Week 85: Eggnog Tea Loaf

Just after Halloween, I make a large batch of aged, aka boozy, eggnog (my favorite is Michael Ruhlman’s 30-day Eggnog) and put it in the back of the fridge until Christmas time. This year, we had a little bit left over so I decided to make a tea loaf with it, and wow, what a treat! SO good with a cup of Earl Grey in the afternoon, and even better after dinner with some Traditional Swedish Egg Coffee. It’s super easy to throw together, and also makes for a nice hostess gift over the holidays.

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup eggnog (measure it into a Pyrex liquid measuring cup)
  • Glaze:
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 3 tablespoons eggnog
    • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
    • pinch of salt
  1. Butter and flour an 8.5″ x 4.5″ loaf pan and preheat oven to 350.
  2. With electric beaters, or a stand mixer, cream the butter with the sugar until well combined.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until thoroughly mixed in.
  4. Measure the flour, salt, and baking powder into a separate bowl, and whisk to combine
  5. Add the dry ingredients into the wet in batches, alternating with the eggnog, and mixing to combine after each addition.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  7. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until an inserted knife comes out clean. If the top starts to brown too much before it’s ready, cover it with a tin foil tent. Do not over bake!
  9. Meanwhile, make the glaze: Measure everything into a bowl and whisk to combine.
  10. Remove loaf from pan and let cool of a rack.
  11. Drizzle with glaze, and sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg.

Week 80: Thanksgiving Loaves

Representing the three pies we make at Thanksgiving: Apple, Pumpkin and Pecan. This is a good use of any leftover pumpkin or applesauce you might have, so you can use any combination of the two. Or, just one if that’s all you’ve got. I use mini loaf pans so that I can freeze them and have them at the ready over the holidays when folks drop in for tea, or as hostess gifts.

  •  4 large eggs
  •  1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups applesauce
  • 1-1/2 cups canned pumpkin
  •  2 sticks unsalted butter
  •  3 cups flour
  •  1 Tbsp baking soda
  •  1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp cinammon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 36 pecan halves, or sliced almonds
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Butter and flour 6 mini loaf tins, or 2 loaf tins.
  3. Melt butter, and allow to cool.
  4. WIth the paddle attachement, on high speed, (increase speed in increments so that it doesn’t splash all over the place), mix the eggs and the sugar until light and fluffy and a very pale yellow.
  5. Add the applesauce and pumpkin and mix to combine.
  6. Add the cooled, melted butter, and mix to combine.
  7. Measure the dry ingredients into a separate mixing bowl, and wisk to combine
  8. Add the dry tingredients to the wet in batches, mixing until incorporated. Do not over beat.
  9. Pour into prepared tins. Decorate with nuts.
  10. Bake about 25-35 minutes. Same baking time for mini vs loaves, but watch them towards the end.

Week 71: Pan di Ramerino

ITALY: I love these little buns! They are both sweet and savory, and when served with cheese, make for a hearty teatime snack (although in Italy, it’s more common to have them with coffee or a sweet wine). They were traditionally made for Giovedi Santo (Holy Thursday), but are now sold in Florentine bakeries all year long. In the middle ages, the rosemary was thought to ward off evil spirts, and the grapes and flour represent the Holy Communion.

The video instruction is in Italian, so I’ve listed the ingredients below. I decided not to coat them with the syrup, as I found they don’t really need to added sweetener, and it makes them difficult to handle.

When ready, bake at 350 degrees.

BIGA LIEVITINO

  • 7g/2tsp yeast (video shows fresh yeast, so I’ve converted to granular yeast)
  • 4g (1 tsp brown sugar)
  • 100g warm water
  • 100 all purpose flour (that is our equivalent to 0 flour)

RAISINS

  • 150g raisins
  • 50g vin santo (Italian dessert wine. Sweet sherry, or any sweet white wine will do)
  • 200g water

ROSEMARY

  • 5g rosemary (3-4 sprigs)
  • 90g extra-virgin olive oil

DOUGH – (you can mix and knead in a stand mixer all at once – even the raisins.)

  • lievitino
  • 50g brown sugar (I used just 25g)
  • 150g water
  • 400g all purpose flour
  • 10 gr of salt
  • rosemary olive oil

TOPPINGS

  • 1 egg, to brush tops before baking
  • 75g sugar + 75g water for tops after baking

Week 67: Angel Biscuits

Angel biscuits are made with three leavening agents: baking powder, baking soda and yeast. The unusual addition of yeast creates a texture that is a cross between a biscuit and a soft dinner roll. A perfect foil for Chef David Bull’s Sawmill Gravy.

This dough is very forgiving, and can be stored in the fridge for up to five days, or you can cut the dough into rounds, place them on a cookie sheet to freeze, then pop them in a zip lock and freeze until ready to bake however many you like.

Most recipes use a combination of shortening and butter, but biscuits were originally made with lard, and because of the low water content (compared to butter) it does produce a superior biscuit: fluffy, flakey and airy.* Don’t want to use lard or shortening? These biscuits were made with ghee which makes a really tasty substitute (but not necessarily any healthier*) Here’s a great video showing you how to make it at home.

  • 2-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp yeast (add 1/2 tsp more if you’re planning on freezing the batch to cook later)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Parmesan Herb Biscuits: Mix in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, (save 1 Tbsp to sprinkle on top just before baking), 1-1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme and 3/4 tsp chopped fresh rosemary.

Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, yeast, sugar and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl), and whisk to combine.

  • 1/2 c fat: all lard, shortening, butter (or a combination: 1/4 lard or shortening + 1/4c butter) OR 1/2c ghee
  • 1 cup buttermilk at room temperature (make your own: put 1 Tbsp vinegar into a Pyrex measuring cup, then add room temperature milk to the one cup line)
  • Optional: Cream to brush on tops before baking
  1. Add the ghee/lard/butter (whatever combo you’re using) into the flour mixture in pieces.
  2. With the paddle attachment, mix (on low speed) until crumbly. (Or, use your hands to incorporate the butter into small pebbles, until the mixture resembles coarse meal.)
  3. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk, and continue mixing until the liquid is incorporated and you’ve got a smooth dough. OR, gently fold the until ingredients are moistened. Don’t overmix!
  4. Cover bowl and let rest 1 hour.
    • At this point, you can store this dough in the fridge for up to five days, to shape and bake at a later time.
  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead 3 or 4 times.
  6. Gently press dough out into a circle, fold in half, then fold again. Push sides inward to shape into a circle.
  7. Gently roll to a 1/2″ thickness, then cut with a floured 2” cutter. Don’t twist the cutter when lifting it. Press the scraps together, pat then roll into a circle and continue to cut out biscuits until it’s all used up.
  8. Now you’ve got two options:
    • Bake now: Place rounds with sides touching in a 10-1/2′ cast-iron skillet lined with parchment paper,
    • OR Bake later: Place on a cookie sheet, spaced apart, and freeze. Remove to a zip-lock bag and freeze for up to two months.
  9. Remove biscuits from freezer and preheat the oven to 400.
  10. Brush tops with cream, then bake until golden, 16 to 20 minutes.
  11. Serve warm with Sawmill Gravy

*Why lard bakes a better biscuit:

  • Gluten strands in dough form strong bonds when baked, which makes a tougher crumb. When lard coats the gluten strands it weakens their structure and keeps them from bonding (fluffy),
  • Lard melts more slowly than butter, creating air and steam (flakey), and
  • The fat crystals in lard are larger than butter, so when it melts, tiny, airy holes develop (airy).

You shouldn’t be deterred from that ingredient (unless you’re vegetarian, of course). When Crisco shortening launched in 1911, it very quickly became the favorite with it’s netural taste and long shelf life — and it’s heavy marketing campaign that told consumers it’s healthier than lard. We now know that shortening’s partially hydrogenated fats (trans fats) are associated with higher health risks than the saturated fats (such as lard) they were designed to replace. In addition, lard has 20% less saturated fat than butter, and is higher in monounsaturated fats, which are good for cardiovascular health fat. Just make sure you find a brand that is 100% non-hydronated.