Grandma’s Cinnamon Bread

February 10, 2013

Cinnamon Raisin Bread from My Pantry ShelfMy first grade son was recently asked to write up a favorite family recipe to share with his class.  The minute I heard this my mind began scanning the many recipes that he might deem worthy.  While selecting just one recipe seemed daunting to me, he quite simply stated, “I will share the recipe for Grandma’s Cinnamon Bread.” The special bread that my mom makes for him when he stays at her home.

Spreading CinnamonThis made me think, it is the children of the family that ultimately decide which recipes will live on. Perhaps this is because in childhood every moment seems larger than life.  The meals we eat, the people who prepare them for us, the experiences we have in our youth become the foundation of our life.  In truth, if I think of my own favorite family recipes, they are the ones fell in love with as a child, the Swedish Cardamom Bread at our holiday table,  my grandmother’s Royal Danish Soup, or my mother’s spaghetti sauce that I could never get enough of.  Now matter how much I might enjoy a new recipe that I develop or come across as an adult, they never hold the same place in my heart as those I loved as a child.  And also, without the enthusiastic blessing of my children, the recipe never will become a new family favorite.

Roll the cinnamon dough

Grandma’s Cinnamon Raisin Bread is a not too sweet bread with a perfect cinnamon spiral through the center.  It is delicious on its own, but my favorite way to eat it is toasted with butter.  It also makes a special French Toast.  The recipe makes two loaves.  The bread freezes well.  If you slice the bread first, it is easy to grab a slice to toast for an easy breakfast.

So, what is your favorite family recipe?  Tell us in the comments below and leave a link if there is one!  This post was submitted to Yeastspotting.

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Thanksgiving Menu Guide

November 15, 2012

With Halloween behind us, we are officially hurtling towards the Thanksgiving.  For me that means it is time to get serious about meal planning.  While Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy time-honored dishes, each year I like to try something new as well.  Here a a collection of special occasion-worthy recipes from My Pantry Shelf that my family loves.  What is your favorite dish to make for Thanksgiving?  Tell us in the comments below.  Feel free to add a link to your recipes.

appetizers

Fuyu Persimmon Chutney

Fresh Herb Chevre

sides and salads

Acorn Squash Rings with Apple Glaze

Brussels Sprouts with Garlicky Bread Crumbs

Chipotle Black Bean and Butternut Squash Salad

Forbidden Rice and Green Onion Hearth Bread

Orange Quinoa with Almonds, Olives, and Feta

Roasted Beet and Hazelnut Salad with Feta

Shaved Brussels Sprout Slaw

Sweet Potato and Bacon Gratin

Stuffed Winter Squash with Rice and Sausage

dessert

Pumpkin Coconut Pudding

drinks

Cranberry Daiquiris

brunch

Bacon Breakfast Strata

Buckwheat Blueberry Pancakes

Easy Cranberry Bread

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Rye Bread (redeemed)

March 15, 2012

Last year in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day, I corned my first beef brisket.  It was a smashing success, but the loaf of rye I made to sandwich the leftovers failed miserably.  It took an entire year to return to this challenge, but when Caroline at Grow It , Cook It, Can It suggested baking bread for Cook It, 2012, I knew this was the loaf for me.  So this year, with the beef corning in the fridge, I tried a new recipe for rye bread that turned out just as I hoped.

After scouring my many cookbooks, I settled on this recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook. This bread is moist and chewy with a pronounced flavor of rye and caraway.   It includes two types of flour in perfect proportion to achieve the signature flavor of the rye and all purpose flour to supply the required gluten and keep it light. My family loved these loaves so much that they were devoured before I had a chance to stick one in the freezer for this upcoming weekend.  This weekend, when I bake another batch, I will roll the dough into shorter loaves to make larger slices more appropriate for sandwiches.  I also plan to toss in a cup of minced onion to flavor the bread.

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Last weekend I was fortunate enough to gather for a potluck with a fantastic group of fellow food lovers.  We are all part of Food52, a fabulous online community of inspired home cooks and knew each virtually through viewing, cooking, and commenting on each other’s recipes.  The gathering celebrated  the publication of the first Food52 cookbook, in which many of the party-goers had their own amazing recipes published.  The cookbook is beautiful and I can not wait to cook my way through it!

Not surprisingly, we all had a lot in common, most notably our love of good food.  The table was brimming with amazing dishes, most of them made from recipes found on Food52. It was difficult to decide what to bring, but I opted for fresh baked bread.

Forbidden Rice and Green Onion Hearth Bread is based on a recipe from Montana Culinary Students on Food52.  The contrast in texture and color that the black rice brings the bread drew me in.  Wild rice works as well, but Forbidden Rice sounds irresistibly tempting!  The onion adds a deep savory quality and works beautifully with the aromatic rosemary.  A hint of lemon zest adds a pleasant brightness to this hearty loaf. This bread will definitely become a regular in my baking rotation.  I imagine that it would make great croutons as well, if you are able to resist the bread while fresh.  This bread would also be a tremendous addition to the Thanksgiving table!

Check out what some of the fabulous cooks I met are doing on their own sites!  TasteFood, Still Simmering, The Year in Food, The Wimpy Vegetarian, The Beet Goes On, My Kitchen Solo.

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Sesame Pita Bread

October 13, 2011

There is no substitute for home baked bread.  When baking at home we can experience each magical step of the baking process.  The bubbling of the yeast as it proofs and the rapid transformation of dry flour, salt, and water into an elastic mass that rises with life.  We shape the bread into loaves or braids or flatbreads (or the strange masses my kids insist on baking).  Once baked, the breads’ fragrant steam is intoxicating.  These are the secrets of the home baker.  None of these special experiences can be found in a bag of bread on a market shelf.

Regretfully, my life is too full to bake all of our bread at home.  While there are a few bakeries that offer excellent breads in our area, I have yet to find a great source for pita breads.  Since pita bread is so thin, it becomes stale very quickly.  Most of the doughs are treated with conditioners to extend their shelf life, but in the process destroy the quality of the bread.  This recipe, adapted from Baking with Julia, is a perfect solution to this problem.

Sesame Pita Bread eliminates the need to settle for store-bought pitas.  The dough is made in advance and stored in the refrigerator.  Cut off pieces, shape, and quickly bake for fresh bread throughout the week.  The pita is fragrant and flavorful.  It yields just the right amount of chewy resistance when you bite into a piece.  The sesame seeds add just a hint of flavor and texture to this otherwise plain dough.  Serve the pitas on the side of any saucy dish, brush the tops with garlic butter a different twist.  Slice them in half and fill with lamb,  hummus and veggies, or the classic falafel.  I am still searching for a fantastic falafel recipe.  Please share a link below if you have one.

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This is no ordinary burger, in fact, it is quite possibly the best burger I have ever had.  I know, it is a bold statement, but one spoken from the stomach heart.  We make burgers once a month or so, usually as an easy dinner.  That is how this meal began, as an answer to what to make for dinner that would be easy, popular, and satisfying.  That was all well and good, until I got it in my head that I could make everything from scratch. Oh, and add bacon to the beef.  Whoa.

After we picked up a meat grinder attachment for our Kitchenaide, we discovered the magic of burgers made with freshly ground meat.  This burger includes not only beef chuck roast, but also a very special not-so-secret ingredient, bacon!  This was a perfect use for some bacon ends we had from our piggy in the freezer.  Using a ration of 4 parts beef to 1 part bacon, I ground the two meats with the course grinding plate.  After lightly tossing them to mix, I loosely formed them into patties.  I pressed the meat just enough so they would hold together on the grill, but so there were still some small air spaces between the meat pieces.  This gives a place for the juices and fat to collect (did I mention this is not a low-fat meal).  Grilled over medium high and plopped on a fresh toasted bun, these burgers taste amazing.  The bacon flavor is strong enough to make itself known, without being overpowering.  The best part is that unlike a burger topped with slices of bacon, the bacon does not slide out of the bun as you try to bite through it.  The flavors of the beef and bacon are perfectly blended.  And then there is the bun…

This recipe came from King Arthur Bread.  They were so good that my son declared, “Mom, these are CRAZY.  I never want to buy buns again.” (I love that my kids love to eat!)  The recipe uses an egg and some butter, so the buns are very tender and hold together well under the pressure of the burger and condiments.  They browned up beautifully and some extra butter brushed over the top yields a very tender top, making it easy to bite into the burger.   They came together very quickly and rose through the day.  The recipe makes 8 buns large enough for 1/4 pound burgers or bigger. This is enough for two meals for my family, so I froze half of the buns for another dinner.  You could also make the buns smaller and use them for sliders.  They would be delicious with pulled pork.  Mmmmm…  We will definitely make these again.

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We are very serious about pizza in our house.  I could go on and on about how my father hates cheese, especially melted cheese,  and so I grew up in a poor, cheese-less house with an ever-present hunger for pizza.  Or I could tell you about how I was lucky enough to marry a man who not only loves pizza as much as I do, but whose parents actually own a pizza restaurant.  But no, I will not bore you with any more history, but you can see why pizza is now a mainstay of our diet.

For many years now, my husband  and I make pizza on Friday night.  When I became pregnant with my first child, we wondered- What if the child doesn’t take to pizza?  How will we cope?  So week after week through the pregnancy, I dutifully ate my pizza hoping to accustom our child to the flavors of our home.  Needless to say, it worked.  The first, and now second child, have both folded neatly into our end of the week routine.

Of course, good pizza is only as good as its dough.  My recipe binder records our history with pizza dough.  Following our pizza timeline, there is a progression of one dough recipe morphing into another, our trials and experiments with recipes from countless sources.  I am confident to say that the recipe that follows is excellent.  We have eaten it on a weekly basis for the last year.  The texture and flavor are outstanding.  In addition, the dough makes enough for 3 large pizzas.  We make the dough once and freeze two dough balls for use in future weeks.  We all agree, the dough is best after being frozen.  If time allows, make the batch and freeze all three dough balls.  Just remember to take them out of the freezer a few hours before you want to make your pizza.

Generally I make the dough and prep the toppings, then my husband tosses the dough while we all gather around to cheer.  The kids top the pizzas to their liking and off it goes into the oven.  One of the reasons we can get away with eating pizza every Friday is that we rarely make the same pizza twice.  I like to top the pizzas with whatever is fresh and seasonal.

The Roasted Asparagus Pizza is perfect for the late spring.  It is simple and light.  We just harvested an arm-load of leeks from the garden, so I sliced and sautéed them until they were soft.  Thinly sliced onions would also go well.  I roasted the asparagus in the oven before tossing it on the pizza.  Instead of a red sauce, the dough receives a generous brush of roasted garlic infused olive oil and a seasoning of salt and pepper.  A thin scattering of cheese binds the toppings.  All in all, this came to be a beautiful, light springy pizza.  Add a shake of pepper flakes if you like it spicy.

Our Favorite Pizza Dough

Makes enough for 3 10-inch pizzas

adapted from Bon Appetit

Note: You will need to start this dough the night before you wish to use it.  It freezes very well.  Consider making it well ahead, freezing it, and taking it out of the freezer a few hours before you want to use it.

the sponge

1 cup lukewarm water

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 cup all-purpose flour

Mix together all ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer and cover with a plate or plastic wrap.  Let sit 8 hours or overnight on the counter.

the dough

1 1/2 cup lukewarm water

2 teaspoons salt

3 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

6 cups (or more) all-purpose flour

Add water, salt, and yeast to the sponge.  Mix thoroughly with dough hook.  Add flour, one cup at a time, with mixer on low.  Continue to knead dough until it has formed a uniform elastic mass.  The dough should be soft and tacky, but not sticky.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead briefly by hand to form a smooth ball.  Place ball in an oiled bowl and cover with a plate or plastic wrap.  Chill dough for a total of six hours, kneading down the dough once it has doubled (2-3 hours).

1 1/2 hours before baking, take dough from refrigerator and set on the counter.  Knead dough gently and cut into 3 equal pieces.  (At this point I usually take 2 of the dough balls and place them each in a quart size freezer zipper bag.  I label and freeze them for next Friday’s pizza.)  Cover the dough balls you intend to bake off that day and let rest until almost doubled  (1-2 hours).

Preheat oven to 500 degrees 45 minutes before baking. Place a pizza stone in oven to preheat as well.  Cover a pizza peel (or large cutting board) with parchment paper.  Gently pull and flatten dough evenly to form a 10 inch circle.  Place dough round on the parchment paper.  Top as desired.  Slide pizza on parchment onto the pizza stone.  Bake 12-15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly and the bottom of the crust does not bend when you lift the edge of the pizza with the pizza peel.  Remove parchment paper after 5 minutes of cooking.  (The parchment can be used for the next pizza if you are making multiple.)  Place cooked pizza onto cooling rack immediately.  Allow to cool 2-3 minutes before cutting.  Slice pizza and serve.

Here is a printer-friendly version of the recipe: Our Favorite Pizza Dough

Roasted Garlic Pizza Sauce

1/2 of a garlic bulb

1/2 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice the tips off of  garlic bulb  (the pointy end, not the root end).  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Wrap the bulb in foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the cloves are soft.  Remove garlic from foil.  Squeeze garlic from each head into a small blender jar (a mason jar works well here, just attach the blade and base to the jar).  Blend with remaining olive oil.   Brush over pizza, then top as desired.

Here is a printer-friendly version of the recipe: Roasted Garlic Pizza Sauce

Roasted Asparagus Pizza

makes 1 10-inch pizza

1 ball of Our Favorite Pizza Dough (1/3 of the recipe)

3 tablespoons Roasted Garlic Pizza Sauce

10 spears asparagus, cut into 1 inch lengths (about 2 cups)

1 cup thinly sliced leeks

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan or Asiago cheese

1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano (to add after pizza is removed from the oven)

red pepper flakes  (optional)

After you have roasted the garlic for the Roasted Garlic Sauce, turn up the oven to 500 degrees.  Toss the asparagus with one tablespoon of olive oil.  Season liberally with salt and pepper.  Place asparagus on a baking sheet and cook at 500 degrees for 7 minutes.  Meanwhile, sauté sliced leeks with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-low heat.  Cook until leeks are very soft, but not brown.  Spread Roasted Garlic Sauce over a 10-inch round of Our Favorite Pizza Dough, be sure to spread all the way to the edge.  Top with cheese, leeks, and asparagus.  Grind pepper over the pizza and slide into the oven.  Bake 12-15 minutes until cheesy is melted and bubbly and the bottom of the crust does not bend when you lift the edge of the pizza with the pizza peel.  Place cooked pizza onto cooling rack immediately.  Top with oregano.  Allow to cool 2-3 minutes before cutting.  Slice pizza and serve.

Here is a printer-friendly version of the recipe: Roasted Asparagus Pizza

This post was submitted to Yeastspotting.

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