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Thursday, September 23, 2010

When allergies attack

In the fall, many people experience allergies to ragweed. According to Cornell University’s Allergy Foundation, pollen from ragweed can cause hay fever and is considered to be the greatest allergen of all pollens. What about the ragweed is so terrible?

Ragweed pollen travels by air, and with the help of Illinois gusts can travel up to 400 miles away! Even worse, a single plant can produce up to a billion grains of pollen.

Is relief in sight? As long as the temperatures stay this nice, then we will be needing our Claritin (remember, it must stay at a constant level to be active, so take it every day!). Pollen count is the highest in the mornings, but rain or low morning temperatures will help slow pollen release. When will it end? After the first frost, because the frost will kill the plant.

What if you don’t want to try medication? Go to the local farmer’s market and pick up some honey. Local honey comes from local flowers. Consuming small amounts of local pollen will help increase your immunity to certain allergens. Here’s a great honey-inspired breakfast from the Food Network! The dough needs to sit overnight, so this recipe takes some prep.

Dough:

* 1 cup water
* 3 cups bread flour
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened at room temperature
* 1/4 cup powdered milk
* 5 teaspoons sugar
* 1 ounce fresh yeast (or 2 1/4-ounce packets dry yeast)
* 1 3/4 teaspoons salt

Honey Schmear:

* 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
* 2 tablespoons honey
* 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1 tablespoon water

Bun Finish:

* 1/2 cup sugar
* 2 teaspoons cinnamon
* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
* 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
* 1/4 cup milk

Dough: In a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine all the ingredients for the dough. Mix at low speed for 2 minutes, then increase the speed to medium and mix for another 6 minutes. To test if the dough is ready, stretch a small piece of dough between your hands into a thin sheet and hold it up to the light. If you see a web-like pattern, the dough is developed; the webs are the strands of gluten. If you do not see them, mix the dough at medium speed 2 minutes more, then test again. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and refrigerate at least 2 hours or over night.

Honey Schmear: In a mixer, mix the brown sugar, butter, honey, corn syrup and cinnamon until smooth. Add the water and mix until smooth, adding more water as needed to make the mixture spreadable.

Bun Finish: Butter 10 cups of a large muffin tin. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the honey schmear into the bottom of each cup. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 10-by-10-inch square about 1/4- inch thick. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Using your hands, firmly roll up the dough like a jellyroll. Transfer to a sheet pan and refrigerate 30 minutes. Using a sharp knife or a taut length of dental floss, cut the dough into 10 slices, each about 1 inch thick. Place one slice (on its cut side) in each muffin cup. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until they reach the rim of the pan, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (Or, cover and let rise in the refrigerator overnight.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Let the buns cool in the pan for 2 minutes, then flip the pan over onto the sheet pan. Carefully lift off the muffin pan, leaving the buns and toppings on the sheet pan. Let cool. Meanwhile mix together the powdered sugar and milk to make a glaze. With a spoon drizzle the glaze over the top of the buns.

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