Monday, March 20, 2017

Savory Herb Pull-Apart Bread

A perfect way to welcome spring would be to put this flavorful herb bread on your dinner table.  If you have any chives coming up now, this would also be a great way to use them.  I had frozen some garlic shoots from my first attempt at growing garlic last year so I used some in this recipe.  If growing garlic isn't your thing, you can now buy dried garlic shoots at Penzeys online (one of our local Milwaukee-area businesses)!

My garlic is already poking through the ground and I also see some chives coming up!  I'm so excited to see the rest of the garden come to life in the next few weeks, assuming any relatives of Winter Storm Stella stay away. 

I had to try this as soon as I saw it on Instagram recently. All you need is all-purpose flour, some instant or quick-rising yeast (although regular yeast will do), butter or olive oil and the dried or fresh herbs and spices of your choice!  It was actually fun to make and it looks so pretty when it's baked.  After the dough rises the first time, you have to roll it out and cut it into circles about 3-4 inches wide.  The butter/oil-herb mixture is then spread on the circles which are folded in half and placed into a loaf pan and then left to rise again.

My husband and I had to leave the house before I could finish the second rise and bake the bread, so I covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator overnight.  The next morning, I took it out of the frig to finish rising.  The second rise took substantially longer as I was starting with cold dough (probably 2 hours or so) but it worked just fine.  So, don't worry if you don't have time to finish the whole process in one day.  Just cover greased plastic wrap and refrigerate after you have filled the pan with the dough 'circles'. 

Do you know how hard it was not to eat this bread while I was taking these photos?  I absolutely had to eat the first piece as soon as I was finished :)  It is delicious!  I served it with some freshly Grilled Rainbow Trout and peas but it would taste wonderful with almost anything. 

I used my bread machine for the kneading and first rise in this recipe.

Savory Pull-Apart Herb Bread

Printable Recipe
Makes 1 - 2 loafs (10-20 servings), depending on whether you make 1/2 or whole recipe
Half recipe is in parentheses.


1 (1/2) cup milk
1/4 (1/8) cup butter
3 (1-1/2) tablespoons sugar
2 (1) teaspoons salt
2 (1) large eggs
2 (1) teaspoon instant yeast (or active dry yeast)
4 (2) cups all purpose Flour
2 (1) tablespoons potato flour or 1/3 (3-1/2 tablespoons) cup instant potato flakes, optional, for increased moistness

Extra flour as needed *

Filling (Add whatever herbs and spices you like - quantities are adjustable as well)

8 tablespoons (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
1/2 (1/4) teaspoon salt
1 (1/2) teaspoon chopped garlic scapes or chopped chives
1 (1/2) clove garlic, minced
1/2 (1/4) teaspoon minced shallots (I used dried shallots)
1/4 (1/8) teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (1/2) teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1 (1/2) teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

Combine the milk, butter, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and stir, over medium heat, until the butter melts. Allow to cool until lukewarm.

Place the lukewarm milk mixture into a mixing bowl. Add the eggs, yeast, flour and the potato flour. Mix together until a shaggy dough is formed. Knead the dough with your hands or a stand mixer until smooth. You may use a bread machine set on the dough cycle also, which is what I used. The dough should form a somewhat sticky ball. *(During warm or humid climate, you may need to add an extra 1/8 to 1/4 flour to the dough.)

Place the dough in a greased container, cover, and let it rise for about 90 minutes, until it's puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk. (If you are using a bread machine dough cycle this will rise will occur in the machine).

While the dough is rising, mix together the filling ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

When the dough has risen, divide it in half (if using a whole recipe). Flatten dough on a lightly floured surface and roll or pat it into a circle about 12" wide and 1/4" thick. With a round cutter, cut 3-1/2" to 4" circles. Pat together remaining dough and use to cut or pat into circles also. You will have about 10-11 circles for one loaf.

Spread the herb filling on half of each circle, then fold the circle in half with filling inside. Place the folded side down in a lightly greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan and repeat with the remaining circles. Repeat with second ball of dough if making a whole recipe.

Cover the pan(s) with plastic wrap sprayed with nonstick spray on the side touching the dough. Let the dough rise for about 90 minutes until it has filled the pan about 3/4 full. Preheat the oven to 350°F about 20 minutes before the dough has finished rising.

Uncover and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown on top.

Remove the bread from the oven; brush it with additional melted butter, if desired. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then turn out of the pan and serve warm. Leftovers may be kept wrapped and refrigerated for several days or frozen for a month. Rewarm gently in the oven for 10 minutes.

Adapted from Butterflake Herb Loaf from King Arthur Flour

Friday, March 10, 2017

Old-Fashioned Yellow Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Now that I have your attention with the cupcakes, relax and let me tell about my last three weeks :)

We were very fortunate to be able to take a short vacation to Southern California with good friends at the end of February where we enjoyed a little golf, hiking and relaxation. With all the rain they've had in California prior to our trip, everything was so lush and green! Even though the temps were slightly cooler than we would have liked, it was perfect weather for golf, hiking and scenic drives.  I was a very happy gal to be able to golf for the first time after breaking my wrist last summer. And there were flowers!  For a gardener from the Midwest, they were a sight for sore eyes. 

In the photo below, you can see a few shots of the Scenic 'Palms to Pines' drive we took on Highway 74 near Palm Desert. The view from the lookout point was so beautiful that it was worth my white knuckles as we drove the steep hair-pin turns!  

While golfing one day, we witnessed a crazy golf cart accident on the hole right next to us which you can also see below.  Someone tipped over a golf cart while driving on a hill. Luckily, no one was injured (except for their pride, I'm sure). The cart landed nose up with the rear sinking into a drainage hole trapping their golf clubs. 

The weekend after we returned home, we took care of our grandsons the entire weekend while our daughter and son-in-law enjoyed a special birthday weekend away.  We tag-teamed with our son-in-law's parents.  We took care of the baby on Friday through Saturday afternoon and they took the big boys.  Saturday afternoon we met them and switched the baby for the two oldest boys for the rest of the weekend.  It worked out really well, but after traveling and babysitting we definitely needed a few days to recuperate :)

It was while my grandsons were here last weekend that I made them these wonderful vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting.  The big boys loved them!   The baby had less messy treats :)

Has this ever happened to you after cleaning your pastry bag and tips?  The garbage disposal is not very kind to them.  I guess I was a little tired :)

Watching my boys enjoy their cupcakes was worth it! 

And, there's nothing a few flowering primulas can't cure ♥

Old Fashioned Yellow Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Printable Recipe

Yield: About 12 cupcakes

8 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar (use ultra fine, if possible)
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon (1/2 + 1/4) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 350F

Place cupcake liners in muffin tin and spray lightly with non-stick spray.

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition, scraping down sides of bowl. Mix in vanilla and almond flour. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and add to the creamed mixture alternately with milk. Beat on medium speed for two minutes. Pour into prepared cupcake liners.

Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing cupcakes from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Buttercream Icing

3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
A few drops of food coloring, if desired

In medium bowl, mix powdered sugar and butter with an electric mixer on low speed. Stir in vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the milk.

Gradually beat in just enough remaining milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable. If frosting is too thick, beat in more milk, a few drops at a time. If frosting becomes too thin, beat in a small amount of powdered sugar.

I used a large, Wilton 1M Pastry Tip to pipe the frosting (you will need the Large Coupler for your piping bag) and I sprinkled the tops with Swedish Pearl Sugar.

Adapted from Williams Sonoma’s Heritage Cake Recipe (1/2 recipe), and Betty Crocker's Vanilla Buttercream Frosting