Gran Bread

Remember that time I made brunch? And I told you I had a quick and easy little bread for an appetizer. Welp. Here it is.

I found it on 101 Cookbooks. So nice and easy for a bread. Only one rise for 30 minutes! And full of whole wheat and oats so it’s nice and hearty. Alone, it’s not as exciting, but proved to be an excellent delivery device for jam or (peanut) butter. It also won my heart because it came from a cookbook she found called Gran’s Kitchen. This little gem is apparently not published in the U.S. but that’s ok because I have a Gran’s Kitchen of my own…

hearty: full of heart.

On my mom’s side of the fam, we call grandmothers “Gran.” I didn’t ever get to meet my Gran but I now get to see Mom as a Gran herself! Sometimes, when you’re three, you need to make this a two-syllable word. Ga-raaaan. Totally acceptable. No judgment here.

hi there.

My mom is a great mom. I would even say the best mom. But she has maybe outdone herself as a Gran. I feel it’s the role she was born to play. Living her best life.

Proofing yeast. Mom taught me that.

Mom taught me how to proof yeast. It can be confusing to figure out if you just read instructions that say heat water on the stove to 115 degrees. What does 115 degrees feel like? Needless to say, I burnt my first proofs. That was some flat and dense bread. Yuck.

Risen!

Alls you got to do is turn the sink water on real hot. Get it so it’s uncomfortable to the touch of that tender skin on the underside of your wrist. While I’m waiting for the water to get hot, I like to warm up whatever measuring device you’ll be using by letting the water run into it. This prevents the water from losing heat so quickly. Have your yeast ready to go because by the time you get that water to the bowl, it’s lost some heat. We don’t want that. This sounds scary, but I promise it’s full proof. (hehe. pun intended).

Now you have no excuses. Make the bread.

1 1/4 cup warm water

1 packet active dry yeast

1 tbs. honey

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup rolled oats (the old fashioned kind)

1.5 tsp salt

2 tbs butter, melted

Pour your dry yeast into the warm water and stir a little to dissolve. Add the honey and stir. Then let proof for 5-10 minutes until frothy.

Meanwhile, mix your flours, oats, and salt in a separate bowl.

When the yeast is proofed, combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix very well.

Grease your loaf pan with some of the melted butter. Turn the dough into the pan and cover with a clean damp towel. Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350. When ready, bake the bread for 35-40 minutes. Heidi suggest turning the broiler on for just a touch at the end to get the browned top. Totally optional (but I did it). Keep a close eye if you do…

Turn the bread out of the pan immediately and place on a rack to prevent the bread from steaming in the pan. Serve with generous amounts of jam or butter.

 

 

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Dream Weaver Banana Bread

I know everyone has a different story on their dreams. Some people never remember. Some always remember. I go through phases where I remember them a lot and then other times where I don’t remember them at all.

Right now, I’m in one of those places where I remember them. Vividly.

Luckily, there haven’t been any nightmares (unless you count last night’s dream where I was a server at Houstons again as a nightmare).

I had a dream where I met Joy the Baker and Tracy Shutterbean and we were getting our nails did! Sometimes dreams are awesome.

I am mostly just fascinated with dreams when I remember them. All of that was going on inside my head and I didn’t even know!

I planned to make banana bread about a week ago. But here’s the thing about banana bread. You have to wait and wait for those nanas to turn practically black:

I probably could have waited another day. But you know what happened in the time I was waiting? Joy the Baker went and blogged the banana bread she made! Do you think we have a subconscious connection?! (I sure hope so.)

Well it’s not the same recipe but here it is!

Adapted from The Grand Central Baking Book:

1.5 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

1.5 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

2 cups sugar

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2.5 cups banana mash (I used 3 medium sized bananas)

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

Preaheat oven to 350. Lightly grease two 9×5 loaf pans.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside.

Beat together sugar, oil, and banana mash for a few minutes on medium high speed.

Crack the eggs in another bowl and whisk together with vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add egg mixture until fully combined.

Add one-third of the dry ingredients and mix briefly then add half of the buttermilk. Continue alternating dry and buttermilk until all ingredients, ending with dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Mix in quinoa last. You could also use another grain (brown rice? millet?) just to throw in fiber. Mostly because you can.

Divide the batter into two loaf pans. Bake for 25 minutes. Rotate pans and bake for 25 more minutes. Turn oven down to 325 and bake for 10-15 minutes more until bread is a golden brown with a cracked top and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert!

CinnaMONEY Rolls

I made these little biddies for brunch last weekend. Here’s the thing. I’m not gonna lie to you. There are a lot of steps involved in making cinnamoney rolls from scratch. I’m not saying they’re difficult steps. It’s just a lot of steps.

I want to be honest and upfront with you about this. Mostly because all of the blogs I perused to find a recipe taunted me by telling me they “made them for breakfast this morning!” Well, here’s the thing. You would have had to get up 4 hours before breakfast if that were true. Don’t try and convince me you did that.

Or the other blog that told me about how when you’re sad, you make cinnamon rolls. Yeah? You’re depressed and willing to wait 4 hours for gratification? We must have different definitions of sad. When I’m sad, I need something more instant. Like Hershey’s Hugs. Those work well. Or a box of Oreos. That could suffice…. but making cinnamon rolls? Please.

What I’m trying to say is 1) Make these little friends the night before! Let them rise in the fridge so you can bake them in the morning! Still a lot of steps, but I’m saving you valuable hours of beauty rest here.

and 2) if someone ever makes cinnamoney rolls for you, they love you a whole whole lot.  I made these for my family and B, both of which I love a whole whole lot so it worked out well!

I hope I haven’t deterred you too much from making these. MAKE THEM! LOVE PEOPLE A WHOLE WHOLE LOT! Bake something with lots of steps so that it is 2389 times more rewarding! DO IT!

Recipe adapted from here:

Dough:

1 package active dry yeast

1/2 tsp. plus 1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk at room temp.

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 3/4 cups flour, sifted*.

3/4 tsp salt

1 stick unsalted butter, very soft

Filling:

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 tbs cinnamon

pinch of salt

pinch of ground cloves

2 tbs maple syrup

4 oz. cream cheese

4 tbs. butter, melted

Dough:

If you have a mixer and a dough hook, you are in luck! If you have a hand mixer and no other fancy attachments… well it’s going to get messy. But it can be done!

Start by combining yeast, 1/2 tsp sugar*, and 1/4 cup water heated to 115 degrees (until the water is hot to the touch of the underside of your wrist!). Stir it a little and let it proof for about 10 minutes until foamy. Add remaining sugar, light brown sugar, milk, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk*.  Beat on low speed until fully combined. Add your flour and salt and mix on medium until dough forms. Then mix a little longer (this would be in place of “kneading.” The dough is too wet for traditional kneading but the idea is the same: make that dough smooth).

Remove bowl from mixer. Cover with plastic and a towel and let rise for 2 hours in a warm place.

Get your filling ready: mix together sugars, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Then mix in maple syrup*.

When the dough is doubled in size, punch it down (something very rewarding about this). Turn it out on a very heavily floured surface. Knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Now, roll the dough into a square (about 10×10). Using a mixer or knife, “whip” the cream cheese until spreadable. Then spread it over the top of your dough square.

Fold the dough into thirds like you’re about to put it in an envelope and mail it to your best friend. Then fold it again in thirds so you have a nice compact square. Now roll that down (again. rewarding). Roll into about a 10 x 20 rectangle.

Brush the top of your dough rectangle with the melted butter (be generous). Then, using your hands or whatever feels right, spread the filling on top of the dough, slightly pressing the filling into the dough. Leave a small 1” perimeter without filling around the corner of the dough*.

Now the fun part! Roll the dough (kind of tightly) into a dough log. Cut into 8-9 slices and arrange in a well-buttered 9×13 baking dish. How pretty is that!?

Cover with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge to rise over night (or if you’re the crazy who woke up 4 hours in advance, let rise another 2 hours).

Sleep.

Wake up! Take the happy rolls out of the fridge and let rest for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375. Bake about 30 minutes (I did more like 25). While your rolls are baking prepare the icing:

Icing:

2 cups confectioners sugar

1/4 cup buttermilk.

Whisk them together! Add more sugar if you want thicker icing. Add more buttermilk if you want thinner.

After the rolls come out of the oven use a spoon to drizzle the icing goodness all over the cinnaMONEY roll goodness. EAT!

*Anytime you see an asterisk is a place that I messed up when making these and did something wrong. Just know that even though I forgot to sift my flour; used the whole 1/4 cup sugar to let the yeast proof; thought that the “egg yolk” said “egg white” and added a white instead of a yolk, and then corrected it by adding the yolk and therefore used two eggs; didn’t have maple syrup and just used plain old log cabin syrup; and left way too big of a filling-less perimeter around the dough pre-rolling, these still turned out GREAT! Yes. Baking is a science. But don’t be deterred if you miss a step! Things have a way of working out.

Brunch!

This weekend I had the pleasure of making brunch for my family (Mom was in town!)… this was the second brunch I’ve hosted and I think it went much smoother than the first. My main goal was to not have to do too much cooking in the morning (as B will tell you, I can become a stress case the morning of)… Here’s the menu:

Spinach Gruyere Strata

Cinnamoney Rolls

Fruit Salad

Sausage

I made a quick little bread for jam and butter when people arrived and also had some mimosas, coffee, and tea. Easy and delicious. I really feel brunch is one of the best meals ever created. I wish we brunched every day. It’s mostly just giant breakfast. And personally, I believe breakfast is the only meal worth paying for…

All of the recipes are forthcoming but today, we’re talking strata. I didn’t know what strata was for most of my life. In fact, the only reason I ever looked up a recipe for it was, embarrassingly, The Family Stone. Have you seen it? It’s a chick flick. That takes place at Christmas. (My favorite things!). Sarah Jessica Parker makes a strata for Christmas brunch that ends up on the floor… but the real point is that strata is a perfect brunch item. You prepare it the day before. Let it sit in the fridge overnight and absorb lots of goodness. Stick in the oven in the morning and voila! Strata!

You start by sauteing onions, add some seasoning, throw in some thawed frozen spinach. Kitchen smells gooooood.

Loooots of eggs get together. Whisk in some milk, dijon, goodness.

Layer it up like lasagna. Fridge it overnight. Bake it in the morning….

Adapted from here:

1 large chopped onion

Salt and pepper to taste

1 10 oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess juices

1/4 tsp nutmeg

9 eggs

2 3/4 cups milk

2 tbs. Dijon mustard

2 cups grated gruyere

1 cup grated parmesan

1/2 pound french bread cubed

Grease a three quart baking dish. Set aside.

Saute the onions until translucent with some salt and pepper (about 5-7 minutes). Add nutmeg, saute about a minute more. Add spinach until warmed through. Set aside.

Whisk eggs, milk, and dijon in a large bowl. Transfer about half to a liquid measuring cup or other sort of pitcher that will make it easier to pour.

Layer 1/3 bread cubes followed by 1/3 spinach and onion mixture, and then 1/3 each cheese. Continue layering, finishing with the cheeses. Then, carefully pour the egg mixture over the layers. I didn’t end up using all of it, be careful not to over-fill. But everyone’s dish is a little different. Trust your judgment.

Cover with saran wrap or aluminum foil and put in fridge overnight (at least 8 hours).

In the morning, take the dish out of the fridge and let rest for about 30 minutes while the oven preheats to 350 degrees. Bake, uncovered for 45-55 minutes until the strata is “puffed” and slightly golden.

Eat it up!

B$ Doughnuts!

Oh, hello. Here’s something to know about this post: I have spent this week working on my personal statement for law school. So much pressure. I’m not going to bore you with the details except to say that it requires a lot of thinking and then controlling how you express that thinking into well formed sentences that make you sound smart and interesting.

blahhhh. just let me speak! I’m basically going to write every thought that comes into my head. and I don’t care if it’s horrible english or don’t sound smart. yall.

 

I bought new sunnies yesterday. I’m mildly obsessed:

There are so many dishes in my sink right now. I’m scared to go home. Why are there so many dishes? Partially because yesterday I made DOGHNUTS FROM SCRATCH!!!!!!!! Hello. I found this recipe from shutterbean.com. I was sold on it because unlike most doughnut recipes, it uses buttermilk and requires no yeast… therefore no rising! It was my first experience frying anything and it was a great success!

Somehow I felt healthier eating these doughnuts than the storebought ones. It felt good to know exactly what was in them. Have I ever told you why I started baking so much? I used to work at CSPI which believes America eats too much processed food and sugar (truth). We weren’t allowed to have “junk food” in the office and I started thinking one day that if CSPI had its way, the US probably wouldn’t have candy bars or any of that… junk. But people being people would still want sweets! What would we do?! We would bake. That’s what. Yeah. So that’s why baking sweets is my favorite. It somehow allows me to justify it, and heck if you’re willing to do all that work, you deserve a cookie (or doughnut). And look at that! You just made a doughnut! I love when a plan comes together.

Go make these. You deserve it.

3.5 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

2 eggs

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 stick of butter, melted and slightly browned, then cooled

(a lot of) vegetable oil for frying

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and another with paper towls

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. In another bowl, wisk together eggs, buttermilk, sour cream, and butter (make sure it’s coooool so you dont cook the egg!).

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour all of the wet ingredients in. Now fold it together with a spatula. This is important. Folding means taking the spatula to the bottom of the bowl and “lifting” the dry ingredients and fold them over the wet. Continue doing this until you have a sticky dough (some flour may still not be mixed in. this is ok!)

Turn the dough out on a floured work surface and sprinkle a little more flour on top of the dough. Pat the dough to be about 1 inch thick. Then use two cutters (shutterbean recommends one 3.25” and one 1.5”. I used a wide mouthed plastic cup and an empty bottle with about the right sized “hole.”) and cut our your doughnuts and holes and transfer them to the parchment baking sheet. Put the scraps together to keep making doughnuts until you’ve used all the dough. Place the doughnuts in the fridge.

Put vegetable oil in a deep skillet so that it’s about 1-1.5” deep. Use a candy thermometer and heat oil over medium high heat until thermometer reaches 365-370 degrees fahrenheit. While your oil is heating, make your glaze:

Vanilla glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1/8 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl. Ta-da!

When the oil is hot and ready, take the doughnuts out of the fridge. Use a spatula to put the biddies in the oil (no more than 3 at a time). Allow a few minutes to brown one side of the doughnut and then flip them (I hope you have tongs. they work well for this). Then get them out of the oil and place on towled baking sheet. Fry all your doughnuts and then holes (which will fry faster… duh) and while the doughnuts are still warm (again, use tongs) dip them in the glaze. I invite you to get creative and explore chocolate glaze options (with sprinkles?). I was thinking of using the chocolate glaze recipe from this post. But this would require more time than the hour I had before work…

Get ’em while they’re hot!! Enjoy!!

Chocolate Glazed Sprinkle Doughnut Cupcakes

Hiya, hi! Hope you’re having a good Monday. I am still soaring on a weekend high and have yet to feel the Monday duldrums which is why I should write this post now as I’m sure by the end of today my tune may change… Best. Weekend. Ever! Spent lots of time with friends and family. Seleta is in the area, friends! Got to visit her in her new casa and meet Miss Vida Jewel. I neglected to take any photos this weekend which I am now regretting. But Vida is the cutest! And Miss Cleo the Clam! She’s a little hambone with lots to tell you about and lots of books to have you read. AND THE GIRL CAN SPELL. She’s not even 3 and she can sound words out and spell them. She is the smartest person I know.

After a night on the “town” (if you can qualify the nightlife of Walnut Creek as such) on Saturday, Brett, his friend Cory and I took an impromptu trip to Point Reyes on Sunday! Here’s why I love California. It’s 1 in the afternoon on a Sunday and you can decide to hop in the car and within an hour be in GORGEOUS Northern Cali–Land of delicious oysters and cheese! Again, no pictures. That was dumb. But we stopped in the town of Point Reyes Station and walked around a bit. Had some delicious lunch on the patio and then went to the beach. Cory made driftwood beach art and Brett hunted for seashells while I laid in the sand just taking it all in. Northern Cali beaches are not sunbathing beaches. They’re adorned with cliffs and fog and a brisk breeze. There are signs warning you that waves are too big for swimming (including something called “sneaker waves” which I really appreciated that title of) and there are SHARKS. But we were the only people on the beach! Where else does that happen?

Update: Brett managed to sneak a few phone pics:

There are so many sweet towns in Northern Cali I can’t wait to explore. But wait. Let’s talk doughnut cupcakes. I decided to make these as the dessert I brought to Seleta’s because Cleo loves cupcakes and doughnuts so this seemed like a perfect solution! I think next time I’d use a little less nutmeg but everyone seemed to enjoy them. The chocolate glaze and sprinkles really sell them. Heck, that combo could sell anything.

There is barely any butter in these which, as a girl from the south, made me skeptical. But it worked out wonderfully.

This recipe only makes 8 cupcakes which for this occassion was a good amount. But we were a little sad not to have any leftover. There’s no frying of these, what makes them doughnut-y is their texture. They’re light and springy. Seleta said it best: think cake doughnuts…

And then of course there’s the glaze and sprinkles that makes  them doughnut-y! YUM. It makes extra glaze which I tried to save for a couple days but I couldn’t figure out what to do with it (besides eat it by the spoonful). Any ideas?

Voila! Glazing them was fun. Sprinkles were a little hard to figure out. I ended up dumping a bunch in a shallow dish and dipping the cupcakes in them.

Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker:

For the doughnut muffins:

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp nutmeg (maybe a little less)

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 tbs unsalted butter, chilled and cut into about 8 cubes

1/4 cup milk, scalded

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg, beaten

For the chocolate glaze:

1/4 cup unsalted butter

2 tbs milk

2 tsp light corn syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Sprinkles!

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease muffin pan (again, only makes 8 muffins).

Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, sugar. Add the cold butter cubes and work in with your hands. Make sure to work it in really well (don’t be afraid of butter warming because of your hands) so that it’s a slightly-finer-than-coarse meal. Set aside.

In a small pan, heat the milk until almost boiling and remove from heat (keep a close eye as this can happen quickly). Whisk together yogurt, egg, and vanilla. Add milk (test the temperature of the milk to make sure it’s not hot enough to cook the egg… but still warm).

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once. Stir together with a spatula until just incorporated. This is especially important with these cupcakes as you’re really trying to get a springy texture and over-mixing will make them dense.

Spoon the batter into unlined cupcake tins (filling about half way). Bake for 8-10 minutes (I did more like 12) until muffins are lightly golden, springy to the touch, and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Let the cupcakes rest while you make the glaze:

To make the glaze:

In a small pan over medium heat, combine milk, butter, light corn syrup, and vanilla until butter is just melted. Remove from heat and add your chopped chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted. Then whisk in the powdered sugar until you get a well incorporated glaze.

Dip the tops of the cupcakes into the glaze and let rest on a cooling rack for a few minutes to let the glaze set just a little. Then dip the tops into the sprinkles and ta-da! Chocolate glazed sprinkle cupcakes! Enjoy!

Ode to the crab

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Yall! It’s FRIDAY! I thought I’d share these (very lemony) muffins with you! I love muffins mostly because they’re an excuse to have dessert for breakfast! Yum. They’re also super easy and quick. No mixer required. Bonus!

I anticipate this post will have lots of exclamation points! Because it’s Friday! I am finishing a very rough week at work/in life. Sleep deprivation has taken me off my A game which is why there are only two things on this weekend’s to-do list:

1. SLEEP!

2. BLOG!

#2 is particularly important. I will be baking a cake! For my brother’s birthday! However, he lives in Virginia and so I will only be able to share it with him via le blog. But he probably likes the internet more than he likes eating baked goods. And I don’t mind eating cake for two people. win-win.    !

Let’s talk more muffins:

That is in fact pink wine, ladies and gentlemen. It goes very well with all shades of baking! I can’t remember why I needed this bottle of wine. I just remember that I drank it. All. And if you know me, you know I’m the kind of person who will choose a wine on its label. This one was no exception! And! PINK! WINE!

Lemon Sugar!

You’re gonna have this step where you use your hands to mix lemon zest with sugar. It’s really satisfying. I don’t know why. It starts to feel like wet sand. And it feels great.

Batter! yum!

Dessert! For breakfast!

 I adapted this recipe:

2/3 cup granulated sugar

zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup buttermilk or sour cream

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 stick butter, melted until browned and cooled

2 Tablespoons poppy seeds

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 400. Line muffin pan with muffin liners.

In a large bowl, use your hands to mix together the zest and sugar to make lemon sugar. Whisk in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, butter, and lemon juice.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and fold together. Add poppy seeds at the last second and mix in.

Divide batter into muffin cups (about 3/4 full). Sprinkle tops with 2 tbs sugar.

Bake for 15-18 minutes until tops are golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Let cool for a couple minutes in the pan, and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!