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Category Archives: Breads

Bread Machine Challah

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When we lived in Chicago I worked part-time as an on-call chaplain at a hospital downtown. On-call chaplaincy means you live in the hospital for a day and a night, wearing a pager and trolling around the hospital looking for trouble. I loved it! However, the hunger you feel after being on-call is unlike any other. Luckily, one of the perks of being the on-call chaplain was getting the leftover challah that a local bakery provided for the Jewish patients’ Sabbath. Challah is incredible. Every religion and denomination has their specialty. Lutherans have hot dishes and Jewish folks have bread. Heaven help me, it is delicious.

Depending on the religious holiday, challah is shaped into various kinds of loaves. Braiding is the traditional method and I think it is pretty easy so that’s what I go with. If you are in a pinch, put it in a loaf pan. Challah is a sweet, rich bread so if you have any left over use it in things like bread pudding and french toast. Also, slathered with Nutella this stuff will change your life. Note: this is not a traditional recipe (parve) as it has milk in it.

Bread Machine Challah

  •          3/4 cup buttermilk
  •          2 eggs
  •          3 tablespoons butter
  •          3 cups bread flour
  •          1/4 cup sugar
  •          1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  •          1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Place all ingredients into bread machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Set to dough setting.

Remove from machine and cut into 3 separate pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and braid. Place on parchment covered baking sheet and allow to rest about an hour (until doubled in size). Brush egg wash from 1 egg beaten and 1 tablespoon water onto bread. Bake in oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes.

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

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Cake for breakfast? I’m there.  I’ve had this recipe to try for quite awhile but I just never got around to making it. I do breakfast for dinner pretty often for two primary reasons: a) I love breakfast foods and b) I don’t get up early enough to make it all that often. Answer: breakfast for dinner.

I always keep buttermilk around but if you don’t you can make your own by souring milk. For instance, if you need 1 cup of buttermilk stir 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice into 1 cup of milk and let stand for 5 minutes until it thickens. Also, I raided my frozen blueberries earlier in the week so I didn’t have a full 2 cups. I used mixed fruit instead which was delicious but you’ll have to watch baking time, etc. because fruits like strawberries and cherries have a lot more moisture than just blueberries. I liked the mixed fruits but my husband prefers just blueberries.

Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries and flour for dusting00
  • ½ cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with lemon zest and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the blueberries with some flour, then whisk together the 2 cups of flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the blueberries. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Bake for 35 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes. (Note: Baking for as long as 10 minutes more might be necessary.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Banana Strawberry Muffins

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How do you make bananas even better? You add strawberries. I’m a big fan of the flavor combination of banana and strawberry so how I never thought to combine them in banana muffins I really can’t say. Luckily, someone else had the idea and I swiped it.

Fresh strawberries are going to be here soon but at this point in the season they aren’t good enough nor cheap enough for me to work with. Just thaw some frozen ones and go with that. I always keep frozen fruit around. It is great for the sudden smoothie craving and baking. Plus, frozen fruits and veggies are packaged when the produce is at its freshest so only in-season produce can compete. Oh, and definitely put the strawberry garnish on top of your muffins. Not only does it look cute but it adds quite a bit of flavor. I made them both ways and the ones with a topping are definitely better.

Banana Strawberry Muffins

  • 6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/4 cups mashed banana (2-3 medium bananas)
  • 1/2 cup small diced strawberries, plus 2-3 more for topping

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Prepare a muffin tin (I got 18 muffins from this recipe).

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla, and  buttermilk.  Whisk in the mashed bananas.  Whisk in the butter.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Stir, scraping the bottom of the bowl to incorporate any hidden pockets of flour.  Fold in the diced strawberries, being careful not to over stir.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and top with thinly sliced strawberries.   Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Banana Muffins

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Am I the only person that has a hard time passing up the rotting bananas at the grocery store? They practically give them away and as I look at them my mind conjures up all the delicious things they could become. It was after one such grocery trip that I came home with a bag of bananas that had not been yellow for some time. A loaf of banana bread and a couple dozen banana muffins later there was nary a browned banana in sight. And as always, the goal of a heavenly smelling house had been accomplished. I’ve already shared my banana bread recipe with you so today’s little treat is banana muffins. They’re pretty much the same thing, except they come in your own individualized little package and they have a cute little crumb topping.

Banana Muffins

Ingredients:

  •             1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •             1 teaspoon baking soda
  •             1 teaspoon baking powder
  •             1 teaspoon cinnamon
  •             ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  •             1/2 teaspoon salt
  •             3 bananas, mashed
  •             3/4 cup white sugar
  •             1 egg, lightly beaten
  •             1/3 cup butter, melted
  •             1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  •             2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  •             1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •             1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare muffin tin (I get 12 muffins from this recipe). In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.

Bake in preheated oven for about 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Hot Cross Buns (Bread Machine)

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Wondering where I have been? I’m a priest. It was Easter. Don’t ask. But hey, I’m back from vacation so my little brain is slightly less fried than it was a couple of weeks ago. I think we can all be thankful for that!

It isn’t that my family has been starving or that I have not been cooking. It is merely that it has not been documented. But I did get a snapshot of this recipe before I trotted off to church with them on Good Friday. Hot Cross Buns are a fine Anglican tradition on Good Friday, and I’m all about tradition (feel free to laugh). While I may have made Hot Cross Buns for Good Friday these are in no way traditional. I don’t care for raisins, I added a few more spices, and who wants plain old icing when you can have cream cheese instead? If you want a little more traditional or you’re dying to hear more about Hot Cross Buns, feel free to Google them.

Now that it isn’t Lent or Holy Week, I’d just make these and spread the icing on top. But I’m lazy. And I love tons of cream cheese frosting. Whatcha gonna do?

Hot Cross Buns

Buns:

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons yeast for bread machines
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water

Icing

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Break 2 eggs into 2-cup measuring cup. Add enough water to measure 1 1/3 cups. Place egg mixture and remaining bun ingredients (except fruit, 1 egg and cold water) in bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select Dough/Manual cycle. Do not use delay cycle. You will probably need to add another tablespoon or two of water after a few minutes of mixing.

Add fruit at the Raisin/Nut signal or 5 to 10 minutes before last kneading cycle ends. Remove dough from pan. Cover and let rest 10 minutes on lightly floured surface.

Grease cookie sheet (if not nonstick). Divide dough in half. Divide each half into 8 equal pieces. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Snip a cross shape in top of each ball, using scissors. Cover and let rise in warm place about 40 minutes or until double.

Heat oven to 375°F. Beat egg and cold water slightly; brush over tops of buns. Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Cool.

Mix icing ingredients and place in Ziplock bag. Cut tip from bag and pipe crosses on each bun.

French Bread

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Have you ever noticed that the greatest things in the world are usually the simplest? Leonardo DaVinci said it better when he said “simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication.” Proof? French Bread. There really isn’t a whole lot in French Bread but there aren’t many things more incredible than a fresh loaf. I attempted to make Irish Soda Bread to go with my corned beef and cabbage to serve at our vestry retreat last Saturday. Unfortunately, the loaf turned out ugly and I refused to serve it. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted great but I don’t like to serve ugly food to people I’m bribing to do the hard work of a full-day vestry retreat. But French Bread? It’s fool proof, delicious, and gorgeous! Next time I’ll ignore that it is St. Patrick’s Day and serve the French bread anyway.

French Bread

Ingredients

  •             1 1/4 cups water (70 to 80 degrees F)
  •             2 teaspoons sugar
  •             1 teaspoon salt
  •             3 1/2 cups bread flour
  •             1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  •             1 tablespoon olive oil
  •             1 tablespoon cornmeal
  •             1 egg
  •             1 tablespoon water

In bread machine pan, place the first five ingredients in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed, add olive oil).

When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Roll each portion into a 10-in. x 8-in. rectangle. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seams to seal.

Sprinkle a greased baking sheet with cornmeal; place loaves seam side down on prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 20 minutes.

Whisk egg and water; brush over loaves. With a sharp knife, make four shallow slashes across the top of each loaf. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

Orange We Gonna Stop MS? -Orange Poppyseed Muffins

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So, what is MS? According to the National MS Society, “Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system (the brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord). It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder. This means the immune system incorrectly attacks the person’s healthy tissue. MS can cause blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, paralysis, blindness and more. These problems may be permanent or may come and go. MS is as unique as the individual. MS affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S. and 2.1 million worldwide.” If I were that lucky in everything, I’d play the lottery! For me personally, MS can cause fatigue, difficulty walking, and vision changes. As one person said with great sensitivity and empathy; I look like “a drunken mule.” I’ll make another plug for the National MS Society. Go check out the website to learn more about this disease and how we can fight it.

Orange recipe for today: Orange Poppy Seed Muffins! You’d be hard-pressed to find anything easier to bake than quick breads and few things make your home smell more heavenly. I wasn’t about to squeeze a fresh orange for this recipe (and orange juice was on sale) so I substituted the stuff in the carton. One orange will produce about ¼ cup of juice.

Orange Poppy Seed Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I omitted this because I used salted butter)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 Tablespoon poppy seeds

For the glaze:

  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare a muffin pan. Melt 1/2 cup of butter and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, blend orange zest and sugar. Mix until fragrant.  Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and poppy seeds.  Mix until well blended.

In a separate bowl whisk together sour cream, eggs, vanilla, orange juice, and melted butter until well blended.  Pour liquid mixture over the dry ingredients.  Gently stir until just combined.  Do not over mix.

Spoon into prepared muffin pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 – 18 minutes, or until golden brown and cake tester comes out clean.

While the muffins are baking, make the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons orange juice until smooth.

Remove muffins from pan, place on a cooling rack with a cookie sheet beneath to catch the overspill.  Allow to cool for a few minutes before dipping each muffin into the glaze.