Archive for the ‘bread’ Category

Lemon Coconut Bread

April 19, 2009

I thought this combination sounded heavenly, so I baked up two loaves of this over the weekend. I took one into my co-workers….I may keep the other one!

Lemon Coconut Bread

*Note: This bread is delicious on it’s own, but toasted and slathered with butter it is a-ma-z-i-n-g!
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk (lowfat is fine)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened…it truly doesn’t matter)
1/3 cup butter, melted
– Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; grease and flour a 9″x5″ loaf pan
– In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt
– Stir in sugar and coconut
– In a medium bowl, or large measuring cup, whisj together the eggs, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla
– Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in egg mixture
– Stir until just combined and only a few streaks of flour remain
– Add in melted butter and stir until just smooth; being careful not to overmix
– Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 60-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
– Turn loaf out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing
– Makes 1 loaf


March 8, 2009
Have you ever heard of them? Can you even say it?
Fastnachts (fost-knots) are a huuuuuuuuge deal where I’m living now. York and Lancaster areas of Pennsylvania (south-central in the state) have a large population of “Pennsylvania Dutch” and those folks love these little doughnuts, called fastnachts.

The fastnacht is basically a fatty doughnut (read: carbohydrates from heaven) that is served on “Fastnacht Day” — the Tuesday before Lent begins (also known as Fat Tuesday for our N’Orleans folks!). Wikipedia tells me they were originally created to use up all the lard, sugar, fat and butter before beginning Lent.

Seems like a pretty good deal to me!

There are only two places that really embrace the fastnacht — Lancaster/York areas of Pennsylvania, and a town in Switzerland called Basel. Basel actually has a festival for the little buggers!

There are also different types of fastnachts – the german fastnacht is basically a yeast doughnut that can be filled with cream or jam, and then sprinkled with powdered sugar….but the Pennsylvania Dutch version is the best: a potato-dough, fried and dusted with powdered sugar.

Anyway — now that you’ve been educated, I’m passing along a delicious recipe and some pictures. I didn’t make these little wonders — the mother of one of DH’s high school friends makes THOUSANDS of these little lovlies every year on Fastnacht day, and she’s always happy to share them with everyone!

Recipes vary greatly — some fry in oil, some in lard, for example — but here is an example that is very “Pennsylvania Dutch”


2 cups milk
1 cup mashed potatoes (no salt, milk, or butter added)
1/2 cup sugar + 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 stick margarine
1 packet rapid rise yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
6-1/2 cups flour (divided, 2 cups + 4 1/2 cups)
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1 can (3 pounds) Criscoยฎ or similar vegetable shortening for frying

– Scald the milk
– In a large mixing bowl, combine the scalded milk with the mashed potatoes
– Add 1/2 cup sugar plus the margarine and mix with an electric mixer (If the mixture is still warm, cool to about room temperature before proceeding with next step)
– Dissolve the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar in barely warm water
– Add to the potato mixture and mix well. Add 2 cups flour and mix again. Cover with a towel and let rise for 25 minutes
– Add the salt and beaten egg to the mixture
– Add 4-1/2 cups flour, stirring it into the mixture with a large spoon
– Turn onto a well floured board and knead for about 3 to 5 minutes
– Add a small amount of extra flour if necessary so the dough can be handled without sticking to your fingers
– Grease a large bowl and place the dough in the greased bowl, cover with a thin towel, and let rise in a warm, draft free place for about 2 hours or until it is at least double in size
– On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough 3/4″ thick. You can use a doughnut cutter to cut the dough or cut as typical Fastnachts – Cut the dough into 3″ to 4″ wide strips, then cut the strips into 3″ to 4″ pieces
– To allow the center of Fastnacht to fry completely, cut a small slit in the center of each piece, using a sharp paring knife
– Arrange the pieces of dough, about 1-1/2″ to 2″ apart, on large wax paper lined trays
– Cover each tray with a thin towel. Place the trays in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the dough pieces have raised to about double in size
– Heat the shortening to 365ยบ. Deep fry until both sides are golden brown, turning one time.
– Drain on white paper towels. Cool completely before serving
– Store in a covered, airtight container. Makes about 20 to 24 Fastnachts, depending on size
– This recipe can be doubled with no change in preparation directions
– When cool, place in a ziplock bag with powdered sugar and shake to coat

On Pizza and ‘Pizza Stones’

January 25, 2009

I received a double pizza oven (makes two pizzas) for Christmas. It’s awesome.


I really really don’t get making pizza with pizza stones. And that’s what this oven came with.

Any advice?

My DH grew up working in a pizzeria, and when I asked him for help, me told me the stones are crap, and I should buy screens to use in my oven.

But I see food bloggers EVERY.DAY. using pizza stones successfully. So how?

Here’s what I had trouble with:

1. My dough recipe (included below and FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC) says to ‘make’ my pizzas on parchment covered in corn meal, and slide the pizzas onto the hot stones.

– Yeah. This is epic fail waiting to happen. I had plenty of corn meal — those puppies weren’t sliding. Is there another trick?

2. DH claims you must make a pizza on the surface you’re baking it on — because the dough is too hard to transfer. This probably goes with #1. I can’t exactly heat up a pizza stone and then build pizza on it!

3. If the stone isn’t hot (i.e., I build the pizza on it then pop it in the oven) the purpose of it being a stone is lost, correct? It’s just a really heavy cookie sheet at that point.

4. Finally, my pizza oven goes up to 800 degrees Farenheit. And the heating element is on the top portion of each oven…does this affect how I make my pizza?

Any answers would be truly awesome.

You’ll see my cheese is a bit burnt — this was our first go in the oven and it was a bit of a trial by fire. ๐Ÿ™‚

Awesome, Best-Pizza-Dough-Ever Recipe
( Yum.)

Super easy to work with, and deliciously light in texture. Yum!!

1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees F)
2 1/4 tsp breadmaker instant yeast (Can use 1 envelope instant yeast)
1 1/4 cups water, room temperature
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tsp salt
olive oil or nonstick cooking spray to grease the bowl

– Measure the warm water in a large (at least 2 cup) liquid measuring cup and sprinkle in the yeast. Let stand 5 minutes, or until yeast dissolves.
– Add the room temperautre water and oil; stir to combine
– Place the flour and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle and briefly combine your dry ingredients using low speed
– Slowly add your liquid ingredients and continue to mix on low sped until a cohesive mass forms
– Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook
– Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic; approximately 5 minutes
– Form the dough into a ball and put it in a deep, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap
– Let the dough rise until doubled in size (should take 1 1/2 to 2 hours), then press the dough to deflate it
– Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide the dough into two equal pieces
– Form each piece into a smooth, round ball and cover with a damp cloth for 10 minutes (but no longer than 30 minutes)
– Working with one piece of dough and keeping the other one covered, shape the dough and transfer it to a pizza peel or round of parchment dusted with semolina or cornmeal
– Top as desired
– Use other ball of dough, or freeze for later use

**The original website includes instruction about heating your pizza stone in your conventional oven and cooking times for conventional ovens. Since I used my ‘pizza oven’ all of this was thrown out the door.

Turning Failure into Deliciousness

August 17, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve had my first bread failure.

Seems like everyone’s been making pita bread lately — I saw it here, and here, and here, and here — and a dozen other places, it seems!
So I dove in. Things progressed nicely — I felt the dough was a little sticky, but nothing to make a fuss about. I let it rise. Rose beautifully. I rolled it out — worked fine.
But when I covered it and let it proof, nothing happened. The recipe I was using said 20 minutes of proofing should produce a slight “puff” — and I had no puff.
A few hours into the process at that point, I wasn’t turning back. It rose, everything worked, except the proof…and I still have no idea why.
So I tossed it in the oven, and hoped for the best.
The end result was flatbread. Since I didn’t get “puff” in my proofing stage, I didn’t get “pockets” in my pita. But I did make a mighty tasty flatbread!
Admittedly, I’m still irritated at it — mostly because I don’t know what was wrong. I may try again, but not until my hatred for pita settles down.
Left with 8 slabs of flatbread, I had to figure out what to do with it. I fed several to DH — in a variety of forms — for lunch.
And with spaghetti on Friday, I finished them off as garlic breadsticks. A quick mix of oil and minced garlic (yes, from the jar — I loves me some pre-minced garlic), brushed on the flatbread, then a sprinkling of italian blend shredded cheese, and some lovin’ from the broiler….
And man — they were JUST as good as Papa John’s, or Domino’s or whoever!
(DH tells me I need to screw up pita more often!)

Family-Recipe Banana Bread

July 13, 2008

Mmmm…I’ve made many an internet-recipe-banana-bread — but nothing tops the family recipe!

I made this banana bread into muffins (So DH could easily share with co-workers), but it makes a darn good bread loaf as well. I’ve included baking instructions for both.

Banana Bread

(Family Recipe)

1/4 cup soft shortening (I used butter)

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2/3 cup mashed bananas (I used about 3 bananas)

3 tablespoons sour milk/buttermilk (I used regular milk today and it was fine)

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)


– Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

– Mix together shortening and sugar

– Add egg, mashed bananas, and buttermilk

– Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt

For 1 loaf of banana bread: generously grease a bread pan (grandma’s directions say to then line the loaf pan with two-thickness of wax paper, and grease the wax paper.) Add batter. Bake 1 hour (start checking it at about 50 minutes)

For 12 muffins: line muffin tin with paper liners, or, grease generously. Load tins with batter and bake for 25-30 minutes.

I sprinkled mine with a little bit of large-granule sugar to make them pretty

Baked Club Sandwich

June 26, 2008

I’m pretty sure Ally is my husband’s new hero.

Last Saturday, while I was browsing blogs and my Google Reader looking for the week’s recipes, my hubby walked up behind me and said “That. We’re having that. I mean — can we have that??”

The item on the screen? Ally’s “take” on a club sandwich. Leave it to three kinds of meat to make my hubby’s little heart flutter! ha!

Admittedly, I had it starred in my Reader — so I was happy to indulge him. I served it basic — just some steamed broccoli on the side to off-set all that meat!!

This is a delicious sandwich. I’d totally make it again — really, any combination of meat and cheese would be amazing this way. On my list to try? Philly cheesesteak style sandwiches, and ham and cheese. Mmmm…

With my changes…

Baked Club Sandwich
(Culinary Infatuation)

(Serves 2-4, depending on how big everyone’s appetite is!!)

1 frozen bread loaf, thawed — OR — 1 refrigerated french bread loaf (I used the latter this time because I forgot to pull the bread out of the freezer to thaw!)
6 slices each (about 1/4 lb.) deli meat — turkey, ham, roast beef
6-8 slices provolone cheese
1/2 cup (approx) shredded cheese (I used pizza blend — had it in the fridge!)
melted butter for brushing the top
italian seasoning to sprinkle on top (I just used parsley — DH is picky)

– Roll the dough out until it is a large rectangle (no measurements — just as large as you want it!)
– Layer the meats and cheeses on one side of the rectangle however you like
– Roll the dough up pin-wheel style and transfer to a baking sheet
– Baste the top with butter and sprinkle with seasonings
– Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes

Laugen Brotchen (Bretzel Rolls)

June 14, 2008

DH told me the other day about an amazing bread he had while he was in Germany ( many, many moons ago). Granted, all bread in Germany is amazing — but he knew a specific bread. He told me it tasted like a pretzel, but was the consistency of a bread roll.

We live in “Pennsylvania Dutch” territory, so my automatic response was “Oh, a pretzel roll.” But no — DH said this was fluffier, thicker than the standard pretzel roll seen in Central Pennsylvania for sandwiches and such. (And he’s right — this definately has a lot more “bread-like” quality to it than the standard pretzel roll)

A few minutes on the internet with my (incredibly broken/picked-up-from-DH) German, I discovered several recipes for Laugen Brotchen — or Bretzel Rolls.

I chose this recipe arbitrarily — they were all pretty similar. These rolls are DELICIOUS. If you’re more creative than I, you can form them into little pretzel shapes before baking. I just scored the top of mine with an “X” and popped them in the oven. DH tells me the best way to eat these is warm, with lots of REAL butter….but I also think it would be amazing with some ham and cheese tucked in there and warmed. Or any meat and cheese, quite frankly! MMM!

Laugen Brotchen/ Bretzel Rolls/ Pretzel Rolls
(Original Found at Recipezaar)

Makes 12 rolls

1 1/3 cups warm water
2 tablespoons warm milk
2 1/2 teaspoons (approximately 1 small package) active dry yeast
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 cups all-purpose flour
kosher salt or pretzel salt
2 quarts (~ 8 cups) cold water
1/2 cup baking soda


– In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix 1/3 cup of the warm (105-115 degrees) water with the yeast and let stand until foamy (about 2-3 minutes for me)

– Add the remaining cup of warm water, the warm milk, melted butter, and brown sugar and mix to dissolve the sugar

– Attach your dough hook to your stand mixer, and slowly add the 4 cups of flour until combined. Continue using your dough hook to mix the dough until it forms a nice, firm dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl

– Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 2 minutes. Roll into a 2-foot long log and cut into 12 even pieces

– Cover the dough with plastic wrap and a damp cloth and let sit for 10 minutes (this step didn’t say if i should wrap each piece individually, or lay the plastic over all of them, or what. i laid the plastic over all of them, then the damp towel, and it worked fine)

– Pat dough into rolls, or form pretzel knows and arrange on a lightly floured surface, about an inch apart, and cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for an additional 30 minutes (again — i just laid some oiled plastic wrap over the lot of them, and let them do their thing. they were fine)

– Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil 2 baking sheets

– In a large stockpot, bring the cold water to a rolling boil and add the baking soda

– Drop the rolls — one or two at a time — into the boiling water and boil for no more than 30 seconds, turning them over once. Carefully remove with tongs, spatula, or slotted spoon and hold above the pot to let drain

– Deposit boiled rolls into the greased baking sheet (6 per sheet) and sprinkle lightly with pretzel or kosher salt. Repeat with the remaining rolls

– Bake the rolls on the upper and middle racks of the oven for 8-10 minutes until brown all over — if necessary, shift pans from top to bottom and back to front halfway through, for even baking (I baked mine 1 baking sheet at a time to ensure consistency of color and cooking. I also turned the pan around halfway through. Mine also baked for 9 minutes)

– Let the rolls cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack

– Serve warm, or at room temperature


– I think these would make amazing sandwiches. I think I’d just split the top, tuck my sandwich ingredients in it like a pocket, and warm them in the oven — mmm!!!
– The hubby says these aren’t quite what he had in mind — he remembers them being denser, darker, and crustier. Having done a little more reading since I made them, I think this comes from the tendency of German bakers to use rye and wheat flours, rather than enriched, bleached flours. Perhaps next time I will experiment with a more whole grain flour and see where it takes me.

Edit: I’ve entered this recipe in Joelen’s Culinary Adventures blog event — Oktoberfest!

"To Die For" Blueberry Muffins — Almost

June 2, 2008

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When I saw this recipe on BrownEyedChef’s blog, I knew I had to try it. I’m batty for blueberry muffins, and I am continuing my quest to find the perfect one.

This muffin was VERY VERY close to perfect…I think my only real problem with it was the crumble mixture on top — mine didn’t crumble…and it had some issues. Or rather, I had issues with it (I think I just let my butter get too soft before I made the crumble mix)

I think next time I’ll just sprinkle with some large-granule sugar, and call it deliciousness. But, in the interest of the perfectionist that I am, I’ll continue trying blueberry muffin recipes to find the “perfect” one!

Apologies for the bad image — I was in a hurry on Sunday, and I knew if I didn’t get a picture right out of the oven that DH would have them all eaten before I could try.

Apparently, in addition to walking away from my butter and letting it get warm, I also had uneven muffins. Bah. Who cares, they taste good. ๐Ÿ™‚

To Die For Blueberry Muffins
(BrownEyedChef’s Blog)
(Serves 8 according to BrownEyedChef — I got 9)

Muffin Ingredients
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries

Crumble Ingredients
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Muffin Directions
– Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
– Grease muffin cups or line with baking cups
– Combine 1.5 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt, and baking powder
– Place vegetable oilin a 1-cup measuring cup, add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup (1/3 cup milk)
– Mix the wet mixture into the flour mixture
– Fold in blueberries
– Fill muffin cups right to the top and sprinkle with crumb topping

Crumble Topping Directions
– Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
– Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking

– Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly golden brown

Soft Pretzels — Part Deux

May 11, 2008

My other pretzel recipe was Alton Brown’s — and it was really good. But this recipe is a bit quicker to make, it had brown sugar (which I hoped meant a sweeter pretzel), and it gets raves on the cooking message board I frequent.

Plus, DH wants pretzels. All. The. Time. ๐Ÿ™‚

While I don’t think it was much sweeter than Alton’s, I do think it was quite tasty. I’d make either one, but I think I prefer this one because it has a slightly less “yeasty” flavor.

The only thing I added to Amber’s recipe was a light egg wash before baking the pretzels, so they’d come out nice and dark brown and a bit crisp on top.

Pretzels (Part Deux)
(Original recipe from Amber)

(Amber says this makes 20 pretzels — I only got 10 out of it!)

1/8 cup hot water
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/3 cup warm water
1/3 cup brown sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
Coarse kosher salt
Baking soda
Butter or shortening (to grease cookie sheets)
Vegetable oil (to grease counter)
1 egg, beaten + 1 tbsp water (to brush the pretzels with before baking)

– In a large bowl, mix together 1/8 cup hot water and 1 package active dry yeast until the yeast dissolves.
– Stir in the 1 1/3 cup warm water and 1/3 cup brown sugar and continue stirring until the brown sugar dissolves.
– Slowly add 4 cups of flour, stirring constantly (I used my Kitchenaid mixer and the kneading attachment for this — worked great)
– Continue stirring the mixture until it is smooth and does not stick to the sides of the bowl

To continue by hand: flour the counter lightly, and flour your hands. Knead the dough until it is stretchy and smooth (push it down and away from you with the palms of your hands, turning the dough as you work)

To continue using your mixer and kneading attachment: continue kneading your dough at speed 2 until the dough appears stretchy and smooth (about 3-4 minutes for me)

– Lightly oil your counter (Amber says to flour your counter — Alton said to oil. I find the oil allows you to roll the pretzel more easily, so I used that)
-Grease your cookie sheets (I used 2) generously with butter or shortening. It is very important that you grease the cookie sheets well!
– Sprinkle greased cookie sheets with kosher salt.
– Preheat oven to 475 degrees Farenheit.
-Using a liquid measuring cup, fill a large saucepan at least 1/2 full of water. For each 1 cup of water you add, add 1 tablespoon of baking soda.
– Divide the dough into 4 even pieces, and shape them like a pretzel (You can also make pretzel sticks — Roll out 2-3″ long ropes of dough and leave as is)
– Bring the water and baking soda in the saucepan to a gentle boil.
– Using a pancake turner, or a large spatula, gently lower each pretzel into the water one-by-one — counting slowly to 30 before removing the pretzel from the water and placing it on the cookie sheet.
– Repeat until all pretzels are done.
– When all pretzels have been boiled, lightly brush each pretzel with the egg+1 tbsp water mixture, then sprinkle with more kosher salt.
– Bake for 8 minutes, or until the pretzels are golden.

– I baked half my pretzels with no salt, and when they came out of the oven, dipped them in melted butter and cinnamon-sugar mixture to make cinnamon sugar pretzels. YUM!

Oh, and P.S. — there are no pictures with this — they looked exactly like my other pretzel recipe. Trust me ๐Ÿ™‚

Homemade Soft Pretzels

April 20, 2008

I have two soft pretzel recipes I’d like to experiment with. This is the first.

This is Alton Brown’s recipe…and while I normally think his recipes are divine (even if he is a bit neurotic) this one is just “okay” in my eyes. DH agrees and says it’s amazing.

The key, I think, is I like a sweeter pretzel dough. This one is more yeasty, than sweet — and I think it’s because this recipe calls for white sugar. My other pretzel recipe calls for brown — hopefully I can post it soon and update you on the sweetness of the dough!

Homemade Soft Pretzels
(Original by Alton Brown)
Makes 8 Pretzels

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all purpose flour — about 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
pretzel salt (can use kosher salt!)

– Combine water, sugar, and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle yeast on top and allow to sit for 5 minutes, or until the mixture begins to foam.
– Add the flour and butter, and, using the dough hook attachment on your mixer, mix on low speed until well combined.
– Change to medium speed and knead the dough with the dough hook until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl (approximately 4 to 5 minutes).
– Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil.
– Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and sit in a warm place for approximately 50-55 minutes, or until dough has doubled in size.

– Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 sheet pants with parchment paper and lightly brush with vegetable oil. Set aside.

– Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

– In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a 24-inch long rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, and cross them over each other. Press into the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel.
– Place onto parchment-lined sheet pan.

– Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large, flat spatula. Return to the sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg and water mixture and sprinkle with pretzel salt (I left salt off half my pretzels and made them cinnamon-sugar ones once they had baked)

– Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes.
– Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.