Top Eight Recipes 2015

Today’s question of the day is how the heck does time work?! Cuz I’m pretty sure today has lasted about 47.3 hours already, yet somehow it’s been FIVE WEEKS since my last post?? Not even four weeks, like I thought before I realized we are a good week into February…

What day is it? What year is it? (I’m horrible.)

But I’m gonna try and make it up to you by sharing the TOP EIGHT NOMS on memo2munch, more than the number of weeks I missed because #bonus and also we must continue this theme of my not understanding anything with numbers.

I know they’re not new recipes, but I’m feeling a little nostalgic right now because in approximately five days memo2munch will be turning 2.5 years old! Speaking of time. moving. fast!!!

I went back over the most viewed/pinned recipes here on memo2munch and picked the top eight. Think of it as a trip down memory lane for your stomach and/or a reminder of what to make this week 😉

8. Six-Ingredient Cherry Cobbler

6 Ingredient Cherry Cobbler | memo2munch

Ohhhh, shoot. One recipe in and I’m drooling a lil bit. Honestly, these cherries didn’t need anything added to them, but flour, sugar, and butter never made anything worse, amiright?

Totally worth the finger stains we got from pitting all those cherries.

If you want to make this recipe now, I’d suggest using any kind of frozen berries. They’re picked and frozen when they are ripe, so your cobbler will taste great even though berries are out of season.

7. Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pancakes

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pancakes | memo2munch

Still haven’t recovered from these. Still want them every day. Still so happy I can eat literally all of my favorite things in one (or 7) heart shaped pancake.

PS Valentine’s Day is a’coming, so you could make these for your special person (yes, that includes yourself), ok? Ok.

6. Vegan Blueberry Hand Pies of Cuteness

Vegan Blueberry Hand-Pies | memo2munch

Name is on point, and that’s all I have to say.

5. Best Ever Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Vegan Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting

Best Ever Sweet Potato Cupcakes | memo2munch

Fall ain’t just about pumpkin, anymore.

4. Rum-Soaked Pumpkin Bread with Espresso Swirl

Rum-Soaked Pumpkin Bread with Espresso Swirl

However, we also still like pumpkin. A lot. Especially when espresso and rum are involved.

3. Dark Chocolate Orange Cake with White Chocolate Ganache

Dark Chocolate Orange Cake with White Chocolate Ganache | memo2munch

Decadent and oh so delicious. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: ya can’t go wrong with chocolate cake in any form (but dark chocolate orange sure is nice).

2. Shakshuka!!!

shakshuka | memo2munch

Turns out one savory recipe out of eight sweet recipes is a pretty good representation of the ratio on memo2munch as a whole… Whoops.

1. Peppermint Hot Cocoa Cookies

Peppermint Hot Cocoa Cookies | memo2munch

It’s too hard to pick favorites with dessert but let’s just say that I’m very, very glad that these cookies ended up in the number one spot. Soooo gooey sooooo yuuuuum. <3

Hope you enjoyed this recipe round-up and that you give/have given some of them a try! See you in not as long this time, promise.

5 Tips for Making Slam-Bang French Toast Every Time

HI I’M MOLLY & I FEEL VERY STRONGLY ABOUT FRENCH TOAST.

For me, not much beats French toast done right, especially served fresh off the griddle with a cup of tea on a brisk, autumn morning. The crisp, buttery outside of each slice giving way to a filling like rich custard. Subtly sweet. Warm and comforting. Drizzled in syrup or sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, perhaps a pat of butter and some chopped nuts to boot.

(Perhaps all of the above.)

5 Tips for Slam-Bang French Toast Every Time

I could keep going, but I want to get to the meat n’ potatoes (lol) of this post, which is… *drumroll please*

5 Tips for Making Slam-Bang French Toast Every Time

French toast is one of the simplest dishes as far as ingredients and technique, requiring just a few basic items probably already in your kitchen and only about 10 minutes start to finish. Anyone can do it. But every now and then I come across French toast that is limp and soggy, or dry like toast in the middle. Sad face.

Don’t let that French toast be yours! Here are some things you can do to get consistently incredible results.

5 Tips for Slam-Bang French Toast Every Time

1. Use the right bread: slightly stale and dense/heavy

Seriously. The bread you use can make or break your French toast experience. Supposedly, French toast was invented as a way to avoid wasting bread that had gone stale. The bread acts as a sponge and soaks up the egg and milk mixture, so the drier (aka more stale) your bread, the more liquid it will absorb and the more custardy the inside will become.

Sturdier breads–like challah, brioche, and sourdough–are also better at absorbing liquid. Basically, the magic combo is a stale, heavy bread.

Bonus: If you get hit by a French toast craving, but your bread isn’t stale at all, stick slices on a wire rack in the oven at 300ºF for about 5 minutes on each side. Alternatively, if you’re thinking ahead, you can leave the slices out overnight.

5 Tips for Slam-Bang French Toast Every Time

2. Slice it thick

You want a good ratio of creamy inside to crispy outside. Also, there is less of a chance of your French toast going limp or falling apart if the slices are a little thicker. I usually aim for around an inch in width, maybe a little less.

3. REALLY soak that bread

This might be THE MOST crucial step for slam-bang French toast. Good French toast comes from the bread absorbing the egg mixture. Just quickly coating your bread and tossing it in the pan will leave you with fried egg on the outside and dry bread on the inside. Non, merci.

You’ve got a couple options here. One is to let the slices soak in the egg mixture for 5 minutes on each side. However, if you’re impatient like me, you can use a fork to gently but thoroughly press the slices into the egg mixture. Think about how a sponge absorbs water more quickly if you squeeze it underwater.

Remember: we don’t dredge French toast like we’re making fried chicken. We soak French toast. Because we’re awesome.

5 Tips for Slam-Bang French Toast Every Time

4. Preheat the pan

So usually I’m one for instant gratification (see: tip #5), but in this case you really have to let the pan heat fully. If the pan isn’t hot enough when the first slice goes in, the egg mixture will start to spread. You want that stuff on your bread, not making egg tails in the pan.

Bonus: A good rule of thumb for knowing your pan is hot enough is that butter will start to bubble and sizzle when it hits the pan.

5 Tips for Slam-Bang French Toast Every Time

5 Tips for Slam-Bang French Toast Every Time

5. Get the heat right

In addition to letting the pan preheat all the way, you want to cook your French toast at the right temperature. Medium to medium-low heat is best. If the heat is too high, the outside will cook too quickly and the inside will end up an undercooked, eggy mess. If the heat is too low, then your toast will be dry inside and less crispy on the outside. Medium heat is the Goldilocks cooking temperature.

These 5 tips should have you cranking out incredible French toast in no time. Ready to start now? Here’s a great recipe to practice with:

Honey & Sauteed Apple French Toast

Honey Sauteed Apple French Toast | memo2munch

Muesli

Here, let me introduce you to muesli.

Or as its friends like to call it, lazy granola.

Ooh yeah, I saw those ears perk up.

Muesli | memo2munch

Because sometimes (all the time) you don’t want to wait around forever for granola to toast in the oven, but you also don’t want to spend your life savings + an arm on little bags of overpriced granola consisting of ingredients you can buy IN BULK from Kroger for the same amount or less TOTAL. I know.

Muesli | memo2munch

muesli3'5

Muesli is the exact same thing as granola, only it’s not toasted or just slightly toasted. If you decide not to toast it, you literally just have to throw things in a bowl and stir them around. Done.

It’s the most college thing ever, but it makes you look hipster-foodie as all get out.

And saves you a lotta money.

And gives you a lotta fiber, which helps lower bad cholesterol (byeeee, LDL) and keeps you full.

Muesli | memo2munch

“What did I do today? Oh, well I woke up early, biked to my favorite coffee shop–you know, that one next to that old record store I love–made a batch of muesli, saved a kitten, detangled my flower crown from my hair, and watched all of Wes Anderson’s films and it’s only 2pm.” <—- YOU

Muesli | memo2munch

Just like granola, muesli is super customizable. You can sub in all different kinds of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, or add some cinnamon for a little extra kick. As long as you stick with the basic formula, your ratios will turn out right.

I like to eat my muesli with coconut milk and so much fruit that you can’t even see the muesli underneath. Aka like this:

Muesli | memo2munch

You could also eat your muesli sprinkled over yogurt or in parfait form, mixed with water and heated up to make oatmeal, or however you so desire. It will be delicious, I promise.

Experiment with some muesli this week!!

Muesli | memo2munch

Muesli
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Ingredients
  1. 4 cups rolled oats (certified GF if celiac)
  2. 1 cup nuts
  3. 1 cup seeds
  4. 1 cup dried fruit
  5. 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
Instructions
  1. If toasting muesli: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, and seeds. Stir in honey or maple syrup. Spread evenly on pan and toast for 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely before mixing in fruit. Store in an airtight container.
  2. If not toasting muesli: Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Store in an airtight container.
Memo2munch http://memo2munch.com/

Honey Spelt Bread

I wrote a little haiku poem, and I’d like to share it with all of you today.

It’s about something that’s very near and dear to my heart, especially during this frosty time of year.

It’s called, “Bread.” I hope you like it. Ahem:

So doughy and soft,
Can I eat you all the time?
Oh, my love for thee.

Honey Spelt Bread | memo2munch

There is nothing truer than this poem, friends. I LOVE bread. Give me a nice, chewy loaf of carbohydrates and I’m set!

We go through bread in our apartment like it’s the only thing we have to eat (but actually, sometimes it’s all we WANT to eat) because we all adore it. Usually we get a whole grain sandwich bread from the supermarket or splurge every once in a while on a sourdough boule from the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings.

Honey Spelt Bread | memo2munch

But when it was Tuesday, and we were already out of bread for the week, I realized something. Why are we buying bread? We don’t need to be buying bread. I know how to yeast. I can make bread. (Yes, I just made yeast into a verb & guess what iloveit.)

And if I can make bread, so can you. Promise.

Honey Spelt Bread | memo2munch

I mean, the benefits waaaay outweigh the effort. In under 3 hours you have a delicious, fresh loaf of bread perfect for all bread-y occasions and an aroma you just can’t beat. If that seems like a long time, let me just point out that 80 percent will be spent letting the yeast do the heavy lifting, and then baking the bread in the oven. It basically makes itself!

Best of all, you only need five ingredients. Yeast aside, you probably already have the rest of the ingredients in your house RIGHT NOW. Yes, you!

Honey Spelt Bread | memo2munch

The loaf pictured here is made with whole spelt flour, but I tried it with whole wheat flour, and it worked just as well.

If you have any hesitations about using yeast, fear not! I’m going to walk you through the tricky parts. The important thing to remember is that yeast is just super picky and spoiled, nothing to be afraid of. It takes some practice to really get comfortable with it, and sometimes your blueberry sweet rolls might rise over the sides of the pan like mine did. But once you get into a rhythm, working with yeast will become one of the most fun and rewarding kitchen activities you do!

Step 1: Activating the yeast

My bread recipe uses active dry yeast, which is different than instant yeast. Active dry yeast, though it says in the name that it’s active, needs to be dissolved in warm water before it can be used in a recipe. Instant yeast has a smaller particle size, so it can be mixed in directly with the dry ingredients.

Honey Spelt Bread | memo2munch

So I mentioned that yeast is picky, right? Well, water temperature is one of the things it’s picky about. The water has to be hot enough to dissolve the yeast, but not so hot that it kills it. (What a diva…) You want to aim for about 110° F, or about the temperature you would make a bath for a baby.

Here’s a tip: if you can’t keep your finger comfortably in the water for 10 seconds, then it’s too hot!

Once your water is the right temperature, sprinkle in the yeast and stir briefly until it has all dissolved. Just let it sit while you mix the dry ingredients together, and then add it like you would any other liquid in a recipe.

Honey Spelt Bread | memo2munch

Step 2: Kneading the dough

This part seems to scare people the most, but I find it really therapeutic now that I’ve got the hang of it.

Kneading develops the gluten in dough, which gives it that nice, chewy, texture. You want the dough to be a little sticky when you start, so don’t add too much flour although I know it’s tempting.

Flour a clean surface and place the ball of dough down, flipping it so the outside is all coated in flour. Then hold the bottom edge of the dough in place with your left hand. Grab the top of the dough in your right hand and use the heal of your right hand to gently stretch the dough away from you, then fold it back on top of itself. Turn the whole dough ball a quarter to the right. Repeat this process for 5-6 minutes, and THAT’S IT! Pull, fold, turn.

Honey Spelt Bread | memo2munch

Keep the surface coated in flour, adding more as needed. When the dough is not super sticky and springs back when you poke it, you’re DONE! YAY!

Here’s a tip: if you’re a more visual person, YouTube has some great videos that show you how to knead. That’s how I learned, actually. This is the video I watched. Don’t worry, you don’t actually have to watch the whole thing. The kneading part is at the beginning. Here’s another one I like.

Step 3: Letting it rise

This part is a piece of cake. The hardest part is waiting, but we’ve talked about that.

Honey Spelt Bread | memo2munch

All you do for the first rise is flour the bowl you prepared the dough in, place the dough in a ball shape in the bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and wait!

Here’s a tip: yeast rises best in warm environments, so what I do is preheat the oven to 200° F while I’m prepping the dough. When the dough is ready to rise, I turn the oven off and place the whole bowl in the oven for an hour. Works every time, thanks Sally’s Baking Addiction!

Honey Spelt Bread | memo2munch

 

I find that the oven is still warm enough by the time of the second rise, so I don’t bother preheating it again. Just place the whole loaf pan in the off oven like you did with the bowl.

If you’d like to print a copy of these steps to keep in your kitchen for easy reference, you can do that by clicking print below.

Print Break-Making Tips

Honey Spelt Bread | memo2munch

 

I’m almost on break for Thanksgiving. One more class! I hope you have a wonderful time with your friends and family. (And if you’re looking for something impressive to bring to your Thanksgiving meal, I highly suggest fresh-baked bread. Everyone will love you.) Okay, byyye!

Honey Spelt Bread
Yields 1
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Ingredients
  1. 4 1/2 cups whole spelt flour, plus more for dusting*
  2. 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  3. 1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
  4. 1 3/4 c. warm water, about 110 degees F/43 degrees C
  5. 2 tbsp. local honey
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F/90 degrees C.** Pour the warm water in a bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Whisk until dissolved.
  2. In a separate, large bowl, combine 4 cups of the flour with the sea salt.
  3. Add the yeast and water mixture and the honey to the dry ingredients. Add only enough of the remaining 1/2 c. flour so that the dough begins to gently pull away from the sides of the bowl. It should still be slightly sticky.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until no longer sticky and dough springs back when poked. (Details in post)
  5. Turn the oven off. Flour the bowl you prepared the dough in. Shape the dough into a ball, and set in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the oven, or another warm place, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  6. Spray a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with vegetable cooking spray. Gently punch the dough down, and invert onto a lightly floured work surface. Flatten it slightly, and roll it into a log. Tuck the ends under, and place in the greased loaf pan, seam-side down. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the oven again until doubled in bulk, about 30-40 minutes.
  7. Remove the dough from the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F/230 degrees C. Dust the dough lightly with flour. Use a sharp knife to make a shallow, lengthwise gash down the center of the loaf. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the loaf is browned and sounds hollow when tapped.Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then tip it out onto a rack to cool completely before enjoying.
Notes
  1. *You may also use whole wheat flour, or sub up to one cup all purpose flour if you don't want quite as hearty a loaf.
  2. **Only do this if you are using the oven trick for helping the dough rise that I mentioned in the post.
Adapted from Food and Wine
Adapted from Food and Wine
Memo2munch http://memo2munch.com/

Basic Granola (Gluten Free)

I’ve never had a particularly good relationship with insects.

As in, a grasshopper puked on me when I was younger, I’ve found at least four bugs in beds I’ve slept in, my mosquito bites get humongous, and the first time I ever got stung was by a wasp and a bee on the same day. On my stomach.

I’ll admit it. These encounters have left me kind of paranoid. (Anyone else check under their pillows and blankets for bugs before they crawl into bed each night? That’s normal, right?) But now I KNOW the bugs are out to get me.

Basic GF Granola | memo2munch

You see, a giant spider has decided that our back door is a perfect place to set up spider shop. Its web extends about a third of the way down the doorway, so we have to duck if we want to grill or water the plants. SUCH CRUELTY.

During the day when the spider is off doing whatever spiders do (plotting world domination), we get rid of the web with a stick, but lo and behold, by the next day the web is back.

Basic GF Granola | memo2munch

As if this wasn’t bad enough, today a wasp decided that our front door was prime real estate for a nest. It literally built a nest ON our front door. Not on the frame, but on the front door. Yep, can’t even open that one now. (Update: my father has since taken a hose to our front door and washed the nest away—brave man. Fingers crossed it doesn’t reappear and/or the wasps don’t wage war on our household.)

Basic GF Granola | memo2munch

If it weren’t for the garage door, WE WOULD BE TRAPPED.

Watch, a praying mantis battalion will be waiting outside of the garage tomorrow.

At least in the event of an insect takeover, I have homemade granola to comfort me.

I am definitely a granola girl. I like it on yogurt, with some almond milk like cereal, sprinkled on a fruit crisp, and even just by itself. The sweet crunch of toasted oats and nuts mixed with the chewy tartness of dried fruit creates a texture adventure for your mouth, and it’s super filling and nutritious—I can’t get enough!

Basic GF Granola | memo2munch

I used to buy granola, but it’s super easy to make and will save you tons of money coming from your own kitchen. Plus it’s one of the most customizable foods out there. Any dried fruit will work, as well as any nuts and seeds. Throw in some pumpkin pie spice during the fall for a fun twist, or a splash of vanilla for extra flavor. You can even add some dairy-free chocolate chips after your granola has cooled completely if you’ve got a giant sweet tooth like me! The {HEALTHY} possibilities are endless! Unlike the number of ways I can exit my house currently…

Basic GF Granola | memo2munch

Today’s recipe is just an all-purpose, basic granola recipe to get you started. Feel free to tweak it to your liking. To make this recipe even more nutritious, add some chia or flax seeds. Yum!

You will also notice that I FINALLY have a link to print the recipe. That’s been a work in progress, but I’ve figured out how thanks to the vast interwebs. (Ugh, I just made myself think of spiders.) I’ll be working on making print pages for my previous recipes, promise! Okay, go make granola.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and family. If you’d like to receive new posts directly in your email, you can click the gray follow button on the left side of the screen. Thanks for reading!

Basic GF Granola | memo2munch

Basic Granola (Gluten Free)
Print this recipe

Ingredients:
4 cups (360 g) old fashioned oats (look for certified gluten free oats to make this recipe GF)
Pinch salt
1 cup (128 g) mixed nuts and seeds (I used sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, pecans, and pumpkin seeds)
1 cup (120 g) dried fruit (I used raisins, cranberries, and cherries)
¼ c. (2 fl. oz.) melted coconut oil
¼ c. + 2 tbsp. (about 128 g) sweetener like honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, agave, or a combination

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line an edged baking pan with aluminum foil.
2. Mix oats, salt, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit in a large bowl.
3. In a separate small bowl, mix coconut oil and sweetener until combined. Pour into bowl with oats and mix until evenly incorporated.
4. Spread granola on pan in an even layer. Bake for 30 minutes, mixing every 8-10 minutes and again when the granola comes out of the oven. For chunky granola, don’t mix. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Store in a jar for easy snacking. Granola will last a few months.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread + Bread-Making Basics

It’s been an interesting week.

It was the last week before spring break, and I literally almost blew away today because it was so windy, but that’s not JUST why.

It starts with psychology, which is SO CRAZY.

I’m taking my first psychology course ever, and I’m repeatedly blown away (Noticed this pun while editing. Can we all just take a moment? Thank you.) by the amazing things our mind does for us. Very intricate processes are carried out so instantaneously and efficiently that we don’t grasp the amount of work put into them.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread | memo2munch

We open our eyes and see. Not just shapes, but identifiable objects. Trees, outlets, bananas. We recognize these things from all different angles, even from angles we haven’t seen before. We recognize faces. We understand depth. Despite the fact that the images on our retinas are two-dimensional, upside-down and reversed.

We see COLORS! Fabulous sunsets, beautiful flowers.

Our brains turn vibrations into bubbling brooks, intricate symphonies, and words with meaning.

Free-floating molecules become the scent of everything from fresh-baked bread to that fresh smell after it rains.

We can taste (YEEEES) and touch. We comprehend our location relative to the world around us.

All of these sensations are accomplished by the brain. There’s no color or sound in the outside world, only light and vibrations that our brains translate for us. That little blob that lives in our skulls is pretty dang fantastic.

I just get so excited. Learning about the brain makes me want to see, hear, smell, taste, touch EVERYTHING! And I think everyone else should want to as well.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread | memo2munch

There’s so much to experience, and all of it can be processed by our brains into the most wonderful… I’m at a loss for words. I have no idea how to describe the phenomena that are our senses. You can call me basic, but I “can’t even.”

But I can still EXPERIENCE them all the same, and so can you! This is why I love making bread.

I see the dough change and mature as it rises. I feel the warmth of the dough between my fingers as I mix and knead. I smell the comforting aroma of yeast and cinnamon. If all else is silent, I can hear a few air bubbles pop while I knead.

It’s hard for language to convey what it’s like to make bread, but once you make it you just understand. And you share that unspoken understanding with others who bake it. Those of you reading who have baked bread before know what I’m talking about!

Senses are private, so we can’t be sure we all experience the exact same thing. But we all feel something similar, and that’s what’s important.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread | memo2munch

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread | memo2munch

Please, please give bread-making it a try! I know that yeast can be scary, but try it a few times and you’ll see that it’s not evil, it’s just picky! It may take a try or two to get the hang of. I had a difficult time at first, just take a look at my epic fail in this post. However, since I’ve practiced and gotten the hang of using yeast, I LOVE IT!

There are four key parts of making bread. Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through the whole process.

  1. Activating the yeast: Before you do anything, you need to activate the yeast. We’re using active dry yeast in this recipe. Careful not to substitute instant yeast. We activate the yeast by sprinkling it over a mixture of warm almond milk and water. This step is probably where the most people get discouraged. Yeast is a drama queen, and if the water is too hot it will just up and die. Since we have to baby yeast, aim for the liquid to be the temperature you would make a baby’s bath. I don’t even use a thermometer! If you can keep one finger in the liquid comfortably, then you’re in the right zone. Sprinkle in the yeast, and let sit for 10 minutes. If your water was the right temperature, you should see lots of froth!
  2. Adding flour: While it may seem simple enough, knowing how much flour to add can be confusing. A lot of people add too much because they don’t want the dough to be sticky at all when they need it. This will make your bread tough. The act of kneading smooths out the dough and makes it not sticky, so you want your dough a tiny bit sticky when you begin to knead. Don’t feel obligated to use all of the flour the recipe calls for.
  3. Kneading: This part is so therapeutic once you get the hang of it! Its purpose is to develop the gluten which gives bread that chewy texture we all love. Flour a surface like a large cutting board. Take your dough and flip ot over and over until you have a light coating of flour on all sides. Then, grip the bottom left edge of the dough ball with your left hand. Grab the top half with your right hand and stretch the dough away from you. Then fold it back over itself. Now turn the dough 90 degrees to the right, and repeat. Keep going, adding bits of flour as needed, until your dough is nice and smooth. Easy, right?
  4. Rising: Rising is very important, otherwise you will end up with a dense rock instead of a light and fluffy loaf. The trick here is warmth. Picky yeast won’t start any rising action if it’s too cold. Since my house is often cold, what I do is preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Lightly oil a large bowl (you can rinse out and use the bowl you made the dough in) and place the dough in the bowl while the oven heats. Once it reaches 200 degrees, turn the oven off. Cover the bowl lightly with foil or plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise in the still-warm oven until doubled in size.

There! Now you’re ready to get baking. 🙂

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Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread | memo2munchCinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread | memo2munch

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread | memo2munchCinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread | memo2munch

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread | memo2munch
(Adapted from The Pastry Affair)

Yields 1 loaf

For dough
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup (235 ml) warm almond milk
1/3 cup (80 ml) warm water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup (60 grams) melted margarine
3/4 cup (120 grams) raisins (I used a mix of regular and yellow raisins)
3 1/2 cups (445 grams) all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer), sprinkle the yeast over the barely warm milk and water and allow to sit about 5-10 minutes until activated (looks frothy). Mix in the sugar, salt, and melted margarine. Mix in raisins. Gradually add flour, mixing until the dough comes together. If the dough is too dry and will not come together, add small amounts of water until it does. Conversely, if the dough is too sticky, add flour until it becomes workable; however, do not add too much flour or the bread will become dense.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for 7-10 minutes, or until elastic. Alternatively, using the dough hook on a stand mixer, knead the dough for 7-10 minutes, or until elastic. Cover dough with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in a warm place, about 1 hour. Here’s what I do: preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Then turn it off. Keep the dough in the oven to rise. It works!

For Cinnamon Swirl
1/3 cup (70 grams) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 large egg, beaten

In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon until evenly mixed. Set aside.

Punch down the dough before turning out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out into a 9 x 15-inch rectangle. Brush the beaten egg over the top. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the egg. Starting with the shortest end, roll up the dough until a log is formed, folding down the ends. Transfer the log, seam side down, into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Press dough down so it reaches the corners evenly. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for another 40-60 minutes until doubled.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from baking pan and allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Blueberry Sweet Rolls

Today marks the end of so called “dead week” here at school. On Monday we start the treacherous journey through finals week to get to WINTER BREAAAAAAK!

I have multiple explanations as to why this week was called dead week. They are as follows. Ahem.

  1. Class basically consists of review and squished-in exams and essays, thus all excitement about going to class is “dead.”
  2. It’s the week before finals, so everyone is super stressed out and feels like he or she is going to, well, kick the bucket. Or kick someone else’s bucket.
  3. We’ve all been turned into zombies. Just for this week.
  4. The letter ‘r’ was accidentally left out of the word dread.

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My personal view is that all of the sleep deprivation has finally caught up with us, so yeah, we basically are zombies. Except your brains are safe from me. I want to eat warm, gooey, melt-in-your-mouth, blueberry sweet rolls. That only have to rise once. Ohhhh, yeah.

Don’t look too closely at the swirls or you’ll be hypnotized. Really, though.

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These rolls are comfort foods TO THE MAX, my friends. You take one bite of these babies and all stress and thoughts about zombies just fade away.

One thing stood in the way of me making sweet rolls, just as five finals stand between me and winter break. And that would be a slight fear of using yeast.

“WHY do they have to be so picky about EVERYTHING?” I thought to myself. “If things aren’t perfect they just die on the spot. So dramatic.”

However, the more I researched using yeast, and the more I thought about the first bite of fluffy roll surrounding juicy blueberries and dripping with vanilla glaze, I realized I was going to learn to use yeast.

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The first step in successfully using yeast is to be confident. Yeast can sense fear, and it will just die because that’s what it does. I’m totally kidding. Well, about the sensing fear part.

It’s important to note that there are two types of yeast you can buy. One is active dry yeast, and the other is instant yeast. They are NOT directly interchangeable. This recipe uses active dry yeast.

Active dry yeast must be proofed, or activated, before being used in a recipe. This means pouring the yeast into lukewarm liquid and letting it sit for about 10 minutes. At that point in time, the liquid should look
bubbly on top; this is how you know the yeast is alive. In this recipe, our liquid is a mixture of almond milk, water, and melted margarine.

Instant yeast requires no proofing and can be tossed right in with the flour. It is harder to find and more expensive, so I stick it out with the active dry yeast.

Yeast is finicky about the temperature of the water it is proofed in. If the water is too hot, guess what it does? Yeah, just dies. (Maybe that’s why this week is called dead week…)

The temperature should be between 104 and 110 degrees F, a general guide is to aim for the temperature of bath water. If you like really hot baths, this tip is not for you. Think of the temperature water you would use for a baby’s bath and do that. You want to be able to keep your finger comfortably in the water.

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Another thing that usually frightens people about yeast recipes is kneading. Kneading develops the gluten in dough, which gives it that nice, chewy, texture. It’s very important, and not as hard as you think!

You want the dough to be a little sticky when you start, so don’t add too much flour or the rolls will be tough. Flour a surface and place the ball of dough down, flipping it so the outside is coated in flour. Hold the bottom edge of the dough in place with your left hand. Grab the front of the dough in your right hand and use the heal of your right hand to gently stretch the dough away from you, then fold it back on top of itself. Turn the whole dough ball a quarter to the right. Repeat this process for 5-6 minutes, and THAT’S IT! Pull, fold, turn. It’s actually pretty relaxing.

Keep the surface coated in flour, adding more as needed. When the dough is smooth and not sticky, you’re DONE! YAY!

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Next comes the rising. Yeast needs a suitably warm environment in order to rise (but are we surprised?). Our house is cold, so what we do is preheat the oven to 200 degrees and then TURN IT OFF when the rolls are ready to start rising. Cover the rolls loosely in aluminum foil and allow to rise in the oven for 1 hour. Works like a charm!

Finally, remember that using yeast comes with a learning curve. When I made this recipe the first time, I didn’t know how to knead, and the pan I used wasn’t big enough, yadda yadda. This is what happened.

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Not pretty, but they tasted fine!

So don’t be hard on yourself! You’ll master the yeast with time, I promise.

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Blueberry Sweet Rolls
(Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Ingredients:

Rolls

  • 2 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast (1 packet = 2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (cow’s milk is fine)
  • 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted margarine (unsalted butter is fine)
  • 1 large egg 

Filling

  • 1 and 1/3 cup frozen blueberries, not thawed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Vanilla Glaze  

  • 1 cup powdered sugar (or more)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons almond milk
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Make the filling first: Combine the frozen blueberries, sugar, and cornstarch in a bowl. Gently toss around and let sit while you prepare the dough.
  2. Make the dough: Heat the water, almond milk, and margarine together in the microwave until the margarine is melted. When mixture is bathwater temperature, sprinkle yeast on top and let proof for 10 minutes.
  3.  Set aside 1/2 cup of flour. In a large bowl, toss the remaining flour, sugar, and salt together until evenly dispersed. Stir the margarine mixture into the flour mixture. Add the egg and only enough of the reserved flour to make a soft dough. Dough will be ready when it gently pulls away from the side of the bowl and has an elastic consistency.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 5-6 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl (I used vegetable oil) and let rest for about 10 minutes.
  5. Fill the rolls: After 10 minutes, roll the dough out in a 14×8 inch rectangle. Pour the sugared blueberries on top and gently spread them to cover the dough surface. Roll up the dough tightly. Cut into 11 even pieces and place in a lightly greased 9-inch round pan or square pan.  Loosely cover the rolls with aluminum foil and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour. Here is what I do: heat the oven to 200F degrees. Turn oven off. Place rolls inside oven and allow to rise. Do not refrigerate the rolls at any point during or after rising.
  6. After the rolls have doubled in size, preheat the oven to 375F. Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned. I covered the rolls with aluminum foil after 15 minutes      to avoid heavy browning.
  7. Make the glaze: Right before serving, top your blueberry rolls with glaze. Mix all of the glaze ingredients together. If you prefer a thicker glaze, add more      powdered sugar. If you’d like it thinner, add more milk. Pour over sweet rolls.

Ice Cream Horoscopes

Guess what? I have a nemesis. And by nemesis I mean something inanimate that gets me all out of whack. Actually, it’s my fault we don’t get along. Wow, that’s gonna weigh on my conscience.

You see, dairy and I have an interesting relationship. I eat it, my body thinks it’s some foreign object and goes completely bonkers, and then I feel pretty bonkers for a while. What I’m saying is that I have a dairy sensitivity. This is different than being lactose intolerant, which has to do with being unable to digest milk sugar, or lactose.

I just have a reaction when I eat dairy products. I don’t go in to anaphylactic shock or anything, so it’s not a serious issue. I can be around milk, touch milk, talk to milk, but I feel much, much better when I avoid eating it.

However, I feel like since I’ve taken dairy out of my diet, we have come to understand each other better. We have sort of a mutual agreement to avoid each other, unless of course dairy is in the form of a warm, gooey, chocolate chip cookie (Hey, I have my weaknesses). Basically, we respect each other, but we keep our distance.

Luckily for you, thanks to my careful observation of the ways of dairy, I’m able to tell you your horoscope based on your favorite ice cream flavor. Boom. Here goes.

Vanilla: You like things simple. Habits and patterns are nice, but sudden changes freak you out. My prediction is that your usual parking spot will get taken, and road rage you didn’t even know you were capable of will get you an even better parking spot. Go ahead, pat yourself on the back. Also you will probably get Chinese takeout for dinner. Again.

Chocolate: You don’t do distractions. No pieces or chunks of chocolate for you. You want the real deal: the pure, unadulterated wonder that is chocolate! By the way, you should probably go out to the store right now and load up on some chocolate ice cream because you are going to get a major chocolate craving today. (From reading this?) Why are you still sitting here? I just gave you an excuse to buy a ton of ice cream!

Strawberry: You’re the kind of person who likes a bit more excitement in your ice cream than just plain chocolate or vanilla, but you’re not quite rainbow sherbet adventurous. If you like pieces of actual strawberry in your ice cream, the stoplights will finally change in your favor today. If you don’t like pieces of strawberry, then the place you go for lunch will forget to charge you for something small. When you go up and tell the cashier (Which you will because strawberry people are very virtuous) they’ll tell you not to worry, and they won’t charge you! But you might step in gum so watch where you walk…

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