Thursday, November 22, 2012

Memories of Mom and Honey Bread Careen

Honey Bread Careen Cinnamon Loaf

This time of year evokes so many memories around food and all of us have them no matter how simple or elegant our celebrations were and are today.  This year I decided it was about time to pass along one of these traditional foods I love to my son and granddaughters, Honey Bread Careen.

During the holidays my mom would bake up a huge batch Honey Bread Careen dinner rolls and at least one pan full of sticky buns.  They were so delicious we all had at least two dinner rolls if not more for dinner.   They were soft and little sweet, made even more irresistible with a pat of butter that would melt into the warm bread and honey drizzled on top.

Cinnamon bread toast and eggs for busy mornings

When I mixed up the batch for today's Thanksgiving dinner it made such a huge amount it gave me opportunity to make the rolls and two large loaves of cinnamon bread, one for us and one to gift my son and his family with.  The cinnamon loaf makes the most wonderful toast in the world, perfect for the busy holiday season.  And now that I have you all drooling I suppose I better get busy and share the recipe.

Bake at 400F ten minutes, then 350F for twenty minutes
5 cups water (divided)
3 cakes yeast
1 tsp sugar
1.25 cups powdered milk
1.25 cups peanut oil
1.25 cups raw honey
2 Tbsp kosher salt
15 cups all purpose flour
Additional flour for dusting work surface and to add to dough as needed

Heat 3/4 cup water to between 100 and 110 degrees F, add yeast and sugar and stir to dissolve.  Let rest for about 5 minutes until yeast mixture nears double in size. 
NOTE:If the water is over 110F it will kill the yeast and if under 100F the yeast will not activate properly so temperature is key.

In a very large bowl dump the remaining 4.25 cups water (I used 90F water to speed things up a bit), powdered milk, honey, peanut oil (also warmed a bit) and salt, stirring well to blend.  Next stir in the yeast mixture and then add the flour.  I added the flour 5 cups at a time, mixing as I went which seems to work best.  Once the last 5 cups are in you'll need to get both hands in there and start working the dough to incorporate it well.  This is a lot of dough and will take some strength.

Once everything is incorporated sprinkle your work surface with some flour, place the dough on it, sprinkle a bit more flour on top of the dough and begin kneading it.  The added flour keeps the dough from sticking to things too much.  Reapply flour as needed during the kneading process.  I think I used between 1/2 and 1 full cup extra flour for dusting.  The kneading takes some muscle due to the weight and volume of the dough so be prepared. 

As you begin to knead the dough it will stick to your hands some until enough flour has been worked into the dough.   Keep kneading it for 10 to 15 minutes.  You will feel the dough will become less lumpy feeling and more silky when the kneading is near done.

Grandma, what a big bowl you have!

Place the kneaded dough in a very large clean bowl that has been oiled so the dough won't stick to the side.  (I just washed and used the bowl I mixed everything up in.)  Lightly oil some plastic wrap and place it over top and drape with a towel.  Place the bowl in a warm spot (not hot) or over a large container of very warm water.  I used my Dutch oven with very warm tap water.  Let the dough raise for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.  Punch it down and repeat.  Now you can shape into rolls of loaves, let raise to double in size and bake.  I also should note here that you can keep this dough refrigerated for a week.  It takes longer to rise that final time before baking but all good things are worth the waiting for.

The dough, doubled and silky to the touch

A note here...I find preheating the oven for 30 minutes really does help breads to bake best.  The rolls took the recommended amount of time the recipe above states.  I did have to cover them with foil for the last 10 minutes to avoid the tops getting too brown.

Eighteen large dinner rolls

I made the rolls in disposable aluminum casserole pans which work really great for heating them up in the oven the next day like we are having to do.  Make the dough balls about the size of a small apple and leave space between each row.  A 9x13 baking pan would work well for the rolls.

Cinnamon bread loaves are rolled with ends folded under

The remainder of the dough I worked into a flat, semi regular rectangle shape about 1/2" thick.  Sprinkled a healthy amount of cinnamon and about 1/2 cup of sugar and melted 1/2 cup of butter which I drizzled over top and spread around with my hands like a 5 year old...FUN!   Next I carefully rolled it up, cut the roll in half and transferred the loaves onto a sprayed backing sheet, folded the ends under and left them to rise beneath the oiled plastic wrap I had used previously on the dough bowl.  They were ready to go in the oven by the time the rolls were finished baking.

Bake the bread at 400 for 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 350F to finish baking.  You will need to cover the top of the loaves with foil about 20 minutes into the baking time to keep them from getting too dark so have some ready.  This bread took about 20 minutes longer at 350F to finish baking.

So there you have it.  A family tradition that I hope will bless your family too. 
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone.  And may God bless you as you gather, be it with family, friends or with strangers.

Final note...I am sharing this recipe in remembrance of my mother, Betty Fitch, who died suddenly at the age of 58, thirty one years ago.  She was the kindest, most patient woman I know and a beautiful Christian woman who taught me by how she lived, how to hold fast to God in life, no matter what the circumstances.