“And you’ve totally redeemed yourself,” I said after taking one bite. Before making these banana muffins, I made zucchini/carrot bread. I couldn’t wait to share how something so healthy could taste so divine. Instead it ended up tasting like cardboard with a hint zucchini. Sadly, it even looked like cardboard. I threw away the bread after trying to salvage it by dressing it up as french toast. Nope, nothing can mask the taste of cardboard. Read more

One man’s dessert is another man’s breakfast. At least that’s what happened with my leftover mascarpone filling from these tarts. Can I tell you—nothing goes to waste at this casa. Nothing. You would think we lived through the Great Depression. Oh, wait. But on a happier note, this leftover treasure made for one, no two, very delicious breakfasts. I’m talking, so good, you don’t need to leave your house breakfasts. True story—we went out to breakfast one morning, stood in line to be seated, and decided to head back home and make this—Mascarpone French Toast. Read more

Remember when I redid my post on Spinach Quiche a couple weeks ago? Well, I’m at it again. But I promise this is the last re-do for awhile. Brand spanking new content is on the way.

By the way, sorry I’ve been MIA this week. I’ve been working on a couple freelance design projects. Not only have I neglected the blog, but I’ve neglected dinner. We’ve been ordering pizza or scrambling eggs every night. Don’t judge. This week will probably be no better. I’ll be spending the week at the HOW Design Conference.

Enough about work. Let’s talk about Baked French Toast. It’s a classy breakfast casserole in my book, if you can even call it a casserole. It’s wonderfully versatile. The best part about baked french toast—you prepare it the night before and bake it in the morning. I don’t know about you, but I’m not much of a morning person. The less work I have to do in the AM, the better. How do all you mom’s do it? I can barely get myself out of the door in the morning. Needless to say, baked french toast makes my mornings easier. And on the weekends, it lets me sleep in longer. Baked French Toast, I love you.

This recipe has a simple nutty orange flavor. I am a little obsessed with orange right now. I think it may be the new lemon. May I suggest that you serve it with 100% pure maple syrup? I made the switch a couple years ago. Once you go pure, you’ll never go back. And yes, that is a Coke bottle I’m serving the syrup in. It’s time invest in a syrup dispenser.

 

Baked French Toast
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • ½ loaf of thick, hearty whole wheat bread cut in large cubes (about 2 cups)
  • small hand full of crushed pecans (about ⅓ c.)
  • 3 c. of milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp. turbinado
  • 1½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
  • zest of half an orange
  • juice of half an orange
  • dash of sea salt
Instructions
  1. Prep the night before serving. Cut bread and place in an 11 x 7 baking dish. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.
  2. Whisk together milk, eggs, butter, turbinado, cinnamon, vanilla, zest, juice, and salt in a separate bowl.
  3. Pour mixture over bread. It should almost cover bread.
  4. Cover and let sit and soak overnight in fridge.
  5. Morning of, preheat oven to 425°. Sprinkle top with a pinch of turbinado. Bake for 30 minutes or until liquid is set. Cover with foil after 15 minutes to prevent burning.
  6. Enjoy with warmed 100% pure maple syrup.

 

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Pink celery.

Prior to going to the farmers’ market every weekend, I knew rhubarb as pink celery. Embarrassing, right? After looking at it from afar for over a year, I bought a couple pink stalks. But I didn’t know what to do with them. I thought about chopping a piece off to taste it so I’d have a better sense of how to prepare it. I hear it’s a good thing I didn’t. Word on the street: rhubarb is poisonous uncooked, or at least its leaves are. Crisis averted. So I flipped through a bunch of recipes online and landed on a rhubarb galette. It called for lemon juice. From half a lemon. So I squeezed away just as the recipe directed. Popped it in the oven. So far so good. Served it up a la mode. Took a bite, and, here’s where it goes bad, my eye muscles started to freak out. Tears followed. And taste buds were seared. I looked like the bitter beer face guy.

Pink celery.

It’s tart. I’ve learned my lesson—looks can be deceiving. Use orange juice instead of lemon juice. And add strawberries to help to cool the tartness. With that, I give you: nutty strawberry rhubarb bread.

Nutty Strawberry Rhubarb Bread
adapted from King Arthur Flour

1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts
1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. orange oil
2 eggs
1 1/4 c. chopped strawberries
1 1/4 c. chopped rhubarb (about 3 stalks)
1/2 c. canola oil

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. (I always skip this step and it comes out clean.)
2. In a medium sauce pan, cook strawberries and rhubarb over medium heat until they begin to breakdown, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat, mash, and set aside. Allow to come to room temperature (or pop them in the freezer for 5 min.).
3. Meanwhile, using a food processor, finely chop walnuts. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the walnuts, flours, sugar, soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the orange oil, eggs, strawberry rhubarb mixture, and canola oil. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, whisking until well-blended.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. (I add a sheet of foil in the last 15 minutes to keep from burning.) Cool the bread in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove it, transferring to a rack to cool completely, 1 hour or longer. For best flavor and easiest slicing, wrap the bread while slightly warm and let it sit overnight. (Great tip! I always let bread sit overnight to allow the flavors to mature. It’s worth the wait.)

How do you like your rhubarb? Tart or tamed?

If I tell you a secret, will you promise to keep reading?

I don’t really like cinnamon rolls.

I can hear the gasps and the cars outside screeching to a halt. I know it’s a sin not to like these. But if I eat anything too sweet first thing in the morning, my blood sugar is off the rest of the day. And then I’m grumpy. With a headache. Please forgive me? Luckily, my husband and his co-workers love cinnamon rolls. They devoured these little muffins.

I use the term muffin loosely literally. Graduate school husband had to transport these guys to work—problem #1. And, with no plates or forks around at work, they needed to be edible by hand—problem #2. So I came up with the parchment paper muffin idea. I’m sure it’s been done before, but it’s new to me. Not to mention, they’re kinda cute served individually.

Please forgive me, but I hope you enjoy these more than I did. Dang blood sugar.

Cinnamon Rolls
recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, makes 12 

SWEET DOUGH
3/4 c. whole milk, warmed to 110°
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp.) instant or rapid rise yeast
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs
4 c. AP unbleached flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/4 tsp. salt

1. Add a pinch of sugar to the warmed milk. Add yeast and allow to proof for 5 minutes until foamy. (Click here to watch how to proof yeast.)
2. Whisk together melted butter and eggs.
3. Combine 3 1/2 cups of the flour, sugar, and salt together in a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the yeast mixture and the egg mixture, and mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes.
4. Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If after 5 minutes more flour is needed, add the remaining a little bit at a time until the dough clears the side of the bowl but sticks to the bottom (The more flour you add, the tougher the dough. Try to add as little as possible).
5. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball. Place dough in a bowl and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm draft free place until doubled in size, about 2 hours. (For the procrastinator method, click here.)

SWEET CINNAMON MIXTURE
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled

1. After dough has doubled in size, mix dry ingredients together in a small bowl.
2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it out to a 16″ x 12″ rectangle (about the size of a Silpat).
3. Leaving a 3/4″ border along the top edge, brush the dough with the melted butter. Sprinkle with sweet cinnamon mixture, and press to adhere it to the dough.
4. Loosen the dough from the counter using a bench scraper, and roll the dough into a tight log. Pinch the seam closed and roll log seam side down.
5. Slice the cylinder into 12 evenly sized rolls using a serrated knife. Arrange the rolls cut side down in a 13″ x 9″ baking pan. OR, cut 12 squares of parchment paper and press into muffin tin.
6. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (If making ahead of time, forgo the second rise and place the rolls in the fridge. Allow for second rise in the morning before baking.)
7. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°. Bake 25-30 if baking normal style or 15-20 minutes if baking muffin style.

GLAZE
1 1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar
3 tbsp. cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp. of  heavy cream, half and half, or milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Allow rolls to cool for at least 5 minutes. (I made my rolls the night before, warmed them up for about 5 minutes in a 350° oven the morning of, and then iced them.)
2. Using an electric mixer, mix together the confectioners’ sugar, softened cream cheese, cream, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth. To thicken, add more powdered sugar. To thin add more cream.
3. Drizzle with the glaze and serve.

I’m not sure if anyone else has this problem—but from time to time, my bread flops. It fails to rise. And it’s the worst feeling ever. I’m embarrassed to say that I used to boil water before pouring it over yeast. Needless to say I killed the yeast. Big time.

Luckily, I’ve learned a thing or two since. So to ease your bread making, yeast rising fears, I made a video. Just humor me. This is my first video making attempt. Definitely a faux and not a pro when it comes to this.

YouTube Preview Image

 

How to proof yeast
1. According to your recipe, add warm liquid (s) to bowl. It should between 110°-115°. Use a thermometer to be sure. When you get more comfortable, you can ditch the thermometer. I hold my hand just above the water to detect warmth. You want it to be warm but not hot. I’m not a mom yet, but I imagine the baby bottle squirt on wrist technique will work for this as well.
2. Add a pinch of sugar to the liquid whether the recipe calls for it or not. Sugar feeds the yeast and helps it to grow. If the recipe calls for sugar, only add a pinch during this step.
3.  Pour yeast into bowl. Give it a little stir and watch it proof or foam. Bubbles will begin to appear on the surface. This takes 5-10 minutes.
4. Use yeast mixture according to recipe.

Why proof?
Proofing allows you to make sure the yeast is active before you add it to the rest of the ingredients. If it fails to proof, start over. Most likely you’ve only wasted water and a pinch of sugar.

Give it a try with the Brioche Burger Buns recipe. I wish you great success in your bread rising adventures!

Brioche Burger Buns | The Fauxmartha

Post and recipe updated: 5.25.2014

Finally, it’s that season again. I think. We had a horribly long winter in Chicago. And spring has been anything but spring. Depending on the day, it’s felt more like winter, summer, and fall. We were supposed to go camping this weekend, but the cold rainy weather kept us away. Saturday night, when I should have been roasting marshmallows, I tried to will the weather warmer by making burgers on the indoor grill. According to the 5-day forecast, it’s working! Read more

We don’t really do the corned beef and cabbage thing. It’s not our cup of tea. But you better believe we do the Irish Soda Bread thing though. With green decorations. Made out of ribbon, yarn, coat hangers, and craft glue. Yep, that’s how we celebrate.

Want to celebrate like us? Here’s how—
1. Make Irish Soda Bread.
2. While it’s baking, make decorations for the soda bread, duh!
3. Get out some yarn, ribbon, craft glue, scissors, and a coat hanger.
4. Cut the coat hanger into 2 pieces. Wash thoroughly. Dry.
5. Cut 8 2″ (or so) pieces of green ribbon. Add glue to half of the 2″ piece of ribbon and fold over, making sure the yarn is in the center of the fold. Repeat 7 times. Allow glue to dry for about 30 minutes.
6. Cut triangles into each ribbon. Attached the yarn to coat hangers.
7. Once bread is done cooking, decorate.
8. Take pictures and eat!

Irish-American Soda Bread
Serves: one 8" loaf
 
Ingredients
  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1½ c. buttermilk
  • 1 c. currants
  • 1 tbsp. milk, for glaze
  • 1 tbsp. coarse sugar, for topping
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, and beat on high speed until the mixture is thick and light-colored, about 2 minutes. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then 1 cup of the wheat flour. Gently beat in half the buttermilk, then another cup of the wheat flour. Add the remainder of the buttermilk, and the final cup of all-purpose flour, mixing until smooth. Stir in the currants.
  2. Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased 8" round pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Drizzle the milk atop the batter, and sprinkle with the sugar.
  3. Bake the bread in a preheated 325° oven for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Tent a sheet of aluminum foil over the top for the final 15 minutes, if it appears to be browning too quickly. Remove the bread from the oven, wait about 5 minutes, then carefully turn it out onto a rack to cool. Allow the bread to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Whole Grain Baking.