Girl Versus Dough

Round Twenty Five — Caraway Swirl Rye Rolls

Caraway Swirl Rye Rolls

There is a man I work with named Roger. Roger is in charge of answering silly inquiries about subscriptions, connecting lost callers to the appropriate employee and helping little old ladies get free copies of the paper. Every Friday, while faithfully donning his Meat Loaf “Bat Out Of Hell” concert T-shirt (for casual Friday, of course), Roger greets me as I stroll through the door with this lovely acronym:

“TGIF!”

TGIF, indeed, Roger. TGIF.

So, in the spirit of the week’s end, enjoy your Friday with my sophomore post on Tablespoon.com! This time: Caraway Swirl Rye Rolls. And a TGIF to you, too, dear reader.

P.S. I got a

Sifted Words — Would you like to Tablespoon with me?

Hello friend!

I must apologize most sincerely for my recent absence on this technological channel of conversation through which we’ve been keeping in touch. But I promise you I haven’t been sitting on my hands these past few days, oh no (except for that one day, when the husband and I watched “Ben Hur” and “Whip It” in the same morning/afternoon, totaling seven hours of movie-watching… but that’s another story).

I’ve actually been cheating on you — OK, that’s a lie. I’ve been preparing a wonderful surprise for you (there, doesn’t that sound better?).

For the month of May, I will temporarily be vacating my home on Girl Versus Dough and moving into the role of “Guest Blogger” on Tablespoon.com. What is this, you ask (Gasp!) (Oh, get it together!)? It’s a nifty little Web site that features recipes from other lovely food bloggers like Sarah’s Cucina Bella and Good Life {Eats}, and sites like Pillsbury and Gold Medal. And now, it’ll feature my very own… drumroll, please… Original. Recipes.

Please contain your excitement to avoid embarrassment. Unless you don’t care, in which case feel free to share in my excitement! That’s right, recipes conjured up from my very own noggin. I’m not going to lie, my recipes, like most, are inspired by compilations of recipes I’ve seen and made over my experience as a bread baker, but nonetheless, I am finally venturing into the foray of “Original Recipe” Land. Hip hip, hooray.

So for now, dear reader, be on the lookout for my posts over at Tablespoon.com in the “Blog” tab, starting this Friday, May 7, and each Friday in May thereafter. This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Round Twenty Three — Blue Cheese & Walnut Wheat Crackers

Blue Cheese Walnut Crackers

Dear Ina Garten,

If ever you feel the need to invite a big fan of yours to your lovely abode in the Hamptons and fill her up with fine cheeses and wine, I wouldn’t be opposed to accepting your invitation. Just saying.

Sincerely,

Stephanie

P.S. Tell Jeffrey I said hello. Though I truly love the Midwest and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else for the rest of my existence, I sometimes get wanderlust to places like Greece, or Australia, or even the Hamptons. Kelly Ripa talks about it all the time; I’m pretty sure there’s some version of “Real Housewives” set there; and I wouldn’t complain about wearing the obligatory over-sized floppy hat. And, of course, Ina Garten lives there (I think — I haven’t stalked her enough yet to know for sure, but wherever she lives is magical). Plus, if I lived in the Hamptons, I would get to eat fancy-schmancy crackers like these all day long, complete with a glass of wine (which I hear, in the Hamptons, is perfectly acceptable to drink at 11 o’ clock in the morning).

But for now, I’m stuck here, with a cornfield instead of a coastline. But at least I can still have the crackers.

I don’t know what inspired me to bake crackers this time. Maybe it was the wall of cheese at the co-op that fascinates me so (What a bounty of cheese! Such variety!). Maybe it was the practicality of making crackers as opposed to stollen or lebkuchen. Whatever the reason, the result has left me and my husband happily full in the hours between meals.

And, as my friends well know, a full Steph is a happy Steph.

Debrief: These crackers are very versatile. If you don’t like the strength of blue cheese, try cheddar and chives. Or parmesan and thyme. Or rosemary and… manchego, perhaps?

Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers Adapted from Food Network

Yields: 30 crackers

Ingredients: 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature 5-8 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (Ina recommends Stilton, but Maytag worked just fine for me), at room temperature 1 cup whole wheat flour 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 2 tsp salt 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper 1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp water for egg wash 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts

Directions: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and blue cheese together for 1 minute, or until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour, salt and pepper and mix until it’s in large crumbles, about 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of water and mix until combined.

Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 12-inch long log. Brush the log completely with the egg wash. Spread the walnuts in a square on a cutting board and roll the log back and forth in the walnuts, pressing lightly, and distributing them evenly on the outside of the log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the log 3/8ths-inch thick with a small, sharp knife and place the crackers on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 22 minutes until very lightly browned. Rotate the pan once during baking. Cool and serve at room temperature.

Extra punches: I’d suggest chopping the walnuts really well before coating the crackers. As you can see with mine, the pieces were a little big and had trouble sticking to the sides of the crackers. They still basically stuck, but I think a coating of finely-chopping walnuts would not only look prettier, but would also save you the headache of trying to keep them stuck to the edges.

Round Twenty Two — Rhubarb Muffins

Rhubarb Muffins

When I’m old and cranky and wear house shoes and smell a bit like mothballs, I hope that if I can’t muster the strength to bake anything else, I still bake these muffins. They are delicious, and versatile enough to withstand the test of time. To be completely honest with you, I hadn’t eaten rhubarb before until about a year ago, when Elliott’s wonderful grandmother, Marlyn, made a rhubarb pie. Even then, as good as the crust of the pie looked, the red celery-like chunks of rhubarb made me think it would taste just like that — a pie with celery chunks. But I decided to be brave (and polite) and gave it a go, and the last thing I remember after that was that only a quarter of the pie was left standing in the pie tin. I am now rhubarb enlightened, and I do not regret it.

Being that rhubarb is in season, and being that I had some leftover buttermilk from a previous recipe and a good ol’ hankering for fruit muffins, I used my knowledge of first grade math and put two and two together, which equals rhubarb muffins. Really, this recipe could work for any fruit — blueberries, strawberries, bananas, oranges, heck, even kiwi, if you want to get adventurous (I’m not sure how this would turn out, but if you want to try it and let me know, be my guest). But with the sweet, tart taste of rhubarb, along with the crunchy, gooey brown sugar topping, I’d say any other fruit would have to pick a fight with rhubarb if it thinks it would taste better.

I doubt it. Debrief: If you want to make these more of a breakfast muffin rather than a dessert muffin, I’d suggest omitting the brown sugar topping. The muffins lose about a third of their calories and fat, and still taste just delightful. You can also split the 2 cups of chopped fruit between rhubarb and something else, like strawberries. Yum. Be-bop-a-rhubarb, a-rhubarb-pie. Rhubarb Muffins

Yields 15-18 muffins Ingredients: 2 cups King Arthur Bread Flour 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed 1/2 cup vegetable oil 1 egg 1 cup buttermilk 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 2 cups chopped rhubarb

For the topping (optional): 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed 1 tbsp butter, melted 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. In a separate medium bowl, combine sugar with oil. Add egg, buttermilk and vanilla, and stir ingredients together well. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients along with chopped rhubarb. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins about 3/4 full (or almost all the way like I did). Mix together ingredients for the topping, and sprinkle over each muffin. Bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes before removing from tins. Extra punches: This batter can also be used to make two rhubarb loaves instead of muffins. Just divide the batter between two greased 8×4-inch loaf pans and bake them for 40-45 minutes.

Knockout Gear — about me

About Me

Well, hello you. This is my face. Nice to meet you.

I consider updating my “About” section to be part of my bread baking gear. Why? Because you wouldn’t trust me if you didn’t know me better. And if you didn’t trust me you wouldn’t be baking what I bake. So, now that you do, you should get to making bread.

But seriously, I was encouraged by a few other blogs I often read to make a more extensive, more personal mini-bio of myself and how I got here. It’s like a handshake through a computer screen (someday that will be REAL).

So enjoy. And glad tidings to you, dear reader.