Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Best-Ever Honey Gingerbread Cut-Out Cookies

The honey in this recipe keeps the cookies nice and chewy, yet they also have enough structure to hold up to any decoration you pile on them.  We'll post photos we get another chance to bake them!

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup honey (summer honey works well here, but fall honey is also good)
1/4 cup molasses

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk first seven ingredients together (flour, soda, salt and spices).  Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg and mix well.  Add honey & molasses and mix well.  Gradually add flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Refrigerate for about 1 hour. This makes a soft dough, which will need additional flour for rolling.  Roll out on floured surface to about 1/4" and cut into desired shapes. Place on parchment-lined cookie sheet.  To make sure the cookies retain their fancy shapes, you can freeze them for 15 minutes before baking. (nb: Cookie testers Jeff & Laurie note this doesn't seem to make much difference.)  Bake 10-15 minutes, rotating pan half way through. The cookies should be nicely (but lightly) browned on the edges.   Let cool on cookie sheet for a minute or two before transferring to cooling rack.  Cool completely before decorating.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies, depending on how big your cookie cutters are.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Honey Orange Cranberry Relish

Most cranberry bags include a recipe for an easy, fresh orange cranberry relish, which has been a staple at our Thanksgiving table for many years. When we started keeping bees, we substituted the sugar for honey and haven't looked back.  This is best made at least one day ahead and can be made up to three days in advance.

1 large navel orange, well scrubbed (organic, if you can find it, since you'll use the whole orange)
1 12-oz bag cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 to 3/4 cup honey (I tend to use the summer amber honey for this, but any will do)
Optional spices:
pinch of salt
pinch of nutmeg
a shake or two (about 1/2 teaspoon) cinnamon

Quarter the orange and remove any seeds.  Place the orange and the cranberries in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.  Stir in the honey, blending well.  Taste and the spices if you'd like.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Honey Dinner Rolls--Great for Thanksgiving!

As Thanksgiving approaches, I thought a few honey-based yeast roll recipes would be welcome.  Both of these recipes make light, fluffy soft-crusted pull-apart rolls.  For both, I use rapid-rise yeast.  If you are using regular yeast, the rise times may be a bit longer. You'll also want to "proof" the yeast before adding it.  Place it in 1/4 cup warm water just above body temp (about 100 degrees) and decrease the water in the recipe by 1/4 cup.   If you're having a lot of company, make both!

These rolls have just a hint of sweetness that should please the kids at your Thanksgiving meal.
3 tablespoons butter + 1 tablespoon for tops
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup water
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 oz (1 package) rapid (or quick) rise yeast

Heat the water in a pan until it just starts to steam--you want it hot to the touch, not burning.  Add the butter and honey and stir until dissolved. I

In a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir the flour, salt and yeast to combine then slowly pour in the water, butter honey mixture and mix on medium-low speed until just combined.  Increase speed to medium and beat dough until it begins to flap against the side of the bowl--about 5 minutes.  You may need to add a bit more flour, though this will be a sticky dough.

Place dough in bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let sit until doubled in bulk.

Deflate dough and turn out on to a board.  Cut the dough into four pieces and then cut each piece into four

Roll each piece into a ball and place in a greased 9 inch baking dish

Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise until double in size--about 45 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter, brush tops of dough and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

This recipe results in a lovely round of golden brown rolls that look great in bread basket.  The crumb is a bit  more sturdy than the honey dinner rolls and the flavor has a bit of a tang.

1/4 oz (1 package) rapid (or quick) rising yeast
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup very hot water
2 tablespoons honey (amber summer honey is great for this, though fall honey will also work)
1 3/4ths cups buttermilk, briefly warmed, just to take the chill off (don't scald!)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg white
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Combine the yeast, flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (or large food processor).  Dissolve the honey in the very hot tap water. Add the buttermilk to the water and stir to combine.  Turn on the mixer and slowly add the liquid to the flour mixture.  Mix on medium-low speed until dough forms and begins flapping on the side of the bowl--about 5 minutes.  Cover bowl.  Let sit in a warm spot for about 1 hour.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a 9 inch round springform pan with some butter.  Deflate roll dough and divide into 12 pieces and roll each into a ball.  Place balls in pan--about 9 on the outside and 3 in the center.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another hour until doubled.  Whisk egg white with a bit of water and brush tops of rolls.  Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and bake until golden-brown--about 25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 15 minutes before serving.