Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread)

April 15, 2017

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Happy Easter or since I’m going to go with Greek traditions this year, I should say Kali Anastasi (Happy Resurrection)! This year I’ve got quite a delicious treat to share with you: Tsoureki or Greek Easter Bread. Traditionally served at Easter, its three stranded braid represents the holy trinity and the red egg symbolizes Christ’s blood. This lovely enriched yeast bread is very similar to brioche or challah, but is spiced with Mahlep which is derived from cherry pits. This is what gives it a very distinct cherry/almond flavor. Yup…soft, moist & fluffy with an unforgettable sweet nutty flavor… now that is an Easter brunch winner if ever I’ve heard of one! But truth be told, what really sold the Husband on this recipe was the promise that it would make a superb french toast!

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I’ve done some really tasty Easter recipes over the years. Like this amazing Italian Easter Pie from last year:

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And I don’t want to forget this lovely Slovak Paska from a couple of years ago:

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Keeping up the International Easter theme, remember way back in 2012 I made this Russian Kulich (Easter Bread):

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And then there is that Easter classic Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns:

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There are just so many delicious Easter recipes to choose from. You just can’t go wrong! And this year’s offering is no exception. Now I will say, you do need to plan a bit ahead to make Tsoureki. You need to get ahold of some Mahleb. I have provided you with an amazon link below and I hear that Penzey’s Spices might also carry it. Luckily there is an amazing Greek Deli that we love, located right around the corner from our place in Richmond Virginia: Nick’s International Foods. They had an abundance of Mahleb available as well as some great greek easter egg dye which enabled me to get the loveliest red eggs out there! Nick’s authentic Mediterranean Market has been proudly serving Richmond since the late 1950’s and from its current location at Broad & Monroe since 1980. Not only do the carry your average small grocery store items but they also boast a huge selection of imported cheeses and specialty European ingredients not easily found elsewhere. And don’t even get me going about their deli! Delicious sandwiches and fantastic soups. Not to mention all the folks who work there are so friendly and helpful. You just feel right at home. So if you are in the area, make sure you check it out!

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But let me get back to this Tsoureki. This bread is pretty easy to make, especially since you break it up over the course of two days. On the first day you mix up the starter, make the dough and then you pop it into your fridge overnight so that it can have a long, slow rise. On the second day all you have to do is shape your dough, let it rise once again and then pop it in the oven to bake. Traditionally this bread is decorated with hard-boiled eggs which have been dyed red, symbolizing the blood of Christ. After the hard boiled eggs bake in the oven along with the bread, they are pretty much inedible, so although some folks decorate their Tsoureki with multiple evenly spaced eggs, I chose to only use one egg at the end of the braid. The way the Husband loves eggs, he would have cried if I had sacrificed any more eggs than necessary!

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Also, if you use a dyed egg when you bake the loaf, a bit of that red color will bleed onto the surrounding bread. If you are worried with the appearance, you can simply use an egg which has not been dyed as a sort of place holder. Then once the bread is out of the oven and cooled, simply swap it out for that vibrant red egg. And don’t skip rubbing the eggs with a bit of oil once they’ve been dyed. It really makes them look amazing!

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Once your dough is ready to be shaped, there are several ways to proceed. You can make one long braid as I did in the recipe shown below. Though I will say this makes a huge loaf of bread. I think the next time I make it I will divide it in half and make a couple smaller loaves. You can also shape the braid into a circle and put it into a 9″ cake tin to bake. Or you could make several smaller personal sized circular braids, which would be fun for a smaller Easter brunch. But definitely give this terrific bread a try. I can tell you right now that it is simply heavenly just slathered with butter. I’m sure the french toast we have tomorrow will be nothing short of divine! Happy Easter!

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Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread)

  • Servings: 1 large loaf or 2 -3 smaller ones
  • Difficulty: easy - but you need to plan ahead!
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

Starter:

  • 1 1/2 cups (177 grams) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup (227 grams) lukewarm (95°F) water
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

Dough:

  • 1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups (298 grams – 418 grams) Unbleached all-purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup (99 grams) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (18 grams) Baker’s Special Dried Milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground mahlep, or the same amount of vanilla extract
  • zest from 1 orange
  • 3 large eggs — 2 for the dough, 1 to brush over the loaf before baking

Optional Decoration:

  • 1 -6 hard-boiled eggs, dyed red
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil, for brushing the hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup halved almond (optional)
  • cinnamon/sugar (for dusting – optional)
  • honey (for glazing – optional)

Directions:

To make the starter: Mix the starter ingredients in a large bowl. Cover the bowl and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour. The mixture will initially be the consistency of thick pancake batter; after an hour it should be very bubbly, airy, and doubled in size.

While the starter rests, ready the dough. Melt the butter over low heat and set it aside to cool. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour with the sugar, dry milk, salt, mahlep and zest from one orange.

Mix 2 of the eggs into the risen starter. Stir in the cooled melted butter.

If you’re substituting vanilla extract for mahlep, stir it in. Add the flour/sugar mixture and stir until everything is incorporated.

Add the remaining 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups flour 1 cup at a time, as needed to make dough that’s stiff enough to form a ball but is also soft and slightly sticky.

Knead the dough — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until it springs back when pressed gently with a floured finger. If kneading by hand, try to use only the lightest dusting of flour on the counter and on your hands. The more gently you knead, the less sticky the dough will seem. When done, place the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours, or overnight.

The next morning, remove the dough from the fridge and knead it gently a few times, to deflate it.

Decide whether you want to make one braided loaf, two loaves, or a round braid. If you want to make the round braid, liberally butter a 9″ round cake pan. For the braided loaves, line a baking sheet with parchment.

Divide the dough into three pieces for the 9″ round or the single braided loaf. Divide dough into 6 pieces for the two loaves. Set them aside, covered with lightly greased plastic wrap.

If you’re using the dyed eggs, rub each one with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil and set them aside. 

Make three 16″ strands with the dough; pinch the ends together at one end. Braid for 4″ to 5″; tuck an egg into the braid. Continue to braid, placing another egg into the braid at 2″ intervals. 

Cover the shaped loaf with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let it rise at room temperature for 2 to 2 1/2 hours; if you’re using the round pan, the top of the loaf should be just barely level with the top rim of the pan. During the last 45 minutes of the rise, preheat your oven to 350°F.

To bake the bread: Lightly beat the remaining egg. Brush it over the loaf. (Alternatively, omit the egg wash if you’d prefer to brush the loaf with honey when it comes out of the oven.) Or brush the loaf with egg wash, sprinkle cinnamon/sugar over the bread and top with halved almond. If you’re baking a round loaf, press the last hard-boiled egg firmly into the center of the risen loaf. 

Bake the bread for 20 minutes. Open the oven door, reach in, and carefully press each egg farther down into the bread.

Continue to bake the bread for an additional 40 to 50 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 190°F. Tent the bread with aluminum foil for the last 30 minutes, to prevent over-browning. 

Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack. If desired, heat 1/4 cup honey with 1 tablespoon water until warm, and brush over the loaf. Let the bread cool completely before serving.

Enjoy!

Tsoureki brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Tsoureki:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

SAF Instant Yeast

Mahlab Spice

Hand Held Zester

Greek Red Easter Egg Dye

Whole Milk Powder or here from King Arthur


Italian Easter Pie

March 26, 2016

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Easter preparations are in full swing in the Runcible Kitchen here. And the star of the show is this Italian Easter Pie! Yesterday I made my traditional Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns. Good Friday just wouldn’t be the same without them!

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And as for today, it was time to try out a new recipe. And I think this one will be making frequent reappearances. Behold this fantastic Italian Easter Pie!

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What we’ve got here is basically an Easter Calzone or “stuffed pizza” filled with smoked ham, hard-boiled eggs and cheese. Traditionally it is eaten in Italian households the day before Easter, but would certainly be welcome on any Easter Brunch table and would also be a great recipe to keep on hand should you have any extra hard-boiled eggs lingering around after the holiday.

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I found this recipe on the King Arthur Flour blog. Rather, I should say I was looking over various Easter bread recipes, trying to pick one to make. Last year I had made Slovak Paska Bread

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and was very happy with the results, so I thought I’d stick with the bread theme. I had pretty much decided on the Polish Babka. But then the Husband happened along and saw the Italian Easter Pie recipe and he was smitten. He loves eggs. Loves them. Could eat them everyday. Prepared anyway. Never gets tired of them. And we had just received an order of King Arthur Italian Style Flour that we were going to try out with a new pizza dough recipe. Sooo….his choice was clear and I got busy making the Italian Easter Pie.  Now I will say, this recipe makes two 12″ Easter Pies. It will serve a whole lot of folks! Apparently there are as many variations on Italian Easter Pie recipes as there are Italian households out there. Everyone has a family favorite. Whilst this pie has fairly mild flavorings (that is why it is important that you use good quality, flavorful ham), I also ran across a recipe that uses a lot of spicier meats, like sausage, pancetta, and salami which looked great. (I’m keeping that one a secret for now to perhaps surprise the Husband with later.)

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I was very happy with how this Easter treat turned out. The crust is light and thin, and I will mention that the Italian Style flour was really easy to work with and roll out.

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The savory filling was perfect, hearty yet not heavy or dense. Italian Easter Pie is generally served warm or at room temperature. And though it is usually enjoyed for brunch or breakfast, I think it would also be great for dinner along with a side salad. Rustic, homey and delicious, this Italian Easter Pie would be perfect for all of your Easter holiday celebrations!

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Italian Easter Pie

  • Servings: 2 - 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

  • 5 cups (539 grams) King Arthur Italian Style Flour or 4 3/4 cups (566.9 grams) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (43 grams) nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) olive oil
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (255 grams) lukewarm water (90° F – 100°F)*
  • *If you use all-purpose flour, increase the water to 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces)

For the Filling:

  • 1 dozen large eggs
  • 1 pound good-quality, full-flavored ham
  • 2 cups (425 to 454 grams) ricotta cheese, part-skim preferred
  • 1 cup (113 grams) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, lightly packed
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme (leaves only)
  • 2 teaspoons Penzey’s Pasta Sprinkle (optional – it is a blend of sweet basil, turkish oregano, thyme & garlic)
  • salt, coarsely ground black pepper, and chopped fresh parsley, to taste

For the Glaze:

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
  • Maldon Flaky Sea Salt to sprinkle on edge of crust (optional)

Directions:

Mix and knead together all of the dough ingredients — by hand, in a mixer, or in a bread machine — until you’ve made a soft, smooth dough. 

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow it to rise for 1 to 2 hours, until it’s quite puffy, nearly doubled in bulk. While the dough is rising, make the filling.

Hard-boil and peel 6 of the eggs. 

Place the hard-boiled eggs, ham (cut in chunks), and fresh thyme in the work bowl of a food processor. Process until chopped and combined. Don’t over-process; the ham and eggs should still be a bit chunky. You can also simply dice the eggs and ham, and chop the thyme, if you don’t have a food processor.

Combine the ham, boiled eggs, and thyme with the raw eggs, ricotta, and Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and about 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper. Add the Pasta Sprinkle if you are using it.

Deflate the dough, and divide it into four pieces. 

Roll two of the dough pieces into rounds about 13″ in diameter, and place them on lightly greased or parchment-lined 12″ pizza pans. Or roll into ovals about 10″ x 14″, and place on two lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets. Note: If you’re using parchment, it’s easiest to roll right on the parchment, then lift the crusts, parchment and all, onto the pans. I actually baked these pies on a pizza stone which I preheated in the oven. So I simply rolled the crusts out and assembled the pies on parchment paper. Then I transferred the pies to the heated stone on a pizza peel or paddle.

Divide the filling evenly between the two crusts, covering them to within 1″ of their edges. You’ll use a generous 3 cups (about 27 ounces) for each crust.

Roll out the other two pieces of dough, and place them atop the filled crusts, gently stretching them, if necessary, to cover the filling. Seal the crust edges by rolling the bottom crust up over the top, and pinching together.

Using a sharp knife or pair of scissors, cut a 1″ hole in the very center of each top crust; this will allow steam to escape.

Make the topping by whisking together the egg and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Paint each crust with some of the topping; this will yield a golden brown, shiny crust with mildly sweet flavor, a perfect foil for the salty ham. Sprinkle flaky sea salt on the rolled edge of the dough.

Allow the pies to rest while you preheat your oven to 350°F, about 15 minutes. They don’t need to be covered.

Bake the pies for about 25 – 35 minutes, until they’re a deep, golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and carefully slide them off the pan/parchment and onto on a rack to cool. 

Serve warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Enjoy!

Italian Easter Pie brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Italian Easter Pie:

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Thermoworks Super-Fast Thermapen Cooking Thermometer

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

Cuisinart Food Processor

Norpro Silicone Pastry Mat

SAF Instant Yeast

Emile Henry Flame Top Pizza Stone

14″ x 16″ Aluminum Pizza Peel

King Arthur Flour Italian Style Flour – This is a 00 Flour

Non fat Dry Milk Powder

Maldon Sea Salt Flakes (Fleur de Sel)

Penzey’s Spices Pasta Sprinkle (this is a link to the Penzey’s website)

I should also mention that King Arthur Flour has a wonderful shop full of kitchen essentials as well as their quality ingredients on their website. Definitely worth taking a peek!


Slovak Paska (Easter Bread)

April 3, 2015

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Is it really Good Friday already?!! Where has the time gone? It seems that I just finished writing about Malted Scáiltín Cupcakes on the last day of my St. Patrick’s Day blog-a-polooza. I guess my little blogging vacation is over. Time to get back in the kitchen! And on this Good Friday I’d like to tell you all about a delicious bread, Paska, which is traditionally enjoyed at Easter in many Eastern European countries.

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Baking bread around Easter is certainly not new for me. Every Good Friday you will find me in the kitchen baking up a batch of Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns. These buns are delicious and because I am always very careful to bake them on Good Friday, they have some magical powers.

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It’s true. I always save at least one bun from my yearly batch. That bun, if you hang it in your kitchen, will not only protect your household from fires but will also work as a charm to ensure all of your bread baking endeavours will be successful. Indeed, a dried bun from the previous year, also has medicinal properties. You can grate a bit of it into the liquid of your choice to make a restorative elixir that will help sick folks regain their health. This powder can also be applied directly to wounds with the same curative results. So yup, I always bake up a batch on the appointed Friday. Not to mention I Love me some Hot Cross Buns and really, to be honest, I just love bread. Pretty much all bread. The only exception I can think of is Rye bread…I’m not too keen on that. Oh yeah and Irish Soda Bread which contains caraway seeds…but I’ve already told you how much I loathe that. Otherwise, bread is always welcome at my table. A couple of Easter’s ago I tried my hand at a Russian Easter Bread called Kulich. Kulich is a sweet yeast bread filled with spices, rum drenched raisins and apricots and topped with frosting and sparkling sugar.

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Todays Easter Bread, Slovak Paska, is an egg and butter rich bread which is light, fluffy and slightly sweet. The loaves are often decorated with Christian symbolism. As I mentioned, it is enjoyed in many eastern european countries with each country’s version slightly different, some with raisins, some without, some with cheese in the bread, or sour cream. Actually I’m sure Paska recipes vary from Granny to Granny, regardless of country borders. The recipe I chose is a Slovak Paska. I am not of Slovak descent, but did run the recipe by my friend John, who is and he definitely remembers his Granny making just such loaves of bread for Easter.

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Slovak Paska was easy to make. I couldn’t believe how high it rose! It really looks amazing and if you can believe it, it tastes even better! And while it is delicious all on its own, really you don’t even need to butter it….but hey – I will never pass up butter…

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we’re already drooling just thinking about it wrapped around a few slices of Easter ham. Not to mention the Easter morning Paska French toast! There’s still time for you to get in on this action. Bake up a loaf for your Easter table today.

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Slovak Paska (Easter Bread)

  • Servings: 20
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

For the Dough:

  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup luke warm (98° – 105° F /36.5° -40.5° C) water
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 5 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 large eggs + 2 egg yolks

For the Topping:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tablespoon cold water
  • coarse white sparkling sugar, optional

Directions:

**The King Arthur Flour site, where I first saw this recipe, simply instructs one to “Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients – by hand, mixer, or bread machine – to make a soft, smooth dough.” This sounds very easy and straightforward to me. However, although everything I have ever made from a King Arthur recipe has been a success, that is not how I make the dough for yeast bread. I proceeded to make it how I am accustomed to doing it, which takes a few more steps. I have written them out below. Feel free to proceed with whichever method you prefer to arrive at a soft, smooth dough.**

Heat the milk, butter sugar and salt in a sauce pan over low heat until the butter and sugar are melted. Do not let the mixture boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to luke warm.

Place the lukewarm water in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Leave for 5 minutes or so until the yeast is foamy.

Add approximately 2 cups of flour to the bloomed yeast mixture and mix on low-speed until combined. Add the lukewarm milk mixture, eggs and the remaining flour. Mix until combined.  The dough should be pulling away from the sides of the mixer bowl. If the dough seems too “loose” slowly (1 tablespoon at a time) add flour until you see it pulling away from the sides and bottom of the bowl and adhering to the beater.

Switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 -8 minutes until you have a soft smooth dough which springs back slowly when you poke your finger into it.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and let it rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until it’s noticeably puffy.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; divide it into two pieces, one twice as large as the other. Take the larger piece, roll into a ball, and place it into a well-greased 9″ x 2″ round pan.

Divide the other piece of dough into three equal pieces, and roll each out into a 20″ strand; use the three strands to create one long braid.

Place the braid around the inside edge of the pan, or use it to form a cross over the top of the larger piece of dough.

Cover the loaf and let it rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the center.

To make the topping: In a small bowl, beat the egg with the water. Brush the mixture gently over the top of the risen loaf, and sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired.

Bake the bread for 35 to 45 minutes, or until it’s a rich golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool before cutting.

Enjoy!

Slovak Paska brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 

 


Heavenly West Virginia Dinner Rolls

November 28, 2014

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I have a confession to make. I love bread. I LOVE it. When I did that South Beach Diet a few years ago and bread was completely out of the question, I thought I might die. I guess that is when I figured out South Beach was not really sustainable in my world. Nope. In my world there is a lot of fresh baked bread, preferably slathered in lovely salty butter.

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I guess I’ll have to hit the gym a little longer to make sure that in my world I can still get my britches buttoned. But if that’s what it takes to chow down on bread, then so be it. And these little dinner rolls that I’m about to talk about, well they are definitely worth undertaking a few extra revs in the gym. Moist, tender and slightly sweet, they are my go-to roll for all dinners. I probably should have let you know about these before Thanksgiving, but hey –  Christmas and New Year’s are right around the corner!

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You may wonder why I call them West Virginia Rolls. Well, I originally came across this recipe when I was looking for Pepperoni Roll recipe. The husband and I love to visit West Virginia every chance we get. Especially the town of Fayetteville, which I’ve told you all about in previous blogs. Pepperoni Rolls, soft white yeast roll which are stuffed with pepperoni, cheese and possibly some peppers, are like the State food of West Virginia. You can find them everywhere from bakeries to gas stations. I wanted to recreate them at home and found an absolutely to die for recipe on Martha Miller’s blog. Her recipe yielded up some truly Heavenly Pepperoni Rolls. The bread called for in that recipe, which was from Martha’s grandmother Yie’s dinner roll recipe, is the same bread used in these rolls. I called them Yie’s Rolls for a while, but everyone around here thought I was saying “yeast rolls” and they were wondering which yeast rolls I meant. Now, when I say West Virginia Rolls, everyone knows exactly what I mean and starts drooling immediately!

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I used to be intimidated by any recipe that had yeast in it. I was sure it was just too difficult to pull off. Now I know that baking with yeast is not really difficult at all, though it can be a bit persnickity, so it helps if you have a few tools on hand. You definitely need a good thermometer which will give you a fast read. And the type of yeast you use is important. Personally I love the SAF Instant Yeast I keep a canister of it in the freezer at all times. And a dough rising bucket is also nice to have. You could probably get by without these tools, but having them makes things go much more smoothly. So now you’re ready to make some lovely yeast dinner rolls. These flavourful little gems are easy to make, though I will admit they are a bit time-consuming with two separate rise times, so make sure you have plenty of time set aside for them on baking day. Now don’t get discouraged. I know you’re thinking “there is no way I have time for all that nonsense especially around the holidays.” But here is a great secret I am happy to pass along to you. Sometime prior to the big dinner you have planned, when you have some free time on your hands (yeah right, huh?) you can make a bunch of these rolls up and par-bake them. So that means you just bake them for 7 minutes, take them out of the oven to cool and then freeze them in heavy ziplock freezer bags. (They will keep in the freezer for several months.) Then, when the day of the big dinner arrives, you simply take them out of the freezer and pop them frozen right onto the baking tray and bake at 375° F for about 8 -10 minutes. And voila! Lovely dinner rolls, fresh from the oven, melt in your mouth, golden brown and irresistible. You will be amazed how quickly these little devils disappear from your table!

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Heavenly West Virginia Dinner Rolls

  • Servings: 3 dozen
  • Difficulty: easy - but time consuming
  • Print

recipe from: Martha J Miller

Note: This recipe makes a lot of rolls! My stand mixer is not even big enough to handle the full recipe. I usually make 1/2 of the recipe which yields about 18 -20 rolls.

Ingredients:

For the bread:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2/3 cup oil (canola or vegetable)
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 packages instant yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons – a yeast packet contains 2 1/4 tsp. yeast)
  • 1 cup warm water (about 110°F)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 9-10 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Directions:

In a small saucepan, heat the milk over low heat until just before it comes to a boil (heat to about 190 – 195° F). Do not let the milk boil. In a small bowl, combine the warm milk, oil, salt and 3/4 cup sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves and let the mixture cool to lukewarm (98°F).

Meanwhile, in the bowl of stand mixer combine the two packages of yeast, sugar and warm cup of water. Stir gently with a fork to break up any clumps and let stand 5 minutes or until mixture becomes bubbly. Pour the lukewarm milk mixture into the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the eggs one at a time and beat to combine.

On low speed, begin to slowly add the flour, one cup at a time until a loose dough forms. There is no precise measurement for the flour as it will vary depending on your individual environment’s humidity, elevation, etc. but it will be somewhere between 9 to 10 cups. The finished dough will pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl, be slightly sticky and slack, but still hold together well.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead, incorporating more flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands and the counter top. Knead by hand for 6 to 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Or you can just switch to your dough hook and let the mixer knead it for about 6 – 8 minutes. To test if the dough is ready, gently poke your finger into the dough and if the indentation remains but slowly comes back, you have kneaded long enough. Place dough in a rising bucket or if you don’t have one, a large lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Place in a warm draft-free place and let rise until dough doubles, about 2 hours.

After the first rise, gently remove the dough and knead lightly 2 or 3 times on a floured surface to remove any large air pockets. Next, divide the dough into 2 ounce pieces preferably using a kitchen scale. If you do not own a kitchen scale the dough should divide out into roughly 3 dozen small pieces and once shaped, be about 1-1.5 inches in diameter.

Shape dough pieces into rolls by pinching two opposite sides of the dough and then pinching together the other two sides to form a ball.

Place shaped rolls on greased sheet pans with enough room for them to rise without touching and lightly cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, approximately 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly beat one large egg with a splash of water and paint egg wash gently over each roll. Bake rolls for 12-20 minutes until golden brown. Cool finished rolls on a rack and re-warm before serving.

To par-bake the rolls simply remove the partially cooked rolls after 7 minutes, let cool, and freeze in heavy duty plastic bags. To finish, place frozen rolls on a greased sheet pan and cook at 375°F for 8-10 minutes. Frozen par-baked rolls will keep in your freezer for several months.

Enjoy!

Heavenly West Virginia Dinner Rolls brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 

 

 


White Chocolate Malted Mousse Cake

April 19, 2014

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Whoo – wee! Is it Easter time already?! Hard to believe it, but it is indeed. I have had an entire month off since my St. Patrick’s Day blogapalooza and have still yet barely recovered. And believe you me, my waist line has not yet managed to get back to normal either. Yup… the old britches are fitting a bit tighter these days. Nothing to be done about it I suppose but some diligent exercising and calorie counting….which I will start right after the Easter holidays, I promise  (wink, wink) . Because no, I can’t start now…not since two of my favourite candy treats spring up like weeds in all of the stores around Easter. I’m talking about those crack-like Cadbury Mini Eggs and those adorable speckled Robin Egg malted milk candies. Now I’m usually pretty strong-willed, but faced with the trial of seeing those delicious treats everywhere this time of year, all of my dieting resolve simply crumbles. So I just won’t set myself up for failure and the calorie restriction will simply have to wait for a few days. Last year I gave into temptation and purchased one (or was it two…or maybe three…) bags of those Robin Eggs and made Robin Egg Rice Krispie Treats, which were not only quick and easy to make, but also a wonderfully yummy snack. And this year, finding a bag of those mini Robin’s Eggs lurking about on my kitchen counter, I whipped up this gorgeous White Chocolate Malted Mousse Cake for our Easter festivities. Talk about temptation! It has so many of my favourite things in it – a crunchy shortbread/cashew crust filled with creamy malted white chocolate mousse which is adorned with Robins Egg malted candies – clearly an irresistible indulgence!

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This festive dessert is very easy to make, you just have to keep in mind that it does need a bit of chill time in the fridge. But no worries. You should pour yourself a glass of wine and have a bit of chill time for yourself while you wait. Your patience will be rewarded many times over when you take your first bite of this sinfully decadent dessert. You may have to spend a bit longer in the confessional (Bless me Father…) but sure you’ll be headed off to Mass anyway…right? Happy Easter Everyone!

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White Chocolate Malted Mousse Cake

recipe slightly adapted from: A Family Feast

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

  • 6 ounces shortbread cookies
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted

For the Mousse:

  • 2 ounces white chocolate
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 (1/4 ounce) envelope unflavoured gelatin
  • 2 – 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons plain malted milk powder
  • Robin’s Egg malted milk candies for garnish (I used the mini Robin Eggs)

Directions:

For the crust:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place the cookies and cashews in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until a fine crumb consistency is reached. Add the melted butter and pulse again to combine.

Pour crumbs into the bottom of a 9″ springform pan and press down to form an even layer over the bottom of the pan.

Bake for 10 minutes or until the crust is golden brown around the edges.

Cool the crust completely in the springform pan on a wire rack.

For the Mousse:

In a small saucepan, combine the white chocolate and 1/4 cup of the heavy cream. Stirring constantly, heat until the chocolate fully melts. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Pour the milk into a small, wide microwave-safe bowl. Very slowly sprinkle the gelatin over the milk, allowing the gelatin to begin to absorb the milk before sprinkling more over the top. (To avoid creating lumps of gelatin it is important that you not only have a wide surface area of milk but that you also sprinkle that gelatin ever so slowly, allowing it to absorb before adding the next layer). Allow the gelatin and milk to sit undisturbed (don’t stir) until the gelatin is fully softened – about 3 to 4 minutes.

Microwave the gelatin milk mixture at 50% power until the gelatin completely melts. ( Heat in slow intervals, about 10 seconds at a time, taking care not to scald the milk) Once the gelatin dissolves, stir it into the white chocolate mixture. Set aside to cool, but stir often. It will begin to thicken.

While the chocolate mixture cools, in the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the cream cheese, sugar, salt and malted milk powder until light and fluffy. Slowly add in the cooled and thickened white chocolate/gelatin mixture, stirring until combined.

In a separate mixing bowl, whip the remaining heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture by hand until blended.

Spoon the mousse over the cooled crust, spreading evenly in the pan. Refrigerate until firm – at least 3 hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, remove the sides of the pan. Decorate with Robins Egg malted candies.

Enjoy!


Bourbon Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Bun Bread Pudding

April 16, 2013

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Since I just shared that wonderfully spicy Chicken & Andouille Jambalaya recipe with you, I thought you might like something with a bit of a Creole flavour to serve for dessert. New Orleans Bourbon Bread Pudding is just such a dessert. Usually this bread pudding would be made with a French baguette or other egg rich bread like brioche or challah.But I had just made a huge batch of Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday. Those Buns were deeee-lish!

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The best Hot Cross Buns I have made to date. However, there were quite of few of those gems sitting around here. Even after the husband and I had eaten our fill, and I’d set one aside for its good luck/medicinal value, we still had quite a few and they were rapidly heading towards a very stale state. Perfect for Bread Pudding! Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Bun Bread Pudding!

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Oh and don’t forget that I’m putting some Bourbon in the mix as well. That is always a good thing! I had made Dorie Greenspan’s Bourbon Bread Pudding before and knew it was a winner, so I just made her Bourbon Bread pudding using my Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns for the bread. I decided to make up a bit of Bourbon Syrup to drizzle over the pudding as well. Oh yeah…and we might have added a little scoop of ice cream on the side. Let me tell you, this bread pudding is just da bomb! I hope you won’t wait until next Easter to make it!

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Bourbon Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Bun Bread Pudding

Recipe slightly adapted from: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces left over Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Demerara sugar to sprinkle over top

For the Bourbon syrup:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Bourbon ( I like Knob Creek)

Directions:

Butter a 9×5 inch loaf pan ( Pyrex or ceramic will work well. I had so many Buns left over to use, I doubled the recipe and made mine in a 9×13″ pan). Line a roasting pan big enough to hold the loaf pan with a double thickness of paper towels. Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil; when the water boils, turn off the heat.

Cut the buns into 1″ cubes and remove the cross from the top of the bun as it tends to have a tough texture. If the bread is stale, put it into the loaf pan. If it is not stale, spread it out on a baking sheet lined with parchments and bake it in a 350° F oven to “stale” it for 10 minutes. Once finished, place the bread in the loaf pan and set the loaf pan in the middle of the roasting pan.

Bring milk and cream just to a boil.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, yolks, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a bowl. Still whisking slowly drizzle in about one-quarter of the hot milk mixture-this will temper, or warm the eggs so they don’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining milk. Add the bourbon and vanilla and whisk gently to blend. Rap the bowl against the counter to pop any bubbles that might have formed, then pour the custard over the bread and press the bread gently with the back of a spoon to help cover it with liquid. Cover the pan lightly with wax paper and leave it on the counter, giving the bread the back-of-the-spoon treatment now and then, for 1 hour.

Center a rack in an oven preheated to 350°F.

Discard the wax paper. Sprinkle Demerara sugar over the top of the pudding. Cover the loaf pan snugly with a piece of aluminum foil. Poke about 5 holes in the foil. Slide the roasting pan/loaf pan into the oven and very carefully pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the loaf pan. Bake the pudding for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes more, or until the pudding is puffed and golden and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean. Transfer the baking pan to a rack and cool the pudding until it is just warm, or reaches room temperature.

While pudding is baking make the Bourbon Syrup. Stir the water and sugar together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar melts, then bring to a boil for about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Bourbon. Pour the syrup into a heatproof bowl and let cool.

Once you a ready to serve the pudding, sprinkle powdered sugar over the top and serve with a Bourbon syrup drizzle. Or you could go even one step further and serve it along with a scoop of ice cream.

Enjoy!


Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns

March 30, 2013

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One a penny, two a penny! Hot Cross Buns! That’s right…it’s time for the Hot Cross Buns to make an appearance. I’m sure you’ve been seeing them everywhere, but I must say, look no further! The best Hot Cross Bun recipe can be found right here. This year I made buns with a bit of a twist from the old traditional ones I usually do and baked Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns. Let me just say, they are dee-lish! They are incredibly moist and bursting with apple and cinnamon flavour, most likely due to a fresh homemade apple cinnamon compote which is added to the dough along with golden raisins, and  bits of dried apple. And if that doesn’t tempt you, as soon as these little buns emerge from the oven, they are drenched in a syrupy apple cinnamon glaze. Do I have your attention now? Yum, yum, YUM!

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On Good Friday I always make Hot Cross Buns. I just have to do it. It’s like I have no choice. I find all of the lore surrounding them fascinating! Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday and the cross that adorns them is said to be a symbol of the Crucifixion. However, these little buns may even pre-date Christianity. The cross could possibly have been made in honour of the Saxon Goddess Eostre and in that case would have symbolized the four quarters of the moon. The Buns that are actually baked on Good Friday are said to have quite an array of powers besides their delicious taste. For one thing, these pastrys will never get moldy. I actually have been putting a Good Friday baked bun aside for several years now and I can attest, they do not mold!

Preserved Buns from Easters past!

Preserved Buns from Easters past!

Furthermore, if you hang one in your kitchen, it will not only protect your household from fires but will also work as a charm to ensure all of your bread baking endeavours will be successful. Indeed, a dried bun from the previous year, also has medicinal properties. You can grate a bit of it into the liquid of your choice to make a restorative elixir that will help sick folks regain their health. This powder can also be applied directly to wounds with the same curative results. Amazing!

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Now I must stress that only Hot Cross Buns baked on Good Friday itself have these powers. So most likely you’re going to have to bake them yourself on the actual day to ensure your buns are filled with these magical properties. Hot Cross Buns are made with yeast, so just keep in mind, there are going to be a couple of rise times involved. You need to plan for it and unless you plan on getting up at o’dark thirty to start working on them, you probably won’t have them available for breakfast that morning. But you could have them ready by elevenses! They are a bit of work, but believe me, these buns are so worth it! And I had the most pleasant surprise. When I finished glazing the Hot Cross Buns I actually had some of the Apple Cinnamon Syrup left over. I set it aside and was quite happy to find that it had actually set up upon cooling, leaving me with a scrumptious jelly! Yup….Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns with Apple Cinnamon Jelly. It just keeps getting better! You’ve gotta make these delicious buns today!

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Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns

recipe from: Technicolor Kitchen

yield: 20 Buns

Ingredients:

Apple and lemon compote:

  • 1 ¼ cups (250 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups + 1 tablespoon (375 ml) water
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored, diced
  • 1 cinnamon quill

Dough:

  • 5 cups (700 g) all-purpose flour (I had to add 1 extra cup flour) + 1/3 cup (46 g) extra for the piping mixture
  • 1 cup (155 g) golden raisins
  • 80 g dried apple, diced
  • 14 g (2 sachets/4 ½ teaspoons) dried yeast
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • finely grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • 5 ½ tablespoons (65 g) granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups + 1 tablespoon (375 ml) whole milk
  • 100 g unsalted butter, coarsely chopped
  • 1 egg

Directions:

Start with the compote: combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan, then squeeze in juice of half the lemon and stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Meanwhile, cut remaining lemon half into 3mm-thick slices, add to saucepan with Granny Smith apples and cinnamon quill. Bring to the simmer, reduce heat to medium and cook until lemon and apple are translucent (20-25 minutes). Strain, reserving fruit and syrup separately. When cool enough to handle, dice lemon, combine with apple. Remove the cinnamon quill, add it to the syrup and set aside.

Combine flour, raisins, dried apple, yeast, ground cinnamon, allspice, zests, sugar, apple compote and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.

Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan, warm over low heat until butter melts and mixture is lukewarm. Whisk in egg, then add milk mixture to flour, stirring to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes) – I used my Kitchen Aid with the dough hook to knead the dough; gradually added 1 cup flour because the mixture was too wet. You want the dough to pull away from the sides of the bowl, so just slowly add flour as you are kneading until you see this.
Place in a lightly buttered bowl, cover and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (30-40 minutes). Meanwhile, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Knock back dough, divide into 20 even pieces, then knead each piece into a smooth ball. Arrange dough in a large rectangle or concentric circles, placing balls side by side onto prepared sheet, leaving 1cm between each for dough to expand. Cover with a tea towel and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (30-40 minutes).
Preheat oven to 220°C/428°F. Combine the 1/3 cup extra flour and ¼ cup (60 ml) cold water in a bowl and stir to a smooth paste. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle and pipe a cross shape onto each bun.

Bake for 10 minutes, reduce oven to 200°C/400°F and bake until golden and buns sound hollow when tapped (10-12 minutes).
Meanwhile, combine reserved syrup and cinnamon quill in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until syrupy. Brush thickly over hot buns, then transfer buns to a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy!


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