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I love cheesecake, and often in the summer I turn to the no-bake variety. On blazing hot days it’s nice to keep the oven off, and while the texture of a no-bake cheesecake isn’t completely authentic, it’s still so dang good. This white chocolate cheesecake is from Nigella Lawson’s latest book, At My Table. I’m happy to report it’s delicious. I added a sour cherry swirl and love how the white chocolate and cherry compliment each other here. Looking for something more fancy? Try Crème Fraîche Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache and Mint Meringue. Or try Frangelico Cheesecake with Cacao Nib Crust.

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There’s something in baking that plays into our desire for transformation, because it is much more alchemical, and that’s a beautiful thing. I think also, that no one needs a cake. But that’s what makes it special and wonderful and a treat. – Nigella Lawson

I first discovered Nigella Lawson at the library. I had just started baking at Bordertown Coffee, and was working solo in the kitchen, 50-60 hours a week. I had some experience under my belt, but was now in charge of it all: opening the kitchen, baking everything we sold for the day, washing all the dishes I used plus anything the counter staff couldn’t get to, jumping in on the counter when it got crazy busy, and keeping the bake case interesting so people would return the following day. At the time I had no extra money for purchasing cookbooks, so I would make weekly trips to the library and check out every single baking book they had, then request dozens more to pick up the following week. I’d make my way home and then fall into bed; my feet throbbing and my legs aching, and read through hundreds of recipes, making mental notes of cookies and cakes and bars and breads I wanted to try, or adapt, at the store.

One of the books I checked out frequently was Lawson’s How to Be a Domestic Goddess. I was drawn immediately to the black cover and the cupcake on front, and Lawson’s well-written, evocative headnotes and her philosophy on baking and cooking held my interest. I made so many things from those pages: Snickerdoodles, Baklava Muffins, Rhubarb Tart, Chocolate Loaf Cake, Chocolate Cheesecake, Peanut Butter Squares, and Espresso Cupcakes, just to name a few.

The trouble with much modern cooking is not that the food it produces isn’t good, but that the mood it induces in the cook is one of the skin-of-the-teeth efficiency, all briskness and little pleasure. Sometimes that’s the best we can manage, but at other times we don’t want to feel like a postmodern, postfeminist, overstretched woman but, rather, a domestic goddess, trailing nutmeggy fumes of baking pie in our languorous wake. 

Years later, now baking from home, I still find Ms. Lawson’s books a joy to read. I’ve started my own little cookbook library, and have a number of her titles on my shelf, frequently in use. How to Be a Domestic Goddess remains a favorite, as well as How to Eat. I was recently sent her latest book, At My Table, and have been enjoying it as well; next up on my list to bake is Chocolate Olive Mousse, Apple Gingerjack, and Passionfruit Ice Cream Cake.

I cook, as you do, to feed myself, my family, my friends. A home cook is not a lesser being than a chef, though a markedly different one. I hate hearing people describe themselves as “just” a home cook. We may not have the technical proficiency of a chef, but why should this matter? We cook to bring pleasure, comfort, and flavor to life, to the table. This is not to say we operate in bumbling chaos, although I have learned over the years that I need a certain amount of this. In a sense, a recipe is a way of finding order in the mess of life. It’s a guide, something to hold on to. -Nigella Lawson, At My Table

(Almost) No Bake White Chocolate Cheesecake with Sour Cherry Swirl
Adapted from At My Table by Nigella Lawson

I used store bought sour cherry jam here; you could use any flavor you like. If you don’t want to do the jam swirls, the cheesecake will be delicious without it. Nigella notes the cake can also be “partyfied by a sprinkling of chopped pistachios and a jewel-bright scattering of pomegranate seeds.”

I strayed from the original recipe a little bit: I used a graham cracker crust instead of a gingersnap crust, added some salt, and a tiny bit of sugar.

Crust
2 cups (200g) graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup (50g) sugar
5 tablespoons (72g) unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake
7 ounces (198g) good quality white chocolate, roughly chopped
12 ounces (339g) cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 cup sour cherry jam

For the crust
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 325F.

Put the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl and whisk. Pour the melted butter over the top and stir with a spatula until combined. Press the mixture into a 9-inch springform pan and bake 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

For the cheesecake
Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of boiling water, being careful not to let the water touch the bottom of the bowl, and stir constantly until just melted. Let the chocolate cool until the chocolate remains liquid but is cooled to room temperature, about 10 minutes.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the cream cheese on high until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla and beat on medium until light and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the white chocolate and mix on low until just combined. Use a spatula to finish stirring the white chocolate into the cream cheese, making sure it is totally combined. Transfer the cream cheese mixture to a large bowl and set aside. Clean the mixing bowl if you have only one.

In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the cream (in the clean bowl) on low for 30-45 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and continue beating 30-45 seconds. Increase the speed to high and continue beating until stiff peaks form, 30-60 seconds.

With a rubber spatula, stir about one-third of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture and fold until completely combined. Add the remaining whipped cream and fold until combined and no streaks remain.

Scrape the filling over the cooled crust and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Decorated the top with jam swirls (see below). Refrigerate the cheesecake until firm, about 4 hours or up to 1 day.

For the jam swirls
Combine the jam and 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan. Warm over low heat until the jam is loose. Let the mixture cool a bit. Drop the jam in circles over the top of the cheesecake and use a skewer or knife to drag it through the top of the cheesecake, making swirls.

The post (almost) no bake white chocolate cheesecake with sour cherry swirl appeared first on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

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Banana bread has always been a favorite, but banana muffins come in a close second. I have been playing around with my soufflé molds again, as well as my favorite muffin recipe. I came up with Banana Poppyseed Muffins with Hazelnut Streusel, a combination of flavors that work well together, and the muffins bake up tall and elegant in the molds (if you don’t have soufflé molds, see below on other ways to make them.) If you are looking for something fancier, you could try this Banana Layer Cake. If you want something easy, try this Banana Chocolate Bundt Cake.

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“We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.”
-Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

Twenty-three years ago, my two-year old cousin, Maxwell, died on the 4th of July. Some years the memory of that day is hazy and seems far away from me, others, like this year, the memory is vivid. There are particulars of the day I always recall: the phone call from my dad, my sister unconsolable out on the deck, telling my Aunt everything was going to be okay, and her looking me straight in the eyes with a reply I couldn’t yet process. “No, it’s not.” I remember the funeral, and my seven-year-old brother leaning on my shoulder, his cries echoing through the church. I remember how I missed Maxwell’s last birthday party, a month before he died, because I wanted to hang out with a cute boy. I remember his little, chubby arms that would wrap around my neck, and how he’d laugh and laugh when I stuck my tongue out at him. I remember his lovely, blue eyes.

I found myself making banana muffins this week as the memories came back; the grief coming in waves, over days this year. The night before the 4th I felt sheer panic as I tried to fall asleep, details of the death flooding my mind. I got up at midnight to check on my children, to hold their hands for a few minutes while they slept, to watch them breathe. The breath of life is simple, it’s in and out, and in again. I got up the next morning and made muffins. It dawned on me later the why; yes, baking is always comforting to me, but baking with bananas even more so. As I stood in my kitchen, scooping the batter into the tins, I thought of how my parent’s kitchen always had bananas on the counter, at all different stages of ripeness. My dad would eat them daily, he loved them borderline green. I remember how he taught me to peel them so I wouldn’t smush the top of the banana. My mother would always take the neglected bananas: the speckled ones, the brown and black ones, and use them to make banana bread. The scent of the bread would fill the house all afternoon as the bread baked and then cooled. She’d slather butter on her warm slice while us kids just dived in and ate it plain.

I thought of all my late nights working and chatting with Larry at the Blue Heron Coffeehouse, he and Colleen were my family away from home during my college years. Larry was always making banana bread in the evenings for the next day (and later I carried on the tradition), always working so hard to make his coffeehouse business work. As he mashed bananas and mixed batter he often took time to talk with me, give me good council whether I wanted it or not. Sometimes he would cut a piece of the warm banana bread and send it home with me, wrapped up in a piece of parchment paper. I would nibble on it as I walked in the dark, the baked banana scent mingling with the fragrance of lilac trees that lined the streets to my apartment.

I thought of the hundreds upon hundreds of loaves of banana bread I’ve made over the years, the dozens and dozens of banana muffins, and all the banana pound cakes and layer cakes. I thought of the customers who came daily into the shops I baked in, grateful for a bake case sprinkled with different kinds of banana treats. In my own home, as the muffins rose in the oven, their streusel-laced tops peeking out over their molds, I knew the scent would also bring my children comfort. They would sigh with pleasure as the muffins were cooling on the wire racks. I knew for one minute a bite would give me momentary peace. But I also knew it wasn’t enough; it would never be enough. Did Maxwell ever even try banana bread? Did he ever associate the smell of  bananas baking in sugar with family and warmth? I didn’t know; I’ll never know.

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I offer my kids each a half of a muffin, and they slather their warm pieces with salted butter; I still eat mine plain. We all take a bite, their thoughts drifting only to the lovely. My heart is filled with both present and past, both sadness and joy. We are still and silent, and the feeling is familiar. Suddenly in my mind I see a church; I am at my first communion. I walk in a line to the front with all the other children, feeling nervous as the minister hands me the wine and the bread. There is a strange silence that falls heavy over me, almost like a cloak, as I take a bite, take a sip. We all walk back in a line and sit in the front pews. But now I hear the cries of my brother echoing here, my mind quickly jumps through the years. His head is on my shoulder again, and my grief is beyond tears. But the stillness, the strange silence, still lingers as I put my arm around him and hold him close. It hangs around even as I hear a small voice break through my thoughts. “Another half, please?” my son asks. I feel my feet on the kitchen floor, my hand is on the counter. The moment has passed. I smile at my son, breaking what is left of my muffin in two, and offer him what I have left to give.

I think I am beginning to understand why grief feels like suspense. It comes from the frustration of so many impulses that had become habitual. Thought after thought, feeling after feeling, action after action, had H. for their object. Now their target is gone. I keep on through habit fitting an arrow to the string; then I remember and have to lay the bow down. So many roads lead thought to H. I set out on one of them. But now there’s an impassable frontier—post across it. So many roads once; now so many culs de sac. – C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (“H” is his wife, Helen Joy)

Banana Poppyseed Muffins with Hazelnut Streusel
I’ve made the rolls in individual soufflé molds, specifically, these 3 x 2-inch copper mini molds from Mauviel. If you do not have soufflé molds, you could use ramekins instead, just make sure they are roughly the same size. The molds I used have straight 2-inch sides, which helps give the muffins their tall shape. If using muffin tins, see baking directions for details. I used Bob’s Red Mill Hazelnut Flour, and found it in my local grocery store in the baking/specialty flour section.

2 1/2 cups (355g) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons poppyseeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 bananas)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup canola oil
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup banana, diced into bite-sized pieces (about 1 banana)

Hazelnut Streusel
2/3 cup (94g) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (66g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (66g) brown sugar
1/2 cup (50g) hazelnut flour (very finely chopped hazelnuts will work here, too)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 6 pieces

For the muffins
Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position. Preheat the oven to 375F. Butter eight 3 x 2-inch soufflé molds (see note above about soufflé mold specifics) and line the bottom of each mold with parchment paper. Place the molds on a baking sheet. (If using regular muffin tins, place liners in two standard 12-cup muffin tins. You want to fill the tins about 3/4 of the way full, and will get about 13-14 muffins. The baking time will be shorter.)

Whisk the flour, sugar, poppyseeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center.

In a large bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the mashed banana, sour cream, milk, butter, oil, egg, and vanilla until completely combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the well in the dry ingredients and mix gently until almost combined. Fold in the diced banana pieces until just incorporated, being careful not to overwork the batter (the batter should not be completely smooth; there should still be some visible lumps and bumps.)

Scoop the batter into the prepared molds. Sprinkle the tops generously with the hazelnut streusel (you may have some left over). Bake 15-20 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (if baking in regular muffin tins, the baking time will be shorter). Move the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool, and when the molds are cool enough to handle, carefully remove the muffins from each one.

For the streusel
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the all-purpose flour, sugars, hazelnut flour, salt, and cinnamon on low. With the mixer on low, add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture comes together but still is quite crumbly. Streusel can be held in the refrigerator for 24 hours, or frozen for up to one month.

The post banana poppyseed muffins with hazelnut streusel appeared first on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

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I made a similar cake over on Handmade Charlotte last week, and then decided to try it again, this time with 3 layers of cake for a slightly ‘fancier’ presentation. It was a win – the cake layers are thin (which I prefer on a shortcake), are made of cake instead of biscuit-like (which I also prefer), and are piled with cream cheese whipped cream and strawberries. I think I will be making it again for the 4th of July. If you’re looking for something fancier, you could try this Buttermilk Cake with Strawberry Buttercream. If you want something even easier, you can try this Strawberry Buttermilk Cake.

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Last night I got to see Jeremy Enigk play here in Minneapolis – it was the 20th anniversary of his album, The Return of the Frog Queen, and he played it through from start to finish. It was a beautiful night of music.

With the full knowledge that this sentence will sound completely cheesy, Mr. Enigk’s music has been a huge part of my life’s soundtrack for the last 20 years. I first discovered his voice in college. I had a terrible crush on a boy in my dorm who lived exactly two floors beneath me. We met shortly before my freshman year was over, on the day after he broke up with his long-time girlfriend. He was nursing a broken heart; I’d catch him starring at her photograph still hanging up above his desk while we chatted or played chess together (I wasn’t really that into chess but knew how to play, and we spent a lot of time together playing the game). He always had music on while we hung out – he was way into 90’s emo (which is very different that 2000’s emo, the emo your mind probably leapt to upon hearing the word. 90’s emo is post-punk and 2000’s emo is what I like to call “cry-baby emo”. But I digress.) Most of the music he listened to was screamo-emo (exactly what you’d imagine: a singer screaming words that can’t be understood over loud, loud rock music that sounds very chaotic) and I was not into it (although I pretended it was fine for the sake of hanging out), but one day he put on an album I hadn’t heard and yet and was instantly smitten by the voice singing. It was so melodic and rough, lovely and bitter at the same time. “Who is this?” I asked immediately. “Sunny Day Real Estate,” my crush replied, glancing up again at the photograph of his ex-girlfriend. I sighed as I wrote down the name of the band, and then went out later that week and bought the CD.

Sunny Day Real Estate had broken up when I discovered them, but they had two albums, and Jeremy Enigk had one solo album, so I had quite a few songs to listen to. I devoured their music, for the sole reason of listening to Jeremy’s voice. He broke my heart, then mended it with each note sang. The songs were with me often: when me and the boy mentioned above starting dating, and then again when we broke up. They were there when my roommate let me borrow her car and I’d drive up and down Highway 61, singing my heart out as I passed the bluffs of Winona. They played late Saturday nights when I closed down the coffeehouse, mopping floors and washing dishes. They kept playing when the boy and I got back together, when we drove hours to see Sunny Day play live – they had gotten back together, too – and when we held hands at the show and I knew he was the one.

So it was magic to see Mr. Enigk perform last night. We stood right in front of the stage at the tiny bar and sang hearts out once again. I stood nestled between the boy I’ve loved for so long, and dear friends who I have been through so much with, and the beauty of the music, the songs we’ve sung again and again, washed over us. It was the “joy like swords” Tolkien talks of; our hearts wounded and wrecked with the words and melodies that have been a backdrop to us for so long.

***If you’re interested, you can check out Jeremy Enigk’s music here.
You can also watch his live performance on radio KEXP here. It’s gorgeous. ***


Three Layer Strawberry Shortcake Cake
This recipe is adapted from my cookbook, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book.

A few notes: If you need a visual on cutting the cake, I have one here over on Handmade Charlotte. Flipping the cake out of the sheet pan can be a little tricky/scary. Just go slow, and use the parchment paper underneath to help you sort of lift it out. If it does crack in the center, the cake can still be cut into three pieces, just hide the broken parts in the middle layer when stacking the cake. I usually make the cake the day before, wrap it in plastic in the pan once it’s cooled, and then freeze it overnight. I let it thaw a little before flipping it out.

I don’t have super precise measurements for the strawberries – I had two pounds of berries to be safe, and used about 1 1/2 pounds. I put some sliced berries on the sides to try and make it look a little more polished, but if that sounds too tedious you can just fill the laters with chopped berries and not bother with it (as in the directions).

Cake
3 large eggs
2 eggs yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup creme fraiche (sour cream will also work)
1/2 whole milk
2 cups (284g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (297g) granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks | 227g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces

Filling
8 ounces (226g) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream
2 pounds (900g) strawberries, give or take,  chopped into bite-sized pieces (see directions below)

For the cake
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Butter and flour a half sheet pan (12 x 16 inches, with a 1-inch rim) and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper.

In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, creme fraiche, and milk.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low until combined. With the mixer running on low, add the butter one piece at a time, beating until the mixture resembles coarse sand. With the mixer still running on low, slowly add half the wet ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. With the mixer running on low, add the rest of the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 20 seconds (the batter may still look a little bumpy). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and use a spatula to mix the batter a few more times.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Tap the pan gently on the counter 2 or 3 times to help get rid of any bubbles. Bake 15-18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the cake is golden brown and pulls slightly away from the sides and a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes. Carefully turn the cake out onto a large piece of parchment paper, remove the other parchment paper from the bottom of the pan, and let cool completely. Cake can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated overnight, or frozen for up to 1 week.

For the filling
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the cream cheese on medium until smooth. Add the sugar, vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds (if using), and salt and beat on medium until smooth and light, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and fit the mixer with a whisk. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the heavy cream, whisking until fully combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary, 2-3 minutes.

To assemble the cake
Cut the sheet cake into three equal pieces (I trimmed my cake to be 15-inches wide, and then cut each piece into 5-inch wide pieces. If you need a visual, I have a how to here on Handmade Charlotte). Place one piece on a serving plate. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with about 1/3 of the filling, then fill the centers with chopped berries so the whipped cream is covered (I just scattered a bunch across the top, but it was about 1 cup berries). Place the second layer of cake on top (if you have any broken cake pieces, fit them in here), and repeat with the filling and berries. Put the third piece of cake on top and spread the last 1/3 of filling evenly on the top of the cake. Decorate with more strawberries if desired. For best results cutting the cake, chill the cake for 2 hours before serving/cutting. If you’re okay with it being a little more messy, dive in immediately. Cake can be held in the fridge for 2 hours before serving; the strawberries will start to leak out their juices and make things soggy if held much longer than that.

The post strawberry shortcake cake, in three layers appeared first on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

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I promised another bun recipe for you, and here it is: Morning Buns. Unlike the Cinnamon Bun recipe I just posted, this one uses a quick Danish dough, which gives each roll buttery, flaky layers. I based the filling off the famous Tartine morning bun filling – I recently went to San Fransisco for the first time ever, and got to visit Tartine and try their famous morning buns (which I am still dreaming about). The buns are then coated in a cream cheese-orange icing, which brings out the orange flavor inside the filling, and also helps keep the centers tender and gooey. I can’t decide if I prefer these or the Cinnamon Buns better, but maybe I don’t have to choose.

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Where the sweet fields do lie forgot,
Where willing Nature does to all dispense
A wild and fragrant innocence;
And fauns and fairies do the meadows till
More by their presence than their skill
Their statues polished by some ancient hand
May to adorn the garden stand
But, howsoe’er the figures do excel,
The god themselves with us do dwell.
-Andrew Marvell, The Mower Against the Gardens

Summer is upon us, and I admit happily that I am enjoying the leisurely approach to life. There are no alarm clocks waking us before the sun, no lunches to pack, no children complaining about homework. I still have plenty of work to do, but somehow the days seem longer and sweeter without school in the mix. We have spent a lot of our days reading: I am a big advocate of books before screens, and am determined to make my children into bookworms. So far, so good. Currently I am reading the Harry Potter series out loud to my kids, and we just finished The Goblet of Fire (with a four hour marathon reading session today, and I may not be able to talk for a week). I haven’t been able to settle on a book for myself – I keep starting and stopping books, losing interest quickly (so if you have any summer reading recommendations for me, I’d love to hear them!). My daughter is also starting the The Nancy Drew series, which makes me incredibly happy, as I also started reading them at her age.

A few other things:
*Molly was kind enough to mention my cookbook in her Home & Kitchen Essentials article on Apartment Therapy.  Also, her new show debuted today on the Food Network!

*I really wish I could attend Yossy’s Fall Cooking workshop in Greece. Dang.

*Last week I spoke about my chocolate chip cookie recipe going viral at the Cherry Bombe Radio event here in Minneapolis. Mpls. St. Paul Magazine reprinted what I had to say on their website, if you want to read it.

Morning Buns
Danish dough recipe from my book, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book.
Filling adapted from Tartine Bakery

I’ve made the rolls in individual soufflé molds, specifically, these 3 x 2-inch copper mini molds from Mauviel. If you do not have soufflé molds, you could use ramekins instead, just make sure they are roughly the same size. The molds I used have straight 2-inch sides, which helps give the rolls their tall shape. The sides of the pans are buttered and then dusted with sugar, which caramelizes the sides of the buns, making for an incredible roll. As much as I like soft, gooey cinnamon buns, this version is currently my favorite way to partake.

The one downside to the copper molds is that they are crazy hot when they come out of the oven, which can make it a little tricky to get them out. I use a kitchen towel and wrap it around the base of the copper mold, then run a knife carefully around each roll, and flip them onto a wire rack. Make sure to line the bottom of each mold with parchment paper as noted in the instructions, or the buns will stick to the bottom and it will be extra hard to get them out.

Easy Danish Dough
Notes: The dough does need to rest overnight in the refrigerator, so plan accordingly. It’s important for the Danish dough to come to room temperature before you roll it out, or the butter will not incorporate correctly. This dough can be frozen, but doesn’t rise quite as nicely as when it’s fresh. If the dough is not used right away after being out and turned, it will puff up in the refrigerator. This will make it a little harder to roll out, but you will still have good results.

3/4 cup whole milk, warm (100-110F)
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups (355g) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick | 57g) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks | 170g) unsalted butter, cold, cut in 1/2-inch pieces

Filling
½ cup (99g) granulated sugar
½ cup (99g) brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
Zest of 2 oranges
Pinch salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

Icing
2 ounces cream cheese
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons orange juice
2 cups (226g) confectioner’s sugar

For the easy Danish dough
Grease a large bowl.

In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the milk, egg, yolks, and vanilla.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt on low. Add the room temperature butter and mix on low until it is incorporated into the flour and no pieces are visible. Add the cold butter and mix on low, until it is broken down and smashed a bit, but still in 1/2-inch pieces. Add the milk mixture and mix on low until combined. The dough will be very sticky and there will be visible lumps of butter. Using a spatula, scrape the dough into the prepared bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or up to 3 days.

The next morning, transfer the dough to a well-floured work surface. Knead 10-12 times, until the dough forms a ball. Cover the top lightly with flour and cover with a tea towel, let rest until it comes to room temperature. Pat the dough into a 6-inch square and roll into a 16 by 20-inch rectangle. If the dough sticks at all, sprinkle more flour underneath it. Brush any excess flour off the dough, and, using a bench scraper, fold the short ends of the dough over the middle to made three layers, similar to a business letter. This is the first turn.

Flip the dough over (seam side down) and roll into an 8 x 16-inch rectangle. Fold the short ends over the middle, business letter style. Repeat the steps again, for a total of four turns.

On the last turn, gently use the rolling pin to compress the layers together slightly. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour before using or keep refrigerated for 2 days.

To assemble
Butter ten 3 x 2-inch soufflé molds (see note above about soufflé mold specifics). Line the bottom of each mold with parchment paper, and then generously coat with granulated sugar, tapping out any excess. Place the molds on a baking sheet.

In a small bowl, mix together the sugars, cinnamon, orange zest, and salt.

Roll the dough into a 16 x 12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the top, pressing it lightly into the butter so it adheres. Starting at the long side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Pinch the seam gently to seal it and position the dough seam side down. Use a scissors or a sharp knife to cut the dough into 10 equal pieces. Transfer the pieces to the prepared pans and place them cut side up. Cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Adjust the oven rack to the middle lower position. Preheat the oven to 375F.

Remove the plastic and bake 22 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the rolls are golden brown. While the rolls are baking prepare the icing.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the rolls cool for a few minutes. Use a kitchen towel or oven mitts to pick up each soufflé mold, then run a knife carefully around the edges of the pan, and flip the roll onto a wire rack. Carefully put the roll right side up, and repeat with the remaining rolls. Let cool for 5 minutes, then place a piece of parchment paper under the wire rack. Pour the icing over each roll. Serve warm.

For the icing
Place the cream cheese in a small bowl. Add the salt, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons orange juice and mix until smooth. Add the confectioner’s sugar and mix until combined, adding more orange juice if needed, until the desired consistency is reached.

The post morning buns appeared first on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

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I had a lot of people asking about these cinnamon buns on Instagram, and so I’m finally delivering with a recipe. This cinnamon roll recipe is adapted from my book but made a bit different: I’ve baked them in mini soufflé pans from Mauviel. I am really happy with how they turned out – the pans held the dough’s shape nicely, and pushed the buns up to be extra tall. The soufflé pans also help caramelize the sides of the buns while keeping the center tender, and this, in my humble opinion, makes them absolutely perfect. I have a few other recipes coming that involve these pans, and will try to get them up this next week.

**********************************

You have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
-Warsan Shire, Home

I read Warsan Shire‘s poem, Home this week. I think it is an important read, and you can read it in full here. I also just discovered the work of Joya Logue, and love her watercolors. This particular picture strikes a chord with me, and I have seen it paired with Shire’s poem quite a few times on Instagram the last day or two. As my children are home for summer break and we have the leisure to spend our days together reading and swimming and baking and being, I find my mind drawn constantly to those families that have been separated from one another. I can’t imagine how terrifying it would be to not know where children, and not sure if I would ever find them again. People are not statistics. Families Belong Together.

If you are concerned about what is currently happening at our borders, or if you are confused about what exactly is happening and why so many people are highlighting it, I have some links here for you. First of all, knowing exactly what asylum is and why people are seeking it is important. The American Immigration Council has a page here detailing everything you need to know, and explains the process people go through once they reach our borders. You can read about that here. If you are curious about how the process has changed in the last few months (it has become harder to seek asylum), American Voice has an overview on the policies that have shifted. You can read about that here. Also, read this NPR piece on where the children go once they are taken from their parents. The New York Times has a great piece on Fact-Checking the Trump Administration’s Case For Child Separation at the Border. A google search of “who is speaking out against border policies” will bring up hundreds of hits – CEO’s, evangelical pastors, first ladies, the Pope, celebrities… so many people. I don’t bring this up to name drop, simply to say many people who often disagree on other issues are speaking up to say this policy is wrong.

My overall advice to you here is to read, fact check, and learn about what is going on.  People are not statistics.

If you’d like to contact your representatives about what is happening, you can find phone numbers and contact here. Resistbot is another great way to contact your local representatives, and you can find their webpage here. Don’t be afraid to use your voice, for this issue or any that is important to you! I’ve found the more I call, the easier it is each time. This website also has scripts that can help with calling.

Also, I know that this is a food blog and many of my readers have different political opinions. I think what is currently happening to families at my own country’s borders is inhumane, and important enough to bring attention to here. To quote the late Anthony Bourdain, “People are not statistics. There’s nothing more political than food…who eats? Who doesn’t? Why do people cook what they cook? It is always the end or a part of a long story, often a painful one.”

People are not a means to an end, people are the end.
Love your neighbor as yourself.

I choose to raise my voice to help reunite families.

A few other things (that seem trite after the above):

*My site got a little make over! I’m really happy with how it turned out, and I have to give a shout out to Alex from A Couple Cooks for all his help (and if you are looking for someone to help with your site, I highly recommend him!).

*A few months ago my site got hacked and someone signed thousands of people up for my email newsletter. My mailing list now should reflect those who want to be on there, but if you find you are not getting my emails anymore and would like to be, you can sign up on the side bar.

*Last week I spoke about my chocolate chip cookie recipe going viral at the Cherry Bombe Radio event here in Minneapolis. Mpls. St. Paul Magazine reprinted what I had to say on their website, if you want to read it.

*Molly’s new show starts this weekend on the Food Network! I can’t wait to watch.

Cinnamon Rolls
Recipe adapted from my book, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book.

I also have a recipe for brioche cinnamon rolls here if that is more up your alley.

I’ve made the rolls in individual soufflé molds, specifically, these 3 x 2-inch copper mini molds from Mauviel. If you do not have soufflé molds, you could use ramekins instead, just make sure they are roughly the same size. The molds I used have straight 2-inch sides, which helps give the rolls their tall shape. The sides of the pans are buttered and then dusted with sugar, which caramelizes the sides of the buns, making for an incredible roll. As much as I like soft, gooey cinnamon buns, this version is currently my favorite way to partake.

The one downside to the copper molds is that they are crazy hot when they come out of the oven, which can make it a little tricky to get them out. I use a kitchen towel and wrap it around the base of the copper mold, then run a knife carefully around each roll, and flip them onto a wire rack. Make sure to line the bottom of each mold with parchment paper as noted in the instructions, or the buns will stick to the bottom and it will be extra hard to get them out.

Dough
4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup whole milk, warm (100-110F)
1/4 cup honey
4 cups (568g) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks | 142g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces

Filling
3/4 cup (149g) brown sugar
1 tablespoons ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Icing
2 ounces cream cheese
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons water
2 cups (226g) confectioner’s sugar

For the dough
Grease a large bowl.

In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the eggs, milk, and honey.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour, yeast, and salt and stir on low to combine. Add the egg mixture and mix on low to combine. With the mixer on low, add the butter, one piece at a time. When all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium and beat the butter into the dough, until all the little butter pieces are incorporated, 1 minute. Transfer the dough to the prepared bowl. The dough will be very sticky and you will need a spatula to scrape the dough into the bowl.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Place your fingers or a spatula underneath the dough and gently pull the dough up and fold it back over itself. Turn the bowl and repeat this folding again. Continue 6 to 8 more times, until all the dough has been folded over on itself. Re-cover the bowl with plastic and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat this series of folding 3 more times, for a rise time of 2 hours and a total of 4 foldings. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 72 hours.

For the filling
In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

To assemble
Butter ten 3 x 2-inch soufflé molds (see note above about soufflé mold specifics). Line the bottom of each mold with parchment paper, and then generously coat with granulated sugar, tapping out any excess. Place the molds on a baking sheet.

Roll the dough into a 16 x 12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the top, pressing it lightly into the butter so it adheres. Starting at the long side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Pinch the seam gently to seal it and position the dough seam side down. Use a scissors or a sharp knife to cut the dough into 10 equal pieces. Transfer the pieces to the prepared pans and place them cut side up. Cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Adjust the oven rack to the middle lower position. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Remove the plastic and bake 22 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the rolls are golden brown. While the rolls are baking prepare the icing.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the rolls cool for a few minutes. Use a kitchen towel or oven mitts to pick up the each soufflé mold, then run a knife carefully around the edges of the pan, and flip the roll onto a wire rack. Carefully put the roll right side up, and repeat with the remaining rolls. Let cool for 5 minutes, then place a piece of parchment paper under the wire rack. Pour the icing over each roll. Serve warm.

For the icing
Place the cream cheese in a small bowl. Add the salt, vanilla, and water and mix until smooth. Add the confectioner’s sugar and mix until combined, adding more water if needed, until the desired consistency is reached.

The post Cinnamon Buns appeared first on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

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I have another pound cake/Bundt cake recipe for you: Banana Chocolate Bundt Cake. I recently found an old folder I thought I had lost – full of recipes from a coffeehouse I worked at in between my time baking at the Blue Heron Coffeehouse and Bordertown Coffee. This was one of my favorite Bundt cakes to make, although I couldn’t help myself and made some changes: I added more banana, swapped dried cherries for chocolate, and added a nice splash of black strap rum. I’ve made it several times now this week (both for testing and eating) and am happy with how it turned out. And, as much as I love my banana bread recipe, I think this comes in a very close second.

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“The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers.” – James Baldwin 

A friend of mine has a chalkboard hanging in her house where she writes poems/song lyrics/quotes/and other random words that have moved her. They sit there for as long as she needs them, and then are changed when new words inspire her. I recently copied her idea, and have a chalkboard visual to me from my kitchen, where I work all day. I find myself reading over and over that words I have handwritten on it; each re-reading roots the words further into my soul, and I’m able to spend time contemplating what, perhaps, the poets meant for us to hear. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Although, “Poets utter great and wise things which they do not themselves understand.” – Plato)  This quote from James Baldwin is up this week – it resonated strongly with me and also reminded me of the lines from Rainer Maria Rilke that I turn to often: “I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

Banana Chocolate Bundt Cake
I tried also making this as banana bread (dividing the batter in two loaf pans) and didn’t like how it turned out – I preferred this as a Bundt cake.

3 cups (420g) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups bananas, mashed (about 5 bananas)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (175g) brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon black strap rum (optional)
4 ounces (113g) chopped semi or bittersweet chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 10-cup bundt or tube pan.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas. Add vanilla, sour cream, and milk and mix until combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and mix on medium until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix on low until almost incorporated. Add the banana mixture and mix on low until completely combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and finish mixing with a spatula until the batter is completely combined. Add the chopped chocolate and gently stir it into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 50 to 65 minutes, until the top is dark brown and a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes, then carefully unmold it onto a rack to cool to room temperature. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

The post banana chocolate bundt cake appeared first on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

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‘Have you been online yet?’ my husband asks from the couch. It’s 8:45 am, and I am searching the kitchen for breakfast. Most mornings, upon waking, I reach for my phone next to me on my nightstand, and check all the icons chirping at me like hungry baby birds. Email, facebook, instagram, twitter, usually in that order. I despise the impulse, but I’m too tired to stop my arm from reaching, and its become a daily habit. Summer vacation is upon us, however, and I’ve set new goals for myself. Wear a small gray arm band to record my daily steps. Read books at night before bed instead of falling asleep to the internet. Eat a healthy breakfast, then go ahead and see what the world brings.

So I hadn’t heard the news. ‘No,’ I replied. ‘Something bad?’  He handed me his phone with a stony face, and I knew instantly. Another shooting. I felt the pit in my stomach, the one that has been there since Columbine, that grew into something fierce after Sandy Hook. The one that triggered my anxiety the last day of school, just two days ago, the one that made me whisper as my kids left for the day: ‘Please, please, one more day. Let them come home to me.’


There is a church four blocks from my house. Every hour on the hour, from 9 to 9, the bells ring out. I love hearing them as I go about my day; they evoke a moment of stillness that is hard to find in the city. This morning, sitting on my back porch, the chimes began. I was safe on a couch, thinking of 50 other families weeping far away from me. I knew there were cookies buried in the freezer, and hoped binging on one would bring temporary forgetfulness. Comfort eating has always been my issue. My thoughts strayed everywhere as the butter and chocolate melted on my tongue, and I determined to hide away, shutting out the rest of the world. I could homeschool these kids. We can get chickens, and bees, and make our own food. We can tuck away, and make like Galadriel in Lothlorien.

The bells were still ringing. Sunday mornings get extra melodies, as people make their way into the church to worship together. A song I hadn’t heard in years floated down to my ears, and I felt a nagging inner voice mumble something quietly. “Hide it under a bushel, no. I’m going to let it shine.” This dang little light. I knew what they were getting at, but didn’t want to hear it; the theme to every great classic novel I reread each summer, weeping at their endings. Munching on my cookie, I turned on my phone to ignore the call of the bells, but Anne Lamott showed up in my feed, with her words of wisdom, and there was nowhere to run.

‘We’re at the beginning of human and personal evolution. Whole parts of the world don’t even think women are people. So after an appropriate time of being stunned, in despair, we show up…[w]e do the next right thing. We buy or cook a bunch of food for the local homeless. We return phone calls, library books, smiles. We make eye contact with others, and we go to the market and flirt with old or scary unusual people who seem lonely. This is a blessed sacrament. Father Tom Weston taught me decades ago that in the face of human tragedy, we go around the neighborhood and pick up litter, even though there will be more tomorrow. It is another blessed sacrament. We take the action and the insight will follow: that we are basically powerless, but we are not helpless.

I find myself at this crossroad every time, anxiety and fear fighting basic human kindness. The crimes and horror of planet Earth are out of my control (which is completely maddening) but I can wake up each morning and put one foot in front of the other, and reach out two hands to those that cross my path. I can pay it forward with simple acts. I can check on my elderly neighbor, I can pick up litter, I can bring pie to hurting friends. I can let that dang little light shine, and teach my kids to do the same. It’s almost nothing up against the growing darkness, just a flicker, but it’s all I have, and it’s everything.

‘I have no answers but know one last thing that is true: More will be revealed. Things are much wilder, weirder, richer, more insane, awful, beautiful, and more profound than I am comfortable with. The paradox is that in the reality of this, we discover that in the smallest moments of amazement, at our own crabby stamina, at kindness, even to strange lonely people who worry us, and gentle attention, at weeping willows turning from green to gold to red, and amazement, we will be saved.’ (Both quotes from Anne Lamott.)

Pie seems so trivial today, but sometimes the act of preparing something beautiful and delicious is incredibly comforting, even when we’re worlds away from those in pain. You can eat a slice, and then share with your neighbors, along with a kind word and a scoop of ice cream, if desired.

Peach-Apple-Cherry Pie
When researching pie-making for my book, I fell in love with Rose Levy Beranbaum’s method of letting the fruit filling sit in sugar, then straining the leaked juices and boiling them down before adding them to the pie. It was a method I first stumbled upon over at Seven Spoons, and now I swear by.

1 double crust pie recipe (your favorite will work just fine. I’m going to point you to Martha’s Pate Sucree for a sweeter crust, and Yossy’s Rye Crust for a less-sweet crust.)
3 cups | 480g peeled and sliced white peaches, sliced into 1-inch pieces (5-6 peaches)
3 cups | 380g peeled and sliced Gala apples, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces (5-6 apples)
3 cups | 340g pitted sweet cherries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup (99g) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (28g) cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon peach or cherry liqueur (peach schnapps or kirsch is nice here)
egg wash (1 egg, 1 tablespoon water, and a pinch of salt whisked together)

Combine the peaches, apple, cherries, lemon juice, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Let sit for 1 hour at room temperature. Strain the sugary juice from the fruit into a medium saucepan (you should have at least ½ cup of juice). Return the fruit to the large bowl.

While the fruit is macerating, take your pie crust out of the refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Simmer the fruit juice over medium heat until reduced to a scant ½ cup, 5 to 6 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to stir. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Add the vanilla and liqueur if using, and stir gently. Set aside to cool slightly.

Sprinkle the cornstarch over the fruit and toss to coat. Pour the slightly cooled fruit juice mixture over the fruit and stir gently.

To Assemble and Bake
Lightly flour a work surface and roll out one piece of the dough into a 12-inch circle about ¼ inch thick and place it into a 9-inch pie plate. Place the plate in the fridge and let chill while you roll out the second piece of dough. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the second piece of dough into a 12-inch circle about ¼ thick. Set aside.

Fill the prepared pie shell with the peach-apple mixture. Top with the second crust. Trim the dough overhangs to 1-inch past the lip of the pie plate. Pinch the dough together, and tuck it under itself so it’s resting on the edge of the pie plate. Crimp the edges of the dough and cut at least 4 vents in the top, each about 2 inches long. Place the pie plate in the freezer for about 20 minutes while the oven is preheating. The crust should be nice and firm before you bake it.

Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position. Preheat oven to 425°F. Place a baking sheet on the oven rack (the preheated baking sheet helps crisp the bottom of the pie crust and catches any leaks and drips).

When ready to bake, brush the top of the pie with egg wash and sprinkle with 1 or 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Put the pie plate on the preheated baking sheet and bake 25 minutes. Reduce the oven to 375ºF and bake 40 to 50 minutes, until the crust is deep golden brown and the juices bubble.

Transfer the pie plate to a wire rack and let cool at least 4 hours before serving.

The bowls and rolling pin pictured here are from Martha Stewarts’s Whim collection, and were sent to me to use. You can find them exclusively at Macy’s.

The post Peach Apple Cherry Pie appeared first on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

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Rhubarb-raspberry streusel buns might be my new favorite breakfast indulgence, coming in right behind my beloved all-stars: straight-up cinnamon rolls. These rolls remind me of a perfect coffeecake: with a tender dough, a swirl of jam, and then plenty of streusel and icing gracing the top of each. I have a recipe for the rhubarb-blackberry jam included here, but if you are in a hurry, any store-bought jam you love will also work fine. The photo above shows them in a gorgeous 10-inch copper round pan from Mauviel, and it’s the pan I most often use to make cinnamon rolls and other buns in. The rolls always bake up beautifully, and it’s a great serving pieces as well. And guess what?

**GIVEAWAY** I’m giving away this 10-inch round Mauviel copper pan (shown above) over on Instagram. To enter, head to my Instagram page and follow the instructions under the photo of the Rhubarb Blackberry Streusel Buns.***

A few other things: The new Bake From Scratch Magazine is out (July/August Issue) and I am honored to be included in the 2018 ‘Baker’s Dozen’, with a spot-light on my pan-banging chocolate chip cookies. You can find an issue in a store near you.

We are two days away from summer vacation at our house! I’m reading Harry Potter outloud to my kids, and have started the Flavia de Luce Book Series for myself. But I’d love any other suggestions you have for good summer reads!

ZoeBakes made Coffee No-Churn Ice Cream Sandwiches from my book; you can find the recipe here.

Rhubarb Blackberry Streusel Buns
As noted above, if you don’t want to make the rhubarb-blackberry jam, any store-bought jam that you love will work.

Dough
4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup whole milk, warm (100-110F)
1/4 cup honey
4 cups (568g) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks | 142g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces

Rhubarb Blackberry Jam
2 cups (250g) rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces
6 ounces (170g) blackberries
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar (if your berries are really tart, you can add up to 3/4 cup sugar total, however the streusel and icing will add a lot of sweetness, so it’s better to keep the jam slightly on the tart side.)
Pinch salt
1 vanilla bean, split down the middle

Streusel
2/3 cup (94g) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (66g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (66g) brown sugar
1/2 cup (50g) almond flour (rolled oats will work here, too)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 6 pieces

Icing
2 ounces (56g) cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons milk
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 -1/4 cups (113g-142g) powdered sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the dough
Grease a large bowl.

In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the eggs, milk, and honey.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour, yeast, and salt and stir on low to combine. Add the egg mixture and mix on low to combine. With the mixer on low, add the butter, one piece at a time. When all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium and beat the butter into the dough, until all the little butter pieces are incorporated, 1 minute. Transfer the dough to the prepared bowl. The dough will be very sticky and you will need a spatula to scrape the dough into the bowl.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Place your fingers or a spatula underneath the dough and gently pull the dough up and fold it back over itself. Turn the bowl and repeat this folding again. Continue 6 to 8 more times, until all the dough has been folded over on itself. Re-cover the bowl with plastic and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat this series of folding 3 more times, for a rise time of 2 hours and a total of 4 foldings. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 72 hours.

For the jam
Place the rhubarb, blackberries, salt, and vanilla bean into a medium pan and simmer over medium-low heat for about 30-40 minutes, stirring often, until the rhubarb and blackberries have broken down and the jam has thickened. The jam will cling to a wooden spoon when it is done. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Remove the vanilla bean and discard, then refrigerate the jam until ready to use. (Taste your jam – if it is a little flat, you can add a squeeze or two of lemon juice – about 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until it brightens the flavor.)

For the streusel
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the all-purpose flour, sugars, almond flour, salt, and cinnamon on low. With the mixer on low, add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture comes together but still is quite crumbly.

For the icing
In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese, milk, salt, and vanilla until smooth. Add 1 cup of the powdered sugar and mix again until smooth. If the mixture is too thin, add more powdered sugar until the desired consistency is reached.

To Assemble
Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper (the photo shows the 10-inch Mauviel pan – if you use something similar, generously grease the sides and bottom of the pan with butter).

On a lightly floured surface, fold the dough over 3-4 times and then form it into a ball. Let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes.

Roll the dough into a 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Brush the entire surface with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Start with 1/2 cup of jam, and spread the jam over the dough. If more jam is needed, add more until there is a thin layer over the dough (you don’t want too much jam, or the next steps will be extra messy).

Roll the dough up, starting at the short end. Using a sharp kitchen knife or scissors, cut the log into 12 equal pieces.

Set the buns in the prepared pan, 1 1/2 to 2-inches apart. Loosely cover the buns and let them rest between 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until they have almost doubled in size. (You can set these up the night before and let them rest overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning take them out and let them sit on the counter for about 45 minutes to an hour.)

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, and heat the oven to 350F. Generously cover the tops of the buns with the streusel before putting into the oven, gently pressing the streusel into the buns (there will be some streusel left over).

Bake for about 22 to 27 minutes, just until the centers are set when poked with your finger, and the tops are light golden brown.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool 10-15 minutes before icing.

The post rhubarb blackberry streusel buns + a mauviel giveaway appeared first on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

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I’ve been making scones for years now, but forgot about one combination of flavors that was always a favorite in my Blue Heron Coffeehouse days – crystallized ginger and chocolate. The two ingredients pair beautifully together: the ginger comes in with a little heat, and the chocolate follows with just enough sweetness. I chopped the ginger very small and used mini chocolate chips so there are tiny bursts of flavor; the scone itself is tasty enough. But you can use bigger pieces of chocolate and ginger if desired.

If you live in Minneapolis, come join me and Radio Cherry Bombe at The Lynhall on the future of food tour! Kerry Diamond will moderate the panel, which will be recorded for a future episode of their podcast, talking about what’s next in the food world. I’ll be speaking, along with Pakou HangJamie Malone, and Lachelle Cunningham. You can buy tickets here!

Ginger Chocolate Scones
Recipe adapted from my book, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book
Makes about 18 scones with a 2-inch biscuit cutter

2 ¼ cups (320g) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (50g) crystallized ginger, chopped into small pieces
1/3 cup (60g) mini chocolate chips (or chocolate chopped very small)
1/2 cup crème fraîche (or you can substitute sour cream)
1-3 tablespoons heavy cream, plus more for brushing
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks; 170 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into ½ -inch pieces

Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Stack two baking sheets on top of each other and line the top sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt. In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the crème fraîche, vanilla, and egg.

Add the butter to the dry ingredients and use a pastry cutter to cut it into the mixture until the flour-coated pieces are the size of peas. Stir in the crystallized ginger and the chocolate. Add the wet ingredients and fold with a spatula until just combined. (If your dough is on the dry side, you can add 1 tablespoon of heavy cream at a time until it comes together.)

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until it comes together, 4 to 6 times, adding flour as necessary, as the dough will be sticky. Pat the dough gently into a square and roll it into a 12-inch square (again, using flour as necessary). Fold the dough in thirds, similar to a business letter. Fold the dough into thirds again, making a square. Transfer it to a floured sheet pan or plate and put it in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Return the dough to the floured surface, roll it into an 8-inch square, about 1-inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter (I used a 2-inch cutter here to make smaller scones, but you can use a larger one) to cut out circles. Gently re-roll scraps as necessary.  Transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheet.

Brush the tops with a little heavy cream, making sure it doesn’t drip down the sides and sprinkle the tops generously with sugar. Bake 15 to 25 minutes (smaller scones will bake faster), rotating the pan halfway through, until the tops and bottoms are light golden brown. Transfer the sheet pan to a wire rack and let the scones cool 10 minutes before serving.

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I know it’s spring, and I should be straying away from citrus and moving towards rhubarb, but I made this lemon poppy seed Bundt cake last week and wanted to share it. It’s a recipe inspired by a wonderful Bundt cake from Yossy’s book – but I swapped regular lemons for Meyer, and cream cheese for sour cream. I also swirled in some poppy seeds and lemon curd for good measure.

I really love this Bundt with the cream cheese, and have a few more variations planned with the base recipe (my family raved about it for days, and thought it was better each passing day, which was a win-win) so stay tuned for those.

A few things:
*I often share what music I’m listening to in my Instagram stories, and I’ve made a playlist here on Spotify of some of the songs if you want to take a listen.

*If you live in Minneapolis, come join me and Radio Cherry Bombe at The Lynhall on the future of food tour! Kerry Diamond will moderate the panel, which will be recorded for a future episode of their podcast, talking about what’s next in the food world. I’ll be speaking, along with Pakou HangJamie Malone, and Lachelle Cunningham. You can buy tickets here!

*I’m looking forward to:

Season 5 of Arrested Development

Molly’s TV show! 

Seeing Jeremy Enigk perform Return of the Frog Queen

A whole summer reading PG Wodehouse (I’m addicted now – I don’t know if I love Blandings Castle or Wooster and Jeeves more. It switches with each book.)

(Sources: Bundt Pan | Nordic Ware)

Lemon Poppyseed Bundt Cake
Inspired/Adapted from Sweeter Off the Vine by Yossy Arefi.

Note: You can omit the lemon curd, but the cake won’t be quite as lemon-y. The cake holds well for several days (I prefer it on the second and third day).

3 cups (600g) granulated sugar
Zest from 2 lemons
3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 cup (227g) unsalted butter
6 ounces (170g) cream cheese
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup (8oz) lemon curd (I used store bought, but if you want to make your own, check out Zoe’s recipe here.)

Glaze
2 medium lemons
3 cups (360g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Pinch salt

To make the cake
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325ºF (160ºC). Butter and flour a 10-inch tube or Bundt pan very thoroughly.

Scrub the lemons with warm soapy water to remove any excess wax, then dry the fruit. Put the sugar into a medium bowl and zest the lemon directly into the sugar. Use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar until evenly distributed and fragrant.

Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds together in a bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, mix the butter and cream cheese on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and zest mixture and turn the mixer up to medium high. Mix for 3-5 minutes, making sure to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula periodically. The butter and sugar should be light, fluffy, and fragrant.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing for about 30 seconds after each addition. Periodically stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.

On low speed, add the milk, followed by half the flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Add the lemon juice, and then the remaining flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and give the mixture a few more turns with a spatula to make sure it’s combined completely. Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. Take 1/2 cup lemon curd and drop it in circles over the cake batter. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, drag the lemon curd through the top of the batter, making swirls. Top with the remaining half of the cake batter, and repeat the swirls with the remaining 1/2 cup of the lemon curd. Tap the pan lightly on the counter to remove any large air bubbles.

Bake the cake until it is golden and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 60 to 75 minutes, depending on the pan. Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then carefully unmold it onto a rack to cool a bit more before glazing.

To make the glaze
Zest and juice the lemons. Add the zest, confectioners’ sugar, and a pinch of salt to a bowl. Whisk in about 6 tablespoons of the lemon juice. You want the glaze to be thick, but pourable. If the glaze seems too thick to pour, add a few more drops of lemon juice.

When the cake has mostly cooled, use a skewer to poke a few holes into its surface. Drizzle half of the glaze on top of the cake, let it soak in for about 20 minutes, then whisk the remaining glaze until smooth and pour it over the top of the cake. Let the glaze set for a few minutes before serving.

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