Being stuck at home today (and possibly tomorrow) during the blizzard does not have to be a recipe for disaster. Whip up a batch of Chili, Beef Stew, Chicken Noodle Soup or Meatloaf to provide comfort from the menacing winds.
And why not heat up your home by baking a treat for the family. Kids can help too, and it’s a great way to pass the time as the white stuff accumulates.
Here are a few of my favorite blizzard baking classics: The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies — the secret is using molasses to make your own brown sugar; Paul Hollywood’s Biscotti; Stir Crazy Irish Soda Bread; and No Knead Brioche which you make the batter for today and bake tomorrow.
PJ’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Crisp and full of flavor thanks to making your own brown sugar.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
½ cup plus white sugar mixed with 2-1/2 Tablespoons molasses
¾ cup white sugar (very scant)
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 ½ to 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (or mixture of milk chocolate and semisweet)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl, combine ½ cup white sugar and the molasses with a fork to make brown sugar. Use your fingertips if necessary to combine well.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, with paddle attachment, combine the softened butter, ¾ cup white sugar, the fresh-made brown sugar, and vanilla . Beat just until smooth; do not overmix. Scrape bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat on low until just combined. Scrape bowl.
5. Add the flour mixture (half at a time) and mix on low till almost, but not quite, combined. Remove from mixer and stir with a spoon or rubber spatula to finish combining. Fold in chocolate chips.
6. Spoon heaping tablespoons of dough onto parchment-lined baking pan, leaving 2 inches between them, as cookies will spread.
7. Bake for 10-13 minutes until brown on the edges and still palish/light brown in the center. Cookies will darken as they cool. (In my oven the cookies take about 10 ½ minutes to bake). Remove from oven and let cool on the pan for two minutes (so they are firm enough to remove) then lift off with a spatula and finish cooling on a rack. Yield 3 dozen largish cookies.
Paul Hollywood’s Biscotti
A recipe from the Great British Baking Show. Lemon zest can be substituted for the orange and another nut can be substituted for the hazelnuts, or nuts can be omitted altogether according to taste.
- 2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 1/4 cups white sugar
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 7 oz. chopped hazelnuts
- 1 large orange, finely grated zest only
- Preheat the oven to 300° and line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
- Mix together the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl and add the eggs slowly to make a dough. Mix in the hazelnuts and orange zest.
- On a lightly floured surface, knead the mixture gently and divide into 2. Roll into logs, each approximately 10 inches long. Place on the lined baking tray and bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, leave to cool slightly, then cut each log into 3/4 inch thick slices. Lay the slices on the baking tray.
- Return the tray to the oven and bake for another 5-7 minutes, turn over and continue to bake for another 5-7 minutes until golden-brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Stir Crazy Irish Soda Bread
This is a moist, delicious soda bread and while I love the combination of dried fruits, everything is optional. Don’t have (or don’t like) carraway seeds — leave ’em out. The raisins don’t have to be the golden ones and you don’t need the currents, just add a few more raisins.
4 c sifted all-purpose flour
3 TBS sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 TBS caraway seeds (optional)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
3/4 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup dried currants
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (plus more if needed, and usually there is)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 egg yolk, beaten
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 or 10-inch springform pan lightly with no-stick spray, set aside (Can also use a round casserole baking dish with high sides).
2. Place sifted flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into mixing bowl and stir. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal; stir in raisins, dried cranberries, currants, and caraway seeds.
3. Combine buttermilk, 1 egg, and baking soda well with a fork; stir into flour mixture just enough to moisten dry ingredients. Dough should be sticky, if it is too dry add some more buttermilk.
4. Turn onto floured board and knead lightly (just about eight turns) until dough is smooth. Shape into a circle and pat gently into the pan, out to the edges. With a sharp knife, cut a 4 cross about 1/2 inch deep in center of dough. Brush top lightly with egg yolk.
5. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until a cake tester (or toothpick) inserted in center of loaf comes out clean.
6. Cool bread in pan on rack for 10 minutes; remove. Cool on wire rack before slicing. Enjoy with some nice Irish butter. Also great toasted the next day.
No Knead Brioche
(Makes one loaf)
Make the batter today and bake it off tomorrow at your convenience.
2 cups all purpose flour
7 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup water at room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
2 1/2 Tablespoons honey (Use liquidy honey, not dense or hardened)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon instant, also called quick-rising, yeast (DO NOT use regular active yeast)
(An egg and some butter will be needed for later)
1. In a bowl, add the yeast to the flour and whisk to combine thoroughly. Set aside.
2. In another bowl, combine eggs, honey, water, salt and melted butter and whisk, somewhat vigorously, for about 30 seconds.
3. Add flour/yeast mixture to the liquid mixture and stir to combine. Mix thoroughly until a dough forms and it looks smooth and homogeneous.
4. Cover bowl and let dough rest at room temperature for two hours.
5. Time to stretch. I did this right in the bowl. I did not use flour like the video did. Grab one end of the dough, stretch it out, fold it over to the other end. Do to all four sides.
6. Return dough to bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated for 24 to 48 hours (even a day or two longer, it won’t hurt it).
7. When ready to make the brioche, take dough out of the fridge. Divide into six pieces and roll each into a ball. Place the balls next to each other in a small buttered baking pan. I made mine in a pan that measured 9 inches across the top. Initially I was going to use a bigger pan, but it would have been too big. Cover and let proof in a room temp/warmish area for 2 to 3 hours. (The dough DOES NOT double in size. My dough took a full three hours to rise slightly.)
8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Uncover brioche and brush lightly with a small amount of beaten egg mixed with a splash of water.
9. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Turn oven down to 320 degrees and bake for another 15 minutes or longer until an instant read thermometer registers 190 inside the brioche.
10. Remove from oven, brush lightly with a small amount of melted butter. After 10 minutes, remove from pan and let cool thoroughly. Cut and enjoy. Makes amazing French Toast too!