Friday, May 15, 2015

Distraction Baking-and Baby Blondin Photos

I don't know how you deal with stress, but I bake. These were just the start, over the past week this place has been like a fully functioning bakery, and the freezer is now well-stocked. I was pleased to discover that my raisin bread recipe also makes delicious cinnamon buns, though more bread-like than the typical commercially baked ones.
 These both use the same master dough recipe. Yep, lopsided loaf-thanks for noticing!

 Buttermilk dinner rolls.
For the cinnamon buns/raisin bread:

2 tablespoons margarine, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk, lukewarm
1/2 cup warm water
4 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1-2 cups raisins (They can be soaked in rum ahead of time if you like, then drained and patted dry)
Plain flour-5-7 cups depending on flour, humidity, etc.

In a large bowl place the warm water, sprinkle a bit of the sugar and stir. Sprinkle on the yeast, then stir to dissolve. Let stand about 5 minutes until puffy. Add the buttermilk, salt, eggs, butter, margarine, and 1 cup of the flour. Beat well until very smooth (I use a hand mixer for this part). Add remaining flour by hand until you have a very soft, sticky dough. Knead in the raisins adding more flour as needed. The dough will be better if you leave it on the soft side, but not so soft that you can't knead it. When the dough is kneaded, place in a large buttered bowl and let rise until doubled (a couple hours). Punch down dough and let rise another 40 minutes until almost doubled. Punch down dough a third time. At this point you can begin preparing the bread, buns, or both.

For the bread:
Shape loaf and place in a well-buttered loaf tin and let rise another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Before baking, brush top with beaten egg white. Bake 20 minutes, then rotate tin and bake another 20-25 minutes until bread sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom, or reads to an internal temperature of about 200 degrees F.

For the buns:

Roll dough out into 1 or 2 rectangles (depending on whether you make all buns, or a bread as well). Spread generously with a few tablespoons of very soft butter, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar to taste (but don't be so miserly with it that you don't get any filling). Roll up jelly-roll style, cut slices and place slightly apart in a well-buttered baking dish (a 9x13 is about right for a single batch). Let dough rise again for 30 minutes, then bake at 400 degrees F. for ten minutes. Rotate pan, bake another 10 and check for "doneness" (probably not a word, but eh, whatever). Remove to a rack over a baking sheet and glaze with icing sugar and water or icing sugar and milk. If you plan to freeze any, don't glaze those.

For the Buttermilk Rolls:

2 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons margarine (the bread keeps longer if I use marg, or shortening, but if you can't bear it use oil or butter)
1/4 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 scant tablespoon coarse salt (or 3/4 tablespoon regular table salt)
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup strong (bread) flour
1 cup plain flour
Remaining 2-3 cups (or more) whole wheat flour (you can of course do all white if you prefer)

Heat buttermilk and margarine until just lukewarm and the margarine has mostly melted. In the warm water, proof the yeast with the sugar. Combine buttermilk/margarine mixture with yeast mixture in a large bowl and add the honey. Add the strong flour and plain flour and beat with a hand mixer (or a stand mixer if you have one, or a wooden spoon if you have neither) until smooth-about three minutes should do it. Slowly add the whole wheat flour adding just enough so that you can knead it. Place dough in a buttered bowl and cover with clingfilm. Let rise until doubled (a couple hours in a cool-ish kitchen). Punch down the dough and let rise again until nearly doubled-this rise should take about half the time. Punch down a third time, then shape buns and place on a greased baking sheet. You can also bake this as loaves-this should give you two standard sized ones. The dough is versatile and can be shaped into crescents or clover leaves if you prefer. Fold-overs are also popular though god only knows why because there is no less satisfying bun than a Parker house Roll!

Cover lightly with a tea towel and let rise again 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. You may brush the tops with egg white, egg yolk+water, Molasses and water for a deep sheen, dust them with flour, or leave the tops as they are. Water brushed on before baking will give a crisper crust. These are also nice lightly brushed with egg and topped with either sesame seeds or poppy.

Bake 10 minutes, then rotate pan and bake another 10 or until done. Cool on a rack. These freeze well.

Now, to the baby:
"Screw you lady, I like Parker House Rolls! But I'd take a crescent if that's all you have. Really, I'm not picky."

"Pass me one of those cinnamon buns, will you? It will help my tail grow back."

Baby Blondin has learned well from his papa and now comes to visit us unattended. He's been doing a good job eating the food that falls through the platform bird feeder, so it is like having a furry little Hoover on the balcony.

"Do I smell Blondin Biscuits? Mixed spice? Extra molasses? Hell yeah!"

This weekend is expected to be more severe weather (broken record...for you kids, a "Record" is one of those big, shiny black DVD's that come in a cardboard sleeve) but I am taking Danny to a Quote-Along viewing of The Holy Grail at Film Streams tomorrow night. They're giving it the Rocky Horror treatment where people can yell out lines. Danny would have rather had a Quote Along Meaning of Life but that would be too much for an Omaha audience I'm afraid. Anyway, that's my only planned activity this weekend, but I'm determined to get in a bit of time alone even if it means going for a walk in a storm.

I hope you have a lovely weekend.


Sue said...

If I ever got to come and visit you I would have to buy two seats on the plane to come home as I would be twice the gal from all your baking. You are a star in the kitchen and now I am hungry, thanks!! Baby Blondin is too cute.

Northern mum down South said...

Your squirrel photos are much better than my effort, they do seem to like to pose for photos though. If you are feeling stressed you might aswell be productive and your baked goods look yummy, lopsided or not. Have a relaxing weekend.

Curtise said...

Baking seems a reasonable enough way to deal with stress - better than drugs, I guess! I love Chelsea buns (which is what your cinnamon buns look like to me) but then I love any baked carbohydrates - mmmm!
Baby Blondin is learning and growing, as babies do. xxx

Goody said...

If you came to visit and *didn't* gain weight it would mean I wasn't showing my guest a good time. But maybe we'd burn the calories off shopping!

Our squirrels will pose for photos because they associate us with food. I guess that means we've trained them, or something.

Depends on the drug, maybe? I'm too much of a control freak to do drugs-I can't even get properly drunk.
I've tried getting the boys to like Chelsea buns, but I lose them at the candied fruit. Cinnamon buns are a huge cultural thing here in Nebraska-they serve them as a regular side dish with spicy chili (I don't know why either, local custom).

Mim said...

Aw, baby Blondin! I assumed when you mentioned his short tail in an earlier post that they started out small and grew as the squirrel aged, I hadn't realised he'd had an accident.

Those buns look delicious. I was going to say I'd draw the line at cinnamon buns with chili, but I like cinnamon in Moroccan savoury dishes, so the buns with chili could be worth a go! I suck at dough-making, though, my hot cross buns at easter were like little rocks.