Bread, Breakfast, Dessert

Kolaches!

00100lrPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20200426113858822_COVERMy husband’s family is Czech and as such he has a huge love of kolaches. We’re talking the fruit-filled pastries, not the savory roll with sausage inside. Since I’ve been having success with my baking experiments this month I found a recipe and tried making them from scratch. They were delicious! I was so so pleased with how they turned out and start to finish they only took about two hours.

For the Dough:

  • 2/3 cup milk (2% or higher is best)
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast, or instant
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon fine salt

For the Filling:

  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • thick fruit preserve of your choice, I had strawberry

For the Crumb Topping:

  • 1/8 cup flour
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter, melted

Warm the milk in a microwave-safe bowl for about 30 seconds until lukewarm. The target temperature is 110 degrees. Once it’s at precisely 110, add the yeast, sugar and 2/3 cup of the flour. Mix together well and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. (Because I used instant yeast I mixed this together while I got the rest of the ingredients together, but didn’t wait for it to double.) In another bowl, add the melted butter. Let cool briefly before stirring in the egg yolk. Add this to the yeast mixture and mix well. Add the remaining flour, salt, and mix very well well. Next, knead the dough for 10 minutes, making sure to lightly flour the board and your hands as you go. At the end of 10 minutes, the dough will be soft, supple, and not sticky at all. Grease a bowl with cooking spray and add the dough. Cover and let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in size. (At the end of this rise, you could cover it and put it in the fridge to use the following day. It will deflate, but it’s okay).

Next, you want to evenly divide the dough into 12 equal portions. I do this by weighing the dough, and dividing it by 12. Roll each dough ball into a perfect circle (see photo). Line a 9″ pie plate with parchment paper, and arrange the dough balls in it. At this point, I press gently on the dough to make a slightly oblong shape instead of a perfect circle. Let the dough rise until doubled in a warm place. Preheat the oven to 375. Once the dough balls have doubled in size, use your fingers to make deep indentations for the fillings. Divide the fillings between the kolaches, I did 4 cream cheese, 4 strawberry and 4 strawberry cream cheese, but do what makes you happy.

Bake the kolaches for 18-21 minutes, until nicely golden brown. Use a toothpick inserted into the center kolache to ensure the rolls are done. Let cool slightly, and then tear apart and serve.

Bread, Breakfast

Blueberry Bagels

00100lrPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20200424091834663_COVERThe saying practice makes perfect has really been on my mind the past month of being stuck in the house. I was always very intimidated by working with yeast because I felt it was finicky and took too long and I was never prepared for how early I had to prep. That is something I’ve been trying to remedy now that I have quite a bit of time on my hands. A couple of things have really helped me get more comfortable, the first being instant yeast. The fact that I can just add the yeast to the dry ingredients takes away that extra bit of chance I feel like yeast baking comes inherent with. Also, you can keep the yeast in the freezer to ensure that it stays fresh for up to a year at least! The second is really reading the recipe and making sure I have plenty of time to complete all the steps. When you see the steps for this recipe it is going to look very intimidating but it’s really more a case of it taking a lot words to describe a very easy process. So, if you are feeling a little apprehensive about making this recipe, don’t. Just take your time and don’t over-think it.

For the Sponge:

  •  1 teaspoon instant yeast
  •  4 (18 oz) cups high-gluten or bread flour
  •  2 1/2 cups water, at room temperature

For the Dough:

  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 3 3/4 cups (17 oz) high-gluten or bread flour*
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons malt powder (or brown sugar if you don’t have malt powder)
  • 1 1/2 cups dried blueberries*

To Finish:

  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • cornmeal for dusting

To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a 4-quart mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.

To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt and malt. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining ¾ cup flour to stiffen the dough. Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes by machine). Add the dried blueberries during the final 2 minutes of kneading. The dough should be firm, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour – all the ingredients should be hydrated. If the dough seems too dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky. Immediately divide the dough into 12 pieces. Form the pieces into rolls. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and mist lightly with spray oil. To shape the bagels, poke a hole in a ball of bagel dough and gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to widen it to approximately 2½ inches in diameter. The dough should be as evenly stretched as possible (try to avoid thick and thin spots). Place each of the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the pans. Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the “float test”. Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. Take one bagel and test it. If it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days). If the bagel does not float, return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats. The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough.

The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels), preheat the oven to 500 degrees . Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the pot the better), and add the baking soda. Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minute flip them over and boil for another minute. If you like very chewy bagels, you can extend the boiling to 2 minutes per side. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour. (If you decide to replace the paper, be sure to spray the new paper lightly with spray oil to prevent the bagels from sticking to the surface.) When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the 2 middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately 5 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. (If you are baking only 1 pan, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.) After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450 and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown (My bagels cooked for 8 minutes at 450). You may bake them darker if you prefer. Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.

*Your flour measurement could vary depending on many factors, I only used 3 cups to get my dough to the consistency I wanted. I also only used 1 cup of blueberries so really just use your judgement and personal taste to decide how much to add.

Bread, Entree, How To, Uncategorized

How To: Homemade Pizza Dough

The-Best-Pizza-Dough-Recipe-5Another first for me during this quarantine is homemade pizza dough. I have really been making an effort to not shy away from using yeast so this was a logical next step. Again I used instant yeast so it came together really quickly. It also made enough dough for two pizzas so you can make two pizzas at once or save it for another day. Recipe and photo courtesy of houseofnasheats.com

  •  1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
  •  2 teaspoons sugar
  •  2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast or instant yeast
  •  3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour (or all-purpose if that’s all you have)
  •  2 tablespoons olive oil
  •  2 teaspoons salt

Combine warm water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. If using active dry yeast, let it proof for 5 minutes until foamy. If using instant yeast, there is no need to wait for the yeast to proof. Add flour, olive oil, and salt and stir well with a wooden spoon or mix in a stand mixer with a dough hook until combined. Knead for 5 minutes using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment or 6-7 minutes by hand until smooth and elastic. The dough will be tacky and slightly sticky, but should still be manageable to work with. Drizzle a clean bowl with a little olive oil, then place the ball of dough in the bowl and turn it to coat in the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean cloth and let rise for at least 30 minutes (or up to 1 1/2 hours) until doubled in size.

Divide the dough into 2 or 3 balls (or more if you want to make personal-size pizzas). Roll, pat, or stretch the dough out until it is roughly 1/4″ thick, then top with 1/4-1/2 cup of pizza sauce, freshly grated mozzarella cheese, and other toppings.

Bread

1-Hour Rolls!

from-scratch-dinner-rollsI have tried a fair number of homemade roll recipes in my life, but I was really, really pleased with these. You can use instant yeast so from start to finish these rolls only took an hour and a half. They were super satisfying and made great slider rolls the next day.

  • 4 -5 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons rapid rise, instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm milk , 110 degrees
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 egg , room temperature
  • tablespoons melted butter

Combine 3 cups of flour, sugar, salt, warm milk, butter and egg in the bowl of a stand mixer. Attach a dough hook and turn the mixer on to the lowest speed and mix until flour is incorporated, scraping down the sides fo the bowl as necessary. Increase speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of flour and blend with the dough hook until incorporated. Another 1/2 cup of flour and repeat, mixing at medium speed for another 2 minutes until a ball of dough is formed. Add additional flour as necessary. The dough should be slightly sticky and soft and pulling away from the edge of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Let rise for 30 minutes in a warm spot.

Remove the towel or plastic wrap and deflate the dough by punching down lightly. Pinch off pieces of the dough and form balls. I weighed mine and got 21 that weighed 2 oz each. Depending on how much flour you had to add you could get up to 24. Transfer rolls to a lightly greased 9×13 pan. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise for an additional 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375. Bake the rolls for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove the rolls and brush hot rolls with melted butter. Serve immediately or store cooled rolls in a plastic bag for up to 3 days.

Bread, Breakfast

Glazed Donuts a la Krispy Kreme

BB11L2p1I feel myself to be somewhat of a donut snob. I’m not a fan of cake donuts and grocery store donuts are usually too dry and boring. My all-time favorite donut shop is in Estes Park, but since that it is a bit of a trek from my house, I finally bit the bullet and tried my hand at making them homemade. The recipe is a combination of Pioneer Woman’s and a glaze I found online. The key to success with these donuts is to dip them basically as soon as you have pulled them out of the fryer. This will give you the Krispy Kreme-esque glaze on the top and if you eat it warm it will just melt in your mouth.  I know since this is a yeasted dough it takes some pre-planning on your part, but the results were worth it.

For the Dough:

  • 1 1/8 cup whole milk, warm
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (one package) Instant Or Active Dry Yeast
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 stick unsalted butter (10 tablespoons), melted
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Shortening/oil for frying

For the Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • Enough cream or milk to thin, about 3 tablespoons (you want a consistency of school glue)
  • Dash of salt

Warm the milk until it is getting nice and warm when you dip your finger in it, about 105 degrees. I did this by microwaving my milk in 30 sec increments, testing it after each time. It took about 1:15 sec. Add the milk to a mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Add the yeast and stir to combine. Let the yeast rest for 5 minutes. Add the beaten eggs and melted butter to the bowl and stir to combine. While the mixer is running slowly, add the flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together. Mix for a whole five minutes to work the dough well. Turn off the bowl and let the dough sit in the bowl of the mixer for 10 minutes. After the rest period turn the dough out into a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 8 hours up to overnight.

To make the donuts, take the dough out of the fridge and roll out to 1/4″-1/3″ thickness on a lightly floured surface. Use a donut cutter or the largest round cutter you have, and use the smallest round cutter you can to cut the whole in the middle. I also just used a star shape because one of my sons really wanted to. Place them on baking sheets lined parchment or wax paper, cover with a clean tea towel and put in a warm spot to rise for about 1.5 hours.

When the donuts look like they have about doubled in size, heat up vegetable or canola oil in a sauce pan to 375 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer you can test the temperature with one of your donut holes. It should immediately rise to the surface when introduced to the oil. While the oil is heating up, combine your glaze ingredients in a medium size bowl so it’s ready for your donuts when they come out of the oil.

Fry the donuts in small batches, keeping a close eye on them. When you see they have browned on the bottom, flip them with a fork or spatula and cook on the other side. My donuts cooked extremely quickly here at altitude, so it can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 1.5 minutes, just watch them closely. After they are browned on both sides, take them out of the fryer and put them on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Then, immediately dip them on both sides in the glaze. This will give them that nice shine. Let them drain on a rack so the excess glaze can drip down. Enjoy immediately and try not to eat them all at once.

Bread, How To

How To: Homemade Pita Bread

delish-190621-homemade-pita-0144-portrait-pf-1567692673One of my favorite sandwiches of all time is a gyro, and good pita bread is so essential to that equation. I found an easy homemade recipe on delish.com and it was really good and came together really easily. If you are not comfortable with baking with yeast this is a great recipe to get your feet wet with because it is very forgiving.

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoon active dry yeast (I used instant)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

In a large bowl, combine warm water, yeast, and sugar and stir until dissolved. Stir in ½ cup flour and let sit for 15 minutes, until mixture foams. (If you are using instant yeast, you don’t have to mix it separately, just add it directly to the the dry ingredients.) Add oil, salt, and 2 cups flour (reserving ½ cup) and stir with a wooden spoon until a shaggy mass forms. Dust a clean surface with some of reserved flour and knead until smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes, adding more of the reserved flour if the dough is too sticky. Dough should be soft and moist. (You can cover the dough and let rest 10 minutes if you need a rest from kneading.) Place dough in a clean large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.  Lightly dust a clean surface with flour. Punch down dough and turn it out onto surface. Divide dough into 8 pieces and roll into balls. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rest 10 minutes.  Preheat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Working one at a time, roll each round into a ¼”-thick circle about 8” wide, sprinkling dough with extra flour if it starts to stick.  Cook each pita one at a time in skillet until an air pocket balloons, then flip, and cook 1 minute more. Cover baked pitas with a clean kitchen towel to keep warm.

Bread, Breakfast

Blueberry Banana Bread

blueberry-bread-recipe-3I recently bought myself a just because present of one of my favorite food bloggers cookbook. Shelly Jaronsky, aka cookiesandcups.com, is one of my go-to bloggers for a recipe that is sure to be a hit. In her cookbook she has a recipe for toffee-speckled banana bread, but since I had fresh blueberries I needed to use up I subbed them in instead. I also added a crumb topping because it makes everything better.

Bread:

  • 1/2 cup salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas, about 3 large extra-ripe
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup blueberries, slightly tossed in flour

Crumb Topping:

  • 1/3 stick butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350. Coat a 9×5 loaf pan with cooking spray. If you want you can also the the pan with parchment paper to make it easier to take out, which might be a good idea because of the crumb topping. In your mixer, mix the butter and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the milk, eggs, and vanilla and continue mixing until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Add the mashed banana, baking powder and salt and mix until well combined. Turn the speed to low and mix in the flour until just combined. Finally, stir in the blueberries.  Spread the batter in the pan and then mix together your topping ingredients and pour them on top. Bake for 60-65 minutes, or until the center is set and a toothpick comes out clean. For me it was a little closer to 70 minutes. Let it cool in the pan for about 30 minutes, then store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.