ZUCHINI BREAD MOM’S RECIPE or (Banana Nut Bread)

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This recipe won a nationwide cooking contest.  My mother, Mae Wooton, put this recipe together and it is the best zucchini bread out there.  You can also make banana bread with this recipe; just substitute 3 ripe bananas for the zucchini.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients

3 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups all purpose flour

2 cups zucchini, shredded (to make this a banana nut bread replace zucchini with 3 ripe bananas)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup walnuts

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

Glaze

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Enough milk for consistency you want

1 tsp vanilla

Directions

Mix first 4 ingredients until blended.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well blended.  Grease and flour 6 mini loaf pans or one large loaf pan.  Bake until knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool, then drizzle glaze on top.

Easter Greek Tsoureki

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This traditional Greek Easter bread is terrific for Easter brunch, slathered with butter; and any leftovers make the world’s most outrageous French toast! A nice thing about this recipe is that the work is broken up into two sections. The first day you make and knead the dough in the evening, then pop it into the fridge for a long, slow rise. On the morning of the second day you shape the dough, then let it rise again and bake it. The traditional flavoring for the bread is a spice called “mahlep.” In a pinch you can substitute vanilla, but the mahlep is worth finding. It adds a distinctive cherry/almond, sweet-nutty flavor that’s unlike anything you’ve tried before.

Starter

1 1/2 cups  Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

1 cup lukewarm water

4 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

Dough

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons Baker’s Special Dry Milk

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground mahlep, or the same amount of vanilla extract

3 large eggs — 2 for the dough, 1 to brush over the loaf before baking

Optional Decoration

5 hard-boiled eggs, dyed red

1 tablespoon canola oil, for brushing the hard-boiled eggs

Directions

To make the starter: Mix the starter ingredients in a large bowl. Cover the bowl and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour. The mixture will initially be the consistency of thick pancake batter; after an hour it should be very bubbly, airy, and doubled in size.

While the starter rests, ready the dough. Melt the butter over low heat and set it aside to cool. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour with the sugar, dry milk, salt, and mahlep.

Mix 2 of the eggs into the risen starter. Stir in the cooled melted butter.

If you’re substituting vanilla extract for mahlep, stir it in. Add the flour/sugar mixture and stir until everything is incorporated.

Add the remaining 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups flour 1 cup at a time, as needed to make dough that’s stiff enough to form a ball but is also soft and slightly sticky.

Knead the dough — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until it springs back when pressed gently with a floured finger. If kneading by hand, try to use only the lightest dusting of flour on the counter and on your hands. The more gently you knead, the less sticky the dough will seem. When done, place the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours, or overnight.

The next morning, remove the dough from the fridge and knead it gently a few times, to deflate it.

Liberally butter a 9″ round cake pan, or line a sheet pan with parchment. Divide the dough into three pieces, and set them aside, covered with lightly greased plastic wrap.

If you’re using the dyed eggs, rub each one with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil and set them aside. Press the large piece of dough evenly into the prepared pan.

Make three16″ strands with the dough; pinch the ends together at one end. Braid for 4″ to 5″; tuck an egg into the braid. Continue to braid, placing another egg into the braid at 2″ intervals.

Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let the loaf rise at room temperature for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the top is just barely level with the top edge of the pan. During the last 45 minutes of the rise, preheat your oven to 350°F.

To bake the bread: Lightly beat the remaining egg. Brush it over the loaf. (Alternatively, omit the egg wash if you’d prefer to brush the loaf with honey when it comes out of the oven.) Press the last hard-boiled egg firmly into the center of the risen loaf.

Bake the bread for 20 minutes. Open the oven door, reach in, and carefully press each egg farther down into the bread.

Continue to bake the bread for an additional 40 to 50 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 190°F. Tent the bread with aluminum foil for the last 30 minutes, to prevent over-browning.

Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack. If desired, heat 1/4 cup honey with 1 tablespoon water until warm, and brush over the loaf. Let the bread cool completely before serving.

Easter Croissants

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Ingredients

Dough

2 large eggs plus enough warm water to make 2 cups of liquid

1/4 cup sugar

5 1/2 to 6 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast

1/2 cup nonfat dry milk (optional)

1 scant tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional; for sweet pastry)

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Butter

1 7/8 cups unsalted butter, cool to the touch

3/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)

1/2 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Directions

Make a sponge by cracking the eggs into a 2-cup liquid measure and adding enough warm water to equal 2 cups. Beat until blended, and pour into a large mixing bowl. You can also put the sponge into the bucket of your bread machine, set on the dough cycle. Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 3 cups of the flour, and the yeast. Mix until well blended. Cover and set aside.

While the yeast begins its work, set up the butter inlay. Mix the butter and 1/2 cup flour just until the mixture is smooth and well blended (no hard lumps). You can do this with a mixer, a food processor, or with a spoon, by hand. Be careful not to beat the mixture at high speed; you don’t want to incorporate any air. Lightly flour a piece of plastic wrap, place the butter mixture on it, and use a dough scraper to pat it into an 8-inch square. Wrap the butter and put it in the refrigerator on a flat surface for at least 30 minutes.

Stir the vanilla, if using, and the melted butter into the sponge. Whisk together the remaining 2 1/2 cups of the remaining flour, the rest of the sugar, the dry milk, and the salt. Add to the sponge and mix until you have a soft dough, either by hand, in your mixer, or using the dough cycle of your bread machine. Check the dough after kneading for 4 to 5 minutes, adding more of the measured flour if the dough is still sticky.

Once the dough is smooth and elastic, pat it into a square shape, wrap it loosely and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.

Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and put it on a lightly floured surface. Gently roll it into a square about 12 inches across. Unwrap the butter slab and place it in the center of the dough at a 45° angle, so it looks like a diamond in the square.

Fold the flaps of the dough over the edges of the butter until they meet in the middle. Pinch and seal the edges of the dough together; moisten your fingers with a little water, if necessary.

Dust the top with flour, then turn the dough over and tap it gently with the rolling pin into a rectangular shape. Pick up the dough to make sure it isn’t sticking underneath, dusting under with more flour if necessary, then roll from the center out until you have a rectangle 20 inches long by 10 inches wide.

When you’ve reached the proper size, take a dry brush and lightly sweep off any excess flour, then fold the bottom third of the dough up to the center, and the top third over that (like a business letter). Line the edges up on top of each other and even up the corners so they’re directly on top of each other. Take a dab of water if you need to, to tack the corners together. You’ve now made your first “turn.”

Turn the dough package 90° to the right, so it looks like a book ready to be opened. If the dough is still cool to the touch and relaxed, do another rolling and turning the same way. Make a note of how many folds you’ve completed and the time, and wrap the dough. Return it to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Repeat the above folding and turning process one more time, for a total of four turns. Once completed, wrap the dough well and refrigerate it for at least an hour, and preferably overnight before using.

Using half the dough at a time, roll it to a 12″ x 18″ rectangle. Trim the edges of the dough on every edge using a ruler and pizza wheel. This cuts off the folded edges that would inhibit the “puff.” Cut the dough in thirds lengthwise and in half through the middle. This will give you six 4″ x 9″ pieces. Cut each piece in half diagonally and arrange them so the points of the triangles are facing away from you. It’s okay to stretch them out gently to elongate them when you do this. Cut a 1/2″ notch in the short edge of the triangle.

If you want to, this is the time to place a teaspoon of filling at the base of the triangle. Roll up the dough, starting with the notched edge and working toward the point. Make sure the point is tucked under the bottom of the croissant. If you have to stretch the dough a little to make that happen, it’s okay. You can also use a drop of water on the tip to help it stay in place. Form the crescent by bending the ends toward the center where the tip is tucked underneath. Place the croissants on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and chill for 30 minutes. You could also freeze the unbaked pastries at this point.

Take the croissants out of the refrigerator, and preheat the oven to 425°F. While the oven is heating, brush the tops of the croissants with an egg well-beaten with 1 tablespoon of water.

When the oven is hot, bake the croissants for 15 minutes then reduce the oven’s temperature to 350°F and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. The croissants should be a deep golden brown, even where the dough overlaps; you don’t want any raw dough in the center. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

Easter Babka Chocolate Swirl Bread

Babka Chocolate Swirl Bread 

Babka is traditional Eastern European Easter bread. This version is a dessert bread, and it’s great with coffee.

Dough

1 cup water

1/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg yolk (reserve the white for brushing on top)

2 tablespoons sugar

3 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

Filling

2/3 cup sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa

1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

1 tablespoon Instant ClearJel (optional; it keeps filling from overflowing during baking)
Topping

2 tablespoons melted butter

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Directions

Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Program the machine for dough or manual, and press Start. Check the dough’s consistency about 7 minutes after the kneading cycle begins, adding additional water or flour to form a soft, smooth ball of dough. While the dough is rising, combine all the filling ingredients in a small bowl, and then set them aside.

Shaping: Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and roll it into a 10 x 14-inch rectangle. Brush it lightly with melted butter, and sprinkle the filling over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border along the edges. Starting at a short end, roll the dough up jelly-roll style. Pinch the ends closed, and tuck them under. Place the loaf, seam-side down, in a lightly greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Brush the top of the dough with the reserved egg white. Combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the loaf in the pan. Cover with greased plastic wrap (or a proof cover). Let it rise for about 45 minutes; it won’t double in size, but should just barely crown over the rim of the pan.

Baking: Bake the loaf in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until its sides have pulled away slightly from the pan. Remove the loaf from the oven and, after about 5 minutes, remove it from the pan. Transfer it to a rack to cool completely.

Easter Bread Wreath

Easter Bread Wreath

 

Starter

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 cup cool water

1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

Dough

2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons instant yeast

1/3 cup granulated sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract + 1/4 teaspoon orange oil

1/4 teaspoon ground anise seed, optional

Grated peel of 1 large orange

Glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 to 3 tablespoons orange juice or milk

Sprinkles or nonpareils, for decorating

Directions

To make the bread: Mix together the starter ingredients, cover the bowl, and let rest at room temperature overnight, or for up to 15 hours.

Next day, combine the bubbly starter with all the remaining dough ingredients. Mix and knead, using a mixer or bread machine, until the dough is elastic and satiny.

Grease a large bowl and let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours, until it’s noticeably puffy.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface, divide it into three pieces, and shape each piece into an 18″-long rope. Braid the ropes together, and connect the two ends to form a wreath.

Cover the wreath and allow it to rise until puffy, about 1 to 2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Bake the wreath for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 20 minutes, tenting it for the final 10 minutes of baking. The finished loaf will be golden brown, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register at least 190°F.

Remove the wreath from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool.

To make the glaze: Stir together the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the milk or orange juice. Add more liquid 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until the glaze is thin and pourable.

Drizzle the glaze onto the cooled braid then decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

Easter Hot Cross Buns

Easter Hot Cross Rolls

 

Ingredients 

Buns

1/4 cup apple juice or rum

1/2 cup mixed dried fruit

1/2 cup raisins or dried currants

1 1/4 cups milk, room temperature

3 large eggs, 1 separated

6 tablespoons butter, room temperature

2 teaspoons instant yeast

1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

4 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Topping

1 large egg white

1 tablespoon milk

Icing

1 cup + 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

4 teaspoons milk, or enough to make a thick icing

 

Directions

Lightly grease a 10″ square pan or 9″ x 13″ pan.

Mix the rum or apple juice with the dried fruit and raisins, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave briefly, just till the fruit and liquid are very warm, and the plastic starts to “shrink wrap” itself over the top of the bowl. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Note: If you worry about using plastic wrap in your microwave, simply cover the bowl with a glass lid.

When the fruit is cool, mix together all of the dough ingredients except the fruit, and knead, using an electric mixer or bread machine, till the dough is soft and elastic. Mix in the fruit and any liquid not absorbed.

Let the dough rise for 1 hour, covered. It should become puffy, though may not double in bulk.

Divide the dough into billiard ball-sized pieces, about 3 3/4 ounces each. A heaped muffin scoop (about 1/3 cup) makes about the right portion. You’ll make 12 to 14 buns. Use your greased hands to round them into balls. Arrange them in the prepared pan.

Cover the pan, and let the buns rise for 1 hour, or until they’ve puffed up and are touching one another. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Whisk together the reserved egg white and milk, and brush it over the buns.

Bake the buns for 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove from the oven, and transfer to a rack to cool.

Mix together the icing ingredients, and when the buns are completely cool, pipe it in a cross shape atop each bun.

EASTER POTATO ROLLS

EASTER POTATO ROLLS

Ingredients

2 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

6 tablespoons butter

1 cup unseasoned mashed potatoes, lightly packed

2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

3/4 cup water (potato water, if possible)

4 1/4 cups unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Directions

In a medium-sized mixing bowl and combine all of the ingredients, and mix until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased or floured surface, and knead itfor 6 to 8 minutes, or until it’s smooth and shiny. Or knead it in a mixer, using the dough hook. Placethe dough in a lightly greased bowl or rising bucket, turn to coat, cover the container with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise till it’s doubled in bulk, about 90 minutes.

To make rolls, divide the dough into 16 equal pieces.  Place the 16 dough balls onto a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet leaving about 2 inches between them. Or place the 15 dough balls into a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch pan, spacing them evenly in five rolls of three balls each. Cover the pan(s) with a proof cover or lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the rolls to rise for about 2 hours, till they’re quite puffy; the rolls in the 9 x 13-inch pan should be touching (or almost touching) one another.

Bake the rolls in a preheated 350°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, till they’re golden brown. Remove them from the oven, carefully turn them out of the pan — the pull-apart rolls will come out all in one piece — and brush them with melted butter, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Popovers

Popovers

Ingredients

2 eggs

1 cup flour

1 cup milk

½ tsp salt

Directions

Heat the oven to 450*.

Grease 6 6oz custard cups.

Beat eggs slightly; beat in flour, milk, and salt.

Beat just until smooth, do not overbeat.

Fill popover cups 1/2 full.

Bake 20 minutes.

Reduce oven temp to 350*.

Bake 20 minutes longer.

Remove from cups.

Serve warm

Spiral Rolls for Two

Spiral Rolls for 2

 

Ingredients

3/4 cup milk, room temperature

1 tsp active dry yeast

1 Tbsp soft butter or shortening

1/2 Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups bread flour 

Directions

In medium bowl, mix milk and yeast. Add butter, sugar, and salt. Stir. Add 1 cup of bread flour and mix well. Add in enough remaining bread flour to make a dough that follows the spoon around the bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed until the dough is firm and smooth to the touch. Place dough in medium greased bowl. Turn dough over in bowl so that the top is also lightly greased. Cover with clean cloth and let rise in warm, draft-free place for 1 hour.

Punch down. Turn dough out onto lightly floured board and knead out bubbles for 5 minutes. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Set 2 pieces aside. Roll out the remaining 2 pieces of dough between your hands, making 2 ropes, about 10-inches long. Set dough ropes side-by-side on floured board or table and pinch the top ends together. Twist dough ropes around each other and pinch bottom ends together. Set twisted roll on greased baking sheet and repeat steps for the remaining 2 pieces of dough. Cover rolls with kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Bake rolls at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until roll tops are golden brown and the rolls sound hollow when the tops are tapped. Remove rolls from baking sheet and let cool on rack.

Oat Bran Sandwich Bread

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Ingredients

1/4 cup water, room temperature

2-1/4 tsp or 1 pkg (1/4 oz) active dry yeast

3/4 cup milk, room temperature

1/4 cup honey

2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp coconut oil

1/2 cup wheat bran

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup rolled oats

2 cups bread or all-purpose flour

Cornmeal, optional

Directions

In a large bowl, add water and yeast. Stir until the yeast is dissolved and then let stand for about 2 minutes. Next, add the milk, honey, salt, and coconut oil. Stir until the honey and salt is dissolved. The salt does not kill the yeast. It “retards” or slows down the growth of yeast and brings out the flavor in the bread. Add wheat bran, whole wheat flour, rolled oats, and mix. Mix in two cups of bread or all-purpose flour. Add in more white flour until the dough becomes too difficult to mix with a spoon. Turn it out onto a floured surface and begin kneading the dough. If the dough still feels sticky, sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of flour onto the dough and knead it in. Continue to add flour, as needed, until the dough is smooth and firm. Grease a large bowl with butter or shortening. Put the dough into the bowl and then flip the dough over so that the dough top is also lightly greased. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and set to rise in a warm, draft free area for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

After the dough is finished with its first rise, punch down the dough inside the bowl and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough until all the bubbles are out, about 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a single loaf. Grease a 9×5 bread pan with butter or shortening. Lightly coat the inside of the pan with cornmeal. This is to help the bread release from the pan after being baked. If you don’t have cornmeal on hand, simply grease the pan and skip the cornmeal. Place the shaped loaf into the pan, cover with the clean kitchen cloth, and let rise a second time in a warm, draft free area for 45 minutes or until doubled. Bake the loaf at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when you tap on the top. Remove from oven and turn out the loaf onto a rack. Allow it to cool completely before storing or freezing.

You can easily freeze bread for sandwiches. First allow the bread to cool completely. Slice the loaf as you would for sandwiches. Place all the slices in the bag, close it, and set it in the freezer. To use, take out the slices you need to make sandwiches and allow them to thaw on the kitchen counter or lightly toast the slices.