Monday, February 28, 2011

Simply Delectable Potato Rolls

Dear one,

I went to a dinner a few weeks ago and made these rolls as my contribution.  The recipe comes from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book and I changed it just a bit.  I hope that you give it a try... these are a wonderful thing to serve with a bowl of piping hot soup!  

Sending love,


Potato Rolls

1-cup potato- cooking water
¾ stick of butter (6 tbs)
1 package yeast (or 1 tbs.)
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 egg
3 ¼ to 3-¾ cups all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the hot potato water and butter, then let cool until comfortably warm to your finger.  Sprinkle the yeast over, stir, and let stand for a few minutes to dissolve.
Add the sugar, salt and egg and mix well.  Add 2 cups of flour and beat vigorously for about 2 minutes.  Add enough of the remaining flour to make a manageable dough.  Turn out on a lightly floured surface.  Knead for a minute or two, form into a ball and place in a greased bowl.  Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk.
Line your baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 400.
Divide dough into approximately 14 pieces (about 2 ounces each).    On a counter or workbench that is not floured, proceed to roll each piece of dough into a ball and place on sheet pan. When all the dough is rolled, let rise another 30 minutes or so.
Bake on middle shelf of oven for 7 minutes and then move the pan to the top shelf for 7 more minutes.  Brush the rolls with melted butter when they come out of the oven.

·      I usually double or triple this recipe.  (If you are going to go through the work, you want to share some with your friends!)
·      Also, I peel and cook a potato in water for this recipe and when it is tender, I mash the potato and incorporate it into the recipe.   I bet you could get away with using instant potatoes and boiling water in a pinch.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Stir Crazy?

Dear one,

Tomorrow I need to make a cake for a friend and thought it would be nice to share some tips about cake baking with you.  The recipe I am using is for Stir Crazy cake.  You can find the recipe here: (

One of the first things to remember is to gather your ingredients together before you begin so that you know that you have everything you will need for the recipe.... no last minute dashing to the neighbor for a cup of sugar, etc.  (The French term for this is "mise en place").  

This is a simple recipe and though it does not instruct you to sift your ingredients, please do so anyway.  You can find clumps in your flour, sugar, baking soda or cocoa.  And it is not fun to bite into a clump of any of these ingredients in the finished cake.  

I like to begin by placing the flour in the strainer, then the cocoa powder, then the sugar.  The sugar seems to push the flour and cocoa powder through.  Finally sift the salt and baking soda.  You can press any clumps through the strainer but some (such as the sugar chunk above) should be tossed.

Oh!  I wanted to remind you that on occasion it is a good idea to use your measuring spoon and then put the ingredient in the palm of your hand so that you can "see" what a teaspoon of salt looks like.  That way, when you don't have those measuring spoons handy you can still "measure" out your ingredients.

Now that you have all your dry ingredients together in one bowl, it is time to gather the wet ingredients.  The recipe calls for making wells in the dry ingredients.  I like to put them all in one container instead - preferably one that I can also use as my measuring device.  Since we need 2 cups of cold coffee and 2/3 cup oil I chose a 4 cup glass measuring cup.   If you start with your coffee (to the 2 cup mark) you can add your oil on top.  Then just add the vanilla and vinegar and you are ready to go.

Mix both wet and dry ingredients together.  To bake one layer that can easily be removed from the pan I use a 10 inch cake pan for this recipe!  Grease the pan and line it with parchment (and grease the parchment!).  In this way you can bake a cake that will become your palette - and you can add the filings and frosting of your choice.  I prefer this to 2 9" layers because the finished cake seems moister.  (I cut the finished layer into 3 layers using a long serrated knife.) It is very,very versatile!  And fun too!

Bake the cake at 350 and set a timer for 45 minutes and then check for doneness with a toothpick. Your  house will smell wonderful!  And your imagination will be running wild thinking of ways to "finish" your masterpiece.

Who can be stir crazy when you can be baking treats like this?

love you!


Monday, January 3, 2011


Dear Mom,

Yesterday afternoon I took your advice and made homemade bagels.  The dough rose quickly, puffing into perfect circles, and I did my best to master bagel rolling - not as simple as I hoped!

Despite their not-so-perfect shape, I believe they turned out fantastically, and Kristian and I quickly set about making them into sandwiches for dinner - complete with swiss cheese and sun-dried tomatoes.

Yum yum.

This morning I woke up to the sun shining brightly through the bay window.


So, I hurried to the kitchen to top a slice of bagel with avocado, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes.


Because a perfect morning deserves the perfect breakfast, don't you think?



PS It's been less than 24 hours since I made eight bagels, and six are already missing.  I wonder where they've all gone?!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

How about warm bagels for breakfast?

Dear one,

It was a cold day and I wanted to make some bread but I didn't have much time...  so of course I cruised over to the computer and began searching... and voila!  A bagel recipe that promised bagels in little more than an hour.  What a find!  I set to work immediately and sure enough, in about an hour,  I had a pan of bagels emerging from my oven.  They were chewy and delicious and gone all too quickly.  I made some of the plain and put sesame seeds on the others.  Here's the link to the recipe.

I can't wait to hear how your bagels turn out!

Sending you love,