Cinnamon Rolls

I’ve decided to become a bread baker. Make no mistake: I’m not abandoning the cookies, bars, cakes, and pies that have made this blog what it is today. But earlier this year I took a bread class at Enrico Biscotti, and it changed my life. For months I’ve wanted to work on bread, and so, with fall upon us, it is Bread Season in my kitchen.

I’ve not worked with yeast very much, so I wanted to start with something basic: a classic cinnamon roll. This recipe comes from my trusty Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, and although it was a bit time-consuming, it was absolutely worth it. For this first try, I worked with active dry yeast, but I also bought instant yeast and hope to someday work with fresh yeast. Baby steps, you know.

Note: I used bread flour in this recipe, but you could easily use regular, all-purpose flour. I also used the dough hook of my mixer to knead the dough, but you could knead by hand if you prefer.

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 4 to 4 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs

For the filling

  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon

For the icing

  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • About 4 teaspoons water

Preparation

Place 2 cups flour and yeast into the bowl of a mixer and stir together. Fit the dough hook onto your mixer.

In a medium saucepan, combine milk, sugar, salt, and butter, heating to 120 degrees (the butter will almost melt completely). Pour milk mixture into flour/yeast mixture and beat for 30 seconds, scraping the bowl, then beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl again, then beat in 2 remaining cups of flour.

Beat on low speed for 3-5 minutes, until dough becomes smooth and elastic – it will gather itself all around the dough hook, and that’s fine. Alternatively, you can knead the dough by hand for the same amount of time.

Turn dough onto a very lightly floured surface and knead it for 20-30 seconds by hand, then shape it into a ball.

Place dough in a large, greased bowl; turn the dough once to grease it. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Gently deflate your dough by pressing it to release some of the air (I’ve recently learned that punching it down will disturb the yeast too much, so gently pressing it is better); turn onto a very lightly floured surface and divide in half, then allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

While the dough is resting, in a small bowl, combine cinnamon and sugar; set aside.

Roll dough into a 12 x 8 rectangle; brush with melted butter, leaving about 1 inch at the far side of your dough for a seam. Spread half the cinnamon sugar mixture onto the dough, then roll up like a jelly roll. Repeat with second portion.

Slice logs of dough into equal slices; mine yielded 10 slices per log. Lightly grease two 9-inch round cake pans and place rolls into the pans; cover and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake rolls for 25-30 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Cool in pans for about 5 minutes.

While rolls are cooling, make icing; combine powdered sugar and vanilla in a small bowl, then add water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, stirring between each addition to reach a thick drizzling consistency (like thick honey). Remove rolls from pans and place on a wire rack with waxed paper beneath; drizzle with icing.

Serve warm, or store in an airtight container once rolls are completely cool.

Makes 20.

*I used the “make-ahead” method instead, allowing my rolls to chill in the fridge overnight until I was ready to bake them. Rolls can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours before baking; to bake them, remove them from the fridge and let them stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, then bake as directed. 

Advertisement

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Mike has quite the garden going this summer, growing tomatoes, beans, squash, and zucchini in the best spot in our backyard. And because you can only grill so much zucchini, I decided to grate some and mix it into this chocolate bread.

The recipe below is adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread, which is simple to make and smells delicious when baking. I strongly recommend shredding your zucchini in a food processor rather than grating it by hand to save time, but you could hand-grate if you like. Also, if you add your vegetable oil before you add your honey, you can use the same measuring cup and the honey will slide right out because of the residual oil on the sides of the measuring cup. Very convenient!

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini, gently pressed to release some of the liquid
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease an 8 x 4 loaf pan.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla until smooth.

Add the salt, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa, and flour, mixing until well-combined.

Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips.

Pour batter into the loaf pan and bake for 60-70 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean or with a light smear of melted chocolate chips.

Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Wrap well and store at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Cinnamon Bread

A few nights ago I really wanted to make a quick cinnamon bread, so I adapted a muffin recipe from my trusty Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook into a loaf. It turned out pretty well, though I’ll fully admit that this bread was best on the evening it was baked, and the morning after. It dried out quicker than I expected, but hey, live and learn.

To adapt a muffin recipe into a quick bread, you’ll need a longer baking time at a lower temperature. For example, as muffins, this recipe bakes at 400 for 20 minutes, but as quick bread, it bakes at 375 for about 35-40 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on your bread to ensure that it doesn’t over-brown; I covered my loaf after about 25 minutes of baking to make sure it didn’t burn.

 Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease an 8 x 4 loaf pan.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Make a well in the center.

In a medium bowl, combine egg, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract; pour into the well in the dry mixture and stir until just moistened. The batter will be lumpy, but that’s fine – you don’t want to over-mix.

Spoon batter into loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, checking around 25 minutes to make sure your loaf isn’t browning too much. The bread will be done when a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.

This bread can be served warm, but if you prefer to cool it, allow it to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Store at room temperature for 1-2 days.

Ginger Pumpkin Bread

ginger-pumpkin-breadPumpkin isn’t just for fall, you know. The availability of canned pumpkin puree makes pumpkin-themed baking a year-round endeavor for me. Take this ginger pumpkin bread, for example.

This recipe is adapted from one I found in the Better Homes & Gardens Baking Book, for ginger pumpkin muffins. I didn’t feel like making muffins today, so I turned the recipe into a quick bread, which required just a few adjustments. According to the folks at Cooks Illustrated, you can convert most muffin recipes into quick breads by lowering the baking temperature by 50 degrees and extending the baking time to about 60-70 minutes. I did just that for my bread, and it turned out very well – the ginger and pumpkin balance each other very well, and the streusel adds a nice crunch to the top.

Ingredients

For the bread

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sour milk*
  • 2 eggs

*To make sour milk, place 1/2 tablespoon vinegar in a glass measuring cup and add enough milk to equal 1/2 cup total. Stir; let stand for 5 minutes before using. 

For the streusel

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pecans

For the drizzle

  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 teaspoons water

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8 x 4 loaf pan or spray with baking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine pumpkin, melted butter, eggs, and sour milk; mix until well-combined, then add all at once to the dry mixture, stirring until no streaks of dry ingredients remain.

Make the streusel: in a small bowl, combine the flour and brown sugar, then cut in butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in pecans.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and top with streusel.

Place loaf pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, then add a foil tent to the top to prevent the streusel from burning. Bake another 20 minutes and check to see if the bread is done by carefully inserting a cake tester into the center of the loaf. The cake tester should come out with just a few moist crumbs when the bread is done; if necessary, bake another 7-10 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in the loaf pan for about 30 minutes, then gently run an offset spatula around the edge of the loaf and remove it to a wire rack to cool for another 20 minutes.

Make the drizzle: combine powdered sugar, cinnamon, and ginger in a small bowl and add 1 teaspoon of water at a time until you reach a thick drizzling consistency. Pour drizzle into a small zip-top bag, snip off the end, and pipe drizzle onto bread while it’s still warm.

Allow to cool completely before serving.

Cornbread

cornbreadMike made an enormous pot of chili today and asked that I bake him some homemade cornbread to go along with it. I’ve probably made homemade cornbread a million times before, but have never blogged it until today.

Cornbread is actually very easy to make, requiring just a few bowls, a spoon, and a pan. If you’re a beginning baker, I’d actually recommend trying this cornbread recipe, which comes from the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook but has a bit of a sweet twist. My Aunt Liz always added vanilla extract to cornbread, so that’s what I do as well. Just a few teaspoons adds a nice dimension of sweetness.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease the bottom and halfway up the sides of an 8 x 8 square pan.

In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; make a well in the center.

In a large glass measuring cup, combine milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. Pour all at once into the well in the dry mixture and stir until just combined; batter will be a bit lumpy.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, until top is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool in pan, or serve warm.

Gingerbread

gingerbreadYesterday we put up our Christmas tree, and it seemed appropriate to make gingerbread. Not gingerbread cookies, despite how delicious (and adorable) they are – but actual gingerbread loaves, which I’d never made before.

I found a great gingerbread loaf recipe from Pillsbury and adapted it slightly to include a thicker glaze than the original.  You could leave the loaves plain if you like, but I highly recommend glazing them – although you might not expect it, lemon glaze adds a wonderful dimension of flavor to this rich, spicy bread. It would also be easy to cut this recipe in half to make just one loaf, or to bake the whole recipe in smaller loaf pans to give as gifts (which I’m totally going to do).

Ingredients

For the gingerbread

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • Generous 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

For the glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 8 x 4 loaf pans (or spray with baking spray).

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and set; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each until the mixture is smooth.

In a 4-cup glass measuring cup, combine molasses and boiling water, stirring to combine. Add baking soda and stir; mixture will become foamy.

With the mixer running on low, slowly pour the molasses mixture into the butter mixture, beating until combined. Add flour in three batches, beating until just incorporated after each; stir by hand until well-blended.

Divide batter evenly between the pans and bake for 45-60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean; my loaves only needed about 45 minutes.

Cool in pans for about 15 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

To make the glaze, place powdered sugar in a medium bowl and add lemon juice 1 tablespoon at a time; you want a thicker glaze texture. Pour over loaves, spreading to the edges. Allow glaze to set before serving.

Zucchini Bread

zucchini breadIt’s zucchini season, and in my opinion the best way to eat zucchini is to shred it and mix it into quick bread batter with pecans and orange zest. We have a bumper crop of zucchini in our garden this year, and so I suspect I’ll be making many more loaves as the summer goes on.

For this recipe, it’s important to choose a smaller zucchini, which will be more tender, and to shred it finely using the smaller side of your grater so you have (although this sounds strange) a very mushy pile of zucchini shreds instead of strips like shredded cheese. This helps the veggie blend into the batter better, so you’re left with a finer texture when the bread is baked. Next time, I might stir together some orange juice and powdered sugar for a drizzle icing and top that with some toasted pecans.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup finely shredded, unpeeled zucchini
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • zest of 1/2 medium orange
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of an 8 x 4 loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine sugar, zucchini, vegetable oil, egg, and orange zest; stir to combine, then pour into flour mixture and stir until just combined, until there are no dry streaks remaining. Be careful not to over-mix, as over-mixing can yield a tough texture in the end result. Gently fold in pecans.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Check the bread around 45 minutes and cover if necessary to prevent over-browning.

Cool completely in loaf pan before serving. Store at room temperature.

Zucchini Bread

zucchini breadYes: I am baking with vegetables. People who know me well will be astonished by this, given that until recently I’ve lived a fairly vegetable-free life. My aversion to these nutritional powerhouses began early in life, and I’ve kept most vegetables at arm’s length (or hidden in mashed potatoes, so I don’t really have to taste them) until the last month or so.

You’d think that a kid raised by health and phys ed teachers would eat spinach omelets for breakfast, salads for lunch, and grilled veggies for dinner…but you’d be wrong. I’ve spent most of my life shunning veggies, especially the green ones…and most especially, the leafy green ones. But last month, I committed to improving my overall health and began to work with a health coach (read: my friend and former intern Kate, who is awesome) and she’s helping me figure out ways to sneak vegetables into foods that I already like. Enter zucchini bread.

Skeptical, I was, but curious too. As the bread baked, a lovely cinnamon aroma wafted from my kitchen. Once cool, I cut a slice, then stared it down. I could do this, right? Long ago I adopted an attitude of no fear in my baking, so why should tasting be any different? For the record: this bread tastes amazing. It’s cinnamony and moist and studded with chocolate chips, which makes anything better, really. If all vegetables tasted like this, I’d be the healthiest person in the world.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Spray two 8 x 4 loaf pans with baking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, vegetable oil, sugar, and vanilla, mixing well. Add to dry ingredients and stir until well-combined and no dry streaks remain.

Add zucchini and chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Divide batter evenly between loaf pans.

Bake for 60-65 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely before serving.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

pumpkin choc chip breadPumpkins have appeared everywhere, seemingly overnight. October is prime pumpkin season, and everywhere I look I see them, bins and piles of bright orange squashes. They sit on porches next to mums and bales of hay, waiting to be carved at Halloween. Personally, I prefer my pumpkins un-carved so they can be displayed through Thanksgiving.

We’ve discussed pumpkin at length on this blog, but I continue to be amazed at how many different variations of pumpkin recipes that exist, particularly on the internet. I found this one one another blog, but tweaked it slightly to make it my own (I increased the amount of spices recommended in the original). It’s a rather large recipe, yielding three 8 x 4 loaves; I used foil loaf pans for them instead of using my regular loaf pans so I could give them as gifts. The original author of the recipe reports that they freeze very well, so they could be made ahead of time and given as holiday gifts.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray three 8 x 4 loaf pans with baking spray (or regular nonstick spray)

In a very large bowl, mix flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, eggs, and water until very well blended.

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients, mixing well so that no streaks of dry ingredients remain.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Divide batter evenly between three pans; I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to do this.

Bake for 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack in pans; once completely cool, remove from pans and wrap well in plastic wrap and foil (especially if you’re freezing any loaves).

Nut Bread

nut bread

 

 

 

 

 

Food historians speculate that quick breads originated in the United States during the Civil War, when food demands were high and bakers had neither the time nor the patience to wait for dough to rise in the traditional, yeast-based method. Yeast converts sugar into carbon dioxide and ethanol and causes the dough to rise, but quick breads rely on chemical leavening agents like baking soda and baking powder for rising purposes. Baking soda requires an acid, like lemon juice or buttermilk, while baking powder simply needs any liquid to begin its reaction.

Quick breads are versatile, welcoming creativity. This nut bread recipe uses both walnuts and almonds, but you could easily use pecans or hazelnuts. I’ve chosen not to identify nut bread as a “sweet,” since I have another six weeks to go in my mission not to eat treats; I’m thinking of nut bread as more muffin-like, since muffins are essentially quick breads baking in muffin tins.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place five miniature loaf pans on a cookie sheet; spray each with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Make a well in the center.

In a medium bowl, combine milk, egg, and oil; stir together and add all at once to the well in the center of the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Fold in nuts.

Divide batter evenly among loaf pans.

Bake for 35 minutes, until tops are just golden and a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack.