Thursday, October 20, 2011

Occupy Your Oven: A Story Of The People's Cinnamon Bread And Kitchen Activism

I love being a stay at home mama! My son is almost two years old, and I'm in that phase of life where my daily schedule still revolves around Gavin's sleep. When he naps, we're home. A couple hours before bedtime, we're home.

So, when the Occupy Wall Street movement was born I was feeling somewhat limited. In my college days, I would have frequented Zuccotti Park when I wasn't in class. Activism with a toddler in tow-- a little more subtle in my case. I can't see taping a sign on my son; I'd rather wait until Gavin is old enough to decide to come with me (and bring his own sign) or stay home.

When you find a cause, there are ways to get involved. Even if you're not at the heart of it all, you can do anything from stuff envelopes, to make phone calls, to knit warm clothing, to deliver supplies.

In this case, I decided to add raisins to my Cinnamon Bread recipe and deliver four freshly baked loaves to the folks camped out in downtown NYC. To make your own Cinnamon Raisin Bread simply soak 1 cup raisins in water after you feed your starter, then drain, pat dry, and add to bread dough when mixing. If your dough is too wet as a result, add more flour until you reach your desired dough consistency. Go forth and feed the people who need feeding! I've come to call myself a kitchen activist. When I see a need, I cook, I bake, and I deliver. You can do the same! Get out there and feed your movement!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Glazed Lemon Cookies

My brother-in-law is getting married next weekend and having a cookie reception after the ceremony. Family from across the country are bringing dozens of cookies to share. Tasty variety will abound! I baked up a batch of Glazed Lemon Cookies (recipe from Real Simple magazine). The cookie itself has a taste similar to a sugar cookie with a satisfying snap, and the lemon glaze adds a refreshing tang to the mix.

- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 cups all purpose flour (The cookie dough should be about the consistency of play-dough, add a little flour at a time until it's at this consistency when you press a couple pieces together.)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice, plus more if necessary
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest

How To Bake Them
1) With an electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolks, vanilla, and salt and beat to combine. Gradually add the flour, mixing until just incorporated.
2) Divide the dough in half and shape into 1 1/4-inch-diameter logs. Wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
3) Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the logs into 3/8-inch-thick pieces and space them 1 1/2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
4) Bake until lightly golden, 16 to 20 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.
5) In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, lemon juice, and zest until it forms a thick but pourable glaze (add more lemon juice if necessary). Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze and let set, about 15 minutes.

Note: Instead of refrigerating the dough, you can freeze the logs from Step 2 for up to two months. To bake, follow the recipe instructions, cutting and baking the dough from frozen, and use the upper end of the time range.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Nana's Refrigerator Rolls Version 2.0

I have fond memories of eating dinner rolls (probably too many for my own good) around the table at Nana's home. The original recipe used only white flour and called for margarine, but I've altered it to include whole grains and butter. That doesn't make this side a health food, but it adds nutritional value and additional depth to the flavor. Happy baking!

- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 TBSP yeast
- 1 TBSP salt
- 1 1/2 cups wheat flour
- 4 1/2 cups white flour
- 1/2 cup flax seed meal
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 2 cups water
- 1 egg

How To Make Them
  • You'll need to make the dough for these at least 4 1/2 hours before serving, but it can keep in the refrigerator for about 3 days.
  • You can make this dough by hand, but I prefer to use a stand mixer with a dough hook so the instructions are written with that in mind.
1) Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl on a stand mixer.
2) On your stove, heat the water in a saucepan and melt the butter in the water.
3) Whip the egg and mix into the flour.
4) Add the warm liquid (not too hot, or you'll kill the yeast to the bowl and scramble your egg) and set your mixer on low speed until you have a smooth and elastic dough.
5) Move dough to an oiled bowl, lightly brush the top of the dough with oil, cover and let rise until doubled. The time this takes is dependent on the temperature and draftiness of your home, but it typically takes me about 1 1/2 hours.
6) Punch dough down. Now, you can shape the dough into rolls or cover tightly and put in the 'fridge.
7) If you've chosen the latter, remove the dough about 2 1/2 - 3 hours before serving. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
8) Form dough into any desired shape and drop into greased muffin pans. I like rolling three little balls and pressing them together like my Nana did; after baking they pull apart wonderfully for easy dipping. Cover and let raise until doubled.
9) Bake your rolls 15-20 minutes until golden.
10) Melt a little additional butter to brush on top of the baked rolls before serving if desired.