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I hope you all had a fantastic New Year!  It’s hard to believe that we’re already more than halfway through January, which sadly means my break between semesters is coming to a close.  I go back to school on Thursday, and I am only taking one class this semester, which will most likely seem like a cake walk compared to taking two at a time while also working full-time.

I’m hoping that I might have more time to blog, but I’m not going to make any promises that I can’t keep.  I have been cooking a lot, and one of my friends shares a similar love of technically challenging recipes (we made homemade ravioli last Friday, THAT was an undertaking).  When you have a cooking partner in crime it can definitely help make things seem less daunting.  Brad turns 30 in March, and after much back and forth, and with some inspiration from the lovely Julia Child, I’m hoping to put together a fantastic homemade celebration dinner.  That’s the plan, at least for the time being.

But that’s not what you came here for.  You came here for a recipe!  This cinnamon swirl bread is one of my favorites, and back in 2008 we received a few bread baking books for Christmas from both sides of our family (they knew we had gotten into bread).  This one is pretty easy to make, although no matter how many times I try, it never comes out as big and luxurious as a store-bought loaf of cinnamon bread.  But that’s also probably because while this recipe calls for two loaves, you could easily make one monster loaf.  But I like having two loaves, as nothing beats cinnamon toast in the morning with some good butter and a cup of delicious tea.  It helps get me through these awful winter months.

It’s also perfect for making into french toast for a lovely brunch.  In fact, we had just that this morning, with some home fries cooked up in bacon grease (there’s no other way to do it) and some thick cut peppered bacon.  It was delicious, if I do say so myself.

 

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice”

Makes two loaves

For Christmas this year I got a food scale, and I got to play with it for this, which is why measurements are in both cups and ounces.

 

3 1/2 cups (16 oz) bread flour
4 tsp. granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 large egg, slightly beaten
2 tb. butter (or shortening)
1/2 cup buttermilk at room temperature (I used powdered buttermilk, always works)
3/4 cup water at room temperature

 

Cinnamon Swirl Filling

1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tb. ground cinnamon

Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and cinnamon into the mixing bowl of your stand mixer (you can also do this by hand, but I’ll be giving mixer instructions).  Add the egg, butter, buttermilk, and water.  Stir together with the paddle attachment until ingredients come together.  Adjust with flour or water if the dough seems too sticky or too dry and stiff.

Switch to the dough hook, and beat on low for about 6-8 minutes.  You want the dough to be tacky but not sticky.  If you have an instant read thermometer (a necessity in every kitchen if you ask me) the dough should be between 77 and 81 Fahrenheit.   Transfer dough to a large bowl that has been lightly oiled.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm draft free place (above the fridge is my go to).

Let the dough rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled.

Divide the dough into two pieces and form them into loaves.  In order to form into a loaf, shape the dough into a rectangle that is about 5 inches long and 6-8 inches wide.  Mix together the remaining sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle on the surface of the dough.  Roll up from the short side of the dough and roll up into a loaf shape.  Pinch the ends and slightly roll to even it out.  Place dough seam side down into a lightly oiled loaf pan.  Form the second loaf and then spray with oil (I use pam).  Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise a second time until at least doubled, or until dough comes close to cresting above the lip of the pan.

Let rise for at least an hour, if not more.  If your loaves are a bit small at this point don’t panic, mine never get to be very large but they still come out delicious and that’s what matters most, right?

Preheat the oven to 350.  Place loaf pans on a sheet pan (and remove plastic wrap) and make sure they are not touching.  Bake for 20 minutes and then rotate the pan.  Bake for another 20-30 minutes until they are golden brown on top.  They should make a hollow sound when you thump them on the bottom.

Immediately remove bread from pans and let cool on a rack for at least an hour (2 if possible) until slicing.  I know it’s hard to not want to slice right into the bread, but it’s sadly for the best.

 

 

I happen to be a large fan of cinnamon buns.  We would always have them on Christmas day.  When I was a freshman in college I would grab a cinnamon bun and one of those sickeningly sweet starbucks bottled coffee drinks every Tuesday morning before sitting through art history.  I don’t know how I didn’t gain a million pounds in college.

I was planning to make cinnamon buns for Christmas  and bring them to my in laws house, but I was using my tried and true, but long recipe.  You have to make the dough overnight, and then assemble and bake, and I just ran out of steam right before Christmas.  I did make the dough, but never did anything with it.

We ended up having a New Years Day brunch, and I had found a different recipe for cinnamon buns at Delicious Meliscious, and joy of joys, they only took a few hours!  They also made 12 delicious, fluffy, cinnamon buns.  Definitely a winner in our book, and I plan to keep making this recipe.

I made them a day ahead of time (up through the second rise) and then popped them in the fridge.  I took them out at least an hour before baking, and then baked them as instructed.  They came out great, and someday I hope to make them all in one sitting.  I also didn’t make cream cheese frosting for them (B refuses to eat cream cheese frosting) so I did a regular confectioner’s sugar and milk icing.

I even had to break out a ruler to make sure my rectangle was large enough, and I still ended up with the small, odd-shaped ends.  It doesn’t matter what they look like, they’re still delicious and perfect for breakfast or with tea.

Cinnamon Buns

Dough

1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast (I used active dry)

Filling

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

Icing

2 cups confectioner’s sugar
milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Dissolve yeast in warm milk (this didn’t really dissolve much, but it still worked) and then add eggs, butter, salt, and sugar. Add flour and mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour (or you can use a stand mixer with the dough hook). Put in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.

Roll dough into a 16×21 inch rectangle. Spread dough evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Mix together confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and enough milk to make a creamy icing.  After rolls have come out of the oven, pour icing over the rolls and serve warm.

My coworker Lauren celebrated her birthday on Monday, and of course I had to make something for the celebration in our office.  Lauren and I are now the only two in our “group” within our whole office, and we have a whole lot of work ahead of us, but I know we can do it.  So I figured for her birthday I needed to make something special.

It all started when I started to send my blog around to some coworkers (two of which are trying to figure out how I can make money from it, gotta love them), and she saw that I had made my magical cider donuts, but hadn’t brought them in to work.  Now let me tell you, I work with almost all women, and when I DO bring in baked goods, I always get the “I need to be on a diet and can’t eat all that,” and so the baked goods get sent to work with the husband.  So I decided for her birthday to make donuts.  I was able to find cider and did make those, but I also wanted to try something new.

Since cider donuts are of the old fashioned cake variety, I wanted to try raised donuts.  I had a harder time finding a recipe than I thought I would, and the one I used is from the Better Homes and Gardens Step By Step Cookbook, which I had bought for the husband back in the day, when he lived in Ohio for a bit while I was still in school in Boston (and he moved back shortly after).  I don’t think he opened it once.

The donuts were all right, but not like the ones I always get at Dunkin Donuts.  I might have needed to make them larger, or maybe I need to scour the internet and try another recipe.  If you happen to have a tried and true one, send it my way and I will try it for sure!

Raised Donuts

3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 packages active dry yeast
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
cooking oil

Combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour and yeast in bowl of a standing mixer.  Heat together milk, sugar, shortening, and salt, just till warm, stirring constantly.  Add to flour mixture; add eggs.  Beat at low speed for 1/2 minute, scraping sides of bowl constantly.  Beat on high speed for 3 minutes.

Add in remaining flour, and once it comes together, switch to dough hook.  Knead on a lightly floured surface, or knead using the mixer.  Dough is ready when it is smooth and elastic.

Shape dough into ball and place into a greased bowl, turning once.  Cover and let rise till doubled, 45 to 60 minutes.  Punch dough down, and turn onto a lightly floured surface.

Divide in half, and let rest for 10 minutes.

Let me take a minute to talk about the above rings.  I was so excited to get these for Christmas, there are 11 different sizes, so I can make donuts, biscuits, you name it.  I’m a sucker for kitchen gadgets, and these are my new favorites.

Roll each half of dough into 1/2 inch thickness.

Cut with floured donut cutter into donuts.

Cover and let rise until very light, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Heat oil in a large dutch oven to 350 degrees.  Add donuts, a few at a time, and turn when golden, about 1 minute on each side.  Drain on paper towels.  You can shake them in cinnamon sugar, or powdered sugar, or dip in chocolate ganache and cover with sprinkles, like I did.

I made both cider and raised donuts, so I had a pile of them.  The cider donuts definitely were the winners, but everyone loved all the donut holes.

I am so slacking this month, so I apologize.  I have been cooking and baking, just not chronicling it like I should be.  But don’t you worry, we’re hosting Turkey day at my apartment, so there will be plenty of posts about T-day food (after the fact, of course).  Let’s hope we just have the camera ready all day.

So cider donuts.  For years I didn’t even know these existed (they never had them at the orchards I went to growing up), and the first time my husband brought them to me from a trip to Vermont, I was actually grossed out by the concept.  Don’t ask me why, I’m just a picky eater, there is no rhyme or reason as to why I don’t like things.  Well I was very wrong, and ended up loving cider donuts.  So now every time I go to an orchard, one requirement is that they must have cider donuts.  We have tried a few places around Boston, and our favorite is Russell Orchards in Ipswitch, MA.  The ride up there is so nice and scenic (and beautiful when the foliage is just right), and they have a great selection of apples, cider, foods, and of course, donuts.  We go up there just for the hot cider and donuts.  So good!

The last time we were there, I thought to myself, well, why don’t I try and make cider donuts?  I set out to find a good recipe, and the one I have used a few times I found online here.  It’s not quite as cidery as the Russell Orchards ones, but pretty darn good.

2 cups apple cider
1 cup granulated sugar
4 1/4 cups flour, plus additional for the work surface
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (low-fat or nonfat work fine)

Boil the apple cider in small saucepan(or a crockpot on high) until it is reduced to about a cup. That will take 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Beat the sugar with shortening until smooth.  Add eggs and mix well, then add buttermilk and reduced cider.  Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in another bowl.  Add these to liquid ingredients; mix just enough to combine.

Transfer dough to heavily floured parchment or wax paper and sprinkle the doughnuts with flour.  Turn the dough over onto one of the sheets and sprinkle the tops with flour.  The dough will be very sticky, so don’t be afraid to use a lot of flour, you really don’t want the dough to stick to the parchment paper.

Roll the dough until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Use more flour if the dough is still sticky.   Put the dough to the freezer until it is slightly hardened, about 20 minutes. Then remove the dough from the freezer.

Using a 3-inch doughnut cutter, cut out the doughnut shapes (I had to improvise, as I had no biscuit or donut cutters).   Put the cut doughnuts and doughnut holes onto the second cookie sheet pan.  Refrigerate the doughnuts for 20 to 30 minutes.

Add enough oil or shortening to fill a deep pan 3 inches; heat the oil to 350 F (check with a frying or candy thermomenter).  This is going to be a lot of oil, but don’t worry, you need enough to evenly fry the donuts.

Fry several doughnuts at a time, turning once or twice, until golden brown and cooked through. That should be about 1 minutes per side. Watch them carefully; they’ll quickly burn otherwise.  Remove the doughnuts with metal tongs or a slotted spoon and set on paper towels to drain.  While still warm, shake a few at a time in a paper bag containing cinnamon sugar.  Cool on a rack.

This coffee cake is a recipe I’ve had sitting around for a while, and never got around to making.  I found it on the Boston Globe’s website, and always wanted to try it.  I got a bundt pan for my wedding, and unfortunately this recipe wasn’t written for it, but I adapted it for the bundt pan anyway.

My husband wanted a coffee cake randomly one weekend, so I made it, and it was good, although there was SO much streusel (big difference between a 9×13 pan and a bundt pan), and I decided to make it for the girls who are currently working the phone-a-thon to raise money for us at the school I work at.  We all had to come in on a Sunday afternoon, so I thought I would make it worth everyone’s while.  They all seemed to love it, but then again, they had been eating cafeteria food for about a month now, so just about anything would seem delicious.

Streusel

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
12 tb. unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter a 9×13 inch baking pan, or a bundt pan.

In your standing mixer using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars.  Add in the rest of the dry ingredients, and mix until they are a coarse meal like consistency.  Add vanilla and mix again.  Transfer to another bowl and set aside.

Batter

3 cups flower
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tb. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups sour cream

Sift the flower, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together.

In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed for about 3 minutes.  Add the sugar in 3 additions, beating for 1 minute after each portion is added.

Beat in eggs, one at a time, blending for 30 seconds after each addition.  Blend in the vanilla.

On low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with flour.  Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl often.

Sprinkle a generous layer of streusel into the bottom of the bundt pan.  Spoon about half of the batter on top, spreading evenly.  Sprinkle another layer of streusel on top of that, and then cover with the rest of the batter.  Leave some streusel for the top of the cake.  Bake for about 55 minutes.  Let the cake sit in the pan on a cooling rack for about an hour, and then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!

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