Cooking with Virginia -Homemade Bread

Cooking with Virginia -Homemade Bread

My dear friend Virginia and I have started cooking together recently. Whether the meal is simple or complex, I treasure the experience, the knowledge, and the stories that are shared. Cooking is never as simple as it seems. Taking raw ingredients and transforming them into a meal is a powerful thing. Preparing food for someone is one of the first and most primal acts of caring for others. It is a deeply meaningful and nurturing act that is as powerful today as it was eons ago. Cooking with someone creates a meaningful experience that is more than just the food involved. It is a transfer of knowledge and skills passed down through the ages and refined through a lifetime.

At its heart, cooking is about taking a few simple ingredients and creating a meal. This is true magic, taking seemingly nothing and transforming it into that which sustains life. This week my friend Virginia and I made bread. While I have tried a few bread variations before, the technique and feel of this experience was more valuable than a thousand cookbooks. Virginia talked about the look and feel of the ingredients. While I will try and give measurements here, this is an experience that must be done with your hands, as what you are creating is so much more than just numbers and ingredients.

More than just Bread

Talking with Virginia, it’s easy to see how a recipe is more than just the food it creates. This technique for bread making came from her mother-in-law and was passed on to her as she joined this new family. In turn, it is something that she always made for her own family as she raised her children and grandchildren. Homemade bread was a staple at holiday dinners and the recipe made so much that everyone got to take home a loaf. Something as simple as a loaf of bread can hold such deep meaning and emotion when it is tied to family and time spent together. When you bake this bread, it is more than just bread you create. It is lasting memories and connections, carried down from generations ago to the generations yet to come.

Cooking with Virginia -Homemade Bread
Food is more than just ingredients.

Simple Yet Powerful

Start with about half of a stick of butter (¼ cup). Let the butter sit for awhile until it is room temperature. You want it to smoothly and evenly mix in with the other ingredients. Before you begin mixing ingredients you’ll want to activate or ‘proof’ the yeast.

Virginia tells me, “The most important thing to remember when baking bread is that yeast is alive. You have to nurture it in order for it to grow. Too hot or too cold can kill the yeast.”

To activate the yeast, Virginia pours one packet (or 2 ¼ teaspoons) of dry active yeast into a coffee mug. Sprinkle just a pinch of sugar over the yeast to feed it. Then, fill the coffee mug halfway with very warm water from the faucet and give it a quick stir. The water must be warm enough to activate the yeast, but not too hot, or the yeast may die. The feel of the water will tell you.

Virginia: “You must be able to touch the water, it can’t be scalding.”

Try and keep the mug warm as well. If the mug is too cold simply hold it in your hands a minute, creating a warm and nurturing environment for your yeast to grow. The yeast is ready when it ‘bubbles’ to the top of the mug.

Don’t Rush

Virginia reminds me, “Don’t rush it. Give it time to grow.”

When making this bread, don’t be overly concerned with timing or measurements. Feel it out and enjoy the process. While your yeast is activating, heat a medium pot of water on the stove. Don’t let it boil. Like before, this water shouldn’t be too hot to touch. Just pleasantly warm for the yeast to thrive. Once your yeast is activated and the water warmed, it’s time to start mixing your ingredients. Your butter should be room temperature by now. In a large stock pot, pour over the butter, most of a 5 lb. bag of Ceresota Flour. This flour is natural and unbleached, so it makes a delicious and nutrient filled homemade bread. I would estimate about 4 ½ lbs. at first, saving the remaining ½ lb. for dusting the table to knead.

Cooking with Virginia -Homemade Bread
You have never kneaded dough until you’ve tackled this monster!

Kneading the Dough

This is such a big recipe that it must be mixed in a stockpot, as I have yet to find a mixing bowl large enough! Sprinkle some sugar over the top to feed the yeast. About a tablespoon should do it. Also, add just a pinch of salt. When Virginia and I made this, I measured by cupping my hand and filling just the very center of my palm. This ends up being about a teaspoon. Then, pour in your yeast and add just enough of the warm water to form a dough. When the dough is combined, dump it out onto a floured table or counter top to knead. Let me tell you, you have never kneaded bread until you’ve tackled this 5 lb. monster.

Virginia was much better at kneading than me. Even after flouring my hands, I still ended up with dough sticking to me all over. The trick to kneading it is to lift a corner of dough up and over, onto itself, then press down and out, mixing the dough firmly into the center. Turn the dough one quarter turn each time so that your are always working with a new corner. As the dough is kneaded it will become stronger and more firm. This helps the dough to hold it’s shape as it rises. When the dough feels firm enough (after about 5 minutes of kneading) add a little oil to your stock pot and rub it along the bottom and sides to grease. Place your dough back into the stockpot and set it in a warm place to rise. Cover the dough with a clean towel and wrap it with another. This provides a warm, nurturing environment for your dough. Once the dough is all tucked in to rise, your can prepare your baking pans. This recipe makes about 5 loaves of bread, but you can use a pie pan for circular loves as well.

Cooking with Virginia -Homemade Bread
All tucked in!

Shaping the Loaves

Virginia: “I usually make bread for the holidays, then everyone can take home one of the extra loaves.”

Oil your pans well to prevent sticking, making sure to rub oil into the corners. Your dough is done rising once it has doubled in size (about an hour).

When ready, dump your risen dough onto a lightly floured table or counter top. Knead just a few times to push all of the air bubbles out. Then cut the dough into 5 even sections. For loaf pans, pull the two short ends over the top, just a little. Then pull up the long end closest to you. Use that end to roll the loaf up into a log. Place the shaped dough into a loaf pan and cut slits across the top. This allows the dough to stretch as it rises and vent as it bakes, as well as looking nice. Let the dough rise another half hour to forty five minutes. Don’t rush this part, or your bread will be rather dense, instead of light and fluffy. Once the dough has doubled in size, it is ready to bake. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Your bread should be golden brown on top and make a hollow sound when tapped.

Cooking with Virginia -Homemade Bread
Nothing is better than fresh homemade bread!

Look, Feel, and Sound

Virginia explains, “If the bread doesn’t sound hollow, there is too much moisture in there and it needs to bake longer”

Once your loaves are golden brown and sound hollow, turn them out onto a wire rack for cooking. Be sure to cover the loaves with a clean towel while they cool, to keep moisture in. Homemade bread is best eaten fresh, but to save a loaf for later, wait until it has cooled completely, then wrap it tightly in plastic and cover with aluminum foil to freeze. Loaves that have become a bit dry after a few days, taste excellent when sliced and lightly toasted!

Virginia:  “You know that you’ve done a good job if the bubbles within a slice of bread are evenly spaced. That means it was kneaded well!”

Making bread with Virginia has been a great experience and I can’t wait to practice this simple yet delicious bread recipe at home.

Corn Torillas

Corn Tortillas

I have been trying for some time to start making homemade tortillas. My first few attempts did not turn out quite right, but I have finally found a way to make delicious corn tortillas at home. When I started out I was using regular flour, which was probably most of the problem. Switching over to a corn flour that has been processed with lime has made all the difference.

Thin Sheets of Dough on a Hot Griddle

The dough for these tortillas is incredibly simple to make. It requires only three ingredients; Corn Flour, Water, and Salt. The corn flour must be processed with lime and not the kind you would use for making corn bread. Look on the ingredient label to be sure you are getting the right kind. Sprinkle a ¼ teaspoon or so of Salt over 2 cups of the Corn Flour. Pour in 1 ¼ cup Water and mix together. If needed add a little more water so that the dough sticks together, only a teaspoon at a time.

The way that you roll out the dough for tortillas will make a huge difference in how they taste. Place a ball of dough, just enough for one tortilla, in between two sheets of wax paper. Roll the dough out in a circle, as thin as you can. Stack the tortillas as you roll them out, keeping a sheet of wax paper in between each one. Heat a griddle on the stove with just a little oil to keep the tortillas from sticking to the pan. When the griddle is hot, carefully peel a tortilla away from the wax paper, being careful not to rip it. Cook each tortilla for 15 to 30 seconds on each side, flipping the tortilla as needed. When you start to see a few brown marks on each side the tortilla should be done. Stack the cooked tortillas between paper towels and cover with a kitchen towel to keep them soft. Enjoy your tortillas as tacos, burritos, or enchiladas. These Chicken Avocado Burritos would be especially good with homemade tortillas! Dip into a spicy Mexican soup or cut into slices and fry them for tortilla chips.

Corn Tortillas

2 cups Corn Flour, processed with lime

¼ teaspoon Salt

1¼ cup Water

Mix together Corn Flour, Salt and Water. Separate dough for individual tortillas and roll very thin, between sheets of wax paper. Put a little oil on a griddle or skillet and heat. When the griddle is hot, cook each tortilla for 15 to 30 seconds per side, flipping occasionally. Stack between paper towels and cover to keep from drying out. Enjoy!

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Sometimes you can tell how well liked a recipe is by the number of sugar, flour, and butter stains that are worn into it. This is certainly the case with these snickerdoodle cookies. Soft and light, made with sugar and cinnamon, these cookies are the perfect snack. They taste best freshly made, when they are warm and soft, but that’s not usually a problem because they disappear faster than you can bake them.

Cinnamon and Sugar, The Perfect Pair

These cookies were so much fun to make as a child. The dough comes together very quickly, but the best part is rolling the cookie dough balls in cinnamon-sugar to coat. The sweet outer layer of these cookies adds the perfect amount of flavor to these melt in your mouth cookies.

Start by sifting your flour. You need 2 3/4 cup sifted Flour, mixed with 2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar and 1 teaspoon Baking Soda. Add in ½ teaspoon Salt and 1 ½  cups Sugar. Stir together dry ingredients before adding in 1 cup Shortening and 2 Eggs. Blend well with a mixer.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and prepare your dough for baking by rolling into balls. Mix together Sugar and Cinnamon to taste in a small sealable plastic bag. Drop the cookie dough balls into the bag, one or two at a time. Seal the bag and shake gently to coat the dough with cinnamon-sugar.

Place each prepared cookie dough ball on a grease baking sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes. Be careful not to over bake, or the cookies will be dry and hard instead of soft and moist. Got leftover crumbs? Try making this delicious cookie crumb dip!

Snickerdoodle Cookies

2 ¾ cup Flour, sifted

2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

½ teaspoon Salt

1 ½ cup Sugar

1 cup Shortening

2 Eggs

Cinnamon and Sugar combined to taste

Sift Flour. Mix together all dry ingredients. Beat in Eggs and Shortening with a mixer. Roll the dough into balls. Place Cinnamon-Sugar in a small plastic sandwich bag. Shake the balls of cookie dough in the bag to coat, a few at a time. You can also roll the balls of cookie dough in a bowl of cinnamon-sugar. Place cookie dough on a greased baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 5 – 8 minutes. Enjoy!

Garlic Cheese Rolls

Garlic Cheese Rolls

Oh my goodness. These are amazing! They are my absolute new favorite dinner roll. What could possibly be better than a fresh, warm, homemade dinner roll you ask? One that is stuffed with garlic and cheese of course! Why didn’t I think of this sooner? Garlic cheese rolls are here to stay.

Delicious, Cheesy Goodness

My favorite part about these dinner rolls is not the melted cheese center (although that is amazing) but the garlic and cheese flavor that is baked into the bread itself. I baked these rolls together in a pan with a little melted butter brushed on top when they were done and a sprinkle of parmesan. They are absolutely irresistible!

To start off this dough, I proof the Yeast by mixing 2-1/4 teaspoons (or one packet) of Yeast into 1/3 cup Warm Water and add just a pinch of sugar. The water should be about 115 degrees, but I simple turn my faucet on and let the hot water run for a minute until it fully heats up. This temperature is usually perfect for activating yeast, very warm, but not too hot. Let the yeast mixture sit in a warm place about 5 minutes while you prep the other ingredients. The yeast is active if the mixture starts to bubble and ‘poof’ up. If nothing happens after a few minutes add in more sugar and make sure the area where it is sitting is warm enough.

Once the Yeast is Ready

In a large bowl mix together 1 cup Milk, ¼ cup Sugar, ¼ cup Melted Butter and 1 teaspoon Salt. Add in the proofed Yeast mixture and 1 beaten Egg. Mix in 1 finely minced Garlic clove and 1/8 cup grated Parmesan Cheese to flavor the dough. Add 4 cups Flour, a little at a time, mixing well until you cannot add any more flour. Pour any remaining flour onto a clean surface and turn out the dough to knead it. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it is tacky but not sticky. Place dough in a large, greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a towel and let sit in a warm place 1 hour to rise. I always start the dinner rolls first and let them rise by the oven as I cook the rest of the meal. Turning your oven to warm and setting the dough on the stovetop will create that extra warmth needed if you’re not cooking anything at the moment, but the room is a little too cool to make the dough rise.

After an hour the dough should be about doubled in size. Punch the dough down with your fist to deflate and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Pull off small pieces of dough and press a Mozzarella Cheese Cube into the center of each, forming the dough into a ball around it. Keep the dough around the cheese minimal, as it will rise and too much dough will make your melted cheese pocket seem smaller in each roll. Place the rolls into a greased baking pan or on a baking sheet. Cover with a clean towel and let rise 1 hour more, in a warm place. When the rolls have risen again, place them in a preheated oven at 350 degrees and bake 15 – 20 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Garlic Cheese Rolls

1 cup Milk

¼ cup Sugar

¼ cup Butter, melted

1 teaspoon Salt

2-1/4 teaspoons Yeast

1/3 cup Warm Water

1 Egg, beaten

1 clove Garlic, minced

1/8 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

4 cups Flour

1 block Mozzarella Cheese, cubed

Proof 2-1/4 teaspoons Yeast and 1/3 cup water with a pinch of sugar. Mix Milk, Sugar, Butter, and Salt together. Add in Proofed Yeast, 1 beaten Egg, 1 clove finely minced Garlic, and 1/8 cup Parmesan Cheese. Slowly mix in 4 cups Flour, a little at a time, until you can’t add anymore. Turn dough out on a heavily floured surface and knead about 5 minutes. Place in a clean bowl and let rise 1 hour. Deflate dough and turn out on a lightly floured surface. Form rolls by pressing a cube of mozzarella cheese into the center of each ball of dough. Place in a greased baking pan and let rise 1 hour. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes. Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Chocolate Pecan Pie from the Something Sweet Series

Chocolate Pecan Pie

This chocolate pecan pie was one of the classics at my grandma’s every Thanksgiving. The warm melted chocolate emphasized the rich and creamy texture of this filling, while the pecans contrast it nicely with a slight crunch. Together they make a delicious dessert that is both decadent and comforting.

Smooth, Crunchy, and Rich

This recipe is fun to make and can be thrown together very quickly! Start out with an uncooked Pie Crust, as always I recommend trying this delicious homemade pie crust recipe. Store bought crusts can be used if you’re pressed for time, but nothing beats the taste of homemade.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine 3 beaten Eggs with 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract and 2 tablespoons melted Butter. Next, mix in ½ cup Sugar and 1 cup Corn Syrup. This will make the mixture very thick, be sure to mix in all of the sugar, and not let it settle on the bottom. Then, add in ½ cup Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips. You can substitute dark chocolate if you like, but for me semi-sweet is just right. Finally, mix 1 ½ cup Pecan halves and stir to combine all ingredients evenly.

The filling for this is an interesting texture. The pecans and chocolate chips will basically be suspended in a thick, semi-fluid mixture. Pour this into to unbaked pie crust and remember to cover the edges of the crust with tin foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 – 50 minutes, removing the foil for the last 5 – 10 minutes to let the edges brown.

Let the pie cool for at least an hour. Because of the eggs, the center of the pie will be raised up towards the end of baking, but it will settle as the pie cools.

Keep an eye on it towards the end. With all the chocolate mixed in it’s easy to get a very dark looking top on this recipe. As you can see in the picture, I left mine in for a minute or so too long. If you’d like, melt a little extra chocolate to drizzle across the top of the pie or over individual slices.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

3 Eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon Vanilla

2 tablespoons Butter, melted

½ cup Sugar

1 cup Corn Syrup

½ cup Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

1 ½ cup Pecan Halves

1 unbaked Pie Crust

Combine beaten Eggs, Vanilla, and melted butter in a medium sized mixing bowl. Stir in Sugar and Corn Syrup, mixing until well combined. Add in Chocolate Chips and Pecan Halves, stirring until the pieces are evenly suspended. Pour mixture into an unbaked Pie Crust and bake at 350 degrees for 40 – 50 minutes. Let cool 1 hour.

Pretzel Bread

Pretzel Bread

Growing up I was always obsessed with pretzel bread. It was the one thing I always asked for when my family went to the bakery. I couldn’t get enough! Well, the other day, I discovered that I could make my own pretzel bread right here at home! Boy am I in trouble because I do not have the will power to stop eating this. It is so good!

Fresh Bread Loaf… Meet Soft Pretzel

Just like the name suggests, pretzel bread is about halfway between a warm, delicious, hand baked loaf of bread and a fresh, soft pretzel. Making this bread is a four step process. The first step is to mix the dough. Start with 3 cups Flour. Add 1 teaspoon Salt and 1 teaspoon Brown Sugar. Next mix in 2 ¼ teaspoons Yeast (one packet) and 1 cup Warm Water. If you’d like, you can proof the yeast first by mixing it with half of the warm water in a separate bowl, and adding a pinch of sugar. If the yeast starts to foam within 5 minutes, then it is active and can be mixed into the flour, along with the other half cup of Warm Water. I usually proof my yeast first, but with this recipe, I simply mixed it all together and it turned out just fine. Don’t forget to add in the 1/8 cup Butter, at room temperature so that it blends well with the other ingredients.

When your dough is fully mixed, turn it out on a clean, floured surface. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it is springy but not sticky. Then, place it in a clean, greased bowl and turn the dough over, inside the bowl to coat evenly. Cover with a clean towel and set it in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.

Forming the Rolls

Step two begins after the dough has risen. In a small pot on the stove, mix together the additional 4 ½ cups Water, ¼ cup Salt, and ½ cup Baking Soda. Heat these to a simmer as you shape your bread. First, press down into the dough with your fist to deflate it. Then, turn the dough out onto a clean, floured surface. You can shape the bread however you like. I usually see them shaped like small French loaves, but to try and keep myself from eating too much at once, I like to make them into small dinner rolls by simply rolling them into balls. Remember to cut a few slits on top.

Dipping the Dough and Baking

Now go ahead and preheat the oven to 350 degrees and get a greased baking pan ready. Our third step is to take the shaped rolls or loaves one at a time and drop them into the simmering baking soda and salt water mixture. Let them simmer for about 30 seconds each, turning so that both sides are in the water at some point. Using a large ladle, scoop the dough out of the pot, drain the water, and set them on the greased baking tray. When each roll or loaf is done, brush the tops with 1 beaten egg and sprinkle with sea salt. I try not to go overboard with the sea salt, a little bit goes a long way.

Finally bake your pretzel bread at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. If you are making loaves and not rolls, they may need a little more time. You will know the rolls are done when they have that distinctive brown color with a crisp outer shell. Enjoy your delicious pretzel bread! And I hope you have more self restraint with them than I do. I’m off to make another batch already!

Pretzel Bread

3 cups Flour

1 tablespoon Brown Sugar

1 teaspoon Salt

2 ¼ teaspoon Yeast

1/8 cup Butter

1 cup Warm Water

½ cup Baking Soda

4 ½ cups additional Water

¼ cup additional Salt

1 Egg, beaten

Sea Salt

Mix Flour, 1 teaspoon Salt, Brown Sugar, Yeast, 1 cup Warm Water, and Butter all together to make the dough. Knead of a clean, floured surface about 5 minutes. Place in a clean, greased bowl and let rise 1 hour. Mix 4 ½ cups Water, 1/3 cup Salt, and ½ cup Baking Soda together in a small stove pot. Let simmer. Preheat oven to 350 and prepare a greased baking sheet. Deflate dough and shape as desired, cutting slits to vent. Dip the dough into the simmering salt water and baking soda mixture and let cook for about 30 seconds, flipping halfway through. Place dough onto the greased baking sheet and brush with 1 beaten Egg. Sprinkle tops with a pinch of Sea Salt and bake 12 to 15 minutes, until the bread is crusty and brown on the outside. Enjoy!

Cream Cheese Candies

Cream Cheese Candies

These delicious cream cheese candies are an enticing treat. Perfect for parties and gatherings. These candies are similar to the small butter mints used for weddings and parties, but they are much creamier and can be made in a variety of flavors. For parties I will make several batches of these in different flavors, but it’s fun to whip up a half batch for around the house whenever I have leftover cream cheese.

Choose Your Flavor

These candies can be made in any flavor you like. My husband loves the classic mint flavor, but I like to make a few with raspberry or orange flavoring for a fun variety. Start by creaming together 2 tablespoons Butter and 4 ounces Cream Cheese. Add in your chosen flavoring and mix well. If you are using a Flavoring Extract only add 1 teaspoon to start and adjust for flavor. These candies can also be flavored with syrup, but for Syrup Flavoring start with 1 tablespoon and adjust. This Raspberry Sauce makes a perfect flavoring, and colors the candies as well!

Next mix in 4 cups of sifted Powdered Sugar, a little at a time. This will turn the mixture thick, like a creamy dough. You want the mixture to be soft enough to shape, but firm enough that it is no longer ‘sticky.’ If using Syrup to flavor, you will have to add in about 1 cup more powdered sugar to make up for the extra liquid. When the soft dough is firm enough to hold shape without being sticky, roll the dough into individual balls and place onto waxed paper. The pieces should be bite sized and spread just a little bit away from each other. Press each one gently with a fork to create a disc shape. The fork will also leave a pretty design on top. Let this dry for about 15 minutes or refrigerate on trays, until they hold shape.

Cream Cheese Candies

2 tablespoons Butter

4 oz Cream Cheese

1 teaspoon Flavoring Extract

OR 1 tablespoon Flavoring Syrup

4 cups Powdered Sugar (Extra to adjust consistency)

Mix together Butter and Cream Cheese, then add in either 1 teaspoon Flavoring Extract or 1 tablespoon Flavored Syrup. Mix in 4 cups of sifted Powdered Sugar, a little at a time until you get a dough that is soft, but firm and not sticky. If using Syrup Flavoring, add in more Powdered Sugar until your dough is the proper consistency. Roll dough into individual balls on waxed paper. Press each down with a fork to form a disc and let dry or refrigerate on baking sheets about 15 minutes until the candies are dry and hold shape.

Sweet Bread Braid

Sweet Bread Braid

For a delicious twist on normal bread baking, this week I’m making a Sweet Bread Braid. This is a rich egg bread with a sweet taste. It has an impressive appearance for holidays and parties and is delicious as an everyday treat. So far this is my husband’s favorite bread recipe, it is always the one he asks for. It is so rich and sweet for a savory bread recipe, that I usually skip the butter and eat this one plain. The braid is so much fun to make and gives such a fancy appearance with little actual effort.

Meaningful Treats

In Jewish Traditions the braided bread is called Challah and each strand has meaning. They are made for festivals to symbolize love and unity among other things. This bread came to be used at Passover to symbolize manna from heaven and was modeled off of decorative German sweet breads. Braided bread has a long history and tradition and has been used as symbolism and decoration for centuries.

To make this bread, start with 1/3 cup Warm Water. Around 110 degrees in ideal, but I find that letting the hot water run from the faucet for a few seconds usually give me just the right temperature, without having to use a thermometer. Add in 2-1/4 teaspoons Yeast or 1 Yeast Packet and stir. Let this rise in a warm place for about 5 minutes to proof or activate the yeast. If you don’t see any change in a few minutes, try sprinkling a pinch of sugar in with the yeast.

While the yeast is proofing, mix 1-1/2 cup Flour, ¼ cup Sugar, and 1 teaspoon Salt together in a large bowl. Add to this 1 beaten Egg, 2/3 cup Warm Water, 2 tablespoons Oil, 2 tablespoons Honey, and the proofed yeast mixture, which should be bubbly. When these are thoroughly combined, add in 1-1/2 to 2 cups of Flour, a little at a time. When you can mix in no more flour, pour the rest on a clean surface and turn the dough out to knead.

Kneading and Braiding

To knead the dough, sprinkle it with flour and form it into a ball. Press this ball down, reform it, and turn it over to repeat. If the dough starts to stick to your hands or the surface sprinkle more flour over it. Knead about 5 minutes or until dough is tacky but not sticky on the outside.  Then place the dough into a clean, greased bowl and turn to coat the outside. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for an hour.

After an hour the dough should be about double in size. Press down into the center with your fist to deflate, and turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into three even sections and roll each section out into a log of approximately the same length. Lay the lengths of dough next to each other in three straight lines, just touching. Gently braid the lengths of dough together, being careful not to stretch or smash the dough. Tuck each end of the braid slightly underneath and press them gently together to seal.

Place dough on a greased baking sheet and cover with a towel. Let rise 1 hour, then bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Brush with melted butter and serve!

Sweet Bread Braid

3 to 3-1/2 cups Flour

1 cup Warm Water

2-1/2 teaspoons Yeast

¼ cup Sugar

1 teaspoon Salt

1 Egg, beaten

2 tablespoon Oil

2 tablespoon Honey


Proof Yeast in 1/3 cup of the Warm Water. Mix 1-1/2 cup of the Flour, ¼ cup Sugar and 1 teaspoon Salt. Add in the remaining Warm Water, proofed Yeast, Egg, Oil, and Honey. Slowly stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a firm dough. Turn the dough out on a well floured surface and knead about 5 minutes until dough is tacky but not sticky. Place in a greased bowl and turn to coat. Let rise in a warm place 1 hour. When dough is about doubled in size, push down with your fist to deflate and turn out on a lightly floured surface. Cut dough into three even pieces and roll into strands of equal length. Place strands side by side and braid together gently. Press ends lightly together and tuck under to hold. Place dough on a greased baking sheet and cover with a towel. Let rise 1 hour in a warm place, and then bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until golden brown on top. Brush with butter and serve!

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

This cake is so much fun to make! It is Grandma June’s special recipe for all the birthdays, and for good reason. This cake is so moist and delicious it doesn’t even need frosting (although who can resist adding some anyway?) This chocolate mayonnaise cake was rich and delicious, I can’t wait to try a batch with different flavorings as well. The batter comes together so quickly you will never bother with a boxed cake mix again.

Mayonnaise in Cake!?

Crazy right? I had never heard of a cake made with mayonnaise before. I defiantly wouldn’t have thought those two things could go together. But in this delicious cake recipe, they fit perfectly. Mayonnaise is basically just eggs and oil, so using it in a cake replaces the eggs and makes the cake creamy and delicious. This will be the go to recipe for birthday cakes in my house this year!

In a large mixing bowl sift together 3 cups Flour and 3 tablespoons Baking Cocoa. This breaks up the clumps so you won’t get a big bite cocoa powder, making a nice smooth batter. Stir in 1-1/2 cup Sugar and 1 tablespoon Baking Soda. Then add 1-1/2 cup Mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon Vanilla, and 1-1/2 cup Water. Mix these into the dry ingredients all at once, to keep the batter from clumping. Grease and flour a cake pan and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Pour the batter into the pan evenly, then drop the pan lightly on the table a few times to force out any air bubbles. Smooth out the top, then place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Grandma June’s Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

3 cups Flour

3 tablespoons Baking Cocoa

1-1/2 cup Sugar

1 tablespoon Baking Soda

1-1/2 cup Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip

1 teaspoon Vanilla

1-1/2 cup Water

Sift together Flour and Baking Cocoa. Add in Sugar and Baking Soda. Mix Mayonnaise, Vanilla, and Water into the dry ingredients all at once. Pour into a greased and floured cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Enjoy!

Breakfast Biscuits

Breakfast Biscuits

Light, flaky, and buttery! These breakfast biscuits are delicious and can be prepared in minutes. My husband is convinced that they taste just like waffles, and I have seen him pouring syrup over them before. I use this recipe when making biscuits and gravy or just for a simple morning treat on its own. I’ve even made them for dinner with some Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup when I was running short on time.

Oh So Buttery!

The secret to this recipe is the butter. I use real butter for the best flavor. Make sure to keep your butter cold and don’t over mix it. This keeps small lumps of butter in the dough which melt as they bake, making the biscuits flaky and full of flavor.

To start, mix together 2-1/3 cups Flour, ½ teaspoon Salt, 2 teaspoons Sugar, and 4 teaspoons Baking Powder. Add in 1/3 cup Cold Butter, mixing with your hands until the butter crumbles into pea sized bits. Don’t over mix! When the lumps of butter are small and evenly distributed, add 1 tablespoon Honey and ¾ cup Milk. Mix these in lightly, until just combined, again being careful not to over mix the dough, it should be lumpy.

Press spoonfuls of dough together, just enough to stick and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes, until tops are lightly browned.

Breakfast Biscuits

2-1/3 cups Flour

½ teaspoon Salt

2 teaspoons Sugar

4 teaspoons Baking Powder

1/3 cup Butter

1 tablespoon Honey

¾ cup Milk

Mix Flour, Salt, Sugar, and Baking Powder together in a bowl. Add in Butter and mix with your hands until it crumbles. Lightly fold in Honey and Milk until just combined. Place balls of dough on a greased baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees 7 to 10 minutes.