Now that you've dusted off your bread machine and can make a decent dough, it's time to get creative. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Monkey Bread: Roll the dough into 1-1/2" balls. Dip the top of each ball in melted butter and then roll in a cinnamon and sugar mixture. Lay the balls of dough randomly on top of each other in bundt or tube pan and bake! For a savory version, roll the buttered balls of dough in a mixture of granulated garlic, oregano and grated parmesan cheese.
Dinner Rolls: Pillsbury has a good guide for the different shapes you can use at http://pillsburybaking.com/bakers_corner. Brush the tops either with some melted butter or egg wash to give them a nice, shiny look. You can also top them with fresh chopped herbs or shredded cheese.
Crusty Country Bread: Shape the dough into a circular or oval shape on a baking pan. Using a sharp knife, make a few 3" gashes in the top of the dough. Place on the top rack of the oven. On the bottom rack, place a shallow pan with about 1-2 cups of ice cubes. As the ice cubes melt and evaporate, the steam will give the bread a very nice crust. (If you're feeling feisty, add some herbs to the dough while it is still in the bread machine for a savory country bread.)
Hamburger and Hotdog Rolls: I like to make my own hamburger and hotdog rolls partly because they taste so much better than store-bought. My primary reason is because I wind up cooking for teens and young adults quite frequently, and one of their favorite "munchies" are mini burgers and dogs. To make the mini burger rolls, roll out your dough to approximately 1" thick. Use a 2" round cookie cutter to cut out perfect little rounds. (Be sure to use a 3" cutter to mold your burgers. Remember, the dough will get larger as it rises and the meat will shrink as you cook it.) A slice of plum or Roma tomato is the perfect size to top off these treats. To make the hotdog rolls, just roll the dough into a 1" rope and cut in 2" lengths. Those little mini weiners are the perfect size to fit these rolls.
Pizza Dough: Make a few batches of pizza dough in your bread machine and set it out for all to enjoy with a variety of toppings. I love black olives, hot sausage and ricotta or a white clam with oil and garlic pizza. Caitlin's favorite is ham, green peppers and pineapple. Jonathan is partial to what I call "road kill" pizza. For this pizza, just throw all of your leftover deli meats and steaks or roasts onto the pizza, load with cheese and you're done! Alicia won't eat cheese of any kind, so she gets sauce and lots and lots of precooked bacon on hers!
Breakfast Pastries: Who doesn't love cinnamon rolls and sticky
buns? Roll out your dough into a large rectangle, spread some softened butter and the filling of your choice over the dough and roll it up. For cinnamon rolls, cut into 1" slices, place in baking pan side by side and let rise. Then bake and top with a vanilla glaze. For sticky buns, make a mixture of brown sugar, melted butter, honey and pecans. Place this filling on the bottom of your baking pan and follow the directions for the cinnamon rolls. When they're done baking, invert the pan onto a large platter so the topping that was on the bottom of the pan coats the buns.
Stay tuned for Part III of the series where I share some of my favorite bread machine recipes.