Last night I made two Easy Chocolate Chip Cheesecakes (click here for recipe). They’re beautiful, although they did crack a little bit. If I were entering them in a show (which I’m not) it would matter that they cracked but they’ll still be delicious. I promise. It’s my most requested recipe to bring to parties.
Today I’m planning to make my Easy Homemade Italian Bread. It’s so good and homey and Italian-y. It’s not the crusty, rock-hard rustic bread that you have to dip into soup or sauce to soften in order to eat but the nice big fluffy one that you can still put your teeth into without triggering TMJ. Don’t let the written appearance fool you… it really is very easy.
On Christmas morning every year I make cinnamon rolls for breakfast. It’s one of our favorite traditions. I originally got this recipe from Allison M. Dickson, a friend and wonderful fictional writer that you really MUST look up on Amazon. She writes some fantastic short stories. This Cinnamon Bun recipe is what inspired my Snickerdoodle Cookie recipe. I love snickerdoodles, but I needed one that was chewy enough and cinnamon-y enough… and what I really wanted was for them to taste like mini cinnamon buns. I usually make snickerdoodles for Christmas but lost track of the time this year. I’ll have to make them on the 26th.
I’m sharing the recipes of course, but I don’t have nutrition information. If you go to SparkPeople.com I think you can plug recipes in there and it will give you nutrition information for individual servings. It’s been a while since I’ve been over there.
Easy Italian Bread:
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. or 2 pkg. (1/2 oz.) active dry yeast
- 2 cups warm water, 95 to 110*F
- 1 Tbsp. very soft butter, or olive oil
- 6 cups of all purpose, unbleached flour
- 1 egg white, beaten with 1 Tbsp. of water
Warm oven to 200* for five minutes, then turn it off. You will need the oven to have a warm and non-drafty place to rise and rest the dough.
In large bowl, stir together sugar, salt, yeast, and water. Allow the yeast to proof (produce bubbles and bloom).
Add in the butter or olive oil.
Add flour by the half cup, turning it with a fork, just until there’s enough flour for the dough to be soft and kneaded by hand.
Turn dough out of medium-large bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 minutes, adding more flour as you go if the bread becomes sticky. Bread should become smooth and pliable.
Put the dough into a medium sized bowl that’s been greased with vegetable oil and turn the dough until all of it has been greased.
Cover the bowl with a clean, slightly damp (warm) kitchen towel and let set for 30 minutes in a warm, draft-free place.
If you’re using a baking sheet, grease it lightly. Sprinkle baking sheet with cornmeal, if desired. If you’re using a flat baking stone, do not grease it but simply put cornmeal on it if desired.
Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured table and cut into equal halves.
Roll each dough half into a 15/16 X 9-inch rectangle, tucking dough from the long sides tightly under the bottom. Be sure to pinch from underneath to the ends or the dough will open up during baking and flatten out the loaf.
When folding and pinching is done, the loaves should similar to footballs.
Allow the dough to rise in the still-warm oven for 15-20 more minutes, then remove from the oven.
Heat the oven to 425*F.
On top of each loaf, using a non-serated knifed, cut three diagonal slits.
Using a pastry brush,
Tightly roll dough along the 15-inch side. Pinch seams and taper the ends of each loaf. Place loaves on baking sheet. Cover and let rise in warm, draft-free place for only 20 minutes.
Preheat oven 425 degrees F. Make 3 deep diagonal slashes on each loaf. Using a pastry brush, lightly but firmly baste the tops of the loaves with the egg wash.
Bake bread for 25 minutes, or until bread is browned and makes a hollow thumping sound when tapped firmly.
makes 4-5 dozen
1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400.
In a small bowl, combine 1/8 C sugar and 1/8 C cinnamon, blend well, then set aside.
Beat together shortening and 1 1/2 cups of sugar.
Beat in vanilla.
Incorporate eggs separately.
Combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.
Beat dry mixture into egg mixture.
Taking about 1 tablespoon of dough per cookie, roll the dough into balls, then roll each ball into the cinnamon sugar, coating completely.
Set onto an ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. You should be able to fit 12 balls of dough on the cookie sheet.
Bake for 8-10 minutes.
Allow to cool on cookie sheet for a minute or two, then remove cookies to a sheet of wax paper on the counter OR a cooling rack.
Store tightly covered.
Quick and Easy Cinnamon Buns:
(Allison Dickson)To make things more convenient, melt all 8 tablespoons of butter for the recipe at once and measure out as needed.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, for pan
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional flour for work surface
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
11/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (Jessica’s note: I clabber lactose-free milk with some white vinegar)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened (Jessica’s note: I don’t use cream cheese and don’t have a lactose-free substitute, so I just use enough clabbered lactose-free milk and confectioner’s sugar to act as a glaze, mixed with about a teaspoon of vanilla extract)
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Pour 1 tablespoon melted butter in 9-inch nonstick cake pan; brush to coat pan. Spray wire rack with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
2. To make cinnamon-sugar filling: Combine sugars, spices, and salt in small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon melted butter and stir with fork or fingers until mixture resembles wet sand; set filling mixture aside.
3. To make biscuit dough: Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Whisk buttermilk and 2 tablespoons melted butter in measuring cup or small bowl. Add liquid to dry ingredients and stir with wooden spoon until liquid is absorbed (dough will look very shaggy), about 30 seconds. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead until just smooth and no longer shaggy.
4. Pat dough with hands into 12X 9-inch rectangle. Spread filling over, roll lengthwise, and cut into 8 even pieces, and arrange buns in buttered cake pan. Brush with 2 tablespoons remaining melted butter. Bake until edges are golden brown, 23 to 25 minutes. Use offset metal spatula to loosen buns from pan; without separating, slide buns out of pan onto greased cooling rack. Cool about 5 minutes before icing.
5. To make icing and finish buns: While buns are cooling, set rack with buns over baking sheet. Whisk cream cheese and buttermilk in large nonreactive bowl until thick and smooth (mixture will look like cottage cheese at first). Sift confectioners’ sugar over; whisk until smooth glaze forms, about 30 seconds. Spoon glaze evenly over buns; serve immediately.