New Castle News

November 3, 2012

Culinary Conversation: It’s time to stop loafing and bake some bread

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — When a note arrived by email, I was reminded that it’s been awhile since breads were discussed in Culinary Conversation.

So let’s talk.

Baking bread is time consuming, yes, but it is so therapeutic. There’s something about kneading dough that is somewhat of a stress reliever. And it produces wonderful results.

Breaking bread is fun, too. And it’s even easier when there are so many shortcuts and creative ways to embellish purchased puff pastry. Also, that easily recognizable baking mix that’s been around for years is about as versatile as any convenience product can be.

Parmesan supper bread is a recipe that is made from a biscuit mix. It’s from one of the first cookbooks I ever received as a gift years ago. The bread is simple and good — two of the best requirements for many cooks.

The explanation for gorilla bread — a takeoff on a similar tasty concoction called  monkey bread — is that it has cream cheese stuffed inside biscuits and the outside is covered in butter, cinnamon sugar and nuts.

The buttermilk biscuit recipe is from Dorie Greenspan, renown cookbook author and winner of six James Beard awards.

And cheese straws sound like a great appetizer to prepare for upcoming holidays.

Culinary Conversation would love to hear some of your favorite quick bread recipes.

It was President James A. Garfield who said, “Man cannot live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter.”

 I’ll second that.

Gorilla Bread

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray. Mix the granulated sugar and cinnamon. In a saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar over low heat, stirring well; set aside. Cut the cream cheese into 20 equal cubes. Press the biscuits out with your fingers and sprinkle each with 1⁄2 teaspoon of cinnamon sugar. Place a cube of cream cheese in the center of each biscuit, wrapping and sealing the dough around the cream cheese.

Sprinkle 1⁄2 cup of the nuts into the bottom of the bundt pan. Place half of the prepared biscuits in the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, pour half of the melted butter mixture over the biscuits, and sprinkle on 1⁄2 cup of nuts. Layer the remaining biscuits on top, sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar, pour the remaining butter mixture over the biscuits, and sprinkle with the remaining 1⁄2 cup of nuts. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Place a plate on top and invert.

Parmesan Supper Bread

Heat oven to 400. Grease layer pan, 8x11⁄2 inches. Mix all ingredients except cheese with fork until a soft dough forms. Spread in pan; sprinkle with cheese. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cut into wedges.

*For instant onion, 3 tbsps. finely chopped onion can be substituted and 1⁄4 cup apple juice may be used instead of wine.

Cheese Straws

1, 17.5-oz. package frozen puff pastry

Thaw the two folded sheets at room temperature on paper towels until pliable.

Roll the sheets to 12x15-inch rectangles on a lightly floured surface.

Brush with 1 large egg, beaten. Onto one sheet, sprinkle 1⁄4 tsp. salt and 1⁄4 tsp. cayenne pepper, then  2 oz. each of grated Asagio and Parmesan cheeses. Lay other sheet on top; roll with rolling pin to 13x16-inch  rectangles. Cut into 13x1⁄2-inch strips; place 1-inch apart on 151⁄2x101⁄2-inch jelly roll pans that have been lined with parchment paper. Twist each strip several times. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until golden at 400. Cool.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Preheat oven to 425. Whisk flour, baking powder, soda, sugar and salt together in a bowl. Drop in the butter and rub it into the flour until it’s very crumbly — some the size of flakes and some like baby peas. Add the buttermilk and stir; it will be very sticky.

Knead the dough gently 3 or 4 times, Turn it onto a floured surface and roll or pat it into a circle about 1⁄2-inch thick. Use a 2-inch biscuit cutter to cut out as many biscuits as you can; gather the scraps and reroll and cut out more biscuits.

Transfer biscuits to a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes.