Saturday, September 29, 2018

Six-Week Raisin Bran Muffins


Now here's something I don't think you see too much anymore--six-week refrigerator bran muffins.

And that's a shame really.  Granted the recipe makes a huge amount; you will definitely have to find your very biggest bowl to mix it and a good amount of space in your fridge to store it (at least in the beginning), but the convenience and specialness of homemade, hot raisin and bran muffins with melted butter is something you just can't buy at your local coffee shop.

Perhaps it's me because I'm getting older, but I value those quiet moments at home, not standing in line with twenty-five other non-morning, likely grumpy people, grins.  And if you're in that morning grump slump, we all know how annoying it can be to have that little bluebird of happiness just chirping merrily away.  So much better to be at home, get one's footing, and then go out and face the world.  These will help.

Six-Week Raisin Bran Muffins

1 (15 ounce) box Raisin Bran cereal (about 9 cups)
3 cups sugar
5 cups flour
5 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
1 quart (4 cups) buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Mix cereal with raisins, sugar, flour, soda and salt in a very large bowl. Add oil, eggs and milk. Allow to rest before use.  Fill muffin tins 2/3 full and bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

Store in a covered container and use as needed.

COOK'S NOTE:  Yep, this does in fact last six weeks.  I stirred the batter off and on in between, sniffing to make sure that it was still okay.  I could make six muffins or a dozen, whatever time and appetite allowed.


Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuit Cinnamon Rolls

Oooh boy!  If you like cinnamon rolls for breakfast, fresh and hot from the oven but you don't like working with yeast or don't have the time to wait for rollin' and risin', then I hope you give this recipe a try.  Have mercy, these were a winner.

I had another recipe for biscuit cinnamon rolls, and it was just like it sounds, biscuits with cinnamon.  Not horrible mind you, but clearly deserving of their biscuit claim, and they were not something I rushed to make again.

So I saw this recipe, hemmed and hawed, reflecting on my past experience, and passed over it several times.  Don't ask me what drew me to it--probably the buttermilk that needed using and the fact that we love pastry type items for our weekend breakfasts. And I don't discount the fact that I have been a huge fan of Mel's Kitchen Cafe for years and years.  She is totally amazing!

And may I say these far exceeded expectations.  While not as light and fluffy as a yeast roll, these were amazing on their own.  Definitely fluffy and tender and full of cinnamon deliciousness.  And huge.  The original recipe said serves 12 to 15.  I am not advocate of puny cinnamon rolls so I made 12.  Just let me say a single roll would easily be more than enough for someone who was wasn't a part of the super-size crowd.  Ahem.  Both Sweetie-Pie and I had two.  What can I say; that's the way we roll.

BUTTERMILK BISCUIT CINNAMON ROLLS
Discovered on Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Biscuits:

4 1/2 cups  all-purpose flour
1/3 cup  granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
13 tablespoons very cold butter
2 cups buttermilk (plus a few tablespoons more, if needed)

Filling:

4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup (3.75 ounces) light brown sugar
1/2 to 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Easy Vanilla Glaze
From the good folks at King Arthur's Flour

  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar or glazing sugar, sifted to remove any lumps
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture is like coarse meal and the butter is in small, about the size of a pea.
  3. Pour in the buttermilk and mix until just combined. The dough should start to come together but don’t want to overmix the dough. If there are lots of dry patches throughout the dough, add a bit more buttermilk, just a tablespoon or two at a time until the dough comes together.
  4. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured counter.
  5. Gently pat (do not roll with a rolling pin!) the dough to about 1/2-inch thick. Gently fold the dough in thirds (as if folding a letter), repeating three times and pressing gently to 1-inch thick after each fold. These folds, combined with the cold butter, are what help to create flaky layers.
  6. With a lightly floured rolling pin (or pressing quickly with your hands), roll the dough into a 1/4-inch rectangle, about 18" x 10". It's important to not overwork the dough if you want tender, flaky biscuits.
  7. Spread the melted butter over the top. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and spread evenly over the butter.
  8. Start rolling up the cinnamon rolls, beginning with one long edge, rolling tightly without pulling and stretching the dough.
  9. Pinch the seam and reposition the long roll until it is seam side down.
  10. Cut into 1- or 1 1/2-inch rolls. Tuck the loose end of each roll underneath and place an inch or so apart on the prepared baking sheet(s).
  11. At this point the rolls can be covered and refrigerated for up to two days. To bake immediately, bake for 12-15 minutes. If baking straight from the refrigerator, add a couple minutes to the baking time.
  12. Let the rolls cool for 10 minutes or so before drizzling with the icing.
For the Vanilla Glaze:
Stir the ingredients together, adding extra liquid or confectioners' sugar to adjust the consistency as needed. Yield: about 1/2 cup glaze.  This made just about enough to lightly glaze all the biscuit rolls.  If you lot a lot of glaze, consider doubling the recipe.




Saturday, September 22, 2018

Apple Crisp


Apple crisp has been one of my desserts of choice since I first had its cinnamon-y, brown sugary, apple-y goodness as a dessert in our elementary school cafeteria.  The lunch ladies knew how to scoop it up and serve mounds of sweet deliciousness in those brown speckled melamine bowls I'll always remember.

Even as an adult dining out at restaurants, if apple crisp was on the menu, apple crisp was my dessert.  Oh, and strawberry shortcake.  If both were offered, I might forgo dinner for two desserts.  That's how much I love them.

Funny thing about apple crisp, though.  Just a few ingredients but not everyone gets it right.  I mean it has to have oatmeal in it. That's what makes it crispy.   Don't be messing me about with lumps of flour.  And it has to have brown sugar.  Simple rules, but when followed, simply divine.  One could eat this with a side of melting vanilla ice cream or mountains of whipped cream, but I am a purist.  Just a spoon and a generous portion of apple crisp and you won't hear a word from me.  Is mmm-mmm a word?

APPLE CRISP

3/4 cup quick oatmeal
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter plus a little additional for greasing the baking dish
1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon
4-6 apples or even a couple more

Butter an 8 x 8 inch (or 9 x 9 inch) baking dish.

Peel and slice apples as you would for an apple pie and spread evenly in baking dish.

Combine the other ingredients, but leave the mixture crumbly. Sprinkle over the apples.

Bake at 350F for about 35 minutes or until a knife easily pierces the cooked apple. Can be served hot with ice cream. Equally delicious cold.

COOK'S NOTES:  Truth be told, I use 6 to 8 apples as I like a lot of apples. Also, I use a mix of apples, Macintosh and Granny Smith as a rule.  Since moving to Arizona, the Macintosh isn't readily available, so I switched to Crispin I think they're called.  I use an 8" x 8" pan because I like the look of abundance in the pan and consequently in the dessert dish, grins.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Copycat "Subway" Rolls



In New Hampshire, Sweetie Pie had a favorite sub shop called Moe's and they have several scattered locations throughout the state and they're well-known and loved for their famous Moe's Italian sandwiches.  It's like a cult following; generations of families are avid fans of the Moe's Italian sandwich.  Sweetie Pie and I could never drive by one of their locations where he didn't buy at least two of them, one for now and one for later.  He said when he worked at the local shipyard, on Fridays, the guys would order from their local Moe's, 200 at a time!  And Moe's would ship to servicemen just about everywhere, I guess way back when, for those who missed that special hometown sandwich.  Even now, living in Arizona, when we meet people from New Hampshire, and we ask about Moe's, a moment of nostalgic silence sweeps over us.  You can feel the longing.  Yep, they're that good.

I don't know their secret as to what makes them better than other Italian sub sandwiches, but they are pretty darned good, and I've tried to duplicate them at home, with limited success.  One thing for sure is, they have good sub rolls.

I debated on sharing this recipe, because in full disclosure, in my opinion, the dough was a stinker to work with.  I've made a fair amount of homemade bread and rolls throughout my lifetime and feel I have a little bit of a knack for working with yeasted bread dough and so I proceeded with smug confidence.  But boy, I'll tell you what, this was a bit of a challenge.

Recipe is easy enough to follow, grins.  What confounded me was the final steps where the dough had to be shaped into the "sub" shape.  It just would not cooperate the way I wanted it to.  I wanted a nice long, slender cylinder of bread, and instead I would ended up with these squat, chubby mini loaves.  Well, after working and rolling, and a bit of stretching and praying, the shape was acceptable.  Not perfect, but acceptable.

And if I didn't cause myself enough angst, after the second rising I noticed that two of the loaves were touching.  And I thought, if I'm careful, I should be able, ever so gently to move it.  Big huge, deflating mistake.  Nothing I could do.  I went ahead and baked three nicely risen sub loaves and one pathetically deflated one.  A lesson in humility, sigh.  And I swore never to make this recipe again.  Ever.  Never.  Until I ate one.

There is a step at the end of the recipe that calls for buttering the top of the hot-from-the-oven loaves and then covering with a clean tea towel.  I was going to skip this step, but let assure you, I think it makes all the difference in the world to the quality of these.  Rolls turned out better any commercially made sub roll I ever had.  Oh my word.  Tender, fluffy, flavorful, and substantial.  In spite of all the challenges, I would definitely make these again because the flavor was so worth it.

Sweetie-Pie loved these so much he ate just the bread the following morning for breakfast, grins.

Can you see the deflated roll in the back?  In spite being the ugly duckling it still tasted good.


COPYCAT SUBWAY ROLLS
(Makes 4 hearty loaves)

1 cup warm water (110* Fahrenheit)
1/2 tablespoon yeast ( 1  1/2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon sugar
1  1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
2  1/2 to 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

  1. In a stand mixer with dough hook already attached, combine the water, yeast, sugar, salt, and olive oil.  Let the mixture stand for about 5 minutes, allowing the yeast to foam and proof.
  2. Add 1 cup of flour and mix on slow speed for 3 to 5 minutes.  add an additional cup of flour and mix until well combined.  continue to add 1/4 cup of flour at a time until a soft dough is formed.  the dough will stick to the bottom of the bowl but pull away from the sides.  You may have to scrape the dough from the hook time to time.  All this should take about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the dough hook set aside.  Remove the bowl and dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and continue kneading by hand until the dough is soft and supple.  Shape into a ball and return to the bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel, and place in a warm, draft free area, allowing the dough to rise for about 30 minutes.
  4. After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a clean surface and divide it until four.  Roll each piece into a long skinny loaf that is about 9 to 10 inches long.
  5. Place the rolled loaves onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or baking mat), about two inches apart, across the short way on the pan. Spray plastic wrap with a cooking spray and lightly place across the loaves so it won't stick when you remove it.  Allow the loaves to rise until doubled, about one hour.
  6. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 350* Fahrenheit.  Remove the plastic wrap or tea towel, and place the loaves in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when lightly thumped with the back of your knuckle.
  7. Remove the loaves from the oven.  rub the tops with a stick of butter and cover them with a tea towel to finish cooling.
COOK'S NOTES:  All right, I will make these again, the flavor and overall character of this bread warrants another try.  I'm thinking of pizza dough, you know how it's supposed to rest before shaping it into a pan to give the gluten time to relax to make the dough more manageable?  I'm thinking it's the same with this.  Needs to rest a few minutes before being shaped into loaves.  And I need to remember to give it the space it needs to rise properly and if I misjudge, not to be all confident and deflate them.

Also, the recipe says to let it rise a second time for an hour.  Well, I suppose that's true for a lot of kitchens, but here in Arizona the house is always warm.  We are cooling our house to 75 degrees.  If  I remember correctly, dough doubled in about 40 minutes, so keep that in mind.

The other thing I'm thinking, perhaps I could've used a tad more water.  Living in arid conditions I think affects the humidity of my flour and perhaps it was a little parched for water.  The dough seemed to work okay, but maybe a couple extra tablespoons of water would've been in order.

Anyway, live and learn, grins.  I'm looking forward to next time.

Now to figure out their olive oil dressing.  Hmm... 

Cheers!