Golden Pull-Apart Butter Buns

November 24, 2010

I haven’t really made any dinner rolls, but really wanted to serve homemade rolls for our Thanksgiving dinner. I went to the always-reliable site of KAF and picked out this simple yeast dinner roll’s recipe among many that they had and did a test drive on the recipe. It’s so difficult not to want to bake when I browse their mouthwatering recipes on their website.

This recipe was pretty straight-forward, except the “not too standard” ingredients like dry milk and potato flakes which I normally don’t have around the house. But they were really worth it if you think that you will make more yeast breads. These buns were “melt in your mouth-rolls” with soft interior and yeasty-inside. They were so delicious, and I can see them being a regular at our house. But they will  make an appearance on my Thanksgiving dinner table tomorrow! Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving day!

3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons potato flour or 1/4 cup instant potato flakes
3 tablespoons Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons soft butter
2/3 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
2 tbsp melted butter, for brushing the finished buns

Combine all of the dough ingredients in a large bowl, and mix and knead — using your hands, a stand mixer, or a bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a soft, smooth dough.

Place the dough in a lightly greased container — an 8-cup measure works well here — and allow the dough to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until it’s just about doubled in bulk.

Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface. Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces, by dividing in half, then in halves again, etc. Round each piece into a smooth ball.

Lightly grease two 8″ round cake pans. Space 8 buns in each pan. Can you use 9″ round cake pans, or a 9″ x 13″ pan? Sure; the buns just won’t nestle together as closely, so their sides will be a bit more baked. Cover the pans, and allow the buns to rise till they’re crowded against one another and quite puffy, about 60 to 90 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Uncover the buns, and bake them for 22 to 24 minutes, until they’re golden brown on top and the edges of the center bun spring back lightly when you touch it. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the middle of the center bun should register at least 190°F.

Remove the buns from the oven, and brush with the melted butter. After a couple of minutes, turn them out of the pan onto a cooling rack.

Serve warm. Store leftovers well-wrapped, at room temperature.

Yield: 16 buns

Classic Apple Pie

November 19, 2010

What better pie to make in the fall than a classic apple pie? I finally gathered enough courage to try making my own pie crust, and decided to make apple pie with it. Red loves eating raw apples, and me… maybe sometimes, but not all the time. I prefer Honey Crisp type, and I can eat that every day. Now… apple pie is a completely different story. This is probably my all-time favorite pie, with maybe sour cherry as a close second. The recipe calls for McIntosh apples and Granny Smith, although the book talks about Courtland as the ideal kind for apples. I wasn’t able to find any Courtland at our local store, so there you go-I ended up using McIntosh and Granny Smith.

Since this was my first time ever making pie, I made a couple of rookie mistakes. First, I sliced the apples too thin… way too thin, maybe 1/8-inch thickness. After all that baking in the oven, I was really missing some texture and crispiness from the apples. And the second mistake was that I didn’t cut big enough slits for the steam, therefore when I cut the pie open, I ended up with a half inch gap between the top layer of the sliced apples and pie crust. However, I was still thrilled with the old-fashioned flavor of the pie, and crust. Both are winner in my book.

If you still have abundance of apples to use, try these other dessert recipes:
The Apple Lady’s Apple Cake
Apple Crisp, Old Fashioned
Apple Bundt Cake, Double
Apple Pie Cake, Russian Grandmother’s

I hope you’re enjoying this fall season, and the abundance of apples this season… happy eating!

2 pounds (4 to 6) Mclntosh apples , peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 -1/2 pounds (3 to 4) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 recipe Double-Crust Pie Dough, bottom crust fit into pie plate
1 egg white, lightly beaten


Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position, place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 500°F (260°C). Toss the apples with cup of the sugar, the flour, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and spices, and set aside.

Roll out the top crust to a 12-inch circle. Spread the apples in the unbaked pie crust bottom, mounding them slightly in the middle. Loosely roll the top crust around the rolling pin, then gently unroll it over the apples. Trim all but 1/2-inch of the dough overhanging the edge of the pie plate with scissors. Seal the edge by pressing the top and bottom crusts together, then tuck the edges underneath. Crimp the edges, and cut four vent holes in the top. Brush the crust with the egg white and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Place the pie on the heated baking sheet and lower the oven temperature to 425°F (220°C). Bake until the top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet, reduce the oven temperature again to 375°F (190°C), and continue to bake until the juices are bubbling and the crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool to room temperature before serving.

To make ahead: The pie can be stored at room temperature, wrapped tightly in aluminum foil, for up to 2 days.

Yield: 1 apple pie

American Pie Crust

November 18, 2010

I have never made a pie crust from scratch before. There, I said it. I am so used to the convenience of pre-packaged pie pastry that I never really took the time to make it. I can, however, taste the difference between the fresh taste of a homemade pie crust and a pre-packaged one. Therefore, I decided to give it a try. Since I have been enjoying  The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, I thought that I should try their recipe for what they call their versatile crust… and I am really glad that I did.

This recipe delivered a very crusty and delicious buttery crust, which I should had predicted from the soft and easy nature of the crust. This crust definitely needed to be chilled, try to limit the amount of handling or it gets too soft. I made these to make double-crusted apple pie. I was surprised at how well the cooked crust handled the juices from the apples, and stayed nice and crispy. I think I am a convert now after making this crust. Now I don’t know whether I can go back to prepacked crust. I hope you will give this recipe a try, if I can do it… anyone can. Happy eating!

Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

2 -1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and chilled
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

Process the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Scatter the shortening over the top and process until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Scatter the butter pieces over the top and, using short pulses, process the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 pulses. Transfer to a bowl.

Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture. Stir and press the dough together, using a stiff rubber spatula until the dough sticks together. If the dough does not come together, stir in the remaining water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does.

Divide the dough into two even pieces and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap the disks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Let the chilled dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling it out and fitting the bottom crust into a pie plate.

To make ahead: The dough can be refrigerated, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Let the frozen dough thaw on the countertop until malleable before rolling.

Yield: 1 double crust pie crust

Sweet Potato Fries with Basil Salt and Garlic Mayonaisse

November 13, 2010

I have always been a fan of sweet potato fries. Normally, I just slice them, toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper and bake them in the oven. So when my CSA box included a recipe from Giada that includes basil salt with garlic mayo, I decided to give it a try. The garlic mayonaisse really turned me off at first, but actually, it turned out to be so delicious that I used them to dip my roasted carrot sticks. I really loved how the subtle lemon juice and garlic really gave the mayo a tangy flavor that cuts the sweetness of the sweet potatoes; it was a well-balanced pairing. The fresh basil also added brightness to the fries and the mayo together. I don’t think that I can go back to my simple sweet potato fries without the fresh basil and garlic mayonaisse now! I hope you give this one a try, happy eating!

Adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis, as seen on Food Network

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the sweet potato “fries” on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile combine the basil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. In another small bowl combine the mayonnaise, garlic, and lemon juice, and stir to combine.

When the sweet potato fries come out of the oven, sprinkle with the basil salt. Serve with the garlic mayonnaise alongside for dipping.

Sweet Cream Biscuits

November 11, 2010

I have been wanting to make homemade biscuits for a while. I have read several recipes that swear that using White Lilly flour would be the way to go. I don’t have the, but was still interested to try making them especially after I saw how simple this Dorie’s recipe was. Plus, there are a lot of recipes that make dozens of them, and this one was only makes 12 (and a small scrap biscuit for Charlotte).

I didn’t really have any issues with any parts of the recipe, and I thought the biscuits turned out tall and beautiful.  I tried to minimize the handling to make sure that the texture wasn’t compromised. They were not super flaky like their counterparts out of the tube, but they had nice crunch texture on the outside and soft on the inside. They also puffed up tall like they should be. I enjoyed them with straight out of the oven with sliced honey ham and smoked gouda cheese, while Red had his with salted butter and strwaberry ham. Both were delicious. If you have been wanting to try making your own biscuits at home, try this recipe. It’s simple and pretty forgiving–and still delicious. Happy eating!

Adapted from Baking: From my Home to Yours

2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour and 1/3 cup cake flour, I used the latter)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 to 1 -1/4 cups heavy cream (I ended up using 1 -1/2 heavy cream)

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Get out a sharp 2-inch-diameter biscuit cutter (I used a glass, and it was fine), and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Whisk the flour(s), baking powder, sugar and salt together in a bowl. Pour about 1 cup of the cream over the dry ingredients, grab a fork and start tossing the ingredients together. If necessary, add more cream, a spoonful at a time, until you’ve got a nice soft dough. Now reach into the bowl with your hands and give the dough a quick, gentle kneading – 3 or 4 turns should be just enough to bring everything together.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Dust the top of the dough very lightly with flour and pat the dough out with your hands or roll it with a pin until it is about 1/2 inch high. Don’t worry if the dough isn’t completely even – a quick, light touch is more important than accuracy.

Use the biscuit cutter to cut out as many biscuits as you can. Try to cut the biscuits close to one another so you get the most you can out of this first round. By hand or with a small spatula, transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet. Gather together the scraps, working them as little as possible, pat out to a 1/2-inch thickness and cut as many additional biscuits as you can; transfer these to the sheet. (The biscuits can be made to this point and frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight and kept for up to 2 months. Bake without defrosting – just add a couple more minutes to the oven time.)

Bake the biscuits for 14 to 18 minutes, or until they are tall, puffed and golden brown. Transfer them to a serving basket.

Serving: Ideally these biscuits should go from oven to table and be served with cold sweet butter.

Storing: You can keep the biscuits in a plastic bag overnight and give them a quick warm-up in the oven the next day, but you won’t recapture their freshly made flakiness.

Olive Oil Rolls

November 7, 2010

I have been wanting to try this recipe for a while. Finally when I made my Curried Squash and Apple Soup, I decided to make these rolls. A good olive oil is really key in this bread because it will make a huge difference in the final flavor. I had a hard time keeping the dough into “rounded” balls especially when transferring them onto the stone, so my “rolls” turned out flatter than I had anticipated. The dough was very soft and elastic, I’m not sure how well it would have handled the transfer. While the rolls didn’t exactly have the shape that I had anticipated, they were really delicious: rustic and had those gorgeous little air pockets that made them great for dipping into soup. The recipe allowed for this recipe to be made into one big round loaf, so that is also an option that I think I will do next time. Happy eating!

Adapted from Martha Stewart Baking Handbook

2 cups water, room temperature
1-1/2 lbs (~4-1/2 cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 ounce fresh yeast
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for bowl and plastic wrap
1 tablespoon coarse salt
Cornmeal, for dusting

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine water, flour, yeastm and olive oil; stir with a wooden spoon until all ingredients are incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 hr to 1 hr and 15 minutes.

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt, and mix to combine on low speed. Raise the speed to medium, and beat until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl but is still sticky, about 3 minutes.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surfacce. Knead it for 1 minute, then transfer to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Return dough to a lightly floured work surface. Fold in the following fashion: fold the bottom third of the dough up, the top third down, and the right and left sides over, tapping the dough after each fold to release excess flour, and pressing down to seal. Flip the dough seam side down on the work surface, and cover with oiled plastic wrap; let rest for about 15 minutes.

Dust a large wooden peel with cornmeal; set aside. Transfer dough to a clean work surface. If the dough is overly sticky, you can lightly flour the surface. Divide the dough into 16 pieces with a bench scraper (~2-1/2 ounces).  Then cup each individual dough between your rounded palms; roll it in circular motion, pulling down on the surface of the dough to form a tight smooth round. The bottom of the dough should drag a bit on the table as you roll; this will help it take shape.

Transfer all of the individual rounds of dough to the prepared peel, and drape with a piece of oiled plastic wrap. Let the dough rest on the peel until slightly puffed, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile place a baking stone on the floor of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degree.

With lame or a razor blade,  make four slashes on top of each individual round (this was difficult for me to do since the dough was so elastic, like it should), to make a square. Slide each individual dough onto the stone and bake until the crust is dark golden brown about 20 minutes.

Yield: 16 rolls