Lighter Brioche Hamburger Buns

We have been having a lot of fun with my husband’s new toy – the Big Green Egg.  Every weekend we try something new, and everything is amazing, seriously – this thing works magic.  One weekend though, he really out did himself.  He went with the 18-hour pulled pork.  He started it late on Saturday night, then cooked it well into the day.  Neither of us slept very well, worrying that the temperature was not holding steady – but it came out beautifully – better than that, it was downright dangerous – good thing we had lots of friends over to share the goodness.

Well, since he was taking most of the responsibility with the main course (which I loved, BTW), I decided that I had to make some homemade rolls to go with the pork.  I haven’t had to search for a recipe in quite a while, because normally I have a pile I am trying to get through – so I ended up going to both Foodgawker and Tastespotting to find a good roll recipe.  Thanks so much Home Cooking Montana – you were the lucky winner – those buns looked amazing, and they turned out fantastic!  They were light and fluffy, and rose wonderfully, which is always my worry.  Next time I make them I will use more egg wash (since I had some left-over), but other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing.  Of course the star of the show was the pork…but the buns definitely made an impressive showing.   Thanks for an awesome new recipe!!

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup warm milk
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 3 TBS honey
  • 2 ex-large eggs, room temp.
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 cups bread flour(+ more, if needed)
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 TBS unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg yolk with a little water
  • sesame seeds
*you can use regular bread flour

Preparation

In the bowl of a mixer add the flours(3 cups first), yeast and the salt. Whisk to combine and add the sliced soft butter.  In a glass measuring cup, combine milk, warm water, eggs and honey. Whisk to combine and add it all to the dry ingredients.  Place a kneading hook and turn on mixer. Mix on low scraping the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the flour. Increase the speed to medium. Knead for 8 minutes…the dough should be tacky and look pretty sticky. If you feel the dough is sticking to the sides too much add 1 TBS of flour at a time until the dough gathers around the hook and slaps around the sides of the bowl. It may still stick a bit to the sides, but not overly. Don’t be tempted to add too much flour or the buns will be dry.~ I probably added another couple of tablespoonfuls of extra flour.  Continue kneading for an additional 2 more minutes… for a total of 10 minutes.  Scrape the sticky dough that clings to the sides of the mixer bowl and then form all of the dough in a ball. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until at least doubled in bulk and is nice and puffy… 1 to 2 hours.
Plop the soft dough unto a floured countertop… sprinkle a bit of flour on top as well. Using a dough scraper, divide dough into 8-10 equal parts( or in my case, just grab a lemon size piece of dough). With floured hands form balls and place on lightly oiled parchment-lined baking sheet. Arrange 2 to 3 inches apart on baking sheet as they will rise some more.  Flatten the balls down a bit( to about 1 1/2-2 inches or so) and brush with egg yolk. Add sesame seeds. Cover loosely (with oiled plastic wrap) and let buns rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours… or until nicely puffed.
Pre-heat oven to 400F with rack in center. Bake, turning sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the buns.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely and freeze, if desired.
So, what did we do with these beauties??  Big Green Egg Pulled Pork baby…un-freakin-believable.
For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Lighter Brioche Hamburger Buns
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Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

Buttermilk biscuits are synonymous with Bisquick in my book.  When I graduated from college, I didn’t realize that you could make biscuits without using Bisquick – unless you wanted to buy some of those Pillsbury biscuits in a metal can that pops when you open it.  Those made very different biscuits than Bisquick – instead of a uniform piece of dough (almost like a scone), you would get some nice flaky layers that you could pull apart one by one.  I have to admit, they are pretty delicious – but there has to be better. So, as I was making the Broccoli and cheese soup – I decided I would give it a try.  I would try and replicate the delicious Pillsbury biscuits, the ones with all the layers.

I found this recipe in Cooking Light – which is always just a little more challenging, especially when making something that needs butter for the magic to happen.  I was skeptical, but the directions kept having me fold the dough over – roll it out, then fold it again.  Well, it worked – because these biscuits were fantastic.  They were definitely mini biscuits, but they were so flakey and delicious – we ate them all.  The kids especially loved them.  They were so easy – it basically took 15 minutes from when I started making them until they were baking in the oven.  I can’t wait to make them again!

Ingredients

  • 9  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
  • 2 1/2  teaspoons  baking powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 5  tablespoons  chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4  cup  fat-free buttermilk
  • 3  tablespoons  honey

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Chill 10 minutes.

Combine buttermilk and honey, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moist.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 4 times. Roll dough into a (1/2-inch-thick) 9 x 5–inch rectangle; dust top of dough with flour. Fold dough crosswise into thirds (as if folding a piece of paper to fit into an envelope). Re-roll dough into a (1/2-inch-thick) 9 x 5–inch rectangle; dust top of dough with flour. Fold dough crosswise into thirds; gently roll or pat to a 3/4-inch thickness. Cut dough with a 1 3/4-inch biscuit cutter to form 14 dough rounds. Place dough rounds, 1 inch apart, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan; cool 2 minutes on wire racks. Serve warm.

Make about 14 biscuits.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

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Crème Caramel Bread Pudding

Bread pudding, comfort food at it’s finest.  As a kid, bread pudding completely grossed me out.  I couldn’t understand how you could make a delicious dessert out of a loaf of bread.  It just didn’t seem right.  For many years, I stayed away from it – even as an adult – bread pudding was not my idea of a wonderful treat.

About five years ago I was at a very good local restaurant, and on the dessert menu was Banana Bread Pudding.  Now I thought to myself, this is something worth ordering.  Banana Bread combined with a custard all baked together, now we’re talking.  I loved it – it was crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and it was served with caramel drizzled on top – I basically licked the plate clean.

That’s all it took to get me started on bread pudding – just wait until next fall when I post my Pumpkin Bread Pudding…  I saw this recipe over a year ago in Bon Appetit, and it sat in my pantry waiting for me to make it all this time.  I just had to wait for the right occasion, and make sure I had a lot of people to serve.  After about a year, and it was still in the pile, I figured I just had to bite the bullet.  The next occasion that came up, that was it.  So, I brought it to my daughter’s book group – warning people that I was only going to bring an adult dessert.  Well – not only did the mom’s love it – but the girls loved it also.  It came out perfect – and tasted just like the most wonderful french toast with maple syrup on the bottom.  It was crispy on the top, soft and rich on the inside, just the way I like it.  Good thing I finally came to my senses.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups 1/2-inch cubes crustless egg bread (such as challah or brioche)
  • 7 large eggs
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 pinches of salt

Preparation

Spread brown sugar evenly in bottom of 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish (or other 9- to 10-cup dish). Sprinkle bread cubes evenly over. Combine eggs, cream, milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt in large bowl; whisk to blend well. Pour custard through sieve over bread in dish. Let pudding stand 30 minutes, occasionally pressing on bread to submerge.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Place baking dish in roasting pan. Pour enough lukewarm water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of baking dish. Bake pudding until set, brown on top, and small knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let cool in water 20 minutes.

Spoon bread pudding into dessert bowls and serve warm.

test-kitchen tip

To keep the water in the roasting pan from boiling (which would affect the texture of the pudding), add several ice cubes to the water every 10 to 15 minutes to bring down the temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Crème Caramel Bread Pudding

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Blanchard’s Caribbean Cornbread

When my mother likes something at a restaurant, she has no fears about asking for the recipe.  My step-father tells a story about one night when they were at one of Todd English’s restaurants – she loved the Vanilla Souffle so much, the next thing he knew, she was back in the kitchen talking to the pastry chef.  Occasionally she will send me one of her finds, and I can usually count on the fact that it is going to be good.

This recipe came from Blancahrd’s Restaurant in Anguilla – and I must say, it is definitely one of the best cornbread recipes I have ever made.  It is extremely moist and and just the perfect sweetness – there are bits of corn, but not too much – everything about this recipe is wonderful.  I must say though, it is super rich – one small piece is really all you need – so one batch does go a long way.  What I love most about this recipe is how easy it is – and how well it freezes.  So no need to worry if there are leftovers – in fact, that’s what I plan for – to go with all the soup and stews I have in the freezer…

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal (such as Arrowhead Mills)
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar, scant
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups cream style corn
  • 1/2 cup (small can) crushed pineapple, drained well and squeezed
  • 1 cup shredded jack or mild cheddar cheese

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Butter and flour a 9″ square baking dish. 

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and set aside.  In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  (The mixture may appear curdled at some point, and that is OK.)  Add the corn, pineapple, cheese, and mix to blend.  On low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix until blended.

Bake until a tester is clean and the cornbread is golden brown on top, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Serve warm.

To freeze, make sure the cornbread is at room temperature, then double wrap it with plastic wrap.  If you are looking to make a double batch, you must use a larger pan than 9×13.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Blanchard’s Caribbean Cornbread

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Banana Snacking Cake

Do you ever get tired of making banana bread with your overripe bananas?  I actually don’t – my family loves my mother’s banana bread recipe, I can always count on each and every one of them to fully enjoy it when I pop one in the oven.  But, I can never say no to a snack cake.  There is something just so appealing to a cake that asking you to eat it as a snack – instead of dessert.  It is like you are getting permission to have a few desserts during the day.  So, when I was flipping through my Cooking Light magazine, and found this recipe, I could not help but run out to the store and get some bananas to hide until they were too brown to eat.

So, first you must look at the ingredients for this cake.  This is probably one of the healthiest cakes I have ever made, but you would hardly know it.  There is very little sugar in this cake, therefore, it is extremely important that you make sure the bananas are VERY overripe.  I am talking black skins – spots are just not going to cut it.  The riper the banana, the higher the sugar content, and that natural sugar is what you need to make this cake sweet enough.  This cake stayed moist for a couple of days, and the whole family loved it.  We cut it into 16 pieces, and at about 100 calories a piece, this cake was spectacular.

Ingredients

  • 6.75  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/3  cup  sugar
  • 1  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  cup  plain low-fat yogurt
  • 3/4  cup  mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium)
  • 1/4  cup  canola oil
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1  large egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375°.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Make a well in center of flour mixture.

Combine yogurt, banana, oil, vanilla, and egg in a small bowl; stir until well blended. Add yogurt mixture to the flour mixture in large bowl, stirring just until moist.

Pour the batter into a 9-inch square metal baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cake in the pan 10 minutes on wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Banana Snacking Cake

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Pumpkin Tea Loaf

I love this time of year – because now I have an excuse to make pumpkin bread.  Ok, not pumpkin bread, but pumpkin tea loaf – it sounds much fancier that way, doesn’t it?  This is a wonderful bread that fills your entire home with pumpkin spice goodness.  Who doesn’t want that?

There are two really great reasons to make this recipe besides how good it tastes:  1) It makes two loaves 2) It freezes extremely well.  So, go home, and make yourself some pumpkin tea loaves – eat one this weekend, and freeze the other one for Thanksgiving.  Now I just helped you prepare for the big day!  You’re welcome.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 15 oz. pumpkin (unflavored)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the oil, sugar, and eggs together until smooth.  Add the pumpkin, and mix well.  In a medium bowl, add all the dry ingredients together and stir with a whisk.  Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture.

Grease and flour two 9x5x2 inch loaf pans.  Divide the batter between the two loaf pans.  Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Pumpkin Tea Loaf

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Cook’s Illustrated Banana Bread

If you have been following my blog, you know that I am pretty new to Cook’s Illustrated.  For the most part, every recipe I have tried has really been a winner.  They definitely do their research, and have different techniques to make sure that whatever you are making – ends up being the best.  They don’t just give you the recipe either – they go into depth about what you are making, and why their techniques work better than probably anything else you have ever tried.

I saw this recipe for Banana Bread – and they claimed it was the best recipe ever.  Ok, with a statement like that, how can I pass that up?  The problem is, I think I already have the best recipe ever – my mother’s recipe.  I really couldn’t imagine this recipe topping that, but I figured I had nothing to lose.   I looked at the ingredients – and there were two main differences – one was the number of bananas, and two was that this banana bread used butter instead of oil.  Then, I read the instructions – wow, you cook the bananas in the microwave and drain the liquid?  Are you serious?  And if that is not enough, then you reduce the liquid until it makes a sweet banana syrup – this was quite an extra big step in the process.  This better be good – and with 5 bananas, this has to be the most banana flavored bread in the world.  I made one slight change below – leaving off the step where they “shingled” another banana by slicing it up and layering it on each side of the bread before baking.

Ok – so it comes out of the oven – and looks very similar to my mother’s recipe.  Then comes the true test – the tasting.  I swear my mother’s is better.  It is moister – and I really didn’t see how these extra bananas did anything for the bread.  But – the biggest problem with this bread was how it stood up for the next few days…after one day, it already started to taste stale – I think that is the butter.  When you use oil, it somehow gives it some extra moistness so it stays fresh for a few days when wrapping it properly with plastic.  Sorry Cook’s Illustrated – this is one recipe that doesn’t beat mine.

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 5 large very ripe bananas, peeled (almost 2 pounds)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed (5 1/4 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Preparation

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.

Place bananas in a microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and cut several steam vents in plastic with paring knife.  Microwave on high power until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes.  Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer placed over medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes (you should have 1/2 to 3/4 cups liquid).

Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes.  Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with potato masher until fairly smooth.  Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: 

Pour banana mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined with some streaks of flour remaining.   Scrape batter into prepared pan.  Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.

Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 55 to 75 minutes.  Cool bread in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on a wire rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 1 loaf.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Cook’s Illustrated Banana Bread

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No-Knead Overnight Parmesan and Thyme Rolls

Yeast is very tricky.  When I first started baking bread almost 20 years ago, I didn’t understand what the big deal was.  I realized later that I was just getting lucky.  I never used a thermometer to make sure the water or milk was the right temperature to proof the yeast, I just felt it – and gambled.  I had a really great streak going for quite a while.  Until one day, my yeast just didn’t look at bubbly as it usually did – but I made the bread anyway.  That’s when I figured out why it was so important for the yeast to proof before mixing in the ingredients.  My dough didn’t rise – I had killed the yeast because my water was too hot.

Now I actually use a thermometer to check the liquid before adding in the yeast.  I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, and it caught my eye because it was an overnight yeast batter.  I had to give it a try.  The only problem was when I finally decided to make them (in order to have them ready for the next night’s dinner) it was 9pm.  The recipe looked pretty easy though, so I decided to go for it.  For some reason I couldn’t for the life of me get the yeast to proof.  The water seemed to be the right temperature, so maybe it was the yeast?  Whatever it was, I just didn’t see any action happening at all.  After 3 attempts, I decided to try just one more time – I was getting very tired, and extremely frustrated.  The fourth time worked – and the rolls were delicious.  Don’t be alarmed when the dough doesn’t rise after sitting in the refrigerator over night – they still bake beautifully.  Eat them right out of the oven, and if you happen to have a nice pot of soup to go with them – you will be even happier.

Ingredients

  • 1/2  teaspoon  dry yeast
  • 2  tablespoons  warm water (100° to 110°)
  • 2  tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1  teaspoon  dried thyme
  • 1/3  cup  2% reduced-fat milk
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1  tablespoon  sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1  large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1.1  ounces  whole-wheat white flour (about 1/4 cup)
  • 5.6  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1 1/4 cups), divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2  teaspoon  cracked black pepper

Preparation

Dissolve yeast in 2 tablespoons warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add thyme to pan; cook 1 minute or until bubbly and fragrant. Add thyme mixture and milk to yeast mixture, stirring with a whisk; add 1/4 cup cheese, sugar, salt, and egg, stirring well.

Weigh or lightly spoon whole-wheat white flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Using a wooden spoon, stir whole-wheat white flour into yeast mixture. Weigh or lightly spoon 4.5 ounces (about 1 cup) all-purpose flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Add all-purpose flour to yeast mixture, stirring well. Add enough of remaining all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to form a smooth but very sticky dough. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and refrigerate overnight. (Dough will not double in size.)

Remove dough from refrigerator. Do not punch dough down. Turn dough out onto a floured surface; sprinkle dough lightly with flour. Roll dough into a 12 x 7–inch rectangle. Brush dough with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese evenly over dough; sprinkle with pepper. Beginning with a long side, roll up dough jelly-roll fashion. Pinch seam to seal (do not seal ends of roll). Cut roll into 8 (1 1/2-inch) slices. Place slices, cut sides up, on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until rolls have risen slightly.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Place pan in oven, and immediately reduce heat to 375°. Bake rolls at 375° for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Parmesan Rolls

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Custard-Filled Corn Bread

Last year I was on a quest to find the perfect corn bread recipe – I swear every weekend I made a different one.  Eventually I will post what I think was the best one…but I found this recipe in Molly Wizenberg’s book, A Homemade Life and it was unlike any cornbread I have ever made before.  I had to give it a try.

Corn bread to me is the perfect accompaniment to soups, stews, or BBQ.  Any time I made any one of those, there is usually a side of corn bread to go with the meal.  I was making soup for dinner, so I had an excuse.  The recipe is strange – you make the batter, then right before you put it into the oven, you pour a cup of heavy cream right into the center of the pan, right on top of the batter, so it just swims aimlessly around the pan.  Then you carefully put it into the oven to bake.  I left it in the oven for an entire hour – until it was really nicely browned on top – but it still didn’t seem to be done.  I took it out anyway though because I didn’t want it to overcook – and let it sit for a while.  The funny part is, this is not a cornbread that you serve with dinner – this is dessert – a wonderful custard filled cake that you drizzle maple syrup on top of – and eat it with a spoon.  I didn’t realize this until it came out of the oven.  When I finally served it – the custard had set slightly, but it was still pretty runny.  I thought it was fabulous – but my daughter loved it the next night more – the custard had hardened – but when you put it in the microwave to warm it up, it became slightly soft and just a perfect consistency.  The first night I served it with maple syrup – the second with honey – both were fantastic.  My daughter asked if she could have it for breakfast the next morning…

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup yellow cormneal, preferably medium ground
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 ½ tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish or a 9″ round pan. Put the dish in the oven to warm while you’re preparing the batter. Don’t put the dish directly on a pizza stone if you have one in your oven. This applies while baking the cornbread too.

In a large microwaveable bowl, melt the butter in the microwave using medium power so that the butter doesn’t splatter everywhere. 

In a small bowl whisk together the flour, cormeal, baking powder and baking soda.

When the butter has cooled a bit, add the eggs and whisk to blend well.  Then add the sugar, salt, milk and vinegar and whisk well again.  Whisking constantly, add the flour mixture.  Mix until the batter is smooth and no lumps are visible.

Remove the heated pan from the oven, and pour in the batter.  Carefully pour the cream into the center of the batter. Don’t stir! The cream will form a layer just under the surface of the batter. Bake for about an hour or until lightly browned. Cool for 5 minutes or so before slicing.  Serve with maple syrup or honey.

Note:  Covered with plastic wrap, this bread will stay good at room temperature for 1 day.  If you put it into the refrigerator covered – it will last up to 3 days.  Leftovers are delicious at room temperature, or warmed in a low oven (or microwave).  Remember to serve with syrup or honey.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here:  Custard-Filled Corn Bread

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Chocolate Babka

Babka showed up at my grandmother’s house at various times throughout the year, although once a year I could always count on a great big slice – that was after fasting for the day on Yom Kippur.  She also had chocolate cake, but I usually turned that down for the babka.  She wasn’t much of a baker (she spent most of her time cooking at the stove), but there was a really great kosher grocery store down the street where she got all of her baked goods.

When I was older, I remember watching Seinfield one night – and there was a big debate on the show about which was the better babka – the chocolate or the cinnamon.  They determined on the show that the chocolate was superior.  I actually never knew there were two kinds – and I also thought, why wouldn’t you just put cinnamon in with the chocolate?  Since then I have seen babka at the store, and there are definitely two kinds – and I also prefer the chocolate.  It just has a richer flavor – and often I do taste a hint of cinnamon.

I saw this recipe in Cooking Light this month – and of course had to give it a try.  I had never made babka before, so this was definitely going to be a challenge.  I ended up doubling the cinnamon in what was printed, and made a couple other changes as well – but this recipe was fabulous.  When I sliced it open, my husband and I stared in amazement.  I had done it.  I even had my neighbors come over so they could stare at it as well.  The bonus – it tasted even better than it looked.  It was a good day.

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 1  teaspoon  granulated sugar
  • 1  package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3/4  cup  warm 1% low-fat milk (105° to 110°)
  • 6  tablespoons  granulated sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 7.5  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1 2/3 cups), divided
  • 5.85  ounces  bread flour (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 5  tablespoons  butter, cut into pieces and softened
  • Cooking spray

Filling:

  • 1/2  cup  granulated sugar
  • 3  tablespoons  unsweetened cocoa
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 4  ounces  semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Streusel:

  • 2  tablespoons  powdered sugar
  • 1  tablespoon  all-purpose flour
  • 1  tablespoon  butter, chilled, chopped into pieces

Preparation

Dissolve 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and yeast in warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and egg yolk. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 6 ounces (about 1 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour and bread flour to milk mixture; beat with dough hook attachment at medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes). Add 5 tablespoons butter, beating until well blended. Scrape dough out onto a floured surface (dough will be very sticky). Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add 1.5 ounces (about 1/3 cup) all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will be very soft).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let dough rest 5 minutes.

Line the bottom of a 9 x 5–inch loaf pan with parchment paper; coat sides of pan with cooking spray.

 To prepare filling, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, and chocolate in a medium bowl; set aside.

Place dough on a generously floured surface; roll dough out into a 16-inch square. Sprinkle filling over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border around edges. Roll up dough tightly, jelly-roll fashion; pinch seam and ends to seal. Holding dough by ends, twist dough 4 times as if wringing out a towel. Fit dough into prepared pan. Cover and let rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare streusel, combine powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, and 1 tablespoon  butter, mixing with your fingers until it resembles coarse meal; sprinkle streusel evenly over dough. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until loaf is browned on bottom and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool bread completely on wire rack before slicing.

 For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here:  Chocolate Babka

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