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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Two Rings Don't Make a Right!

Tea Ring – Bread & Rolls, Pg. 74 – Kate L. Corkum (Mrs. W. A.)

This recipe looks delicious, and for all intents and purposes it should be. Essentially it is cinnamon rolls formed and baked into a ring rather than sliced into separate rolls. It makes for a lovely presentation…perhaps the perfect coffee cake to wow the ladies at an afternoon auxiliary meeting.

The unfortunate thing about this particular recipe is that it is definitely lacking some instruction. This did not make our first foray into yeast bread making a very successful one. If you’ve never made a yeast bread before, we don’t recommend starting with this one. The dough itself turned out to be very dense and difficult to kneed or work with. Although it did rise slightly, not as much as you would expect yeast bread to do so.

Ultimately this recipe did produce a fine looking tea ring. But in the end, the dough fell flat, resulting in a tough, dense, chewy texture, rather than a soft, light and moist one as it should likely be.

In an attempt to turn things around we tried making a tea ring a second time with assistance of Peter’s Mom and her tried and true yeast bun recipe. This yeast dough did all the things it was supposed to do. It was light and fluffy, doubled in size, etc. However, because we didn’t end up dividing the dough to make two rings – we ended up with a monster size tea ring. Also, because the dough expanded so much, much of the cinnamon sugar filling ended up running out of the ring.

After two attempts – we’ve tired of tea rings a bit. So…if you want to give this a try – here are a couple recommendations based on our trials. Use a good yeast bun recipe, we’ve included Peter’s Mom’s below. Be sure to divide your dough to make two rings so you don’t end up with a tea ring on steroids. Also - rather then make cuts around the outer side of the ring, we thought it might work better to make the cuts along the top – so that the sugar cinnamon filling doesn’t run out so much – incidentally, the Dutch Oven Recipe doesn’t suggest making any decorative cuts in the dough – so not sure if this was just left out unintentionally or if they intended it not to have any. We don’t imagine it would look very attractive without the cuts. Anywho – if you give it a try – best of luck, and let us know how you make out!

Diane’s Yeast Bun Recipe:

1 ½ Cups Warm Water
¼ Cup Oil
½ Tsp Salt
¼ Cup Sugar
¼ Cup 1 Egg (Beaten)

Combine above ingredients in mixer. Add two cups of flour and 1 tbsp of yeast to the above mixture. Beat for two minutes. Gradually add 2-3 cups more flour until combined. Turn dough onto floured surface. Knead and form into ball until smooth. Place in greased bowl (covered) to rise – 15 minutes. Punch down, Kneed and repeat last step. Will be a very soft dough.

Punch down and divide dough to make rings. Roll the dough into a rectangular form (sort of like a jelly roll). Brush the dough with melted butter or spread with soft butter and fill with cinnamon and brown sugar. (about 1 ½ Cups brown sugar and 1 tsp Cinnamon). You could also go crazy and add nuts and/or raisins – just don’t expect us to eat it! Roll into one long roll and join ends to form a ring (seam should be face down). Place on lined baking sheet. Make cuts in dough as desired. Cover and let rise for 1 hour. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes on middle rack of oven. Once cooled drizzle with glaze (¾ Cups Icing Sugar, 1 Tbsp Milk, 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract).

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Tale of Two Loaves

Banana All-Bran Nut Bread – Breads & Rolls, Pg. 67 – Hazel Allen (Mrs. Robert)

Ahhh…Banana Bread…nothing says Fall like the smell of quick breads wafting from the oven. Three ripe bananas under siege by an army of fruit flies were the inspiration to try this next test recipe. For some, bananas, spotted and black are destined for the compost bin, for others – they are inspiration for a delicious quick bread!

The Dutch Oven’s Banana All-Bran Nut Bread is a nice enough recipe – all be it a little on the healthy side. We only made a couple of modification to this recipe. The first was the replacement of nuts with chocolate chips. We’re not a fan of nuts in baked goods – this may seem strange to some of you, but we know there are others out there – We’re here! We don’t like nuts in baked goods! Get used to it! Besides, 85% of bakers agree that the addition of chocolate makes everything better (this statistic is totally made up). Secondly we replaced the cup of all-bran with unprocessed bran – we figured this would blend better then the cereal bran. Overall this recipe is short on all the things that make banana bread so delicious – shortening, sugar, eggs, etc. Let’s not forget, this was the 50’s, and ingredients were not as accessible as they are today. As a result some recipes are reserved in their ingredients and often take advantage of ingredients on hand such as all-bran to reduce the amount of flour required. This recipe was good, and if you’re looking for a healthy banana bread recipe, this would be a great one to try.

Unfortunately this recipe left Peter yearning for the Banana bread of his youth. For a light fluffy bread, rich with delicious ingredients and loaded with sugar – Peter’s Mom’s recipe can’t be beat!

½ Cup Shortening
1 Cup White Sugar
2 Eggs (lightly beaten)
3 Medium Bananas (mashed)
2 Cups Flour
4 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Salt
1 Cup Chocolate Chips (optional)

Cream sugar and shortening, add eggs (whisk until smooth), add mashed bananas. Combine dry ingredient and gently mix with your wet ingredients until combined. Place mixture in 9x5 loaf pan (greased and floured). Bake 45-60 minutes at 325°F. Nuts could be added as well if you're into that sort of thing...