CHEW THIS! Grandma Barbra’s Homemade White Bread

Grandma Barbra’s Homemade White Bread

Grandma Barbra and Blaise.JPG

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, March 17th 2019 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Grandma Barbra’s Homemade Bread Memories…
Blaise Doubman

I have fond memories of my Grandma Barbra and I making homemade white bread in her kitchen on cold winter days with her giant white electronic bread maker. I remember thinking it was the coolest machine at the time and often wondered how it worked as it did. I think we only made white bread and never did expand into other kinds but that white bread was some of the best of my life. We would get the machine greased and ready, measure and pour everything in and prepare for the baking. It took hours, because the bread would be mixed, then it would rest, mixed again, rest, mixed again, baked and then finally cooled. Our first several loaves were always lopsided, but it did not matter. It was delicious! We did finally figure out how to maintain the shape of the loaf and then there was no stopping us! Ha! I still remember removing the bread from its container and placing it on a plate. We would try and slice the bread but would usually end up just breaking it up into chunks with our hands, buttering each piece with lots and lots of butter and eating it while still extremely hot. I have so many wonderful memories with my Grandma Barbra and I love her so much. She has taught me so much about life, in the kitchen and out of. I joke with her that I am writing a memoir of our crazy times together and that I am going to title it, “NUTS”. She always laughs at this.

When developing this recipe, I wanted to try and steer away from a bread machine, simply because a lot of people do not have them anymore. I think somewhere in the early 2000’s bread became “unfashionable” and people stopped eating, and making, bread as much. Therefore, almost eliminating bread machines completely. I am not a follower of diets, fad or otherwise, and I love bread! Of course, I limit myself, everything in moderation including moderation, but I love a slice of warm white bread with tons of butter on top. My friend, Cindy Shelton, also loves hot bread and butter. Maybe I will make her a loaf of this bread soon. If you know someone who loves bread, take a little time and make them a loaf of this bread! It makes 2 loaves so one for you and one for a friend! This also makes the perfect gift.

Grandma Barbra’s Homemade White Bread

I always use active dry yeast, not the refrigerated yeast packets that you can find at most grocery stores. I find the active dry yeast to be better, and fresher believe it or not, than the refrigerated version. I also use Kosher salt for this recipe, as well as all my other ones. I highly recommend investing in a large box of Kosher salt for your cooking and baking needs. The flakes of salt are larger, therefore you can use less salt in your finished dishes.

2 cups warm water
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast, 1 package
½ stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
5 cups white all-purpose flour

Start by combining the warm water with the active dry yeast in a large bowl. The water needs to be warm to the touch but not hot. If the water is too hot it will kill the yeast. However, if the water is too cold, the yeast will not bloom. I use the hottest tap water I have and then let it cool down for about 2 minutes. Add in the melted butter, white granulated sugar and salt. Stir.

Add in 2 cups of the white all-purpose flour and stir together well. Add in another 2 cups of the white all-purpose flour and stir together well, using clean dry hands if needed.

Take the dough and place onto a clean, dry, lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for 20 minutes, adding in the remaining cup of white all-purpose flour.

The dough should not be dry at this stage but instead a slightly sticky and thick dough.

Place the dough into a buttered bowl and cover the top with a kitchen towel. Place in a warm place and let rest and rise for 1 hour without disturbing it.

After 1 hour, remove the dough and knead for another 5 minutes. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover the top with a kitchen towel and place in a warm place and let rice for 1 hour without disturbing it. In the meantime, spray 2 loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray containing flour. Be sure to grease the loaf pans generously.

Remove the dough from the bowl and divide the dough in half. Shape each half into loaf shapes and place each into their prepared pans. Cover the tops of both with a kitchen towel. Place in a warm place and let rise 1 hour without disturbing it.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake the loaves, in preheated oven, for 35 minutes. Remove, cool, unmold, slice and serve.

Ask and Answer: People have been wondering if you can substitute unsweetened chocolate for bittersweet chocolate in recipes. The answer is, no! Unsweetened chocolate contains no sugar whatsoever, whereas, bittersweet contains anywhere from 10-50% sugar. If using unsweetened chocolate in recipes you will more than likely need to add sugar for sweetness. If using bittersweet chocolate, very little sugar may be asked for. They are not interchangeable.

Banana Bread Cookies

I love banana bread and these “bites”, or cookies, satisfy that craving without having to bake – and eat – and entire loaf of banana bread! Feel free to replace the chocolate chips with walnuts or simply add both – or leave both out. Totally up to your tastes!

Banana Bread Cookies

1 stick unsalted butter, soft
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed bananas or 3 bananas
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups white all-purpose flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl beat together the soft unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar and packed light brown sugar until the mixture is light in color and fluffy in texture. This will take about 4 minutes.

Beat in the large eggs and mashed bananas. Beat in the pure vanilla extract, baking soda, ground cinnamon and salt.

Fold in the white all-purpose flour and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Place in tablespoon size dollops onto the prepared baking sheets and leave about 2 inches between each cookie.

Bake, one sheet at a time, in preheated oven for 13 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly before enjoying.

CHEW THIS! Comforting Banana Bread

Comforting Banana Bread

comforting-banana-bread.jpg

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, September 2nd 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Facebook Questions and Comforting Banana Bread
Blaise Doubman

I have been getting several emails about my Blaise the Baker Facebook page. Let me clear the air on that subject first before we continue with my column and recipe for banana bread. My Facebook accounts, both private and public, were compromised about a month ago. I thought I had solved the various problems but the problems and issues reoccurred not long after the initial hacking. The safest thing for me to do, for my friends and followers, was to delete both accounts and start over. Facebook will not allow me to start over with my pages until a certain amount of time has passed. As soon as my pages are up and started again I will be sure to let you know the appropriate links so that you can follow along with me again.

There has been a bit of a silver lining in all of this though because it has given me a chance to really sit back and think about how I want to “relaunch” Blaise the Baker and it has also given me this wonderfully delicious recipe for banana bread! How? I needed some comfort after all the hacking news, etc. so I decided that I would develop a new recipe for one of my favorite comforting things – banana bread! This one is simple, delicious and very flavorful. I have several recipes for banana bread, one using a yellow cake mix, one calling for bits of toffee and another that uses sour cream and is studded with cranberries and walnuts. This one though is simple in process and fabulous in flavor. I take the finished bread and cut it into huge slices but feel free to cut the slices according to your tastes, or your level of comfort needed.

Comforting Banana Bread

This banana bread will last for several days when wrapped in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature. Lightly toast the bread and smear with unsalted butter or cream cheese for an even more delicious comforting treat.

1 ¾ cups white all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup walnuts, toasted (optional)

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a regular size loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl whisk together the white all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In another large bowl beat together the softened unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar until light in color and fluffy in texture. Beat in the large eggs.

Stir in the mashed bananas and pure vanilla extract. Gently fold in the whisked dry ingredients.

Add in the toasted walnuts, if using, and stir until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake in preheated oven for 44 minutes. The top will be split and golden brown in color.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before turning it out onto a piece of parchment paper to cool completely. Cut into large comforting slices and serve.

Ask and Answer: Several people have messaged me to ask more about my position as a “Glen Oaks Health Campus Family Ambassador” and what it means. Lots of you have had loved ones admitted into Glen Oaks in the last several months and remember reading about my position there. What an Ambassador does is basically help represent Glen Oaks Health Campus as a whole. I am here to answer any questions you may have about the facility or address any concerns you may have. I also have written a “business review” of Glen Oaks Health Campus, which can be found on my website, blaisethebaker.com

CHEW THIS! Make Ahead Streusel Coffee Cakes

Make Ahead Streusel Coffee Cakes

img_5800.jpg

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, May 21st 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Make Ahead, Grab and Go Coffee Cakes
Blaise Doubman

About a month ago my debut cookbook officially went into what is known in the publishing world as a “second printing”. Everything stayed the same except for the copyright at the beginning of the cookbook – the copyright went from 2016 to 2017. I have always been interested and fascinated with publishing, newspapers and media. In high school I took newspaper class and was on the yearbook committee. Words in print fascinate me and how people receive those words in print fascinate me even more. Do you get your news from online sources, Facebook, the newspaper, radio, TV, maybe even all of the above? The same can be said for how people get their recipes and meal ideas. I encourage people all the time on my social media networks to email me, text me, write to me, call me – and let me know if you have any questions, feedback or concerns. I love hearing from my readers!

That is where this column recipe came from; a reader. A reader, who did not want to be identified, said that she would love a recipe for coffee cake that she could make once and it would last throughout the week. A coffee cake that could be portable and something that would not only last without getting stale but a coffee cake that would have great taste as well. That got me thinking about the traditional coffee cake and how I could make a few changes. Immediately I knew that I wanted to make them portable by baking them in cupcake / muffin tins! I also knew that the addition of sour cream would make for a flavorful and moist crumb. After several testings I knew that I had a winner! I handed these out to my taste testers and several people thought they were store bought! Several people remarked on the moistness of the cakes and how much flavor they had. I hope that you, and the reader who was an inspiration for these, will make these, love them and pass along this recipe.

Make Ahead Streusel Coffee Cakes

These are the perfect go-to breakfast item because they can be made ahead and stored for a long period of time! Store them in an air tight container at room temperature for up to five days. Wrap each in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator and they will keep for ten days. Wrap each in plastic wrap and freeze for up to six months! Feel free to add a little cinnamon spice to the coffee cake and / or the streusel topping. Also feel free to mix together 1 cup confectioners’ sugar with a splash of whole milk and drizzle each with a little glaze.

For the cake…
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ cups white granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups white all-purpose flour

For the streusel…
1 ½ cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
¾ cup white all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 12-cup capacity cupcake / muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl cream together the melted unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar until the mixture is light in color and fluffy in texture.

Next, add in the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.

Beat in the pure vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl combine the baking powder, salt and white all-purpose flour. Whisk this together to remove any lumps.

Add half of the sour cream, followed by half of the dry mixture. Beat well before adding in the other half of the sour cream, followed by the remaining dry mixture.

Fill each prepared cupcake / muffin cup half full of the batter.

To make the streusel topping, combine the light brown sugar, white all-purpose flour, melted unsalted butter and salt in a medium bowl using clean hands. The end result should look like pebbles. The easiest way to mix together would be to use your thumbs and pointer fingers, rubbing the mixture easily throughout. A gentle hand and a small fork would also work.

Top each of the batter filled cavities with one tablespoon, but no more, of the streusel mixture.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 33 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

Once baked, remove from the oven and allow the cakes to come to warm room temperature while still in their baking pans. Carefully remove and enjoy.

Ask and Answer: I’ve been getting a few emails about why in most of my chocolate recipes I add a little bit of coffee. Just a small amount of instant coffee granules mixed into chocolate cakes, brownies, frostings, etc. enhances the natural flavors of the chocolate. The end result will have no taste of coffee at all, it will just give your finished dessert that special something. I use instant coffee granules but instant espresso would work in a pinch. A little goes a long way.

Cake Mix Yeast Rolls

Originally published on “Blaise the Baker” October 14th, 2015

A friend of mine offered me the challenge of using a cake mix to make something other than a cake or cookies – and something that was savory and not sweet. Guess what!? I did it! With research and development I have discovered a recipe for “Cake Mix Yeast Rolls”. Yep! You heard that right… And they taste nothing like cake. They taste everything like yeast rolls!!!

No kneading, and simple as can be!

cake-mix-yeast-rolls-blaise-the-baker.jpg

Cake Mix Yeast Rolls

1 envelope dry active yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 cups white all-purpose flour
1/2 package of white cake mix
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Start by combining the dry active yeast and warm water in a large bowl. Swish around slightly to make sure yeast is dissolved.

Next, add in the white all-purpose flour, white cake mix, salt and melted butter. Stir well until everything is incorporated.

Transfer dough to a bowl and cover with vegetable oil. Turn to coat the whole dough ball with the oil. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour.

Spray 24 muffin cups with non-stick cooling spray and divide dough evenly between cups – filling each muffin cup about 1/2 full.

Cover again with kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm spot for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake yeast rolls for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to cool in pans.

Enjoy!

Sprite Biscuits

Originally published on “Blaise the Baker” June 18th, 2015

When my Grandma Barbra and I first made these, we both fell in love with them! So tender, delicious and quick – you will not believe there are only 4 ingredients – and perfect for breakfast (with butter and jam) or dinner (with butter and honey). No rolling pin? No problem – for this recipe, one is not required.

Try these today…

blaise-the-baker-sprite-biscuits.jpg

Sprite Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose baking mix, plus more for sprinkling (I use “Jiffy” brand)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Sprite
5 tablespoons salted butter

Start by preheating your oven to 450 degrees F.

Put the five tablespoons of salted butter in a 9-inch square pan and place in oven to melt gently, while you prepare the biscuits. Be sure to keep an eye on it. You want the butter melted – not burnt. If the butter burns, throw it out and start again – with a better eye on it the second time.

In a large bowl, “cut together” the all-purpose baking mix and sour cream with a fork or two knives. Be careful with this part, and have a light hand about it. Do not over-mix the dough – very important.

Next, gently stir in the 1/2 cup of Sprite. Stir until a soft dough forms together.

Take about 1/2 cup of additional all-purpose baking mix, and spread it on a clean work surface, in preparation for rolling out your dough.

Knead and roll the dough in the all-purpose baking mix, until well coated. Use your fingers and hands to pat the dough out. Using a biscuit cutter (or the bottom of a drinking glass – which is what I use), to cut out the biscuits. (This recipe makes nine biscuits total.)

Take the 9-inch square pan from the oven, place the cut biscuits right in the pan, on top of the melted butter and return to the oven, until brown, which will take about 13 minutes total.

Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Enjoy!

CHEW THIS! Jack’s Donut Bread Pudding

Jack’s Donut Bread Pudding

jacks-donut-bread-pudding

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, April 19th 2015 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Leftover donuts reinvented into show stopping dessert!
Blaise Doubman

I have fond memories of my Grandma Barbra and I eating at “Jack’s Donuts” in New Castle for years when I was growing up. We would sit up at their bar area (in the old entrance area – directly across from the “Dairy Queen” and its parking lot) and eat and talk and laugh. I would always order my donuts first. I always had the same thing – three tiger tails, chocolate frosted Persian roll and usually a handful of donut holes. Oh, and two cartons of white milk. My Grandma Barbra would always say “Who are you ordering for? You can’t possibly eat all of this…” And every time – I did. The customers would always get a kick out of hearing and seeing us visit. Memories like this are why “Jack’s Donuts” bring me such great pleasure. I can’t bite into one of their delicious donuts without thinking of my Grandma Barbra and I sitting at the bar, or my parents stopping and buying me some for a late night snack.

Still to this day, I think of those memories so many years ago and they fill me with joy. When I was younger, I dreamed of desserts that could be made with donuts. Why couldn’t I find a donut cake? Donut cookies? I guess you could say I was slightly obsessed. Finally, I decided to make that dream a reality – and that’s what I did with this recipe. I love bread pudding, and wondered why I couldn’t make a donut bread pudding with just as much flavor (or more) than regular bread pudding. I recipe developed for a couple of weeks, and then created the perfect recipe, which I’m sharing with you here. A childhood dream comes true! Serve this for company, and have people talking…

Jack’s Donut Bread Pudding

This takes the traditional bread pudding recipe, but replaces the bread with vanilla yeast donuts. Vanilla cake donuts can be substituted, but the flavor and texture will be slightly different. Instead of using 4 vanilla yeast donuts, use 6 vanilla cake donuts, and allow to soak in the milk mixture for an extra ten minutes. The use of cardamom in this recipe really brings the flavors together, as well as bringing a bright and almost floral, citrus taste to the dish. Make sure and use only the ¼ teaspoon – it is very strong. If you don’t have cardamom feel free to add a little orange and or lemon zest instead.

For the bread pudding…
4 vanilla yeast donuts, each chopped into 6 pieces
2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
5 large eggs
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cardamom
Pinch of salt

For the glaze…
¾ cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Splash of whole milk

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F and spraying a 2-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the whole milk, light brown sugar, melted butter, eggs, ground cinnamon, vanilla extract, ground nutmeg, cardamom and salt. Whisk together to make sure all ingredients are combined thoroughly.

Next, add the chopped donuts to the mixture and gently stir to make sure the donut pieces get evenly coated. Let stand at room temperature for 8 minutes.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish, and place in preheated oven for 48 minutes exactly.

While the pudding is in the oven, make the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar, melted butter, vanilla extract and ground cinnamon. Whisk in a splash or two of the whole milk to reach desired consistency.

After 48 minutes, remove the pudding from the oven, and allow to cool slightly before cutting and drizzling with glaze.

Leftovers can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator for up to three days.