When my Mom made pies, she usually had some leftover scraps of pastry. Not one to waste, she would gather up the scraps and roll them into a large round. She would then lightly brush the pastry with water and sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar and walnuts. Next, she would roll the pastry into a log shape, cut slits in the log, and bake it until golden brown. I always found myself enjoying this pastry more than the pie that she originally set out to make. It was with this pastry in mind that I decided to make these Cinnamon Roll Cookies.
These cookies are very similar to a cookie called Rugelach, only they are in a spiral shape instead of the more common crescent shape. They are made with a Cream Cheese Pastry. This pastry has a slightly tangy flavor with a texture that is so wonderfully tender and flaky. It is also quite elastic which makes it easy to roll out.
Once the pastry is rolled into a rectangle, the next step is the filling. While my Mom always brushed her pastry with water, I decided to use apricot preserves (often used when making Rugelach). The preserves act as a glue so the cinnamon sugar adheres to the pastry, but it also adds flavor. For the nuts, I like to use walnuts, but pecans would also do very nicely. And another idea is to substitute the nuts with raisins or currants. Once that is done, you simply roll the pastry into a log, and chill. Now you can cover and store the log in the refrigerator a day or two before slicing and baking, or you can freeze the whole log for a couple of months. Before baking I like to brush each cookie with a little beaten egg (you could use milk or cream) and then sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a little more cinnamon sugar.
Broiche is part of a group of yeast raised Breakfast Pastries called Viennoiserie. When I took a week long Viennoiserie Class at the San Francisco Baking Institute (SFBI) we made this bread. It is an enriched bread, which means it is made with lots of butter an eggs. This gives it a buttery flavor and a wonderfully light and tender crumb. Brioche has so many uses, both sweet and savory. In this recipe we are making it in loaf form.
A few notes on technique and ingredients. This dough is kneaded for a long time (20 to 25 minutes) which produces a strong dough that cleans your mixing bowl and is silky smooth. If you're new to bread making, I would watch the video as I show you an easy way (the 'window' test) to determine if your dough has been mixed to the correct consistency. After the first fermentation (proofing), I like to refrigerate the dough overnight. This improves the flavor of the Brioche and also makes the dough much easier to work with.
As far as ingredients go, for the yeast, I like to use SAF Gold instant yeast which is used in baked goods that are high in fat and/or sugar. This type of yeast gives a good rise and it doesn't need to be proofed. However, if you want to substitute active dry yeast for instant yeast you need to increase the amount of yeast by about 20%. For the salt I like to use kosher salt. For the butter, I like to use unsalted butter.
I love a good bakery. You know, the kind that has the perfect chocolate chip cookie, or makes their baguettes just the way you like them. Sometimes when I go to the bakery I have a craving for a particular cookie, while other times I simply like to browse the pastry cases until something catches my eye. On a recent trip, one cookie that stood out was these Marble Cookies, also known as Zebra Cookies. It's hard not to notice them with their pretty swirls and lines of vanilla and chocolate batter. They are wonderfully sweet with nice crisp edges, while their centers are soft and chewy. Perfect cookie when you can't decide whether you want a chocolate cookie or a vanilla flavored cookie.
Looking at this cookie, you may think it's hard to make. But it isn't. You start by making one batter, a vanilla batter. Once made, the batter is divided in half and to one half you fold in a little melted chocolate. Next, the two batters are simply kneaded together, just until they are marbled. That's it. Form into a log and refrigerate until firm. Perfect do ahead cookie.
This is a 'slice and bake' cookie, or you may know them as a 'refrigerator' or an 'icebox' cookie. All these names aptly describe this cookie. Because you form the batter into a log and then 'slice and bake' the cookies. And the log needs to be refrigerated (the term icebox refers to an early form of a refrigerator) until firm, before slicing and baking.
There is an excellent bakery in my neighborhood where I go when I want to treat myself to something sweet. One dessert they offer is a Cardamom flavored Crumb Cake. The combination of a moist and dense cake topped with lots and lots of crumbs is delicious. So I decided I needed to make this cake at home. What cake to use was an easy choice, a Yogurt Cake, as it is wonderfully moist and dense which would go so nicely with buttery cardamom flavored crumbs.
In North America, when we think of a Crumb Cake we normally think of using ground cinnamon as the flavoring. Cardamom, though, is another spice that is perfect in this cake. It's flavor and aroma is so wonderfully complex. It's sweet, yet warm and spicy, floral and lemony. It is sold either ground or in seeds (which you will need to grind). For those who would prefer the flavor of ground cinnamon, simply substitute an equal amount of ground cinnamon for the ground cardamom.
The Yogurt Cake has a dense and moist crumb which stands up nicely to the crumb topping. The cake is easy to make as you don't need a stand mixer. The ingredients are simply stirred together. For the yogurt, I normally use whole milk plain yogurt (Greek style) as I like its rich and tangy flavor.
Lemon Ginger Scones combine the fruity citrus flavor of lemon with the warm, sweet, yet spicy flavor of crystallized ginger. And I couldn't resist adding some sliced almonds to this dough. These scones are similar to the Coffeehouse Scone recipe on the site and again, we are using buttermilk, instead of heavy cream to moisten the dough. Buttermilk makes a lighter, more bread-like scone.
A few notes on ingredients. Crystallized ginger is ginger that has been cooked in a sugar syrup and then coated with sugar. You can buy crystallized or candied ginger in small tins or tubs at some grocery stores or specialty grocery stores or in bulk form from health food stores. It will last indefinitely if stored in a cool dry place. Lemon zest is the yellow outer rind of the lemon that contains the fruit's flavor and perfume. To remove the zest I like to use either a box grater or a Microplane Citrus Grater or Rasp. This tool was originally designed as a woodworking tool. The tiny sharp-holed utensil can either be hand held or be a foot long rasp similar to the woodworking tool.
If you are not familiar with buttermilk it has a nice thick creamy texture with a rich tangy buttery taste that makes baked goods tender. Whereas in the past buttermilk was made from the liquid left over after churning butter, it is now commercially made by adding a bacteria to whole, skim, or low fat milk. You can make your own buttermilk though by adding 1 tablespoon of white distilled vinegar, cider vinegar, or lemon juice to 1 cup (240 ml) of milk. Just stir the vinegar into the milk and then let it stand about 10 minutes at room temperature before using.
When I took a Pastry Class at the San Francisco Baking Institute we learned how to make Blitz Puff Pastry, also known as Quick or Rough Puff. This puff pastry is easier to make then the classic (traditional) puff pastry, yet I found the results are very similar. Once you master the technique of Puff Pastry, there are so many things you can make with it, both sweet and savory.
One delicious idea is these Apple Turnovers. Triangles of puff pastry are wrapped around cinnamon laced chunks of apple. My preference is to use Homemade Blitz Puff Pastry to make these turnovers. And there is a recipe and video on the site on how to make it. However, you can use store bought. If buying the frozen puff pastry that comes in a 17 ounce (482 grams) box containing two sheets of frozen puff, simply defrost one sheet of the puff pastry overnight in the refrigerator. Also, this recipe makes 6 Apple Turnovers but you could double the recipe if you want to make 12 Apple Turnovers.
If you're using Homemade Puff Pastry you can freeze the unbaked Turnovers. Once assembled, place the unbaked Turnovers on a parchment paper lined baking sheet in a single layer. Freeze. Then place the turnovers in an airtight container or freezer bag. You can bake the Turnovers frozen, they will just take a few minutes longer to bake.
I love Rice Krispies Treats®. Growing up my Mom made them as an afternoon snack and, following in her tradition, I made them for my kids. Actually Rice Krispies Treats® was one of the first things that my Mom taught me how to bake. They are the perfect recipe for young bakers because they are No Bake, really fast and easy to make, and they use everyday ingredients.
If you love the Classic Rice Krispies Treats®, you will definitely want to try this peanut butter version. Peanut butter is a smooth paste made from roasted peanuts. The peanuts are ground, and then salt, a sweetener, and sometimes a stabilizer (to keep the oil from separating) are added. Now, the ones without the stabilizer are usually labeled "Old-Fashioned" or "Natural" and this type of peanut butter will separate so you will have to stir the peanut butter before using. You can use either type in this recipe.
Marshmallows give these treats their deliciously sweet vanilla flavor. You can use either homemade marshmallows or store bought. If using store bought my preference is the miniature marshmallows, mainly because they melt faster. But it is important to use fresh marshmallows (so check the expiry date on the bag) as they melt so nicely.
I found this Dried Fruit and Nut Loaf recipe at the perfect time. I had just finished the last of my Christmas Fruit Cake and was looking for a similar type of cake to have with my coffee. This loaf fit the bill; a cake with lots of dried fruits (raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dates, figs, prunes, and apricots) and nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, and/or hazelnuts) with just enough batter to hold it all together. What I also love about this cake is that it does not call for butter or even oil, instead, the ingredients are bound together with flour and beaten eggs.
This recipe is adapted from Alice Medrich's cookbook Pure Desserts. It's an excellent recipe and the only change I made was instead of giving exact quantities of each dried fruit and nut, I just give the total amounts. That is, 3 cups (400 grams) of dried fruits and 3 cups (300 grams) of chopped nuts. That way you can vary the dried fruits and nuts to your individual tastes. There are a few things to keep in mind when buying dried fruits. First, try to buy in bulk from a grocery store or natural food store that has a high turnover. Not only will the fruit be fresher, but you can see, smell, and feel, the fruit to make sure it is fresh and of high quality. Pre-packaged fruit can also be excellent but it is harder to tell the quality of the fruit through the plastic bag. Make sure to check the expiration date on the bag. Always look for dried fruit that is plump, moist, and has good color. Never buy fruit that is dried out or moldy. There is a debate about whether to buy 'sulphured' or 'unsulphured' dried fruits. Some like to buy 'sulphured' which means that it has been treated with a sulphur dioxide solution. This preserves the fruit's bright color and makes the fruit very soft and moist. Of course, 'unsulphured' means it has not been treated before it is dried and some say the flavor of untreated dried fruits is far superior.
I've been making these Mushroom Turnovers since the early 1980s. That is when I found this recipe in a women's magazine. I used to just serve them as an appetizer, but now I like them for lunch or supper with a tossed salad.
Mushroom Turnovers are half moon shaped pastries, made with a cream cheese dough. I like that this pastry uses just three ingredients (cream cheese, butter, and flour), and it's quite elastic which makes it easy to roll out. I also like its tangy flavor and how its texture is so wonderfully tender and flaky.
For the Mushroom Filling I did modernize the original recipe. When this recipe first appeared the only mushrooms I could find in the grocery store were white button mushrooms. That is not the case today. So while I still use white button mushrooms, I also added some Portobello Mushrooms. Another change I sometimes make is to replace the sour cream with an equal amount of crumbled goat cheese.
Mushroom Turnovers freeze very well. All you have to do is to place the unbaked turnovers on a baking sheet in a single layer. Freeze. Then place the turnovers in an airtight container and freeze for up to two months. To bake, place the frozen turnovers on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake. You may need to bake the frozen turnovers a few minutes longer than stated in the recipe.
Stollen is a buttery rich and dense German Christmas Fruit Cake/Bread. It has a long history and some say its oval shape is said to symbolize Baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes. The ridge on the top of the Stollen is said to represent the hump on the back of a camel, which the Wise Men rode, carrying gifts to Baby Jesus. And the bright candied fruit is said to represent the jewels that the Wise Men wore.
Stollen is a flavorful yeast bread. It contains dried fruit, candied fruit peel, citrus zest, nuts, and ground spices. It may or may not contain marzipan. Once baked the Stollen is brushed with melted or clarified butter and dipped in granulated white sugar. After it has completely cooled, the bread is dusted with powdered sugar. After a few days, the sugar coating dries to form a sugary crust. The sugar coating has the added bonus of keeping the bread from drying out.
As far as ingredients go, for the yeast, I like to use SAF Gold instant yeast which is used in sweet baked goods that are high in fat and/or sugar. This type of yeast gives a good rise and it doesn't need to be proofed. However, you can substitute active dry yeast for instant yeast, by increasing the amount of yeast by about 30%. You also need to first activate the active dry yeast using the milk in the recipe. Warm the milk to lukewarm and then add the active dry yeast and let sit about 5-10 minutes or until the mixture becomes foamy. For the salt I like to use kosher salt. The recipe also calls for dry malt (diastatic) powder which breaks down the starch which gives sugar for the yeast to feed on. Malt powder also aids in browning. However, if you can't find it, you can just leave it out. For the butter in this dough, and I like to use unsalted butter.