I really don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I do keep a running list of things I’d like to do more, or in some cases, less. One of my “do more” things was to bake more bread. There are few foods I enjoy more than warm home-baked bread, and I have a couple of absolutely fool-proof recipes that I have used for a long time. About the time I was baking two loaves of bread last week, Allen told me he had decided to cut back on carbs. Hmmm…this should be interesting. So, now I have almost two loaves of bread in the freezer ready for toast, grilled cheese or sandwiches. If you have a food processor, you can make this bread with confidence. It has been perfect each time I have made it.
- 1 package yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 cup warm water (105°F to 108°F)
- 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 2/3 cup ice water
Stir yeast and sugar in warm water until dissolved. Insert metal blade in food processor. Put flour, butter and salt in work bowl and process for 20 seconds. Combine yeast mixture with cold water. Turn on food processor and pour yeast mixture through the feed tube in a steady stream only as fast as the flour absorbs it. Continue processing until dough cleans inside of work bowl, then let machine run for 60 seconds to complete kneading.
Remove dough from work bowl and shape into smooth ball. Place in lightly floured plastic storage bag. Squeeze out air and close end with wire twist, allowing space for dough to rise. (I use a zipper-lock bag.) Let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Open bag and punch dough down in bag. Shape into loaf and place into greased 5-cup loaf pan. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until dough rises just above the top of the pan, about 3/4 hour. Bake on center rack of preheated 375° oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.
Yancey’s Fancy knocked our socks off with their smoked gouda process cheese, and when we shared the smoked gouda pimento cheese recipe on a previous post, we promised some more Yancey’s Fancy goodness to come. Enter jalapeño & peppadew cheese with a great combination of sweet & spicy. I had heard of peppadew peppers, but didn’t know much about them, and had never tasted one until recently. Peppadew peppers are apparently the first new fruit to be discovered since kiwis in the 1970’s. The small red fruit looks like a cross between a small pepper and cherry tomato, and was found growing in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It occupies a “mild” position on the heat scale, and definitely has a hint of sweetness to it. Yancey’s Fancy combined it with spicy jalapeños in creamy and delicious aged cheddar. The pepper combo yields just the right amount of heat and it seemed pretty perfect for a grilled cheese upgrade. Since I had plenty of homemade bread on hand, it was perfect timing.
Try lightly brushing the bread with a small bit of olive oil before buttering, and grill it at a lower temperature to allow the cheese to melt completely. Yancey’s Fancy process cheese is made to melt smoothly and evenly, and my grilled cheese sandwich was simply awesome. I’m glad I have plenty of homemade bread in the freezer to make more!
When we shared Greenlee’s Cinnamon Raisin Bread last month, a reader posted a comment requesting a recipe for Greenlee’s French toast that had been misplaced. I did a little online sleuthing, but couldn’t find a recipe that specifically called for Greenlee’s bread. So many fans of this delicious cinnamon raisin bread raved about using it in French toast that I just had to try it, so I started a recipe search. When the French toast recipe starts with a bread as sweet and rich as Greenlee’s, the batter should complement its flavor without adding too much additional sugar. The bread is also very moist, so keeping the slices intact during the battering and cooking process presented a challenge. An allrecipes selection, which I adapted slightly, seemed like a good option for a special Saturday morning breakfast.
Greenlee’s Cinnamon Raisin French Toast
Place flour in a medium mixing bowl and slowly whisk in the milk. Add the other ingredients, except the bread, and whisk until blended and smooth. Heat a large skillet over medium heat with about a teaspoon of vegetable oil. Pour the batter in a 9″ x 13″ pan and soak 4 slices of bread for about 30 seconds on each side. (Note: the bread will be very soft, so handle carefully to avoid breaking the slices.) Place bread in hot skillet and cook until it is crisp and golden, then flip carefully and cook the second side. Repeat the battering and cooking process with the remaining bread, adding more oil to the skillet as necessary.
This recipe obviously makes French toast for a crowd, so I made one-third of it for two people. If you are making the recipe as written, keep the toast warm in a 200° oven until you are ready to serve it. You can dust it with confectioner’s sugar or serve it with the syrup of your choice. I think this recipe really works with such a moist bread. The flour gives the batter a little body and crisps up the French toast nicely. Adding a little more cinnamon to the batter layers the flavor, and we thought it was fine without any additional sugar.
Allen gave it his whole-hearted approval by telling me I could make Greenlee’s Cinnamon Raisin French Toast anytime!
The term “artisan” has been bandied about a lot lately and applied to quite a few products that just aren’t. While it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what is an artisan food and what is not, we can probably all agree that anything coming from a mega-food producer isn’t a real artisan food item. Karen and I had several discussions about a good definition of “artisan food” when we talked about starting this blog. We liked something like this: a food product made in small batches, often made by hand or with traditional methods, that may command a premium price because of its exceptional taste and quality.
The three generations of family bakers at the Glendale, California Kermanig Bakery are clearly artisans. Using old world recipes, they have been making bread by hand for more than half a century and their Mediterranean Foccacia breads are outrageously good. Really. We recently sampled three flavors: tomato and mushroom, spinach and cheese, and rustic olive. Our favorite? All three, with maybe the slightest leaning toward rustic olive! The bread is light and tender, but crisps up delicately when warmed. The toppings are superbly seasoned and generous, and although they are common pizza garnishes, the texture of the bread distinguishes it from traditional pizza. It would make a great appetizer, a tasty soup or salad partner, or even a light entrée. The foccacia is super-quick to prepare. We brushed it with olive oil, then warmed it for 5 or 6 minutes in the oven. It was perfect! The breads can be refrigerated, or frozen for longer storage.
We found these delicious breads at a Costco event, and as soon as we walked out of Costco, I wished that we had bought enough to fill our freezer. Or maybe had bought a new freezer dedicated solely to Kermanig’s Mediterranean Foccacia! Fortunately, we can order from Kermanig’s website until they come back to town. This is a treat not to be missed!
I recently read that “cinnamon bites and kisses simultaneously”, which is a pretty good way to describe the warm, sweet taste of cinnamon. It is equally at home in sweet and savory dishes, and many people attribute health benefits to this popular spice. Cinnamon partners perfectly with bread in my book, whether in the form of simple cinnamon sugar toast or a tender homemade cinnamon twist.
Greenlee’s Bakery in San Jose, California raises the combination of cinnamon and bread to an art form. Real butter, fresh milk, eggs, and generous swirls of cinnamon make this a moist, tender, incredibly delicious bread. The family owned bakery has been in operation since 1924 when Emmett Greenlee started offering baked goods in his coffeehouse His son later assumed responsibility for the bakery. In 1981, Norbert and Rosalinda Geldner purchased the business. Norbert came to the United States from Germany in 1967, and Rosalinda immigrated from Mexico when she was 12 years old. They brought their experience from a bakery they had previously owned, and also Norbert’s recipe for cinnamon bread. As the word spread about the out-of-this-world cinnamon bread, the bakery’s operation shifted from a heavy focus on wedding cakes to a concentration on cinnamon bread. The bakery produces about 2,000 loaves per week to service local customers and farmers’ markets, and that production level escalates during holiday seasons.
We first tasted the cinnamon raisin bread right out of the package–heavenly! The next taste test was buttered cinnamon raisin toast, which was also stellar. The bread toasted beautifully with a crisp-tender texture and plump raisins. I’ve seen several recommendations for Greenlee’s cinnamon bread French toast, and that may well be on the menu this week.
Greenlee’s website has a link to an ordering site, which sadly did not work as I was writing this, but hopefully it will be operating soon. In the meantime, check with your upscale market to see if they have Greenlee’s bread in stock. This cinnamon raisin bread should be on your must-try list!
Restaurant menus have been the launching pad for a number of gourmet or artisan food products on the market and such is the case with Robinhood Meetinghouse Layered Cream Cheese Biscuits. Chef Michael Gagné was working in Virginia when he decided to challenge the much-loved, traditional southern biscuit. By implementing the “laminating” process that layers butter and pastry dough in croissants and puff pastry, he created an elegant, flaky biscuit. Chef Gagné returned to his home in Maine to raise his young daughters and opened Robinhood Meetinghouse, a fine dining restaurant. Guests were treated to baskets of his piping hot, layered cream cheese biscuits. Soon, Chef Gagné’s daughters were selling biscuits to-go from the restaurant’s back porch, and a delivery business followed.
I often peruse frozen food cases at gourmet markets looking for something new to try, and on a recent visit to Central Market, I found these layered cream cheese biscuits. Cream cheese pastry is the best in my book. The biscuits are frozen unbaked, and in 25 minutes, we had hot, flaky biscuits on the breakfast table. They rose to amazing heights while baking, and they retained a traditional biscuit crumb while being extra light and flaky. The taste was phenomenal with the delicious tang of cream cheese and a decadent buttery flavor. The package describes these luscious biscuits as “the love child born of a biscuit and a croissant”. Yes, they are that good! They would be delicious in a strawberry shortcake and the family’s website has innovative ideas for one-bite appetizers that would be perfect for any gathering.
Chef Gagné’s daughters are now grown, and they have joined him in his restaurant business. The biscuits that became the signature food item for the Robinhood Meetinghouse have now become the anchor product in a growing bakery business. Triple ginger biscuits, double chocolate biscuits, sweet potato biscuits, and pecan sticky buns are just a few of their bakery items. If they are only half as delicious as the layered cream cheese biscuits, they would be a delight. Order some today to have on hand for holiday house guests or to simply wow your family!
I ran across a report recently which stated the average American eats about 53 pounds of bread each year, and I’m probably well below that average. We don’t eat many fast food meals at our house, which minimizes sandwich bun and pizza crust consumption. Allen enjoys toast with McCutcheon’s Apple Butter for breakfast, and often snacks on a peanut butter sandwich, so he goes through most of the sliced bread we purchase. I lean more toward freshly baked breads because in my book, warm bread elevates an everyday meal to special occasion status. Mom’s Sunday waffles and fluffy biscuits are quick and easy treats in our regular breakfast rotation. Just a few weeks ago, we added Immaculate Baking Co.’s blueberry scones to the menu mix, and RoRo’s Cinn-A-Rolls are a hands-down favorite for tender, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon rolls. Karen and I tasted them together on one of her visits to Texas and completely loved them. Karen loved them so much, she hid the leftover rolls from Jim when they got home!
I have fresh breakfast breads pretty well covered, but I struggle with dinner breads. Although the time spent in baking yeast breads is very worthwhile, it is not a quick process. The window of opportunity to make fresh bread for a dinner meal at my house is frequently closed. Although I sometimes use frozen bread or dinner roll products, even they take several hours to thaw and rise. Thank goodness, RoRo (her “grandmother name”) and granddaughter, Amy, have just come to my rescue with their new Dinn-A-Rolls.
I’ve been following RoRo’s Facebook page with great interest. The company is growing with larger facilities, new ovens, and more bakers to craft their small batch, handmade rolls. I’ve known for several weeks that Dinn-A-Rolls would soon be on the menu, and I picked them up at Central Market this week. The crescent-shaped rolls are baked and frozen, so meal-time preparation is a snap. I thawed them on the kitchen counter, unwrapped them, covered them lightly with foil, popped them in the oven, and they were warm and fragrant in 10 minutes flat. My taste buds go into overdrive when butter meets warm yeast rolls, and RoRo’s Dinn-A-Rolls are super scrumptious. The crescent shape allows alternating slightly crisp and tender layers. Just like Cinn-A-Rolls, this bread melts in your mouth. RoRo’s Baking Company ships their rolls if you can’t find them in a gourmet grocer near you.
With RoRo’s filling the dinner bread gap at our house, I just might start inching up toward that average consumption of 53 pounds of bread per year!
Weekday breakfast time at our house is not our finest hour. I’m out the door for a run as soon as the sun is up while Allen makes coffee and handles the dog wake-up calls. We usually shuffle through our individual get-ready routines, catching breakfast on our own. Allen settles for toast and jam many mornings, while I lean toward some kind of protein bar. Exciting, huh?
After we tried and loved Immaculate Baking Co.’s Gingerbread Spice Cookies, we checked out their Supremes Chocolate Chunk Cookies, which were also winners in our book. Would a breakfast upgrade be possible with Immaculate Baking Co.? We put their Blueberry Scones to the test. This was a giant leap of faith for me, because I generally shy away from any kind of ready-to-bake bread in a refrigerated tube. I made the leap partially because of Immaculate’s promise not to use any of the following ingredients:
- Bleached flour
- Trans fats
- Hydrogenated oil
- Aluminum baking powder
- Artificial preservatives
- Artificial flavors
- High fructose corn syrup
- Genetically modified organisms
My other motivations? The 15-minute oven-to-table convenience and a strong desire to get out of our ho-hum breakfast routine!
The scones baked up perfectly golden brown in 15 minutes, and the number of plump blueberries in each one was amazing. Dappled sunlight streaming across the kitchen island and on our beautiful scones set up a perfect start to the autumn morning.
With butter melting on the flaky layers and a little all-natural honey for dipping, we were ready for the crucial taste test. The verdict was unanimous – success! The pastry was tender and the blueberries were tasty. We liked the wholesome ingredients: unbleached flour, pure cane sugar, and sea salt. These blueberry scones banished at least one boring breakfast at our house!
Our post about Immaculate’s Gingerbread Spice Cookies shared the company’s commitments to worthy causes, particularly folk art. Our package of scones profiled North Carolina artist Clyde Jones, who crafts “critters” from scrap wood, so we also had some culture with our morning cuisine. Immaculate Baking Co.’s quality products and corporate conscience make them a go-to favorite.
These biscuits made my day (maybe my week). Karen and I tasted them during one of her trips to Texas and they were over-the-top good. There’s no doubt why; they contain buttermilk, cream cheese, and butter! We chose the cheese & chive flavor, but other tempting varieties include cinnamon, country ham, buttermilk, shortcake and cocktail ham. The biscuits are frozen, and are easily reheated in a half-hour or less. They were tender, flaky, rich with cheese, and full of chives. Alone, or paired with smoked ham, they were completely awesome. The hand-made biscuits would be wonderful for brunch or hors d’oeuvres. We loved the simple brown-bag packaging, too!
Callie White built a successful catering business in Charleston, South Carolina and her buttery biscuits became a local legend. As she was considering retirement, daughter Carrie Morey convinced her mom to start Callie’s Charleston Biscuits. Carrie took an active role in marketing the biscuits, and the company now has an impressive list of retailers across the country. Callie’s also offers direct online sales. Both women are proud they have built a business that can be handed down to the next generation.
It shouldn’t be too difficult to find an occasion to serve these elegant and tasty biscuits!
Karen was in Texas during the week of her birthday, and we had fun searching for new foods and catching up with old friends. Her birthday celebration began by popping RoRo’s Cinn-A-Rolls in the oven for a late breakfast. RoRo’s first caught our eye on Central Market’s “More, Please” blog. Amy Collins and her family established Dallas-based RoRo’s in April 2011, using the cinnamon roll recipe her grandmother (AKA “RoRo”) created to wow neighbors and friends. RoRo is actively involved in the company, from baking duty to marketing efforts.
We purchased a dozen frozen pre-baked cinnamon rolls, and when we saw the icing already on the rolls, we were a little concerned about the taste and texture outcome after the rolls were warmed. We left them to thaw on the counter overnight, then warmed them in the oven the next morning. Our concerns quickly vanished with the first bite. The cinnamon rolls were flaky, moist, and tender, with a perfect mix of cinnamon and sugar – not too sweet, and the cinnamon was not overwhelming. The warm icing deliciously melted into the rolls for creaminess in each bite.
Like many artisans, Amy and her family are committed to quality, small batch baking. You can almost taste their tagline, “handmade with love”. RoRo’s is distributed through select retailers in several states, including Central Markets in Texas. We can’t think of a better addition to your breakfast or brunch table!