18-1: Basic Yeast Dough I

I’ve made a lot of bread during the 3.5 years I’ve been working on this project (both for the project and outside of it), and I hear a lot of the same remarks whenever I talk about making bread: “Oh, that seems hard”, or “It’s too much work to make bread”. I used to feel the same way, and shied away from yeast recipes for a long time out of a fear of failure. In cooking (like most things in life), you have to be ready to embrace failure and learn from it–otherwise, you’ll never get past heating up Hot Pockets in the microwave.

18-1 Basic Yeast Dough I

Simply Delicious even notes in their recipe blurb that bread making is perceived as hard. It’s maybe not the easiest thing in the world, but you’ll make a lot of friends fast if you can make them fresh bread. 18-1: Basic Yeast Dough I is the first in a three-part series on bread making, where you’ll learn some tips and tricks for improving your bread baking, as well as a few basic recipes that you can use.

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17-14: Nutty Muffins

Here’s one of the last few recipes left from the chapter on baked goods, Group 17: Baked Goods. I made 17-14: Nutty Muffins for work–I thought they’d make a nice accompaniment to everyone’s morning coffee. ☕️

17-14 Nutty Muffins

See? Even Simply Delicious shows them being served with coffee. Wikipedia offers a deeper dive on the history of muffins if you’re interested/bored. There’s a difference between these types of muffins (referred to as “quickbread” muffins or “American” muffins due to the fact that they’re very similar to a cupcake or other types of sweet, dense, cake-like bread) and the traditional “English” muffins that you get with Eggs Benedict or an Egg McMuffin.

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17-10: Poppy Seed Bread

One of the last entries from the Baked Goods chapter, 17-10: Poppy Seed Bread is essentially white bread with a sprinkling of poppy seeds on top. Simply Delicious shows it as a loaf, but I chose to make it into rolls/buns–since you’re already topping the bread with seeds, it makes it very reminiscent of sesame seed hamburger buns. 🍔

17-10 Poppy Seed Bread

 

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17-23: Mocha Éclairs

As part of my Mother’s Day brunch this year (MD2017), I wanted to push my limits by attempting some of the hardest pastry recipes in the book. I tested my skills not only with 17-44: Homemade Danish Pastries, but with this recipe as well, 17-23: Mocha Éclairs.  My mom always referred to éclairs as something that challenged her when she was learning to cook and bake, and that a well-executed one was something that really impressed her. With that in mind, I knew this recipe was a must-do.

I may have to make a few adjustments to Simply Delicious‘ version of the recipe–first of all, there’s no chocolate listed anywhere in this recipe, and it’s advertised as “mocha”, which is coffee AND chocolate. We may have to do something about this “slicing the tops off” idea as well.

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17-44: Homemade Danish Pastries

Strap in ladies and gents, this one’s a long one. As part of my Mother’s Day brunch this year (MD2017), I thought I’d raise the bar and attempt some of the harder ones in the book–nothing impresses your mother like showing her you can cook (and bake). My mom LOVES pastries, so I made her 17-44: Homemade Danish Pastries to nosh on while I worked on trying to serve up 5-4: Eggs Benedict. Luckily, these turned out better than my hollandaise sauce attempt did.

Obviously, mine look a bit different than what’s pictured on their card–we’ll get into all the decisions and pitfalls that led to that being the case after the jump.

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16-39: Apricot Tart

I had mentioned in 16-24: French Chocolate Cake that it was one of two desserts that I made for a recent baby shower I attended: 16-39: Apricot Tart was the second dessert. I’ve been meaning to make this thing since near the start of this project, and it only took me a few years to finally get around to it. There’s something about this recipe and procrastination, though–this entry’s been sitting in my writing queue half-finished for over a month.

For the length of time that it took me to make it (and to write about it), I never even got to try it–I ended up leaving this and 16-24: French Chocolate Cake still wrapped up on the table at the party. We’ll just assume that both of them were delicious and everyone ate every last crumb of them.

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16-24: French Chocolate Cake

I recently attended a baby shower for a former co-worker and took it as an opportunity to knock out two more Simply Delicious desserts: 16-39: Apricot Tart and this one, 16-24: French Chocolate Cake. I wanted to bring something fruit/nut and something just plain chocolate, since some people there had nut allergies and others might just want something simple and chocolate.

This was a combination birthday party/baby shower (same person being honored for both), which will hopefully explain the odd decorations on my version of the cake. I’ve spared you pictures of the worst of my decoration choices, but let’s just say I made liberal use of all 4 colors of a grocery store icing kit. I kept meaning to hit a craft store for better cake decorations (or even Amazon), but time got away from me. ⏳

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17-65: Giant Caramel Rolls

A recent Sunday brunch called for a special treat: 17-65: Giant Caramel Rolls. Similar to “sticky buns“, these rolls have been taunting me for a while. I decided to make a batch and drop them off for brunch–that way most of them gets eaten by everyone else.

Don’t get me wrong–there’s still two in my freezer as I type this. But that’s better than ALL of them. Plus, there wasn’t room for all of them–I still had 16-14: Orange-Almond Cake in there, too. The rest of these ended up in my mom’s freezer instead.

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16-9: Raspberry Tart

Here’s a simple dessert that’s easy for a dinner, gift, or even just a snack. 16-9: Raspberry Tart is exactly what it sounds like–pie crust in a tart pan filled with raspberry preserves and topped with bits of dough. Simply Delicious uses a simple drop method for the dough topping, but I think we can do better than that. 🌟

Why did anyone think that amorphous blobs of dough were an acceptable tart topping? ¯_(ツ)_/¯

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17-50: Cornmeal-Jalapeño Biscuits

Making biscuits is quick and easy, especially when following this recipe for 17-50: Cornmeal-Jalapeño Biscuits from Simply Delicious. One of my favorite rainy-day activities, I enjoy baking because the warm oven heats up the house nicely. The only feeling that can beat it is sitting by the fireplace.🔥  A recipe like this could be cooked similar to a cornbread in a cast iron skillet placed near a fireplace hearth. That would be really old school, but I prefer using this biscuit method because each biscuit is baked with its own crunchy, delicious crust.

This recipe is so versatile. You can make the biscuits small for appetizer-sized portions or you can make dinner sized biscuits as a side dish. 

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