Tuesday, January 25, 2011

French Bread

I love french bread!  Apparently so do the babes.  Together the three of us polished off half this loaf at dinner tonight.  Yeah, that's right, us three girls, hubby wasn't home yet, he's lucky we saved him any!  In my own personal defense, the girls ate just as many slices as I did, makes me look better that way, right?! :)

This recipe has such a unique technique- no hand kneading involved.  If you are nervous about yeast dough, I think this would be a pretty good one to start with.  Its really very easy and unbelievably delicious!  I always use my dough hook, but the original recipe says it can be done by hand.  Also, I always halve the recipe, but the original recipe says that it freezes beautifully.  

French Bread from The Sister's Cafe

2 1/4 c warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 T. sugar
1 T. yeast
1 T. salt
2 T. oil
5 1/2-6 c. flour- stirred before measured

*Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the warm water until it proofs (bubbles), about 5-10 min.
*Measure 3 cups of the flour and put in your mixing bowl along with the salt.
*Add the water mixture and oil to the flour and mix well. 
*Add another 2 1/2- 3 c. flour.  The dough should clean the sides of the bowl and not be too sticky.
*Switch to your dough hook, (or put it on a floured surface) and knead a few min.
*Leave the dough to rest 10 min.
*Turn your mixer on for about 10 seconds to stir it down (or knead for 10 seconds) then let it rest for 10 min.  Repeat for a total of 5 times.
*Turn dough out onto a floured surface and divide in two.  Shape one piece into a 9x13 rectangle.  Roll up from the long side and place seam side down onto a baking sheet that has been sprinkled with corn meal.  Repeat with second piece of dough.
*Slash each loaf 3 times with a very sharp knife using quick sure movements.  Cover lightly and allow to rise 30 min.
*Gently brush each loaf entirely, with an egg wash of one egg slightly beaten with 1 T. of water 
*Bake at 375 degrees for 30 min.  Remove from baking sheet and allow to cool on a rack.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Soft Pretzels

I have been wanting to make soft pretzels for quite some time now.  I love trying new recipes and techniques but it takes me a while to hype myself up to give it a go.  And the funny thing is that the majority of the time it ends up being so easy and makes me wish I had tried it out a long time ago.  This was one of those recipes.  The twising part scared me away!  Ha!  Wow, was it easy.  Don't be a chicken like me and give these a go soon.  I'm not going to bother re-writing the recipe since I followed the one on king arthur flour to a T and will instead link you up: Soft Pretzels
The dough was soft and very easy to work with.  I even let the little babes help roll them out to very long snakes and twist them.  Although they really couldn't do, but they thought they did a great job!
Ooh, fuzzy!  Sorry!  Bring the ends up and cross them over eachother:
Give 'em a twist and pinch the ends down.  After they are shaped you need to dip them in a water/baking soda mixture before placing thme on the baking sheet.  They will most likely come apart or at least lose their shape, no biggy, just shape them again after you put them on the baking sheet.
We sprinkled a couple of them with cinnamon and sugar after brushing them with butter. 
I didnt have any coarse or kosher salt to sprinkle on the other ones, so I just used a little table salt, it seemed to work ok.  We dipped those in some cheese sauce.
I thought they were pretty good, even though the bottoms were crunchier than I would have liked.  I might give a different recipe and technique a try next time, but the girls inhaled them like there was not tommorrow, so I guess they were a hit!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cookie Pizza

 The girls and I have been in the house, with the exception of going to church on Sunday morning, for almost a week straight.  Ha!  Yes, I am not a big outdoorsy person!  Plus we had a snow storm blow through the other night and preschool was cancelled.  So needless to say we are all starting to feel a little antsy and a bit cranky.  Time for a project.  I wanted to make some crayons by melting some of our old ones, but, huh, can't find them.  Wierd.  So we made a cookie pizza instead. 
 The girls really enjoyed the whole process- from mixing the dough to eating the cookie slice- and it was a great morning activity.  
*I think this would make a great valentine by shaping the dough into a heart and writing a love message (great for older kids to practice piping or just use those gel writers) on it or decorating it in pink and red. 

I really liked that the dough was so easy to work with and the girls were able to press it into a circle without any sticking at all!  What I didn't love was that the "crust" , the outer one inch of the pizza cookie, was really crunchy.  But the majority of the pizza stayed nice and soft, so I guess its only a minor complaint.
Cookie Pizza
*We used the recipe for Chocolate Chip Bar Cookies that you can find HERE.  We left out the chocolate chips and pressed it into a circle on our pizza stone.  We baked it for about 25 min. 
*After it cooled the girls spread on a chocolate peanut butte mixture: 3/4 c. chocolate chips and 1/4 cup peanut butter, melted together.
*While the chocolate layer was still warm the girls sprinkled on M&Ms, peanut butter chips and sprinkles.
*Finally, we drizzled some melted pink candy melts over the top.

-The options here are only limited by your imagination.  You can put anything in the cookie part, like chocolate chips, nuts, etc.
The "sauce" layer can be plain chocolate, frosting, etc.
Go crazy with the toppings- marshmallows, coconut, chopped candy bars, raisins, etc.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Overnight Waffles

On Sunday mornings my husband would love it if I made him pancakes or french toast of waffles or some other yummy breakfast.  Yeah, I love all those things too.  The problem?  On Sundays my morning feels rather rushed between trying to sleep in :), and getting myself and our two little girls ready for a fairly early church service.  And all I truly want to to do on Sunday morning is enjoy a cup of coffee with my hubby.  So to combat this dilemma I have been working on making "make ahead" breakfast.  I've been dabbling with making "brown and serve" cinnamon rolls, or at the very least getting as many ingredients ready the night before as I can.  But then I discovered these overnight yeast waffles.  They are the perfect solution.  So, so simple, yummy and practically zero work on Sunday morning.  I love them! 
We have one of those hotel type waffle makers that flip over.  With our iron this recipe makes 6 waffles.  You can customize this recipe to your liking.  I always use at least 1/2 whole wheat in ours and add in some flax. 

Overnight Waffles
2 1/4 cups flour
2 T. sugar
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup veg oil

*In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients.
*Add the milk, eggs and oil, stirring to combine well.
*Cover loosely and refrigerate overnight.
*In the morning, stir up the batter and pour into your waffle iron according to your irons instructions.