Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Dessert and Bread Recipe

I love to cook, but I don't use recipes because I find they are generally kind of wimpy on the spices, probably to appeal to the broadest spectrum of tastebuds. And I just like to experiment.

We had friends over for supper last night and I made some dessert pears that were simple and turned out, well, REALLY good. The pears were still a little green and hard, so cooking time might be less if the pears are riper. (The ingredients are approximate, I never measure either.)

Cut 5 pears in half lengthwise and using a paring knife "dish out" the core leaving a decent crater that would hold liquid.

Lay them out in a shallow baking dish, cut side up and sprinkle with brown sugar (don't cover them entirely but don't be too skimpy either).

Mix a stick and a half of softened butter with about 4 ounces of spiced rum (I used "Black Strap Rum", it was really cheap and has a great taste for this kind of stuff.)

Put about a good heaping teaspoon of the rum-butter mix to fill the crater.

Cover with foil and bake until the pears are very soft (I cooked mine on 250 for about 3 hours while I was cooking everything else...probably 350 for an hour or more depending on the ripeness of the pears). Serve with vanilla ice cream on the side.

And here's a really quick and tasty home made bread that you can bake and serve right out of the oven when you have guests (or just want fresh bread). This makes two good sized loaves and takes about ten minutes to prepare.

Half of a 5 lb. bag of all purpose flour in a bowl add two heaping tablespoons of coarse salt (not table salt). (If you keep your flour in the freezer let it come to room temp. I've found frozen flour tends to kill the yeast or at least really slows it down.)

Warm about a cup of water on the stove or in a microwave (not too hot, so you can still hold your finger in it comfortably). Add about a heaping tablespoon of rosemary leaves into the water. Add one level teaspoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons (or 4 packets) of yeast. Stir and let the mixture set for about 10 minutes. (When the yeast is activated it will develop foam on the top of the water. If you don't see that, your yeast is no good.)

Add a cup of water to the yeast mix and then pour it in the flour. Start mixing and adding water until the dough is thick enough to barely stand up (not too thin, not too stiff) so if you let it sit for a minute, it will slowly flatten out. I use my hands and just kind of squeeze it between my fingers and scrape the bowl to be sure there's no loose flour at the bottom. It will be very sticky. Don't try to get it absolutely lump free. If you've mixed for more than 3-4 minutes you're trying too hard to get the dough smooth.

Grease 2 bread pans liberally with olive oil, (I use shallow round 9" dishes or my 10" cast iron skillet, not the high sided bread pans so it comes out as a round "artisan loaf"). I haven't had great luck with baking stones, the dough is too soft to hold its own shape and flattens out too much for my liking.) Split the dough between the two pans, I just kind of lump it in and don't worry about the shape too much, it will flatten out and take on its own shape as it rises anyway. Sprinkle a little flour on top and put them in a cold oven and let rise for about an hour (keep an eye on it, it rises fast and will overflow the edges of the pan.) At this point you can take it out of the oven, run your finger around the edges and kind of fold the edges of the dough back in on itself so it forms another mound in the center (don't be too aggressive, just enough to move the dough away from the edge of the dish) and let it rise again, or you can skip this step and just turn the oven on.

If you let it rise twice wait until the dough is slightly above the top of the dish, then turn the oven on to 375. It will keep rising during the baking process. Bake until the top is browned. (About 45 minutes). Remove from oven, let cool for about 15 minutes and pop it out of the pan.

Really yummy on its own, buttered, or with pesto or balsamic vinegar and olive oil dip.
(If you try the recipe, let me know how it works for you...I'm still playing with the formula.)


deb said...

I've been baking bread for almost 30 years, almost never use recipes for yeast breads, either, am comfortable with winging it--and yet your recipe surprises me because it really breaks some rules, doesn't it? Fascinating. Will have to give it a try. Thanks! (And the pears sound yummy, too.)

s-p said...

Hi Deb, I've never made bread before getting the basic recipe from -C's blog, so this is really the only bread recipe I know. I've been playing with it for a few months trying different things. I like this version because its quick to mix,low maintenance,can bake while the rest of the meal is being cooked and we can have fresh bread with supper. I might be using "too much yeast", but with this recipe the bread comes out with a "toothy crust" and an really airy center with a wonderful yeasty, almost sourdough flavor. It doesn't get real "tall", only 3-4 inches thick. (I might try making the dough stiffer and see what happens, but I think I'll lose the airy center which we like). I made it with rosemary this time because I was cooking Italian. (Its great plain too.) It always gets rave reviews at our Church potluck and it is so quick I can get up and bake it right before Church so it is fresh.

rightwingprof said...

See here: