Monday, February 27, 2012

Breakfast Time - Morning Rolls with Raisins

Truth be told, I have never really been a breakfast person. I know, I know, it's the most important meal of the day etc. etc. etc. Those arguments never quite persuaded me, I guess. I was mostly just trying to wake up with my 2 (yea, 2) cups of strong coffee in the morning to think about food. And truthfully, even though I have started having something, it's still not my best time. I actually only eat one big meal a day, usually at night along with a few smaller snack-like meals during the day. And that's what makes these rolls so perfect for me.

First they are really not all that big (about 2 oz. or 60 g.) each. Maybe a little more with the raisins. So I can have one and not feel too guilty. Second, I can load it up with peanut butter (one of my favorite vices), have an apple or other fruit with it and, of course, another cup of coffee. Entirely too much coffee but I'll have to work on that. Starting tomorrow, I promise!

This recipe is a variation of several I have tried over the years. It is on the whole a breakfast roll that is enriched with milk (I use soy milk so it's dairy free). The inclusion of the raisins (you can use cranberries or other dried fruit if you like) makes it similar in style to a kind of roll eaten in Eastern Europe just before Lent, a rich breakfast roll before the fast, as it were. But that's not where I'm going with this! It is simply a soft, sorta sweet, rich roll with dried fruit in the center. Oh, and delicious, of course.

Here's What You'll Need:

1 1/4 cups (310ml) milk at room temperature (I used soy milk)
1 large egg
1 tsp. salt
2 oz. (60g) butter or margarine at room temperature
3 Tbs. powdered sugar
1 Tbs vanilla sugar
about 4 1/3 cups AP flour
1 Tbs. dry yeast
3 1/2 oz. (about 100g) re-hydrated raisins*
egg + milk for glazing

* To re-hydrate raisins: Place the raisins in a glass bowl and cover with boiling water for about 20 minutes or so. Drain the water and dry them with a paper towel, and the raisins will be re-hydrate. You can do this during the first rise of the dough.

Here's What You'll Need To Do:

1. In a large bowl, mix in the dry ingredients, i.e., the flour, sugar, vanilla sugar and salt. Mix to disperse uniformly, then add the yeast and stir it in.

2. Add the egg and mix it in. Then add the milk, the butter or margarine and mix to form a rough dough. Knead this dough vigorously for about 10 minutes until it becomes smooth and shiny.

3. Remove the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover and place in a warm draft-free location until it about doubled in size. This could take as much as 2 hours.

4. Divide the dough into 12 pieces (16 if you want smaller rolls). Flatten each into a rough rectangle and place several re-hydrated raisins int he center. Close the dough around the raisins, then roll into a ball. Place the rolls on a baking sheet covered with baking paper, then cover to rise a second time. This time they should only rise about 45 minutes.

5. About 15 minutes before the end of the second rise pre-heat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Just before baking, brush an egg and milk wash over the tops of the rolls. Bake for about 15-18 minutes or until a beautiful rich brown color.

6. If you're like me, you will end up eating one (just to try) while still warm and on the cooling rack. These rolls will keep well for a few days. I had to say, but honestly, they won't last for a few days, so why bother! Enjoy.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dinner Rolls with a Twist - Onion Poppy-seed Muffins

I admit it, I have never known exactly how to relate to savory muffins. When I was growing up, muffins were small cake-like creations, soft and sweet sometime plain, sometime with some kind of dried fruit. But decidedly cake-y. In recent years, a new creature has started to haunt the dinner table, in places normally occupied by soft rolls. These are muffins, that are savory and not sweet. Using herbs or other decidedly un-muffin-y ingredients, like onions and poppy-seed. Aside from the switch required in my head, I must admit, the idea is long overdue. And so, here is my contribution to this ever-growing dinner course - onion poppy-seed muffins. Get past the cake-y idea and I'm sure you'll agree they are truly fabulous.

Here's What You'll Need:
for the 'filling'
2 large onions chopped fairly finely
about 1/4 cup butter for sauteeing
salt and pepper

for the muffins:
2 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. mustard powder
1 1/4 cups warm water (or milk)
3 large eggs
1 tsp. salt

Here's What You'll Need to Do:
1. First make the filling. Chop the onions and then, on medium-high heat, saute them with the butter until soft. DO NOT BROWN. They will get plenty brown in the oven when you bake the muffins. Place them aside in a bowl to cool.

2. Now make the muffins. Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).

3. Mix together all the other ingredients to make a batter the same consistency of pancake batter. Quite runny, but still with a little body.

4. Grease a muffin tin, then place it in the oven for 1 or 2 minutes to preheat the tin. Then fill each muffin about 3/4 full. Place about 1 Tbs. of onion and about 1/2 tsp. of poppy-seed on each muffin. Don't worry if it sinks in. That's actually good since now the topping will become the filling!

5. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown and your house smells wonderfully oniony.

6. Remove to a cooling rack, but wait about 5 minutes before removing it from the muffin tin. It needs to stabilize first. These are great still warm, or at room temperature. Enjoy!