Adventures in homemade, budget aware cooking.

Breads

Cranberry Walnut Muffins

Hello!  I’m sorry I’m so bad at blogging these days.

I want you to know how much I love fall!  I fell like I can’t properly bake anything in the summer because it’s just too hot, but as soon as the leaves change colour and the temperature drops, I can’t help BUT be in my kitchen.  My family came down from Canada and we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving dinner with them.  We also went down to Arches National Park in Moab.  It wasn’t fall there…

Anyways, I was so excited when they all left and I realized I had leftover cranberries… AND a brand new recipe to try out.  These Cranberry Walnut Muffins are for grow-up tastes because the cranberries can be a bit sour, but I thought they were wonderful.

I’m not usually a huge fan of nuts, but they were good here.  I have to admit that when I was picking up the walnuts at the store, I looked at them and then at the much more expensive pecans and couldn’t tell the difference between the two.  I mean, I’ve always known that there were nuts called walnuts and other nuts called pecans… but really… what’s the difference?  I think I’ll stick with the cheap ones!  That being said, I’m sure you could substitute pecans in this recipe if you, unlike me, care and know the difference between the two.

Cranberry Walnut Muffins (adapted from “The Family Baker”)

  • 1 large egg at room temp.
  • 1 cup orange or peach yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp orange extract (optional)
  • 2 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the over to 400F.  Grease muffin cups (or use the paper muffin cups).

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, yogurt, sugar, butter, orange extract and zest.  Sift in the dry ingredients.  Stir JUST to blend.  Gradually stir in the cranberries and nuts.

3. Divide the batter among twelve muffin cups.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.  Bake for 20-22 min.  Cool in the pans for 15 min. then finish cooling on a wire rack.

* Wheat Cranberry Walnut Muffins: Substitute  1 cup of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour.

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Dim Sum Honey Buns

I promise, I’m almost done with my Chinese cravings… (Tonight we’re having Mexican – see?)  These dessert “Honey Buns” are so good and it took me forever to work out the recipe, so enjoy it!  The husband said about these soft, sweet filled buns “You should make these for my family so they see the delicious things you make for me!”  The recipe makes 24 buns (which is a ton!) but you can freeze them for 3 months.

Baked Bao Dough (traditionally, these are steamed, but I don’t have a steamer.  When I get one, you will get the steamed dough recipe!)   adapted from “Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea”

  • 3 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 sugar
  • 1/4 shortening
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/4 cup lukewarm water, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk

Combine 2 cups of flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl.  Cut in the shortening (with a pastry knife or two knives).  In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup lukewarm water and yeast.  Leave 5 min.  Put milk and 1/3 cup water in a saucepan.  Heat to 110F (warm).  Remove from heat.  Stir in the yeast.  Add liquid mixture to the flour mixture.  Mix.  Add the remaining flour.  Turn dough onto a floured surface.  Knead 5-8 min.  Put in a greased bowl.  Turn to grease the top.  Cover.  Let rise 2 hours.

Make the filling.

Honey Bun Custard Filling (there is no honey involved here…)

  • 2 1/2 oz butter (6 tbsp)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp yellow food colouring
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt the butter.  In a medium bowl, Beat the eggs and the sugar until the sugar dissolves.  Stir in the butter.  Stir in the cornstarch.  Add the milk, vanilla and food colouring.  Heat in a saucepan until gently boiling.  Whisk constantly until thickened.  Remove from heat.  If the custard is lumpy, add more milk and stir well.  Cool to room temperature.

Make the Rolls.

Oil 2 baking sheets.  Punch down the dough.  On a floured surface, pat it into a 8 x 12″ rectangle.  Cut it into 24 squares.  Using one square at a time, flatten the dough into a 2 1/2″ circle.  Fill by placing a heaping tsp of the filling in the center of the dough.  Gather the edges together and pinch shut.  Place pinched-side-down on a baking sheet.  Let the buns rise another 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350F.  Brush the rolls with a beaten egg.  Cook for 20-25 minutes.  Serve warm.


Kaiser Buns

When the husband and I first got married, back when we were both in school and working, back when popcorn was often served for dinner, he would suggest hamburgers.  I like hamburgers.  I don’t have any problems with hamburgers for dinner – except that we didn’t have any buns.  To my husband, that wasn’t an obstacle at all, after all, we had bread.  I stuck my nose up at the idea of eating a hamburger on bread and refused to go forth.  He didn’t know it then, but he was lucky to get me to eat a hamburger on those cheap, flat, store-bought buns that show up at all barbecues ever.  I hate it when the bun (or bread for that matter) disintegrates under your fingertips and you are left with a plate of soggy dough, dripping condiments and a lonely patty.

This week, I found the perfect Kaiser Bun recipe – now we can have hamburgers all the time!  It’s easy too!

Kaiser Buns (adapted from Tasteofhome.com)

Makes: 8 Rolls

  • 1 pkg dry active yeast (buy yeast in bulk, it is a 100% cheaper.  1 pkg is 2 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 cup warm water, divided
  • 2 tbsp sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3-3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tsp cold water
  • corn meal

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 warm water.  Add 1/2 tbsp sugar.  Let sit for 5 min.  Add the oil, salt, remaining water, and sugar to the bowl.  Add two cups flour.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in remaining flour to form a soft dough.  Turn unto a floured surface.  Knead 6-8 min, until smooth.  Place in a clean, greased bowl.  Turn the dough once to grease both sides.  Cover.  Let sit in a warm place to rise for an hour.  Punch dough down.  Turn unto a floured surface.  Divide dough into 8 portions.  Shape into balls.  Place 2″ apart on a greased baking sheet.  Cover and let rise again for 30 min.  Preheat the oven to 400F.  Beat the egg white and cold water.  Brush the egg mixture on top of the buns.  Sprinkle with corn meal.  Using scissors, cut a 1/4″ deep cross in the top of each bun.  Bake for 15-12 min.  Cool on wire racks.


Chocolate Zucchini Loaf

When I was little, to my mum’s chagrin, my culinary tastes weren’t quite as developed as they are now.  My hatred extended from onions and mushrooms (I haven’t quite got over my mushroom aversion yet) to milk, and I think even sporadically through my childhood, ice cream.   I was difficult to feed.  Needless to say zucchini was a long-time resident on my personal food blacklist.

While the delicate and subtle flavour that zucchini’s emit rarely penetrated my palette, I think I rather hated the idea of the zucchini: a long, green vegetable an oddly spongy texture. Yuck.

Imagine my surprise when Mum produced a delicious smelling, moist chocolaty loaf that tasted just like chocolate cake but had a foundation of nothing other than the formidable legume?  My surprise was great indeed.  I’m sure I tried to hate the loaf solely on principle, but chocolate has a way of over-powering most principles (at least for me anyways).

Chocolate Zucchini Loaf:

  • 1 cup chopped zucchini (mine was pretty mushy…)
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce (or you can use oil if you want to)
  • 2 small eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 cups sugar (use less if you use sweetened apple sauce)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp backing powder

In a blender, blend zucchini, apple sauce, eggs and vanilla.  In a medium sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Pour the zucchini mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula (if you use apple sauce instead of the traditional oil, the less you have to stir it to combine the batter, the better).  Pour batter into a greased loaf pan (9×5) and bake at 325F for 50 to 60 minutes.  Cool on a rack.