Raspberry Coconut Sweet Rolls With Orange Cream Cheese Icing

Raspberry Coconut Sweet Rolls With Orange Cream Cheese Icing

Raspberry Coconut Sweet Rolls With Orange Cream Cheese Icing

What kind of idiot bakes in 90 degree weather, while living in a house with a central air unit that hates to go below 80 degrees inside when it’s hot outside!!? What kind of idiot I ask you!!??

Erhmmmm *looks sheepish*, that would be me.

I can’t help it! It’s a sickness. Many many food bloggers have it. We tell you and ourselves that it is all because we love you and want to create yummy things for you to drool over but in reality we’d bake anyway. Like I said, it’s an illness.

And ill is what I’m going to be if I keep shoving these sweet rolls into my chubby mouth. But oh my gosh, I’m rather proud of myself here. These are delicious! You get a tender sweet roll with a touch of coconut flavor in it, then the raspberry/coconut filling with it’s tang and mild crunch, then the rich creamy orange cream cheese icing. When this idea first came to me (lying in bed, trying to get to sleep. Many ideas come to me then. I’m strange.), I wasn’t sure how it would work. I was afraid that all of the flavors would clash with each other but they don’t do that at all. As a matter of fact, this will be going down as one of my favorite ways to make a sweet roll.

You know the drill. Git to cookin’.

Raspberry Coconut Sweet Rolls With Orange Cream Cheese Icing

  • Sweet Roll Dough-
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
  • 1 cup milk, warmed (about 110 to 115 degrees)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 1/4 cups to 5/12 cups flour (you can use bread flour or all purpose- I use bread flour when making almost any yeast dough)
  • Filling-
  • 12 ounces raspberry preserves
  • 12 ounces fresh raspberries, rinsed, drained and gently blotted dry
  • 1 7 ounce bag sweetened grated coconut, toasted at 350 degrees until light brown
  • Icing-
  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, room temp
  • zest of one large orange (about 3 tablespoons zest)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 150 then immediately turn it off. The purpose is to have a nice warm oven to proof the dough in but not to have it too hot. Butter 2 9 inch round cake pans (or one 13×9 inch baking pan) and set aside.
  2.  In a small bowl, combine the yeast and warm water. let sit for about 5 minutes to activate the yeast.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle hook (can all be done by hand but it makes it a bit more work and work scares me 😛 ), combine the milk, extracts, sugar, salt and butter. On low speed, mix just until combined.
  4. Pour in the yeast mixture and again, mix just until combined. Change over to the dough hook, then add 2 1/2 cups of the flour. Beat on low speed until it is a shaggy mass. Add another 2 1/2 cups of flour and mix on low speed for about 2 minutes. Feel the dough and if it it is still very sticky or tacky, add about another 1/4 cup of  flour. You want the dough to be just a tiny bit sticky, not enough that it sticks to your hands or fingers. By the same token, you don’t want dry dough because that equals dry finished product. Either way, beat on low speed until the dough is smooth, silky and has come away from the bowl in a solid mass, about 5 minutes.
  5. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Knead for just a minute (that is the reason you did all this in a stand mixer, so you didn’t have to knead by hand) then put into a greased bowl, turning it so that all sides are greased.
  6. Cover with a damp cloth and put into the previously preheated, now nicely warm oven. Let rise until it has doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
  7. Punch dough down and then turn out onto a lightly floured board or counter. Roll it into a rectangle that is roughly 28 by 12 inches.
  8. Spread the dough with the raspberry preserves. Then sprinkle all but 2/3 of a cup of the toasted coconut on top of the preserves. Then place the fresh raspberries on top of that.
  9. Starting at one of the long ends, carefully roll up the dough into a tight log. Don’t squeeze too hard though or you’ll squeeze out the preserves.
  10. Cut the log into 16 large rolls. Place them in the prepared pan(s) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Again allow the dough to rise in a warm place (NOT the oven) until doubled in bulk, about 30 to 45 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, make the icing- In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, orange zest and orange juice. Beat at medium speed until smooth.
  12. Add in the 2 cups powdered sugar and at LOW speed (unless you like being covered in sugar), beat until smooth and creamy. Add  in another half a cup sugar if the icing is too thin to spread. Cover and set aside.
  13. Bake the rolls at 350 degrees until they are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Set on a wire rack to cool completely.
  14. When cool, frost with the cream cheese icing (if you haven’t already eaten most of it straight from the bowl 😀 ) then sprinkle with the reserved toasted coconut.

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Pineapple Upside Down Cinnamon Rolls

Pineapple Upside Down Cinnamon Rolls-001

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You may have heard me say more than once that I lov(ed) Twinkies and Ho Ho’s and the like. basically, if it was Hostess, I was there, preservatives or not. I like to delude myself by saying that with all the Hostess cakes I’ve eaten in my life, I should have enough preservatives in me to live to be 400. So when Hostess went bankrupt, I was devastated. I held candlelight vigils every night for a month and still wear the “hair” shirt I made out of old ho ho wrappers.

So when I heard Hostess was coming back in July (bought by some company or another) I stopped the candle light vigils, bought a helicopter and had it flying a “Twinkies are coming back!” banner behind it and knitted a throw rug with a Ding Dong design in the middle.

One of the things I sheepishly admit to liking from them was their packs of cinnamon rolls. That slick icing you could pull off in one horrifyingly large piece, the somewhat dry rolls (especially once you pulled off and ate the vaguely plastic icing)… it was all high on my list of “I have no idea why I like this, but I do” foods, along with gummi candies, combos, liverwurst and lemonheads.

But even I’m not totally delusional. I know that homemade cinnamon rolls are better. And YOU all know ME.  I can’t leave well enough alone and just make something the normal way. I’m genetically mutated and must screw around with a recipe. So I made Pineapple Upside Down Cinnamon Rolls. I had seen the recipe originally in a cookbook and it intrigued me. Well, intrigued was all it could do. The recipe totally sucked.  The dough was soupy and even after adding a couple extra cups of bread flour, was far too sticky to work with and I knew if I kept going, i’d 1) waste more ingredients and 2) even if I got decent textured dough, it would end up overworked. So I tossed it and started over with my tried and true recipe for sweet roll dough from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, just updated a bit for a stand mixer. Then I made the same type of topping I put on a upside down cake, just different ratios and Bobs your uncle… Pineapple Upside Down Cinnamon Rolls. These are a wonderfully flavored tender yeast roll with a delicious cinnamony/ buttery filing then topped with a buttery/sugary/pineappley (lots of y’s here) topping. Basically, you get two desserts in one for the calories of one dessert PLUS you can feel all self righteous if you have this for breakfast. This is a longer recipe but it comes together fairly quickly and it’s definitely worth the time

You know the drill…

Pineapple Upside Down Cinnamon Rolls

  • Cinnamon Rolls-
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup milk, warmed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 3 eggs, warmed up in a bowl of warm water
  • 51/4 to 51/2 cups flour
  • Filling-
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, very soft but not melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • Topping-
  • 2 20 ounce cans pineapple chunks in juice, well drained
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 small jar maraschino cherries, drained (optional)
  1. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a small bowl. Stir and let sit for a few minutes so yeast can dissolve.
  2. Combine the milk, sugar, salt and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat will. Stir in the dissolved yeast. Put on the dough hook- add 2 1/2 cups of the flour and beat until the dough comes together in a shaggy mass. Add another 2 1/2 cups flour and on low speed, mix until the dough is smooth and firm.
  3. Feel it with your fingers and if it is tacky (unless your house is very humid, 5 cups should be fine. The original ingredients were for a hand mixer. A stand mixes better and you can usually use a touch less flour to get a good dough.) add about another 1/4 cup flour. Mix at low speed for about 5 minutes. Turn the dough out into a greased bowl; turn the dough to make sure all sides get greased, then cover with plastic and set aside. Let rise until doubled in bulk.
  4. Meanwhile, make your topping and filling. For the filling, in a small bowl, combine the one cup sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon. Set aside.
  5. For the topping, combine the butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally to mix the sugar. Add the drained pineapple, stir and simmer over medium heat for five minutes. Mixture will seem thin but it will thicken and caramelize as it cooks in the oven.
  6. Grease a 13×9 inch baking pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour the topping in and make sure to spread the pineapple out to cover the bottom of the pan. If using cherries, randomly top the pineapple mixture with some cherries.
  7. When dough has risen to double it’s original bulk, punch down. Turn out onto a floured board and knead lightly for a minute or so. Roll out into a rectangle of approximately 28 by 12 inches. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
  8. Spread the top of the dough with the very soft butter, Then sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Starting from one of the long sides, roll up tightly like a long jelly roll. Cut the dough into 15 pieces and lay each piece into the prepared pan. You should have the five rows of 3 rolls. Cover lightly with plastic or a damp towel and set aside to rise again. Let rise for about another half hour or until almost doubled in bulk.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees until the rolls are puffy and golden.
  10. Let sit for five minutes then invert pan over either some sheets of foil or a larger pan if you have one. Let excess topping drip down for a minute.
  11. Serve warm… cold…room temp… in a cave… on a horse…eat them any way, Sam I am.

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Extra Rich Cinnamon Rolls With Cream Cheese Icing

Extra Rich Cinnamon Rolls-001

Surprise, surprise… a recipe from me with the words extra rich in the title. Never expected that huh? Not with the dearth of fattening recipes here. What makes these extra rich? Mashed potatoes in the dough. Get back here! Sheesh. Ever had potato bread? Same idea, different result. I didn’t make a batch of garlic mashed and shove the extra into cinnamon rolls *gags a little*. Mashed potatoes (plain, NOTHING added; just the taters) are very common in yeast bread. They add a richness to the dough but with no potato flavor. They also make the dough more tender and help it to rise better. matter of fact, when you make mashed potatoes, it’s a good habit to save some of the cooking water if you make yeast risen doughs often. You can sub it for part or all of the liquid (part is better if the original recipe calls for milk) and you will see an amazing difference in the finished product.

These cinnamon rolls were supposed to have pecans in the filling, but if you follow my facebook page at all, you may have seen my update about the two pans of burned pecans. Sigh. talk about idiocy. I put one in to toast then had a major “ooo, shiny thing!” moment and forgot about them. Slapped myself around for a bit then put in another pan. Words With Friends on facebook may or may not have had something to do with the other pan burning. Needless to say, after about 12 dollars worth of pecans torched, I was not trying again. So the rolls have raisins in half the batch. Feel free to sub pecans (I will put the amounts for either one in the recipe). Just stay away from word games when toasting them. Also, this makes a HUGE batch of rolls. I got 2 13×9 pans with 12 each and 6 more in a 8×8 pan. In my household which currently consists of myself, hubby, two teen boys, three boys 6 and under and a pregnant woman, they will get eaten. But in “normal” homes, you may want to cut this in half. Or make your neighbors happy.

This originally came from The Pastry Queen Cookbook. Adapted some for a stand mixer and ingredients changed a LITTLE but not much.

Extra Rich Cinnamon Rolls

  • 2 medium russet potatoes
  • 4 packets dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 9 cups flour (I TOLD you this was big batch) (I actually used more like ten cups; it will depend on the moisture of your potatoes)
  • Filling-
  • 4 cups pecans, toasted for about 8 minutes at 350 degrees then coarsely chopped or 3 cups good quality raisins (not dried shriveled rocks)
  • 4 cups firmly packed brown sugar (I used dark brown)
  • 4 tablespoons cinnamon (no, that’s not a typo… look at the amount of ingredients and this makes sense)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • zest from one large orange (optional)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • Icing-
  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, room temp
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange extract (optional)
  1. To make the rolls- fill a large pot with water and set on high to boil. Peel and chop the potatoes and add to the pot. Cook until the potatoes are tender. Reserve three cups of the cooking water, then drain off the rest. Mash the potatoes and set aside. Let the potato water cool until it is between 110 and 115 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl,  combine the cooled potato water, yeast and the one teaspoon of sugar. Stir until the yeast is dissolved. Let sit until foamy, about five minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the potatoes, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 cup melted butter, eggs, salt and yeast mixture.
  4. Pour mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. Turn mixer onto low and add the flour, in 3 cup increments. If the dough still seems wet (you want slightly sticky but not obviously moist) add more flour, a 1/4 cup at a time. Don’t go over 10 cups. Again, it’s ok if the dough is somewhat sticky. If you make it too dry, the rolls will also be dry. Sticky dough equals tender moist rolls in the end.
  5. Place the dough in a large greased bowl, making sure to oil the top of the dough some and then cover with a clean towel. Place in a warm place to rise and let rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour.
  6. Meanwhile, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest (if using) in a large bowl. Prepare 2 13×9 inch pans by lining with foil then greasing the foil. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  7. When risen, punch down dough then divide it  in half. On a floured board or counter, roll half into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle. Brush with half the butter,  sprinkle with half the brown sugar mixture and half the raisins or pecans. Carefully roll the dough up from one long end. Roll as tightly as you can.
  8. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut each roll of dough into 12 to 15 pieces. This will depend on whether or not your roll ended up bigger than 1/4 inch and looks like it is about the length of an adult python. Place 12 in each 13×9 inch pan. If you get more than 12 from each roll,  foil and grease a 8×8 inch pan and put the remainder in the 8×8 pan. Allow to rise until puffy but not quite doubled, about 45 minutes
  9. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes or until a nice light golden brown.
  10. Let cool in pan set on wire rack.
  11. For icing, combine icing ingredients in a medium bowl. Beat until smooth and creamy. Spread on slightly warm rolls. But first, eat about half of it straight off of a spoon then blame me when your husband asks why there is so little icing for the rolls.


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Getting Back To Basics


The other day I was chatting on facebook with my friends and fellow bloggers Anita and Christine (Go visit them btw; they are both far more awesome bloggers than I) with the conversation being about food of course. Part of the subject matter was the fear people have of working with yeast. It’s a fear, that while I can understand it (yeast can be dead and you end up with a hockey puck… water too hot, you end up with a hockey puck, water too cold… hockey puck yada yada yada) I don’t have that fear. I think I was lucky. I started working with yeast back when I was a very young cook, about 20ish or so. In my naivete I didn’t realize I had anything to be scared of. There was no internet back then thus no horror stories, plus I was a young wife living in Germany and had no one to compare notes with and cooked on my own. So I made things with yeast. Did I start with easy white bread? Oh heck no. Again, no fear and lots of beginners luck. The first things I made were home made croissants and sticky buns, both of which can be temperamental and really AREN’T for beginners but I didn’t know that.  They turned out fine so thus began my relationship with yeast. We’ve gotten along fine through the years. There have been some arguments… yeast always won. But I’ve learned that if I treat it gently and keep it comfy and cozy temp wise, all is good.

But I’ve come to realize that there are a LOT of people who are leery of working with yeast. So here is Grandma Jan 😛 to explain how downright easy it is! Seriously… it’s easy. If you can cook, you can make a yeast dough. If you have ANY experiencing baking, you can make a yeast dough. So, before I get to the recipe, I’ll just give a few small tips.

1) Watch your water temp. Overly hot water/liquid kills your yeast in a heartbeat and water/liquid that is too cold will still eventually give you a risen dough, but it will take a LOT longer and if you’re new, you may wonder why your dough isn’t rising and give up thinking you’ve screwed up.

2) Use the new Platinum yeast from Red Star. It has added dough conditioners and it makes a difference in the final product. If you can’t find it though, use regular yeast…. it’s still fine

3) Knead knead knead. Under kneading seems to be the biggest mistake people make. If doing it in a stand mixer, follow the directions in the recipe. If kneading by hand, do the same. Kneading develops the gluten in the dough which gives you the texture you want. If the recipe says to knead for ten minutes, set a timer and knead for ten minutes. Also, the first few times you make bread, please, knead by hand. You need to develop a feel for what well kneaded bread dough should feel like. You’re looking for firm springy smooth rather elastic dough most of the time (unless the recipe says otherwise) And it’s a great arm workout hehe.

4) have your ingredients ready. Nine times out of ten, you will mix your yeast with water and let it proof while you do other things. But it’s usually for just a few minutes and then you continue on. So if there is another liquid that must be heated and cooled, have that already done so that your yeast isn’t turning into a the blob that ate Manhattan while you wait for something to cool.  And have your ingredients at room temp. You should always do that ANYWAY when baking but it matters more with a bread dough. This particular recipe calls for two egg yolks and you really don’t want to take ice cold eggs and mix them with your yeast as that throw off the temp. Bottom line? It’s not hard… you just need to remember some little things.

Ok, on to the recipe. This one is from Ina Garten and it’s awesome. The dough is wonderful! If you’ve made bread before, you know what I mean. This is so smooth, so elastic and so easy to work with. Not sticky at all but not too floury. It’s a great one for the beginner and quick for the experienced. The bread is soft with a good chew and a wonderful smell!

Classic Honey White Bread

  • 1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees F; no more than 117 or so)
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, heated and cooled to 110 to 115 degrees
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled (plus more for the top of the finished loaves if desired)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 extra large egg yolks (I only had large eggs and 2 of those yolks worked fine)
  • 5 to 6 cups all purpose flour (I used bread flour and ended up needing 5 and 1/3 cups. You may need a bit more or less depending on the temp in your house, humidity, moistness level of the flour, etc. You want to end up with a firm not sticky but not rock hard dough)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  1. Place the water in a measuring cup. Add the yeast and the sugar; stir and allow it to sit for about five minutes.
  2. Add the milk, honey, butter and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed until blended.  Add the egg yolks, 3 cups of the flour and the salt.mix on low speed for five minutes.
  3. Keep the mixer on low and add 2 more cups of flour. Turn the mixer off and scrape the sides of the bowl. Raise the speed to medium and slowly add just enough more flour so that the dough comes away from the bowl and isn’t sticking to the sides. If you don’t have a stand mixer, the best way to do the mixing is with a heavy wooden spoon.
  4. Knead on medium speed for eight minutes. If hand kneading, dump the dough out onto a LIGHTLY floured board or counter and knead for eight minutes, until the dough is smooth, springy feeling and elastic.
  5. If doing in the mixer, when time is up, dump your dough out and knead for a minute or two. Grease a large bowl with butter. Put the dough in it, smushing it around to butter the bottom, then turn it over so that the bottom is now on top. Cover the bowl with a very slightly damp towel and put in a warm place to rise. While the bread is kneading, I turn the oven on to it’s lowest setting, let it get there then turn the oven off and crack the door a tiny bit. By the time the kneading is done, It should be about 85 degrees or so in the oven which is a perfect temp to rise bread dough at.
  6. Let the dough rise until it has pretty much doubled in bulk.
  7. Punch the dough down, turn it out and cut it in half. Shape each half into a loaf and put into two buttered loaf pans.
  8. Put back in the warm oven (or other warm place) and let rise again, also until doubled. It should be nicely risen to about an inch or so above the top of the loaf pan.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the loaves for about 40 to 45 minutes or until it is a light golden brown and has a rather hollow sound when tapped on top.
  10.  Let sit in the pans on a wire rack for two to three minutes, then carefully turn out of the pan onto the rack to finish cooling.
  11. Take a loaf of bread, some butter and a jar of jam into the closet, hide from the kids and eat bread and read a trashy novel. I won’t tell.

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Foodie Phases

Do you ever find yourself going through phases when it comes to eating and/or cooking? I know I do. And I don’t mean Twinkies or Cheetos or chocolate (oh my). Those aren’t phases. Those are needs of life that keep me functioning and breathing and keep many women from eating their young. I mean times when you find yourself cooking (or eating) the same types of food over and over again.

I tend to do this often.

My family cries.

Which means I get to eat all of things I make because they are too busy crying and saying “can’t we PLEASE have something other than dishes made with pickled herring!?’ (don’t ask)

Luckily for all of you, I am NOT going through a pickled herring phase… though talking about it right now has me craving some.

My phase right now is yeast breads. Not quick breads though I love me some Pumpkin Bread or maybe some
Pumpkin Cranberry Bread or some Spiced Brown Sugar Carrot Bread or…. ok, ok, I’ll stop now. Damn. Now I want some of those too. I need to quit talking about food.

Well, back to talking about food now. Yeast breads. Current phase…yada yada yada. Tis my current food “thing” right now however. I am enjoying honing my yeasty skills and playing around with some old recipes. I’ve mentioned before that I love artisan style breads though I still giggle when I realize that what we are all calling artisan most times simply means using grains and ideas that have been around for hundreds of years but fell out of favor to be replaced by mushy soft plastic bagged white bread. Wow… can we say run on sentence?

One style of bread I love is multi grain. I enjoy the flavor, I enjoy the texture from using something other than white flour and I love the chewiness and heartiness of a rustic artisan bread. Now if I could only hone my bread shaping skills cause I suck at that part of it lol. I always end up with these misshapen ovals instead of pretty ones. But that’s ok, they taste good anyway. And this one turned out quite well if I do say so myself. It’s a multi grain wheat bread and I added some dried cranberries to it as well. For a good place to go to get some grains and seeds to add to your breads, try the King Arthur Flour site . I absolutely love their products. My current favorite is the 12 grain artisan bread flavor . It’s a boat load of seeds and grains all mixed up into one tasty bundle and it helps make a good bread fantastic. So go get out some yeast and start baking. This one is chewy, hearty and oh so good with soup or stew.

Multi Grain Wheat & Fruit Bread

  • 1 cup 7 grain uncooked cereal (I use <a href=”http://www.bobsredmill.com/7-grain-hot-cereal.html”>Bobs Red Mill Brand</a>
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 package yeast
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees is optimal)
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup King Arthur 12 grain artisan bread flavor (can use 1/2 cup sunflower seeds instead)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  1. Combine the 7 grain cereal and boiling water in a large bowl. Let sit for ten minutes.
  2. Dissolve the yeast, 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the 1/4 cup warm water in a measuring cup. Let it stand for about 5 minutes. It should get nice and foamy.
  3. Add the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, remaining sugar, oil and yeast mixture to the bowl with the cereal.
  4. Mix in the 3/4 cup of warm water, then mix in the egg yolk.
  5. Dump it all onto a LIGHTLY floured board. Add in the 1/2 cup grains (or sunflower seeds) and the cranberries and knead everything together. At first you will have a rough shaggy mess of dough with lots of loose bits and pieces but keep kneading and it will all come together. Knead for about 5 minutes, then put the dough into an oiled bowl, turning the dough to get the top side oiled too.
  6. Cover the bowl loosely with either plastic wrap or a clean dishtowel. Place in a warm spot (I set mine near my wood burning stove…nice and warm) and let rise until it has doubled in bulk.
  7. Punch down and pull dough into 2 parts. Shape each into an oval shaped loaf, place on oiled baking sheets and let rise again until they have doubled in size. While they are rising, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Bake loaves for about 30 minutes or until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.
  8. I should tell you that these will cut better when cooled but we all know that fresh bread never gets a chance to cool, so I won’t bother hehe

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Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

I’ve never been a huge bread fan. At least not when it came to the store bought kind. I ate it when I was a kid because…well, I ate everything when I was a kid. But I much preferred a pack of Lemonheads or a piece of fried chicken. Now though, I kind of like some of the store kinds. Not the ones in the bread aisle; they still suck donkey toes. But I love how so many grocery stores are now branching out into making artisan breads or at the very least, they stock more than an occasional loaf of stale French bread.

The problem with the fact that stores have gone gourmet is that I now bake less (as the lack of posts shows). When it’s so easy to grab a loaf of fresh rye bread or fresh Vienna bread at ones local Kroger, it is easy to become lazy. And since lazy and I are friends from way back (I could tell you stories about my mother being convinced that I would never ever learn to keep a house clean. Mom, wherever you are, I’m sure you’re tickled that I now keep a clean home and am actually pretty anal about it.), I’ve been lazy. And being me, I have felt guilty about being lazy. I haven’t been giving my family the baked goods they love nor keeping up in here. But now, with the weather getting colder, I, like so many of you, am back to baking. Yay for baking! You will not however, be getting the recipe for the pumpkin sticky buns I made the other day because they pretty much stunk. I have another version I will be trying and posting. Todays homemade bread though? Yep; you’re getting that recipe. This comes form the cookbook Bon Appetit, Y’all” I love this cookbook. Good southern cooking and the writing is sweet in parts, funny in others. There is a recipe in there for Honey Whole Wheat bread. Since I’ve been trying to eat better, I wanted to make this as opposed to say, one for “There is no nutrition whatsoever in this bread” white bread. Though I’m not sure the home made honey butter I slathered all over my piece helped the cause of nutrition hehe.

This is easily made. I don’t have a stand mixer so I did the mixing part by hand. Do your arm exercises; this is a heavy dough 😛 The original recipe calls for shaping this and putting it into loaf pans but I wanted a more rustic look so went for hand shaped freeform loaves. Now this is NOT a light airy loaf so if that’s what you’re looking for, this isn’t the recipe for you. This is a heavy, fairly dense loaf. It’s also chock full of flavor and nutrition from the whole wheat flour and wheat germ. I also added some of this Harvest Grains Blend  from King Arthur Flour which upped both the flavor and the nutrition. if you can buy some of this, do so. It’s a wonderfully tasty addition to many baked goods.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

  • 3 1/4 cup warm water (no hotter than 115 degrees; about 110 is optimal for blooming yeast)
  • 1/3 cup good quality honey
  • 2 packets dry yeast
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup Harvest Grains Blend (optional- could also throw in a mix of say, sunflower kernels and flax seed)
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt (yes, 2; sea salt takes more than table salt to get the same flavor)
  1. In a large measuring cup, mix together the warm water, yeast and honey. Stir to dissolve then set aside while you mix the other ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the whole wheat flour, bread flour, wheat germ, salt and grain blend (if using)
  3. Pour in the yeast mixture (it should be nice and foamy by now). Mix this together well; either by hand or if you are blessed to have a stand mixer, on low speed with the dough hook. Mix just until it is well combined.
  4. Dump the dough (and any dregs in the bowl) out onto a lightly floured board (kitchen counter in my case). Knead the dough well, adding a LITTLE more flour at a time if sticky, until it forms a cohesive mass. Continue to knead for about 10 minutes. You want dough that is smooth and elastic and that, if you poke it, is somewhat springy.
  5. Plop the dough into an oiled bowl. Turn the dough to make sure all of it is oiled, then cover with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and put in a warm place to rise until it is doubled in bulk.
  6. When risen, divide in half and either shape into loafs and put into oiled loaf pans or as I did, make into 2 freeform loaves. If you do this, put each one onto an oiled baking sheet. Let rise until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.
  7. While they are rising, preheat your oven to 400. If your oven runs hot, go down to 375. The bottoms on mine got a bit too brown at 400. Bake until nicely browned, about 45 minutes (again; ovens are different so check after about 30 minutes). They should sound hollow when tapped on top.
  8. If in loaf pans,  cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack.
  9. Serve with every bad for you spread you can think of 😀

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I Think My Kids Need Yeast Interventions

Buttery Yeast Rolls

I swear… I don’t starve my boys. Or at least not daily. Only on alternating Tuesdays and in months with a Y in it.. Generally speaking though, I actually allow them to eat. You would never know it though when I make something yeast risen. I can put it in the oven and come out and find the three of them huddled around the oven, drool sizzling on the glass door as they stare at whatever is in there and ask me “is it done yet? How bout now? NOW? Awwww mannnn… NOWWWW???!”. It’s the cooking version of “are we there yet!?” Thank God 3 of my kids are grown and moved… there wouldn’t be enough room around the oven and I would probably have to call in The National Guard to prevent bloodshed.

So when I made these yeast rolls the other night, I was prepared. I put on my riot uniform and hoisted up my bulletproof shield. I put up cement barriers all around the kitchen, had 911 pressed into my phone ready to press send and had a nice bottle of something high in alcohol at hand to calm my nerves. Then I got to work.  After a few hours, a new bottle of high octane hooch, as well as a few cans of food for the guard dogs and there they were. Hot, buttery, yeasty, “omg, I am gonna fight the kids for these” Buttery Yeast Rolls.The original recipe called for rolling the dough out and cutting it into crescents and yep, they were adorable looking. But…. I was soooo not feeling that ambitious. So I made regular rolls from these instead but with the added twist of a schmear (I love that word) of butter inside the roll before cooking. The original called for smearing the rolled dough with butter and then cutting it into the crescents. I got to the smearing part and got impatient; thus the making it into regular butter filled rolls part. What can I say? I was lazy. Continue reading

“A Loaf Of Bread, The Walrus Said, Is What We Chiefly Need”

Lewis Carroll amazed me when I was a kid and truthfully, still does even now that I’m an adult. The reasons are a bit different though. When I was a child, I just loved reading about Alice, the little girl who had so many more adventures than I would ever have. By the same token, I was scared to death when I read it. It was one freaky world Alice visited and I was torn between wanting to go there myself and throwing the book across the room and hiding under the blankets for a week.

As an adult, I’m more fascinated by the mind that wrote Alice as well as his other works. People speculate that he was a drug addict and in the throes of addiction when he wrote Alice In Wonderland, but in reality, that’s not been proven. He took Laudanum, ostensibly for migraines, which is an opiate, but there’s no proof of addiction. Mind you, think of any time you’ve had to take a prescription pain killer and then imagine living in the 1800’s where drugs were far easier to obtain. Then imagine how you felt taking pain killers and intensify that by 50 because from all reports, Laudanum was some powerful hallucinogenic stuff. Makes the scene in Look Who’s Talking where the in utero Mikey is happily looking at his hand that is colorfully psychedelic because mom is rather wasted  look tame :-p So if Mr. Carroll wrote any of his works while taking laudanum, it would explain the imagination. That or the guy either just had one hell of a good imagination or was seriously warped hehe. Continue reading

You Say Pizza I say…Well… I Also Say Pizza. Sorry.

Growing up in Chicago I learned to love pizza. Contrary to popular legend (and silly TV travel and food shows that keep the myth alive) not all of Chicago pizzas are deep dish. Deep dish has its place sure, but ya know what? I didn’t have deep dish pizza until I was an adult. All the pizza I had as a kid growing up on “Da Sout’ Side” was thin crust and cut in squares not wedges thankyouverykindly. To this day, it’s how I prefer my pizza. On that note, tell me/us about YOUR favorite pizza. What kind of crust, what toppings? My favorite is a thin crust with sausage, mushrooms and extra cheese. Preferably from Artese pizza in Chicago… which I haven’t had since I was about 15 *sobs*. These days I settle for chain pizza because the rural part of Kentucky isn’t exactly a hot spot for good pizza. We also make it home made. My hubby is the pizza king around here when it comes to traditional. I’m the one who likes to shake things up and do it differently. Gee… imagine that. ME? Not doing things the normal way? Nahhhhhhhhh.

One thing I’ve been making for years is what we call pizza bread. Basically, it’s what they call Stromboli or Calzone (both different but similar enough that I feel no guilt using the names more or less interchangeably. Doubt the pizza police are gonna get me 😛 ) but…not. Calzones are usually a half moon shape and strombolis are usually rolled. Mine is neither. It’s one big huge…well… stuffed pizza.  But I cheat by using frozen bread dough. This IS me after all. You know I try to bring you things that are tasty, usually quite bad for you hehehe but as easily done as possible. No exception here.

This is cheesy and gooey and meaty and saucy and…ok, so obviously it has all the flavor levels of pizza.  Suffice it to say that it’s yummy. This is great for a light meal with salad or cut into strips for snacks while watching  TV or hidden somewhere where nobody else can find it and heated up when you’re alone…


I have specific filling ingredients listed here but you can sub your favorites. Just be careful not to overstuff. No matter how well you think you have it sealed, put too much sauce, too much cheese or too much filling in it and it WILL break open and make a mess.

Stuffed Pizza Bread

  1. 2 loaves frozen bread dough, thawed (lay it out on foil, lightly grease it & leave till thawed)
  2. 1/2 cup pizza sauce (spaghetti sauce works fine too)
  3. 1/2 cup Tyson Italian Sausage crumbles
  4. 4 ounces (about 10 thin slices) hard salami
  5. 4 ounces Canadian bacon
  6. 12 ounces shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese
  7. 1/2 to 2/3 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  8. 1 large beaten egg for egg wash
  9. 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella, provolone or “pizza” cheese
  10. Basil Oil for drizzling and extra sauce for dipping if desired
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • On a lightly floured board (or counter like I do 😛 ) roll one loaf of the thawed dough out to about 8×11 or the approximate size of a sheet of copy paper.
  • Transfer to a large greased cookie sheet.
  • Layer the dough with the pizza sauce and toppings.
  • Roll out other loaf to about one inch larger in diameter than you did the other.
  • Brush beaten egg all around the edges of the filled loaf.
  • Carefully drape other loaf on top and seal edges with your fingers. Fold under if necessary.
  • Brush top of stuffed pizza thingamajigger with beaten egg then sprinkle with shaved Parmesan. Drizzle with basil oil.
  • Bake at 350 until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  • Let rest for about 15 minutes before cutting or you’ll just have cheese everywhere. Sounds yummy yes, but rather unfair to the poor sods who get the middle of the loaf with no cheese in it 😛

Reinventing The Wheel…Or Biscuit

Can you see all the little layers?? Huh huh huh?

We’ve all done it. Or at least if you’ve cooked for any length of time and are more than a casual “I HAVE to cook so I do” sort of foodie you’ve done it. What the heck am I talking about? Food reinvention. Aka the times you want to make something you’ve made before but just want to do it differently. You want something traditional but you want something new. That train of thought has brought us so very many of the foods we all love. Though I doubt Twinkies and Cheetos were somebody’s brain child as to how to reinvent cheese and cake. Mores the pity. 😛

I have been wanting biscuits. I have also been wanting croissants. But biscuits were boring and croissants are a pain in the proverbial tushie. I can make both with no problem. You can’t live in the south and cook without learning to make good buttermilk biscuits or you may as well hide in a hole. And I taught myself to make croissants years back just cause I wanted to prove I could do it. But neither was exciting me yesterday when I was contemplating today’s post. So I figured I’d make Angel Biscuits- those biscuit/yeast roll hybrids. But I wanted to play with them and see if I could get them to be more akin to croissants with out all the trouble and time that croissants take. I have to say; I’m pretty tickled with how they turned out.

Hours before I started the dough, I cut two sticks of butter in half. Then I rolled out each half in between sheets of waxed paper and froze them. After I got the dough finished later, I did the rolling and turning technique (more or less) that you use when making croissants after inserting the sheets of butter in them. After baking, I tried one (I wanted to eat more but controlled myself lol) with some of my home made Apricot Honey Jam. All I can say is… oh my. These turned out fantastic. Are they the prettiest rolls in the world? Nope. But I couldn’t care less nor will you. I promise. These are tender and buttery and the tops and bottoms get a slight crispy almost fried taste and texture due to the butter. You can see the layers in this and they are reminiscent of the flaky biscuits you can make from a can (the ones where you can peel apart the layers) but without the canned taste, thank God and the Pillsbury Dough Boy. So give these a try. They aren’t time consuming at all and taste so darn good!

Croissant Style Buttermilk Biscuits

  • 2 sticks butter (1/2 pound), room temp, cut in half (preferably salted for this recipe contrary to what I usually advise)
  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) regular yeast
  • 2 tablespoons warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup buttermilk (you may need a touch more if the dough is dry)
  1. Put one of your pieces of butter onto a large piece of waxed paper. Fold the paper over it and smoosh the butter down. Then roll the butter out flat into a thin sheet. Do this with each of the four pieces. Put into the freezer for at least an hour.

    See? The butter doesn’t have to look pretty. Just nice and thin and flat. 🙂

  2. When the butter has been in for about 50 minutes, preheat your oven to 400 and start your dough.
  3. Mix the yeast with the warm water in a small container. Set aside.
  4. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until mixture is the consistency of fine crumbs. Stir in the buttermilk, then the yeast. Mixture should leave sides of bowl and be a cohesive mass. If not, add a little more buttermilk at a time until it does.
  5. Place the dough on a generously floured board. Knead until it comes together smoothly. Gently roll out the dough into a rectangle. It doesn’t need to be perfect.
  6. Place one of the frozen butter sheets on it and fold the dough in half, enclosing the butter. Seal the edges well.  Gently roll back out into a rectangle large enough to insert another sheet of butter.
  7. Do this three more times with each of the other pieces of butter. Make sure your board stays decently floured. Seal the dough well after inserting each sheet of butter using fingers moistened with a bit of buttermilk if necessary. Cover any cracks with a light sprinkling of flour and just continue on as you have been doing. Work quickly so that the butter doesn’t have time to soften up too much. The steam is what helps create the layers and warm butter won’t steam as well. When you have all the butter rolled in, you will end up with a thick fairly heavy piece of dough that looks more or less like this:
  8. Roll out a LITTLE bit. You’re not trying to flatten it out again just make it a touch bigger. Once you have this done, cut the dough into 16 pieces. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve with jam or preserves or chocolate sauce if that makes you happy. But you won’t need butter on these I promise you. 😛