Archive for the ‘Breads, Muffins, and Scones’ Category

Community Easter Bread

7 April 2009
Leigh watches Michael and Benjamin place their eggs in the bread.

Leigh watches Michael and Benjamin place their eggs in the bread.

 
A Note to Readers:
 
 
This blog has moved. For newer posts plus copies of all the old ones (even this one!), please visit me at the All-New IN OUR GRANDMOTHERS’ KITCHENS.
  
Tinky
 
Easter just wouldn’t be Easter without the Easter egg.

 

This symbol of spring represents fertility, youth, and new beginnings—all the hopes that suddenly arise in our breasts when the sun rises higher and earlier again in the spring.

 

This braided loaf is made more festive (and more seasonal) by the inclusion of eggs in its folds. Plain eggs work just fine, but I always welcome an excuse to get kids coloring things so I asked my nephew Michael and his friends Benjamin and Carson to dye some eggs for my loaf. 

 
 

Carson rolls an egg in his dye.

Carson rolls an egg in his dye.

I got extra help from my sister-in-law Leigh, who is MUCH better at braiding bread than I am.


So my Easter bread is a community event. I hope yours will be, too!

Leigh braids the rolls of bread.

Leigh braids the rolls of bread.

 

 

 

Ingredients:

 

 

 

 

2/3 cup milk

2 tablespoons sweet butter

1/4 cup sugar

1 packet yeast

2-1/2 cups flour (approximately)

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs for the batter
4 to 5 eggs in their shells for the braiding (dyed if you like)

 

 

Instructions:

 

   

In a small saucepan heat the milk and butter just to lukewarm; the butter will be soft but not melted.

In a medium bowl combine 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the yeast. Pour the milk/butter mixture over them, and leave the yeast to proof for 5 to 10 minutes.

 

Beat in 1/2 cup flour, the remaining sugar, the salt, and the 2 eggs; mix well. Add 1-1/2 cups more flour, and stir.

 

Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Knead it for 1 to 2 minutes, adding a bit more flour as needed.  Allow the dough to rest for 5 to 10 minutes; then continue kneading, adding more flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

 

Grease a medium bowl, and place the dough in it. Cover with a damp towel, and allow the dough to rise until it doubles in bulk, about 1 hour.

 

Uncover the dough, punch it down, and divide it into 2 mounds. Let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Stretch each mound into a roll at least 24 inches long.

 

Form a rounded braid with the two rolls, sealing them at the ends. Place the bread on a greased (or parchment-covered) baking sheet. Insert the eggs in their shells into spots in the braid. (If you wait to do this until the bread has risen again, the eggs will pop out of the bread; this happened to us!)

 

Cover the braid with a damp dish towel, and let it rise until it doubles, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees about 15 minutes before you want to bake the bread.  

Bake the braided bread until it is a golden brown, between 35 and 55 minutes depending on your oven. Makes 1 loaf.

 

easter-bread-web

 

Hot Cross Buns

2 April 2009

hotcrossbunsweb

 
A Note to Readers:
 
 
This blog has moved. For newer posts plus copies of all the old ones (even this one!), please visit me at the All-New IN OUR GRANDMOTHERS’ KITCHENS.
  
Tinky
 
Easter is coming—and before we get to it we arrive at the time for one of my favorite treats. Hot cross buns are a sweet yeasty roll traditionally served at the end of Lent, specifically on Good Friday. The cross of icing that tops them symbolizes the crucifixion, although it was adapted from a pagan symbol that represented either the four quarters of the moon or the perfect balance of the sun at the vernal equinox, March 21.

 

A monk named Thomas Rockcliffe began distributing the buns to the poor in St. Albans in England in 1361 as part of a missionary effort. They became a popular treat throughout the country.

 

When Elizabeth I was queen (her father Henry VIII had banned the Catholic Church for reasons of his own) she outlawed the consumption of the buns except during religious festivals-—burials, Good Friday, and Christmas. Vendors on the streets of London are said to have hawked the buns enthusiastically on the days on which they were allowed to be sold, giving rise to the nursery rhyme:

 

Hot cross buns, hot cross buns,

One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns.

If ye have no daughters, give them to your sons.

One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns.

 

Many make the buns with glaceed fruits and/or citrus peel instead of (or in addition to) the raisins or currants. I like them best this way.

 

Ingredients:

 

for the buns:

 

1 generous teaspoon active dry yeast (about half a packet)

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup lukewarm water

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) sweet butter

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 to 2-1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (generous)

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt (generous)

2/3 cup raisins or currants

 

for the glaze:

 

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

milk as needed

(for a different flavor, try substituting orange juice for the vanilla and milk)

 

Instructions:

 

In a small dish combine the yeast, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, and the lukewarm water. Leave them for 5 minutes or so to proof. While they are proofing, heat the milk and butter just to lukewarm.

 

In a large bowl combine the yeast, water, milk, butter, remaining sugar, egg, and vanilla, and whisk them together. Stir in the baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Beat in 1 cup flour and the raisins or currants; then stir in enough flour so that the mixture begins to stick together. Turn the mixture out onto a floured board, and knead it for a minute or two, adding more flour if necessary. Leave the mixture to rest for 10 minutes.

 

At the end of the rest period, continue kneading, adding more flour as needed, until the mixture becomes smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a damp towel, and let it rise until it almost doubles in bulk (1 to 1-1/2 hours). Place the dough on a floured or greased board, knead it 2 or 3 times to release air bubbles, and divide it into 12 pieces that are as close in size as you can make them.

 

Roll the pieces into little balls, and place them on a large greased cookie sheet. Cover again with a damp towel, and let rise until almost double in size, 45 minutes to an hour. About 15 minutes before you think the buns will be finished rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

 

Uncover the buns, and gently slash a cross on each with a serrated knife (this doesn’t always work perfectly but isn’t 100 percent necessary). Bake the buns for 18 to 22 minutes, until they turn light golden brown. Remove them from the cookie sheet and cool them on a rack for a few minutes.

 

While they begin to cool, make the glaze by whisking the vanilla into the confectioner’s sugar and then adding milk, a tiny bit at a time, until you have a thick glaze. Applying the glaze is a matter of timing. The buns must be a little cool (so the glaze doesn’t run off entirely) but not too cool (in which case they glaze doesn’t stick). After 15 to 20 minutes of cooling, try spooning the glaze into the criss-crosses on the buns to form a cross. If it runs off too much (it will always run off a little), wait a few more minutes.

 

Allow the buns to cool after glazing, then place them carefully in a container that won’t mess up the glaze. Try to eat these buns within 2 days. They are most delicious with lots of butter.

 

Makes 12 buns.

 
 

Easter is coming!

Easter is coming!

 

Maple-Oatmeal Bread

30 March 2009

bread2web4

 
A Note to Readers:
 
 
This blog has moved. For newer posts plus copies of all the old ones (even this one!), please visit me at the All-New IN OUR GRANDMOTHERS’ KITCHENS.
  
Tinky
 
I have one final entry for Massachusetts Maple Month. This is one of my favorite breads in the world—slightly sweet and filling. I always make a mess when I knead bread. How flour ends up on my face, I really don’t know! Luckily, the end product is worth the clean-up work. 

 

 

Ingredients:

 

1 cup old-fashioned oats (do not use quick or steel cut)

2 cups boiling water

1 tablespoon butter

1 packet (about 2-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast (not instant)

1/4 cup lukewarm water

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 teaspoons salt

5-1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (more or less)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructions:

 

Place the oats in a large mixing bowl. Pour the boiling water over them, add the butter, and let the oatmeal stand for about 15 minutes, until it is lukewarm. After the first 10 minutes, place the yeast in a small bowl. Cover it with the lukewarm water. Allow it to bubble up for a few minutes.

 

When the oatmeal is lukewarm, stir in the maple syrup, the salt, the yeast with its water, and 2 cups of the flour. Stir vigorously; then add 2 cups more flour. Stir again vigorously for a minute or two; get as close to beating as you can with a mixture this heavy. Scoop up the dough (add a bit of flour if it won’t hold together to scoop), and place it on a kneading surface—a floured board or a silicone mat.

 

Knead the dough for 2 minutes, adding a little more flour to keep it from sticking to the surface and your hands. After those first 2 minutes, let the dough rest for up to 10 minutes; then resume kneading, adding more flour as needed. Knead for 5 to 10 minutes, until the dough feels smooth.

 

Place the dough in a large, greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a warm, damp dish towel. Let the dough rise until it doubles in bulk; this should take about 2 hours, depending on how warm the room is. If your towel dries out during the rising, be sure to dampen it again.

 

Remove the covering from the bowl, and punch down on the dough once with your fist. This lets out a lot of the air. (It’s also fun.) Cut the dough in half, and shape each half into a ball. Butter 2 bread pans, and shape each ball into an oval about the same size as your pans. Smooth the balls as well as you can with your hands.

 

Place the bread loaves in the buttered pans, and turn them over so that both the tops and the bottoms have touched the butter. Cover the pans with a damp towel as you did the rising bowl, and allow the loaves to rise again until they double in bulk. This should take a little less time than the first rising, perhaps an hour or so.

 

After 45 minutes, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. When the loaves have finished rising, uncover them, and bake them for about 40 to 45 minutes, until they are a warm brown color and sound hollow when you tap on them. Remove the hot loaves from the pans, and let them cool on racks.

 

Makes 2 loaves.

 

bread1web1

Irish Cottage Soda Bread

17 March 2009
isbweb1
 
A Note to Readers:
 
 
This blog has moved. For newer posts plus copies of all the old ones (even this one!), please visit me at the All-New IN OUR GRANDMOTHERS’ KITCHENS.
  
Tinky

 
I can’t imagine celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day without a little soda bread, so called because it gets its leavening from baking soda rather than yeast. This is my favorite recipe to date for this treat. It comes from a now defunct store in Summit, New Jersey, called the Irish Cottage. Every year the store had a soda-bread contest, and this was one of the staff’s favorite winning recipes.

 

If you don’t have a way to use a quart of buttermilk, you may buy buttermilk powder in the baking section of large grocery stores. Add the required amount to the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder, and use water when the recipe calls for the buttermilk. 

 

 

Ingredients:

 

4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into six pieces
1 cup dried cranberries (you may substitute raisins if you like)
1 egg
1-1/3 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda

green sprinkles (optional)

 

Directions:

 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a large cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

 

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. With two knives or a pastry cutter cut in the butter. When you are finished there should be only tiny bits of butter left. Add the cranberries.

 

In  separate bowl (or a 2-cup measuring cup) mix the egg, buttermilk, and baking soda. Combine them with the flour mixture, stirring just until the dry ingredients become moistened. Form the dough into a ball.

 

On a lightly floured wooden board knead the dough for 3 to 5 minutes. Form the bread into two mounds, place them on the prepared cookie sheet, and gently make a cross on the center of each mound with a serrated knife. Add a few sprinkles if you like. Bake the mounds until they are golden brown in spots, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Makes 2 loaves. 

Jan and I wish you a happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Jan and I wish you a happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Biscuits for Candlemas

2 February 2009

biscuitsweb

 
A Note to Readers:
 
 
This blog has moved. For newer posts plus copies of all the old ones (even this one!), please visit me at the All-New IN OUR GRANDMOTHERS’ KITCHENS.
  
Tinky

 
I celebrated Candlemas for the first time in graduate school. Teri Tynes was a creative force both in my American studies program and in our apartment complex, the Casa del Rio. One February 2 she brought a group into her ground-floor apartment. We sat in a circle on the floor, lit candles from a central flame, and shared our creative dreams. It was a night of bonding, of mystery, and of humor–in short, of illumination in many senses of the word.

 

Also known as Groundhog Day, Imbolc, and Brigid’s Day, Candlemas is poised between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox. It marks the midpoint of our coldest season. Candlemas is an old pagan holiday and an agricultural one as well, a time at which we can at least imagine we sense stirrings of life in the cold ground. Even when snow banks dominate the landscape it’s comforting to observe that the sun is rising a little earlier and a little higher than it did in January. As the sun starts to come back, I always find myself a little more alert and a little more creative. And I find it easier to laugh at life’s small mishaps.

 

Traditional Candlemas foods are grain based in keeping with the day’s association with agriculture. They are often round and golden as well to evoke the sun; pancakes and crepes are popular edibles for this holiday. I’m following this tradition by making biscuits, a welcome treat at any time of year.

 

The recipe below comes from The Virginia Hospitality Cookbook. Put out by the Junior League of Hampton Roads, Virginia, this book is a goldmine of traditional regional recipes like Brunswick stew and crab cakes. The biscuits are also pretty darn terrific.

 

If you’d like to see what my talented friend Teri is up to now, visit her blog, Walking Off the Big Apple. She uses her fertile imagination and her historical knowledge to give her readers a new perspective on New York City. 

Happy Candlemas! Light a candle and get your creative (and of course culinary) juices flowing…….. 

Teri Tynes

Teri Tynes

Virginia Hospitality Country Biscuits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

 

2 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup shortening

1 egg in a measuring cup with enough milk to equal 2/3 cup liquid, lightly beaten

 

Instructions:

 

Preheat the oven to 450.

 

In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender or knives, cut in the shortening until you have small crumbs.

 

Stir in the egg and milk until there are no dry particles. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and gently knead it for a moment or two until the dough holds together. Do not over handle the dough. Roll the dough out into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Cut into 12 biscuits (you may get 11 or 13!). Bake the biscuits for 8 to 10 minutes, until they are light brown. Makes about 1 dozen biscuits.

 

 
 

"How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world."

"How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world."