Tag Archives: yeast

Czech Kolaches – South Dakota

We’ve talked before about how kuchen is South Dakota’s official state dessert, but you might not be aware the close runner-up were kolaches (koh-LAH-chees). This tasty pastry was brought to the

Czeck Kolaches - South Dakota

Mount Rushmore State from immigrating Czechs around the middle of the 19th century to the southern part of the state. In fact, tiny Tabor (population 413), holds Czech Days every year and kolaches are a huge draw.

Kolaches can be made with a variety of fillings including cream cheese, poppy seed, prune and even savory elements like sausage and cabbage. We tried our hand at apricot and cherry as we thought those were the real crowd pleasers and we were not disappointed. Great with a cup of coffee or tea, we found ourselves sneaking just one more . . . and then another.

If spelunking is your thing, check out Wind Cave National Park, located in the southern part of the Black Hills National Forest. With over 143 miles of winding passageways under only 1.2 square mile of surface area, and housing a unique cave formation known as boxwork, this cave system is not to be missed.

Czech Kolaches

  • Servings: 24 pieces
  • Time: 3 hrs. 40 min.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

For Pastry:

  • 1¼ cup warm milk, divided
  • 1 package yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 ¼ cups all purpose flour, divided
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

For Apricot Filling (enough for half of recipe):

  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum

For Cherry Filling (enough for half of recipe):

  • ¾ cup cherry juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups frozen cherries, thawed

Instructions

To make pastry: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine ¼ cup milk, sugar, yeast and ¼ cup flour. Let stand for 15 minutes or until mixture becomes frothy. Add remaining flour and milk, then butter, egg and lemon zest. Mix with a dough hook on low speed until a smooth dough is formed, about 4 minutes. Cover with a tea towel and let rise, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

To make fillings: While you are waiting for the pastry to rise, make the fillings. For the apricot, in a small sauce pan, add orange juice and dried apricots. Let simmer for 30 minutes or until apricots are very soft. Remove from heat and add sugar. Let cool. Add to bowl of food processor, along with rum and process until well combined. Transfer to a clean bowl and put in fridge to allow to chill.

For the cherry filling, in a small saucepan add cherry juice, sugar and cornstarch. Cook over medium heat until mixture is thick and bubbling. Remove from heat. Add cherries. Transfer to a clean bowl and put in fridge to allow to chill.

To assemble kolaches: Punch down dough. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces. Shape with hands into flattened balls. Place dough on baking sheets lined with parchment paper approximately 1 inch apart. Cover with tea towels and let rise until puffed, about 35-45 minutes. With your fingers, make a deep indentation in the center of the ball leaving a generous lip so the filling does not ooze out. Drop mounded tablespoons of filling in the center of each pastry. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

 

Hawaiian Donuts: Leonard’s Bakery Malasadas

Malasadas are the Hawaiian donut you never met but will instantly love. Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu has been making these sugary orbs of goodness since the 1950s. Originally a Portuguese

Malasadas - Hawaii

confection, these treats jumped two oceans as well as the vast expanse of North America when sugar cane and pineapple workers from Portugal immigrated to Hawaii. Created to celebrate Fat Tuesday, now you can find malasadas throughout the year and all over the Hawaiian Islands. If you are driving in Hawaii and see a food truck with a long line of people, pull a U-turn and check it out, they could be selling malasadas.

What makes malasadas different than donuts is the rich batter, fortified with eggs and half and half. The basic recipe we have used here from Leonard’s is plain sugar but on Hawaii you can find malasadas filled with all sorts of custards, including vanilla, chocolate and coconut. Super ono! Malasadas are a bit time consuming as they have to rise twice but if you make them, you will be the rock star of your household and neighborhood — if you dare give some away.

While in Hawaii, don’t miss the USS Arizona Memorial, including the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. This is one of the most heavily visited sites in Hawaii and is a very moving memorial to the sailors and service people who died there.

Leonard’s Bakery Malasadas

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 3 hrs.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 ½ cups sugar, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup half and half
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups bread flour, sifted
  • Canola oil (for frying)

Instructions

Combine yeast,  one teaspoon sugar and two tablespoons of warm water in a small bowl. Set aside until foamy.

In the bowl of a stand mixture with the paddle attachment, beat eggs. Add yeast mixture, ½ cup sugar, butter, milk, half and half, and salt. Beat until combined. Add sifted flour gradually and mix until dough is smooth and elastic (it will be quite sticky). Transfer to a clean bowl coated with vegetable oil. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12-inch square, so the dough is about ½ inch thick. Cut the dough into 12 3-inch squares (alternatively, you can make smaller, round malasadas by cutting the dough into 24 pieces). Place each dough piece on an individual square of parchment paper on two baking sheets at least 3 inches apart. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place again, for approximately one hour.

Heat oil to 350 degrees. Place remaining sugar in a large mixing bowl. Working in batches, remove dough from parchment paper and drop gently into hot oil. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Toss in sugar when cool enough to handle. Serve while warm.

Fit for Royalty: King Cake – Louisiana

The parades! The parties! The food and drinks! Mardi Gras is in full swing down in New Orleans and will culminate on February 28, which is when Fat Tuesday falls this year. King Cake actually refers to the three kings who visited baby Jesus in his manger as the

King Cake - Louisiana

season extends from Epiphany until the day before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins. The French likely brought the King Cake tradition to New Orleans and it always includes inserting a plastic baby

Plastic babies for King Cake
Do you think we have eaten too many King Cakes through the years?

or dried bean in the cake after it is baked. The person who receives the piece with the trinket is said to be blessed with good luck and must host the next Mardi Gras party or buy the King Cake for the next party.

There are literally dozens of variations of fillings for this cake including cinnamon, praline and strawberry. We opted for a cream cheese and apricot filling which is a family favorite.  The cake is

Apricot and cream cheese filled King Cake

usually decorated with icing or sugar in the traditional Mardi Gras colors which signify justice (purple), power (yellow) and faith (green). We can’t lie, this cake is time consuming to make. To break up the steps, feel free to make the dough the day before. Let rise and then put into the refrigerator. So worth the effort and waaaaay cheaper than a plane ticket to NOLA.

If you are lucky enough to live near New Orleans or plan to visit in the next week, check out the Mardi Gras parade schedule so you don’t miss a moment of the action.

Apricot and Cream Cheese Filled King Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 3 1/2 hrs.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

For Dough:

  • 1 envelope dry yeast
  • 1/8 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups flour (approx.)

For Filling:

  • 1 16 ounce can apricot pie filling
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 whole egg (for egg wash)
  • 2 tablespoons water (for egg wash)

For Icing/Finishing:

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk or half-n-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Yellow, purple and green colored sugar
  • One plastic baby, or uncooked bean

Instructions

For Dough:

In a small bowl, mix yeast with warm water. Add 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon flour. Let sit until mixture begins to bubble. Meanwhile, heat milk in a medium saucepan until just boiling. Add butter and remaining sugar. Remove from heat and let stand until lukewarm. Add egg, egg yolk and yeast mixture. Beat with wire whisk until incorporated.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add liquid. Then add 1 cup flour. Beat using dough hook attachment until dough smooth. Add additional flour gradually and continue to beat until dough is elastic and glossy. Turn dough out into a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let sit in warm place until dough has doubled in size, approximately 1.5 hours. Punch dough down and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Dough can be made day ahead and left in fridge overnight).

For Filling:

In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, sugar, flour, egg yolks and vanilla. If apricot filling is watery, drain in colander.

To Assemble:

Shape cold dough into a log. On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough until it is a rectangle shape, approximately 30 X 9 inches. Spoon the cream cheese mixture down the middle of the dough, longways, about 3 inches from the long edges but almost to the ends. Add the fruit filling right next to the strip of cream cheese. Mix the egg with the water to create an egg wash. Brush the edges of the dough with the egg wash. Fold one long edge over the filling, do the same with the other long edge. Turn seam side down onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently form into a circle, joining the ends together. Cover with a tea towel and let rest for approximately 30 minutes.

Brush cake with remaining egg wash. Cut several slits to allow heat to escape. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely.

Mix confectioners’ sugar with milk and vanilla. Spoon over cake. Sprinkle cake with colored sugars. Before serving, insert baby or bean into bottom of cake.

Dems and GOP Vote for Hartford Election Cake – Connecticut

We’re reprising our Hartford Election Cake because no matter if you vote Democrat or Republican, this cake is a huge electoral win. This very old recipe dates back to colonial times, when the cake was

Hartford Election Cake

made to feed hungry militia during training days. After the Revolutionary War, Election Day was almost like a holiday. Historians are not sure if this cake was baked in celebration of the right to vote, or just to feed weary travelers who traveled long distances to get to polling places.

For this election season, we were delighted to discover that Old World Levain Bakery in Asheville, NC created a Make American Cake Again! project with election cake as its centerpiece, to raise awareness about our culinary heritage. If you make this cake, be sure to use #electioncake and #MakeAmericaCakeAgain on social media.

Full of nuts, raisins and spices, including cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg (very appropriate for the Nutmeg State) this cake rises twice for a total of two and a half hours. We can’t think of a better dessert to serve as you watch the returns roll in.

Nathan Hale is Connecticut’s state hero. He was an American soldier and spy for the Continental Army. He was captured by the Brits and before he was hung he stated “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” Check out the Nathan Hale Homestead in Coventry, built in 1776, with Hale-family furnishings and period antiques.

Hartford Election Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 3 hrs.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Adapted from Rare Bits: Unusual Origins of Popular Recipes, by Patricia Bunning Stevens, www.ohioswallow.com, used with permission.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1½ cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)
  • 3¼ cups all-purpose flour (divided in two parts: 1½ cups, then 1¾ cups)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup chopped raisins (soaked overnight in brandy or bourbon, optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons milk

Instructions

Dissolve yeast in water. Stir in milk. Add 1½ cups flour gradually, until mixture is smooth. Cover and let rise in warm place until very light and bubbly, 30 to 45 minutes.

Mix together 1¾ cups flour, salt and spices and set aside. Chop raisins, mix with nuts and set aside. Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. By hand, blend in yeast mixture. Gradually add dry ingredients, beating until smooth after each addition Add raisin-pecan mixture and mix well.

Grease and flour a 9-inch tube pan or large Bundt pan. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until dough almost reaches the top, 1½ to 2 hours. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cake until golden brown, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then loosen cake from edges with a knife. Turn out onto a cake rack and cool completely.

For glaze: In a mixing bowl, whisk confectioners sugar, vanilla and milk until desired spreading consistency. Glaze should cover top of cake and drizzle down the sides.

 

Potato Bread – Idaho

Fall is finally upon us here in the Midwest. Hooray, time to fire up the oven and get to baking again. We’ve always loved the soft texture of potato bread that comes from the grocery store, so we

Potato Bread - Idaho

decided to try our hand at recreating it at home. Oh my, this was a winner! If you have leftover mashed potatoes, they will work just as well as freshly prepared, you’ll need about one cup. We tried rising this dough overnight in the fridge and it worked wonderfully. Keep this recipe in mind the next time you have overnight guests and want to have fresh bread in the morning.

Don’t feel bad about loving potatoes. Idaho surely doesn’t. The Gem State leads the states in potato production, with 13 billion pounds harvested in 2014. Potatoes are actually high in potassium and Vitamin C — providing almost half the recommended daily value.

Potato Bread - Idaho

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is located in Arco, Idaho and is an example of relatively recent volcanic activity. The preserve has three major lava fields, five lava tube caves and over 25 volcanic cones. Hiking, camping and cave exploring await.

Potato Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Time: 2 hr. 25 min.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 1 medium Idaho baking potato
  • 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid from making potato
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Crisco
  • 1 ½ tablespoons butter
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 package yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • Cooking spray

Instructions

Peel potato and cut into large pieces. Place into a medium pot of water and bring to a boil. When potato is soft, drain, reserving cooking liquid. Press cooked potato through a ricer. Add warm milk, ½ cup of reserved cooking liquid, Crisco, butter, salt and sugar. Set aside until cool.

In the stand mixer bowl, combine yeast and 1/3 cup warm water. Let stand a few minutes until mixture bubbles. Add the cooled potato mixture. Add flour. Mix with dough hook on slow speed, about 6 minutes. The dough will be very sticky. Transfer to a large bowl coated with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 40 minutes (Alternatively, you can place in refrigerator and let rise overnight).

When ready to bake, punch dough down and knead 2 or 3 minutes. Divide dough in two equal parts and place in buttered rectangular bread pans. Let rise again for one hour or until doubled in size. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Getouttaheye: Bagels – New York

Schmeared with cream cheese, toasted with a bit of butter, covered with lox, made into a breakfast sandwich with egg and cheese … who doesn’t love a bagel? Smooth and glossy on the outside, chewy

NYC Bagel

and  delectable on the inside, bagels are one food that has made the jump from ethnic to ubiquitous in the span of about 100 years.

Folklore has it that the bagel was created after Polish King John III Sobieski saved Austria from invading Ottoman Turks in the Battle of Vienna in 1683. A baker made a roll in the shape of a stirrup (called a beugel) to commemorate the victory. Others maintain that the bagel was given to women in Krakow during this same period as a gift after having a baby.

What is clear is that Eastern European Jews brought the bagel to New York at the turn of the century. In 1907, bagel bakers unionized, forming the International Beigel Bakers’ Union, thereby monopolizing and controlling their handmade product. In the 1950s, Murray Lender figured out that he could mass produce bagels, freeze them and deliver them to grocery stores. And with that bold move, bagels became mainstream.

We personally have made it our mission to try bagels all over the country but in our opinion, it’s pretty hard to beat a New York bagel (some attribute it to the fantastic NYC water). If you live in a part of the country where bagels are not so great, try this recipe. You won’t be disappointed.

A couple of pointers: Just use your finger to make the hole in the

NYC bagels - how to shape

bagel. Twirl the dough around your index finger. It’s fun!

Also, bagels get their unique texture from both boiling and baking. The bath the bagels take is not long. For a chewier version that is

 

DSC_1538 label

more like NYC bagels, boil for 2 minutes in each side. If you want a softer bagel, reduce to one minute on each side.

For a unique look at the working class immigrant in the early half of the 20th century, visit the fantastic Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side in Manhattan. The museum has many tours and offerings, you can visit multiple times and not see the same thing.

NYC Bagels

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 2 hrs.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (plus or minus ¼ cup more)
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour or high gluten flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Egg white from one large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Caraway seeds (optional)
  • Coarse salt (optional)
  • Poppy seeds (optional)
  • Sesame seeds (optional)

 Instructions

In a small bowl, add ½ cup of warm water, sugar and yeast. Do not stir. Let it sit for five minutes, and then stir the yeast and sugar mixture, until it all dissolves in the water.

In a large mixing bowl, add flour and salt. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast and sugar mixture. Pour half of the remaining warm water into the well. Mix and stir in the rest of the water as needed to form a moist and firm dough.

On a floured work surface, knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Work in as much flour as possible to form a firm and stiff dough.

Lightly brush a large bowl with oil and turn the dough to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down, and let it rest for another 10 minutes.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a round ball. Coat a finger in flour, and gently press your finger into the center of each dough ball to form a ring. Twirl the dough around on your finger, stretching the opening to about ⅓ the diameter of the bagel and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.

After shaping the dough rounds and placing them on the cookie sheet, cover with a damp tea towel and let rest for 10 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce the heat. Working in batches, use a slotted spoon or skimmer to lower the bagels into the water. Boil for 2 minutes, and then flip them over for another 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and let drain before placing onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining batches.

Combine the egg white and tablespoon of water. Brush tops and sides of bagels with egg wash. Top bagels with caraway seeds, coarse salt, sesame seeds or poppy seeds.

Bake for 20-30 minutes at 425 degrees, or until bagels are a golden caramel color. Let sit for 30 minutes so the interior continues to bake.

 

Snick Snack: Zweiback – Kansas

Forget what you think you know about zwieback. This is decidedly not that hard toast stuff you give to babies when they are teething. When folks talk zweiback in the Sunflower State, they are referring to delicious rolls, a little bit richer and saltier than the usual Zweiback - Kansashomemade bun. The Mennonites brought these from Russia, presumably because they traveled well, especially when toasted (thus the name in German which roughly translates to “double baked”). These rolls have a unique shape with a little ball on top of the base of the bun. They are great for Sunday brunch with some butter and jam or to hold your sandwich innards. They also freeze very well.

History buffs will love Fort Larned National Historic Site, which houses a complete and authentic army post from the 1860s. Various living history events will take place Labor Day weekend, September 5-7, 2015, including lectures, carriage rides and artillery and  blacksmith demos.

Zweiback - Kansas

Zweiback

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 2 hrs, 30 min.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup margarine, butter, or lard
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 3/4 to 6 cups flour

Instructions

Heat milk, water and butter or margarine together in a microwave safe bowl or cup until warm, about 100 degrees. Do not let the liquid boil as the yeast will not proof. Sprinkle with yeast and sugar. Let set a few minutes until mixture is bubbling.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast mixture with salt. Gradually add 3 cups sifted flour and beat with an electric mixture for 5 minutes. Add the additional flour and beat until thoroughly combined. Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and knead by hand for about 8-10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough into a large bowl coated in oil and cover with a tea towel. Place in a warm spot for about 75 minutes or until dough is doubled in size. Punch down and let dough rise again, about 30-45 minutes. Punch down again. Remove dough to a well-floured surface and knead out any air bubbles.

To form the rolls, divide dough into 24 pieces. Roll each piece by hand until round, then pinch off a large marble sized piece. Place bigger piece on well-greased baking sheet, flatten slightly. In the middle of the roll, make an indentation, then place the smaller ball on top (this will ensure the top will not slide off during baking). Continue until all rolls are formed, making sure to spread out the rolls 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until rolls are golden brown.