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Spring into warmer months with a picnic spread made from the heart

(BPT) - This time of year, the urge to go outside increases by the day. There's more sunlight, birds are chirping and, in some lucky parts of the nation, flowers might even be in bloom. What better way to welcome spring than with a picnic prepared from the heart, complete with homemade breads and baked goods made from scratch?

Whether you're celebrating a spring holiday or birthday, looking for a new idea for date night or just want an excuse to relax on a lazy Sunday afternoon, these tips will equip you for a picnic that's sure to please.

Location, location, location

The wonderful thing about picnics is that they can be enjoyed just about anywhere. Whether you want to take in your own backyard, visit a favorite park in your neighborhood or town or escape to a cherished remote spot that is secret to you, picnics allow you to make your meals extra special as you surround yourself in nature.

Spring showers got you down? Prepare for summer by transforming your living room into an indoor picnic space. Lay out a blanket, whip up a delicious spread, pick up some flowers, grab your favorite board games and make a day of it. You'll forget the gray weather in no time.

A cause to celebrate

Warmer temperatures are cause for celebration alone, but when it comes time to show Mom she's special, change up the usual Mother's Day breakfast in bed or brunch plans with an indoor or outdoor brunch picnic, complete with all of her favorite foods. Enjoying fresh flowers and homemade cinnamon rolls or coffee cake while surrounded by her favorite people will make it a day to remember. Plus, who really wants crumbs in their comforter?

Picnics are also a great way to celebrate a spring birthday in the park. Or, for a new twist on your next date night, plan a romantic picnic dinner spread somewhere special, or right out your own back door.

The food: The reason we picnic

Whether a brunch, lunch or dinner picnic, food is always the star of the show; it's the reason to own a picnic basket and the lovely accoutrements. For your next picnic, no matter the occasion, make it a priority to bake something from the heart.

Fleischmann's Yeast can be used for a variety of everyday and seasonal recipes, and can help you plan the perfect picnic. Visit BreadWorld.com for recipe inspiration and tips for beginners and seasoned bakers alike, including pointers like how to save time by making your dough the night before. As your oven works its magic, the smell of made-from-scratch baked goods is sure to get everyone excited to start the picnic party.

Beginner's Frosted Cinnamon Rolls or Strawberries and Cream Coffee Cake make for a wonderful Mother's Day breakfast or brunch. And if you're looking for a staple for any occasion, French Bread is guaranteed to impress your picnic guests. Plus, you'll be joining the ranks of those across the country raving about the health and taste benefits of homemade artisanal bread. So roll up your sleeves and start baking with yeast - it's easier than you might think and the results will add an extra 'wow' factor to your thoughtful picnic spread.

Follow the recipe below to build a delicious foundation for your perfect picnic sandwich.

French Bread

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees F)
2 envelopes Fleischmann's Active Dry Yeast
1 tablespoon Mazola Corn Oil
2 teaspoons salt
5 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
cornmeal
1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Directions

Place water in large, warm bowl. Sprinkle in yeast; stir until dissolved. Stir in oil, salt and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead on floured surface until smooth and elastic, about six to eight minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Punch dough down. On floured surface, divide dough in half; roll to 15x10-inch ovals. Roll up from long ends to make loaves. Pinch seams and ends to seal; taper ends.

Place, seam sides down, on large greased baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover; let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Brush with egg white mixture. With a sharp knife, make four or five diagonal cuts (1/4-inch deep), on top of each loaf. Bake in a preheated 400 degree F oven for 25 minutes, or until done. For crispier crusts, brush two more times with egg white mixture, after 15 and 20 minutes of baking time. Remove from sheet and cool on wire rack.


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