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Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

The smell of baking bread in the house is nothing short of amazing.  The taste and smell is even more amazing though when you’ve prepared this treat with your own two hands, and not just popped open that Pillsbury can.  This treat can be made a day ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator too, so you don’t have to get up at 4am to enjoy these as a breakfast treat!  They do require a bit of time and effort, so it is definitely a recipe worthy of a special occasion or company.  I made them for company with the thought that I would want something easy to pop in the oven that morning.

This recipe is from the cookbook, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart.  It uses the SAF instant yeast, which I have found that I prefer to the dry active yeast because there is less room for error.  It is fermented with sugar, so there is no need to dissolve into warm water.  I store mine in an airtight container in the freezer, and it should last at least a year.

Cinnamon Buns, makes about 12 large rolls

15 minutes mixing, 3 ½ hours fermentation, shaping and proofing; 15-20 minutes baking

6 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

5 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 large egg, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon lemon extract

3 ½ cups bread or all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons instant yeast

1 1/8 to 1 ¼ cups buttermilk or whole milk

½ cup cinnamon sugar (6 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar plus 1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon)

  1.  Cream together the sugar, salt, and shortening on medium-high speed in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a large metal spoon and mixing bowl and do it by hand).  Whip in the egg and lemon extract until smooth.  Then add the flour, yeast, and milk.  Mix on low speed (or stir by hand) until the dough forms a ball.  Switch to the dough hook and increase the speed to medium, mixing for approximately 10 minutes (or knead by hand for 12 to 15 minutes ), or until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky.  You may have to add a little flour or water while mixing to achieve this texture.  Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  2. Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
  3. Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter.  Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the top of the dough with flour to keep it from sticking to the pin.  Roll it into a rectangle about 2/3 inch thick and 14 inches wide by 12 inches long for larger buns, or 18 inches wide by 9 inches long for smaller buns.  Don’t roll out the dough too thin, or the finished buns will be tough and chewy rather than soft and plump.
  4. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the surface of the dough and roll the dough up into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon-sugar spiral as you roll.  With the seam side down, cut the dough into 8 to 12 even pieces each about 1 ¾ inches thick for larger buns; or 12 to 16 pieces each 1 ¼ inch thick for smaller buns.

     5.  Line 1 or more sheet pans with baking parchment.  Place the buns approximately ½ inch apart so that they aren’t touching but are close to one another.

     6.Proof at room temperature for 75 to 90 minutes, or until the pieces have grown into one another and have nearly doubled in size.  After this proofing, you can place the buns in the refrigerator for up to two days before baking.

     7.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the oven rack on the middle shelf.

      8.  Bake the cinnamon buns for 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then streak white fondant glaze across the tops while the buns are warm but not too hot. 

White Fondant Glaze

Sift 4 cups of powdered sugar into a large bowl.  Add 1 teaspoon of lemon or orange extract and between 6 tablespoons to ½ cup of warm milk, briskly whisking until all the sugar is dissolved.  Add the milk slowly and only as much as is needed to make a thick, smooth paste.  When the buns have cooled, but are still warm, streak the glaze over them by dipping the tines of a fork or a whisk into the glaze and waving the fork or whisk over the tops.

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It’s not too late for holiday candy making. If you’re like me, holiday plans and get-together seem to run well into January these days.  Truffles would be the perfect thing to make for a New Year’s Eve party to share, or as a hostess gift!  Below are two recipes I concocted for friends and family gifts this year.  Chocolate Peppermint (which tasted like Frango Mints) and a Toasted Coconut Rum.  You can be as creative as you’d like with truffles though by adding different extracts and coatings.  Anything goes really! 

Basic Truffle Recipe

11 ounces good quality chocolate (I used Ghiradelli’s 60%cocoa chocolate chips, this is just under two cups)

2/3 cup heavy cream (make sure you don’t use light cream or their won’t be enough fat content for the ganache to thicken properly)

various coatings (i.e. cocoa powder, chopped nuts, toasted coconut, colored sugar, crushed peppermint candies, candied ginger, etc.)

optional – 1 tsp  flavored extract

Bring heavy cream to a boil in a small heavy saucepan.  Pour the cream over the chocolate, then stir with a whisk (don’t beat or you’ll incorporate air), until the ganache is smooth.  If this doesn’t quite melt the chocolate, you can put the bowl of chocolate and cream in the microwave and heat in 15 second intervals, stirring in between.  This would be the time to add a flavored extract or alcohol if you desire.

Chill the ganache in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or until it holds it’s shape.  When ready to form the truffles, I prefer using a small scoop or teaspoon.  Roll the pieces of chocolate into a ball between your hands.  If you plan on coating the truffles with cocoa powder or dipping them in chocolate, it’s a good idea to chill them again for a few minutes so they don’t lose their shape. 

Toss the truffles in the coating of your choice.  I use a fork to do this, again so you keep their in tact.  If you want to coat your truffles in chocolate, you’ll need to temper the coating chocolate so that it hardens.  You can find a good how-to on tempering here.  If you are lazy, or over-commit yourself like I do and want a quick coating, just melt some of the Wilton chocolate melts to dip your truffles in!

Store in refrigerator.

Chocolate Peppermint Truffles

11 ounces good quality chocolate

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 tsp  peppermint extract

1 bag Wilton chocolate melts, dark chocolate variety

Follow instructions in Basic Truffle recipe, but chill formed truffles for about 20 minutes longer before dipping in chocolate melts.  Melt or temper chocolate, and use a fork to roll the formed truffle around before setting on a parchment lined baking sheet to cool.  Store in refrigerator. 

Toasted Coconut Rum Truffles

11 ounces good quality chocolate

2/3 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup shredded sweetened or unsweetened coconut, toasted

1 tsp  coconut extract

1 tsp Malibu coconut rum (optional)

Follow instructions in Basic Truffle recipe, but roll in toasted coconut after truffles are formed.  Store in refrigerator.

I apologize for the lack of pictures in this post, but my hands were full of chocolate during this WHOLE process and my husband wasn’t at home to be on camera duty!  I will have to make again and post pictures later. 🙂

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