Friday, September 30, 2011

Cinnamon sugar pull-apart bread

This bread is irresistible. Can't you tell? The top left corner is eaten off in the photo because I had to test for done-ness. Then the crew boys- wait I'm supposed to call them men- started whining if you can eat it now we want to, too. So we had many taste-testers tasting before it was even out of the oven. I die.

Hands down the best thing I've made all month.

Update: It's two days later and I'm still thinking about it. Of course it was a short-lived bread. Gone in, oh, 4 hours? Regardless...

Makes one 9x5x3-inch loaf

For the Dough:

2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the cinnamon sugar filling:

1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted until browned

In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Set aside.

Whisk together eggs and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt together milk and butter until butter has just melted. Remove from the heat and add water and vanilla extract. Let mixture stand for a minute or two, or until the mixture registers 115 to 125

Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula. Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter. The eggs will feel soupy and it’ll seem like the dough and the eggs are never going to come together. Keep stirring. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes. The mixture will be sticky. That’s just right.

Place the dough is a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour. The dough can be risen until doubled in size, then refrigerated overnight for use in the morning. If you’re using this method, just let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes before following the roll-out directions below.

While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling. Set aside. Melt 2 ounces of butter until browned. Set aside. Grease and flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Set that aside too.

t this point, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F.

Deflate the risen dough and knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out. The dough should be 12-inches tall and about 20-inches long. If you can’t get the dough to 20-inches long… that’s okay. Just roll it as large as the dough will go. Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across all of the dough. Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture. It might seem like a lot of sugar. Seriously? Just go for it.

Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips. Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again. You’ll have six stacks of six squares. Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan like a flip-book. Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown. The top may be lightly browned, but the center may still be raw. A nice, dark, golden brown will ensure that the center is cooked as well.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and invert onto a clean board. Place a cake stand or cake plate on top of the upside down loaf, and carefully invert so it’s right side up. Serve warm with coffee or tea.

Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker

Saturday, September 24, 2011

S'mores brownies

I just ate my weight in brownie batter. Then half my weight in brownie crumbs when they overflowed of the baking pan. Ouchhhhh.

That's how good these brownies are. They make you lick spoonfuls of batter each time you add another ingredient. Any good cook monitors their work now, don't they? What's that called, a product tester? Yeah that's totally my job. At least that's what I'm telling myself...

Case in point these brownies are kind of addicting.

That's really all I have to say.

Makes 15 super large brownies

For the brownies:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
5 large eggs
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup graham cracker, roughly crushed with your hands
15 big marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan with 2-inch-high sides (This part is very important! You need a tall pan or they'll overflow!) Combine first 3 ingredients in small bowl. Stir butter and chocolate in a medium sized bowl over a heavy saucepan of simmering water. Stir chocolate and butter in this double boiler until melted and smooth.

Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Stir in warm chocolate mixture, then dry ingredients. Fold in graham crackers. Pour batter into prepared pan. Dot with 15 large marshmallows. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 30- 40 minutes minutes.

Marshmallows will be browned and puffy but will deflate as the brownies cool. Cool for at least 20 minutes than slice with a sharp knife, cleaning the knife with hot water if it gets too messy and sticky. Serve or wrap individually in wax paper for storing.

Tip: this makes a very cakey brownie. If you prefer a more fudgey brownie, eliminate 1 egg for a richer texture.

Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Apple roundup and a cinnamon apple cake

I ruvv fall. The leaves are changing, the air is crisp, and the colder temperatures mean I can start wearing sweaters again. Oh, and it's apple season. Apples. My favorite fruit. Crunchy, sweet, tart, fresh, and absolutely delicious. So naturally I jump at any opportunity to make apple desserts. Here's a quick recap of my previous apple adventures:

Upside-down apple biscuits: delectable little guys. 
Scrumptious apple pie: an elegant pie perfect for company. 
Applesauce spice cake: one of the best cakes I've ever eaten. 
Apple cinnamon coffeecake: my go-to fall cake. So dense and flavorful. 

And now to add to the list, this cinnamon apple cake! It's super moist but also light, and makes a lot of cake, seeing as half of the volume is apples. So that means half the calories, right? No, who am I kidding. It means twice the portion size.

Yaaaay. Fall. 

For the cake:

4 1/2 cups diced apples (roughly 3 apples)
3/4 cups medium brown sugar
3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
6 ounces plain or greek yogurt
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
whole or slivered almonds to decorate (optional)

Preheat oven to 350° F and grease a medium baking pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, and the rest of the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients and mix until well incorporated. Fold the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, gently mixing the ingredients just until combined. Mix in chopped apples.
Pour the batter into the baking pan, making sure it is evenly distributed. Decorate the top of the cake with a handful of almonds.

Bake in an oven for 40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the pan. Allow to cool completely before serving. 

Recipe adapted from the whinery

Friday, September 16, 2011

Salted chocolate peanut butter cups!

Woah. Peanut butter and chocolate is quite possibly my favorite duo. It's as if when you combine the two a new flavor is created. It's not quite chocolate, but it's not quite peanut butter...

Brilliant, I know. But seriously. Winning combo. And as Friend Lanie will tell you, I love my sprinkle of salt. It's like a little kick that brings out the flavors even more. WOOHOOOO

Makes ~18 cups

For the peanut butter cups:

1 cup salted peanut butter
2/3 cup confectioner's sugar
2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
sea salt, for dusting
cupcake liners

In a small bowl, combine the confectioner's sugar and peanut butter until smooth. Using teaspoon-sized measurements, roll the peanut butter mixture into balls, then push down to form small coin-like circles. Set aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips in 30 second intervals, mixing in between each blast (this will prevent the chocolate from overheating and burning). While the chocolate is heating, set up the cupcake liners on a cutting board or other flat surface. Once melted, spoon teaspoon-sized dollops of chocolate into the cupcake liners. Next, set in the peanut butter coins from earlier. Spoon another dollop of melted chocolate over the peanut butter, creating swirls with a spoon to smooth out the chocolate. Finally, sprinkle the tops of each cup with a pinch of sea salt. Transfer the cups to a fridge or freezer, allowing to cool thoroughly before eating. Nom nom nom.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Banana bread

This banana bread is denser than most, so it takes a long time to bake and the end product is fairly filling (and delicious!). And lowfat. What? Negating that fact, it makes for a great breakfast when toasted and slathered in butter! I also made an alternative loaf mixed in with 1 cup of chocolate chips, which the boys loved. You could add walnuts, too! Endless possibilities...

For the bread:

2 cups flour
1/2 cup medium brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 overripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder


Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl, blend butter and sugars together until smooth. Add in eggs and bananas. Mix in dry ingredients, then add in buttermilk.

Bake in a buttered loaf pan for 45-60 minutes (oven temperatures will vary).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lemon strawberry scones

I adapted this recipe from its original "Lemon blueberry scones," but really you can use any berry you'd like. Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, boysenberries, snozberries (yeah ok Willy Wonka).
Makes 8 scones

For the scones:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 lemons, zested
Pinch of salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 large egg
1 cup chopped strawberries

For the glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus extra if needed

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles a coarse sand (alternatively, if using a stand mixer, mix in butter with paddle attachment until butter is pea-sized or smaller).

In a small bowl, whisk together the heavy whipping cream and egg until well blended. Pour cream into scone mixture and mix until it comes together as a dough. Stir in the strawberries (over-mixing the berries will squish the berries and dye the batter—try to avoid this).

On a lightly floured surface, place dough and form into a circle, flattening the top until dough is roughly an inch thick. Cut dough into 8 pie-shaped pieces and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until scones are lightly browned. Allow to cool to room temperature before glazing.

In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth. If glaze is too thick, add lemon juice 1 teaspoon at a time until glaze is thick, but still runs.

Lightly drizzle glaze over scones and allow scones to sit for a few minutes for glaze to set before serving.

Recipe adapted from The Pastry Affair

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Chewy peanut butter cookies

I moved. To the midwest. Kind of? For school. And I live with a bunch of guys. Who row. And eat. And eat. A lot.

Triple batches are the new single batches.

Makes ~3 dozen cookies

For the cookies:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sugar-coating
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Beat together butter and peanut butter until well combined. Add both sugars and beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and mix just until blended. Roll balls of dough in more granulated sugar before placing on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes. Do not over bake. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for at least 3 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.