One of Grandma Joyce’s oft-repeated phrases when she was teaching me to cook was, “every recipe is an approximation.” This was her way of saying, “I don’t care what your home economics teacher says, life is too short to ALWAYS sift the flour before you measure.” It also meant, most recipes can be altered, tweaked, and messed with, and that is part of the fun of cooking.
This concept gave me hope. It also helped that Grandma Joyce was a forgiving teacher. She allowed mistakes in the kitchen, since that’s how all good cooks learn. And I “learned” a lot this way–like the time I added a cup of water to the cookie dough instead of a Tablespoon. Like the time I bought a flat of fresh strawberries intending to make jam and ended up with 4 quarts of strawberry syrup instead. Like the time I overcooked the fudge to “hard crack.”
It was Grandma Tanner (mother of Grandma Joyce) who came to my rescue the day I ruined the fudge. In tears, because I had wasted a pan full of expensive ingredients, I retreated to a corner of the living room to sulk. Grandma Tanner gently invited me back into the kitchen where she taught me how to add more milk, more butter, more cream, more cocoa, then carefully cook down the crystals and make a new batch of almost perfect fudge from the ruined batch. I don’t recall how the fudge tasted, but I do remember learning that most mistakes aren’t permanent. And as far as cooking is concerned, some mistakes can be twisted into something delicious.
That brings me to the creation of this recipe. Intended to be a way to use up some of the aforementioned strawberry syrup, this recipe was a failed attempt at strawberry cream cheese rolls, which were a result of my failed attempt at strawberry jam. (It was a long week).
Here, you can see what I mean:
My husband thought something had bled to death on my counter. The only thing left to do was to throw it out, or, Grandma Tanner-like, see if I could resurrect the recipe into something else. At this stage, it was clear that this bread would never hold shape as a loaf, so I simply chopped up the entire roll of dough into small pieces, piled them into a bread pan to raise, and the result was this surprisingly delicious loaf of sweet bread.
And since I never told anyone it was all a mistake, they had no qualms about eating it up. Here’s my recipe. Tweak it all you want.
Cream Cheese Strawberry Bubble Bread
2 Tbsp. instant yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3 cups warm milk (or ¾ cup powdered milk and 3 cups warm water)
4 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
½ c. shortening
1 Cup sugar
About 6-7 cups Bread flour (enough to make a soft dough—all-purpose flour will work. Bread flour produces better results).
Combine all ingredients except flour in a mixer with a dough hook. While beating, add flour one cup at a time JUST until the dough pulls away from the sides and cleans the side of the bowl. Your dough will still look very soft. Do not add too much flour!
Continue to mix dough for 6-8 minutes in the mixer, then dump dough into a large oiled bowl to raise.
Raise, covered, in a warm place for about an hour—until the dough doubles in bulk.
Spread dough onto greased counter and roll into a large rectangle, about 18” x 12”.
Cream Cheese Filling
1 package softened cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp flour
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup strawberry jam or preserves.
Beat the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add flour and egg yolk and mix well. Spread cream mixture over your dough rectangle. Next spread on 1/2 cup of strawberry jam over the top of the cream cheese layer.
Roll entire rectangle up into a jelly roll, then taking a sharp knife, chop roll into one-inch disks, and chop each disk into four quarters. Drop quartered dough sections into a greased loaf pan until pan is at least 1/2 full.
Raise until dough is rounded up softly over the edge of the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 min. or until golden. Remove immediately from pan and drizzle with a little melted white chocolate. Serve warm!