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This recipe is from Sunset Breads, Step by Step Techniques (Lane Publishing, 1984). It is my bread making Bible. Most of my favorite bread recipes are found here. I’ve made this Molasses Pumpernickel Bread many times throughout the years. One lasting memory is when I pulled these loaves from the oven and then a couple friends stopped by. They started picking at one of the loaves and by the time they left, nearly a whole loaf was gone! I like to serve this bread with soup or German-style foods.

Molasses Pumpernickel Bread

2 Tbsp. butter

2 cups milk

1-1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees F)

2 pkgs (4-1/2 tsp) active dry yeast

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1-1/2 cups whole bran cereal (All-Bran)

3 cups rye flour

About 4-1/2 cups bread flour

1 egg yolk beaten with 1 Tbsp. water

Warm milk with butter until butter just melts. Stir in walk and molasses. Set aside.

In a large bowl (or mixing bowl with dough hook) combine water, yeast, and brown sugar. Stir until dissolved. Let stand until bubbly (about 15 minutes). Then add milk mixture, bran cereal, rye flour, and 2 cups bread flour. Beat until well-blended. Using mixer, let it go about 5-8 minutes medium speed. Stir in about 1-1/2 cups more bread flour. Continue kneading or mixing until smooth and satiny, adding flour to prevent sticking.

Place dough in a greased bowl; turn over to grease top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1-1/2 hours).

Punch dough down, divide into two equal portions, and knead each portion briefly to release air. Then shape each into a smooth ball; flatten slightly.

Place each loaf on a baking sheet at least 10 x 15″, which has been greased and sprinkled with corn meal to prevent sticking. Cover and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled (about 40 minutes).

With a razor blad or sharp floured knife, make 1/2″ deep slashed on tops of loaves, forming a ticktacktoe design. Brush tops and sides with egg yolk mixture.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until bread is richly browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Transfer to racks and let cool. Makes 2 round loaves.

Popovers

I have tried several different popover recipes and I’ll give you the one that works best. I’m still on the hunt for a better one, though. This is based upon a recipe by Ina Garten (2001 Barefoot Contessa Parties). Popovers are a little like puffs (think cream puffs), in that they are egg based. In a perfect world I suppose that you could quickly remove your perfectly rounded popovers from the oven, slice off the tops, and fill the popovers with Chicken a la King. I have never been so lucky. This does not detract whatsoever from how good they are. The recipe calls for room temperature eggs and milk. I am never so advanced in planning. One trick I do use is to preheat the muffin tins for 2 minutes before pouring in the batter.

Whisk together 1-1/2 cups flour, 3/4 tsp. salt, 3 extra-large eggs, 1-1/2 Tbsp. melted butter and 1-1/2 cups milk. I use a 4-cup measurer as a bowl so I can pour the batter into the muffin tins without a mess.

Place buttered, greased, or sprayed muffin tins (18) in 425 degree oven for 2 minutes exactly. Fill each hot muffin cup half full of batter and bake for 20-25 minutes. DO NOT PEEK!

Remove from oven. Don’t they look crazy! Serve as quickly as possible. They fall very fast. Have your guests open with a fork, being careful not to burn themselves, and spoon Chicken a la King over the top. Delicious!

Popovers Ingredient List

1-1/2 cups flour

3/4 tsp. salt

3 extra-large eggs at room temperature

1-1/2 Tbsp. melted butter

1-1/2 cups milk at room temperature

Whisk all together. Makes 18.

Banana Muffins with Mascarpone Frosting

Based on a recipe by Giada de Laurentiis on Food Network, this is a delicious and super easy breakfast/dessert.

Set the oven to 325 degrees. Chop 1/2 cup walnuts. Place the walnuts in a pie pan or oven-proof saucer and then into the oven while it preheats. Give the walnuts a shake every once in awhile so they toast fairly evenly. Watch that they don’t burn. Remove from heat once toasted and set aside.

Stir together the dry ingredients: 3 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 2 cups sugar. Set aside.

Mix together the wet ingredients: 1 cup oil, 3 eggs, 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract. Peel and mash 4 ripe bananas.

Mix together the dry ingredients, the wet ingredients, and the mashed bananas. Stir until evenly moistened. Do not over-mix. Divide batter among 24 prepared (either paper liners or greased tins) muffin cups.

Bake the muffins at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes or when tops are golden brown and bounce back when lightly pressed with a finger. Remove from heat and let cool, either in the pan or out, doesn’t really matter. (The missing muffin was delish, BTW.)

While the muffins are cooling, stir together 3 oz. cream cheese, 6 Tbsp. butter, and 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese, all at room temperature. Stir in 3 Tbsp. honey. Spread a dollop of frosting over each muffin and sprinkle with toasted walnuts. Dig in!

Oat Pancakes

My kids are home from college and they’ve brought friends with them. The friends are from Sweden. We talked about the use of airplanes instead of cars in Alaska and I pulled out the Alaska maps so they could get oriented. I pointed out Nome where I was born and Naknek where I graduated high school. One girl asked if all the food was flown to Nome. They use barges for the most part, I said. When I was a young child, my mother placed her food order for the year and she got very excited when the ice moved out so the barge could come in. At this point of the conversation with the Swedes my youngest daughter started laughing. My pantry could probably feed a family for several months. I’m not a survivalist or preparing for the apocalypse, it’s just the “waiting for the barge” mentality. I have never been able to shake the food stockpile habit. My daughter laughed because her friends would come over to bake cookies or what not and they would decide to double or triple the recipe and her friends would say, “We’ll have to go to the store if we do that.” And my daughter would reply, “No, it’s no problem. Look,” and off to the pantry room they would go, to look at pounds of chocolate chips and boxes of graham crackers and cases of sweetened condensed milk. It’s not normal in this city. You can take the girl out of the Bush, but you can’t take the Bush out of the girl. That’s what I always say.

So, I am cooking for a crowd of about ten people now. This morning I made Oat Pancakes. Please note that this must be started the night before, so planning is involved.

The night before, combine 2 cups rolled oats and 2 cups buttermilk. Cover and let stand in refrigerator overnight.

In a medium bowl stir together 1/2 cup flour, 2 Tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/3 tsp. salt. I do this part the night before as well. That way when I wake up there are only a few steps remaining.

The next morning beat 2 eggs and melt 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter. Stir into oat mixture just until blended.

Stir in dry ingredients, just until moistened. If the batter seems too thick, add a tablespoon or two of buttermilk to thin it out.

Lightly grease griddle. I spray mine with canola oil. Spoon batter, about 1/3 cup for each pancake, onto griddle, and spread out to make circles about 4 inches in diameter.

These pancakes cannot be hurried. There is a tendency to not cook in the middle if you try to use high heat and hurry things along. No more than medium heat should be used. It does take time. When they begin to look dry around the edges and bubbles form throughout, then flip them over.

Oat Pancakes

2 cups rolled oats

2 cups buttermilk

2 eggs

4 Tbsp. melted butter

1/2 cup flour

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

In a large bowl, combine oats and buttermilk. Cover and let stand in refrigerator overnight.

The next day, beat eggs and add to oat mixture, along with butter. Stir together just until blended. In a medium bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; add to oat mixture and stir just until moistened. If batter seems too thick, add more buttermilk (up to 3 Tablespoons).

Preheat a griddle or wide frying pan over medium heat; grease lightly. Spoon batter, about 1/3 cup for each pancake, onto griddle, and spread out to make circles about 4 inches in diameter. Cook until tops are bubbly and appear dry; turn and cook until other sides are browned. Makes about 1-1/2 dozen pancakes.

Okay, so once in awhile I do know how to make something pretty.

Tomorrow morning I’m headed to a bridal shower and was asked to bring something to share. This seems appropriate. I clipped the recipe by Aileen Claire (Times Wire Service) from the Anchorage Times back in the 1980s and have made it many times. I was able find it online at Ocala Star Banner, July 23, 1986. I’m going to give you the recipe the way I make it.

Let dough rise until doubled. Then punch down.

Puree dried prunes with orange juice in blender, then stir in almonds and orange zest.

On floured surface, roll dough out to 18 x 12" rectangle.

Spread filling along upper edge of dough.

Start rolling the dough toward you.

Keep rolling.

Brush lower edge with beaten egg.

Can you see the beaten egg along the bottom edge of the dough?

Pinch edges together to seal. Pick up the dough and move it to a greased or parchment-covered baking sheet, seam side down, in a horse-shoe shape.

Make 12 cuts, about 2/3 of the way through toward center of the dough.

Yeah, so I only made eleven cuts. Do as I say, not as I do. Fan the dough out a bit.

Let dough rise until doubled.

Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Cover lightly with foil if it starts to turn too brown.

Remove from the oven.

Let cool. Make a thin icing by mixing powdered sugar with orange juice and drizzle over ring. Voila!

Prune Orange Almond Ring

1 pkg. (2-1/4 tsp) active dry yeast

1 Tbsp + 1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup warm water

1 cup warm milk

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 tsp. salt

3-4 cups bread flour

Prune Almond Filling (recipe below)

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Powdered sugar

In a large bowl, combine yeast, 1 Tbsp. sugar, and water. Let stand 5-10 minutes until bubbly. Add milk, butter, remaining 1/2 cup sugar and salt to yeast mixture. Add 2-1/2 cups bread flour to mixer with dough hook and knead very well. Add bread flour and continue kneading until dough becomes smooth and elastic. Let rise until doubled.

Punch down and roll into an 18 x 12″ rectangle. Spoon Prune Almond Filling along top of long side and roll up as for jelly roll. Brush along lower edge with beaten egg; pinch edges to seal. Form into a horseshoe on greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, seam side down.

With scissors make 12 cuts two-thirds of the way in center of roll; fan slices out. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Brush top with more of the beaten egg; sprinkle with almonds.

Bake in 375 degree oven 30-35 minutes, until golden brown, covering with foil as needed to prevent overbrowning. Remove to rack to cool. Drizzle with powdered sugar thinned with orange juice or water.

Prune Almond Filling

1-1/2 cups (about 9 oz.) pitted prunes

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 cup sliced almonds

2 tsp. orange zest

In a blender or food processor combine prunes with orange juice. Blend until smooth. Pour into bowl; mix in sliced almonds and orange zest.

Today I am baking Swedish Limpa. The recipe is based upon a recipe found in one of my two favorite bread cookbooks: Electric Bread by the late Suzan Nightingale. Electric Bread is a cookbook for using a bread machine. I gave away my bread machine several years ago when my daughter talked her dad into buying me a Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough hook attachment for Christmas. I like having more control over the process of bead making, but the variety of recipes in Electric Bread is amazing so I’ve tweaked them for use in my mixer.

One of the things I’ve learned about making yeast breads in a mixer is that the best kneading takes place before the dough gets stiff, before adding that last cup or two of flour. That’s when you let the machine go for five minutes or so. Then add the final flour to make a stiff dough that’s not too sticky.

Swedish Limpa

3 tsp. active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1/4 cup warm milk

1 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. molasses

2 Tbsp. soft butter

1 Tbsp. orange zest

1/2 tsp. anise seed

1/2 tsp. cardamom

3/4 cup flat dark beer (stir an open beer until the bubbles disperse)

1/2 cup rye flour

1-1/2 tsp. salt

2-1/2 cups bread flour (approximate)

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add all ingredients except bread flour, start with 1-1/2 cups. Mix and knead very well. Gradually add bread flour until the dough is stiff and not sticky. Cover and let rise until double. Punch down and form into a loaf. Place in greased 9×5″ loaf pan. Cover and let rise until double. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Let cool on rack.

This makes a great ham sandwich or toast in the morning for breakfast. I’ll bet a grilled cheese sandwich would be memorable as well.