Breads

Maple Bacon Biscuits

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Bacon. Is. Good. So are fluffy biscuits. No wonder they are breakfast staples. I don’t usually buy buttermilk (why does it only come in a big carton when you almost never need more than a cup??) but in this case it was definitely worth it.

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These came together pretty quickly on a weeknight, but you could also include them with weekend brunch or dinner, such as pulled pork, roast chicken, or soup.

Maple Bacon Biscuits
From The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perlman

Makes 6-8 biscuits

3 slices bacon
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Approximately 4 tablespoons butter, chilled and chopped into small chunks
1/4 cup buttermilk

Fry the bacon until crisp. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Pour the bacon fat into a measuring cup and put in the freezer until fat is solid.

Chop the bacon into small bits and place in a small dish. Pour the maple syrup over the bacon and stir; set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the solidified bacon fat from the freezer.

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients. You should have about 2 tablespoons of fat. Adjust the amount of butter up or down to have 6 tablespoons total. Using your fingertips or a pastry blender, rub the bacon fat and butter into the dry ingredients until mixtute resembles coarse meal. Add the bacon-maple syrup mixture and buttermilk and blend together with a rubber spatula until evenly moistened.

Gather the dough into a ball and pat out to a 1-inch thickness on a well-floured surface and cut into biscuits with a 2-inch cutter. Arrange biscuits on the baking sheet. Bake 12-14 minutes until puffed and golden. Serve warm.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Pumpkin bread slice

Pumpkin is a staple in my kitchen in the fall, but I’ve been making this quick bread year-round for years.

The combination of pumpkin and chocolate never fails to raise eyebrows, but if you try it, you too will become a believer. It’s equally delicious with butter or cream cheese, served for breakfast, dessert, or a snack.

Pumpkin chocolate chip bread is an example of a quick bread, which uses baking soda and/or baking powder as leavening (as opposed to yeast). When working with quick breads, avoid overmixing. Mix by hand until the batter should be just combined; 40 strokes is a good rule of thumb.

Pumpkin batter

I love that that this recipe makes two loaves. I typically give one as a gift, but it also freezes well. To do so, wrap first in plastic wrap, then foil, and then place in a freezer-grade zip-top plastic bag. To thaw, remove the plastic wrap layer, re-wrap in foil, and place in a warm oven.

Pumpkin loaf

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Adapted from Cooking Light

Makes 2 loaves, 16 slices each

1 3/4 c sugar
2 c canned pumpkin (1 15-oz can)
1/2 c canola oil
1/2 c vanilla pudding
4 large egg whites
3 c flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 c semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 8″ x 4″ loaf pans with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, oil, pudding and egg whites, stirring well with a whisk. In a medium bowl, combine try ingredients (through baking soda). Add flour mixture to pumpkin, stirring until just moist. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into prepared loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 70-75 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place pans on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Slide a knife around the inside of the pans and remove the loaves. Cool completely on a wire rack.

100% Whole Wheat English Muffins

RHRW Note: Welcome my first guest blogger, Danielle. She is an English professor and a dear long-distance friend. We agree with her self-assessment about her frugality, but love her anyway.

I am, shall we say, frugal. Some — my husband, good friends, acquaintances forced to dine out with me — would call me cheap. I am, however, willing to pay for good, high-quality food. What will remain an unnamed brand of English muffins, however, does not count as high-quality food. So when my local grocery store raised the price of English muffins to $4.50/package, I decided to make my own, something that I’d never made before.

Even though I’d never made English muffins, I am not a novice baker. Much like our resident blogger (see Knotted Dinner Rolls), I spent many years in 4-H baking. I love to cook. I like to bake. The time requirements often keep me from pursuing it more often than I do. On a rainy Sunday afternoon with some time on my hands while I waited for students’ papers to come in during finals week, I experimented with the English muffin.

Whole Wheat English Muffins

These came out well. They’re approximately the same size as store-bought muffins. They had the requisite “nooks and crannies” I look for, they were 100% whole wheat, and there were no preservatives, a win all around.  Though there is a bit of sugar in here, honey or agave syrup would work well too.

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100% Whole Wheat English Muffins

Adapted from Food Network

Makes 9 muffins

1 cup warm skim milk

1 Tb sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 Tb canola oil

1 envelope active dry yeast

1/8 tsp. sugar

1/3 cup lukewarm water

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup white whole wheat flour

Special equipment: 3-inch metal baking rings. You can purchase specialty baking rings at most stores that sell cooking equipment. I used the rings of quart jars used for canning. Tuna cans with the top and bottom cut out would work too, or even rings made out of aluminum foil.

In a bowl, combine warm milk, sugar, salt, and oil. Stir to dissolve salt and sugar.

In a separate small bowl, combine yeast, sugar, and lukewarm water. Stir to dissolve yeast. Mix yeast mixture with milk mixture.

Put flours in a medium to large bowl, and add the liquid mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until the flour and milk mixture is thoroughly combined. Let rest for 30 minutes in a warm place. The dough will be batter-like in its consistency and considerably stickier than any bread dough you’ve worked with before. It is not meant to be rolled or kneaded.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat nonstick pan or griddle on stove top on medium-low heat. Dust bottom of the pan with cornmeal. Coat metal rings with non-stick spray, dust with corn meal, and place in the pan.

Pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup batter in each ring. Cover pan with a lid or cookie sheet. Cook muffins for 7 minutes on each side. Author’s note:  I recommend cooking one muffin first to check the timing, then cook as many as your non-stick skillet will allow you to. I could cook 4 muffins at a time. If you have a griddle (and rings) that allow you to cook more, do so. It will speed up the process considerably.

Remove muffin from ring and place muffin a cooling rack placed over a cookie sheet. When all muffins are finished cooking on the stovetop, bake for 7 additional minutes to finish cooking through. Let cool completely.