Old timey recipes for staples like biscuits, breads and pancakes. Plus a new recipe for biscotti to dunk in your free trade coffee.
Biscuits are a handy, quick and easy bread that used to be a daily staple in Maine kitchens. There are a zillion recipes and variations. Here's Dave's.
Mix or sift the following dry ingredients: 2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tblsp baking powder and (optional) 1-2 tblsp of sugar. Use a fork or knife to cut in 1/3 cup of butter or real margarine. The mix should be consistent and have a small grained texture. Add up to 3/4 cup of milk a little at a time and mix well. Dough should not be too sticky. Turn out on a floured board and knead lightly into a ball. Pat the ball out into a 3/4 to 1" thick disk. Use the rim of a drinking glass to cut into rounds. Traditionally we take the scraps and form them into a rope and tie in a knot. Never mind what the kids call this last biscuit.
Place cut biscuits on a greased cookie sheet or biscuit tin. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Should be flaky and golden brown on top.
Serve hot with butter and jam. Or make a shortcake with fresh fruit and whipped cream. Also good with Sunday dinner, soup or almost any meal! They even make good sandwiches. Our favorite is biscuits with leftover turkey and gravy. Just put your cut but unbaked biscuits on top of a casserole dish full of hot turkey chunks and gravy. Bake like plain biscuits. This will work just as well with any stewed meat or casserole.
Bake up this Irish Soda Bread for your Irish Day celebration. In a large bowl mix 4 cups of flour (I use half white and half whole wheat), a couple of tblsp of sugar and 1 tsp salt, 4 tsp of baking powder and 1 of baking soda. Cut in about 4 tblsp of butter or real margarine. Use your fingers to get it down to a fine grainy texture. Now mix in a cup of raisins and a tblsp of caraway seeds. Next add 1-3/4 cups of buttermilk and a beaten egg and mix well. Turn the whole mess out onto a floured board and knead for about 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle with a little flour if the dough is too sticky. The dough should form into a smooth ball.
You can cook this bread with or without a pan. I prefer to use 2 round cake pans or (better) two preheated, small, cast iron frypans. The bread holds a good round shape this way. Grease the pans. Divide your dough in half and form two balls. Press a ball into each pan and cut a half inch deep cross in the top of each. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the pan and tap on the bottom of the loaf; it will sound hollow if the loaf is done. Place the loaves on a rack to cool. Rub a little butter on the top and sprinkle with sugar. Serve warm or cold.
Variations: I've used golden or dark raisins, currants or even dates in a pinch. This was always a St. Patrick's Day favorite with my boys. I would wrap a penny in tinfoil and stick it in the dough before baking. Whoever got the penny received good luck.
Oatmeal Bread with a Cinnamon Walnut Swirl is a great way to use up the leftover oatmeal from breakfast on a cold morning.
Start by soaking a pack of yeast and a dash of sugar in a quarter cup of hot water. Mix gently and leave it alone until the mix activates and gets foamy. In the mean time, mix your leftover oatmeal (about half to 3/4 cup) with 2-3 tablespoons of honey, a teaspoon of salt, 2-3 tablespoons of oil and about a cup of hot water. If your oatmeal is soupy add less water.
When the yeast is ready, add it and about 2 and 1/2 cups of bread flour to the oatmeal. Mix well. The results should be somewhat sticky and not dry and crumbly. If too dry- add warm water a little at a time; if too sticky- add a little flour. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 12-15 minutes adding more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Kneading is REALLY important. Be vigorous. Do the whole 12-15 minutes. If you short this step you WILL end up with something resembling a cinder block only heavier. The dough should become smooth, elastic and almost bouyant near the end of the kneading.
Place in a large oiled bowl, cover with a clean towel and put in a warm place to rise.I use a slightly warm oven. Leave it alone until the dough has risen to twice its size. This should take about an hour to an hour and a half. When the dough is doubled, punch it down and reform it into a ball. Let rise until doubled again. The second rise takes about half as long. Punch the dough down again and let the dough relax.
Chop up a half a cup of walnuts. Add half a cup of brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and mix. Roll your dough out into a 8X12" rectangle and spread evenly with the walnut mix. Roll the dough up from the short side and place in a greased loaf pan. Let rise one last time until doubled. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. If it is done, the bread should sound hollow when you tap the bottom of the loaf.
This recipe makes a really light, fragrant loaf. It needs little more than toasting and butter. But... if you really want decadence, then spread your toast with a little maple spread.
Maple syrup season brings to mind our favorite breakfast - Pancakes!
Sift 2 cups of flour, 1/4 cup or less of brown sugar, 2 tsp of baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg. You might want to try a mix of white, whole wheat and/or buck wheat flour. Our favorite is to grind about 1/2 cup of uncooked oatmeal in a blender and add enough flour to make up the required amount. Mix in one egg, 2 tblsp of oil and a cup of buttermilk until just mixed. Buttermilk is by far the best, but I often use sour milk instead.
This mix will be thick. You can add more milk or a little water to thin it down. A thinner mix will yield more pancakes per batch but they will be thinner cakes. The thicker mix will yield about 6-8 6” wide pancakes.
For fruit pancakes, add blueberries, raspberries, sliced strawberries, chopped apple or a sliced banana. Either add the fruit right to the mix or sprinkle on top of the pancakes right after you pour the batter on the griddle. You might want to try this fancy approach. Peel and core a large apple then slice it in 1/4” rounds. Sprinkle with a brown sugar and cinnamon mix and lay them on your hot griddle. Let set for a minute or so then spoon on enough batter to cover each ring. This will produce a pancake with a built in fried apple ring.
Cook your pancakes on a lightly greased griddle that has been heated to medium high or about 350 degrees. Spoon or ladle on batter in rounds. Cook until pancake surfaces are bubbly all over. Flip carefully and DO NOT press down on tops of pancakes with your spatula. Do not flip your pancakes more than once.
Remove to plates when pancake bottoms are brown. I know Aunt Jemima shows their pancakes in tempting stacks but pancakes that are spread out in a single layer on your plate will keep their light fluffy shape and not become squashed and doughy.
Serve with butter and real maple syrup or try strawberries and yogurt, warm applesauce or ( and this is the absolute best) fried apples. Butter your cakes, spoon on the fried apples and add some real maple syrup.
You can save yourself some time by making up your pancake mix in quantity ahead of time. This is a real easy math lesson - just mix the above dry ingredients times 4, 6 or whatever amount you want to end up with. The only addition is to add 1/2 cup of dried buttermilk powder for every two cups of flour. Sift together all ingredients and store in a tight container. When it comes time to mix up a batch just measure out about 2 cups of mix and add an egg, a cup of water and a couple tablespoons of oil. Mix and pour on the griddle. This is a good camping mix since you don’t need milk.
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