Monday, June 27, 2016

Soft & Quick Hamburger Buns

These hamburger buns took only about 40 minutes, start to finish--no lie!  They're soft and sweet. If you're a regular baker, the ingredients are all in your pantry and they couldn't be easier.  I made them for some bean/veggie burgers that need a soft bun so that the burger doesn't get smoosh out (too much at least).  I found the original recipe on a blog called Girl versus Dough.  I followed that recipe fairly closely, substituting honey for the sugar and using my stand mixer to knead the dough instead of by hand.  These are not big, big buns--they're about three inches wide.  You could make bigger buns if you wanted and then bake them a bit longer.

Soft and Quick Hamburger Buns
2 tablespoons quick rising yeast
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 egg, beaten
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water
sesame seeds and poppy seeds, option (about 1 teaspoon each)

In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk yeast and water to dissolve.  Whisk in the honey and oil and let sit for about five minutes.  The yeast will start to go to work.  While you're waiting, preheat the oven to 425 degrees, place an oven rack in the top third of the oven, and line a large cookie sheet or two smaller ones with parchment paper. (You could also lightly oil the sheets if you don't have parchment.)   Using the dough hook, turn the mixer on low and add the egg, salt and 3 1/2 cups of flour.  Increase the speed to medium high and let the dough hook do its work. Knead the dough for at least five minutes, adding more flour a little at a time until the dough leaves the sides and bottom of the bowl and is only slightly sticky.  

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and divide into 16 pieces.  Shape/roll each piece into a nice, round ball and place on the prepared cookie sheet(s).  Cover with a clean kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let rest for 10 minutes.  

Remove the towel and brush the buns with the egg wash.  Sprinkle the seeds on top.  Bake for 10 minutes, switching the cookie sheet half-way through for even browning.  Remove from the cookie sheet and let cool completely.  


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Refreshing Strawberry Sparkler

This recipe is an adaptation from a Martha Stewart recipe for Berry Saft.  Saft is a Swedish syrup (elderberries are often used!) that is then mixed with still or sparkling water to make a refreshing summer drink.  I swapped the sugar for honey (of course) and used the strawberries that are taking over the garden.  You can use any berry (or any combination of berries) that you like.  You can also use other herbs--basil would be nice!

Strawberry Sparkler
4 cups strawberries, washed,  hulled and halved or quartered
a 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced
2 cups water
1/4 to 1/2 cup honey
4 sprigs of fresh mint

Bring the strawberries, ginger and water to a simmer and cook until fruit is very soft--about 10 minutes.  Let the mixture cool and strain through a cheese cloth (or fine mesh strainer). Return to the pot and add the honey--start with 1/4 cup and taste until it's sweetened to your liking.  Bring the pot to a low simmer.  Add the mint sprigs and simmer, stirring occasionally until the mixture is reduced to a light syrup.  Cool completely.  Pour into sterilized bottles or jars.  It will keep in the refrigerator for several (3?) months. This makes about four cups.

To make the sparkler, fill a glass with ice, add sparkling water and then stir in the syrup--as much or as little as you like.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Great Banana Cake/Bread with Honey!

This delicious banana bread/cake recipe comes from King Arthur Flour, a great source for recipes.  It has a wonderful, deep banana flavor and a great, dense crumb.  It's almost like a banana pound cake.  It includes tablespoons of jam or marmalade. I used some lovely plum jam that friends gave us--a very nice addition!

I usually bake quick breads in a ring cake mold.  It holds the same amount of batter as a 9x5  loaf pan, and avoids the problem of an under cooked center that I sometimes experience with quick breads, especially when baking with honey.  Baked goods with honey tend to brown much more quickly and so the outer crust starts to get too dark before the center is completely cooked. 

Banana Cake/Bread with Honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar, light or dark, firmly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium or 2 large bananas)
3 tablespoons jam or marmalade (optional, but makes it very special!)
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan or ring cake mold. 
In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Add the mashed bananas, jam, honey, and eggs, again beating until smooth. 
Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Stir into wet ingredients just until smooth.  Fold in the walnuts if using.  
Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top. Let it rest at room temperature for 10 minutes. Bake the bread for 45 minutes.  Check and then gently lay a piece of aluminum foil across the top, to prevent over-browning if necessary.  Bake for an additional 10 or 15 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing. This cake keeps for several days.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Pretty (and pretty easy) Pickled Red Onions

These little beauties are easy to make and wonderful to have in the refrigerator for all kinds of things:
  • add them to any salad where you'd use onions (they're not as sharp as raw onion)
  • put them on a cheese or tuna or other savory sandwich 
  • pile them on a grilled burger or hot dog
  • set them out in a bowl with a cheese plate to have with cheese and crackers
  • place some on top of roasted veggies, like asparagus, broccoli or beets
  • use them as a garnish for baked beans
When the jar gets low, I simply slice some more onions and add them in.  They need to sit for about an hour before they're ready, so a little advanced time is needed.  The only other labor is thinly slicing the onions. If you have a mandoline, now's the time to use it! If not, just try to slice them as thin as you can.

Pickled Red Onions
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

Stir  (or shake) the vinegar, honey and salt together in a jar with a lid until the honey and salt dissolve.  Add 1 cup of water and stir.  Add the sliced onions and push them down to be sure they're in the brine.  Sprinkle the mustard seeds on top.  Place the lid on the jar and let sit at room temperature for an hour.  After that, refrigerate.  Will keep for at least a few weeks--maybe more!