Archives for category: Breads

Hello and happy spring!  It has been almost two months since my last post, and truly two months since my last recipe post.  I have been preoccupied with a big project these last two months: starting my Etsy business, Odudare!  I have been working on it for years, and I even opened the shop early last year, but it’s only been in the last two months that I finally started adding items to sell and promoting it actively.  It is my hope, and my dream, that I will eventually be able to quit my day job and do Odudare full-time.  For the time being, at least, that is not possible, and it has been difficult working 40 hours a week and trying to work in my studio in (almost) all my spare time.  Needless to say, The Wooden Spoon has taken a backseat amidst all this excitement and work.  I know I can’t do everything, all at the same time, but I really want to!

Cutting shortening into flour mixture with pastry cutter

The past three days I have been home sick.  Strep throat, common cold, flu- my body can’t decide what it has.  Maybe it’s backlash from working so much, but I’ve had to step back and give in to my body, doing nothing but lying on the couch watching TV and moaning (funny, huh?).  Today, my last day of rest before returning to work, I am finally starting to feel better, and I decided to give The Wooden Spoon- and Misha, who’s now sick as well- a little TLC with cheddar cheese biscuits.

The dough after kneading. There's that wooden spoon again!

This has been the recipe I’ve been planning on making next for two months.  It’s been floating in the back of my mind, saying “make me, make me!”  I love biscuits, and a new breakfast place near our house makes awesome ones.  Homemade is always better though, and I was sure Grandma’s recipe for cheddar cheese biscuits would top the breakfast place.  Oh how right I was!  I love it when being right tastes this good!

Cheese!!!!

I only had almond milk and earth balance vegan butter sticks on hand, and given my condition, I was not going to the store.  Luckily, they substitute just fine for real milk and butter, and my biscuits turned out light, flaky, and perfect with a little bit of (real) butter and jam on them (I had enough real butter for spreading but not for shortening!).  They were also SUPER easy to make, and use ingredients you probably already have on hand.  I might even claim that these biscuits are the perfect antidote to spring sickness.  Make them the next time you’re feeling low, with a nice cup of tea, and see how much better you feel!

My jelly roll, wrapped in wax paper and ready for the fridge

p.s. A little marketing on my own blog can’t hurt, right?  Next chance you have, check out my Etsy shop, Odudare.  You will find awesome, affordable handmade pillowcases & coasters, as well as super cool hand-printed art and collages.  And more to come soon!

Grandma Elek’s Cheddar Biscuits

***This recipe can be doubled or tripled to produce more biscuits.  I doubled it this morning, and got about 10 biscuits from it***

1 cup flour

1 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup shortening (butter, or vegan butter substitute like Earth Balance), preferably at room temperature (too soft and your dough will be sticky, to cold and it won’t cut into your flour mixture well.  Earth Balance sticks are usually soft enough straight out of the fridge, but real butter isn’t)

1/3 cup milk (or soy milk, almond milk, etc.)

Soft butter

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 450.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium size mixing bowl.  Cut in the shortening until particles are fine.  Cutting in shortening is easier with the help of a pastry cutter/blender.  It is also helpful to cut your shortening up into tablespoons before adding it to your flour, rather than just adding a solid block of butter.

Add milk all at once, and stir until dough clings together.  Knead lightly on floured surface 12 times, or until your dough becomes soft and pliable.  If your dough is too sticky, add a little bit of flour.

Roll or pat out to an 8×6 rectangle.  Considering that I doubled the recipe, I thought my rectangle should have been about 16×12, but it was a bit smaller than that.  The main thing is that a) you want a rectangle and b) you don’t want your rectangle to be too thick- about a ¼ inch, maybe a little more at most.

Spread soft butter all over your rectangle and sprinkle with cheese.  Starting with the 8 inch end, roll up jelly roll fashion.  Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate at least 15 minutes.

Once you remove it from the fridge, take it out of the wax paper and use a sharp knife (I used a serrated bread knife) to cut your roll into about 1 inch thick pieces.  Spray a baking pan with a high heat baking spray, and evenly space your biscuits on the pan (like you would with cookies, only biscuits don’t spread quite as much).  Bake at 450 for 15-20 minutes.  Be careful not to let them get too brown, though they should be golden and puffy.

Spread with butter and jam and enjoy!

Biscuits ready to bake on the pan

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On a grey, rainy spring day, with Norah Jones crooning in the background, I set about making one of the most amazing coffee cakes ever.  Technically it’s not really coffee cake, it’s more like monkey bread.  It’s Arany Galuska, or Hungarian Sweet Dough.  It’s made up of soft, melt-in-your-mouth dough dipped in butter, sugar, and nuts and then baked in a tube pan.  This bread/cake is perfect for breakfast, with hot tea or coffee, but I love to eat it at all times of the day- if it’s sitting around the house, I just have to have some.

I had to spend a little time deciphering my Grandmother’s handwritten recipe.  For example, I didn’t know how to “scald” milk, a term that was probably pretty common to her and which I easily found in Joy of Cooking– but I had never heard it before.  Scalded milk is milk that has been heated to 82 C/180 F, the temperature at which bacteria and enzymes in the milk are destroyed.  With the level of pasteurization in our milk today it’s not really necessary to scald milk much anymore, but I did it anyway to be true to the recipe- Grandma said it was needed “to make a soft dough”.

Dough in the early stage- see how sticky it looks?

The next issue came during the “beating the dough” stage.  Once you’ve combined all of the ingredients with the flour you “beat until dough is smooth and leaves side of bowl”.   Well I started beating, and the dough was JUST SO STICKY.  In the recipe, Grandma says to have an extra cup of flour on hand “if you’ll need it”- I ended up using at least 3 extra cups!  My Dad said, “Honey, you might have over done it”, but really I had no choice- I had to keep adding flour or the dough would never have left the side of the bowl.  Even then I had to beat the dough for a long time to get it smooth.  Norah Jones was singing, “Once it has begun, won’t stop until it’s done”, and so I just kept on beating until it was done!

Much better- with lots more flour in it

Cutting and dipping station

Once I put it in to bake, I was relieved and excited, hoping it would come out ok despite all the extra flour.  However I had one more unforeseen challenge to overcome:  I filled the pan too high and the butter started bubbling and dripping out the top, causing smoke to start filling my apartment and setting my fire alarm off!  So I had to stand there and fan my fire alarm till enough smoke had evaporated that I could safely leave and run the Arany Galuska half-baked across the street to Misha’s sister Jacoba’s apartment to finish baking it there (with a pan under it this time, of course).

Filling the pan

Finished and ready to eat!

And after all that, it turned out PERFECT.  The dough couldn’t have been softer or sweeter.  I highly recommend you make this recipe ASAP and enjoy it during your next Sunday brunch!

Grandma Elek’s Arany Galuska: Hungarian Sweet Dough

6-9 cups all-purpose flour

2 pkg. dry yeast (Red Star is my favorite)

½ cup warm water (just barely warm to the touch- this is for the yeast, and if it is too hot it will kill the yeast)

½ cup of butter (1 stick) at room temperature

1 cup sour cream

¾ cup sugar (Grandma says, “less if you prefer”)

1 tsp. salt

3 eggs

1 cup scalded milk “to make a soft dough”

For dipping the dough:

1-2 melted sticks of butter

2 cups of sugar

2 cups finely chopped pecans

A pinch of cinnamon (this is not from Grandma’s recipe- I added this, and then later saw that it is included in the Taste of Hungary recipe book I sometimes use)

*You may need more or less of the dipping ingredients, depending on how many dough balls you make

Put six cups of flour in a very large bowl.  Make a “well” (a big hole) in the center of the flour and set aside.  Activate your yeast in the warm water according to the directions on the package and set aside to rise.  Scald milk and remove from heat.  Add sugar, salt, butter, and sour cream to the milk and stir.  Place milk mixture in the flour “well”, break in eggs and add yeast last.  With a large wooden spoon mi x and start to beat until the dough is smooth and leaves the side of the bowl.  Be sure to keep the dough soft and don’t let it “catch cold” (no drafts)*.  (*I think what she means is just to keep the dough warm and supple- it should feel soft and pliant in your hands as you work it.  This is where you may need a few extra cups of flour to get the right consistency.  I ended up kneading the dough more than beating it- you really need A LOT of upper body strength to beat it to the right consistency.)

Cover the dough in the bowl with oiled wax paper and a towel and let rise in a warm place (the oven is a great place to let dough rise- just don’t forget it’s in there and turn it on!) till double in size- about 1 hour.  In the meantime, “get your nuts ground & butter melted”.  Melt butter in the microwave in a small bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix finely chopped nuts and sugar.

When the dough is ready, put out on lightly floured board (I kept mine in the bowl) and keep warm with a towel.  Pull some off and start cutting into small rounds “about the size of a whiskey glass” (To me, that might be a bit big- I think she means a shot glass).  Dip the rounds into the melted butter, then into the nuts and sugar.  Place into ungreased tube pan (I used a fluted bundt pan and greased it a bit, but really the greasing is not necessary- I was just worried it would stick since the bundt pan I was using wasn’t nonstick) lightly, not too close, then keep putting layers in until half full (I filled it all the way- probably why it overflowed).  Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size (mine didn’t rise too much the second time).  Place on shelf in oven a little below half.  Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes till nice and golden.  Let cool in pan- make sure you eat at least one warm piece!- then turn out on a cake dish and enjoy!

**Remember: if you ever have any questions about any of the steps in the recipes I write, please just comment or email me and I will be more than happy to help!!!!!**