Cinnamon Buns

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The hot days of summer feel like a distant memory, there’s a bit of nip in the air, it must be fall.  Which makes it safe to turn on the oven again.  This is family recipe from my sister-in-law.  I haven’t baked a batch for yonks and yonks, but somehow the cool weather inspires the desire for the comforting, spicy tang of cinnamon.  The recipe calls for quick-rise yeast, which means it’s not gonna take the whole day to make a pan.  If you’re new to working with yeast dough, Fleischman’s has some technique videos that will help you get started with confidence.

Maureen’s Cinnamon Buns

Dough

3 ¼ cup flour

1 pkg instant/rapid-rise yeast

¼ cup granulated sugar

½ tsp salt

¾ cup 2% milk

¼ cup water

¼ cup butter

1 egg slightly beaten

Filling

1/2 cup soft butter (more or less as needed)

2/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tbsp cinnamon

½ cup raisins

½ cup pecans (optional)

For the pan

4-5 tbsp butter

4-5 tbsp brown sugar

Reserve 1 cup flour.  Mix remaining flour, granulated sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Stir in yeast.  Heat milk, water and ¼ cup butter until hot to touch (about 54 degrees Celsius).  Stir hot liquid into dry mix.  Stir in egg.  Mix in enough reserved flour to make a soft dough that does not stick to bowl.  Turn onto floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Cover, let rest 10 minutes.  Roll dough to a 14” square.  For filling, spread the dough with soft butter.  Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over butter.  Layer on raisins and pecans.  Roll dough jelly-roll fashion  and cut into about 15 buns.  Place in 9”x13” pan that has been prepared with butter and brown sugar. (Make a paste of butter and sugar and spread it into the pan.)  Arrange buns cut side down into pan.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise till doubled, about 30 minutes.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes in pan, then turn out buns onto a tray to cool completely.

Buttermilk Pancakes

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Still very cold in our neck of the woods, -26°C as I write this.  Pancakes seemed like a good idea for brunch.  And because there was half a litre of buttermilk left from yesterday’s muffins (and some frozen blueberries), the obvious choice was buttermilk pancakes sprinkled with blueberries.

A quick surf of the net suggested adding instant yeast to the batter, with the promise of “fluffiest pancakes ever”.  Who could resist the siren call?  Not me 🙂

Buttermilk Pancakes

2 1/4 cups flour

2 tbsp sugar

1 package rapid-rise yeast (8g/2 1/4 tsp)

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups buttermilk

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 egg, beaten

1 cup blueberries, if using

Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Stir in dry yeast.  Meanwhile, heat milk to 50°C/120°F.  Stir in oil.  Add milk, oil and beaten egg to flour mixture, stirring just with a spoon until blended. Don’t over stir or pancakes will be tough.  Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in warm place until bubbly and almost doubled, about 10 minutes.

Lightly grease a griddle or skillet with cooking spray or a little oil.  Heat over medium heat until hot.

Stir down batter; pour 1/4 cup per pancake onto griddle. Sprinkle each pancake with 4-5 blueberries.  Cook pancakes until edges are dry and surface is bubbly. Turn; cook other side until golden brown.  Serve with maple syrup.

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Raisin Tea Cakes

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We have bit of a gloomy day today, leaden skies and intermittent snow.  Here’s a delicious way to brighten the afternoon–raisin tea cakes.  Serve warm with butter and strawberry jam.  Too bad we don’t have any Devonshire cream to dollop on top!

Raisin Tea Cakes

2 cups flour

4 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

½ cup cream cheese

1 cup milk

3/4 cup raisins, washed and drained

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut in the cream cheese and rub till mixture is crumbly.  Stir in raisins.  Add the milk and stir to make a soft dough.  Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead gently just until dough clings together.  Shape dough into a roll about 9″ long.  With a sharp serrated knife, cut dough into about 12 equal pieces (about 3/4″).   Place circles of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes.

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Chocolate Swirl Banana Loaf

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Chocolate Swirl Banana Cake

2 cups of flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3 bananas, mashed

½ cup canola oil

1/3 cup buttermilk

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3 tbsp cocoa

2-3 tbsp hot water

Preheat oven to 375°F.  In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda.  In a smaller bowl, stir together eggs, oil, buttermilk and vanilla.  Make a well in the dry ingredients.  Pour in wet mixture and add mashed bananas.  Combine all ingredients just until moistened.   In small bowl, mix cocoa and just enough of the hot water to make a smooth mixture.  Add in about 1 1/2 cups of the batter and gently mix to form the chocolate batter.   In a 9″x 5″ loaf pan that has been greased and floured, alternate dollops of of white and chocolate batter.   Use a knife to swirl the batters together.   Bake about 55 minutes total, 15 minutes at 375°F, then reducing temperature to 350°F and baking for an additional 35-40 minutes.  Bake until inserted tester comes clean.  Let loaf cool 5 minutes in the pan,  then invert onto wire rack to cool completely.  Once cool, drizzle with chocolate glaze.

Chocolate Glaze:

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp cocoa

1/2 cup icing sugar

2 tbsp very hot water

In a medium size microwave-safe bowl, melt butter.  Stir in cocoa and icing sugar.  Add hot water and mix thoroughly.  If glaze seems too thick to flow, add more hot water a little at a time until desired constituency is reached.  Glaze will set quickly, so once the hot water is added, work quickly.  Drizzle over loaf as desired.

Ham, Asparagus and Sweet Onion Pizza

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We’ve been making our own pizza lately, and quite enjoying it.  Pizzeria pizza it’s not, but in its own way, just as good and better.  And thanks to this pizza crust yeast that I’ve discovered from Fleischmann’s,  it’s quick and easy from start to finish; first thing, turn on the oven to 430 degrees F so it gets nice and hot.  The pizza will be baked on the bottom rack.  Using two packages of the pizza crust yeast, and following the directions on the package, I used my stand mixer to mix and knead the dough, then pinned it out to fit a well-oiled 11.5″ x 16.5″ baking sheet.  While the dough was being kneaded, I gently sauteed some chopped asparagus in a bit of butter with a pinch of salt and a good grind of fresh pepper.  I used a bottled version of pizza sauce (for convenience tonight, but next time some marinara sauce would be better, I think).  Next came a sprinkling of grated mozzarella cheese, then a layer of chopped ham, the sauteed asparagus, then another sprinkling of mozzarella, and a handful of grated asiago cheese.  Finally I added a light layer of very thinly sliced sweet onion.  The pizza baked for 15 minutes.  At the table, we added some hot pepper flakes for a bit of zing.   It was yummy 🙂

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Be sure to check out the Fleischmann’s website for further and better instructions and recipe ideas.  I really like this yeast, which needs only enough kneading to actually form the dough and no proof time.  I pulled my mixer out at 5:25 and we were eating at 6:05, with the kitchen mostly cleaned during baking time.  Easy, quick and delicious; I’m a happy baker!

Irish Soda Bread

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Making soda bread takes hardly any effort, but the result is just so satisfying!  And such versatility!  A loaf can show up at any meal–breakfast, lunch, tea, supper, and give a stellar performance every time!   You can keep it plain and simple, or gussy it up with a few additions, such as nuts, seeds, dried fruit, or herbs.  If you’ve never tried it, put it on your to-do list.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Soda Bread

4 cups flour

2 tsp baking sodaIMG_2235

1/2 tsp salt

1 3/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease and very lightly flour an 8″ round layer pan.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.  Stir in the buttermilk to form a slightly sticky ball of dough.  Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead gently a few times.  Form the dough into a ball, flatten (by hand or with rolling pin) and then press to fill the prepared pan.  The dough should reach the edges of the pan, but may spring back slightly. Cut an X into the dough with a sharp knife, about 1/4 of an inch deep.  Cover the pan of dough with another round layer pan turned upside down.  Bake for 30 minutes, covered, then remove the top pan and bake uncovered for about 10 minutes more or until the crust is  golden brown and crusty.IMG_2258a

Scones aka Tea Biscuits

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Whatever you call them, these simple baked treats are very useful on all sorts of occasions.  Hot from the oven, dripping with a bit of butter, they’re delicious just as they are.  A simple bowl of soup ramps up to a new level when it has a  biscuit to accompany it.  Add some raisins to the dough and viola, the perfect tidbit for afternoon tea.

Years ago as a baker-in-training at technical college, biscuits were the very first thing we learned to make properly.  It seemed like a very odd choice to me back then, but now I see the wisdom in it.  Learning the skills you need to produce a batch of tender biscuits (as opposed to hard, dry lumps) lays a great foundation for all baking.  It’s a matter of learning what the dough should feel like to produce the best results;  how much flour to dust the rolling surface, how much kneading before it’s too much, measuring ingredients accurately.

This recipe makes a very soft dough, so it’s best to keep handling and rolling to a minimum.  I like the rustic look of just patting the dough into a rough rectangle and cutting into 12 pieces, plus it’s the quickest way to get them in the oven.  When you have more time to fuss, a neat way to bake the biscuits is to roll the dough into a circle and then cut into 12 wedges and roll up as you would for a crescent roll.

Scones

3 cups flour

6 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

3/4 cup butter

1 1/2 cups milk

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut in the butter and rub till mixture is crumbly.  Add the milk and stir to make a soft dough.   Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead gently just until dough is ready to be rolled.  Roll or pat out to about 3/4” and cut shapes as desired.  Place biscuits on ungreased baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees F for about 18 minutes.  Makes 12 generous scones.  For a shiny crust, beat an egg with 3 tbsp water and then brush each biscuit before baking.

The variations are only limited by your imagination.  Here are just two:

Buttermilk Scones:  reduce baking powder to 3 3/4 tsp and add 3/4 tsp baking soda.   The buttermilk makes a heavier biscuit, but adds flavor.

Fruited Scones:  stir in a 3/4 cup of raisins or other dried fruit (blueberries, cranberries, etc) that have been rinsed  and drained.

Cinnamon Pull-Aparts

This is Aunty Janet’s recipe, which we often enjoy for breakfast when we stay at her house overnight. Great cinnamon bun taste without all the work!

Cinnamon Pull-Aparts

1 pkg  frozen buns (dough), 20 buns

3 tablespoons  butterscotch or vanilla pudding powder (not instant, save the rest for another time)

1/3 cup melted butter

scant 1/2 cup  brown sugar

1/2 cup raisins OR chopped nuts  (optional)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Place the frozen buns in a greased bundt pan.  Sprinkle raisins or nuts over the buns.  Mix together the pudding powder, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle sugar mixture all over the buns.  Over all, pour the melted butter, taking care to drizzle  evenly over buns and sugar.  Cover the pan with greased plastic wrap.  Let stand overnight (about 8-9 hours) until buns are fully risen (buns should be  to the top of the pan).  Bake at 375 F for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool 10-15 minutes and then invert pan onto serving plate.

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