Cinnamon Rolls…


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The first time I came in the USA was in 1993, It was just a few months shy of my 21st birthday. It was an eye-opening experience I will tell you… If at first I was not really impressed with the environment I had landed in ( Mid June, 100 degree weather, high humidity, lone house amid large acreage, in the rural environment of South Carolina…), I soon learned to like it, and appreciate it. Today it will be exactly 21 years since I first put my foot on this strange land, and I am happy to have stayed and to have chosen it as my home. One of the thing that really took me by surprise, at first, was the size of everything: big houses, huge plated dinners, large interstates, gigantic cars…But what surprised me the most was what people ate. I could go on and on for hours about the food I was not accustomed to see, but today I will talk about cinnamon.

I never liked cinnamon growing up. I despised it so much, in fact, that it would me make me sick. I could not smell it, much  less eat it.

Cinnamon is pretty inexistant in France. You will see it, at times, in recipes of homemade ginger bread, but you will never see it mixed with apples.  So I really was astonishing to me to see the amount of cinannon that was used here in everything: Apple pies, pies, sweet potatoes casserole, gum, candies. The family,  I stayed with that first year,  would prepare cinnamon toasts which was a piece of bread slathered with butter, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, and then toasted. The odor was so strong, it would make me want to exit the room. As time went by, though, my sensitivity to cinnamon disappeared. I really think it is because I got used to smell it in everything, especially at Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Today after 20 years, I cook with it occasionally, and it will not bother me. I actually like it. How funny how your senses change and adapt over time;-)

How ironic that after 20 years, I am sharing with you a recipe of Cinnamon rolls. Why did I cook them?? For whatever reason, I craved to eat them. And I was not about to buy the Pillsbury kind;-)))

The recipe I used is from Paula Deen. I adjusted a few things though.

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This recipe is good to make about 14 cinnamon buns:

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of yeast
  • 1 cup of warm milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp of butter melted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

Filling:

  • 1 stick of butter melted 
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons ground cinnamon (in the recipe, it suggests using 2, but I used one and it was plenty!!)

Glaze:

  • 6 tbsp of butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or vanilla bean extract ( much better)
  • 6 oz. of cream cheese at room temperature.IMG_1796
  1. Turn the oven to 2oo, or turn your warming oven if you have one.
  2. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in about 2 tbsp of warm milk,  and set aside.IMG_1779
  3. In a very large bowl mix milk, sugar, melted butter, salt and egg.IMG_1780
  4. Add 2 cups of flour and mix well until the dough is homogeneous.IMG_1781
  5. Then add the yeast.
  6. Finally add the rest of the flour ( it may another 1 1/2 to 2 more cups).
  7. Knead dough inside the bowl.IMG_1782
  8. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and place the bowl in the oven that you would have turned off and propped the door open. Let the dough rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  9. When time is up, take the dough and place it on the roulpat ( non-stick silicone map) that you would have spread over you counter.
  10. With the rolling-pin, roll out the dough  into a 11 by 20-inch rectangle. You will not need flour is your dough is the right consistency and is not sticky. I did not need any.IMG_1783
  11. Place the butter in a small bowl, melt it in the microwave for 30 seconds or until it is melted and with a brush, brush the butter all over the dough.
  12. Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the buttered dough.IMG_1784
  13. Roll the dough up from the top so that you will end up with a 20 inch long roll.IMG_1785
  14. Cut the rolls into 12 to 15 slices.IMG_1786
  15. I placed mine into the large round mold, but it was not enough room for the dough to expand, so you will use the grande mold. Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the pan. If you have any melted butter, drizzle it over the dough. IMG_1787
  16. Place the pan back either into the oven to the warming drawer,  and let rise until dough has doubled, about 45 minutes.
  17. Bake for about 20 minutes or until it is a nice golden brown color.IMG_1788
  18. While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze. Place the butter and cream cheese in the microwave and warm them up for 20 seconds so that they are soft. Place the cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla into a kitchen mixer, and beat the mixture on high.
  19. Spoon and spread the glaze over the rolls as soon as you are removing them from the oven.IMG_1790
  20. And try not to eat them all at once. Yummy!! And yes, I have been eating them. Such a yummy easy treats for my weekend breakfast;-)) You TRY!!!!IMG_1793

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Cinnamon Rolls

  • Servings: 5-15 people
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • 1 package of yeast
  • 1 cup of warm milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp of butter melted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

Filling:

  • 1 stick of butter melted
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons ground cinnamon (in the recipe, it suggests using 2, but I used one and it was plenty!!)

Glaze:

  • 6 tbsp of butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or vanilla bean extract ( much better)
  • 6 oz. of cream cheese at room temperature.
  1. Turn the oven to 2oo, or turn your warming oven if you have one.
  2. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in about 2 tbsp of of warm milk, and set aside.
  3. In a very large bowl mix milk, sugar, melted butter, salt and egg.
  4. Add 2 cups of flour and mix well until the dough is homogeneous.
  5. Then add the yeast.
  6. Finally add the rest of the flour ( it may another 1 1/2 to 2 more cups).
  7. Knead dough inside the bowl.
  8. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and place the bowl in the oven that you would have turned off and propped the door open. Let the dough rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  9. When time is up, take the dough and place it on the roulpat ( non-stick silicone map) that you would have spread over you counter.
  10. With the rolling-pin, roll out the dough into a 11 by 20-inch rectangle. You will not need flour is your dough is the right consistency and is not sticky. I did not need any.
  11. Place the butter in a small bowl, melt it in the microwave for 30 seconds or until it is melted and with a brush, brush the butter all over the dough.
  12. Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the buttered dough.
  13. Roll the dough up from the top so that you will end up with a 20 inch long roll.
  14. Cut the rolls into 12 to 15 slices. I placed mine into the large round mold, but it was not enough room for the dough to expand, so you will use the grande mold. Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the pan. If you have any melted butter, drizzle it over the dough.
  15. Place the pan back either into the oven to the warming drawer, and let rise until dough has doubled, about 45 minutes. Bake for about 20 minutes or until it is a nice golden brown color.
  16. While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze. Place the butter and cream cheese in the microwave and warm them up for 20 seconds so that they are soft. Place the cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla into a kitchen mixer, and beat the mixture on high.
  17. Spoon and spread the glaze over the rolls as soon as you are removing them from the oven. And try not to eat them all at once. Yummy!! And yes, I have been eating them. Such a yummy easy treat for my weekend breakfast;-)) Yuu TRY!!!!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Easy Baguette A l’Ancienne


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There is baguette, and baguette. I don’t want to offend anyone here, but it is difficult to find great baguettes here in the US. Not everything that is long, brown and narrow is a baguette.

In fact did you know that a baguette is defined by French law? A standard baguette has a diameter of about 5 or 6 centimetres (2 or 2⅓ in) and a usual length of about 65 centimetres (26 in), although a baguette can be up to a metre (40 in) long.

So if  it is smaller or larger in size, it will carry a different name. For example, a short, almost rugby ball shaped loaf is a bâtard (literally, bastard), another tubular shaped loaf is known as a flûte. A thinner loaf is called a ficelle(string). A short baguette is sometimes known as a baton (stick).

The word “baguette” was not used to refer to a type of bread until apparently 1920,but what is now known as a baguette may have existed well before that. The word simply means “wand” or “baton”, as in baguette magique (magic wand), baguettes chinoises (chopsticks), or baguette de direction (conductor’s baton).

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Though the baguette today is often considered one of the symbols of French culture viewed from abroad, the association of France with long loaves predates any mention of it. Long, if wide, loaves had been made since the time of Louis XIV, long thin ones since the mid-eighteenth century and by the nineteenth century some were far longer than the baguette.

It seems however that right baguette appeared with the introduction of  deck ovens, or steam ovens. Deck/steam ovens are a combination of a gas-fired traditional oven and a brick oven, a thick “deck” of stone or firebrick heated by natural gas instead of wood. The first steam oven was brought (in the early nineteenth century) to Paris by the Austrian officer August Zang, who also introduced the pain viennois (and the croissant) and whom some French sources thus credit with originating the baguette. Wikipedia

Deck ovens use steam injection, through various methods, to create the proper baguette. The oven is typically heated to well over 205 °C (400 °F). The steam allows the crust to expand before setting, thus creating a lighter, airier loaf. It also melts the dextrose on the bread’s surface, giving a slightly glazed effect. Wikipedia

An unsourced article in The Economist states that in October 1920 a law prevented bakers from working before 4 a.m., making it impossible to make the traditional, round loaf in time for customers’ breakfasts. The slender baguette, the article claims, solved the problem, because it could be prepared and baked much more rapidly, though France had already had long thin breads for over a century at that point. Wikipedia

The law in question appears to be one from March 1919, though some say it took effect in October 1920:

It is forbidden to employ workers at bread and pastry making between ten in the evening and four in the morning.[7]

The rest of the account remains to be verified, but the use of the word for a long thin bread does appear to be a twentieth century innovation.Wikipedia

French bread is required by law to avoid preservatives, and as a result bread goes stale in under 24 hours, thus baking baguettes is a daily occurrence. The “baguette de tradition française” is made from wheat flour, water, yeast, and common salt. It does not contain additives, but it may contain broad bean flour (max 2%), soya flour(max 0.5%), wheat malt flour (max 0.3%)”. Wikipedia

To me a baguette has to smell like one, taste like one, and it should have texture. Most baguettes found in the States are made industrially and therefore lack taste and texture. I don’t know if you have a baker in your hometown, but it is difficult to find a good baguette if there is not a baker around.  The closest that I know lives several dozens miles away.  So if you are in my case, you have two solutions: go to France and enjoy what is there ( hard and expensive but worth it;-), or try to fix your own at home. It is fairly easy to do and you do not need a bread machine.

Did you know that there are millions of baguette recipes? Even in France, when you go to a boulangerie you have a variety to choose from: Baguette Viennoise ( mix between baguette and brioche- my favourite for breakfast, Banette, Baguette traditionelle.

My sister is a baker by trade and I thought I would try some of her recipes. This baguette is what you would call baguette a l’ancienne.

Ingredients for 4 baguettes:

  • 6 1/2 cup of flour ( all-purpose bleached or unbleached)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp of active yeast
  • 1  tbsp of salt
  • 3 cup of warm water. 
  • more flour to sprinkle
  • about 4 cups of water to create moisture in the oven
  1. In a large bowl, pour the flour, the salt and the active yeast and mix well.
  2. Add the water and with a spoon or your hands, knead the dough. The dough should be sticky.photo 5
  3. Then knead the dough again by folding it on itself. Do this step 40 times.photo 2
  4. Place the dough into a large bowl. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and place the bowl in a warm place in your kitchen. You may use your warming drawer if you have one for 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.photo 3
  5. Take the dough out of the bowl. Place on the roul’pat and divide the dough in 4.
  6. Flatten the dough flat.photo 4
  7. Then fold it over itself and roll it out so that it makes a thin cylinder.photo 1
  8. Place the dough onto the baguette silform that you would have placed onto a perforated sheet, and with a sharp razor blade, make indentations into the baguette every 2-3 inches.photo 2
  9. Cover the dough with a plastic film and let it rise again for 40 minutes.
  10. Turn the oven at 450.
  11. Place a metal sheet pan at the bottom of the oven and pour in 2 cup of water to create moisture and steam since our oven does not have steam on it.
  12.  When the oven has reached the temperature, throw about 2 cups of water into the metal pan again.
  13. Throw some flour over the bread, and place the bread tray into the oven and cook the bread for 20-25 minutes or until it is golden.photo 1
  14. Enjoy while it is warm or the following day. It will still taste great. photo 5photo 4

So what did I think of this bread?? Well it really brought me back home for a minute. It tasted much like those Baguette a L’ancienne that I love. The bread was crispy and the inside fluffy. It was not light  and airy like a Parisian baguette, but it was exactly like those Baguette a l’ancienne. It smelled very good as well. It smelled like a baguette, or a bread, not like yeast.

Conclusion: A winner. My husband even suggested that i sell them to the local restaurants. What a compliment;-)

I hope that you will give it a try.

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Croissant Croque-Monsieur


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Growing up, we rarely ate  sandwiches for dinner or lunch. The few times we ate sandwiches were on picnic, or when we were out and about. In France, there are two popular sandwiches: le petit fromage, or jambon fromage which consists of a half baguette cut in half with butter, Emmenthal and ham, and there is Croque- Monsieur and Croque-Madame. Those sandwich are made with sandwich bread, and consists of ham and emmenthal but are baked much like a cheese toast. My mom often made croque-monsieur for picnic. Sometimes, if she did want to cook on a saturday night, she would also make them. They were and they are still a favorite of mine. They are simple, but boy, they are yummy!!!.

Last night I had a cooking class and it was already past 8:00 before I settled to make dinner for my family. Needless to say that the envy to cook a healthy dinner was not there. Instead I looked and saw  croissants that I had bought for my breakfast. We had some cold cuts left-overs and some raclette cheese which gave me the idea to prepare Croissant Croque-Monsieur.

We had a variety of meat ( Westphalian ham, prosciutto, salami, Genoa..) at my house so I had lots of meat choice to make up my croque-monsieur, but using ham is fine.

A regular croque-monsieur is made with ham and Emmenthal, but varying the meat and cheese make it even more fun! This evening I used raclette cheese.

Ingredients for 4:

  • ½ lb of cold cuts 
  • ½ lb of cheese ( aged one, preferably or flavored such as Gruyère, Emmenthal, provolone)
  • 8 croissants ( 2 per person)
  • Old-fashioned Dijon mustard.

Cut the croissant in half, open it up and spread the mustard on one face of the croissant. Then layer the meat ( I used about 4/5 strip of prosciutto). Then the cheese. Put at least 4 strips of cheese to cover the cold meat and the croissant. Close the croissant and bake in a warm oven at 350 for 7-10 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted. Eat with a salad. Et C’est tout!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Creme Brulee French Toast


On week-ends, I will indulge with yummy French bread and croissants. And of course I did just that this past week-end. Unfortunately I was so busy that I did not have time to have breakfast on Sunday so there was a lot of bread leftover by Monday. I don’t like to waste food, so I decided to use this bread for a yummy breakfast casserole that I knew my Theodor would eat;-).

This recipe was presented to me by one of my customer, but I tweaked it a bit.

You may use french bread, or brioche, or even challah, but white bread loaf works the best. It is not too soft, and not to hard so it absorbs the egg mixture really well.

Ingredients for 4:

4 slices of white bread  cut in 1 inch thickness ( which crust has been removed)

  • 2/3 stick of butter
  • 2/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp of corn syrup
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of half and half
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp of orange extract/ or brandy-flavored based orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier
  • 1/8 tsp of salt

First you will want to make the caramel. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and add the brown sugar and corn syrup. Stir until the sugar is dissolving and the mixture is bubbling.

Pour this mixture into the large mold.

Lay the bread over the caramel, and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, the half and half, the vanilla extract, the orange extract, the salt. Pour this mixture over the bread, and place this mold into the fridge to rest for several hours, at least 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 and when the oven has reached the temperature, place the mold and cook the casserole for 20-25 minutes  or until it is fluffy and a little brown.

After taking it out of the oven, let it rest a while so that it will not be so hot. Serve the French toast on individual plates Add a few fresh fruit on top of the French toast, and drizzle some of the caramel off the casserole. Et voila!!!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Brioche the Quick Way


A large portion of my family came to visit this past few weeks. It was so nice;-) It had been almost 8 years since someone came from Europe to see me so i was really thrilled to have them all even though they were 6. Of course, i wanted them to feel at home and be treated like kings so i cooked them breakfast, lunches and dinner. Some days, I fixed them the real American treat ( bacon, egg, and hash browns). Other days I fixed them a simple breakfast with fresh bread and croissant. This week-end, I thought I would bake a brioche. They are so yummy when they come out of the oven with some good butter and yummy marmalade or jelly;-) Unfortunately i was a bit overwhelmed with a  few things so I fixed the “quick” brioche because it takes a bit less time and can be made in a mixer whereas the original brioche needs to be mixed and molded by hand. This quick recipe is easy and works every time. Give it a try, the brioche is so good, almost as good as the original!!!

Ingredients for 2 loaves: 1 pack of dry yeast, 1/3 cup of warm water, 4 cups of sifted flour, 3 tbsp of sugar, 1 tsp of salt, 1 1/2 cup of butter at room temperature, 6 eggs lightly beaten, and 1 egg lightly beaten with a tbsp of water for glazing the brioche.

In a small bowl, mix the yeast, warm water and the 1/4 cup of flour. Place the bowl in a bowl filled with hot water. Let the mixture rest until the mixture is starting to make bubbles. Meanwhile mix the flour, the sugar and the salt in another bowl. Cream the butter in an electric mixer until it becomes fluffy. Add the flour to the butter alternating the flour with the eggs, but keep 3/4 cup of flour for later. Once all has been added, beat the mixture at a medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour, scrape the dough from the side and try to make a ball. Place the ball into a bowl. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let it rise for 2 1/2 to 3 hours and let the dough rest in a warm place. The dough should double in size. Remove the plastic wrap, work the dough with your hands, make two balls and place them in two rectangular brioche or bread mold. Cover the mold with a cloth and let them rest for another 6-8 hours or overnight. Glaze the brioche with the egg wash ( 1 egg beaten and 1 tbsp of water) and cook the brioche for 15- 17 minutes at 425. Remove the brioche from the oven. Let them cool a bit, then slice them in 1/2 inches slices and devour with butter and marmalade. YUM;-)

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

French Toast and Pineapple Parfait


On week-ends, I usually have a pretty boring breakfast ( white egg omelet, and whole wheat toast) when I am not having French croissant, but this morning I wanted to cook something different and yummy. Something that maybe my children would eat. So after asking my child if he would eat what I wanted to fix, this is what I prepared: French Toast with Pineapple Parfait.

French Toast: 8 pieces of sour dough bread fresh or old, 3 eggs, 1 cup of milk, 1 Tbsp of vanilla extract, 2 Tbsp of brown sugar,  sugar to taste.

Turn the oven to 300. In a soup bowl, mix all the ingredients above. Dip the bread in the egg mixture and flip the bread so that the bread will absorb the egg mixture on both sides. Meanwhile, turn the stove to medium and melt 1 tbsp of butter in a frying pan. When the butter is sizzling, add the bread and toast for 1-2 minutes on each side until the bread becomes golden. Place the bread on a plate and place it in the oven, or serve at once. Repeat this process until all the bread has been used. Sprinkle sugar on the bread before serving. My child added some maple syrup, but I think it tastes better without it.


Pineapple Parfait: 4 cup of fat free Greek Yogurt, 2 Tbsp of orange flower extract, 2 tbsp of vanilla extract, 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 2 cups of pineapple diced in very small cubes, 4 tsp of brown sugar, 8 ginger snap cookies crumbled.

In a medium sized bowl, mix the yogurt, the vanilla, the orange flower extract and 1/3 cup of brown sugar. Set aside.

In another medium sized bowl, mix the pineapple and the 4 tsp of brown sugar and set aside as well.
To serve, place 1 cup of the yogurt mixture in a glass, sprinkle with ginger crumbles and add pineapple.

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Easy Rye Bread


This would probably not happen to most people in the USA, as they are not much  bread eaters. But in France, when bread is part of the meal and French people eat bread with all their meals, bread needs be present on the table. So when dinner is approaching and all the bakeries are closed, what do you do? if you are my sister, you make your own bread.

The recipe is fairly easy, and is very healthy.

You will need the following ingredients:

11 oz of white flour, 2 oz of whole-wheat flour, 2 tsp of baking soda, 1 tsp of slat, 1 tsp of olive oil, 11 oz of greek yogurt ( possibly fat free).

Warm up your oven to 392 F. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix it all together until a dough forms, sticks together, and no longer sticks to the wall of the mixing bowl. Place the dough on a plastic mat on the counter that you would have previously dusted with flour. Divide the dough in about 6 small balls of equal weight.

Shape them in small baguettes, by folding the dough onto itself and rolling it. Place the dough onto the baguette tray. Using a brush, baste each baguette with milk. Make 3 small incisions across the width of the baguette, using a razor blade. Dust each baguette with a mixture of various seeds ( sunflowers, poppy seed, oat, and flax seed). Place the tray of baguette in the oven. Quickly throw a cup of water onto the bottom of the oven for creating moisture, which will help the bake to rise and bake.  Bake for 25 minutes. Be careful not to overbake, so watch that the bread does not become too dark.

I love to make my own bread, but all the recipes I usually do takes several days. I am so glad that I was able to learn this new recipe. I will no longer need to go to Panera Bread or Publix to buy my rye bread. Yeah!!!!