Monday, November 7, 2011

Baking for Thanksgiving

I suppose I am a baker at heart. I love kneading bread, rolling out pie dough, baking hundreds of cookies. That must mean I am a true baker, right? This time of year always makes me want to dive into flour right up to my elbows. The aromas of yeasty bread, warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, autumn fruits bubbling away under flaky pastry, all drive me crazy! I want my house to be filled with these aromas 24/7.

The opportunity to share your wonderful  baked goodies is right around the corner....Thanksgiving! If you are the holiday meal preparer in your family, or if you will be a guest at a loved one's table, let the treasures from your oven be a part of the day.

I will share a few of my favorite recipes here today, and I want to encourage you to visit several of my favorite baking blogs. But first, I want to let you know about an outstanding baking product that you should definitely use for your holiday baking. I have mentioned King Arthur Flour's web page more than once and here I go again.
They carry disposable baking pans that make giving your baked goods as gifts a snap. Check it out....go to and click on "shop'. Next, click on "bake and give" and just like magic, there they are!  I discovered these pans 2 years ago when I wanted to make Italian Panettone. Now, two years later, they have loaf pans, 9" rounds, cupcake cups....everything you might need. I hope you order some for your holiday baking....they make life so much nicer! And, they are attractive! recipes.  (by the way, King Arthur has some doozies!)
Let's start with bread and rolls... I realize many of you grew up with the crescent rolls that chubby little doughboy advertises, but listen to me....homemade is so much better! This recipe can  be made the day before. Therefore, they are called Refrigerator Rolls.

Refrigerator Rolls

You can prepare this dough and keep it in the fridge for up to a week, making as many rolls as needed on a day-to-day basis for your family's meals.

1 cup plus 1 tbsp. vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
1 1⁄2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 7-gram packages active dry yeast
7 cups flour
1⁄4 cup butter, melted

1. Grease a baking sheet (or several of your new baking pans!) with 1 tbsp. shortening; set aside. Put remaining shortening, sugar, salt, and 1 cup boiling water into a large nonmetal bowl and stir to dissolve shortening; let cool to lukewarm. Add eggs and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
2. Put yeast and 1 cup warm water into a small bowl and stir to dissolve. Add yeast mixture to shortening mixture; stir to combine. Add flour and stir, first with a wooden spoon, then with your hands, to form a dough. Turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface and knead gently until dough forms a smooth ball, 1–2 minutes. Clean out bowl, place dough inside, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
3. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and roll out into an 8" × 15" rectangle. Cut out rounds using a 2 1⁄2" round biscuit cutter. Brush tops of each round with melted butter (reserve leftover butter), then fold each in half to form half-moon shapes, pressing down gently on edges to secure shape. Arrange rolls on the prepared baking sheet, spaced evenly apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to let rise until doubled in size, about 1–2 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 425°. Uncover rolls and bake until golden brown and cooked through, 13–15 minutes. Brush with reserved butter; let cool.

Another delicious roll for your Thanksgiving table...also excellent in the disposable pans

Parker House Rolls

3/4 cup milk, heated to 115°
1 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. barley malt syrup or dark corn syrup
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into
1/2"cubes, softened
1/4 cup clarified butter, for greasing and brushing
Fleur de sel, to garnish
1. Stir together milk, yeast, and malt syrup in a large bowl; let sit until foamy, 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt; add to milk mixture along with butter and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, 5–6 minutes. Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let sit until nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour. Uncover and punch down dough; cover and let sit until puffed, about 45 minutes.
2. Heat oven to 325°. Portion dough into fourteen 1 1/2"-diameter balls, about 1 1/4 oz. each, flatten each slightly to an oval shape. Using the handle of a butter knife, crease ovals slightly off center. Fold at crease. Arrange in rows, slightly overlapping, on buttered baking sheet, with shorter side facing down. Allow at least 1/4-inch of space between rows. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Brush with clarified butter and bake until puffed and pale golden brown, 20–22 minutes. Transfer to a rack and brush with more clarified butter; sprinkle each roll with a small pinch of fleur de sel and serve warm.

Lets move to desserts!
what is Thanksgiving without Pumpkin? But it doesn't have to be pie!

Spiced Pumpkin Cake

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter,
softened, plus more for pan
2 cups cake flour, plus more for pan
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground mace
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin purée,
preferably Libby's
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1. Heat oven to 375°. Grease and flour two 8" round cake pans lined with parchment paper cut to fit; set aside. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, ginger, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and mace; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat 1/2 cup butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until smooth, 1–2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition until smooth. Add half the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add pumpkin and milk, and then add remaining dry ingredients; mix until smooth. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and smooth tops with a rubber spatula; bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes; unmold cakes and let cool.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat remaining butter and vanilla on medium speed until smooth. Add confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Increase speed to high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy.
3. Place 1 cake on a cake stand and frost the top with 1/3 of the frosting; stack second cake on top and frost top and sides with remaining frosting. Refrigerate cake; let cake sit for 1 hour at room temperature before serving.

Will there be kids at your table? Young and old kids?  Here you go, check this one out.

Pumpkin Whoopie Cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 TBSP cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground fresh nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup canola oil
3 cups chilled pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare to baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk to sugars and oil together. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.
Sprinkle the flour mixture over the pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.
Use a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to drop healing TBSP of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on the pan while you make the filling. They will look more like mini cakes then cookies, so don’t panic about that.

Maple Syrup Cream Cheese Filling
3 cups powdered sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 TBSP maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth with no visible lumps. Add the cream cheese an beat until combined.
Add the powdered sugar, maple syrup and vanilla and beat until smooth. Be careful no to overbeat the filling, or it will lose structure.
To assemble:
Turn half the cooled cookies upside down. Pipe filling (about a TBSP) onto that half. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spread to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whoppie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm before serving.
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Are you doing a traditional Turkey this year? Last year on November 20th, I gave you a recipe for a turkey rubbed with lots of herbs and spices....heavy on the smoked paprika. It was pretty good! I haven't decided how to fix a turkey this year, or if I will fix beef. My family has always prefered beef, we used to do a Prime Rib for Christmas dinner. It was wonderful, but there were no leftovers! I think that is the one thing that keeps the cook on her/his feet, knowing after the cooking marathon, there will be food  left for several days!
In case you are roasting a turkey, here is a great web page to keep your family safe. No one wants food poisoning!

Well, to end this posting, I feel I have to give you my Grandmother's recipe for her Cornbread Dressing!
Minnie Florence Ogg  was a farmer's wife and could bake like an angel! Enjoy!

Minnie Florence's Cornbread Dressing
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup butter
8 cups cubed white bread
12 cups crumbled cornbread
bacon drippings
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried sage, crushed
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Saute the onion and celery in the butter until both are tender and soft. Do not brown. In a large bowl, blend the breads, parsley and seasonings. Beat the eggs with the cool bacon drippings, and stir into the bread mixture. Add the celery, onion and butter , mix well. Put into a well buttered casserole and bake
in a 350 degree oven until golden brown on top.

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