Classic butter cookies are my husband’s absolute favorite, so I had to try this vanilla bean version. He loved them! They are dangerously easy to make too.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used the ground cinnamon option, varied the shapes, and topped the cookies with festive colored sugars prior to baking.
Because the cookies are quite fragile, the original recipe suggests making them into sandwich cookies, filled with chocolate, Nutella, or thick jam, to increase their stability for shipping. We ate them as is!
Yield: about 4 dozen cookies
- 1 cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), preferably cultured, softened
- 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup/55 grams light brown sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or use 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or orange zest, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon or cardamom, OR 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, optional
- 2 1/4 cups/290 grams all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- decorative sugar, for sprinkling, optional
- Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
- Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the egg, vanilla and the zest, spices or almond extract (if using), and mix until well combined and smooth.
- Reduce speed to low, and gradually add flour and salt until just incorporated.
- Load dough into a cookie press. Following the directions that came with your cookie press (models can vary), push the dough onto ungreased baking sheets, leaving about 1/2 to 1 inch between cookies.
- Sprinkle cookies with decorative sugar.
- Bake until firm to touch and golden brown at edges, about 8 to 9 minutes, or longer (up to 17 minutes) depending upon the size of your cookie press.
- Transfer cookies onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Our festive 2020 “Gingerbread Mansion” (photo above). 🙂
Posted in Baking, Cookies, Good Sweets, Good Eats (Desserts), Holiday, Recipes
Tags: almond extract, butter, cardamom, Christmas, cinnamon, cookie press, cookies, cultured butter, Danish, easy, lemon, orange, sandwich, sea salt, spritz, spritz cookies, vanilla, vanilla bean, vanilla bean paste
I have made these wonderful rolls on numerous occasions. I love that they can be prepared from start to finish in an hour or two. We have eaten them as dinner rolls and as sandwich rolls.
This recipe was adapted from HeartsContentFarmhouse.com. I weighed the ingredients, and used a stand mixer and warming drawer. Similar to Portuguese rolls, these have also become a family favorite.
Yield: 8 rolls
- 7 oz of thick liquid pourable starter (1 1/4 cups)
- 13 oz white bread flour (2 1/2 cups to 3 cups)
- 6.5 oz of water (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
- 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of yeast
- Combine the starter, flour, water, and sugar in a large bowl. Stir to combine. The mixture should be a slightly sticky dough.
- Cover and allow to rest for about 20-40 minutes. (I put the covered bowl in a warming drawer for 20 minutes.)
- Add the salt and yeast on top of the dough, and transfer it to whatever you are using to knead. For a stand mixer, use the dough hook and set it on low for about 5 to 7 minutes. If kneading by hand, knead for about 10 minutes (with a 5 minute rest halfway) without adding any additional flour. ( If using a bread machine, set it on the dough cycle.)
- Check the consistency of the dough after a few minutes of kneading. It may seem sticky, but should clear the sides of the bowl. If it seems very wet, add more flour a few tablespoons at a time.
- When the dough is kneaded, cover it and put in in a warm place to rise between 40-90 minutes. (If using the bread machine, let it complete the cycle and leave it in the machine a bit longer.)
- When the dough has completed its first rise, dump it onto the counter or a cutting board. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper dusted with cornmeal.
- Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. I use a scale and aim for a tad over 3 ounces for each.
- Shape the pieces into rolls by pinching the bottoms. Place on the cornmeal dusted parchment.
- Cover with heavily greased plastic wrap and allow to rise again at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. (I placed the baking sheet in a warming drawer for 45 minutes.)
- Fifteen minutes prior to the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Place one rack in the center, and one in the lower middle area. Place an empty baking sheet on the lower rack to get hot while the over heats.
- Rub the top of each roll with flour. Slash, if desired, using kitchen shears, a lame, or sharp knife. Cover while the oven is preheating.
- When the oven has heated and the rolls have risen, pour 1 cup of water on the hot baking sheet to create steam. (It may buckle.)
- Place the rolls inside the oven and bake for 15-21 minutes, until browned outside and until the internal temperature reads 210 degrees on an instant thermometer. Cool on wire rack.
Compared to my last post, this is a more classic sourdough loaf. Like the other loaves, it has a great crumb and tender texture inside but this loaf has a crispy top crust and a more pronounced sourdough flavor.
This recipe is from Bob’s Red Mill. The original recipe states that it is ideal for all kinds of sandwiches, as well as toast, bread pudding and bread crumbs. We enjoyed it for wonderful sandwiches and toast, but making bread pudding with this beautiful loaf might need to happen in the future. 🙂
Yield: One 2-pound loaf
- 1 ¼ cups room temperature water, 75°F (10 fl oz)
- 2/3 cup active sourdough starter (6 1/2 oz)
- 3 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (1 lb)
- 1 T table salt or 4 tsp Kosher salt
- In a large mixing bowl, dissolve water and starter.
- Add flour and mix until a rough and shaggy dough forms, about 4 minutes (low-speed if using an electric mixer).
- Cover with a towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Add salt and mix until a slightly soft and elastic dough (which easily pulls away from the sides of the bowl) forms, 6–10 minutes by hand or about 2–4 minutes on medium speed with an electric mixer. To ensure proper gluten development, tear off a small piece of dough and stretch it as thin as possible; if a thin, transparent “window” is visible without any tearing, the dough is ready to proof.
- Transfer dough to a large lightly oiled bowl, turning dough to coat all sides in oil. Cover with plastic and let rise in a warm place until puffy, about 30 minutes.
- Punch down the center of the dough and fold all four sides into the center. Flip dough upside down, cover, and let rise again, another 30 minutes.
- Repeat the punch and rise a total of four times (2 hours). The dough has properly proofed when a light push with a finger leaves an indentation that does not spring back.
- Remove proofed dough from the bowl and place on a floured work surface. Gently stretch into a 10-inch rectangle. Fold the short ends of the dough to meet in the center. Fold the top of the dough to the center and lightly seal with fingertips. Fold the top of the dough to the bottom and seal with the heel of the hand, then gently roll into a 6-inch long cylinder. Cover and let rest 15–20 minutes.
- Uncover the dough and turn the cylinder seam-side-up on a floured work surface. Press and gently stretch the dough to a 6-inch rectangle. Fold the top of the dough to the center and press with the fingertips to seal and tighten. Fold the top of the dough to the bottom and seal with the heel of the hand. Gently roll the dough into a tight and smooth 8-inch loaf.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled 8 x 4-inch loaf pan. Cover with plastic and proof until puffy and an indentation does not spring back, 30–40 minutes. (My final rise time was about 1 hour, just until the dough rose over the rim of the loaf pan.)
- Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 450°F. Place a baking tray on the lowest rack of the oven and place a baking stone (if using) on the center rack. Make sure the oven (and baking stone) preheat for at least 30 minutes.
- When the dough is ready to bake, gently score the top of the loaf with a few slashes using a lame, kitchen shears, razor blade, or very sharp knife.
- Place the loaf pan on the preheated baking stone and pour 4 cups of water into the baking pan on the bottom rack. Quickly close the oven door and let bake at 450°F until browned on top, 35–45 minutes. To ensure doneness, gently remove the bread from the pan and tap the bottom of the loaf–a hollow sound should be audible. Using a probe thermometer, test for a final interior temperature of 200–210°F.
- Let cool at least 20 minutes before slicing.
I have two sourdough sandwich loaves to share. This recipe makes two tender and delicious loaves, absolutely perfect for sandwiches. The inclusion of dry milk and butter resulted in a prolonged storage time compared to typical sourdough loaf. It sliced very easily as well.
This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. The levain is prepared the night before making the dough. The dough also incorporates instant yeast to expedite the rising times.
Yield: Two 8-inch loaves
For the Levain:
- 1 cup + 1 tablespoon (128g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (128g) cool water (60° to 70°F)
- 3 tablespoons (44g) ripe (fed) sourdough starter
For the Dough:
- 5 1/4 cups (631g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour or King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
- scant 6 tablespoons (50g) nonfat dry milk
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 57g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (340g) water (70° to 80°F)
- all of the ripe levain
To Make the Levain:
- Mix all of the levain ingredients together and place in a covered container with room for the levain to grow. It will almost double in size, and will take about 12 hours to ripen (ferment) at room temperature (70°F). When perfectly ripened, there’ll be large bubbles (mostly below the surface) creating a somewhat rippled effect. It’ll appear almost fluffy. If the levain is covered with a froth of tiny bubbles, it’s a bit over-ripened; but don’t worry, you can still use it.
To Make the Dough:
- Mix and then knead together all of the dough ingredients, including the levain, to make a smooth, supple, and not overly sticky dough. (I used a stand mixer.)
- Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours, until doubled in size. (I used a proofing oven.)
- Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into 8″ logs. (I used a scale to divide the dough evenly, about 710 grams per loaf.)
- Place the logs, seam side down, in two lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ bread pans. (9″ x 5″ pans will also work)
- Cover the pans with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let the loaves rise until they’ve crowned about 1″ over the rim of the pan, about 45 minutes to 1 hour (or up to 2 hours). (I used a proofing oven.)
- Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the sides of the loaf feel firm.
- Remove the loaves from the oven, and turn them out of the pans onto a rack to cool. Let them cool completely before slicing.
*All-purpose flour will produce a somewhat stickier dough.
Note: To prevent a wrinkled top surface: Slash the top of the loaf several times before baking, much as you would a baguette. This helps release the steam that gathers under the crust, which can produce wrinkles as the baked loaf cools.
Posted in Baking, Bread, Recipes
Tags: bread, butter, dry milk, King Arthur, levain, loaf, sandwich, sourdough, sourdough starter
This is a great summer meal. We have already tried a couple versions!
The first time I served this meal, I shredded grilled chicken thighs and dressed them with Trader Joe’s mustard barbecue sauce. We topped them with the quick dill pickles (below) and ate them as classic sandwiches.
The second time, I served the sandwiches in an open face fashion and we ate them with a knife and fork. I shredded a rotisserie chicken and dressed the meat with the tomato-based barbecue sauce (below) and topped them with my favorite Easy Fridge Dill Pickles.
This recipe was adapted from Sara Moulton.com. I used various barbecue sauces and pickles. I also served the sandwiches on slices of a Honey Beer Bread loaf. We ate the sandwiches with potato chips on one occasion and with homemade Curly Fries on the second occasion. Corn on the cob would also be great. The original recipe suggests serving them with cole slaw- next time!
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
To Assemble the Sandwiches:
- Honey Beer Bread or large potato rolls or hamburger buns
- Basic Barbecue Sauce (recipe below) or 2 cups store-bought sauce (such as Trader Joe’s Mustard Barbecue Sauce)
- Quick Dill Pickles (recipe below) or Easy Fridge Dill Pickles
- shredded skinless cooked chicken from a large store-bought rotisserie chicken (4 cups packed, or more, to taste) or boneless skinless chicken thighs, grilled and shredded
- Prepare the Beer Bread, Basic Barbeque Sauce and Dill Pickle Cucumber Slices. (Alternatively, bring the prepared barbecue sauce to a boil in a medium saucepan and warm the store-bought buns.)
- Add the shredded chicken meat to the sauce and heat until hot. (When using the Basic Barbecue Sauce, I incorporated the shredded meat from an entire rotisserie chicken. We had leftovers.)
- Cut the Beer Bread, if using, one or two slices per serving, as desired.
- Place pieces of bread on individual plates and top each with the chicken mixture.
- Top the chicken with pickle slices and another piece of bread, if desired.
For the Basic Barbecue Sauce:
Yield: 2 cups
- 1 T vegetable oil
- 2 large garlic cloves (I used 2 CSA little neck garlic cloves)
- 2 cups ketchup (I used Trader Joe’s)
- 4 T cider vinegar
- 4 T Worcestershire sauce
- 2 T packed dark brown sugar
- 1 T Creole seasoning (recipe below) or store-bought (I used Slap Ya Mama)
- 2 tsp dry mustard
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until hot; reduce the heat to low and press the garlic into the oil. Sauté for about 1 minute or until it just begins to turn golden.
- Add the ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, Creole seasoning, and mustard.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat; reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce, partially covered to reduce spattering, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Use as directed in a recipe or transfer to a nonreactive jar or bowl, cover, and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.
For the Quick Dill Pickles:
Yield: 1 1/3 cups
- one 5 to 6-inch piece of seedless (English) cucumber
- 2 T fresh dill leaves, finely chopped
- 2 T cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Thinly slice enough of the cucumber to make 1 1/3 cups. (I cut them 1/8-inch thick using a mandolin.)
- Combine the cucumber with the vinegar, dill, sugar, salt, and pepper in a small non-reactive bowl.
- Set it aside at room temperature and use within and hour, or cover and refrigerate for later use.
For the Creole Seasoning:
Yield: about 1/2 cup
- 1 T plus 1 tsp hot paprika
- 1 T Kosher salt
- 1 T garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- Combine the paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne, oregano, and thyme in a small bowl.
- Transfer to a tight jar and use as directed in a recipe.
Posted in Chicken (Poultry), Quick, Recipes
Tags: barbecue, barbecue sauce, beer bread, chicken thighs, creole, dinner, easy, ketchup, pulled chicken, rotisserie chicken, sandwich, summer
My son has become obsessed with making this bread. It is absolutely delicious and he can make it completely independently. He has experimented with several types of beers but his favorite is a light lager because the flavor it imparts is more subtle.
This recipe was adapted from Little Sweet Baker. We have made it several times to serve with pulled chicken sandwiches- a great combination. The bread is buttery and has a chewy texture. Great!
Yield: One 9-inch loaf
- 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
- 1 T baking powder
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 1/4 cup (60ml) honey
- 1 bottle of beer, of choice (330 to 355 ml) of choice, at room temperature (our favorite is Trader Joe’s light lager)
- 4 T melted unsalted butter, divided (I melt the butter in the microwave in separate 2 T portions)
- Preheat oven to 350F, preferably on convection.
- Grease a 9×5″ loaf pan with cooking oil spray. Set aside. (I used a glass loaf pan.)
- Sift the flour into a large bowl, then whisk in the baking powder and salt.
- Pour in 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, followed by the honey and beer.
- Stir all the ingredients together until just combined.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and brush the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter on top.
- Bake for 40 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then remove the bread to cool on a wire rack.
Posted in Baking, Bread, Recipes
Tags: beer, bread, butter, easy, honey, lager, loaf, no rise, quick bread, sandwich, unleavened
One of our absolute favorite dinner sandwiches is filled with garlicky grilled eggplant and feta cheese. After seeing this recipe, I kept thinking about making this version on freshly baked sourdough bread. I loved the idea of slathering the bread with fresh ricotta cheese too. Yum!
The recipe was adapted from SaraMoulton.com. I used my favorite recipe for fresh ricotta and served the sandwiches on homemade sourdough bread. I added garlic and grilled the vegetables instead of roasting them as well. We ate them with creamy cucumber-avocado salad on the side. It was an amazing vegetarian meal.
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 small to medium eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
- 2 medium to large zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
- 6 to 8 Campari tomatoes or 6 plum tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
- 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 large garlic cloves
- fresh ricotta cheese (see Note)
- 8 slices of no-knead sourdough bread, crusty bread, or whole grain bread
- The evening before serving the meal, start the homemade sourdough bread process, if using. Bake the bread the day of the meal. (Alternatively, use another crusty bread or whole grain bread.)
- Place the vegetable slices in a single layer on a cutting board or rimmed baking sheet; season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Crush the garlic cloves with a garlic press and spread the garlic over the top of the eggplant slices. Let rest a minimum of 30 minutes (the longer the better).
- Meanwhile, prepare the fresh ricotta cheese. I made it according to the recipe but simmered the mixture for approximately 5 minutes, until it was visibly curdling. I strained it for about 15 minutes and omitted the addition of lemon zest. (The longer it is strained, the thicker the consistency.) Set aside.
- Brush both sides of the eggplant and tomato slices with olive oil. Toss the zucchini slices with olive oil.
- Grill the vegetables separately until slightly charred and tender; grill the eggplant directly on the grates and grill the zucchini and tomato slices using a grill basket. (Alternatively, the vegetables can be roasted on parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheets in a 425 degree oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.)
- Divide the warm ricotta among 4 slices of bread and top with the hot vegetables and remaining 4 slices of bread. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve.
Note: Making fresh ricotta can have varied results- sometimes it has large curds, sometimes it has small curds and occasionally it has no curds. If this should happen to you, don’t panic, just add another tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and the curds will appear.
Posted in Grilling, Recipes, Vegetarian
Tags: dinner, eggplant, garlic, grilled, ricotta, roasted vegetables, sandwich, Sara Moulton, sourdough, tomato, vegetable, vegetables, vegetarian, zucchini
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