be creative

Give this dough at least a 2-hour rise; spreadings a breeze!
1/3 + 1 cup warm water
1 pkg. yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
3-4 cups – approximately – flour
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. minced parsley
Cooking spray or oil

Place the 1/3 cup warm water into a large bowl; stir in the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes to get bubbly. Add 2 cups of the flour, the oil, the other cup of warm water, the garlic powder if you’re using it, salt and parsley. Beat this well. Add more flour until it holds together in rough-like mass. Lightly flour your counter then dump the contents onto it and knead for about 7 minutes. Form it into a round. Spray or grease the bowl you just mixed in, and cover with plastic wrap for 2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Plop the dough onto a counter and punch it down. Gently and patiently, spread it out onto the pan(s) your using. Take your time and let the dough rest for 5 minutes if it is not “cooperating”. Then once it’s all spread out, let it rest for about 10 minutes.
Spread on any toppings you wish. We alternate with the following:

1 can of pizza sauce by Don Peppino (in your grocer or Italian stores)
Sargento shredded mozzarella cheese
Sliced black olives
Pepperoni slices
Freshly sliced tomatoes
Roasted garlic
Pre-cooked and drained, bulk breakfast sausage

Place in the oven for about 20 minutes – check it so it doesn’t burn.

Onion Bread

This recipe makes 2 golden brown loaves. The rising times take a bit, but it is worth the wait. While they’re baking your home fills with an intoxicating aroma. Goes so well with anything, you can even use it to make sandwiches.

2 cups of water
1 package Lipton Onion Soup Mix (NOT Beefy Onion)
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. butter (I use unsalted)
1 package yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup warm water (for yeast)
5-6 cups flour

Place the 2 cups water in a small pan and bring to a boil; stir in the soup mix package and simmer covered for about 10 minutes. Stir in the sugar, salt, cheese and butter – take off the stove and set aside to cool to lukewarm. This should take about 10 minutes.

Place the 1/4 cup of warm water in a large bowl; sprinkle the yeast on top to stir and dissolve. Let this sit dissolving while the pot in step 2 is cooling down. Stir the soup mixture and 3 cups flour into the yeast. Stir it with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes.

Mix in the remaining 2 to 3 cups flour (a bit at a time) and keep mixing with the wooden spoon until it becomes too difficult. Turn on some good music because now you gotta knead the dough. . .
Flour your counter and dump the bowl contents onto it. Knead away for a couple of minutes. You will probably have to keep sprinkling flour onto the counter while you are kneading – that’s okay. Continue kneading for a few minutes until the dough is smooth – it really doesn’t take that long if the music’s good.

Spray some cooking spray (I use Pam) into & around another bowl; place dough into bowl and turn it over to grease the top. Cover to let it rise in a warm place for 1-1/2 hours. Suggestion: it will work better if you spray the plastic wrap you are going to cover the bread with, prevents sticking. This is a tried & true method for all your yeast breads.

Punch dough down, turn out onto the counter and divide it in half. This dough is going to be sticky – don’t be concerned with that. Cover to let rest 10 minutes.
Shape into loaves (again with the sticky) and place into 2 greased bread loaf pans, cover, to let rise again for 1 hour.

At the 30 minute mark, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place loaves in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes, or until browned. Set out on cooling racks for 10 minutes then pop out of pans to completely cool on racks. Enjoy!

Apricot-Almond Coffee Cake

This is a delicious yeast-based coffee cake that tastes like pastry. It’s great to serve any weekend guests and makes 2 beautiful cakes.

Pastry Cake:
1/2 cup warmed water
1 Tbsp. dry yeast
1/2 cup warmed milk
2 large, beaten eggs
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. grated orange rind (McCormick’s brand is great)
6 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4-5 cups all-purpose flour

Add water to a large bowl then mix in the yeast; now mix in 1/2 cup of the flour and let this sit for 10 full minutes. Add the milk, sugar, orange, butter and salt and stir this well. Now add the the rest of the flour at 1 cup at a time until the dough becomes a shaggy-type blob of dough. Sprinkle some flour on the counter (not a lot) and plop the dough blob onto the counter. Knead it to form a smooth ball. Add more flour if you need to to keep the dough from sticking to your counter – just don’t add too much more. With cooking spray or a bit of melted butter or oil, grease a bowl (the one you just used is fine, just briefly wipe it out first) and place the dough ball in it. Turn the dough around so the whole thing is greased, then cover with plastic wrap. Place in a spot that’s free from drafts (top of the fridge works well) and let rise until doubled. This takes about 90 minutes.

While the bread is rising, make the Apricot-Almond Filling:
2 8 oz. boxes of dried apricots (Sun-Maid is good)
2 cups boiling water
2/3 cup white sugar
2 tsps. pure almond extract

Place the apricots into a medium bowl, then pour the boiling water of them. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap for 10 minutes – this will steam the apricots. Strain them and add to a blender or food processor then add the sugar and almond extract; pulse until it’s a thick puree.

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Now punch down the dough then plop out of the bowl onto a lightly floured counter. Divide it into 2 pieces then jut briefly knead each piece to get the air bubbles out. Separately, roll each piece of dough into a large rectangle about 6″ wide x 15″ long. Spread 1/2 apricot filling on each rectangle – till about 1″ from the edges. Starting from the long side, roll each log tightly and place on the cookie sheets. On each separate sheet, join the end of the logs together to make a circle. Pinch the ends well to seal. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Let them sit for 10 minutes, then make several 1″ slashes in each cake. Let sit and rise again for 20 minutes. Bake for 25 minutes and cool at least 15 minutes before slicing.