Homemade Pannetone

Today was quite the day for baking disasters.

We all have them, right?  Please tell  me you do….. My mojo was off from the minute I got up. I should have stopped while I was ahead, but…… didn’t.

Rule #1: Know your limits.

I hit mine today, that is for certain. After J and I did double shots of wheat grass juice this morning (which left me feeling a little bit like Elsie the Cow, the grassy aftertaste was soooo strong…), I attempted to make a loaf of Iced Lemon Bread.

I had a sneaking suspicion that something was amiss with the recipe, as the batter was very thin. Sure enough, after 40 minutes of baking, the center had sunk and the edges were almost burnt.

not good.

To assuage my guilt at throwing that loaf into the trash, I then attempted a new buttermilk biscuit recipe which promised “sky high” results.

Sky high? More like like bargain basement….

I almost wish I had taken a picture, for they were as flat as pancakes. Actually, my pancakes have more height than these did. I was so disgusted, I threw them into the trash and then called it a day.

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So when the inevitable “what’s for dinner?” question arose this evening, J looked at me and said, “Let’s order pizza.”

I think he’s trying to tell me something.

Side note: Pannetone is something I have wanted to make for many, many years. It’s quite an involved process, definitely not something you can rush. This version was a bit heavier than the store bought variety, but well worth every bit of time and effort. The leftover slices are stashed in the freezer, as they will make an outstanding base for bread pudding.

Pannetone – adapted from Gale Gand

For biga

  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

To start dough

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups flour

To finish dough

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 9 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mixed candied fruit (such as glacéed cherries and citron, orange, or lemon peel), diced
  • 1 cup golden raisins

    In bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook, combine 1/3 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F) and sugar. Stir in yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes. Add flour and mix at low speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm, draft-free place until tripled in volume, about 3 hours. (Can be made 5 days ahead. Stir down starter, cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.)

    Start dough:
    In small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F) and yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes. Attach bowl containing biga to standing mixer fitted with dough hook, pour in yeast mixture, and mix at low speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolks, sugar, and flour and mix at medium speed until shiny and smooth, about 5 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm, draft-free place until tripled in volume, about 3 hours.

    Finish dough and bake bread:
    Attach bowl containing dough to standing mixer fitted with dough hook and add flour, egg yolks, milk, honey, 1/4 cup sugar, and 10 tablespoons butter. Mix at medium speed until blended, about 3 minutes, then add salt, vanilla, and remaining sugar. Mix at medium speed until well blended, about 5 minutes more.

    With mixer running, add remaining 10 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon at time. (Dough will become smooth and shiny and will pull away from sides of bowl.) Add candied fruit and raisins and mix until blended, about 1 minute. Form dough into ball and transfer to large bowl. Cover with clean kitchen towel and let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume, about 3 hours.

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 2 (8-inch) or 8 (3 1/2-inch) paper panettone molds. Punch down dough, then turn out onto work surface. Divide dough into 2 pieces and form each into ball. (If using small molds, divide dough into 8 small balls.) Place 1 ball in each mold. Cover with clean kitchen towel and let rise in warm, draft-free place until dough has risen past the rim and springs back when poked, about 1 hour.

    Bake until golden brown, about 45 to 50 minutes. To cool, stick 2 skewers through base of each mold and suspend bread upside down by resting skewers on 2 containers taller than bread. (This helps keep bread from deflating during cooling.)

    When loaves are cool, wrap well in plastic wrap, then in parchment or tissue paper. Store at room temperature.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

And here it is, late Monday afternoon now, and I’m just getting to this. I had every intention of posting this cornbread over the weekend.

But, I still haven’t quite figured out where the weekend went.

Well…..that’s not entirely true. It went by in a blur, mostly because we spent the weekend at the ranch, working and clearing the property and HOLY SMOKES we set fire to the cedars yesterday:

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It was insane to experience just how quickly those trees burned. I imagine it is akin to watching a Christmas tree go up in flames – in a matter of seconds, those trees were reduced to a pile of ash. I don’t know how many trees they actually burned, they had the fire going for a good 6 hours before the fire department very nicely asked us to stop due to the high winds.

The local fireman are so very polite – everything is “yes ma’am” or “no ma’am”.

And they’re cute, too.

Anyway, next time we do this (read: this weekend), I want to bring marshmallows and toast them for S’Mores.

And invite the neighbors.

And anyone else that enjoys watching a cedar bonfire.

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Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread – adapted from Ina Garten

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tbs. granulated sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup milk
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated, divided
1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish, 3 scallions
3 tbs. seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers (wear gloves!)
Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and baking powder in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don’t overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

No Knead Whole Wheat Rolls

I’m sure you’ve heard that old expression,”when it rains, it pours’?

It’s so very true, and so incredibly fitting at this moment in my life.

Literally and figuratively, everything is happening at once. Between the house selling (and subsequent packing), the rental we are procuring, purchasing land for our new ranch (more on that later), and new business opportunities, I’ve had to take several moments to pause and not go into panic mode trying to keep everything straight.

And when I say pause for a moment, what I really mean is I pour myself a glass of wine, take a deep breath, and call my mother and/or father.

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Or, I head into the kitchen to bake something. Which is going to become increasingly difficult over the next 3 weeks, because I’ve started packing up all my baking supplies. If things get really stressful, I might be forced to venture over to Mom’s house and borrow a pan or two so I don’t completely lose my mind.

Note to self: my mixers and one set of measuring cups/spoons will be the very last kitchen items packed. :)

No Knead Whole Wheat Rolls – adapted from Serious Eats

1 1/2 cups warm water, divided (I used 1 3/4 cups water)
1/2 ounce active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tbs. sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

In a large bowl, combine yeast and 1/2 cup warm water. Stir to combine then let sit for 5 minutes. Add remaining 1 cup water, salt, sugar, and both flours to the bowl and stir for 2 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dish cloth and let sit until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide dough into 12 equal portions, lightly rolling each portion into a ball and placing on the baking sheets. Let buns sit for 15 minutes to rise some more. Bake buns until golden and lightly crisp on top, 20-25 minutes.

Jalapeno Cheddar Rolls

Oh boy.

These were good.

And I’m not using the term good as in good enough for the blog, I’m referring to the fact that these are so good, it will be necessary to maintain a steady supply of them in the freezer at all times.

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Oh yes… these tasty orbs of carb-o-liciousness are going to be perfect for Sunday football-watching sandwiches, filled with just about anything you could think of…… burgers, shredded buffalo chicken, roast beef….. even grilled vegetables and cheese.

yum

A word of caution, though – because it bears repeating every.single.time you work with jalapenos. Or any spicy pepper, for that matter.

Wear gloves.

Or suffer the consequences.

One year ago: Boston Cream Pie Icebox Cake

Jalapeno Cheddar Rolls – adapted from tracey’s culinary adventures

1 3/4 tsp instant yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbs. sugar
6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3 large jalapeños (seeds and ribs removed), finely chopped
1 cup water water (100-110 F)
2 tbs. canola oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Add the yeast, flour, sugar, cheese and jalapenos to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Beat briefly on low speed to combine. In a measuring cup, whisk the water, oil and 1 of the eggs together until combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add the wet ingredients and continue mixing until the dough comes together (you may need to scrape down the bowl once or twice). The dough should clear the sides of the bowl and cling to the bottom – you may need to add a little flour or water to achieve the right consistency. Knead the dough on low speed for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.

Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Shape the dough into a ball and place in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 75-90 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Transfer the dough to your work surface and divide in half. Divide each of the two pieces into 4 or 5 equal pieces, depending on whether you want oversized or more traditional rolls. Shape each piece of dough into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheet, then flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Space the rolls about 1/2 to 1-inch apart – you want the edges to bake together in the oven.

Cover the pan with a damp towel, and allow the rolls to rise for 35 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water to make egg wash. Brush the rolls with the egg wash. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the tops of the rolls are deep golden brown.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the rolls cool for at least 15 minutes. Store in a resealable plastic bag at room temperature, or wrap tightly and freeze.

Makes 8-10 rolls

Honey Wheat Bread

I know that I’ve made Honey Wheat rolls before – but as you are well aware, I am always ready, willing, and able to tackle a new version of something.

Especially when it involves something edible.

So when I came across this recipe, I was drawn to it for several reasons. The primary (and realistically, the most important) reason was the ease of preparation. Literally. Just throw everything into the mixer and you’re done. It was as simple as making a quick bread.

And in my world, that counts for a lot.

I was also inspired to make french toast with a few slices last weekend – and it was just as delicious as I’d hoped. Plus, it was a welcome repast after a 21 mile bike ride.

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One year ago: Crockpot Baked Oatmeal

Honey Wheat Bread – adapted from serious eats

  • 3/4 cup mild-flavored beer
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tbs. softened unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 3/4 cups regular whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup  old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast

Combine all the ingredients, and mix and knead them – by hand, mixer or bread machine – until you have a soft, smooth dough. Cover and allow the dough to rise until it’s puffy and nearly doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.

Lightly grease an 8 1/4 x 4 1/4-inch loaf pan. Gently deflate the dough, and shape it into an 8-inch log. Place it in the prepared pan. (At this point, you can chill the dough, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for a day or two. Just take it out and allow it to come to room temperature again before you bake it, about an hour). Cover it gently with lightly greased plastic wrap or a proof cover, and allow it to rise till it’s crowned about 1 1/2 inches over the rim of the pan, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. Near the end of the breads’ rising time, preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Uncover and bake the bread for 30 to 35 minutes, tenting it with foil after 15 minutes. The bread is done when it’s golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 190˚F. Remove it from the oven, and after a minute or so turn it out onto a rack. Brush with melted butter if desired; this will keep the crust soft. Cool the bread for 30 minutes before slicing.

MW(Dad) – The Bread

In my family, bread is something we take very seriously. In fact, it would be safe to say that bread is a crucial and elemental part of our dinner time meal planning. As in, we plan our meals around bread. But not just any bread. Only one bread in particular is worthy of such dialogue – and it is commonly referred to as:

THE Bread”

This bread is so special, that whenever I tell the posse we’re having dinner with Mom and Pop Pop, the first query is, “Pop Pop IS making “the bread”, right?

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An affirmative response from me elicits fist pumps (from Alexander) and happy smiles (from Sabrina). When you taste it, you will know, because harps play, angels sing, the heavens open up and rainbows appear in the sky.

Well, maybe that’s just for me….. although I’m sure it has everything to do with the copious amounts of freshly grated parmesan cheese lovingly placed on top of those toasty golden brown slices …. perfect for eating straight out of the oven (like Alexander and I do) or used to mop up the last bits of marinara sauce in your bowl (like Sabrina does). Whatever method we chose, one thing is for certain – leftover bread is a rare occurrence – we eat it with such edacity that I’m sure anyone watching the scene would think we hadn’t eaten in a week.

Note: I expanded the directions a bit, just to clarify the fact that you should not walk away from the bread while it’s under the broiler – a few seconds too long and it goes from golden brown delicious to burnt beyond recognition…..

The Bread – Dad’s famous family recipe

My recipe involves sliced Italian bread (a bit on the thick side), EVOO, fresh minced garlic (lots), cheese (lots of cheese – because my daughter loves it), a touch of salt and pepper – and a broiler.

Lay the slices on a baking sheet – and then oil goes on first, then garlic, then cheese, then salt and pepper. Broil (watching it closely – don’t walk away!) until toasty golden brown. Remove from the oven immediately and serve.

That’s it …!!!

Mangiare

Grilled Flatbreads

Another successful yeast dough!

And – get this – my accomplishment is two-fold – for not only did I succeed in confusing my father with my convoluted math skills (see post here), I also succeeded in cooking flatbread directly on the grill.

yay me!

The most important step? Turn the heat dowwwwwwwn……… I’ve learned, through trial and error, that just because a barbecue can go up to 700 degrees doesn’t mean it needs to be that high all the time.

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Just sayin’….

Grilled Flatbreads – adapted from bon appetit

  • 1 1/4 ounce envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 tbs. olive oil plus more for brushing
  • 5 cups (or more) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbs. seasoning of your choice (we used Mrs. Dash Fiesta Blend)
  • Shredded cheese (optional – we used a cheddar/jack blend)

Pour 2 cups warm water (105°-115°) into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Sprinkle yeast over. Let sit until yeast dissolves, about 10 minutes. Mix in 1 tablespoon oil. Add 5 cups flour and 1 tablespoon salt; beat until dough forms, about 1 minute.

Transfer dough onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth, adding more flour by spoonfuls as needed for soft but still slightly sticky dough, about 5 minutes. Place dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll into balls; space 2″ apart. Cover with a kitchen towel; let rest 15 minutes.

Prepare a grill to medium heat. Lightly brush 4 baking sheets with oil. Working with 1 dough ball at a time, roll out into 9″ round. Place 2 dough rounds on each prepared sheet. Brush lightly with oil; season with spice blend and pepper.

Brush grill rack with oil. Working in batches, place flatbreads spice side down on rack. Grill until lightly charred in spots and cooked through, 1–1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to a work surface. Cut into wedges.