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It took me a long time to feel confident making pies. I never actually made one until my late twenties, as they had seemed so daunting and time consuming; so much work for something that had such a high percentage of not turning out right. My first attempt actually was incredible: I made a perfect apple pie. The crust was flaky and golden brown, the filling perfectly cooked, with apples soft but not mushy. I remember bringing it to my Grandma’s house, and she raved and raved about it (she may have mentioned it was better than the pie my mom made) and I’m pretty sure she ate the rest of it for dinner that night. Brimming with confidence, I made another pie the next day: same recipe, same apples, same kitchen equipment, and alas, it was a total disaster. I’ve discovered I often have beginners luck with baking, only to completely mess up whatever I am making the next time I go to bake it. I think it’s the grace of the kitchen gods: they know of my love and need for baking, but also my lack of patience and follow through. I’m notorious on giving up on something […]

The post cherries and cream slab pie (some notes on how I make pie) appeared first on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

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This post is sponsored by California Walnuts. As always, all opinions are my own.  I’ve teamed up with California Walnuts to bring you some recipes over the following year (such as this chocolate walnut cake and these chocolate donuts). Over 99 percent of walnuts grown in the U.S. come from California’s walnut orchards, many of which are on family owned and operated farms that have been around for generations. Walnuts are nutritious and heart-healthy*, and offer 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber per ounce. Walnuts are also the only nut with a significant amount of plant-based omega 3 ALA (2.5 grams/ounce). You can check out the CA Walnuts website for more nutrition info, research, tips for cooking with walnuts, recipes. This month California Walnuts is focused on reviving your lunch, and you can learn more about it here (and pick up some great tips for making lunchtime nutrious). ********************************************************************* “We glean what is public primarily, but not exclusively, from media. We are asked to abandon much of mental, political, market, and now security needs. Part of the anxiety about the porous divide between public and private domains certainly stems from reckless application of the terms… There is private space (atriums, gardens, […]

The post Walnut Snack Cake with Raspberry Buttercream appeared first on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

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I’m addicted to kolaches. Any and all kinds, but especially these pictured here. Kolaches were brought to Texas by Czech immigrants and now have a cult-like following, for good reason. Almost a Danish pastry, they are made with a brioche-like bread dough instead of laminated layers; their centers filled with creamy sweet cheese and the slightest hint of lemon. When I first came across them in Bread Illustrated (America’s Test Kitchen’s bread book) I instantly walked to my kitchen cupboards and took out all the ingredients needed: flour, yeast, butter, cream cheese, milk, sugar, lemon. While I worked the dough on my counter top, my mind jumped to purchasing a nearby corner bakery for the sole purpose of filling with kolaches. There would be trays lined with rows and rows of beautiful circles, all topped differently: cream cheese, chocolate and white chocolate, jam and fresh fruit, extracts, vanilla bean, meringue, whipped cream, ice cream. They would compete with local doughnuts shops for breakfast, boasting both simplicity and extravagance in every dozen sold.

Of course, such day dreams are not able to become reality at this point, but each bite I take convinces me otherwise. Maybe one day, Minneapolis. Maybe one day.

Kolaches
Adapted from Bread Illustrated by America’s Test Kitchen
If your dough is not clearing the sides of the bowl after mixing, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until it does so (every time I’ve made this I’ve had to add 2-4 tablespoons  extra of flour). You can sub ricotta for half of the cream cheese filling. Use 6 ounces (170g) cream cheese and 6 ounces (3/4 cup) whole-milk or part-skim ricotta cheese.

Dough
3 1/2 cups (491g) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup whole milk
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup (66g) sugar
1 large egg plus 2 large yolks

Cream cheese filling
12 ounces (340g) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (99g) sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice

Streusel
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and chilled

1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water and pinch salt

For the dough
Whisk flour, yeast, and salt together in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk milk, melted butter, sugar, egg, and egg yolks in a 4-cup measuring cup until sugar has dissolved. Using a dough hook on low speed, slowly add milk mixture to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and now dry flour remains, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl but still sticks to bottom, 8 to 12 minutes.

Transfer dough to a well-floured counter. Using your well-floured hands, knead dough to form a smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough seam side down in a lightly greased large bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (Unrisen dough can be refrigerated for at lease 8 hours or up to 16 hours; let dough sit at room temperature for 1 hour before shaping.)

Make the filling
Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, vanilla, and salt on low speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, and mix to combine. Taste filling – you are looking for the lemon juice to brighten the filling, but not make it taste like lemon. Add more juice if needed. Transfer to bowl, cover with plastic, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the streusel
Combine flour, sugar, and butter in bowl and rub between fingers until mixture resembles wet sand. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until ready to use.

Finish the dough
Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch down dough and place on lightly floured counter. Stretch the dough into an even 16-inch log. Cut the log into 16 equal pieces (about 2 1/4 ounce each) and cover loosely with greased plastic. Working one piece of dough at a time (keep remaining pieces covered), form into rough ball by stretching dough around your thumbs and pinching edges together so that the top is smooth. Place the ball seam side down on a clean counter and, using your cupped hand, drag in small circles until dough feels taut and round.

Arrange dough balls seam side down on prepared sheets, spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart. Cover loosely with greased plastic and let rise until increased in size by about half, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350F degrees. Grease and flour bottom of a round 1/3-cup dry measuring cup. Press the cup firmly into the center of each dough round until the cup touches the sheet to make indentation for filling. (Reflour the cup as needed to prevent sticking.)

Divide filling evenly among kolaches (about 1 1/2 tablespoons each) and smooth with the back of a spoon. Gently brush the edges with egg mixture and sprinkle with streusel. (Do not sprinkle streusel over filling.) Bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway though baking. Transfer kolaches to wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Serve warm.

The post kolaches appeared first on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

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I’m back with more swirl buns! When I stumbled upon the recipe for Strawberry Poppy Seed Buns from the new Bake From Scratch cookbook, I decided to drop everything (which was really just taking a break from recipe testing for my next book) and make them. The dough came together beautifully and was a dream to work with, and my family and neighbors devoured them immediately then raved all day about them, so I knew the recipe was gold. Strawberries aren’t in season yet, but here freeze-dried strawberries are crushed into a powder (a genius move), and I was able to round up a few ripe strawberries at my local grocery store for the cream cheese filling. If you haven’t heard of Bake From Scratch, you can find their webpage here. They also have a monthly magazine that is a great read. 

Other recipes you may enjoy: Rhubarb Blackberry Streusel Buns, Morning Buns, Strawberries and Cream Brioche Buns, Cardamom Sugar Buns, and Cinnamon Buns

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

A few things:

*Last spring I was on an episode of Cherry Bombe Radio recorded here in Minneapolis at The Lynhall. You can listen here. 

*The Lynhall is also currently looking for Grandmas to come and share family recipes! You can learn about it here

*A few books on my March reading list: The Source of Self-Regard by Toni Morrison, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, and Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harai, 

*I’ve been highly enjoying Season 3 of Documentary Now, a show which takes famous, real documentaries and turns them into a comedic version that just might be better. If you enjoyed Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and the rest of Christopher Guest’s mockumentary movies, you will probably like this. 

*This week we celebrated World Poetry Day! If you forgot to celebrate, you can head this way and read poetry to your heart’s content. 

|| Sources ||
Material Kitchen | Pink knife
Williams Sonoma | Gold Touch Baking Pan
Canvas Home | Gold Cutlery

Strawberry Poppy Seed Buns
From Bake From Scratch Vol. 3

PRINT THIS RECIPE

Notes: To make powdered freeze-dried strawberries, place freeze-dried strawberries in the bowl of a food processor, and then pulse until reduced to a powder. Wait a few seconds before removing the lid, because there is quite a bit of strawberry dust that needs to settle. Freeze-dried strawberries can be purchased online, and I’ve also found them at Target and Trader Joe’s. 

4 cups (508g) bread flour
2 tablespoons (24g) granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons (7g) instant yeast
2 teaspoons (6g) poppy seeds
1 teaspoon (3g) kosher salt
1 1/4 cup (300g) warm whole milk (120F | 49C)
1/4 cup (57g) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg (50g)

1/3 cup (76g) unsalted butter, room temperature (for spreading over the dough)

Strawberry Cream Cheese
4 ounces (113g) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup (4g) freeze-dried strawberries, powdered (see note)
1/4 cup (37g) diced fresh strawberries

Strawberry Cardamom Sugar
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (5g) freeze-dried strawberries
1 teaspoon (2g) ground cardamom
1 teaspoon (1g) lemon zest

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces (115g) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons (21g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (180g) confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup (4g) freeze-dried strawberries, powdered (see note)
2-3 tablespoon (30-45g) whole milk

For the dough
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, poppy seeds, and salt. 

In a large measuring cup, stir together the warm milk and melted butter. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the milk mixture and egg to the flour mixture, beating until a soft dough forms, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary. Increase mixer speed to medium, and beat until smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes. 

Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place (75F | 24C) until doubled in size, about 1 hour. 

For the cream cheese filling
In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat all the ingredients at medium-low speed until well combined. (Can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.)

For the strawberry cardamom sugar
In the work bowl of a food processor, place all the ingredients; process until well combined. (Can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.)

To assemble
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 14 x 10-inch rectangle. Spread the Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling evenly over the dough. Fold the dough into thirds, like a letter. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 10 minutes. 

Butter a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. (I lined my pan with a parchment sling, and then buttered the parchment paper.) 

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough back into a 14 x 10-inch rectangle. Spread the 1/3 cup room temperature butter evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border on one long side. Sprinkle the butter evenly with the Strawberry Cardamom Sugar, gently pressing the sugar mixture into the butter. 

Starting with one long side, roll the dough into a log, pinching the seam to seal. Trim the ends. With a knife or sharp scissors, slice the log into 12 even pieces. Place the pieces, cut side up, into the prepared pan. Let the buns rise in a warm, draft-free place (75F | 24C) until puffed, about 45 minutes. 

While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 375F (190C). 

Bake the buns until golden and puffed, 25-30 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes on a wire rack. Drizzle with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting. Serve warm. 

For the strawberry cream cheese frosting
In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until creamy. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and freeze-dried strawberry powder, beating until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the milk, 1 tablespoon (15g) at a time, beating until the desired consistency is reached. Use immediately. 

The post Strawberry Poppy Seed Buns appeared first on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

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This week I was sent an advance copy of Odette William’s new book, Simple Cake. It is a beautiful book filled with all kinds of (wait for it) simple cakes, and after flipping through the pages I was immediately inspired to head to the kitchen and bake. I decided on this Lovely Lemon Cake with Nana’s Simple Glaze; we have been buried in piles and piles of snow here in Minnesota, and a bright lemon cake seemed just right for perking up our spirits. It was like a tiny spark of sunshine in our small, cloudy kitchen, and made the perfect afternoon school snack (and then breakfast the next morning). 

Other cake recipes you may enjoy: Lemon Poppyseed Bunt Cake, Cardamom Pound Cake, Triple Ginger Coffeecake, and Grand Marnier Orange Cake. 

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

A few things:

*Over the Rhine has a new album coming out this month. I have been listening to the first song, Los Lunas, on repeat for days. 

*I started watching The Good Place, and am totally hooked. I have been told I should also be listening to this podcast that goes a long with it. 

*I have an Amazon Store Front now – it’s a place to find all my favorite cookbooks, kitchen equipment, books I’m reading, and the like. You can find it here if you are interested. 

*I want to make these Popovers from Zoebakes

*I’ve been reading Dreyer’s English this month. 

Lovely Lemon Yogurt Cake
From Simple Cake by Odette Williams

Makes one 9 by 2-inch round cake, or one 9 by 5-inch loaf cake.

2 cups (290g) all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup (180ml) grapeseed oil or any mild-flavored oil (I used canola oil)
1 cup (230g) plain Green full-fat yogurt
Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
1/3 cup (80ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar

Nana’s Simple Glaze
1 cup (115g) confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons lemon juice

For the cake
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, and preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9 by 2-inch round cake pan with butter, line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, and then grease the paper.

Place a large sifter or a sieve in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and sift.

In another large bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, yogurt, zest, lemon juice, and sugar until combined.

Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until there are no lumps and the batter is smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake 35-45 minutes until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, and the cake bounces back when lightly pressed. Remove the cake and let cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges to gently release the cake from the sides of the pan. Turn it out onto a wire rack and cool completely, removing the parchment paper. Dust generously with confectioner’s sugar, or top with Nana’s Simple Glaze.

For the Glaze
Sift the confectioner’s sugar into a small mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the sugar and add the butter and the lemon juice. Stir together until smooth. If you prefer a runnier consistency, add a bit more lemon juice (or water). 

The post Lovely Lemon Yogurt Cake appeared first on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

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This post is sponsored by California Walnuts. As always, all opinions are my own. 

February has roared in like a lion, at least, here in Minnesota it sure feels that way. Piles of snow and subzero temperatures have started out this month of love, and my kids have spent more time home then in school. They have been reveling in the snow days (more than I ever had as a kid!) while I am frantically testing recipes and taking photos for my next book.

I did take a small break from cookies to work on donuts. Making donuts at home can be a challenge; frying oil and waiting for donuts to proof can seem daunting. But eating a warm, freshly fried donut covered in chocolate and candied walnuts is quite a treat, and worth the time and effort in my opinion.

I’ve teamed up with California Walnuts to bring you some recipes over the following year (such as this chocolate walnut cake and  this chocolate walnut shortbread). Over 99 percent of walnuts grown in the U.S. come from California’s walnut orchards, many of which are on family owned and operated farms that have been around for generations. Walnuts are nutritious and heart-healthy*, and offer 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber per ounce. Walnuts are also the only nut with a significant amount of plant based Omega 3 ALA (2.5 grams/ounce). You can check out the CA Walnuts website for more nutrition info, research, tips for cooking with walnuts, recipes. I’m excited to share more recipes with you!

Raised Donuts
I spent a lot of time the last two weeks making donuts and reading about donuts while working on getting the recipe right for this post. This article from the Washington Post was very helpful, this thread on The Fresh Loaf, this post from Joe Pastry, and also this webpage taught me a lot. The donuts here are light and delicious, and can be rolled in sugar or covered in glaze. 

This recipe does rest the dough over night, so plan accordingly. Dough can be rolled and cut after the first rise, but the flavor really develops after a slow cold rise in the fridge. The dough also rolls out much more evenly when cold.

I do have a deep frier (this one here) that I found to be very helpful in making the donuts – I didn’t have to worry about the constantly changing temperature of the oil and could just focus on the donuts. However, a large Dutch oven and a candy thermometer will work just fine.

Donuts
2/3 cup warm water (100F)
2 tablespoons honey
1 large egg + 2 large yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups (420g) all-purpose flour, (plus more if needed, see directions)
3 tablespoons (30g) non fat dry milk powder
1 tablespoon (9g) instant dry yeast
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature, and cut into 1-inch pieces

Canola oil for frying, enough to fill 4 inches from the top a medium to large Dutch oven

Chocolate Glaze
Adapted from Alton Brown
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons corn syrup
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Candied Walnuts
2 cups (200g) walnuts
1/2 cup (99g) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, mix together the water, honey, egg, yolks, and vanilla.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together the flour, milk powder, yeast, 1/4 cup (50g) sugar, and salt. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix until combined.

Knead the dough on medium speed for 6-8 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and mostly gather around the dough hook, although there will still be some clinging to the bottom of the bowl. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter one piece at at time, mixing on low until completely combined (this will take a few minutes). Increase the speed to medium low and knead for 2-3 more minutes. The dough should form a ball around the dough hook at this point. If it doesn’t, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a soft ball forms (but don’t add more than 1/4 cup total).

Using your hands, form the dough into a smooth ball. Place the dough inside a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free area until it has puffed up and is almost double in size, about an hour. Cover the dough and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, move the dough to a lightly floured work surface.

Cut twelve or thirteen 5-inch square pieces of parchment paper, then arrange them on two baking sheets and lightly grease them with cooking spray. (The parchment paper will help the donuts keep their shape when transferring them to the hot oil – the parchment will go into the oil with the donuts.)

Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the cold dough out until it is 1/2-inch thick (try to keep the dough as even as possible). Using a small biscuit cutter (mine was 1-inch round), cut the dough into rounds, and then use a smaller cutter (I used the small part of a circle piping tip for this, but the tip of a small funnel will also work) to cut a small hole in the center of each donut. Move the donuts to the prepared baking sheet; put two donuts on each piece of cut parchment paper, with some space in between them for rising (you can also cut smaller, individual pieces of parchment, but I didn’t have the patience). Scraps of dough can be re-rolled and used one more time, although those donuts won’t turn out quite as pretty.

Cover the donuts with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free spot; the doughnuts should almost double in height, 1 1/2-2 1/2 hours. 

When the donuts are ready to fry, heat the oil in a large Dutch oven, wok, or deep fryer to 365F.

Place a donut (on its paper) in a wire basket skimmer and place in the hot oil. Fry a few donuts at a time, being careful not to crowd them. Use tongs to pluck out the papers. Let the donuts cook about a minute until golden brown on the bottom, then use the skimmer to slip them to the uncooked side.  Fry again for about a minute, monitoring the oil temperature and adjusting as needed. Use the skimmer to transfer the doughnuts to a wire rack set over paper towels and let cool for a minute or two. Repeat with the remaining donuts.

Glaze the donuts, placing them on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper.  Sprinkle with the chopped candied walnuts while the glaze is still warm. Let the glaze set before eating. 

For the glaze

Combine the butter, milk, corn syrup, and salt in medium saucepan, and heat over medium heat until the butter is melted. Lower the heat, add the chocolate, and whisk until melted. Turn off heat, add the vanilla and the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Dip the doughnuts immediately. 

For the candied walnuts
In a large skillet, stir together the walnuts, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat until the sugar begins to melt and the nuts begin to toast, stirring almost constantly. Once the sugar begins to melt, turn the heat down to low and cook until the nuts are lightly caramelized. Pour the nuts onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let them cool completely before chopping into small pieces. 

*Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. One ounce of walnuts provides 18g of total fat, 2.5g of monounsaturated fat, 13g of polyunsaturated fat, including 2.5g of alpha-linolenic acid, the plant-based omega-3.

The post Raised Donuts with Chocolate Glaze and Candied Walnuts appeared first on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

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Mini Donuts! With all the options for fancy, over-the-top donuts, I often forget the simple pleasure of a tiny donut coated in sugar. In the past these small circles were enjoyed at some kind of amusement park or fair; a bag purchased on the way out after a long day of walking for miles and spending way too much money on food already. Now I can make them right at home. I highly recommend eating the donuts fresh and warm, coated with straight up sugar (with maybe a hint of cinnamon and cardamom if you’re feeling a need for some spice). 

Other recipes you may enjoy: Vanilla Donuts with Pumpkin Pastry Cream, Brioche Donuts with Chocolate Bourbon Glaze, Old Fashioned Blood Orange Donuts, and Baked Pumpkin Donuts

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

A few things:

*I have an Amazon Store Front now – it’s a place to find all my favorite cookbooks, kitchen equipment, books I’m reading, and the like. You can find it here if you are interested. 

*I got to see Mineral play a few weeks ago, and it was great. They have a new EP out

*I got this cookbook last week and have been enjoying it a lot. 

*I started reading this three volume biography about Eleanor Roosevelt. I’m almost done with the first book and highly recommend it. 

Raised Mini Donuts
I spent a lot of time the last two weeks making donuts and reading about donuts while working on getting the recipe right for this post. This article from the Washington Post was very helpful, this thread on The Fresh Loaf, this post from Joe Pastry, and also this webpage taught me a lot. The donuts here are light and delicious, and can be rolled in sugar or covered in glaze. I will have another post in the next few days for larger donuts covered in glaze.

This recipe does rest the dough over night, so plan accordingly. Dough can be rolled and cut after the first rise, but the flavor really develops after a slow cold rise in the fridge. The dough also rolls out much more evenly when cold.

I do have a deep frier (this one here) that I found to be very helpful in making the donuts – I didn’t have to worry about the constantly changing temperature of the oil and could just focus on the donuts. However, a large Dutch oven and a candy thermometer will work just fine.

Donuts
2/3 cup warm water (100F)
2 tablespoons honey
1 large egg + 2 large yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups (420g) all-purpose flour (plus more if needed, see directions)
3 tablespoons non fat dry milk powder
1 tablespoon instant dry yeast
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar, plus more for coating
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, and cut into 1-inch pieces

In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, mix together the water, honey, egg, yolks, and vanilla.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together the flour, milk powder, yeast, 1/4 cup (50g) sugar, and salt. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix until combined.

Knead the dough on medium speed for 6-8 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and mostly gather around the dough hook, although there will still be some clinging to the bottom of the bowl. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter one piece at at time, mixing on low until completely combined (this will take a few minutes). Increase the speed to medium low and knead for 2-3 more minutes. The dough should form a ball around the dough hook at this point. If it doesn’t, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a soft ball forms (but don’t add more than 1/4 cup total).

Using your hands, form the dough into a smooth ball. Place the dough inside a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free area until it has puffed up and is almost double in size, about an hour. Cover the dough and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, move the dough to a lightly floured work surface.

Cut twelve or thirteen 5-inch square pieces of parchment paper, then arrange them on two baking sheets and lightly grease them with cooking spray. (The parchment paper will help the donuts keep their shape when transferring them to the hot oil – the parchment will go into the oil with the donuts.)

Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the cold dough out until it is 1/2-inch thick (try to keep the dough as even as possible). Using a small biscuit cutter (mine was 1-inch round), cut the dough into rounds, and then use a smaller cutter (I used the small part of a circle piping tip for this, but the tip of a small funnel will also work) to cut a small hole in the center of each donut. Move the donuts to the prepared baking sheet; put two donuts on each piece of cut parchment paper, with some space in between them for rising (you can also cut smaller, individual pieces of parchment, but I didn’t have the patience). Scraps of dough can be re-rolled and used one more time, although those donuts won’t turn out quite as pretty.

Cover the donuts with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free spot; the doughnuts should almost double in height, 1-1/2 hours. 

When the donuts are ready to fry, heat the oil in a large Dutch oven, wok, or deep fryer to 365F.

Place a donut (on its paper) in a wire basket skimmer and place in the hot oil. Fry a few donuts at a time, being careful not to crowd them. Use tongs to pluck out the papers. Let the donuts cook about a minute until golden brown on the bottom, then use the skimmer to slip them to the uncooked side.  Fry again for about a minute, monitoring the oil temperature and adjusting as needed. Use the skimmer to transfer the doughnuts to a wire rack set over paper towels and let cool for a minute or two. Repeat with the remaining donuts. Toss the warm donuts in granulated sugar and coat them. Best eaten warm.

The post Raised Mini Donuts appeared first on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

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This post is sponsored by California Walnuts. As always, all opinions are my own. 

I have another cake for you; this one is in Bundt form, studded with white chocolate and topped with candied walnuts (which, you may remember, is my new favorite treat). I love Bundt cakes because they fall in the dessert category of ‘simple but classy’, and can be eaten any time of the day without guilt or shame. 

I’ve teamed up with California Walnuts to bring you some recipes over the following year (such as this chocolate walnut cake and  this chocolate walnut shortbread). Over 99 percent of walnuts grown in the U.S. come from California’s walnut orchards, many of which are on family owned and operated farms that have been around for generations. Walnuts are nutritious and heart-healthy*, and offer 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber per ounce. Walnuts are also the only nut with a significant amount of plant based Omega 3 ALA (2.5 grams/ounce). You can check out the CA Walnuts website for more nutrition info, research, tips for cooking with walnuts, recipes. I’m excited to share more recipes with you!

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Fairytale
At night, when we dreamed, 
we went down a street
and turned a corner;
we went down the street
and turned the corner,
and there, it seemed,
there was the castle.

Always, if you knew,
if you knew how to go,
you could walk down a street
(the daylight street)
that twisted about
and ended in grass;
there was
always, the castle.

Remote, unshadowed,
childish, immortal,
with two calm giants
guarding the portal,
stiff in the sunset,
strong to defend,
stood castle safety
at the world’s end.

O castle safety,
Love without crying,
honey without cloying
death without dying!
Hate and heartbreak
all were forgot there;
we always woke,
we never got there.
-Joy Davidman

I’ve been reading a biography on Joy Davidman, who is famous for marrying CS Lewis late in life, but was an author and poet in her own right. The book is well-written and interesting, and I’ve been highly enjoying her poetry as well (you can find all her poems in this volume). 

Walnut White Chocolate Bundt Cake
4 cups (562g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups (452g | 4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups (594g) granulated sugar
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup (100g) walnuts, toasted and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 cup (170g) white chocolate, chopped into bite-sized pieces

White Chocolate Ganache
6 ounces (170g) white chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream

Candied Walnuts
2 cups (200g) walnuts
1/2 cup (99g) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, and preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on medium until creamy. Add the sugar, and beat again until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs one at at time and beat on low until combined, scraping down the sides after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix on low until combined.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, and mix on low until almost combined. Add the sour cream, and mix again on low. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, and mix on low until almost combined. Add the milk, and mix again on low. Add the remaining 1/3 of the flour mixture, and mix on low until almost combined. Add the walnuts and the white chocolate, and mix on low until completely combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a spatula to make sure the batter is completely mixed.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55-75 minutes, until a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Move the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 20 to 30 minutes before flipping the cake out of the pan. Let the cake cool before topping with the white chocolate ganache and candied walnuts. 

For the ganache
Place the chopped white chocolate in a small bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan, until it is simmering and just about to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for 5 minutes. Remove the wrap and whisk the cream and chocolate together, until it is completely smooth. Let cool to room temperature. 

For the candied walnuts
In a large skillet, stir together the walnuts, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat until the sugar begins to melt and the nuts begin to toast, stirring almost constantly. Once the sugar begins to melt, turn the heat down to low and cook until the nuts are lightly caramelized. Pour the nuts onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let them cool completely before chopping.

*Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. One ounce of walnuts provides 18g of total fat, 2.5g of monounsaturated fat, 13g of polyunsaturated fat, including 2.5g of alpha-linolenic acid, the plant-based omega-3.

The post Walnut White Chocolate Bundt Cake appeared first on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

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Yossy Arefi’s (from Apt 2B Baking Co.) new cookbook is out today, and I’d just like to begin by saying it’s so gorgeous. I’ve been a fan of Yossy’s work for quite some time and have been eagerly awaiting this release. The book focuses on all things fruit, and is filled with stunning photographs, unique flavor combinations, and recipes that work.  ‘The recipes in this book range from simple, five-ingredient affairs to more complex and involved baking endeavors like laminated pastry dough and composed tarts. My hope is that you’ll find something that’s just your speed, and that these recipes show the wide range of desserts you can make that highlight fresh, season fruit all year.’ I’m of the opinion that you can never have too many baking books, and highly recommend adding this gem to your collection. Also, you can check out the beautiful book trailer here.

Blood Orange Old Fashioned Donuts
Reprinted with permission from Sweeter Off the Vine, by Yossy Arefi, copyright © 2016, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Old-fashioned donuts are humble and unassuming, craggy and cracked. But the addition of a blanket of pink blood orange glaze turns these old-fashioneds into beauty queens. If you’ve never made fried donuts before, this style is a great place to start because the dough comes together a lot like cookie dough. The dough can also be prepared the day before frying if you want to surprise your friends with donuts for breakfast next time you host brunch at your place.

DONUTS
2 1/2 cups (285g) cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (55g) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon blood orange zest
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
3/4 cup (170g) full-fat yogurt or sour cream, at room temperature
3 tablespoons blood orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

GLAZE
2 blood oranges
3 cups (300g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Pinch salt
Canola oil, for frying

To make the donuts: Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a medium bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a handheld electric mixer, mix the butter, sugar, and orange zest together until sandy. Add the egg yolks and mix for 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing. The mixture should lighten in color and be very thick. Add the yogurt and stir until evenly combined, then add the blood orange juice and vanilla. Add the flour mixture all at once and stir until just combined; use a spatula to scrape down to the bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing. The dough will be thick and sticky like cookie dough. Wrap the dough in a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

Just before frying, make the glaze: Zest of one of the oranges and measure out 1?2 teaspoon of zest. Juice both of the oranges and measure 1?4 cup of juice. Whisk the juice, zest, and salt into the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. You want the glaze to be thick but pourable. If the glaze seems thin, add a bit more confectioners’ sugar; if it seems too thick, add a bit more orange juice. Set aside while you fry the donuts.

To fry the donuts: Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set a cooling rack on top. Add enough oil to a Dutch oven or deep-sided skillet to measure a depth of at least 3-inches. Heat the oil over medium high heat until it reaches 350ºF (170ºC) on a candy thermometer.

While the oil is heating, cut the donuts. Lightly flour a baking sheet. Roll the dough out on a well-floured surface to about 1?2 inch thick. Use a well-floured donut cutter to cut as many donuts and holes as possible; the dough will be soft and sticky, so do your best to handle it gently. Flour the cutter in between each cut to prevent sticking. Gently reroll the scraps and cut again. Transfer the cut donuts and holes to the floured baking sheet. Refrigerate while the oil heats.

When the oil has come up to temperature, dust the excess flour off the donuts and holes and carefully place each one in the hot oil, working in batches and making sure to not crowd the pan; the donuts will expand a bit in the oil. Keep an eye on the temperature of the oil; you may have to raise or lower the heat under the pan to keep the oil at a consistent temperature. Refrigerate the baking sheet with the uncooked donuts in between batches.

Fry each batch of donuts and holes until they are deep golden brown, about 90 seconds, then use a spatula or spider strainer to carefully flip the donuts. Cook the other side for about 90 seconds, or until deep golden brown and cooked through. Remove to the rack until to cool enough to touch, about 5 minutes.

Dip each warm donut in the glaze and let the excess drip off. Return the glazed donuts to the rack, glaze side up, and let them sit until the glaze is no longer sticky. Serve warm or at room temperature. These donuts are best the day they are made.

The post blood orange donuts appeared first on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

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I always forget how delicious palmiers are until I make them – puff pastry, coated in sugar and spices and then baked until crisp and caramelized – what’s not to love? This version from Maggie Battista’s new cookbook, A New Way to Food, is made with Masala spice mix (a blend of cinnamon, clove, cardamom, coriander, black pepper, and fennel) and maple sugar.

Other puff pastry desserts you might enjoy: Peach Puff Pastry Pie, Puff Pastry Tarts with Twangy Blueberry Sauce, Cheese Danish Slab Pie, and Turnovers with Jam.

Also! I am giving away a copy of Maggie’s new cookbook over on Instagram! The instructions to enter are on this photo here. You can also win a loungewear kit from Universal Standard. Read about their fashion for all women mission here.

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

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?
-Mary Oliver, The Swan

I was so sad to hear today that Mary Oliver had died; her poetry and words have been very important to me. I highly recommend picking up a book of her poetry if you haven’t read any of her works before. You could also start with this interview with her.

Masala-Spice Palmiers
From A New Way to Food by Maggie Battista

A note on store bought puff pastry: look for a puff pastry that is all butter. Dufour, Simply Enjoy, and Trader Joe brands are good options. These are also delicious without the coriander, pepper, and fennel – I made them with just the cinnamon, clove, and cardamom for my kids and they preferred the sweeter version, but both ways are delicious. I have also made these substituting the maple sugar with granulated sugar and they turn out beautifully.

Headnote from Maggie: Place your puff pastry in the fridge to defrost overnight the moment the thought to make these cookies crosses your mind. Once it defrosts, you’re so very close to Masala-spice bliss.

I often keep ground Masala spice mix – a blend of cinnamon, clove, cardamom, coriander, black pepper, and fennel – on hand for these cookies. After you’ve made all the correct folds, position your log in front of you and slice your cookies to life. Be careful to keep all the loose spices in between the thin layers. Bake them for a few minutes on one side and then flip – the flipping ensures that both sides caramelize nicely.

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
1/2 cup (80g) lightly packed maple sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
One 14-ounce (397g) puff pastry sheet, defrosted (I used a half recipe of the rough puff pastry from my book, but store bought will work fine, too. See above note about store bought puff pastry)
2 tablespoons finely diced candied ginger
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 435F (218C) with the rack in the center position. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper

Make the Masala spice mix by whisking together the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, coriander, black pepper, fennel, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and the salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

On a clean work surface, sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and open your pastry out on top of the sugar. Sprinkle the Masala mix over the top of the pastry. Roll the dough out a little larger to be about 15 or 16 inches x 13 inches (41 x 33 cm). Sprinkle the candied ginger all over the top of the pastry.

Fold both long sides of the pastry into the middle of the dough, making sure the edges touch each other. Fold both long sides up and into the center again, getting the edges to touch each other. Brush off any excess sugar on the exposed side, the top side, of the pastry (this will help the egg adhere to the dough). Using a pastry brush, brush the egg on one of the long sides. Now, take the other long side and fold it up and over to cover the long side with the beaten egg. Tap the top of the dough lightly to nudge the dough and help it stick together.

Slice the dough into 3/8-inch (1cm) slices and place them cut side up on the lined baking sheet 2 to 3 inches apart. Fit 12 cookies per baking sheet.

Place a single sheet in the oven (and the other sheet in the fridge for now) and bake the cookies for 6 to 7  minutes, until caramelized and cooked through. Carefully flip each cookie and bake again for 3-4 minutes, ntl caramelized on the other side. Repeat for the second baking sheet. Move to a cooling rack and cool completely before serving.

The post Masala-Spice Palmiers appeared first on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

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