Danish Pastry Bread in a Twist

dough-punch.jpgWhile reading an old cookbook I found this recipe and the instructions were so challenging and absurd that it just begged me to rework and revise for my readers – I love older cookbooks. Here it is in an easy to understand and undertake form. Perfect snacking for an afternoon or after dinner break.

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp. (1 packet) yeast
Sugar divided as below
—1 tsp. sugar then
—2 Tbsp. and 1 tsp. sugar
Milk divided as below
—4 Tbsp. then later
—8 0z., less the 4 Tbsp. previously used, then later
—1 Tbsp. milkdanish-bread.jpg
1/8 tsp. (a pinch) kosher salt
1/4 cup (4 Tbsp.) butter, melted
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sliced almonds

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp. pure almond extract (no imitations, please)
3-4 Tbsp. milk or half-n-half

Get out a large bowl and sift or whisk the flour into it; make a hole in the middle & set aside.

In a small bowl combine the yeast with 1 teaspoon sugar and 4 tablespoons milk. Pour this into the hole in the flour and mix it in while slowly and carefully incorporating a little flour from the sides; you want to form a dough ball about the size of a lemon. You may need to pick it up, form it and place it back into the bowl. Cover the bowl with a cloth to rise for a 2 full hours.

Stir in the rest of the sugar, salt, butter, the whole egg & milk. Take dough out of bowl, place on work surface and knead until firm and smooth – about 5 minutes. Cover this again and let rise until doubled – will take 45-60 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Get out a large-rimmed baking sheet and either lightly spray it or parchment paper line it. Punch down the dough and transfer it to your counter top. Knead it only briefly then divide into 2 pieces. Make 2 strips or ropes of dough about 18-20 inches long. Place these strips onto the baking sheet side by side, pinch them together at the top, then twist them together; pinch the end flat then fold them underneath the twist. Cover again for 15 minutes.

Mix the egg yolk with the 1tablespoon milk and brush bread. Sprinkle with the almonds; gently, very gently press the almonds into the dough to make sure they stay on. Bake for about 45 minutes, until it’s golden brown. Place on a wire rack and make the glaze.

Mix the confectioners’ sugar with the almond abstract. Add just enough milk or half-n-half to make a smooth glaze. Drizzle with a fork or spoon over the top of the braid while it’s still warm.

Dilly Bread

img_0141.jpgWhat’s great about this recipe is that you don’t have to knead it. You mix it all with a wooden spoon in a large bowl then place in a casserole dish to bake. It smells great and you can have it alongside almost anything you’re serving. What more could you ask?

2 1/2 cups flour (approximately)
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 tsp. dried, instant, minced onion
2 tsp. dill weed
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. yeast
1 cup (8 oz.) creamed cottage cheese
1 large egg
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp. butter – divided
Coarse salt (sea salt) optional

In a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup flour, sugar, onion, dill, salt, baking soda, & yeast. In a saucepan, place the cottage cheese, water and 1 tablespoon of the butter and heat until very warm. Add this warm liquid and the egg to the flour mixture. Beat well with a wooden spoon. Stir in the remaining flour – about 1 1/2 cups – till it forms a stiff batter.

Cover it loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1 hour. Stir down the dough then place in a greased 2 quart casserole dish. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray the bread with Pam cooking spray or with a little melted butter, then sprinkle the coarse salt on top. Bake for about 40 minutes. Remove it immediately from the dish and cool on a wire rack.

Sally Lunn Bread

This is a high-rising yeast bread with a hint of spice and a light dusting of confectioners’ sugar.  It originated in Bath, England and was brought across the pond to us. Good thing too, as it is delicious and doesn’t require kneading. It’s perfect as a brunch serving when friends and family come for weekend visits or holidays.

3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter (no margarine, please!)
1 packet (2-1/4 tsp.) yeast
1/4 cup very warm water
3 large eggs, beaten well
1 tsp. grated lemon or orange rind
1/2 tsp. ground mace
4 cups flour, sifted
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Place the milk, sugar, salt and butter in a small saucepan and heat to scald the milk; set aside to cool to lukewarm.

Into a large bowl, pour in the very warm water and sprinkle the yeast over; stir until the yeast dissolves then stir in the cooled milk, eggs, lemon rind and mace.

Stir the flour in until well blended, then beat it vigorously with a wooden spoon, scraping down the bowl often as you do this – the dough will become shiny elastic. Cover the bowl with greased plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.

Grease a large tube pan then punch dough down and spoon into the pan. Cover and let rise again for 1 hour. After 30 minutes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees to get it set.

Remove the plastic and place pan in the oven for about 35-45 minutes or until it is golden – check on it at the 30-minute mark to make sure it doesn’t brown too much. Remove from oven, remove from mold and cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before the sugar. Sprinkle with the sugar and serve.

Deep-Dish Pizza

Homemade is always better, so why not try your hand at pizza? A delicious weekend meal.  Make your own crust or buy the frozen dough and follow their directions.

The Crust:
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbs. cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 pkg. (2 3/4 tsp.) yeast
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbs. melted butter (1/2 stick)
1 cup, plus 2 Tbs. lukewarm water

The Filling:
1 lb. mozzarella cheese, sliced into 9-12 pieces
1 lb. Italian sausages, sliced & cooked (sweet, hot, mixed – your choice)
28 oz. can peeled, plum tomatoes
Heaping Tbsp. minced garlic (from the jar is good)
1 Tbsp. sugar (to offset the acid from the tomatoes)
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
Approximately1-2 Tbsp. more of the extra virgin olive oil

Making the Crust:  Add all dough ingredients to a large bowl and knead until smooth – takes about 5 minutes.  Place in a lightly oiled/buttered bowl, cover, and let rise for about one hour.  While it is rising, lightly oil or spray a pan (if you have a deep dish pizza pan, that’s great, but not everyone does, so make do with what you have) – it needs to have sides at least 2″ high.

Stretch the dough and lay it in the pan, it may shrink back somewhat but stretch to cover bottom and up sides – if you see the oil seeping/oozing out, don’t worry, just ignore it and keep going; cover and let it rest for 10 – 15 minutes.  While it’s resting preheat your oven to 425 degrees, and start making the sauce.  Bake crust for 15 minutes, or until its very lightly browned, remove from oven and set aside.

Making the sauce:  Drain the tomatoes, place in a large bowl, and with your hands carefully squish them – keep hands in the bowl or you’ll be wearing the sauce!  Add the herbs, garlic, and sugar.

Place all the slices of mozzarella on the bottom crust, add the slices of sausages, then add the tomato sauce.  Sprinkle on the grated cheese then drizzle a little bit (like about 1- 2 Tbs.) olive oil onto top.

Bake for about 25-35 minutes, or until filling is bubbly and top is golden brown.  Let rest about 20 minutes.

Cinnamon Rolls

This makes two 9 x 13 pans of fabulous homemade cinnamon rolls. Don’t worry, there’s no kneading involved and they are fun to make with the kids. Plus, a cake mix is incorporated with the flour to help it become sweetened. Traditionally these are made with vanilla cake mix, but try chocolate for another delicious version. Your home will smell so good while these bake!

1 18oz. box Vanilla or French Vanilla cake mix
5 1/2 cups flour
2 pkgs. yeast or 4 1/2 tsp.
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 1/2 cups warmed water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 stick melted butter

Icing – You may want to double this
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp. milk
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Place cake mix, flour, yeast, salt and warm water into a large bowl and mix well. Cover and rise for one hour. Lightly grease two 9 x 13 pans. Place the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and have the melted butter ready. Lightly flour a counter top, plop the risen dough onto it, divide in half and roll each half into a large 12 x 18 inch rectangle. Brush each with 1/2 butter and sprinkle each with 1/2 the cinnamon mixture. Starting at long end, roll up like a cigar and then slice into about 16 pieces each, and place in each of the pans. Cover and place in the fridge for 8 hours – overnight is good.

When ready to bake, take pans out of fridge and place on counter top for 30 minutes while you preheat oven to 350 degrees. One at a time, bake the pans for about 30-40 minutes, until goldenish brown. Take out of oven for 5 minutes, then pour and spread icing over each.

While you are waiting for rolls to bake, mix all the icing ingredients in a medium bowl.

Homemade Doughnuts

What a gem these are. Either recipe you use – apple cider or buttermilk – will be great. You don’t even need a cookie or doughnut cutter! Surprise you family, friends, weekend guests, they will be appreciated. Enjoy!

8-9 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 cups apple cider OR buttermilk
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temp
4 large eggs
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla

About 4 cups (at least 3+ inches) vegetable oil

In a large bowl, mix 5 cups of the flour with everything up to the oil. Stir in as much flour as needed to make an easy to handle dough. Flour your counter top well, then dump the ingredients  onto this and knead until smooth – this will only take about 2 minutes – do not over knead. Divide dough in half, cover one half with plastic or in a zip-lock type bag and place in the fridge while you work with the other half.

Place oil in a large pan, fryer or Dutch oven and heat oil to 375 degrees; keep an eye on this temperature because I let mine get too high and had 4 black hockey puck doughnuts! Anyways, while the oil is getting hot, get out a large baking sheet and place paper towels on it for the cooked doughnuts, but also place a large plate or another pan next to your work area to make the doughnuts. Here’s how you do it:

Pinch off pieces of dough about the size of golf balls, then roll them out with your two hands into ropes about 6 inches long – kids love to do this – and make into a doughnut round. Place on the counter and flatten out a bit with your hands. If you don’t flatten them, the outsides will cook but the inside will be raw.  You’ll get about 2+ dozen from just the half dough your working with. I get so many that I freeze the other half of the dough.

Anyways, when the oil is ready, place 3-4 dough rounds into the oil and fry for about 1 minute on each side, then drain on paper towels. As soon as their cool enough – which does not take long – roll them in a sugar and cinnamon mixture (2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup cinnamon) then enjoy.

Carmelized Onion & Garlic Focaccia

This makes one tasty large pan of focaccia.

1/4 cup butter, melted
3 large onions peeled & sliced into rings
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 pkg. (about 16 oz.) hot roll mix
1 cup warm water
2 Tbsp. softened butter
1 large egg

In a large skillet, melt the butter and add onions, cooking uncovered on med-low heat for 30 minutes while you occasionally stir. Add the vinegar and cook for 10 minutes more. Remove from heat and set aside.

Into a large bowl combine the hot roll flour mixture and yeast from the roll mix, stir in the warm water and 2 Tbsp. butter, add egg and  stir until dough pulls away from side of bowl. Turn out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball, knead about 5 minutes, cover, let rest for 5 minutes.

Grease a 12-inch. cookie sheet/pizza pan, place dough on and press into pan – do the best you can and take your time. Cover loosely and let rise for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, uncover dough and with a wooden spoon handle make deep indents into dough about an inch apart. Spoon the onion mixture all over and gently spread.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or reheat.

Hot Cross Buns

Delicious anytime.

1 cup milk
1 package (2-1/4 tsp.) dry yeast
1/2 tsp. sugar
4 cups flour – all purpose or bread
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/3 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup (4 Tbsp) butter – at room temperature
2 large eggs – at room temperature
Icing Glaze:

3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 Tbsp. milk or half-n-half, or cream

In a small bowl, warm the milk to about 100 degrees. Add the yeast and the 1/2 tsp. sugar – whisk or stir; set aside for 10 minutes – the yeast gets foamy during this time.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, place the flour, brown sugar, all the spices, and stir. Add yeast mixture and beat together. One at a time at the eggs beating well after you add each. Gradually add the butter and mix it very well – until the dough comes together. Don’t get discouraged at this point, sometimes it looks like a sticky blob, but then you dump it out onto a a well-floured counter top and knead it for about 5 minutes. It comes together very nicely. Knead it into a ball. Lightly grease a large bowl, place the dough ball in, and turnover to make sure both side are greased. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in a warm spot until it’s doubled its size – this takes about 90 minutes.

When dough is ready, take it out of the bowl onto a very lightly floured surface and punch it down. Roll it out into a long log-type shape and divide it into about 12 pieces. (You can pinch off 12 pieces from the dough ball if you want to. I use the log method because it works best for me for measuring purposes). Form each of the balls into a nice smooth ball and place on a baking sheet that you have lined with parchment paper or a very lightly greased sheet pan (parchment paper is a very good investment). Cover this with plastic wrap that you’ve lightly sprayed with cooking spray – to avoid sticking – and place in a warm spot for 30 minutes. Your best bet is to preheat your oven now to 400 degrees then place the tray on top of that for 30 minutes.

With a small, sharp knife, make an “X” into the top of each bun. Place baking sheet in oven and bake for about 20 minutes – they will be nicely browned. Place on a rack to cool.

Make the glaze by whisking/mixing both the sugar and milk together in a medium bowl. Pipe the “X” onto each bun or you can ice as you wish.

Braided Pumpkin Bread

This recipes creates one big, beautiful loaf or make 2 smaller loves.  It smells delicious while baking and tastes fabulous plain or slathered with cream cheese or butter. Sit back, kick your feet up and have a thick slice with your favorite beverage. We love eating it with hot tea after raking leaves.

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp. yeast
3 large or extra large eggs at room temperature
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil (such as canola)
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tsp. kosher salt
6-8 cups flour

1 large egg, whisked well for an egg wash

Take the 3 eggs out of your fridge and set on the counter for about 30 minutes before you begin making the bread – this will bring them to room temperature.

Into a large mixing bowl whisk together the water and yeast, then add everything up to the flour and blend it well. Then add 6 cups of the flour and stir well with a wooden spoon until it forms a smooth dough, use more flour as needed. Add some flour to your counter top and dump out the contents of the bowl and being to knead for about 5 minutes, adding more dough as needed. You will probably use up all 8 cups of flour. Form a large dough ball.

Lightly grease the large mixing bowl you used, and place the dough in and turn it around in the bowl so it is all greased. Now cover with plastic and let rise for 1 hour. Turn dough out onto your floured counter top, deflate it and divide into 3 strand ropes for braids.  Now get out a large baking sheet and cover with parchment paper. Place the braids onto the baking sheet and form a braided bread loaf onto the pan. You can form this on the counter top but it may be difficult to transfer to the pan. Brush with about half the egg wash. Cover again with plastic and let rise for 90 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350, brush loaf again with the egg wash and bake for about 45 – 60 minutes for one loaf, about 40 for two loaves – keep any eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Let set about 30 minutes before you slice.

**Sprinklings of chopped seeds or nuts (shelled & chopped pumpkin seeds, pistachios) after the second egg wash would be a very tasty addition.

Quick Dinner Rolls

These can be started and on your table in a little over an hour. What’s better than that?

3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
3 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 packages of yeast (4 1/2 tsps.)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter

Measure the milk, water, and butter in a glass bowl – microwave for 2 minutes. It’s okay if the butter is not fully melted.

In a large bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups flours, sugar, salt and the yeast. Add the milk misture and mix briskly for about 2 minutes; stir in enough flour to make a soft dough. Turn dough out onto the floured countertop and knead until smooth. Lightly greas a 9 x 13 pan, plop the dough in, cover with a towel and let rise for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 350 degress.

Punch dough down, break off about 12-15 balls of dough, roll around in your hands to make nice, even rolls and place in the pan – it’s okay if they touch. Cover again with the towel and let rise for 15 minutes. Lightly sprinkle with flour and bake for about 35 minutes – until golden brown.