popovers that did not pop

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I baked popovers to go with leftover soup. I used my favorite popover recipe which is in a cookbook entitled The Cookie and Biscuit Bible. I must be catching up on my Bible reading as I recently checked out some other food and cooking “Bible” books from my local library. Anyway this popover recipe is simple and has always turned out well. It is my favorite but it is also the only popover recipe I have ever used.

  • 2 Tab. butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups four
  • pinch of salt
  • a few sprigs of fresh herbs

I confess that I did not have milk in the house, nor fresh herbs. Well, there is a thriving bunch of parsley but I wasn’t keen on using that in popovers. So how do you make popovers without milk? I used 3/4 cup half-and-half with 1/4 cup water. For the herbs I decided to use 1/2 tsp dried fine herbs and 1/2 tsp dried tarragon.

Heat oven to 425 degrees F and spray/grease a twelve cup muffin pan.

Beat the eggs in a stand mixer until blended and then beat in the milk, then the melted butter. Sift the flour and salt and gradually beat this into the egg mixture. Stir in the herbs. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Do not open the oven until done. These should have popped over the tops of the muffin cups and then slowly deflate when removed from the pan.

So what happened? Not sure but the heavier milk may have been an issue. I also may have beaten it too long and hard. I had read somewhere that the batter should be beaten for three minutes to be sure there is plenty air incorporated. Well, I started the beating with the eggs and kept the mixer going to the very end. This may have been 6-8 minutes since I did not have mise en place and everything ready to add in the proper order.

But all was not lost. These came out like an egg-y muffin and sopped up the soup broth just fine. Now what to do with the four that we didn’t eat?

 

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Cinnamon Bread

Quite a while ago Hubby asked if I could make Cinnamon Bread, or at least I think he did, but I did not make any. King Arthur Flour’s website is a gold mine of baking recipes for us home cooks. I saw this and thought I would make this. I used to bake breads all winter long but not this winter. Not sure why? Here is the link to the original recipe from KAF: Cinnamon Bread. I made a few adjustments.

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup instant dry milk
  • 3 tablespoons potato flour
  • 7/8 to 1 1/8 cups warm tap water
  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

Whisk dry ingredients together in large bowl of stand mixer. Put butter and water together in Pyrex measuring cup and microwave for 30 seconds. Add the liquid to the dry, stir to combine, and then knead for 7 minutes at Speed 2. I first used the lesser amount of water but the recipe said the dough should barely clean the sides of the bowl. With the lesser amount the dough cleaned the sides right away so I added the extra 1/4 cup. This made a more sticky dough that seemed to match the description from the recipe.

Place the dough in a greased bowl. To do this I scrape the dough to one side of the mixing bowl, spray with cooking spray, then scrape the dough to the sprayed side, and spray the rest of the bowl and the top of the dough. Cover and let rise until doubled. This took about an hour and 15 minutes.

Transfer dough to a lightly greased work surface. I did this. I had never not used a floured work surface for bread making. And this worked out well. Pat the dough into a 6 inch by 20 inch rectangle. Lucky for me my butcher block work surface has a pattern of 2 inch squares all over the top. So measuring the rectangle was to perfection!

Make the filling: 1/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons flour. Beat one egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush this on the dough before sprinkling on the cinnamon mixture. This is to keep the swirl from making gaps in the bread while baking. Roll into a log starting with the short end. Pinch the ends and the long seam to seal. Place in your lightly greased or sprayed loaf pan. Tent loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until 1 inch over the rim of the pan.

The size of your loaf pan will matter. I spent my morning measuring the three I have and they are all 9″ x 5″ pans. This loaf, per KAF, will rise more nicely in an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ pan. In the 9″ x 5″ pan it will rise to the rim. Mine rose very slightly above the rim in 1 hour and 20 minutes time.

Bake in preheated 350 degrees F oven. “Allow the bread to completely cool before slicing.” Yeah right!

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Perfect swirls!

This was yummy and makes a nice toast with my coffee. I just have to be sure I don’t eat it all in one day; that would wreak havoc with my goal of losing a few pounds!

I like recipes from which I learn something. From this one I learned that one could substitute potato flour for instant potato flakes, using an egg wash helps the filling stay in place, and one can use a lightly oiled work surface for shaping bread dough.

Freezer Rolls

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I’ve been making freezer rolls. These were the dinner rolls for our Thanksgiving feast and the cinnamon rolls for Thanksgiving breakfast. Although I had read about these on the King Arthur Flour website here, I dug out my handy-dandy Fleischmann’s Yeast Bread booklet and used a recipe in it. This booklet is falling apart. My mom used this and gave it to me. The copyright is 1971. This recipe makes 4 dozen rolls. So I made 24 cinnamon rolls and 24 dinner rolls.

Pick your pans. I use a standard 9-inch x 13-inch baking pan for the cinnamon rolls. Except the picture shows a Christmas tree pan because these are for Christmas breakfast. The mini muffin pans are just to hold the rolls until they are frozen solid and then they can be popped out and put in a freezer bag. These should keep in the freezer for up to one month.

  • 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (on occasion I substitute 2 cups with whole wheat flour, regular or pastry)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 packages Active Dry Yeast OR 5 teaspoons Instant Yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup milk (any type)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 eggs at room temperature

Combine water, milk, and butter. Heat to 120-130 degrees F. I most frequently do this is a 2-quart Pyrex measuring cup/bowl in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Check after two.

In the bowl of your stand mixer combine 2 cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Whisk to mix thoroughly.

Gradually add the heated liquids to the flour mixing a you do and then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape bowl occasionally. Add eggs and 1/2 cup flour and beat at high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape bowl and add enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead. I knead this with the bread hook for 5 minutes. By hand is 8-10. Turn out on lightly floured board or counter. Cover with plastic and a towel and let dough rest for 20 minutes.

Now shape your rolls. I cut the rested dough in half with a bench scraper and cover one half with the plastic while working with the other. For rolls, I gently pull this half into a log about 12 inches long. Then with the bench scraper I cut this into 24 pieces. I placed these into a greased mini-muffin pan. You could just set them on a baking sheet but wrap them well to freeze. The second half of the dough I roll out into a rectangle, maybe 14 inches by 11 inches? Spread this with 2 tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle with 1/3 cup of cinnamon sugar. I placed these in the baking pan and then wrapped it with plastic wrap to freeze.

To bake, remove from freezer and place in greased pan. Set on counter and let thaw and rise for 2 hours or so until doubled. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes.

Truth be told, there are differences to the method of the Fleischmann’s booklet and King Arthur Flour. And it might make a difference:

  • KAF suggests using cooler liquids, not warm
  • KAF suggests not to let the dough rest before shaping

Their reasoning is to keep the yeast as dormant as possible so as not to be damaged during the freezing.

The batch of rolls I made for Thanksgiving I used Fleischmann’s recipe (as listed above) but KAF’s methodology. The dinner rolls rose nicely on the counter. The cinnamon rolls rose nicely in the refrigerator overnight. The batch you see in the picture for this blog I used the Fleischmann’s method. Thawing the rolls overnight in the fridge did not see a rise. They were soft and not frozen so additionally I put them on the stove (indirect heat) for 30 minutes before baking. They finally had a slight rise and did bake up nice and soft and tasty.

I think I will stick to the KAF method in the future. It results in a better risen roll. The thaw and rising have more eye appeal. The taste was not affected.

 

 

 

Another Loaf: Apricot

I have not written nor baked in a while. We have been eating ordinary meals. You know, baked frozen fish, grilled chicken or burgers, frozen vegetables, scrambled eggs with onion and peppers, and open-faced grilled cheese with tomatoes. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in a pinch! Sometimes I just do not feel like cooking, so when Hubby comes home he throws something together. The open-face grilled cheese with tomatoes are one of his specialties.

At my last camping weekend I brought along the Settlement Cookbook to look through. There are some bread recipes that looked good. Simple and straightforward breads, quick and raised. My mother had given me a paperback Settlement Cookbook when I got my first apartment. I knew how to bake but not how to cook. This book was my guide to cooking meat and vegetables. I remember making biscuit dough cinnamon rolls from this book. Unfortunately like most well-used cookbooks it fell apart and eventually I could not justify saving the torn thing. 😦

At a tag sale (yard sale, garage sale, depending on what region of the country you hail from) there was this newly revised Settlement Cookbook. So I bought it for sentimental reasons. This edition was published in 1965, 1976.

I was originally looking at the banana bread since I had extra ripe bananas in the house. But I froze those so the pressure was lessened. I had some dried apricots so the apricot bread was my choice for the afternoon. I figure I have to bake while the weather allows.

Alterations to the recipe as pictured above are as follows:

  • why would one grind the dried apricots? I roughly chopped them.
  • I used 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour; to be healthy.
  • I did not have to strain the orange juice because the juice I like does not have pulp.

The batter smelled quite orange-y. The loaf came out very nicely colored and crunchy on the outside. The inside is quite nice with the squares of apricots and nuts throughout. For the future I might add a teaspoon of ginger and/or cinnamon for added kick!

I suppose spreading it with apricot preserves might be a bit too much!

Thoughts on muffins and quick breads

I have lately been making quick breads, the kind that bake in one loaf pan without yeast. According to Bittman in How to Cook Everything “The only real difference between muffins and other quick breads is the pan you bake them in.” Sure, this makes sense. We choose between corn bread and corn muffins, same batter. This means I cold make a loaf out of some of my favorite muffin recipes. Cool!

I have enjoyed making loaves. Recently I made the Blueberry Lemon Walnut Bread from the back of the walnut package. This had a bread-like texture and not cake-like in the chocolate walnut loaf made previously. I liked the cake-likeness; Hubby preferred the bread-likeness texture.

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So as I was looking at these recipes in a variety of books, I find that there is a range of sugar involved. Bittman’s muffins call for 1/4 cup sugar (or to taste),  whereas Betty Crocker’s muffins call for 1/3 cup but her nut breads call for 1 cup and pumpkin bread calls for 1 1/3 cup per loaf. What’s up with this?

And why are muffins in The Cookie and Biscuit Bible cookbook? This book also has my go-to popover recipe.

Looking through all these cookbooks to see the differing amounts of sugar tempts me with more and more things to bake. I’ll never lose weight this way!

Here are some thoughts, not all about bread and muffins:

  • What does it mean when an onion starts looking pithy between layers? Is this like celery meaning that it is a bit old? Can one still cook with it? Am I a bad cook if I dice it up anyway and saute it in a dish? Don’t tell anyone.
  • Why did I put the dog food dish under the butcher block table I use for chopping vegetables and rolling out pie dough? Or, why does the dog choose that time to chow down? This is rhetorical because we know the dog can’t talk.
  • I have to decide not to be obsessive over composting when I go camping on weekends. I am sure Hubby won’t want us to come home with a bowl full of food scraps stinking up the truck!
  • Syrian casseroles are what I need to look for so I can provide meals for a family in need. And there are children. What sweet treat would be wholesome for them?
  • Do other’s of you sneak spinach into sauces and casseroles so the family doesn’t know what they are eating? Is this dishonest? I confess if asked.
  • I am planting herbs. What is the difference between German thyme and English thyme? And what to do with lemon balm?

I could go on and on but that is enough for today. Thanks for reading!

 

 

Lemon Tea Bread

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I came home from work one day this past week and wanted to make something in a loaf pan. I took a handful of cookbooks outdoors and sat at the patio table looking through them to find something to make. I know that a traditional pound cake is a loaf cake but I wanted something else. This recipe is from my KitchenAid cookbook published in 1992. It is the larger cookbook, spiral bound, and not the one that comes with the mixer. I have that one as well but my sister said this larger one does not have all of the recipes from the smaller one, so I kept them both.

I have two lemons that need to be used. I have buttermilk but this recipe did not call for that. After deciding on this recipe I find a similar recipe using buttermilk on the back of the walnut package. Oh well, maybe next time.

I actually did a mise en place. Even chopping the walnuts and zesting the lemon before starting to make the batter. Highly unusual for me with baking in that I always assume that I have everything I need.

This is a tasty and moist bread. It is very nice to have with morning coffee. It would be nice with afternoon tea.

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup milk; I used vanilla almond milk.
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon peel; I zested one medium sized lemon and juiced it for the lemon glaze (see below).

Put butter, sugar, and eggs in the mixer bowl and beat for one minute at speed 6. I was amazed at how this higher speed creamed everything together so much nicer that using the lower speeds. Combine dry ingredients and add alternating with the milk, ending with the flour. Stir in the zest and the nuts.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake at 325 F for 55-65 minutes. Brush with Lemon Glaze and cool in pan for 15 minutes; remove and cool on wire rack.

Lemon Glaze: 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice and 3 tablespoons sugar. The recipe says to bring to a boil over medium heat and stir until slightly thickened. Well, I put the juice and sugar in a small microwave safe bowl and nuked it for about 90 seconds in 30 second intervals. I poured this over the warm bread.

I had just read that breads and cakes made with citrus zest supposedly taste better the next day after the flavors permeate. I sent a piece to work with Hubby the next day and he reported that this is so.

Four Leaf Clover Rolls (KAF)

Today is a good baking day. It is at least 20 degrees cooler than yesterday. Saturday was an out of doors kind of day: picked up dog poo, unwrapped the camper trailer, fixed bicycles, got out the lawn chairs and table, and had lunch outside. Truth be told, Hubby did most of the work. I made the lunch and brought it outside. The poor dog; he did not know what to do with himself at first. He does not seem to like laying on the lawn or sitting on the patio. By patio, I mean a section of concrete squares that surround the basement bulkhead, nothing pretty and designed.

Again I am making something from King Arthur Flour. Their catalog comes in the mail trying to sell me all sorts of baking items and has these few recipes in it. For this recipe they want you to use an Irish-style flour and some baking papers. Well, I used whole wheat flour (Bob’s Red Mill) and a jumbo muffin pan and two  8-ounce ramekins. I used raisins because I did not have currants, and I did not toast the walnuts.

The recipe link is here: the recipe.

My ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour; I always use unbleached but differing brands.
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt; I use kosher salt because I used to watch Alton Brown and i think he always used it.
  • 2 tablespoons honey; remember to spray your spoon with cooking spray first and it will slide right off; I forgot.
  • 2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup lukewarm tap water
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1//2 cup raisins

20170226_192341860_iosThe instructions are simple and fabulous: Mix and knead all the ingredients until the dough is smooth and elastic. This took just over two minutes in the Kitchen-Aid stand mixer with the bread hook. Grease the bowl, cover, and let rise until puffy about 60-90 minutes. I let mine rest for about 75 minutes.

This makes eight large rolls so I used the jumbo muffin pan and needed two more spaces so I used two 8 ounce ramekins. I sprayed these with cooking spray.

After the first rise, gently deflate the dough. Ha! Mom always called this “punching down the dough. Divide this into 32 pieces. So divide the dough into eight pieces. I like to use a bench cutter/scraper. Cut each of those pieces into four and roll each piece into a ball and place four in each cup. Cover and let rise until they crest over the rim. (I could not find the height of the special papers that KAF was promoting so I figured 60 minutes was in between the 45-75 minutes in the recipe.

Bake in 350 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes. Mine took 27 minutes. Brush with 1-2 tablespoons melted butter, if desired. I desired. And rolls for dinner.

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I think one of these with a cup of yogurt and fruit would be a fabulous on the go breakfast too. They taste sort of like a yeasted Irish soda bread with a touch of whole wheat. Gotta be healthy, right?