Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cinnamon Doughnuts

My friends were hosting a Superbowl party on Sunday and had decided to deep fry a turkey. I was asked to bring dessert. Since I had never before used a backyard deep fryer I was inspired to make doughnuts. How fun to be able to commune with nature while baking! I opted for a quick cake-like doughnut rather than a yeast based recipe (I only had about 1 hour before the game started). Of course you don't need a deep fryer to make these little pillows of heaven. Just add a few inches of vegetable oil to a sauce pan and you have a make-shift fryer. Doughnuts are so much fun to make and even more fun to eat! I sifted powdered sugar over mine and served them with a chocolate and a caramel dipping sauce. Feel free to roll them in cinnamon sugar after they come out of the fryer or glaze them with icing. This recipe can be altered to taste by adjusting the extracts and spices. Have fun!

Cinnamon Doughnuts
makes about 30 mini

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla

vegetable oil

1. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.
2. Mix wet ingredients together.
3. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix to combine fully. Wrap dough in plastic and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes.
4. Liberally flour a flat surface and roll out dough to about 1/2" thickness. Use round cutters to cut out dough and make sure to cut out the center for a classic doughnut shape. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
5. Heat oil to 370 degrees. VERY carefully drop doughnuts into oil one at a time, being careful not to overcrowd. **To safety drop the doughnuts into the oil, touch the dough to the oil then slowly let it go. This technique will prevent the oil from popping back at you.** After a minute or so, use a metal spatula to flip the doughnuts over in the oil. Wait another 30 seconds then carefully remove doughnuts from oil and allow to drain on a paper towel.
6. Serve warm with your choice of toppings.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Whole Wheat Honey Bread

Do you ever crave the sweet smell of freshly baking bread? Growing up my mother baked fresh bread so often that I took that smell for granted. I can now truly appreciate the time and love she put into each and every loaf we shared. Sometimes when my sisters and I arrived home from school she would be pulling out a hot loaf of cinnamon swirl bread from the oven for our afternoon snack. To this day I have yet to taste anything like her cinnamon swirl bread.

Today I opted for something heartier with just a touch of sweetness. This home-style wheat bread has a small amount of honey in the dough. The honey not only works with the yeast in allowing it to expand and rise, but provides for a more rounded flavor in the bread itself. If you have an afternoon free give this recipe a shot. It is very easy and the dough can be shaped into loaf pans or rounds for a more rustic look. This recipe makes 3 loaves, which can be frozen for several weeks.
Whole Wheat Honey Bread
makes 3 loaves

3 cups warm water (110 degrees)
Two 1/4-ounce packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup honey
5 cups white bread flour
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon salt
5 to 6 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1. In a large bowl, mix the water, yeast, and 1/3 cup of the honey together. Add the white bread flour and stir to combine. Allow to sit for 30 minutes, until the dough is big and bubbly.

2. Mix in the melted butter, remaining honey, and the salt. Stir in 2 cups of the whole wheat flour. Add up to 4 more cups of the whole wheat flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add enough flour until the dough is tacky but can be worked with your hands.

3. Flour a surface and knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball but is still sticky to the touch.
4. Grease a large bowl with the vegetable oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

5. Punch the dough down and divide it into 3 loaves. Place the loaves either in greased 8 1/2X4 1/2 inch loaf pans or in rounds on a sheet pan. Allow to rise for another hour.6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. Allow the loaves to cool about 30 minutes before slicing.
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