Tag Archives: bacon

Maple Bacon Doughnuts

My mom trudged through four years of college with four kids to earn her nursing degree (and graduated magna cum laude, she will promptly — and repeatedly — inform you).

Her job as a nurse left her with little time or energy to spend on being an extraordinary entertainer, something she’s always had an innate talent for. One day as a small girl, though, I went to forage in the kitchen and found her frantically frying doughnuts.

There was literally a multi-tiered tower of doughnuts on the kitchen table. There were more doughnuts bouncing around in hot oil on the stove. There were pale, puffy rings on the counter waiting for their turn in the stock pot.

And then there was little Julie in the middle of the madness — and I was all about eating some doughnuts.

Mom immediately shattered my doughnut devouring dreams, though, explaining that her friends from work were on their way to discuss some adultish, worky things, and that the doughnuts were for them. I had thoughts of launching an all-out siege à la Hyperbole and a Half, but managed to control myself.

When the ladies arrived, Mom was somehow curled and coiffed, standing in a clean kitchen, and wearing a cute outfit. The tower of doughnuts beckoned enthusiastically from the table as she invited each of her friends to sit and poured them coffee. I watched in eager anticipation, certain they were about to notice the doughnuts and react with appropriate awe.

But they didn’t.

No worries. My mom would offer them the doughnuts in a moment, and they were probably just waiting on that polite social cue to reveal their utter amazement. Sure enough, she gestured toward one of tiers resplendent with multicolored rings, saying, “Would you like a doughnut?” But the unthinkable happened.

“Oh, no thanks.”

That’s right. Those ladies did not eat a single doughnut. They were dieting, or they weren’t hungry, or some such something.

My mom carried on warm conversation, refilling their coffee like nothing had happened. Like fresh homemade doughnuts just appeared on her kitchen table any old day! Like she hadn’t just spent literally hours making them from scratch!

At 7 or 8 years old, I was not so deft a hostess. I sort of wanted to grab one of those ladies by both shoulders and give her a good shaking, screaming, “SHE MADE YOU HOMEMADE DOUGHNUTS, WOMAN!” I had seen Mom’s hours of hard work, and I was heartbroken for her.

The ladies left before too long, having accomplished their adulty, workish business, and the doughnuts still sat undisturbed on the table. I could tell Mom was sad about it, despite my assurances that I would both eat and enjoy every last one.

Seriously, who turns down a homemade doughnut?! In fact, who turns down ANY version of a yeast doughnut?! (Those cakey things are another story altogether; you’ll have to forgive my obvious bias.)

Indeed, Mike’s mom told me a story years ago about when she was in school. She and her friends would wait for the “Hot Doughnuts Now” sign to come on at the nearby Krispy Kreme, drive over, and eat a dozen doughnuts each. That’s the power of a yeast doughnut. (And youthful metabolism).

Well, in honor of my mother and doughnut lovers everywhere, I made a variety of filled doughnuts last weekend. I’m still tweaking my super secret version — and will share it soon, along with a great little trick for using yeast dough scraps — but this flavor combination I found on Cherry Tea Cakes had me immediately intrigued. Maple Bacon Doughnuts!

They don’t just sound amazing; they are amazing! And even though it may seem like a trendy flavor combination, these are not simply novelty doughnuts — they taste flippin’ awesome. They’re pillows of salty-sweet, doughnut-pancake, breakfast-dessert heaven. I feel like I should be confused, but I’m not. I just want another one.

While we’re talking doughnuts, we might as well jump in the fray: Are you a cake doughnut or yeast doughnut person?

Maple Bacon Doughnuts



Recipe by: Adapted from Cherry Tea Cakes
Yield: about 12 3-inch doughnuts

Doughnut Ingredients:
1 0.25-ounce package yeast
2 tablespoons hot water, roughly 110 degrees in temperature
3/4 cups milk, scalded (heated to a slight simmer-not a boil) and cooled
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons shortening
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
vegetable oil for frying

Maple Mousse Filling Ingredients:
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 large egg yolks
11 1/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup whipping cream

Maple Glaze Ingredients:
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons bacon grease/melted butter
1 cups powdered sugar
5-6 tablespoons maple syrup
about 1/2 pound bacon, for topping

Directions: Make the doughnut dough: Dissolve the yeast in warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer, and then let it sit for about 5 minutes. The yeast should foam to show that it’s active. Beat in milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening, and 1 cup flour (scraping down bowl when needed). Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes to fully combine. Mix in remaining flour completely. Cover this dough and let it rise in a draft-free place (I warm my oven for a few seconds on 200 degrees just to get the chill out — make sure it’s not hot! — and then put my dough in there to rise) until doubled, about 50-60 minutes.

Make the Maple Mousse: While the dough is rising, bring maple syrup to a boil over medium-high heat. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks. Pour about 1/4 cup of the hot maple syrup into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, to temper them and be sure they won’t cook from the heat. Then whisk the egg yolks into the maple syrup. Whisk constantly until the mixture reaches about 170 degrees F on a candy thermometer. In a separate bowl, measure out 1/4 cup of the whipping cream and sprinkle the gelatin over it to soften. Let it sit for about 5 minutes before mixing a couple of tablespoons of the warm syrup mixture in and stirring to dissolve the gelatin. You can heat for 10 seconds at a time, stirring between each, to ensure the gelatin is dissolved. Whisk this mixture into the syrup mixture, and then whisk it occasionally for the next hour while it cools.

Beat the remaining cream to soft peaks. Stir about a third of it into your now-cool maple syrup mixture to lighten it, and then gently fold the remaining cream into it. Refrigerate for at least an hour while you complete the rest of the components.

Make your doughnuts: Flour a surface well and turn your doughnut dough out onto it, flouring the dough as well. Gently roll the dough out to 1/2-inch thick and cut into solid rounds with a 3-inch cooking cutter. Place each round on a baking sheet and let these rise until doubled, about 30-45 minutes. About 25 minutes into their rise time, start heating your oil in a heavy, deep stock pot to 350 degrees F on a candy/fry thermometer.

Cook bacon topping: Preheat oven to 400 degrees (only once your doughnuts aren’t in there rising!) Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lay your bacon slices out side by side. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate, reserving the bacon grease in a small bowl. When cool, crumble bacon up.

Fry your doughnuts: Gently lower 2-3 doughnuts at a time into hot oil with a slotted spoon. Fry about 1 minute on each side or until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Make the Maple Bacon Glaze: Add enough melted butter to your bacon grease to make it 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons worth. Whisk this together with the confectioner’s sugar until combined. Add maple syrup one tablespoon at a time until you reach desired consistency. Set aside.

Assemble doughnuts: Use a chopstick or butter knife to poke into each doughnut and “sweep” gently to create a pocket. Pipe mousse into each doughnut using a piping bag. Then dip them in the glaze and sprinkle cooked bacon on top. Best eaten the same day.

If you liked this post, please:
Subscribe to Willow Bird Baking
Follow Willow Bird Baking on Twitter
Follow Willow Bird Baking on Facebook
Give this post a thumbs up on StumbleUpon


ShareOther ways to share this post with friends!

Advertisements

81 Comments

Filed under other

April Fool’s Day Cupfakes

Ah, April Fool’s Day! The perfect occasion to show someone you love them by playing nasty tricks on them and guffawing as they stand, bewildered, trying to figure out what just happened.

Orrrr you could play a sweet (well, savory) trick instead! Cupfakes are adorable, savory treats masquerading as their sweet cousins. At one time or other, I’ve had people mistake each one of the dinnertime cupfakes below for dessert! In reality, though, Deep Dish Pizza Cupfakes are fun Chicagoan deep dish pizzas topped with fluffy ricotta and a cherry tomato. Meatloaf Cupfakes are moist meatloaf with mashed potato “frosting” and colored salt sprinkles. Finally, my favorite: Cheddar, Chive, and Bacon Cupfakes with Avocado Frosting are slightly sweet, cornbready dinner muffins full of goodies.

One warning: when people are expecting to bite into a sweet cupcake and it turns out to be a cupfake, their brains do a little backflip of revulsion no matter how good your treats taste. It’s probably best to reveal your trick right before they take a bite!

Deep Dish Pizza Cupfakes

Meatloaf Cupfakes

Cheddar, Chive, and Bacon Cupfakes with Avocado Frosting

P.S. Only 1 week left in my Cheesecake Challenge! Choose any one of 9 cheesecake recipes to prepare within the next month. Email a photo to me by 4/5/2011 to be featured on Willow Bird Baking! Get more details about the challenge here.

If you liked this post, please:
Subscribe to Willow Bird Baking
Follow Willow Bird Baking on Twitter
Follow Willow Bird Baking on Facebook
Give this post a thumbs up on StumbleUpon


ShareOther ways to share this post with friends!

18 Comments

Filed under cupcakes, cupfakes

Pasta Carbonara

I’ve been so antsy to share this recipe with you! It’s one of those I-put-a-bite-in-my-mouth-and-suddenly-my-eyes-widened-to-the-size-of-Pluto dishes. One of those I-stared-at-Mike-impatiently-waiting-for-him-to-take-a-bite-and-have-Pluto-sized-eyes dishes! One of those I-could-eat-a-Pluto-sized-bowl-of-this-stuff dishes!

I’ve been trying to redeem myself for Mike’s terrible birthday dinner disaster for awhile now. Sure, I’ve made some delectable things since then, but I knew my penance wouldn’t be truly complete until I made him some really good pasta.

I went hunting on my favorite places to hunt for recipes: Tastespotting and Foodgawker. I’m so visual when it comes to food — seeing a dish gives me a better idea of how it’ll taste than looking at ingredients lists — and I find the mini-descriptions on these sites force bloggers to succinctly convey how amazing a dish is. You’ll find some captions that say things like, “pretty good,” or emphasize the ease of a dish, and others that convey the kind of emotion I wanted to elicit from Mike with my pasta dish: “WOW, this is good!”

This recipe was one of the WOW ones I came across. The photo of the dish was submitted by Kate of Framed, who called it “extra special.” That — combined with her charge to throw out all your other carbonara recipes — gave me confidence. I’m not going to lie, something about her blog’s exuberant header photo probably also made be feel exuberant about linguine! Regardless of the reasons, I decided that this was the recipe I’d been searching for!

As if you needed any more encouragement to make this pasta, the original recipe is straight from Pioneer Woman’s site (a Pastor Ryan recipe, for those of you who follow her posts). P-Dub has never steered me wrong, and on top of that, she’s coming to Charlotte this Friday for a book signing! What a perfect time to make a meal from her blog.

I guess the only thing left to tell you about is the most important part: the taste. The last time I ate pasta carbonara was in Little Italy in San Diego, so the creamy, rich, buttery sauce and the salty punch of the pancetta was a wonderful memory. I have to say, though, this rendition was even better than the one I remember. Bunches of torn parsley add a fresh note to the otherwise deep and indulgent pasta.

One flavor I noticed that stood out was the wine, so pick a good one — but don’t ask me how to do that! I picked my wine because it was white and had a penguin on the bottle. I got lucky, though, because it tasted perfect in the sauce. It was a Pinot Grigio, in case you want to replicate my random choice.

We paired our pasta with some cheesy garlic bread, and it was such a great combination. Actually, I considered making some big homemade garlic croutons to top the pasta itself, which would have been delectable if you want to give it a go. Make this as soon as you can manage to throw some linguine into your shopping cart. Bon Appétit!

Pasta Carbonara



Recipe by: Slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman’s blog by Framed
Yields: about 4 servings, if you’re us — perhaps 6 servings for normal folk.

Ingredients:
1 pound linguine pasta
4 eggs
1 pound bacon or pancetta (I used pancetta)
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese
8-12 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup white wine (or substitute another cup of stock)
1/2 stick of butter
1 handful of parsley
1-2 tablespoons black pepper

Directions:
1. Cut bacon into pieces about one inch wide. Cook until browned and crisp and set aside, saving bacon grease in the skillet.

2. Cook linguine in salted water until al dente.

3. Add chopped onions to bacon grease and let them cook down over a medium-high heat for a couple of minutes.

4. After the onions have cooked for a couple of minutes, throw in the garlic. Adding it after the onions have cooked a little will prevent the garlic from burning. After the onion and garlic have cooked for another couple of minutes, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. Discard the grease.

5. Place the pan back on high heat until it starts to smoke a little. As soon as the pan begins to smoke, pour in the white wine (or chicken stock). Whisk until pan is thoroughly deglazed and all of the brown bits have come off of the bottom of the pan. Add 1 cup of chicken stock. Return onion and garlic to the pan. Let simmer over medium heat.

6. Crack four eggs into a large bowl. Add most of the Parmesan cheese, and roughly chop the parsley, adding it into the eggs as well. Leave a little Parmesan and parsley out for a garnish. Mix well with a fork.

5. Add the cooked hot pasta to the egg mixture and then add the onion mixture. Stir in ½ stick (1/4 cup) of butter and the cooked bacon. Mix it all together well. Pepper to taste. Garnish with parmesan and parsley. Throw out all previous carbonara recipes.


Enjoy!


Share Share this post with friends!

13 Comments

Filed under cupcakes, other

Pecan Maple Bacon Pancakes

I don’t care what my Buffalonian roommate says, it has been cold in Charlotte. She chokes back laughter as I layer on two pairs of pants, a nightgown, a long-sleeve tee, my rubber duckie bathrobe, a scarf, mittens, and fuzzy socks to take Byrd out in the 20 degree weather every morning. A winter coat would be nice right about now, but I don’t own one. Thankfully, you can usually get by with a thick jacket and a scarf in the Carolinas.

Then again, I’m “that girl” who used to wear flip-flops all winter. One day I looked down at my exposed toes standing in the few inches of snow we’d accumulated and thought to myself . . . well, it was something like, “I am stupid.” So maybe I’m just not a good judge of what sort of clothing one should have on hand. At any rate, I was not prepared for this icy blast. I’ve been Grumpy McGrumpster carrying a snuggie-wrapped Byrd down three flights of stairs every morning (she hurt her wittle knee, and so she is now transported everywhere like a princess).

After a week of shivering, I needed a big, hot breakfast on Saturday. I found a fantastic collection of pancake tippery over at Deb’s Smitten Kitchen and invited Mike over for a pancake marathon. I got a little sassy and decided to make Pecan Maple Bacon Pancakes: fluffy, light flapjacks filled with chopped pecans, shreds of freshly cooked bacon, and a drizzle of maple syrup cooked right in. They were the perfect sweet and savory breakfast treat.

Of course, pancakes aren’t pancakes without a little customization. We also indulged in Pecan Chocolate Chunk, Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk, and finally, Peanut Butter Bacon Pancakes — all of which were well-received! I loved the idea of freezing my freshly cooked, cooled pancakes for a homemade alternative to packaged convenience breakfasts, but it didn’t work out. Oh, they froze beautifully in their ziplock bag, separated by sheets of waxed paper . . . but we got hungry again Saturday night, ripped them open, and devoured them all! Perhaps I’ll make a bigger batch next time around.

Our pancakes were lovely served with maple sausage on the side, but next time, maybe I’ll cook it right into the pancakes as well! Oh, and I’m not the only one who had a craving for breakfast this week, according to my Google Reader. For delicious breakfast ideas to accompany your flapjacks, try Barbara Bakes’ Breakfast Hashbrown Casserole, Lick The Bowl Good’s Banana Pecan Butter Buns, or My Baking Addiction’s Breakfast Parfaits. Great minds bake alike!

Pecan Maple Bacon Pancakes



Recipe by: Martha Stewart’s Original Classics Cookbook, with adaptations from Smitten Kitchen and Willow Bird Baking
Yields: about 9 6-inch pancakes

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or slightly less table salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tablespoon extra for brushing griddle
6-7 slices brown sugar bacon
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (and toasted, optionally)
maple syrup for drizzling

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place bacon on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crispy. Allow to cool and crumble on a paper towel. If desired, toast pecans in a dry skillet over low-medium heat, shaking constantly.
2. Preheat an electric griddle to 375°F, or place a griddle pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs and buttermilk. Pour the buttermilk mixture and 4 tablespoons melted butter into the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. The batter should have small to medium lumps.
2. Test the griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If the water bounces and spatters, the griddle is hot enough. Using a pastry brush, brush the remaining 1/2 teaspoon butter onto the griddle. Wipe off the excess with a folded paper towel.
3. Using a 4-oz. ladle, about 1/2 cup (for a 6-inch pancake), pour the batter in pools 2 inches apart. Drop some pecans and some bacon crumbles onto each pancake. Using a spoon, drizzle a small amount of maple syrup over the top of the pancake.* When the pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around the edges, about 2 1/2 minutes, flip over. If any batter oozes, push it back under with your spatula. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute.
4. Repeat with the remaining batter. You can keep the finished pancakes on a heat-proof plate (or baking sheet) in the oven at 175°F. Serve warm with butter and maple syrup.

*NOTE: Other delicious toppings include berries, chocolate chunks, other nuts, peanut butter chips, or cinnamon chips. We love a variety, so we made several Pecan Maple Bacon Pancakes and then went crazy with the rest of the batter!


Fresh bacon sizzling, and then a Pecan Maple Bacon Pancake waiting for a drizzle of maple syrup and a flip!


Good Morning, Sunshine!


Share Share this post with friends!

26 Comments

Filed under other

Freshly Baked Cheese Bread

Every now and then, I’ll stumble upon an opportunity to walk down a silent gravel road or drive through seemingly endless farmland. My heart always feels simultaneously full and a little desperate during these bits of quiet countryside — desperate for what, I’m not sure. Maybe just to spread out a blanket and stay awhile? To escape the scatter and pace of the indoor internet version of life? To hug as many fat farm animals as possible?

I’m pretty sure it’s all of those things rolled into one. My desires seem to be whispering to me: sloooooowww dowwwnnn. Every now and then I’ll whine a bit to Mike about wanting to live on a farm, and he’ll start in about how much work it is, how financially unstable it can be — but I still can’t help running through (tickless, snakeless) fields in my mind.

That’s what farmers do, right? Run through fields? Ah, well, anyway . . .

Another experience recently evoked that desperate/full heart feeling: the rustic, yeasty, floury, humbling, satisfying process of baking fresh bread. I don’t mean a quick-mix bread, though I love those as well; I mean honest-to-goodness yeast fermentation, mixing and kneading with ardor, proofing, baking, tearing, sopping, devouring bread. Cheese bread, to be exact.

My bread fanaticism began when publishers sent me a copy of Andrew Whitley’s new book, Bread Matters: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own. To be perfectly honest, I waffled for awhile about this book. Did the busy modern cook have time to pour over the 138 pages that precede the first recipe? At one point as I was reading, though, a thought struck me: perhaps I was viewing all of this with my fast-paced lens. Maybe ignoring that urge to slow down and — in this case — enjoy the process of crafting a loaf of bread was compounding the problem. Maybe the busy modern cook would feel a little less like the energizer bunny if he or she watched yeast ferment on the counter for a couple of days. Who knows?

It also became clear that bread is Andrew Whitley’s passion, and here I was, reading through a whole-hearted, sometimes playful, sometimes vehement opus! Within the pages, bread became political capital — something to fight for — as well as a connection to the past and a work of art. This wasn’t just a cookbook; it was a masterpiece of bread!

Politically speaking, Bread Matters is the namesake of Whitley’s organization, which is devoted to changing people’s mindset about bread. It’s a noble mission, considering the dirty economic battle being fought for our allegiance. Society is saturated with advertising offering more more more faster faster faster, as a stroll through any grocery store will confirm. Frozen meals, baking mixes, and preserved foods abound, and healthful foods are only offered insofar as they’re profitable and trendy. While I’m vehemently not a food snob and don’t mind a baking mix here and there, I am incensed by the idea that the food industry is pumping products full of corn and chemicals in order to turn a profit. Conscience has been consumed in capitalist lust. Whitley charges that you should be angry, too, and that, “One way of fighting back is to refuse to buy foods produced in ways we find unacceptable.”

Beyond the political, though, Whitley connected with some powerful inner urge of mine in a section entitled, “The simple life”:

[Artisans] gain satisfaction from intimate contact with the materials of their trade and from direct involvement in the whole process from flour to baked loaf. The feel of soft, warm dough under the hands, the sight of an oven well set with loaves, the beguiling smell of baking bread, the satisfying sound of crackling crusts — all these can be yours when you make your own bread.

While I may not be able to own a farm, I can pick up some pure, natural ingredients and set out to make freshly baked-from-scratch bread. I can be literally in touch with my product from start to finish, control every addition, and enjoy the fruits of my own labor. With this compelling inspiration, I grabbed up Bread Matters to search for my first recipe. The book is physically lovely and almost like a loaf itself, with a smooth cream cover and some heft to it. Two sections of plates show rustic images of various breads. I chose a savory, tangy bread to try first: Cheese Bread.

The process was just as Whitley described: a few minutes of work here and there (he calculates around 30-40 total) punctuated by periods of waiting. In this particular bread, I prepared a sponge that fermented for a couple of days, and then worked that sponge into a basic bread dough. This dough rested a couple of hours before the extra goodies were added to it and it was shaped. After a final proof for the better part of an hour, it was into the oven and out in a flash. I was frustrated at a few points by Whitley’s apparent vagueness (“Proof until well-risen”), and at other points by his apparent nit-pickiness (“bring the final dough to […] around 81°F”), but in the end, everything worked out perfectly. Incidentally, who knew kneading could be so much fun?! Mike snapped this blurry shot of me mid-laugh:

My freshly baked cheese bread was thick and hearty, with the subtle tang of fermentation and the warmth of chili powder and cumin. Mike and I enjoyed it with a pot of steaming chicken and dumplings (which, okay, turned out too salty due to over-reducing the broth — nothing some bread sopping can’t fix!)


Freshly baked cheese bread and steamy chicken and dumplings.

We devoured two entire loaves with dinner, but still had one loaf left over. What did I do with that last loaf after being so charmingly domestic and wholesome throughout the breadmaking process? That’s right, I sliced that baby down the middle, toasted it in some butter, and filled it up with eggs, cheddar cheese, bacon, and some fresh chopped parsley (see? healthy!) Breakfast of champions! No matter what you’re, ahem, planning on doing with your delicious cheese bread, I do hope you’ll give this freshly baked bread a try.




A less wholesome use for baked-from-scratch cheese bread!

Now for the task of summarizing my review of Bread Matters. I wouldn’t have purchased this book had I seen it sitting on a shelf. I’ve never thought of myself as a “bread person,” and thus the subject wouldn’t have caught my eye. There are also only two small selections of plates in the book — a drawback for me, since I love cookbooks with tons of images. That being said, I’m so glad publishers sent it to me for free — so I could review it and tell you that I would’ve been missing out. It’s certainly worth the $23 it’s currently selling for on Amazon, since it’s done much more than provide me with a few bread recipes. It’s really changed my mindset and been a lovely introduction into the bread craft. Because of the thoughtfulness and care with which the book was written, and because of the connection I feel with Whitley’s perspective on baking, I do wholeheartedly recommend Bread Matters.

Book Stats: 373 pages, $34 list price ($23 on Amazon), indexed.
Accessibility: Enough information for a beginning baker; includes sections describing materials required for breadmaking, techniques used in breadmaking, etc.
Examples of Recipes: Olive and Pumpkin Seed Bread, brioche, pains au chocolat, various European festival breads, sourdoughs, ciabatta, crumpets, etc.
Overall Impression: Very thorough and provocative, but I would’ve preferred more photos.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Other Notes: Whitley has a sweet and rather quirky conversational tone, sometimes winding through his recipes with a few tangents here and there (see the recipe below). Throughout the whole book, he passionately demonstrates the depth of knowledge he’s gained in his 25 year breadmaking career.


Same as above, but with the bread torn open so you can see its lovely innards.

Cheese Bread



Recipe from: Bread Matters: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own
Yields: 3 medium rounds of cheese bread (about 12 servings)

Sponge Ingredients:
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast*
2/3 cup water (around 68°)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
*Note: book also includes measurements for fresh yeast.

Basic Bread Dough Ingredients:
1 cup sponge (from above)
1 cup plus 2.5 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
scant 1.2 cup water

Cheese Bread Additions:
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup shredded cheese
2.5 cups basic savory bread dough (from above)
beaten egg, to glaze
2/3 grated cheese for topping

Directions:
To make the sponge: Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the flours and mix to a soft sponge. There is no need to mix this vigorously: gluten development by physical means is irrelevant in dough that is allowed such a long time to ferment because naturally occurring enzymes and acids transform it anyway.

Put the sponge in a bowl with plenty of room for expansion (up to 2 times its volume) and cover with a lid or plastic bag to conserve moisture. Leave it at room temperature to ferment for 16-48 hours. During this time, the sponge will rise up and collapse. The yeast cells will multiply and lactic and acetic acids will begin to develop.

To make basic bread dough from sponge: If the sponge has been in a cool place, you will need to use fairly warm water to bring the final dough to a reasonable temperature of around 81°F (27°C). To work out how hot the water should be, follow the formula on page 68 [of Bread Matters]. For the purposes of this calculation, treat the sponge as part of the flour. Since they are equal weights, you can add their temperatures together and divide by 2 to arrive at an average. NOTE: I thought this would be the undoing of my bread, because all of this temperature business sounds so complicated. I estimated my sponge’s temperature based on room temperature, and estimated the temperature of the water (a little warmer than lukewarm). It worked out fine.

Mix all ingredients together and knead until the dough is stretchy and “silky” (not so easy to detect if you are using a high proportion of whole-wheat flour). Cover and allow to rise for an hour or so.

To make basic bread dough into cheese bread: Stir the spices into the grated cheese and add this to the prepared Basic Savory Bread Dough. Fold the cheese through the dough until it is fairly evenly distributed. You may need to add water if the dough shows signs of tightening. NOTE: I did add a bit.

Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and mold them into round balls. Give them a minute or two to relax and then, with the palm of your hand, press them down so that they roughly double in diameter. Put these flat disks on a baking sheet lined with nonstick baking parchment, placing them far enough apart so that they will not touch.

With a plastic scraper or the back of a knife, mark the cheese breads with 2 cuts at right angles to make a cross. Simply press down on the dough aiming to cut through almost to the baking sheet but not quite. (If you press too hard and the dough breaks in 2 [or 4], do not worry: it will probably join up again during proofing or baking.)

Brush the visible surface of each bread with a little beaten egg. Divide the remaining shredded cheese and place it as evenly as possible on top of each bread, but do not put it too near the edge. The cheese will partially obscure the cuts made by the scraper, but this does not matter. As the dough proofs, it will spread the cheese out a little.

Proof until well-risen, then bake in a moderate oven (375°F [190°C]) for 15-20 minutes. These breads are small and flat, so the heat will penetrate fairly quickly to the center of the dough. Take care not to let the cheese topping get overcooked; it can change from softly melted to dried and “foxy” in a few minutes.

The deep cross you pressed into the dough should be just visible after baking and the cheese breads should break easily into 4 wedges, which make good soup rolls. NOTE: I’ll say! If you plan to fill a cheese bread, it is best to keep it as one, divide it horizontally, insert the filling and then cut the whole thing into halves or quarters.


Chicken and Dumplings on the stove and bread kneading!


Bread proofing and then baking.


Leftover cheese bread toasting and bacon sizzling in preparation for the breakfast sandwich of all time.


Bake bread! This loaf is getting submitted to YeastSpotting!


Share Share this post with friends!

24 Comments

Filed under other

Cheddar Chive and Bacon Cupfakes with Avocado Frosting

This is one of those recipes that you should go make right now! It’s that delectable. It all started so innocently . . .

Well, not really! It all started with my love of cupfakery and my desire to create a delicious savory cupcake. I knew I wanted to use a creamy avocado frosting, and I just had to think of some complementary ingredients. It struck me that a cheddar bacon biscuit (one step up from a simple cheddar biscuit, and we all know that those are already delicious) would be perfect. And, hey, how about throwing in some chives? Some caramelized onions? Oh, yeah!


Cheddar Chive Bacon Cupcakes with Avocado Frosting


The base recipe here is for cheddar biscuits similar to those you find at Jim N’ Nicks, a barbecue chain. The recipe produces a savory muffin with some sweetness to it. If you don’t like jam on your biscuits or sugar in your cornbread, you might not be too fond of this base recipe. Feel free to cut down on the sugar or try a different cheddar biscuit base (Red Lobster’s recipe is delicious, but I’m not sure how it’ll work in the muffin pan) to mix your bacon, chives, and onions into.

The avocado is the perfect cool-down topping for the bold flavors of the biscuit. And really, apart from the delicious taste, I get a strange joy just from prepping an avocado.

the flesh of an avocado with no deep,
dense core (a knife
snapped into the orb,
which bleeds an orange pulp. the twist,
a clean break).
the flush from gentle lime to olive
to brown in reminiscence —

taking on the appearance of what you’ve lost,
like shrugging on a blue shirt . . .

The process of extracting the soft flesh from an avocado is peaceful and satisfying. If this is the first time you’ve worked with an avocado, here’s a nice tutorial. When you’re picking them up from the grocery, pick the darker fruits that are a little soft. These are ripe and ready to be mashed. And if you’re not an avocado fan, please do make the cupfakes without them; they’re delicious with or without their “frosting.”

Enjoy the delicious bacon smell in your kitchen after making these cupfakes, and don’t forget to save your bacon grease for flavoring other dishes later on. Mike and I enjoyed eating the cupfakes with dinner, just as you would eat regular dinner rolls or biscuits. Only these are tastier!



Cheddar Chive and Bacon Cupfakes with Avocado Frosting


Recipe By:

-Jim N’ Nicks (cheddar biscuits, tweaked)
-Me, with various internet inspiration (avocado frosting)

Yields: 15-17 cupfakes

Cupfake Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 – 1 cup sugar (depending on desired sweetness)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg, beaten
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
5 strips bacon, cooked and chopped, divided
1/2 sweet onion, chopped finely
2 tablespoons of fresh chives, chopped finely
2 tablespoons olive oil

Avocado Frosting Ingredients:
4 ripe avocados
4 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cupfakes: Cook bacon on stovetop or in oven. I bake on a foil-lined baking sheet at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, and drain on paper towels. Crumble 4 strips into small bits, leaving one strip whole for garnish.

In the meantime, pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until caramelized, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, cheese, milk, egg, butter, baking powder, vanilla, chives, caramelized onion, and bacon bits. Pour into a greased (or paper-lined) muffin pan. Bake for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes in pan, and then transfer to a cooling rack. Frost only when completely cool.

Avocado Frosting: Mash avocado flesh well in bowl with the back of a spoon or fork. I processed mine in a food processor to ensure extra smoothness. Add in lemon juice and cream cheese, and mix until you have a smooth, creamy consistency. Frost cupcakes with a big star tip (I use 1M). Garnish with pieces of bacon.

NOTE on storage: Store cupcakes in airtight container in fridge when frosted. Place avocado pits in container along with cupcakes to discourage browning (but don’t fret if the frosting browns — it’s just oxidized, and still quite edible and yummy). You may even want to half the recipe if you’re just making these for your family, since they almost certainly won’t maintain they’re beautiful green overnight. For taking them to coworkers or friends, I would make the cupcakes ahead of time and frost immediately before the event.


Here are some photos of the process:


Bacon in the oven.



Caramelized onions, bacon, and chives.



Fresh from the oven.



Some very green frosting!



All frosted!



Enjoy!

24 Comments

Filed under cupfakes