Dunuts, Rhubarb Pie, Deli Buns, and Breakfast Bread!

Time to reminisce! I have been anxious to share these recipes first of all because they happen to have a happy ending (i.e. they were all delicious) and coincidentally, when there is a happy ending for me, there is one for you too because I love sharing good recipes! I am also anxious to share these recipes since once I am finished reminiscing, I will be able to get on with some scrumptious cold-weather food! YUM.
I love fall. What with apple orchards (and therefore apple cider, apple crisp, apple jam, caramel apples, and so much more), pumpkin patches (thus pumpkin pie, pumpkin bars, pumpkin soup, pumpkin carving...), and of course there's no way to forget the much anticipated loads of Halloween cookies, candy, and... bring on the sugar coma. So now that I am salivating, I do believe it's time I share some mouth-watering recipes!

First time making donuts!
These... were delicious, and in all honesty, pretty easy. I followed the recipe for a raised donut rather than a cake donut, but could not resist bypassing the classic glaze to instead slather the donut in chocolate frosting. Everything went smoothly except for one slight fiasco with the oil...

I consider myself a healthy person. I'm a Pilates instructor, a major veggie lover, and an avid distance runner. So when it comes to deep fried food... well I don't make it often. Or ever. I do not have a deep fat fryer and so simply filled a pot with oil and so had no way of knowing how hot the oil was. These donuts needed to be fried at about 250 degrees F. Little did I know at the time of frying these however, was that [olive] oil begins to boil only once it has reached 375 degrees F (the temperature varies depending upon what type of oil you are using) - as opposed to water which boils at a temperature of 212 degrees F. So, I had the genius idea that I would bring the oil to a boil and then fry the donuts - illogically assuming that oil and water boil at the same temperature! Tossing the first donut into the oil pot, I was surprised to see the doughnut instantly turn deep brown. Not even three seconds and my doughnut was finished! Actually, it was burnt. No worries though, only a couple more donuts were sacrificed before I managed to bring the oil down to a manageable temperature.

Oil, oil, oil. Time to find a
'healthy' donut!
The finished product was delicious and got me thinking... what if I made a healthy donut?? Yep, I said it!! These little circles of 'yum' are simple enough that made properly, they just might be delicious and less detrimental to our daily diet! Healthy and tasty... crazy right?! So that is on the to-do list as a future task... make a healthy donut that doesn't taste healthy. (Disclaimer: by healthy in this scenario, I do not intend to make a donut that fulfills your recommended daily vegetable servings... no, I merely mean to make a lower-calorie, lower-fat, and non-deep-fried donut that tastes as if it is in fact calorie packed, fat saturated, and totally deep-fried.) We all need our sweet-tooth fixes now and again, so lets try and make sure those fixes less guilty, shall we? Here's the recipe, I recommend trying it until I devise a 'healthy' donut...

Raised Donuts Recipe
(makes about 18 donuts)
  • 2 envelopes of active dry yeast
  • 1/4 c warm water (105 degrees F to 115 degrees F) - should be lukewarm to the underside of your wrist
  • 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart olive oil for frying
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 cups white confectioners' sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 Tablespoons hot water (or as needed)
  1. Combine yeast and warm water, whisk and let stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together yeast mixture, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening, and 2 c of flour. Mix until combined.
  3. Beat in remaining flour 1/2 c at a time, until dough no longer sticks to bowl.
  4. Knead for about 5 min, or until smooth and elastic. Place dough in greased bowl and cover with warm, damp cloth. Set in warm place to rise until doubled.
  5. Turn dough onto a floured surface and use rolling pin to roll to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a floured donut cutter (I used the lip of a glass to cut the perimeter of the donut out and simply used a butter knife to cut the inside hole).
  6. Cover and let sit to rise again until doubled.
  7. Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large heavy skillet or in pot to 250 degrees F.
  8. Make glaze now and set aside: Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Stir in confectioners' sugar and vanilla until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in hot water one tablespoon at a time until the icing is somewhat thin, but not watery.
  9. Slide donuts into the hot oil using a wide spatula. Turn donuts over as they rise to the surface. Each side should be golden brown before removing.
  10. Remove from hot oil and set on wire rack to dry.
  11. Dip donuts into glaze while still hot, and return to wire racks to drain off excess. Keep a cookie sheet or tray under racks for easier clean up.
A beautiful crust (see recipe) covered in
it's first layer of sugar followed by
the single rhubarb layer.

Rhubarb Pie
I love rhubarb and not being able to grow it from the window gardens in my apartment is a little disappointing. In addition to that, my boyfriend, does not like rhubarb of any sort... I know, I know, hard to believe that anyone could not like rhubarb huh? So after buying rhubarb at the Minneapolis Farmers Market, I was on a mission of getting Brandon to love rhubarb... I made the sweetest, most cavity-causing pie I possibly could (he has a bit of a sweet tooth). I think you will get the idea after checking out some of these pictures (and no, this is not 'Splenda' you are seeing)

Pie Crust Recipe
(makes two open-topped pies, or one if you want a sealed pie)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 cups shortening
  • 3 Tablespoons white' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg
  • ... just a pinch more sugar!
  • 1/2 cup water
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, shortening, sugar, and salt. Blend together until crumbly.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the egg water. Blend into flour mixture.
  3. Use immediately or store in airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
Rhubarb Pie Recipe
(makes enough for one pie)
  • 4 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1-1/3 cups white sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 (9 inch) double-crust pie crust
  1. Combine sugar and flour. Sprinkle 1/4 of it over pastry in pie plate. Heap rhubarb over this mixture, sprinkle with remaining sugar and flour.
  2. Dot with small pieces of butter, cover with top crust.
  3. Place pie on lowest rack in oven, bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees F, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to bake for 40-45 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and serve immediately or refrigerate (I recommend using a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream!).

Okay, so after using the word "dollop" in the end of that last recipe, I couldn't resist looking that word up in the dictionary. Dollop just seems to be one of those words that you know is going to have a good description. So here ya go, I hope you find it as funny as I did...
  • A shapeless mass or blob of something, esp. soft food
    • great dollops of cream
    • a dollop of romance here and there

Cheese Bread
This year was my family's second-annual cabin trip. The trip began in 2009 when my aunt and uncle built a cabin on their lake front property. This year I was in charge of putting the meals together and deciding the fate of everyone's diet for the week (muah ha ha ha!). To keep the cost down and get everyone involved in cooking, I decided to assign people to groups and those groups to particular meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner). It was then the duty of each group to decide what they would prepare for their assigned meal. Besides deciding what they would make, the group was also in charge of supplying the ingredients they would need to make their particular meal for the entire family. For snacks, each group was also assigned to bring an additional item or two such as a few bags of chips, a bowl of fresh veggies, bread, etc.

Being that I absolutely love bread and avoid buying the stuff if at all possible, I assigned myself the duty of supplying the family with bread for the weekend. This was a major task since I am used to only making enough bread for two people, not 10-plus. Since everyone has different preferences and this because this bread would be used for breakfast and lunch, I used two different recipes. The night before leaving for the cabin, I rolled up my sleeves and began baking. It was 5:00 pm.

My first recipe is a Golden Cheese Yeast Bread. Unfortunately the only cheese I had on hand was mild cheddar so the cheese taste was not as powerful in the finished deli buns as I had hoped, but still quite moist and tasty. I suggest sprinkling some shredded cheese on top of the loaves a little over halfway through the baking process too for added flavor and to boost the bread's appearance.

getting ready
for the first rise!
Golden Cheese Yeast Bread Recipe
(makes about 2 loaves)
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 (.25 oz) packages active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups warm milk
  • 1 egg
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups flour, cheese, sugar, yeast and salt.
  2. Add milk and egg; beat on low speed until smooth.
  3. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 6-8 minutes)
  4. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in warm place until doubled (about 1 hour).
  5. Punch dough down. Divide in half and shape into two loaves. Place in two greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pans... OR... using a bread knife, cut small handfulls off, folding bottom in, to create a small bun shape. Place on greased cookie sheet.
  6. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled (about 45 minutes)
  7. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Remove from pans to cool on wire racks.
I wanted my second bread to be a little sweeter and more indulgent. I settled on making Simple Whole Wheat Bread. Since I had it lying around, I decided to use multi-grain flour for 1/4 of the recipe's flour. Rising the bread would have been a bit tricky since the evening was a little cooler than I had expected. Thanks to a little trick, I was able to rise the bread just fine while keeping it extra moist...

Here's my trick: fill a pot with water and put it on the stove top until the water is at a rolling boil (the hotter the water, the better). Next arrange the wire racks in your oven so that you can fit your pot of water on the bottom rack while your pans of bread will still be able to fit on the top rack. (note: you will not be turning on the oven so it does not matter how close to the heating elements you get). Take a kitchen hand cloth or something similar that is large enough to completely cover the bread, I use one cloth per pan. Dampen the cloth under the sink faucet and ring it out; use this to cover your bread... this also keeps your bread extra moist. Finally, after placing your covered bread pans on the top oven rack, slide the boiling pot of water onto the bottom rack beneath the bread. Close the oven immediately and let the bread rise. By having the pot of boiling water in the oven with your bread, you are creating a moist and warm environment for the yeast to grow.

mmm, honey!
Simple Whole Wheat Bread Recipe
(makes about 3 loaves)
  • 3 cups warm water (110 degrees F - or warm but not hot when touched to the underside of your wrist)
  • 2 (.25 oz) packages of active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup honey (I used half a cup of honey though :)
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 3-1/2 cups whole wheat flour (have fun and experiment! Try some multi-grain flour here)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter melted
  1. In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.
  2. Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour.
  3. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky - just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough.
  4. Cover with a (damp) dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.
  5. Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, OR create buns by folding small hand fulls of dough inside itself until you have a nice round bun shape. Place on greased cookie sheet.
  6. Allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 - 30 minutes; do not over bake!
  8. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 T melted butter when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Store in airtight container.

All packed up and ready for the cabin at 11 pm! I was exhausted but ready for a relaxing week on the lake!
(Tip: save bags from your boughten bread... they come in handy and serve as a good way to reuse some plastic rather than starting a brand new plastic bag)

Little Chocolate Reminders

After a recent visit to my college town and a night with one of my best friends, I have regained sight of my goals and fantasies. Having strayed so far from the path of where I was going with this blog and now returning to that path, I am able to reflect on why it is that I love baking so much. Last night I found myself exhausted, aching from a cold that has turned into a lung infection, and lost somewhere between a cloud of flour and the frenzy of bubbling chocolate and butter. Pulling the first batch of Chocolate Crackletops from the 350 degree F oven, I felt renewed with energy. Although this energy may have been resulting from the dense sugar-laden chocolate batter I had been licking off the blender, I was nonetheless excited and anxious to again share my passion of baking with others. So now, if simply baking a Chocolate Crackletop can renew my motivation, then imagine what eating one can do for others. With that, I wish to share a recipe with you...

Chocolate Crackletops
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cups butter
  • 4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate (chopped)
  • 4 eggs (beaten)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups M+M's (mini) or chocolate chunks... play around with this part, but I recommend the M+M's for your first try.
  • additional sugar for coating
  1. Combine flour and baking powder in large mixing bowl, set aside.
  2. In large saucepan over low heat, combine 2 cups sugar, butter, and baking chocolate. Stir until melted and remove from heat. (Remember to take your time when melting chocolate)
  3. Gradually stir in beaten eggs and vanilla.
  4. Stir saucepan mixture into flour mixture until well blended.
  5. Chill for 1 hour.
  6. Stir in M+M's, chill for one more hour.
  7. Roll into 1 inch balls, roll in bowl of sugar.
  8. Bake 2 inches apart on well greased and floured pan.
  9. DO NOT OVER BAKE, these will come out very soft so be careful when removing from pan.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes.
  11. Pour yourself a cup of Java, take a deep breath and savor your creation.
Chocolate Crackletops (using chocolate chunks)