Smarter Than Pancakes

Saturday, January 30, 2010

School Yeast Rolls

Filed under: breads,School Yeast Rolls — shaye3 @ 11:39 am

If you went to public school in my town in the Seventies and Eighties, you know that these yeast rolls are the stuff of legend.  The school cafeteria only served them on Chicken & Noodle day, and you could smell them from the minute you got to school in the morning.  By the time you got to lunch, you were completely starving for them.  They were like lunchroom gold—you could trade a yeast roll for almost anything—even chocolate milk!  (And let me tell you, Chocolate milk was a hot commodity for trading at my alma mater!)

This is not the best representation of these rolls.  I took this picture on a particularly harried day. I had a house full of family, and was trying to get the rolls to the table quickly.  I didn’t let them rise quite enough, and I didn’t bake them quite long enough. When you look at the picture, try to envision them higher, more rounded, and slightly darker–ok?

About thirteen years ago, one of the schools did a cookbook fundraiser.  I snapped one up JUST for the yeast roll recipe.  I’ve been making them for holidays ever since.  In the past few months, I’ve made them for Thanksgiving, December Bunco, Christmas day dinner, and another family gathering after Christmas.  There are rarely leftovers.

The original recipe makes 28 rolls.  I used to try to cut the recipe in half, but yeast breads don’t like it when you try to tamper with them.  I finally realized that I can make the full batch of dough, make all of the balls for rolls, then freeze them like Rhodes rolls.  Then I just pull out the number of frozen rolls I need, and defrost and bake them just like you would Rhodes rolls—only these are so much better!

School Yeast Rolls
Yield 28 rolls
WW Points 4 each  (Points are calculated without the extra butter brushed on top. Why do you think I only have them on holidays?)

1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup sugar  (6 Tbs. if that’s easier.)

4 Tbs dry milk

1 Tbs salt

675 grams all-purpose flour (Approx. 5 cups, but I make no promises for your results if you don’t weigh.)

1 3/4 cup warm water, divided (About 110°)

1 egg, beaten

1/2 lb. plus 1/2 Tbs. butter (No idea why it calls for 2 sticks and another 1/2 Tbs, but I do it.)

2 pkgs. dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp. if you use bulk yeast like I do)

  1. Combine the sugar, dry milk, salt and flour.
  2. Dissolve the yeast into 3/4 cup warm water.
  3. Add the egg and butter to the 1 cup water; mix well then mix that with the yeasty water.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix on medium speed until the dough clears the bowl.  (I do this in my stand mixer.)
  5. Place the whole mess into a greased bowl and leave in a warm (80°) place about 20 minutes for the first rise.  (The dough will be a little sticky, but not bad. That’s where measuring the flour comes into play.  If you try to scoop, you really don’t know how much you’re really getting, and there’s no way of guessing how stiff or sticky your dough will be.)
  6. Pinch into rolls, and place in a greased baking pan.  (I should probably just admit that I am anal enough that I actually weigh the entire ball of dough, divide that by 28, then weigh each dough ball to make sure they’re all the same size.  Trust me when I say that you don’t have to–they’ll be just fine.)
  7. Let rise in a warm place until double in size.  (I usually brush melted butter on them before I leave them for the second rise.  It isn’t called for in the recipe, but man is it good that way.)
  8. Bake at 350° or 375° for 30-40 minutes, or until they’re golden brown on top. (That’s one thing I like about this recipe.  You can throw them in the oven with other things that are baking, and you won’t have to worry about the temp not being right.  When I bake them alone, I use 350°.)
  9. If you don’t want to bake all of the rolls that day, follow the directions through step six where you pinch the dough into rolls.  Instead of putting them in a greased pan, put them on a sheet of wax paper in the freezer, not touching each other, until they’re frozen solid.  (Try to remember to go back and put them in a freezer container or bag as soon as they’re frozen.  They’ll freezer burn pretty quickly if you leave them exposed in the freezer.)
  10. To bake from frozen, put them in a greased pan and cover with sprayed plastic wrap.  Let them rise in a warm place for 3-4 hours, or until doubled in size.  (My cousin Jana puts the pan on a heating pad set on low, and they rise considerably faster.) After they’ve risen, bake like normal.

So the rolls and the cake are the two recipes that people have been *reminding* me to post.  Now that they’re out of the way, I should let you know that I started doing Weight Watchers again earlier this month.  January 9th, to be exact.  That was my half birthday–which means I have exactly six months until I hit a milestone birthday.  If you’ve ever needed motivation to stick to a diet, a looming milestone birthday is a good one.  It’s been twenty days, and I haven’t cheated even once!  We also got a Wii Fit for Christmas, so I’ve been trying really hard to exercise, too.  So far, I’ve dropped ten pounds; but I’m not going to post “before” and “after” pictures until I look a lot less like the “befores.”

I’ve been trying all kinds of really good recipes over the past few weeks.  They all happen to be healthy and low calorie, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fabulous.

I’ve also been making a lot more vegan recipes.  I never knew that vegan recipes could be so delicious and surprisingly filling!  I’ve taken pictures of all of the good ones, and I’ll be posting them in the very near future.  And I really mean it, this time!  I’m typing several of them out right now, and then I’ll just publish them every few days for a while.


Friday, January 29, 2010

The Famed Marble Cake

Filed under: Desserts,Red Velvet and White Marble Cake — shaye3 @ 10:18 pm

This was only my second attempt at marbling. I'm still no expert.

Ok, so I made this cake a few times over the holidays, and I’ve gotten a lot of requests for the recipe.  It’s only taken me a month, and I’m just now getting around to blogging it.  (Sorry, but I’ve already admitted to being a blog slacker.)

Not only am I a blog slacker, but this cake actually uses ::gasp:: CAKE MIXES!!  Yup, I said it.  I used mixes.  I swear I never use them normally, but I really liked the look of this cake, and I was too busy/lazy to figure out how to make it from scratch before I hosted Bunco.   Then, it was so good that I made it again for my sister-in-law from Seattle.  Eventually, I hope to figure out how to make it from scratch—but not until my birthday at the earliest.  (I’ve sworn off everything that packs this many calories until then.)

I obviously took the picture during the holidays, and the whole peppermint thing really screams Christmas.  I was thinking about it, though; and you could totally change the extract to almond or maybe even raspberry and change the taste completely.  The peppermint flavor is only in the frosting, so I really think that some almond extract and a few drops of red food coloring in the frosting would scream Valentine’s Day.

White part:
1  (18.25-ounce) package white cake mix

3  egg whites

1 1/3  cups  buttermilk

2  tablespoons  vegetable oil

Red part:
1  (9-ounce) package Jiffy yellow cake mix (or 1 ¾ c. of any other yellow cake mix)

1/2  cup  buttermilk

1  large egg

1 1/2  tablespoons  cocoa

1/2  teaspoon  baking soda

2  tablespoons  liquid red food coloring (That’s almost an entire bottle of McCormick’s Red.)

1  teaspoon  cider vinegar

Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting:

1  (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1  cup  butter, softened

1  (2-pound) package powdered sugar

2  teaspoons  peppermint extract (Or vanilla, or almond, or raspberry, or whatever you want.)

(Just so you know, you’re going to need two bowls so you can make the two different colored batters before you marble them together.  I used my stand mixer to make the white part, because there’s a lot more of the white batter.  I used a small-ish mixing bowl and my hand mixer for the red part, and it worked beautifully.)

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°.
  2. Grease and flour three 9-inch, round cake pans.  (I used the baking spray that is especially for cakes—the kind with flour in it.)
  3. In your large mixing bowl; dump in the white cake mix, egg whites, buttermilk, and veggie oil.  Beat it for at least as long as the package says.  (Longer is even better.)
  4. While that’s whirring away in your stand mixer, take a smaller bowl and dump in the yellow cake mix, buttermilk, egg, cocoa, baking soda, red, and vinegar; then beat that for as long as the yellow cake mix package says.  (Again, longer is always better for cakes.)
  5. Spoon the batters into your three cake pans, alternating the red and white, then swirl them together a little with a knife or a toothpick.
  6. Put them in the oven, but make sure that each pan is at least a couple of inches away from the other pans or the side of the oven.
  7. (While the cakes are baking, wash your stand mixer bowl and beater so they’ll be ready to make the frosting.)
  8. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  9. Cool in pans on wire racks for about 10 minutes; then remove from pans and cool on wire racks.
  10. While the cakes are cooling, make your frosting by beating the cream cheese and butter together until they’re creamy.  Add the extract; then lower the speed and add the powdered sugar.  (Trust me, if you don’t lower the speed, you’ll have a powdered sugar cloud that is not pretty.)
  11. When the cakes are cool, spread the frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake.  (Know that if your cake is lopsided, you do not have enough frosting to pile a bunch extra in the middle to level it out.  Don’t ask how I know.)
  12. If you made the frosting peppermint, you can garnish with crushed candy canes.  (It doesn’t really need garnish.)
  13. Serve within 2 hours, and keep leftovers refrigerated.

Trust me when I say this cake isn’t as hard as it looks,  is really impressive looking, and absolutely delicious.   Several of my Bunco friends mentioned how dense and moist it is.

If you happen to make it and sub in a different extract in the frosting, do me a favor and leave a comment letting me know how it turns out.   Thanks!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Slow But Sure Post–Now with FRUIT SMOOTHIE!

Filed under: Alton's Smoothie (tweaked),Healthy Junk Food,WW Points — shaye3 @ 3:31 pm

For those of you who are here looking for the marble cake or the rolls, I swear I’m working on them!  Long recipes take longer to type out.  I have to type a paraphrased version of each recipe for copyright reasons, and both of those recipes are kind of long.  I’ve been working on them, but I’m also homeschooling and just started a new job.  I’m starting with a super-easy recipe, and I’ll try to get to the other two very soon!

Sooo, you already know about how good intentions pave roads–no need to expound on that one.  My grand scheme was to start the big diet on January first, except we were still in full holiday mode and had all kinds of company that first week.  Not to mention that Steve’s work decided that they should let everyone wait an extra week between pay periods the first of the year because there were too many weeks in the year or something.  I don’t know, but the budget got tighter that first week in January.  It actually worked out well because we ate out of our pantry for a while, and got rid of a lot of fattening foods that I didn’t want to have around anyway.   When we finally hit the grocery, we came out with lots of fruits, veggies, and whole grains.  I guess that should cushion the blow that we came out almost $300 lighter.  (In all fairness, we were out everything.  It does cost a little more to stock up on staples when you’re completely starting over with only healthy versions of everything.)

Steve finally got paid on the eighth, and the ninth is my half birthday–which means I have exactly six months to take off this weight before it becomes permanently glued to the body on my fortieth birthday.  (At least I’ve heard that it’s impossible to lose weight after you turn forty.  Hopefully it’s an exaggeration since I’ll still have a little more weight to lose after this initial fifty pounds I’m hoping to drop by mid-July.)

It seems that all the cool people are dropping weight now-a-days.  I just watched an extremely gaunt-looking Alton Brown do a show on that very topic.  (Somebody please tell me when I get too thin. I don’t want to look unhealthy like Alton.)

Anyway, one of Alton’s recipes from his show “Live and Let Diet” was a fruit smoothie that he has for breakfast each and every day.   (I’m not the type who could stand having the same thing every day for breakfast, but I say more power to him!)  His recipe makes 24 ounces of smoothie, which seems like way too much for a normal person to drink.  I made a whole batch and split it with my son for a mid-morning snack.  It was pretty good, but it needed some vanilla in my opinion.  All smoothies need vanilla in my opinion.

Alton’s Buff Smoothie

Alton’s Buff SmoothieMakes 24 oz–which serves two in our house. 3 WW points per 12 oz. / 6 WW points for the whole thing

(Know that Alton is a little strange, so he weighs the whole thing.  I did it like he did and just put the tank of my VitaMix right on my food scale and then zeroed out each time I added a new ingredient.  It worked easily enough.)

4 oz low-fat plain soy milk (I used unsweetened Silk, but the vanilla would be really tasty.)

4 oz Concord grape juice (Grape is cheapest, but according to him you can also use pomegranate or acai juice.)

4 oz frozen strawberries (All fruit is unsweetened–naturally.)

4 oz frozen bananas (I didn’t have any bananas in the freezer, so I just peeled one straight off the counter.)

4 oz frozen blueberries (You can use blackberries, but I don’t like that many seeds.)

4 oz frozen peaches or mangoes (I calculated the points using peaches.  Mango is tasty, but it has more calories and less fiber.)

A splash of vanilla extract (Alton doesn’t call for this, but it needs it.  I added maybe 1/4 tsp. to my half of the finished smoothie, and it was a big improvement since I like everything to taste like ice cream.)

  1. Alton measures the ingredients into blender the night before and blends the next morning.  I didn’t, and it was a pain to mix because my fruit was really frozen.  I used a Vita-Mix, which has a power-boat motor.  I don’t know if it would have worked otherwise.  That fruit was rock hard.
  2. If you want to know the exact nuance of how he mixed it, check the food network site.  I figure it’s a smoothie–you can’t really do it wrong if it comes out smooth in the end.

Ok, I’m off to nag my son to get his math done, and to work on that stupid marble cake post. 😉

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