By Monica Trentini
I love to bake, and yet I constantly forget how much better making bread at home can be. It is therapeutic as well. No matter what your bread tastes like at the end, the process is so invigorating; you eat it and smile proudly. I remembered how to make bread when I was writing my last article on beer. If you missed it, there is a great recipe for beer bread that is amazingly easy to make. The only wet ingredient is a can of beer. Believe it or not, it is delicious and my kids loved it. Contact me if you would like to have the recipe again.
After I got my feet wet making beer bread a few times, I took the plunge and made plain old white bread as described in the book Bread Alone by Judith Ryan Hendricks. (Read on for recipe.) In this novel, the main character shares many delicious recipes with the reader as well as her experiences dealing with separation and divorce. Where do you think I got that part about baking being therapeutic? Well, I do agree. I also find reading to be therapeutic, and if you feel the same, you might consider joining the Best Seller’s Book Club. Interested? Call Jo Anne Ivy at 5182-1080. Not all the books are about cooking, by the way. The members decide on best sellers to buy and everyone gets to read them.
When I think of spending a day making bread, I remember how my mother made cinnamon buns when I was growing up in Brazil. I loved making these with her. If you miss cinnamon buns but would rather not make them, they are always for sale at the Red Rose coffees. The proceeds benefit an orphanage. Call Doreen Helfrich for details. 5687-7026. Nowadays, my mother runs a bed and breakfast near Cape Cod. When she wants to make something extra special, she bakes a wonderful fruit coffee cake. She has always been in search of the best fruit coffee cake, and I must say, this one takes the cake. Ha. Ha.
Have you noticed how cooking is like hairstyles or your choice of clothing? You make or wear the same things over and over again and forget that you actually have a much greater selection if you would just stop a moment and think about it. Buy different food at the market and see what you come up with. Brazilian culture encourages women to be sexy! You’re not getting any younger, so dare to spruce up your wardrobe with something stylish and feminine. Take the plunge and change your hair-do. You’ll feel great.
Think back and remember how you cooked in the past. I used to make simple scones in college, when all the ingredients I had in the cupboard were butter, flour, baking soda, sugar and sometimes some raisins or walnuts to spice things up. (see recipes) Later, I went though a bread machine phase when I would keep all the necessary ingredients in my filing cabinet at work and press start at the beginning of my workday. You can just imagine what our office smelled like! I do not know how we got any work done what with all the baking going on.If you do have a bread machine, let the machine do the working, but take the dough out for the final rise and baking. It is so much better this way! Actually, since I am being candid, I’ll admit that is when I started baking chocolate chip cookie dough balls in the toaster oven. Dough balls compliments of the President’s granddaughter, who would send them to us in Tupperware containers. (Sorry, no recipes available. I couldn’t. Try adding a little extra flour to your toll-house recipe, and Linda Garcia recommends adding a t. of baking powder as well. Also, butter and extra vanilla are a sure crowd pleaser. Need chocolate chips? Call me.)
When I arrived in Brazil, I joined the International Newcomer’s Club and met so many interesting people! (Interested? Call Deanna Chezem at 3758-6858) One nice lady offered me a recipe for home-made graham crackers. (see recipes) When I started working at Graded, the PTA gave me a copy of What’s Cooking in Rio. That was a great gift. Now, there is another bi-lingual cookbook called The Graded Gourmet. We always look in it for new ideas. Interested? Call Ellen Greubel 5523-5610. I didn’t know that you could make Bisquick from scratch. Marilyn Sherman gave me a great recipe for Easy Drop Danish using this biscuit mix.” See recipes. Marilyn belongs to the American Wives of Brazilians Club, which is another of my hangouts. Here in São Paulo, there is a club for everyone. You name it. Do you have a Brazilian husband too? Call Nadja Venezian at 3353-0937.
Now, I have been here for five years and I am a full-time mom, part time baker. On Saturdays and Sundays, I make a big breakfast. Sometimes I am too busy to spend time frying pancakes or flipping crepes, and I make cinnamon muffins. Try making them. They really taste like doughnuts. (see recipes)
These are some of the foods that remind me of home and make me happy. I hope some of these recipes brighten your day.
Plain Old Bread
From Bread Alone
T. active dry yeast (fermento instantaneo)
2 C. warm water
1 T. sugar
Mix and set aside while measuring out the flour.
6-7 C. white flour (one kilo is 8 cups)
Mix and place on a floured board. Knead until the dough springs back to the touch.
1 T. salt
Knead salt in last.
Lightly oil a bowl and place dough in it, covered with a damp cloth
Allow to rise in a warm humid place, far from the oven. Wait 2 hours or until the dough doubles in size. Punch it down, and wait another 2 hours for a second rise. Remove the dough onto a floured surface and knead 2 or four loaves into the center for round loaves or down the sides for baguettes. Cut slices in the loaves for texture before allowing to rise for a third time. (This one can be overnight in the refrigerator, if you would like to bake the bread in the morning.) Sprinkle with water for a crusty crust and bake at 425 (high) for 30-40 minutes or until done.
1 C. flour
1 t. baking powder (fermento)
1 C. sugar
2 egg yolks, well beaten
1 t. vanilla
2 egg whites, beaten stiff
1 C. cut up fruit
Grease and flour 9 inch baking pan. Preheat oven 350 (medium.) Mix dry ingredients. Separate bowl: Cream sugar with butter. Mix in egg yolks and vanilla. Pour in flour mixture and milk and mix. Fold in egg whites and fruit. Bake 40-45 minutes or until done. Serve from the pan.
1 kg flour (8 cups)
1 C. milk
4 teaspoons yeast (fermento instantaneo)
Stir the yeast into cup warm water and let stand.
1 cup margarine or butter
3 eggs well beaten
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
Warm the milk. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar, add eggs, and add the warm milk and yeast. Stir in half the flour and the salt. Continue to add the rest of the flour, kneading towards the end. Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead lightly for a few minutes and form into a ball. Put this ball into a large, greased bowl, and cover it with a clean dishtowel. At this point you can place the dough in your refrigerator and let it rise overnight. OR, let it rise in a warm place in your kitchen, free of drafts, for 1 hours or more until it doubles in size. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead for a few minutes. Cut the dough into 3 pieces and knead each piece into a ball. Let these balls rest covered with a towel for about 10 minutes. Roll out each ball of dough into an 8×12 inch rectangle, 3/8 inch thick. Brush with about 2 Tbsp. soft margarine or butter and sprinkle with a mixture of 2 T. cinnamon and cup sugar. Start with the long side and roll up pinching the seam to seal it, like a jellyroll. Cut each roll into about 8 to 10 slices about 1 inch thick. Place the rolls in a greased pan leaving some space between them. Cover pans again and let rise about another hour. Bake 15- 20 minutes in a preheated oven-350* F. Make a thin icing of butter, confectioner’s sugar (acucar confeiteiro), milk, vanilla, (Baunilha) and lemon (optional). Drizzle this on the hot buns. I know this sound like a lot of work, but the end result is worth it all!
My Mom prefers to mix the dough up at night and let it rise in the refrigerator and then finish it all in the morning. You only have to let it rise one more time in the morning and it doesn’t take all day to make homemade cinnamon rolls. These rolls also freeze well wrapped tightly in Saran Wrap.
2 C. flour
1 T. baking powder (fermento)
C. cold butter, cut in pieces (100g)
Mix dry ingredients except sugar. Add butter, and rub in with fingers, or use a pastry fork until crumbly. Toss in sugar. Add milk and mix lightly. Pat in a circle in thick. Cut into wedges and bake 425 (medium hot) 12 minutes. Add dried cherries, walnuts, raisins to the mix to jazz these up!
4 C. whole wheat flour (Farinha Integral)
1 C. butter (200 grams)
mix until you have a course oatmeal texture and mix and add
1 C. brown sugar (Aucar Mascavo)
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. cream of tartar (Crme de Tartaro)
1 egg lightly beaten
about C. hot water
white flour for rolling
Roll out to 1/8 to inch thickness
Bake at 350 (medium low) for 15-20 minutes or until done.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar before and/or after baking.
Makes 13 cups
This can be used for waffles, pancakes, biscuits and as a coating for chicken.
9 cups sifted flour
1/3 cups baking powder
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Nonfat milk solids
4 teaspoons salt
1 cups vegetable shortening (like saude)
Sift all dry ingredients. Cut shortening into flour until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
Store, well covered, in a cool, dry place for about 3 months. Or refrigerate.
Easy Drop Danish
2 cups biscuit mix
cup margarine, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cups milk
Mix first 4 ingredients – 15 strokes, drop by rounded tablespoons about 2 inches apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Make a shallow well in center of each with the back of a spoon. Fill with 1 teaspoon preserves.
Bake until golden 10-15 minutes.
While warm, drizzle with glaze.
Glaze: Beat 2/3 cups powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon warm water and teaspoon vanilla until smooth.
1 C. flour
1 t. baking powder (fermento)
t. nutmeg (noz moscada)
1/3 c. butter
C. sugar and 1 t. cinnamon, mixed
Mix dry ingredients. Cream sugar and butter. Beat in egg. Add flour mixture and milk and mix well. Spoon into greased muffing tins and bake at 350 (medium) for 25 minutes or until done. Remove immediately from tins when ready. Dip hot muffin tops in butter and then cinnamon and sugar to coat tops. Eat when cool if you can wait long enough!
Monica Trentini was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and was raised in Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro. She lives in São Paulo with her Brazilian husband and two children. She has a cookie business, making and selling baked cookies, cookie dough and festive pizza-size cookies. If you would like more information, or if you have any comments on the article, please contact Monica Trentini at 3739-2599, 8111-5920 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Celebrate Easter with an Easter Bunny Chocolate Chip Pizza Cookie. Yummy for all ages! Call Monica for more information about all kinds of cookies! 3739-2599 or write email@example.com Free delivery within greater São Paulo.”