Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Celebrating the One Year Anniversary of Donna Currie's Make Ahead Bread!

Cheese Ball Rolls

Dear Lauren, 

As I've told you many times before, Donna Currie is an incredible baker, cook, and all-around person. I have thoroughly enjoyed baking from her book, Make Ahead Bread: 100 Recipes for Melt-in-Your-Mouth Fresh Bread Every Day, which celebrates its one year anniversary Wednesday, November 4. 

Donna breaks down every recipe into baby steps over at least two days so even beginning bread bakers will have success. Take the recipe I've highlighted for you here. I've never made cinnamon rolls before, yet my dough was fantastic! I mean look at it! If I can do this, so can you!   

In addition to these rolls, I just want to tell you about some of my other successes with this book that have now become staples in my kitchen.

Sweet Bubble Loaf - I followed Donna's instructions and I looked at the unbaked results on Day 1. I was concerned. How in the world would these little dough balls turn into something amazing? Yet, they did! I think of this loaf as a cross between cinnamon bread and monkey bread. It's better than either!

Grandma Pizza - I've made this so many times you thinks it's "my" recipe! No, it's Donna's! My favorite toppings are Muir Glen Pizza Sauce, grated Dubliner cheese (untraditional, but so flavorful!), and Boar's Head pepperoni. I go very lightly on the toppings because it's the "bread" that is the real star of this pizza show.

Gluten-Free Seed and Nut Bread - We have a neighbor whose mother must eat a gluten free diet so he is always looking for a good gluten free this or that. This loaf is a wonderful nut bread. It could be used for french toast but we really liked ours buttered and toasted. It's wonderful straight out of the oven too! Had I been served this, I would not have known this was a gluten free bread!

Crisp Sesame Breadsticks - I'm planning a party at my home in November and these breadsticks will provide an edible centerpiece. And bonus - these breadsticks will keep in the pantry for weeks in the unlikely event I have leftovers!

Basic Pizza Dough (not photographed, I am SO SORRY!) - I read and re-read this recipe. Are you kidding me? You literally throw all the ingredients in a ziploc bag, zip it, and then squish and smush the ingredients around for a minute. That's it? No kneading? No mess? I admit, I had low expectations for this. I've put a lot more effort into pizza dough in the past and it never tasted very good to me. But what was there to lose? It's so easy! I will tell you this. I made a pizza with this dough and it was a thing of beauty. Thin crust that holds the ingredients without bending, yet is flavorful and tender to the bite. Keeper.

Cheese Ball Rolls
by Sandra
Adapted from Blueberry and Cream Cheese Buns with Lemon Zest from Make Ahead Bread by Donna Currie

For the Dough:

3 1/2 cups bread flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg, slightly beaten, plus water to equal 1 1/2 cups total

For the Filling:
One recipe of a cheese ball of your choice, I used Nettie's Cheese Ball (see below) but a double recipe of this would be another excellent choice.

On Prep Day:

1. Butter a 9" x 13" glass baking dish. 

2. Make the cheese ball. Set it aside and keep it at room temperature for easy spreading.

3. Combine all dough ingredients in a mixing bowl and then knead for 10 minutes until dough is elastic. You can use a stand mixer with a dough hook if you like, I didn't. 

4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let sit until the dough has doubled in size, about one hour in a warm room. (Tip: When you begin making this recipe, preheat your oven to 180°F and as soon as it has preheated, shut the oven off and open the oven door. Set the covered bowl of dough in the oven to rise. If your house is already warm - 70 to 80 degrees - this step is unnecessary.)

5. On a clean, dry work surface, spread a little flour and pat the dough into a rectangular shape. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is approximately 12" x 16". With an offset spatula, spread the cheese ball mixture evenly over the dough, leaving about a 1" edge on the long side free of cheese ball mixture.

6. Starting on the opposite long side from where you left the dough free of cheese ball mixture, loosely roll up the dough, jellyroll style. Cut into 1" rolls. You will end up with 12, but if your end rolls are small you might end up with 13. This is fine.

7. Place the rolls in the baking dish 3 across and 4 down. If you have 13 rolls, place the two smallest side by side as if they are one. Cover the pan and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.

To Bake:
1. Take the rolls out of the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 350°F

2. Bake the rolls for 40-45 minutes. If the rolls seem to be browning too much, tent the pan with aluminum foil for the rest of the baking period.

3. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then serve. Can be served as they are, with sausage and eggs, or with butter and fig spread.*  

4. These rolls are best the day they are baked. Unlike any other bread I know of though, you can reheat these one at a time for 20-30 seconds in the microwave and the roll's texture does not suffer. Try it and see what you think. We refrigerated these rolls and every day for 3 days had another and another, all of them reheated in the microwave. 

Nettie's Cheese Ball

by Sandra
Adapted from Nettie's recipe that my friend Tamela shared with me

2 8-ounce cream cheese, softened

2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup beer
2 - 3 Tablespoons green bell pepper, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 dashes cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoons pimentos, minced
2 green onions (both white and green parts), minced
1/2 cup nuts of your choice, finely chopped (optional)

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until well-combined. Set aside.

If you are making a cheese ball with this recipe, rather than the Cheese Ball Rolls, mix all ingredients except the nuts together and form a ball. Roll in the nuts. Refrigerate from several hours to overnight before serving.


P.S. I now consider my obsession with this fig spread to be lifelong. You've seen it, I know you have. It's in the cheese section of many grocery stores. You can try to substitute fig preserves or fig jam, but it's not even close to the same. This goes very well with these delicious Cheeseball Rolls or with the Sweet Bubble Bread. Or in a spoon. Yum yum.


  1. Sandra,

    Oh my you are right on that fig spread. No comparison to any other brand. None at all. It's the best. You can understand my delight when I saw it at the fancy cheese counter of the local Kroger when we moved to Ohio--one less 'where do I find THIS in the new town?' to worry about.

    Very clever twist for these rolls! I think they'd be terrific for anything from an after school snack to a lovely way to dress up a pot of leftover soup.


    1. I'd like one right this second! There's no kitchen here at the Doubletree Hotel, darn it!

  2. Those look amazing!!! Don't you love Donna's book? So easy and tasty.

    1. I ADORE the book! Once I got started baking from it I couldn't stop! And thank you, they really were!

  3. Wow, this is a mini-round up all on its own! I love Grandma Pizza, so I will definitely be giving Donna's dough recipe a try for that, and the cheeseball rolls are a genius adaptation of the blueberry guys! Yum!

    1. Jenni, thank you for your post above. I've been in the hospital (still am) for sorry for the delay. The cheeseball recipe and the Make Ahead Bread Challenge in 37 Cooks came together at the same time and yes, they turned into a match made in heaven! Love them! And I would seriously pay good money for a slice of Grandma Pizza for lunch in thus hospital right toady! So delicious!

    2. Sorry for the spelling errors! I blame them on my meds! Xoxo!