Sunday, November 22, 2009

Getting a Jump on Thanksgiving: Recipes

Yesterday, I spent quite a bit of time making some do-ahead items for Thanksgiving. I made sixteen sweet potato pull-apart rolls, sixteen yeast rolls, and a loaf of pumpkin gingerbread. Of course, I now only have fifteen of each roll because I had to eat one of each when they were hot out of the oven. They are now all packaged up and safely in the freezer until I need them. I've had some requests for recipes, so here they are.

Sweet Potato Pull-Apart Rolls
(uses a bread machine for mixing and first rising)

- 3/4 cup mashed, drained, canned sweet potatoes (I used Trader Joe's canned sweet potato puree and skipped the mashing and draining step)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 2 T butter, cut up (margarine is okay, too, if you must)
- 2 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
- 1 T dark brown sugar
- 3/4 t salt
- 1 1/4 t active dry yeast or bread machine yeast

Add ingredients to bread machine according to manufacturer's instructions. Select "dough" cycle. When cycle is complete, remove dough from machine and punch down. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Divide dough into 16 portions, and shape each portion into a smooth ball. Divide balls between two lightly greased 8-inch round baking pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly double (about 30 minutes or so -- took mine more like an hour).

Then, mix together:
- 1 slightly beaten egg white
- 1 T water

Brush over rolls and sprinkle with more wheat germ.
(I actually inadvertently skipped this step and they still turned out fine.)

Bake at 375 degrees about 15-18 minutes until lightly browned. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove rolls from pans and devour.

For even more fabulousness, serve with Orange-Ginger Butter.

Orange-Ginger Butter
- 1/2 cup orange marmalade
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 T balsamic vinegar or cider vinegar
- 1 T finely chopped crystallized ginger

Heat marmalade in a small saucepan til just melted. In a medium bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add melted marmalade, vinegar, and ginger. Beat til well combined. Cover and chill at least one hour before serving. Makes about 1 cup.

Pumpkin Gingerbread
- 1 package (14 or 14.5 ounces) gingerbread mix
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (about 1/2 a 15-oz can) NOT pumpkin pie filling
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup warm water

Place oven rack in the center position and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly mist a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray and then dust with flour and shake out the excess (or use Baker's Secret brand spray, like I did). In a large bowl, mix together all four ingredients on low speed of electric mixer for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. Mix on medium for 1 minute til batter is well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake loaf until it springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, about 45 minutes. Remove pan from oven and cool on wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around the edge of the gingerbread and remove from pan to cool completely on the wire rack.

(Note: I used Trader Joe's Deep Dark Gingerbread mix. It's really good, but it's also strong and spicy. The ginger flavor dominates the pumpkin. I'd use another brand next time for this recipe.)
Serve with Cream Cheese Butter.

Cream Cheese Butter
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 t vanilla
- 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Beat first three ingredients til light and fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating well. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temp 30 minutes before serving.

I tend to omit the vanilla and add cinnamon for a different flavor. Another option is to omit the butter as well and just mix together some cream cheese, powdered sugar, and cinnamon. If need be, thin with a little milk.

Finally, start practicing a modest expression with which to greet all the gushes of admiration. You'll probably need one.

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