Friday, July 31, 2015

Blog Books and Bread

I find I am putting more and more pictures on my blog recently, and now a recipe,  and here is the reason.

I found a site that easily turns each year of the blog into a book.  I love scrapbooking and have made many a scrapbook. I have multiple fancy scissors, paper punches, stickers, stamps and on and on.  But life's events of one type and another have not left time for such pursuits in a very long while.

This is just too easy,  put in the dates, and there are the pictures, dated and in order, for my littles to peruse when they visit, in a lovely hard bound book.

With that in mind, I've decided to do a tutorial, of sorts, on bread and cinnamon rolls.  A friend at Lafayette Elementary where I attended, as did all of my children and now my grandchildren, shared a starter with me a very long time ago.  My kids were in grade school. I've made the bread since.  Later, I decided to use the dough for cinnamon rolls that are somewhat famous locally, and then it dawned on me to try them as savory, cheesy, garlic rolls.  Recently another blogging Grandma asked how I made them and it occurred to me that down the road, a Gramerling might like to know how I do it.  Rae-rae has pursued the perfection of sour dough bread.  I was the recipient of that freshly baked yumminess on a couple of our pre-K dates.  Ceece would rather take pictures of someone cooking, it isn't her thing.
So, I'll set down my culinary secrets here and perhaps a Gramerling will pick it up one day and it will be his or her thing. You are instantly welcomed anywhere with a loaf of this bread or a pan of rolls.

I've actually given this recipe and the starter to many people, even showing them step by step, but only Ms. Glitzy makes it and she makes it only for Thanksgiving.  The Monday before I bring her the starter and she fixes the bread for the family meal.

Don't have a starter? Well, I can give you one or if that isn't possible you can make your own with some sugar, water, yeast and potato.
Now you can take the long way home at Mother Earth News
using a whole, like real potato, or you can do like me and use flakes
This last recipe is the one I use.
 I seldom need to start a new starter, but when I have let it die, I usually make it, feed it, let's say twice over a week or two before using it.  It is a bit too yeasty to me to use immediately.

I feel there are likely a number of reasons that so few make this bread.
The first reason given to me is, "If I knew how to make this, the whole family would gain fifty pounds."  I reassure them that it only took about three years before the family stopped hovering around the oven waiting on the next batch to come forth.
Another reason might be because it is a two day process and you know we live in a world where speed is the ticket.  I am so accustomed to making this bread that it isn't a bit different to me than filling the coffee pot or brushing my teeth.  It takes 2 minutes to feed it in the morning, five minutes to stir up in the evening, two minutes to blop it in the pan the next morning and 25 minutes to bake, which doesn't require me.  I'm great at multi-tasking, so I hardly notice until that heavenly smell is wafting through the room.  Now, the rolls are more involved, but only an extra fifteen minutes.
If a person is a bread baker, this really isn't like traditional bread, in that there is no kneading, at all.  It is a very tender, soft bread.

So, if I want to bake a loaf anytime from noon to supper, let's say on Sunday, I plunk the starter on the counter when I'm doing kitchen stuff on Saturday.  This may be 5am or 1pm, either way works.  In a measuring cup I put a cup of hot water, add 3/4 cup sugar and the potato flakes, stir, add to starter, leave on counter, and ignore.

Saturday evening, I stir it up.  For whatever reason, I  start by throwing some sugar and salt in the bowl. I just use my hand and put more sugar and less salt and don't really worry about measuring, but it is 1/4 cup sugar and a tablespoon salt.Next in the measuring cup I put the half cup of oil, followed by the one and half cups warm water.  Does any of this matter? No, but I ever feel the need for doing things that make sense and when I use oil and warm water, it makes sense to do the oil first, so the warm water rinses any oily residue out of the cup.  Then a cup of starter, stir. Put the starter back in frig.
I paid more attention the last time I made it to see exactly how much bread flour I was using.
I actually only use 4 and a half to 5 cups.  You see here at two cups it is watery and lumpy, fine.

The next two cups give you a wiggly blob, but it is no longer watery.

This is what I'm looking for, still taking the flour in, but not dry or  terribly stiff.

And that's it-done. Throw a dishtowel over it and forget it.
When you wake up in the morning, it should look like this.

Though our thermostat stays the same most of the year, it still rises more in summer, but doesn't make any difference in the end product.
At this point, you can decide if you want bread or rolls. Bread?  I spray three bread pans with a spray oil and just use the spatula (that I typically left rising with the dough in the bowl) to blop one third of the dough into each pan.  This is a very scientific, mathematical activity.  It goes like this, "Hmm, that looks right," blop.   And the loaves will be never look exactly the same or be uniform.  I have never had a person comment on that when they are stuffing it in their mouth.

Cover with a towel.  Bake it a few hours later, again for lunch or for supper, or anytime in between. I usually bake at 350 for 25 to thirty minutes till brown on top and hollow sounding if you plunk it.  I butter it, let it sit ten minutes.  Usually I turn the bread over in my toweled hand, flip the pan and sit the bread on it.  Wait another few minutes to cut. Again, this a tender bread.  When time to slice, I use a long, serrated blade and sort of pull out the end while slicing.  Other people at my house just pull off hunks and eat it.  They are unconcerned with uniform slices.
As soon as it cools, if there is any left to cool, I put  it in a plastic bag.  This has no preservatives and will not last in the bread drawer for ten weeks like store bought. If you don't eat it in three days, freeze or refrigerate.  It makes the best cinnamon toast EVER!

If you want to try rolls, then put some flour all over a blank, clean spot on the counter (prime real estate in my kitchen and usually takes longer to acquire than the time it takes to make the rolls), blop the whole dough on the flour and sort of shape it into, umm, well whatever you might call this blob.

 Roll it into a big rectangle the size of a jelly roll pan, which is half again bigger than a 9 by 13 pan.  I use a rolling pin Handy Man made me twenty five years or more ago. I needed one, of course, right this minute one day.   He said he didn't have any cured wood, but he'd make me one right this minute from what he had and when it cracked and split, he'd just make me a new one.  Did I say Handy Men are so very handy?
He brought me this.

 It never has done anything but roll doughs around in all these many years, so I don't know what he was talking about- no cracking or splitting.  I figure I'm going before it does and maybe a Gramerling will take on the bread making and the rolling pin will come with it.  I've been places with no rolling pin. I've used big cans, small cans, my hands, whatever, just smash it around till it looks like a big rectangle.
So, for savory rolls, I mix a cup of cheese, usually sharp cheddar, but use whatever you fancy, in the first dough round.  Oh, that's funny, dough round. I mean you put in the cheese with the salt, sugar, water, etc. No change for cinnamon rolls.
Next, I melt a stick of butter and smear it all over the rectangle for cin rolls.
Savory, I've already mixed butter with garlic (which I've usually roasted before hand) and smear that over the dough. Ahem, Sandy if you are reading this do not throw yourself off anything, ha!
I then cover the butter for the sweet rolls with brown sugar, then cinnamon.  How much?  Of course you would ask that. Ughh, till it looks like this picture.  Maybe one to one and a half cups brown sugar and cinnamon sprinkled all over.

 For savory, I sprinkle with parmesan.
Let me interject here that I am an ingredient snob. I use real butter, real vanilla, Philadelphia cream cheese, and I do not buy powdery, parmesan fluff stuff. My only concession, is those potato flakes and that is likely because that is the recipe originally given me.
I start at the back, left corner and pull a little forward, across, forward, across. Get the idea?
 And now you have a log.
 Next, I slice and arrange in sprayed pan.  A 9 by 13 pan yields twelve to fifteen rolls, depending on how thick you cut them and one recipe makes two pans.

Sometimes when you just want a taste, I roll the rectangle longer so the log is skinnier and thereby smaller rolls.  Cover, for the day, or begin this whole process in the evening and cover for the night, so they are good to go in the oven first thing the next morning. Bake at 350, 25 minutes like the bread.
I ice these with an icing made from one box of cream cheese, one stick of butter, one pound 10x sugar and some vanilla that is beaten until fluffy.  If I'm traveling with the rolls and it's possible, I put the icing in a ziploc bag and bake them wherever I am going.  The smell is half the thrill.  I then slice and ice.
An amusing memory of these rolls.  Once we hosted a young lady from Japan.  I had made rolls and left them covered on the bar.  She said, "I ask you question?"  I replied, "Of course."  Curiously she inquired while lifting the wax paper off the rolls, "What happen to middles?"  Ha. One of my cherubs, I suspect Drummer Boy, had eaten the soft middle out of every single roll.  I didn't say, "Well, middles aren't as good, so you pull them all out before serving."  What could I say?  I've eaten the middle out of the watermelon since I got married and realized I could.
Oh, I put some more garlic butter with parmesan and parsley on the savory rolls once they are baked, just in case there weren't enough calories already.
Alrighty, you can do this.  Let's make some bread.


  1. I was the lucky blogger who originally got this recipe in hopes of making it with my granddaughter. With all of the summer activities and with the summer heat -- we just haven't tried it. I am so glad you included the pictures. I know they will help and we will do it

  2. I am not a baker, but after reading your post and seeing the rolls..........I am off to try! Thanks for sharing.