Girl Versus Dough

Sifted Words — Let them eat bread

Deli-Style Rye

Ah, the new year. A time for celebration with friends, a time of remembrance of things past and a time to look forward to what the future holds. A time to make resolutions and promises and (hopefully!) not break them.

Normally, I’m not one to follow the trend of making New Year’s resolutions. This is mostly because I’m not so good at keeping them. There was that one year when I vowed never to procrastinate — then I procrastinated on my resolution to stop procrastinating.

Then there was the year I promised myself I’d keep a daily journal — my last entry was on January 21.

There also have been, of course, many years when I’ve written in permanent ink, on multiple sheets of paper, Word documents and all over my hands, that I WILL exercise more this year. And, more importantly, I WILL eat healthier. You can guess how well that resolution also has gone.

Round Forty Eight — Crepes

Crepes

It’s Christmas Eve. Duh. I’m sitting around the table with my family — Grandpa’s making his famous rouladen, Mom’s making deviled eggs, Grandma’s making her delicious dumpling soup… it’s a typical Christmas.

A lot of the traditions in our family (as you can probably gather) revolve around food. It’s not Christmas without Grandpa’s rouladen. It’s not a birthday without a cheesecake sampler (a story for another day). And it’s not breakfast without my dad’s crepes.

Round Forty Seven — Braided Challah

Braided Challah

They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

I disagree. I say when life gives you lemons, throw them away (or use them to clean your garbage disposal, and then throw them away) and make challah bread.

Round Forty Six — Easiest Stollen

Easiest Stollen

Every holiday season, I get a serious case of baking lust. I want to bake 134 billion different kinds of cookies, cakes and breads. I want to make truffles. I want to make homemade candy canes. I want to buy a tree and bedazzle (yes, bedazzle.) it with popcorn and cranberry-studded strings and sing “Fahoo fores, dahoo dores!” like the Whos down in Whoville do. (At least I think that’s what they’re singing.)

And yet, every year, I never do any of it. I involuntarily become a real Scrooge, with nary a decoration or a Christmas treat in my home. It’s a real “bah, humbug!” of a situation, I know, but alas, I only have 24 hours in a day, and my fantasy Christmas schedule calls for at least 72. Sigh.

I do still make it a point, however, to bake a few holiday treats during the season. Because if it’s got sugar, I’ve got time for it.

Last year, I made panettone, a traditional Italian holiday loaf. Rick Steves told me the other day that, during Christmas in Italy, children walk door-to-door in their neighborhoods handing out homemade panettone to the elderly who don’t have family in the area with whom to celebrate Christmas. Yes, I was watching Rick Steve’s “European Christmas” holiday special the other day. Yes, it did make me cry. Moving on.

This year, I thought I’d keep with the tradition of holiday breads and baked this ah-maz-ing stollen. The husband was pretty happy about this one, as he grew up on the stuff. Soft, buttery and sweet (and I MEAN buttery and sweet — there are layers and layers of butter and sugar on top of the loaf), with colorful pieces of dried fruit inside that look like bright ornaments, it tastes like Christmas in bread form. For serious.

This particular recipe is the easier, yeast-free version of the loaf, though it’s traditionally made with the ingredient. In other words, it’s the perfect recipe for us involuntary Scrooges who only have so much time these days to soak up the Christmas spirit. Not that I’m complaining — after all, no matter how crazy life gets, it still is the most wonderful time of the year.

Debrief: Don’t freak out if the dough looks a funny shape — this is normal (as described below). Also, when brushing the bread with butter for a second time, don’t worry if it looks clumpy and, well, kind of gross — once you sprinkle it with sugar again and let it cool completely, you’ll be oh so glad you slathered on a double-dose of buttery, sugary goodness. Easiest Stollen Adapted from King Arthur Flour Yields: 2 loaves Ingredients: 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1/2 cup sugar 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 8 tbsp cold unsalted butter 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese 1 large egg 1 tsp vanilla extract 1/4 tsp lemon curd 1/2 cup golden raisins 1/2 cup combination of your favorite dried fruits, chopped (I chose cranberries, blueberries and apricots) 1/3 cup slivered almonds 6 tbsp melted butter (for the topping) confectioners’ sugar (for the topping) Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or set aside a baking stone. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the cold butter in small, 1/4-inch cubes, and blend into the flour mixture. In a separate large bowl, combine cheese, egg, vanilla and lemon curd. Whisk until completely combined. Add dried, chopped fruit and almonds to the flour mixture and mix until completely combined. Add wet mixture to the flour mixture and mix until completely combined. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead a few times until dough holds together. Divide in half. Roll out each piece of dough into an 8 x 7-inch oval, about a 1/2 inch thick. Fold each piece of dough lengthwise (or crosswise, up to you) leaving the edge of the top half about a 1/2 inch short of the bottom half’s edge (see step-by-step here). Lightly press the dough to seal about 1 inch in back of the open edge to get that traditional stollen shape (it’ll look kind of funky, like an off-kilter, misshapen loaf — this is normal. Do not panic.). Place the stollen on prepared baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, about 30-40 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Transfer baked stollen to a wire cooling rack and brush each with about 2 tbsp of the melted butter reserved for the topping. Sprinkle generously with confectioners’ sugar. Allow the stollen to cool completely, then brush on the remaining melted butter and sprinkle again with confectioners’ sugar. Extra punches: There are no rules when it comes to what kinds of dried fruits go into stollen. I tend to throw in whatever I have on hand which, in the past, has been anything from dried pineapple to dates. It’s all tasty. Also, if you want, you can toast the almonds before adding them to the dough. Also also, this bread doesn’t mess around — wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, it will stay fresh (and dare I say, get better) for up to an impressive 2 1/2 weeks.

Sifted Words — thankful.

I know Thanksgiving is over, and all that remains of it is a handful of leftover dinner rolls, a broken turkey wishbone, some pie crumbs and a loosened belt.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not still thankful for so many things.

I thought I’d share them with you. And no matter how cheesy/cliche/commonplace this list may be, you know you feel thankful for so many things in your own life. Go on. Admit it. That’s right.

I am thankful for (in no particular order) —

Family.

Friends.

My husband.

Butter.

Vacations.

Holidays.

Sunshine.

My kitty.

Cake.

Beauty.

Jesus. (sorry, no picture for this one, but if I did have one, WHOA.)

A home.

Opportunity.

Flowers.

Biscuits.

Coffee.

Love.

And you.

Happy Sunday.

Round Forty Five — Homemade Pizza Rolls

Homemade Pizza Rolls

Ever heard of Pizza Rolls? I’m sure you have. They’re those frozen pockets of dough filled with cheese and pizza sauce as well as what I’m sure is a whole host of bad things for you.

Of course, the husband loves them.

It’s become a habit of ours lately to buy nasty frozen treats like these for the weekends or for weekday dinners when neither of us has the energy to even lift a finger. Though I don’t generally partake in the heaping mound of Pizza Rolls the husband warms up for himself for lunch or game days, I have been found guilty of eating a frozen burrito or lasagna from a box. It’s shameful.

This weekend, I decided to make some changes. So, after eating buttery theater popcorn (while watching the new Harry Potter movie, of course) on Friday and helping ourselves to a generous serving of Mexican food on Saturday, I thought it best to at least make the inevitable Pizza Roll lunch on Sunday a healthy meal.

I wouldn’t necessarily call these an exact replica of those infamous Pizza Rolls — they’re more like doughy pillows with a hint of cheese and pizza sauce. Still delicious, but not quite the same. If you’re going for a healthy lunch — er, snack — these will do the trick, but if you’re really craving actual Pizza Rolls, these won’t hit the spot. But they do make a tasty lunch — er, snack — and saved us from being a few hundred calories shy in our weekend of what Michael Phelps devours in a day. It’s all relative.

Debrief: As mentioned above, if you’re looking for legitimate Pizza Rolls, these aren’t quite the same. But they taste like mini pizzas wrapped in dough. Kind of like a calzone. A mini calzone pillow. Yeah.

Homemade Pizza Rolls A Girl Versus Dough original (gasp!)

Yields: About 28 pizza rolls Ingredients: 1 3/4 cups flour 3/4 tsp salt 2/3 cup warm water 1/2 tbsp sugar 1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil 1/2 cup pizza sauce 1/3 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese Directions: In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in water, yeast and sugar. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Then, add olive oil and mix ingredients together until a dough forms. Pour dough onto counter and knead about 8-10 minutes. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place risen dough on countertop and, using a rolling pin, roll into a very, very thin square (about as thin as the walls of a ravioli). Using a pizza cutter, cut square into strips lengthwise and then cut crosswise so you have about 56 individual 1 1/2-inch squares (or as many as you end up making). Put about 1/2 tsp pizza sauce on half the squares, and top with the same amount of cheese. Take the plain squares and place them on top of the squares with sauce and cheese and pinch the seams closed. Press fork tines around the edges of the squares to close the seams completely. Place each pocket on a baking stone or parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until lightly brown on the edges (I had to take mine out before they were very brown at all because the cheese and sauce was exploding out of the sides — oops). Serve immediately.