Is there anything better than a slice of toasted homemade bread?

Especially one with the full, nutty yet sweet flavor of potatoes . . .

Oh, and lest we forget, how about one with an extra swirl of flavor? While most swirl breads feature sweet fillings this one has a surprise inside. Because what goes better with potatoes than bacon and cheese? And chives? And sour cream? They’re in there too . . . Too rich? No problem, the (plain) potato bread is a fantastic, soft loaf perfect for sandwiches or toast. But ready for an adventure? The loaded swirl bread is a conversation piece in itself and is perfect (in my humble opinion) :

* sliced and topped with cheddar and browned under a broiler before being dunked into soup
* toasted and topped with cream cheese and slices of tomato
* as a savory accompaniment to deviled chicken salad. Yum.

How are you planning on enjoying this loaf?

 February 15, 2011  Posted by Heartland Renaissance Baking, Winter 2 Responses »
Jan 102011
 

I adore empanadas . . .

I mean, really, what’s not to love about these little demilunes of lusciousness? I’m sure every culture has some dumpling/pocket pie/pierogi style food but I just love the term, “empanada.” Saying you made them for dinner or dessert just makes it sound like a special occasion, even if (as is likely in my house) they’re used as a great vehicle for using up leftovers and making a hot dinner, fast.

 January 10, 2011  Posted by Heartland Renaissance Baking 26 Responses »
 

It is a cherished tradition in our family to have cinnamon rolls for breakfast Christmas morning.

Growing up, sometimes they were homemade, sometimes they were from a package, sometimes they were the whomp-em variety (you know, the kind from the can that you “whomp” on the counter?) but they were always there, first thing, and we nibbled on them as we opened Christmas gifts followed by a large, hearty breakfast later in the morning.

Over the past few years I’ve been experimenting with various recipes for making them from scratch, and this is my hands down favorite, numero uno winner. A true “feast day” recipe that we save for only special occasions. I love it because it uses all sourdough for leavening, can be placed in the pan the night before and rises overnight in the fridge so you can throw them in the oven first thing in the morning, and they are billowy, soft, and super decadent. The inclusion of a lot of butter, mashed potato (yes, mashed potato!) and a little bit of buttermilk gives these cinnamon rolls a presence and flavor that can’t be matched. . .

 

I confess, I never really liked pecan pie. Something about the gooey, gelatinous interior contrasting with the tooth-shattering pecan crust, , was just unpalatable to me. I finally gave in to pecan pie love at a barbecue joint in southern Texas, and was smitten. Rich with pecans with a slightly softer crust, it was perfect topped with some bourbon laced whipped cream (and shared with a certain someone who I’d eventually marry!). Then, once I made one for myself, after discovering pecan pie nirvana, I wasn’t too comfortable with the inevitable use of corn syrup in most recipes.

I’ve made a variation of this recipe every year, once a year, for my chocolate-loving husband on Thanksgiving. Each year has been a little different as I’ve worked on making it mine, and it’s only been this year (last week, actually!) that I finally hit my stride with a recipe I wanted to keep, turning it from a too-rich pie into an elegantly thin tart, perfecting the baking technique, and real-foodifying it just a little bit through using more natural sugars and nixing the corn syrup.

Don’t expect health food, however. It is a chocolate pecan tart, after all. An indulgence.

Just a sliver of it will suffice. Rich, deep chocolate with a crunch of sweet pecans. Perfect.

 November 29, 2010  Posted by Heartland Renaissance Autumn, Baking, Desserts 7 Responses »
Nov 292010
 

Pie Crust.

I’ve made them all. Recipes with a touch of vinegar or vodka. Recipes with a precise blend of cold butter to cold lard. Recipes with yogurt, whole wheat flour, sugar, no sugar, with an egg, flour kept in the freezer first. . . the list goes on.

But for the past two years I’ve made the same recipe. I’ve found a winner. And, though I briefly mentioned it last year in a guest post, I decided that once and for all, I had to share it here.

The Perfect Pastry Dough.

According to me. . . .

 November 29, 2010  Posted by Heartland Renaissance Autumn, Baking, Desserts, Winter 3 Responses »
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