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Homemade English muffins

English muffins are something I’ve always wanted to try to make, but was mildly too terrified to do so. After finding this recipe from Foodess, I was much less intimidated and just happen to have all the ingredients.

I definitely haven’t mastered it yet to get just the right the amount of bubbles and fluffiness, but I’m getting close. It’s a recipe that’s easy enough to try on a whim, so I’m going to keep at it until I’ve mastered it.

When I tried it for the first time, I dusted the pan with a bit too much cornmeal. The cornmeal cooks and browns really quickly, so I’d try to just dust the pan in little rounds where you’ll place the muffins to cook. The first time I also had the heat on a bit too high and couldn’t cook the muffins in the pan long enough for them to sufficiently puff up. This time, I lowered the heat to 4-5 on a dial of 10 and cooked for three minutes on each side. I also accidentally let the muffins rise too long for the second time, which meant that they were touching, hard to get apart to move into the pan, and started to deflate with when moved. A minor oversight on my part. Definitely only let them rise for 20 minutes on the baking sheet before baking them in the pan, and make sure they’re well spaced.

English muffins

Ingredients:

1½ cup skim milk
¼ cup butter
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup plain yogurt
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 ¼ tsp  yeast
1 ½ tsp salt
Cornmeal, for dusting skillet

Instructions:
  1. Microwave the milk until it begins to simmer. Stir in butter until melted. Once mixture has cooled, add beaten egg and yogurt.
  2. Mix together the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. With mixer speed on low, slowly add milk mixture. Beat until just thoroughly combined. Dough will be very wet. Cover with saran wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for one hour or until doubled in bulk.
  3. Turn out dough onto a floured surface. Lightly flour the top of dough, and pat down until it is about ½ inch thick. Use a floured 3” biscuit cutter (or a upside-down drinking glass) to make rounds. Gather up scraps of dough and repeat. Use a floured spatula to pick up the English muffins as you go, and set them aside to rise for 20 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F and heat a skillet (or two) over low-medium heat (may a 5/10 on the temperature dial). Dust skillet where you will place each muffin. Place English muffins 1 inch apart in skillet and cook 3-4 minutes, until golden brown on bottom. Flip and cook another 3-4 minutes on other side. Transfer to baking sheet as they’re done. Once all English muffins have been browned, bake for 7-10 minutes, until they sound hollow when you tap their tops.

Apple pull-apart bread

This is the recipe story of the barrel of apples that never ended…

I was lucky enough a few weeks ago to get the chance to go apple picking. I don’t think I’ve even actually been before – I have some faint memories of it, but pretty sure it may have just been a dream •_•

For some reason, I thought that half a bushel wouldn’t be enough… Little did I know  they’d last for two solid weeks of baking. Apple sauce. Pie. Crisp. And a new favourite, apple pull-apart bread.

I adapted the recipe from this one on from Baked by Rachel. Wonderful recipe. Easy to follow. Turned out perfectly.

photo

Dough ingredients: 
3 1/4 – 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cups brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
2 1/4 tsp yeast
4 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cups warm water
2 eggs

Filling ingredients:
1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp butter, melted
2 cups apples, sliced thin

Make it happen:
For the dough, combine the dry ingredients.  In a measuring cup, combine the wet ingredients. Put the mixer on low, then slowly add the liquid ingredients. The dough will form into a ball as the ingredients mix. Add additional flour if the dough is too sticky.Cover the bowl and wait for the dough to double in size.

To prepare the filling, peel, core and thinly slice the apples. Roll out dough in a long rectangle. Cover with cinnamon filling, then layer with apples. Add layers. Cut chunks to layer into the loaf pan. All the dough to rise for another 30 minutes.

Bake at 350F for about 45-55 minutes.

Enjoy. Enjoy. Enjoy!

The brioche collection

There’s a great bakery, Julien’s, by my place here in Halifax that’s got me hooked on brioche. Recipes for brioche have been jumping out at me in my RSS feed and elsewhere. Once this semester finally wraps up (only a few weeks left…!!!), I’ll be baking and baking and baking. I haven’t baked in too long and am missing it more and more every day. 

Nonetheless, for those of you with some free time, I know you’ll want to check out and try these delicious recipes for variations on brioche. 

Have you made brioche before? What’s your favourite recipe?

Wheat brioche bunsSprouted Kitchen

Buttery brioche sandwich rollsThe Café Sucré Farine

Brioche filled with chocolate ganache – Technicolor Kitchen

Brioche à la fleur d’orangerManger

 

Eight-grain no-knead bread

It couldn’t get much more simple than this. I used to make this bread every few weeks when I lived in Ottawa, but haven’t made it since the move out East. Well, I finally got around to going to the Bulk Barn to pick up the grains I needed and am very happy to share this easy recipe.

If you’re not a fan a kneading, or want to make bread but don’t have much time, this is the recipe for you!

Ingredients: 

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup 8 or 12 grain mix
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 5/8 cups warm water

Directions:

Put the yeast in the warm water and let it froth for ~10 minutes. Put all the ingredients into a bowl, mix lightly, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Leave the dough, covered, for ~18 hours (leaving the dough overnight works well). After ~18 hours, put the dough in a loaf pan and leave it to rise, uncovered, for about two hours. Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Bake for 20 minutes at this temperature. Lower oven temperature to 350°F and bake for another 20 minutes.

As with many of the recipes I share, this is a great one for experimentation. If I have it on hand, I usually switch up the 8-grain mix for some of my favourite Dorset cereal or muesli. This definitely isn’t a sandwich bread, but it’s great for toast and snacking, and it freezes well. 

Pull-apart cheese & herb bread

Well I finally tried it and overall it worked out quite well!

The whole process of making this was actually really simple. As mentioned, I used my classic sandwich bread recipe as the base for this one. One thing I really like about this recipe (other than it being super delicious and you eating it all before you probably should) is that it’s very flexible. You can add whatever spices you think would work well.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups hot water
1 1/4 tsp yeast
2 tbs softened butter/margarine
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tbs sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs milk
———–
1-2 cups grated cheese (cheddar is a good option)
** 1/2-1 tbs of each herb (possibilities include oregano, basil, dill, rosemary, etc., etc…)

Here’s how it’s done:

Put the yeast into the measured amount of hot water. Wait ~15 minutes for it to froth. Put butter, then dry ingredients, then milk into the bowl of your mixer. Give it a quick stir. Once the yeast/water mixture is frothy, add it to the dry ingredients. Mix. Knead the dough until it becomes elastic, about ~6 minutes in the mixer or ~15 by hand. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until it has doubled in bulk.

Before kneading for a second time, add your selection of herbs to the dough. Knead again for at least 5 minutes. 

Line the loaf pan with parchment (the melted cheese will make the bread hard to remove if you don’t). Pull off handfuls of dough and roll it out into thin strips. Cut sections of to approximately fit the width and height of your loaf pan. Lay one piece down at a time, alternating with grated cheese (see photo).

Bake at 350°F for ~30 minutes.

Let the bread cool on a rack before pulling it apart and eating it. Mmmmmmm…
———– 

While I usually split this recipe into two loaves, I used all the dough for one loaf this time. What I found tough was to gauge how much I would need once it started being stacked up. Using all the dough seemed to be a good idea. The only slight complication was that, when it puffed up and baked, the slices kind of baked together. While they did actually pull apart quite easily, using more cheese would have helped (as it always does with everything). Either way, the outcome was incredibly delicious. I’ll be making this again really soon, especially with guests coming, and I hope you do too!

New recipe for pull-apart cheese & herb bread?

Well… not quite yet. I’ve been seeing a lot of recipes on Pinterest and Twitter and everywhere else for pull-apart bread. Most of them have been sweet though, such as this delicious looking cinnamon sugar pull-apart bread found on Joy the Baker

As much as I love making and baking the sweet, I do also love the savory. So, here’s my plan. This week (or weekend) I’m going to try to switch it up and make a recipe for a pull-apart cheese and herb bread. Using my classic sandwich bread recipe as a base, I’m going to try using cheese between the layers and mixing the herbs into the dough. This doesn’t sound too complicated and I’m sure it will be delicious, but my main concern is making sure it pulls apart as I’m imagining it to. I did also find this recipe for cheddar, beer, and mustard pull-apart bread on Smitten Kitchen, from which I’m drawing some inspiration:

 

You can see how they both have a similar look – that’s what I’m going for. I also want to make sure this is a really simple recipe that anyone will want to try. It would even be great to bring to potlucks or to gift.

Wish me luck – I’ll report back as soon as I’ve tested it out!

Sandwich bread

With the start of a new year (HAPPY 2012!!) comes some new ideas… Well our idea came a bit early, but whatever. Our plan is to eat more whole foods and to be more frugal with our meals. Nothing revolutionary, but it means buying whole chickens and making stock for soup after, etc. (more on this later). We’ve come up with a menu and an important staple on that menu is bread – for sandwiches and toasts primarily. I like making bread, but many of my breads are more “country style”, meaning heavier and denser than the light fluffy bread you might buy in the grocery. So last night, yes New Year’s Eve, I decided to make a loaf that would be perfect to make once a week for our sandwich needs. Here’s what I came up with:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups hot water
1 1/4 tsp yeast
2 tbs softened butter/margarine
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tbs sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs milk

Directions:

1. Put the yeast into the measured amount of hot water. Wait ~15 minutes for it to froth.
2. Put butter, then dry ingredients, then milk into the bowl of your mixer. Give it a quick stir.
3. Once the yeast/water mixture has gotten frothy, add it to the dry ingredients. Mix.
4. Knead the dough until it becomes elastic, about ~6 minutes in the mixer or ~15 by hand.
5. Cover and let rise for 2 hours in a warm spot, or until it has doubled in bulk.
6. Knead again for at least 5 minutes. Place dough in loaf pan, cover, and let rise for 1 hour.
7. Bake at 350°C for ~30 minutes.

Let the bread cool on a rack before cutting. Slice and put into a sealed ziplock bag.

**UPDATE: Having made this recipe several times now, it’s best if the dough is split into two and put in two loaf pans to rise and bake.