Sweet Rolls with Cardamom and Orange Glaze

rolls with CardamomSweet

Sweet Rolls with Cardamom

When I began my first year away at college, I had heard about the dreaded “freshman fifteen”. It’s that bizarre anomaly that occurs the first time students go away to college and experience eating in the campus cafeteria where there’s not much that’s healthy, low calorie or pleasant tasting. Legend has it that most freshman will pack on fifteen pounds their first year. And sure enough, it happened to me. My mother claimed that when I came home for my winter break she hardly recognized me.

So do you know what the culprit was…Sweet Rolls. It was the one thing that the cafeteria at Rider University served that was actually edible. I used to eat them in mass quantities. So much so that the cafeteria ladies used to hide trays of them when they saw me coming so there would something left over for the other students. So that folks was how I began my lifelong obsession with the Sweet Roll.

Today I made these Sweet Rolls with Cardamom and Orange Glaze. This is not an overly sweet treat, they’re definitely more a roll than a pastry. I like to add cardamom which gives the roll a spicy-sweet taste and pairs very well with the orange glaze.

Sweet Rolls with Cardamom

Sweet Rolls with Cardamom rising in the pan

Sweet Rolls with Cardamom 

Adapted from the LA Times

  • 2 packages of active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 – 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons, softened butter
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins (or brown ones, doesn’t matter) re-hydrated
  • 1/2 cup nuts, roughly chopped (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts or I used pistachios)
  • zest of 1 orange
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Directions

  1. Place 1/2 cup of warm water (between 105-115 degrees F) in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Stir it to dissolve it and let it sit to get foamy.
  2. Take your raisins and place them in a bowl covered in warm water and let them sit until you’re ready to use them. This will hydrate them and plump them up. When ready to use, drain and pat them dry with a paper towel.
  3. In a small pan, heat the 1/2 cup of milk until just simmering, then add the butter and stir until it’s melted. Next, stir in 2 teaspoons of the cardamom, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Let this liquid mixture cool to about 110 degrees F.
  4. Pour this mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer.  Add the yeast mixture to it. Using the paddle attachment, beat in the eggs one at a time.  Now, change the paddle attachment to the dough hook and add 3 cups of flour to this mixture until dough is smooth. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides and bottom to incorporate all the flour.  Add more flour in small increments until the dough starts to come together. (I ended up using about 4 1/4 cups). Mix with the dough hook for about 5 minutes.  Lightly flour your surface, and with floured hands turn the dough out onto you board. Knead the dough until it becomes elastic.
  5. Take a large bowl (or large covered container) and spray it with cooking spray, or brush it lightly with oil.  Put the dough into the bowl, and turn it to coat it with the spray or oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough sit in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
  6. *Side Note: once the dough has risen, you can now punch it down and cover the bowl and put in the refrigerator overnight if you wish to make the rolls fresh for the next day. If you do that, the next day, take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit a room temperature for about an hour, punch down dough again, and roll out to make rolls.
  7. Punch down the dough, and roll it into a 20″ x 15″ rectangle. Make sure the dough is rolled out fairly thin, about 1/16″ so you don’t have overly “doughy” rolls.
  8. I melted my 3 tablespoons of butter in the microwave, in small time increments, just so that the butter became smooth enough to spread with a pastry brush or offset spatula but not so much that it was liquid. Spread the butter over the top of the dough. Whisk together the 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Sprinkle over the top of the dough. Sprinkle the raisins and nuts over the top also. Using a microplane, zest the orange over the top of the dough.
  9. Now the process may get a little tricky, so hang in there. Starting at the longer side of the rectangle, tightly roll the dough into a cylinder. If the dough became a little sticky a lightly brushed a little flour on top of it. I took a ruler and made little slit marks every 1  1/4″ so that I cut my slices all the same width so that they would bake evenly.  Then place the cut rolls into a 9″ x 13″ buttered or sprayed baking dish. Cover with plastic and let rise until they double in size, about one hour. Place in a preheated 350 degree F oven, and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. I rotated my pan after 15 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes.
  10. To make the glaze: Sift 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar into a bowl and add just enough fresh orange juice to bring the sugar to a good drizzling consistency. Mix with a whisk or fork. Drizzle over the buns. You can also sprinkle some more chopped nuts on top if you like.
Sweet Rolls with Cardamom

Sweet Rolls with Cardamom

Mama’s Tips: 

If the rolls are browning too quickly on top, cover the top lightly with a piece of foil. You still want the rolls to bake all the way through and not be doughy inside.

If your room where you’re baking is cool, while the dough is rising, I take my bowl that’s covered in plastic wrap and wrap it in a bath bowl to keep the bowl warm to encourage rising.

Many times when I’m using raisins in my baking, I will re-hydrate them to plump them up because I think they taste better. You can rehydrate them in just warm water, simple syrup, orange juice or wine. Either way, I think they come out real tasty!

Sweet Rolls with Cardamom

Sweet Rolls with Cardamom

Sweet Rolls with Cardamom

Sweet Rolls with Cardamom

Recipe: Intermediate


Apple Loaf Cake with Pine Nuts

Apple Loaf Cake with Pinenuts

Apple Loaf Cake with Pinenuts

I love”homey” food, but you already knew that, didn’t you. Some people like to curl up with a warm blanket and a book, I myself, like to curl up with a hot cup of tea and a piece of cake. When curling up, it’s always best not to have a piece of cake that’s too sweet and sugary. No, proper curling should be done with a less sweet, almost bread like cake that will perfectly compliment a cup of tea. Ta Da! That’s where this Apple Loaf Cake with Pine Nuts comes in.

This cake is the BFF to a cup of tea. The “not-so-sweet” cake is filled with chunks of juicy apple and topped with earthy, crunchy pine nuts. Really, a perfect combination of flavors. This recipe will make two, 8″ x 4″ loaf cakes, so guess what, keep one for yourself and give the other to your BFF. Wrap it up in parchment paper and tie it with baker’s twine, and I guarantee, they’ll be very impressed.

Apple Loaf Cake with Pinenuts

Apple Loaf Cake with Pinenuts

Apple Loaf with Pine Nuts

Adapted from Real Food, Winter 2013

  • 3 large, crisp tart apples peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2″ slices
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 5 large eggs
  • 10 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. For this recipe I used two, 8″ x 4″ loaf pans. I sprayed the inside of the pans, then I cut parchment paper to fit in the pans and sprayed that too. I like to use the parchment insert because the cake will lift out effortlessly.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt. Set aside.
  3. Next, in a large bowl, I added the lemon juice and lemon zest. I cut the apples into 1/2″ slices and as I added them to the bowl, I tossed them in the lemon juice so that they wouldn’t oxidize. Then, sprinkle the apples with 2 tablespoons of sugar, and gently toss.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs and 1 cup of sugar for 2 minutes.
  5. Slowly, stir in the butter and vanilla. In several increments, add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated.
  6. Pour the batter over the apples and gently fold it in.
  7. Evenly divide the batter between the two pans, and sprinkle the pine nuts on top.
  8. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Makes 2, 8″ x 4″ loaf cakes

Apple Loaf Cake with Pine Nuts

Apple Loaf Cake with Pine Nuts

Mama’s Tips: 

In baking, size does matter. Make sure you always adjust your baking times if you’re using a pan that’s not the one specified in the recipe.

  • An 8″ x 4″ loaf pan holds 4 cups of batter
  • An 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan holds 6 cups of batter
  • A 9″ x 5″ loaf pan holds 8 cups of batter

Whenever working with fruits like apples, pears and bananas, toss them in a little lemon juice to keep them from oxidizing. Brown fruit is definitely not appetizing.

When baking, remember all ovens do not work the same, so baking times are always just an estimate. I always check my cakes 5-10 minutes before they’re supposed to be done to make sure they don’t brown too quickly.

I always like to put a parchment paper insert into my pans (which I spray along with the pan) so that cakes will always lift out effortlessly. It’s a bummer when the whole cake doesn’t come out intact!

Apple Loaf Cake with Pine Nuts

Apple Loaf Cake with Pine Nuts

Recipe: Easy


Bread Lounge & Handsome Coffee Roasters

The Custard Filled Timbale at The Bread Lounge

The Custard Filled Timbale at The Bread Lounge

I suppose food is my hobby, and, a hobby that I’m quite passionate about.  I love everything about food. I love to make it, photograph it, write about it, talk endlessly about it, meet chefs, talks to chefs, and to travel far and wide to find the best products and dishes a gal can eat. If someone told me they had found the best ice cream, pizza or sushi, then I make it my mission to search out that place and see for my self what the brouhaha is all about.

Recently I turned to my friend Gail, as we were out on one of our weekly culinary re-con missions, and asked her, “are you willing to drive over an hour for what I hear is incredible bread and some seriously good coffee?” She quickly gave me the thumbs up.  So, off we went, barreling down the 101 freeway headed towards downtown Los Angeles through some pretty gnarly traffic; which we call just an average day here in the City of Angels. I had heard from some of my carbohydrately obsessed friends that there was a bakery/cafe on the outskirts of downtown Los  Angeles that baked some of the best breads and pastries this side of the LA River. My, but I was intrigued. As we drove, my small car sandwiched in between semi’s and eighteen wheelers making so much racket that we couldn’t even communicate with each other, we wondered if we were both out of our minds to continue this quest. But continue we did.

the Bread Lounge in Downtown Los Angeles

Bread Lounge in Downtown Los Angeles

Bread Lounge is located in the “Arts” district in downtown Los Angeles. The super good news is that there’s a free parking lot located in the back of the restaurant.  The restaurant is small and somewhat industrial looking, yet it still has a warm ambience to it, which was probably due to the lively youthful crowd that was spilling out the door and down the street. I guess the word has gotten out about their amazing goodies. I am told that owner/baker Ran Zimon learned his craft in Israeli bakeries. As Gail and I stood in line waiting to order, we grabbed jars of homemade preserves with flavors like Peach-Mango-Passionfruit and packages of boxed cookies ready to go. For a small joint, the selection was pretty vast. They offer fresh made salads, paninis, and sandwiches made on the most awesome of baguettes and breads. I ordered the Smoked Salmon Sandwich and the Roasted Beet Salad with Chicken, both excellent choices.

Ricotta Filled Pastry at the Bread Lounge

Ricotta Filled Pastry at Bread Lounge

But the best was yet to come. Gail and I ordered a cross-section of The Bread Lounge’s flakey pastries such as their custard filled timbale, chocolate croissant and pain au raisin. I guess what I’m telling you is, if you’re as obsessed with authentic French-style pastry as I am, then you must make the trek to the Bread Lounge.

The Bread Lounge – 700 S. Santa Fe Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90021

Best darn Smoke Salmon Sandwich on Multi-Grain Baguette and Roasted Beet Salad

Best darn Smoked Salmon Sandwich on Multi-Grain Baguette and Roasted Beet Salad

The neighborhood surrounding the Bread Lounge is interesting & colorful

The neighborhood surrounding Bread Lounge is interesting & colorful

But what good is pastry without a good cup of coffee, am I right?  Recently I had dinner at a restaurant called Red Medicine. I usually find restaurant coffee overly bitter or just plain watered-down, but the coffee they served tasted just like, well, coffee. Imagine that. Really, what’s a girl gotta do to get a good cup of joe in this town. I was told the brand they serve was called Handsome Coffee Roasters. Okay, so now I had to figure out how to get my hands on a bag of these beans. After doing a little research I discovered that their coffee roasting facility was in downtown Los Angeles and just a few blocks from Bread Lounge. Yay, must be karma. Good bread and good coffee in one easy downtown location!

As Gail and I made our way to the entry of Handsome Coffee Roasters we had to fight our way through lights, cameras and dozens of “extras” dressed in winter clothing although it was 85 degrees in Los Angeles. Only in LA. The facility was closed because they were filming an episode of ABC’s Castle that day. We would not be deterred. After some cajoling, and a lot of tears, the manager told us to go around to the alley and he would sell us some coffee. It was actually kind of cool because they allowed us to see all the behind-the-scenes equipment and just how the coffee is roasted.

Handsome Coffee Roasters

Handsome Coffee Roasters

So, happily we scored ourselves of couple of bags of coffee and we were on our way. Now I can enjoy a great cup of Handsome coffee each day in the privacy of my own home. So, for those of you who don’t live in the Los Angeles Metropolitan area, just go to your computer and order online.

Handsome Coffee Roasters in action

Handsome Coffee Roasters in action

Handsome Coffee Roasters

Handsome Coffee Roasters

Handsome Coffee Roasters – 582 Mateo Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013


Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

It’s September, and son #2 is out of the house again living the high-life as a student in Santa Barbara where he’s studying to be an EMT. It’s a hard program, so let’s all pool our positive thoughts together and send them in his direction. Thanks guys! Anyway, he’s been up there about a month, but he’s coming home this Sunday and we’ve decided to have a little brunch in his honor…cause his mama misses him so much!  My parents are coming over, because they too miss him a great deal, and his big brother, son #1 is coming, but he won’t admit how much he misses his younger brother.  Ah, kids!

I’m preparing all his favorites; homemade waffles, fresh fruit and crispy bacon. He has requested that I bake this Chocolate Chip Cornbread which he likes toasted and topped with a big slab of butter. I’ve made cornbread a million different ways, but I particularly like this one for breakfast because it’s a little bit sweet and a little bit savory. If you can, it’s a treat to serve it right out of the oven.

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

From Bon Appetit

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs

Directions

  1. Place the oven rack in the middle position, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray a 9″ x 5″ metal loaf pan with cooking spray, or you can use mini loaf pans or muffins tins if you wish.  Just adjust the cooking time accordingly.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Stir in the chocolate chips. Set aside.  In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the milk, oil and eggs.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir just until all the ingredients are incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s).
  3. Bake the cornbread until the top starts to turn a little golden, and when a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. For the 9″ x 5″ pan, bake about 35 minutes. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. The cornbread is best served warm with a little butter.
Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Mama’s Tips: 

As with all batters, mix this one just until all ingredients are incorporated. Do not over mix.

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Recipe: Easy


Banana Date-Walnut Bread

Banana Date-Walnut Bread

Banana Date-Walnut Bread

I think everyone should have a good banana bread recipe in their baking repertoire. It’s just a good go-to cake that lends itself to many occasions. This is a great bread to bring to showers and brunches, birthdays and lunches. It’s great with a cup of coffee or tea, and even a big glass of milk.

This particular recipe comes to us from my good friend Gail Berger.  She is a baker extraordinaire. We met while we were both attending a professional baking program and have been culinary soul mates ever since. Gail is definitely a kindred spirit and we spend many hours on end together trolling the bakeries, cafes and eateries of Los Angeles searching for the ultimate in baked goods. Yeah, we complain about our weight a lot, usually as we’re downing a chocolate chip cheesecake or an expertly crafted dobos torte. But we continue relentlessly on our journey in search of that holy grail of baked goods.

I think you’ll be as pleased with Gail’s recipe as I was. It’s extremely moist (which is actually a term I find bizarre in describing food items), the walnuts give the bread a nice crunch, and the dates add a pleasing texture to the bread. When I wrapped this bread in plastic wrap and let it sit over night the flavors in it melded together and tasted better the second day. You might just want to try that approach.

The beautiful mahogany color of this Banana Date-Walnut Bread

The beautiful mahogany color of this Banana Date-Walnut Bread

Banana Date-Walnut Bread 

Recipe Courtesy of My Friend Gail Berger

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg (if you don’t have it, you can use powdered)
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 6 dates chopped (tossed in 1 teaspoon of flour to keep them separated)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with melted butter.
  2. In a large bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together and set aside.
  3. Cut up the bananas in chunks and place in a large bowl and mash them with a spoon.  Take the banana mixture and place it into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and add the sugar. Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until it’s light and fluffy. Add the butter, eggs and vanilla extract and beat on medium, just until incorporated. Scape sown the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Add the flour mixture and beat on medium-low speed just until ingredients are incorporated. Fold in the nuts and dates.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, and give it a good rap on the counter to get out any air bubbles.
  6. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Cool in pan for about a half-hour and then turn out to cool completely on a rack before slicing.
Banana Date-Walnut Bread

Banana Date-Walnut Bread

Recipe: Easy


Shallot and Thyme Dinner Rolls

Shallot & Thyme Dinner Rolls

Shallot & Thyme Dinner Rolls

You know, here at Mama’s Gotta Bake we’re not only about the sweet and sugary. Yes, I do dream about large chocolate cakes dripping in buttercream icing, but sometimes I like to cross over to the dark side and bake something using more savory ingredients.

I had a large bag of shallots and some fresh thyme left over from a meal I made a few days ago. I happen to love the combination of these two ingredients and remembered a dinner roll recipe I found in a very British cookbook I have. I’m obsessed with baking tins and pans of all sorts, so being the wild-and-crazy girl that I am, I decided instead of making these rolls in a standard muffin tin, that I would use the dariole molds I had just gotten a week before.  Dariole molds are also called baba molds or timbales. You can find them at most cooking stores or restaurant supply stores.

Anyway, I thought for sure the family would turn up their noses at these rolls, but surprisingly they finished every last one. Who knew!
Shallot & Thyme Dinner Rolls

Shallot & Thyme Dinner Rolls

Shallot & Thyme Dinner Rolls

From “The Perfect Afternoon Tea”

  • 8 ounces shallots, peeled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, for cooking shallots
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for cooking shallots
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme minced, plus additional sprigs for garnish
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • pinch salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons superfine sugar
  • 4 ounces soft herb and garlic cheese ( I used this)
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place oven rack in the center position. Using a pastry brush and melted butter, grease 10 dariole molds (baba molds). I used these molds because I thought they would make an interesting looking roll, but you could however, just make them in a standard size muffin tin or even in mini muffin tins.
  2. Drop the shallots into a medium sized saucepan of boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes and then drain. When cooled, slice the shallots into quarters.
  3. In a large frying pan, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until they are caramelized on all sides. Stir in the thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cool and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar.
  5. In another bowl, with the mixer on medium-low, beat  together the soft cheese, milk, eggs and melted butter.  Pour into a well in the center of the dry ingredients and blend until incorporated. Do not over mix.
  6. Scrape the shallots and the liquid into the batter (reserving some to top each roll) and stir lightly.
  7. Divide the batter between the molds and fill 3/4 full. Place a shallot and some thyme sprigs on top.
  8. If using the dariole mold, bake for 25-30 minutes or until tops are firm to the touch and lightly browned. If using a mini muffin tin, adjust the time accordingly. These are best served warm. To re-warm them, I just popped them in the microwave for about 20 seconds and they were great.

Makes 10 tall muffins

Caramelize your shallots

Caramelize your shallots

Mama’s Tips: 

Like most batters, do not over mix the ingredients. Mix just until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Mama just loves the combination of shallots and thyme.

Mama just loves the combination of shallots and thyme.

Recipe: Easy


Orange Walnut Bread

Orange Walnut Bread

Orange Walnut Bread

Today’s post is about a tea cake with tons of fresh citrus, sweet butter and eggs. But wait…there’s more!  Act now, and you get the toasted walnuts and shiny orange glaze too. So, do I have your attention, sound good, huh?

Recently for reasons unknown to me, I decided that a 4pm each day, I was going to stop what I was doing and sit down and have a cup of tea. A quiet time to reflect on what I had accomplished in my day so far, and to contemplate what tasks were still on my agenda. It seemed so civilized to me. Certainly one couldn’t have tea without it being accompanied by a proper tea cake. One of my all-time favorites is this Orange Walnut Bread. It’s not overly sweet, and the bits of orange rind give it that fresh citrus-y flavor which compliments the earthy crunch of the toasted walnuts.

I really think that this new ritual of mine will help me to be more productive, or maybe I’m just kidding myself. Maybe it’s just another reason I’ve drummed up to eat more cake .

Orange Walnut Bread

Orange Walnut Bread

Orange Walnut Bread 

  • 4 ounces of unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • grated rind of 1 large orange or 2 small oranges
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted*
  • Orange Syrup
  • Orange Glaze

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. What I find that works best is to melt a little butter and using a pastry brush, brush the melted butter inside the pan in all the nooks and crannys. Then dust it with flour, shaking out all the excess.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add the 3/4 cup sugar gradually, beating until light. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, and the grated orange rind. 
  3. In a medium bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry mixture to the batter alternately with 1/2 cup orange juice, beginning and ending with the flour. Gently mix in the walnuts. Transfer this mixture to a medium bowl and set aside.
  4. Wash out your mixer bowl and dry completely. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold them carefully into the batter.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, set on the middle rack and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until lightly golden and skewer inserted in center comes out clean.
  6. While cake is baking make the syrup mixture. When cake is done, using a wooden skewer or toothpick, poke holes in the top of the cake and spoon the hot syrup over the bread. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Orange Syrup

  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar

You’re going to stir together the sugar and juice in a small pan over a medium heat until it develops into a light syrup. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

Orange Glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 3-4 tablespoons of fresh orange juice 

Place these ingredients in a small bowl and whisk or stir with a fork until you achieve the desired consistency for the glaze.  If you like a thicker glaze add more sugar, if you prefer a thinner glaze, add more orange juice.

Orange Walnut Bread...right out of the oven

Orange Walnut Bread…right out of the oven

Mama’s Tips:

*Toasting Nuts: I always like to toast nuts when I’m adding them to baked goods. Why, you ask?  Toasting nuts releases their natural oils and gives them a deeper flavor. Toasting will make the nuts crispier too, giving your baked goods more texture. I place the nuts in a small frying pan over a medium heat. I constantly stir them with a wooden spoon because you don’t want them to burn. It takes about 6-8 minutes to toast them, you’ll start to notice a fragrant smell coming from them as they begin to toast.

Egg Whites: When beating egg whites, make sure there is no yolk in the whites or they will not become stiff. Also make sure your mixer bowl and utensils are completely clean and free of grease, butter or oil, as this will cause your egg whites not to become stiff also.

Orange Walnut Bread

Orange Walnut Bread

 

Orange Walnut Bread

Orange Walnut Bread

Recipe: Easy


Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins

Southern Californians are a funny lot. No matter how cold it gets, and for the past two weeks it has been very cold, Southern Californians will wear shorts and flip-flops no matter what.  I noticed this strange phenomenon yesterday as I was shopping at an outdoor mall. Me, bundled in a winter coat and scarf, and everyone else lollygagging about in their Tommy Bahama Hawaiian shirts and sundresses. I really admire their spirit, and for some folks it really is an endless summer. And why not.  Maybe it’s the thin, east-coast blood that runs through my veins, but I was headed home to have a big bowl of chili and these homemade corn muffins. I was embracing the brisk winter weather with some down-home comfort food.

Anyway, son #1 had given me the Bouchon Bakery cookbook for a gift and I was anxious to try out some of the recipes. What I like most about the book is that it’s recipes are written in both cups and grams. As a gal whose obsession is baking, naturally I prefer gram measurements. Why, because baking is a science and grams are a precise measurement. When you weigh your ingredients your chances of a successful end product are almost guaranteed. Even if you’re just an occasional baker, I highly recommend you get yourself a digital food scale. You know I would never steer you wrong.

Thomas Keller explains in the book that the reason for allowing your batter to sit overnight is for the purpose of hydrating the flour. When the mixture absorbs the liquid ingredients, the result is a very moist corn muffin.

Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins

From Thomas Keller Bouchon Bakery

  • 1 1/4 cups + 3 tablespoons (201 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (51 grams) cornmeal
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (12 grams) baking powder
  • 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons (135 grams) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup (168 grams) whole milk
  • 2 large eggs (90 grams) 
  • 1/4 cup + 2 1/2 tablespoons (90 grams) canola oil
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (72 grams) frozen corn kernels

* If  you do not have a scale to weigh out the eggs, take your 2 large eggs and lightly beat them in a bowl and then remove about 1 teaspoon and that will be about 90 grams.

Directions

  1. Place the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sift in the cornmeal and baking powder. Add the sugar and salt and mix on the lowest setting for about 15 seconds to combine. Add the milk and eggs and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, just until combined. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the oil, then increase the speed to medium-low and mix for about 30 seconds to combine.
  2. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate all the dry ingredients that may be stuck to the bottom.  Fold in the corn. For best results, transfer the batter to a covered container and refrigerate overnight.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, and line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with liners. Lightly spray the liners with nonstick spray. Spoon the batter into the cups about 3/4 full.
  4. Place the pan in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F, and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until muffins are lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. When done, place the pan on a cooling rack and cool muffins completely.

Makes 12 standard size muffins

Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins

Recipe: Easy


Chocolate Brioche

Chocolate Brioche

I come from a long line of bread eaters. We’re a hearty group and we can make a meal out of bread. Meat, fish and vegetables are nice, but really we’re quite satisfied with just bread. Maybe it’s my Eastern European ancestry that makes me appreciate what one can do with a little bit of yeast and some flour. You see, we’re simple folk. I love a loaf fresh out of the oven, slathered in butter or with a dollop of marmalade. Pita, naan, ciabatta or tortillas, call it what you will, it’s all good to me. I think it’s funny, all these people nowadays cutting bread out of their diet, well that’s just plain crazy to me.

I know some people are intimidated when they see yeast in a recipe. One of my favorite books, “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” has taken the trauma out of bread making. If you have the slightest interest in making your own bread, and trust me you should, then I highly recommend this book to you.

One of the best recipes in the book is their chocolate brioche. It’s a rich, eggy bread, golden on the outside with bittersweet chocolate ganache swirled on the inside. It was today’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nothing wrong with that, right?

Chocolate Brioche 

From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Brioche Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 8 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, melted, plus butter for greasing the pan
  • 7  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Egg wash, (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water)
Directions
  1. You can make this dough using a spoon, a large food processor or an electric mixer. I made it in the bowl of my electric mixer.
  2. Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter with the water in the bowl.
  3. Using the dough hook, mix in the flour until it’s all incorporated.
  4. When all the flour has been incorporated, cover the bowl, (not airtight) and allow it to rest at room temperature for 2 hours. After the initial rise, chill the dough as it will be easier to work with. This amount of dough will make four -1 pound loaves, so keep the dough refrigerated in a lidded container and use over the next five days.
Chocolate Ganache
  • 1/4 pound good quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • granulated sugar for sprinkling on top
Directions
  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a microwave in 15 second increments until smooth. Remove from the heat and add the butter, stirring until incorporated.
  2. In another little bowl, stir the cocoa powder and the corn syrup together and mix until smooth. Add to the chocolate mixture.
  3. Lightly butter a 9 x 4 x 3-inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and with a serrated knife, cut off a one-pound piece. I use my digital scale to weigh it. Dust that piece with more flour and shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Using a rolling-pin, roll out the ball into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle, dusting with flour as needed.
  4. Spread 1/2 cup of the ganache over the rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Starting at the short end, roll up the dough and seal the bare edges.
  5. Tuck the loose ends underneath, elongate the dough into an oval and place it into your loaf pan.
  6. Let the dough rest for 1 1/2 hours in a draft-free spot.
  7. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Using a pastry brush, paint the top crust with the egg white and sprinkle with the granulated sugar.
  8. Bake the brioche for 45 minutes  until the top is golden brown and the sugar is caramelized.
  9. Remove from the pan and cool slightly. Reheat the remaining ganache, then drizzle it over the top of the loaf.

Recipe: Intermediate 


Rye Bread

For me there is nothing more comforting or homier than fresh-baked bread. I love the way it makes the house smell as it’s baking, but more than that, I can’t wait to slather butter on hot, crispy bread right out of the oven.

This rustic rye bread is one of my all-time favorites. A couple thick slices of this bread with hot corned beef, cole slaw and spicy mustard, and it’s better than any deli I’ve been to.

I don’t know why more folks don’t bake their own bread. It’s really very easy, and not all that time consuming. Once you start making your own bread and you taste the difference between homemade and commercial bread, I guarantee you won’t buy store bought bread again. Really.

Rustic Rye Bread

From Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

  • 3 cups water (105-110 degrees F)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • cornmeal for sprinkling
  • cornstarch for cornstarch wash
Directions
  1.  Mix the yeast, salt and caraway seeds with the water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients just until everything is incorporated. Scrape the bowl down and cover with plastic wrap. Allow dough to rest in a draft-free spot for 2 hours. After the dough has risen, you can use it immediately, or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  2. Dust your hands with flour and cut off 1/4 portion of the dough (about 1 lb.) Dust the piece with flour and shape it into a ball, or you can elongate the ball into an oval shape if you choose. Allow it to rest and rise on a cornmeal covered surface such as a pizza peel if you will be using a pizza stone. I highly recommend using the pizza stone as it gives the bread a lovely, crispy crust. Or you can let it rest on a cornmeal covered baking sheet for 40 minutes.
  3. After the dough has rested for 40 minutes, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F with the stone in the oven and an empty broiler try on the rack underneath the one you are baking on.
  4. Using a serrated knife, slash 3 diagonal cuts across the top of the loaf. Make the cornstarch wash by combining 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch with a small amount of water in a small microwaveable bowl to form a paste. Add 1/2 cup of water and whisk. Place in the microwave for about 60 seconds. Using a pastry brush, paint the top of the loaf lightly with the cornstarch wash and then sprinkle on some caraway seeds.
  5. You can bake the loaf on the cornmeal covered baking sheet, or you can slide the loaf directly onto the heated pizza stone. After putting the bread in the oven, pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler try below and quickly close the door. Bake for 30 minutes until crust is a deep, golden brown. I use a digital thermometer to check that the inside internal temperature of the bread is at least 195 degrees F.  Allow to cool completely before slicing.
Recipe: Intermediate

Makes 4 – 1 pound rye breads


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