Fresh-from-the-oven breads are great ways to start the day

October 16, 1991|By Linda Lowe Morris

Leslie Land's menu for breakfast for a crowd includes a variety of breads -- muffins, rolls, corn gems, yeast breads, butter and jams. With all of the wonderful breads and jams available in the markets these days, it's an idea that can be borrowed even by non-cooks or those who just want to bake one kind of bread and buy the rest.

Here are the recipes:

4&

Night-before maple walnut muffins

Makes 12 muffins.

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shelled walnuts, chopped to coarse crumbs

1 egg, beaten

7/8 cup milk

1/3 cup maple syrup

3 tablespoons butter, melted

The night before: Lavishly butter the muffin tins and set aside in XTC a cool place. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients thoroughly, then stir in the walnuts. Cover the bowl and set aside; it need not be kept cold.

Beat the egg in a small bowl, then beat in the milk and syrup. When smooth, pour in the butter, beating as you do so you get a bunch of little beads that will distribute evenly when you mix the batter. Cover the bowl and refrigerate.

In the morning: Heat the oven to 400 degrees. After it's hot, make a well in the dry ingredients, beat the egg mixture to recombine it, and pour it into the well. Stir just enough to dampen the dry ingredients, about 15 strokes. Don't worry about a lump or two; overmixing will make the muffins tough.

Distribute the batter among the tins, filling them about two-thirds full. Put them in the oven at once and bake for about 25 minutes, the time it takes to shower, dress and get the coffee made.

B4

Crunchy corn bran gems with pecans, poppy seeds

Makes 24 small muffins.

1 cup shelled pecans

1 cup stone-ground cornmeal

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

1/2 cup wheat bran

1 jumbo egg

1 jumbo egg white

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Generously butter the muffin tins and set them aside. Spread the pecans on a flat pan and toast them in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until they are golden when broken. Let them cool, then chop into roughly 1/4 -inch pieces. Increase the oven heat to 425 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Stir with a wire whisk until thoroughly combined, then stir in first poppy seeds, then bran.

Beat the whole egg and egg white until frothy and light, then beat in buttermilk and melted butter. Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the liquid, and give the mixture about 2 stirs. Add the pecans and stir until the mixture is almost combined, about 10 strokes. Work quickly and never mind the lumps.

Divide the batter among the tins, filling them about three-fourths full -- a tablespoon works well. Get them into the oven at once and bake about 20 minutes or until well risen and browned. These should be eaten promptly, because they tend to dry out fairly fast. Once dry, they are good coarsely broken up and used as a crumb topping for casseroles. They make a good stuffing base, too; moisten with cream and white wine, add sauteed onion and a bit of chopped dill, and put the result between a pair of fish filets. Bake, covered, in a buttered shallow casserole for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Easy ricotta (or cottage cheese) rolls

Makes 18 large or 24 small rolls.

1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups tepid water

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons dry baking yeast

1/2 to 1 cup ricotta or sieved cottage cheese

6 cups unbleached bread flour, approximate measure

1 teaspoon salt

Combine 1/2 cup warm water with the sugar in a warmed large bowl. Sprinkle on the yeast and allow it to dissolve and foam. Stir well with a wire whisk, then beat in the cheese and the remaining warm water (use more water with less cheese). Beat in 3 cups of flour. You should have a stiff paste somewhere between batter and dough. Cover tightly with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let rise until very light and bubbly -- about 2 hours in a warm place.

Stir down the dough and stir in the salt, then add enough additional flour to make a soft, barely-not-sticky dough. Keep it as close to the sticky side as possible, kneading in flour very sparingly. It should be well mixed and able to be handled, but without the satiny, resilient elasticity of regular bread dough. Again cover and let rise until double, about 1 hour in a warm room or overnight in the refrigerator (where it can be left up to about 24 hours, if necessary).

Knock down the dough, knead briefly, then shape into 18 large or 24 small rolls. Place them on lightly buttered baking sheets, cover lightly with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake rolls for 25 minutes, or until well browned.

Charoses jam

Makes about 1 pint.

2 cups sweet red Passover wine

3 large, tart cooking apples

2 1/2 - to 3-inch cinnamon stick

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped to the size of short rice grains

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