Friday, November 26, 2010

THE Club - Sweet Orange Rolls

I've been wanting to attempt sweet orange rolls since David and I first visited THE Club in Birmingham for brunch.  (If you haven't been, they are DELICIOUS.  When googling for the recipe I learned they were the inspiration for Sister Shubert's orange rolls.) I figured I might as well experiment this holiday when I am home with the family.  I didn't follow the recipe exactly but I will tell you what I did and didn't do and what I would recommend.  

1/4 ounce dry yeast (1 package...I used rapid yeast and in this cold snap, it worked!)
1/4 c warm water - about 125 degrees (I got the water as warm as ours would get)
1/3 c butter, melted
1 cup sour cream
1/4 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c sugar
1 c flaked coconut
2 T butter

Orange Glaze

1 c. confectioners' sugar
1 T grated orange rind (I omitted)
1 T orange juice (used more like 2 since I eliminated the orange rind)
*Adapted from


Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large mixing bowl. How can something so great (like bread) come from something... so yeasty? 

Mix in the next 5 ingredients (everything but the flour).  Then gradually mix in the flour.  

Many thanks to Matt Fields, photographer extraordinaire.  

Place mixed dough in a well-greased bowl.  Aka, butter.  It works best.  Turn it over so the entire ball of dough is greased.

Since the temperature dropped 30 degrees overnight, I no longer had the pleasure of letting it rise in the attic.  Instead I opted for the oven method.  I turned it on 200 for a few minutes, and then cracked the door.  I let it rise in the warm oven for 2 hours.

This is the result.  I used rapid rise yeast...and I do believe it was more rapid than past attempts. 

This is to remind you of the before:

Mix the next 3 ingredients in a bowl.  This is where it gets hairy.  I did not have a zester nor did I have oranges that wanted to be zested.  (They had smooth peels.)  So I took to real orange extract.  THANK GOSH Mom had some.  I definitely would not have any at my house.  I put in 1/8 of a tablespoon.  I went on the light side because it smelled so potent.    Here is my zesting attmept gone bad.  I tried everything. 

I honestly think real zest isn't necessary.  Honestly, the thought of an orange peel to me is gross.  The recipe called for coconut.  I was not sure how I felt about that so I made one batch with and one without.  The recipe makes 2 pans.  Mom likes the coconut.  I like the one without.  I think the ones without still taste very similar to THE Club sweet orange rolls.  Maybe the sour cream is what makes them stand out?

Below is the first rectangle rolled.  The second one looked better but my hands were too gross to touch the camera!

Place them in a baking pan.  Do not worry if they look small, they will rise.

And after 30 minutes in the oven they will eventually look like this.

The recipe says 250 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  That is bogus.  I honestly cannot tell you how long I cooked them but it was likely twice that.  I watched them like a hawk and ended up turning the oven to 300 at one point.

As for the icing, I did not follow exact measurements obviously since I went with the 'no zest' route.  I used real orange juice from the orange, though.  That has to count for something.  I probably used more than 1 T...more like 2.

...And the result wasn't too shabby.  I have to say, they taste pretty darn good and similar to THE Club rolls.  

I will always be partial to the Julie/Shelley cinnamon rolls, though.  (Julie - I missed you.  I needed 2 more hands!) :)  Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Friday, September 10, 2010

PW's Cinnamon Bread

I owe my loyal blog followers an apology (IF there are any of you left). Julie and I have wonderful intentions of baking through Southern Living's list of top 10 cakes. But until then, I highly suggest Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Bread.

I failed to document the whole process because it lasted, on a "school night," till 12:30 pm. Even so, it was highly worth it and my 3rd (successful) attempt at bread baking. I was able to make this with a hand mixer and some elbow grease.

We eventually used it for french toast. David claimed it made the "best french toast he had ever eaten." That is a bold claim. I will leave you with a a few pictures...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pralines (prä-lēns vs. prā-lēns)

A group of us had a discussion Memorial Day weekend about the pronunciation of these wonderful candies.  Since then, they have been stuck in my head.  I call them praw-leens.  I was the only one in the car who pronounced them that way.  Turns out, that is not surprising since, according to Wikkipedia, most of Alabama and Georgia pronounce them pray-leens.  What do you call them?

Julie and I (once again) tried 2 recipes.  One is Paula Dean's recipe and the other I found on Food Network added by a member.  They were fairly different so we tried to get a tasting of two methods. You will find out Paula did not disappoint.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons dark corn syrup
1 cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecan halves

(I had to add this picture because it was too appropriate.  Lance and Julie were gifted this cookbook on their wedding. How appropriate?!)

We used a Le Creuset dish which worked extremely well.  The recipe calls for a heavy 2-quart saucepan. We buttered the sides of the dish and emptied the sugar, salt, and corn syrup, milk, and butter into the pan. 

Stir mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden spoon* until the sugars have dissolved and mixture comes to a boil. 

*We found it interesting they insisted we use a wooden spoon.  So what did we do? We googled it.  Pay a visit to this site if you would like to learn more.  The wooden spoon worked well for us!
Continue to cook to a 'soft ball' stage, approximately 236 degrees F on a candy thermometer. My candy thermometer worked AMAZING.  It is from Williams Sonoma and I highly recommend it.  It will be used many times to come.  THANK YOU JULIE AND LANCE!

COLD WATER TEST:  At this point, you can do a cold water test.  You drip the praline mixture into a cold glass of water. The ball of candy will flatten when you take it out of the water. It worked out for us...on the first try!

Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  After those minutes stir in the vanilla and pecans. We learned 10 minutes should be the max.  You should have everything laid out and ready to rock.  The mixture is the smoothest when it is right out of the dish.  As it hardens it becomes crumbly. Work fast...2 people helps.  We suggest using a tablespoon to scoop it out and another to scrape it off the spoon.  Otherwise you may lick your fingers due to pain and then end up with a burned tongue as well (ahhem). :)

The mixture yields about 18 pralines when they are made a tablespoon size.  We even toyed with the idea of using pecan pieces because the large size of the halved pecans made the lumps of candy larger than we thought necessary.

I am adding this on here for 'kicks."  The Paula recipe was by far our favorite.  It was more creamy and tasted better to us both.  I am not a huge candy person (unless we are talking chocolate) but the Paula Deen recipe was marvelous even to me!  This one, however, had wonderful ratings so it may be prefered by some.  And as Julie pointed out, the ingredients are ones you are most likely to have 'on hand' at any given moment.  You would have to purchse ingredients for the Paula Deen recipe.

This recipe uses half and half which I learned is the same as the recipes that call for 'light cream.' There are recipes that use heavy cream as well.  I am so stuck on the first recipe I may never venture out beyond it.


2 cups granulated sugar
1 cups half-and-half
1/3 stick butter
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups whole pecans
Combine all ingredients except the pecans in a heavy saucepan. Over medium heat stir mixture until it comes to a boil. Turn heat down to medium-low and continue to stir. Spoon mixture up on sides of pan to melt any sugar that hasn't melted.  (It didn't get dark until the very end so be patient!)

Cook until mixture reaches 238 to 241 degrees F on a candy thermometer or soft ball stage. Stir in the pecans. Remove from heat. Stir until the mixture begins to thicken and becomes creamy and cloudy. Drop onto parchment paper, buttered pan or buttered marble slab, using a spoon or ice cream scoop. Let cool.

The finished results. (I am sad I didn't get the focus correct.  My new lense came in today so we will have to do something again soon to test it!)

Thursday, March 4, 2010


This time, Julie and I tackled fudge.  She found 3 wonderful recipes to try: creamy chocolate fudge, peanut butter fudge, and chocolate mint fudge.  Instead of going step-by-step through all the recipes I will list the ones we did (with pictures, of course) and tell you what we learned/would do differently.

We began with the recipe we thought to be the easiest.  It turns out none were difficult (if you have patience over the stove stirring the chocolate.  If Julie wasn't there I would have surely become distracted.)  The Smiths have what I remember to be a 5 lb bag of chocolate chips from Costco.  I am embarrassed to say I couldnt keep that in my house. It would be the death of me.  I think I need a Costco day.

Onto the recipes...

Creamy Chocolate Fudge


1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow crème
1 ½ cups white sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 cup semi sweet chips
¼ cup butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 cups chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract

1) Line an 8 x 8 dish with aluminum foil.
2) Boil over medium heat: marshmallow, sugar, milk, butter, and salt. Bring to full boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
3) Remove from heat, add chips. Stir until smooth. Add vanilla and chill until firm.

This would be my pick for a 'go-to' chocolate fudge recipe.  It was SO SIMPLE.  You cannot go wrong.  VERY fudgey and creamy.  The alumninum foil worked well.  Each recipe had a different suggestion.  Whereas the alumnium foil was not terrible, it could stick to the chocolate or make it appear wrinkle and for that reason I would recommend wax paper.

Peanut Butter Fudge
4 cups white sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
12 ounces peanut butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1) Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish, set aside.
2) In a saucepan, combine sugar, milk, and butter. Bring to a boil, and cook 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the marshmallow creme and peanut butter. Gradually stir in the flour. Spread into the prepared pan, and let cool.

This was my personal favorite.  We did make an alteration.  The peanut butter needed a chocolate layer on top so we used the recipe from the Chocolate Mint Fudge recipe below as a top layer.  It transformed into a homemade Reeses Cup.   I would highly recommend this recipe.  The consistency has more of a sugar texture and less of a creamy texture.  It is likely due to the flour.  It was the only recipe that contained flour.  I DO think you need to "let cool" in the frig.  It eventually ended up in the frige and set MUCH better after sitting in the fridge for a night. 

Chocolate Mint Fudge
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 ounces)
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 ounces white candy coating
2-3 teaspoons peppermint extract (TOO MUCH IN OUR OPINION)
3 drops green food coloring (I would add 5)

1) In a heavy saucepan, melt chocolate chips with 1 cup milk.
2) Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla.
3) Spread half into a waxed paper-lined 8-in. square pan; (I personally prefer to line the pan with foil and grease the foil with butter) chill for 10 minutes or until firm.
4) Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan over low heat, cook and stir candy coating with remaining milk until coating is melted and mixture is smooth.
5) Stir in peppermint extract and food coloring.
6) Spread over bottom layer; chill for 10 minutes or until firm.
7) Warm remaining chocolate mixture if necessary; spread over mint layer.
8) Chill for 2 hours or until firm.
9) Remove from pan; cut into 1-in. squares.

This is similar to candy and less like the fudge we imagined.  I think we all agreed the mint was strong even using just 2 drops.  It did look pretty on the plate and would be great for St. Patty's Day.  I even like mint and chocolate but this was probably my least favorite.

Us with our POUNDS and POUNDS of fudge (don't worry...we didn't eat it all ourselves)!

We tried to be good.  Julie even bought these to snack on.  We remembered...after the fact...

This picture sums up what we felt towards sampling by the end of the night. No more!

Did someone say Fudge?

Monday, March 1, 2010

A different kind of 'Bachelor Party'

When I finished the GMAT on Saturday I knew exactly what I wanted to do....cook and bake.  I have an excellent fudge post coming.  Julie and I hit the kitchen again Sunday night.  But for now I must share the party pics from the "themed" Bachelor Party.  Oh yes I did.

The girls were greated at the door by Jake himself!
Thanks to Julie and Lance for the silver plate wedding momento.  It came in handy for the theme!
Here is a shot of the spread. Wait, we are missing something.
PLANES. Oh, that is better!
Enough said.
I tried Bakerella's red velvet recipe she posted this past week. (Oh, and I realized I spelled her name wrong AFTER the fact. Oops.)

This is a sample of the next blog post to come!
...and cheesy it was (as well as frustrating...but do we expect anything else).