Iced Chelsea Buns

More than a few of you are probably fans of the British baking competition show The Great British Bakeoff. I know I am. Although it’s a competition, and a lot of the winners/contestants go onto have lucrative careers as culinary personalities, I appreciate that the majority people who come on the show appear to do so solely for the love they have of baking. There’s nothing wrong those things, but there’s no cash prize or guarantee of an influencer gig in Bakeoff; they’re just there to bake.

Veteran watchers of the show know that there are some recipes that make consistent appearances on Bakeoff. Personally, it’s the authentically British recipes that tend to be my favorite; recipes like lemon drizzle cake, sticky toffee pudding, pork pies, and…chelsea buns.

A Chelsea bun is basically a sweet bun made with an enriched dough (enriched meaning it has butter, eggs and milk), then is filled with dried fruit and topped with a glaze, an icing, or in some cases both. One of the judges on Bakeoff, Paul Hollywood, is very vocal about his love for Chelsea buns and as such, is very critical of the contestants when/if it comes time for them to make their own versions.

I’ve tried out several Bakeoff recipes on the blog before, but up until now still hadn’t gotten around to the old Chelsea Bun. However, I have made quite a few enriched sweet roll recipes before, so I knew going into it that the process probably wouldn’t be too different from what I’m used to.

I’ve gotta say, that Paul Hollywood really knows what he’s doing when it comes to bread. The Chelsea Buns baked up very light and fluffy on the inside, with a golden brown finish on top. The plump dried fruit on the inside gave them tiny bursts of tart flavor that complemented the sweetness. I’ve included the recipe for the icing because I typically prefer it myself, but honestly, you could eat these plain and still be a happy camper.

Get the vaccine. If you’re not going to get the vaccine, then wear a mask and practice social distancing.

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Iced Chelsea Buns

Recipe Adapted from Paul Hollywood

Ingredients

For Dough

  • 500 grams (Roughly about 4 1/4 cups) bread flour*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup white sugar, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened not melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk, warmed

For Filling

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (50g for both filling and greasing baking pan,) softened but not melted
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups dried cranberries, cherries or currants (or a mixture of all the above if you like)

For Icing

  • 1 cup confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
  • Zest of about ½ orange (about 1 tablespoon)
  • About 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice

Directions

In a large glass measuring cup, pour in the milk, sprinkle in the yeast, and then add 1 tablespoon of the sugar on top of that. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until yeast is proofed and frothy.

Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer (or, if you’re using a handheld mixer or baking by hand, pour it in in a large bowl)

Add the rest of the sugar, the salt, the butter, the egg and 2 cups of the flour. Use the dough hook(s) (or a wooden spoon if you’re making by hand) to combine.

Stir until the mixture is well mixed and starts coming together as a soft dough. You may add more flour here as needed, but the actual amount you will need will vary according to your location and the time of year. Keep in mind, this is meant to be a soft dough and you don’t want to add any more flour than necessary. Only add enough to hold it together

Turn dough onto a lightly floured pastry mat or pastry board; knead dough with your greased hands until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

Lightly grease the large mixing bowl with butter or cooking spray. Place dough in the greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap and a damp small kitchen towel. Let dough rise is a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. 

Line a 13 x 9 baking sheet with parchment paper and spray the paper with cooking spray.

Turn the risen dough out onto your work surface. Knead dough briefly, 4 to 5 times. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 21-inches by 10-inches.

Spread 3 tablespoons of softened butter over the top of the dough. Spread the brown sugar evenly over the top to within 1 inch of the edges. Sprinkle the cinnamon evenly over the brown sugar, then scatter the dried fruit evenly over the top.

Roll-up dough jelly-roll style, starting with a long side, rolling the dough quite tightly. Place the roll seam-side down, and gently roll the entire roll on the lightly floured board with the palm of your hands to even-out the roll to the same thickness.

Using a sharp kitchen knife or a bench scraper, slice off the very ends of the roll where the ends are uneven (slice off about ½ inch, the ends can be discarded.) Slice the long dough roll into 12 equal pieces, and place the rolls cut side up evenly apart in the baking pan. (Measure the length of the roll and use the back of a kitchen knife to mark the roll at the half-way point. Then mark each half into 6 pieces. After marking, use a sharp knife to slice the rolls all the way through.)

Cover pan with plastic wrap and the damp kitchen towel again and let rolls rise and spread out in a warm place, about 1 hour. Tip: The rolls should be about doubled in size, spread out with the sides touching, and look quite puffy. If the centers are popped up you can gently push the centers back down with your fingers.

While the rolls are rising, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes or until the rolls are a rich golden brown or the internal temperature reads 180 to 190 degrees F using an instant read thermometer to gauge the temperature. Remove rolls from oven. Place pan on a wire cooling rack to cool slightly while preparing the icing.

In a small bowl, combine confectioner’s sugar, orange zest, and enough orange juice to make a good spreading consistency. Spread the orange icing on top of the still warm rolls.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #391.

Ginger Syrup & Candied Ginger

Today’s post is 3 + years overdue.

Several years ago, I made a blog post for a curry-ginger cracker recipe that I REALLY liked, and in that post I made mention of my recently learning at the time how to make something called ginger syrup.

Ginger syrup isn’t readily available in most general grocery stores in the US. Sometimes you can find it in specialty shops like HomeGoods, Marshalls or TJ Maxx, but I had honestly never heard of it until I needed it as an ingredient for a recipe I was trying out, couldn’t find it anywhere and had to learn to make it myself.

Candied ginger I was much more familiar with, and it’s an ingredient that is much more easy to find than ginger syrup. However, depending upon the time of year that you try to buy it in, it has a tendency to be rather pricey. This is where learning how to make it for yourself comes in handy; especially when the ingredients are very inexpensive.

An obvious question to answer here is the why: WHY make your own ginger syrup and candied ginger?

The reasons for making candied ginger aren’t hard to appreciate; unlike the store version, DIY is cheaper, you can control the size of the pieces you make, and there are endless possibilities of ways to incorporate it into other sweet treats (see below at the end of this post)

Ginger in just about any form is a very effective natural anti-inflammatory remedy. There’s a particular ginger soda called Vernors that Midwesterners–specifically those from Michigan– that’s potent enough to where we believe it can cure just about anything.

If you suffer from digestive issues, such as IBS or extreme nausea, I’ve found ginger syrup to be an EXTREMELY powerful and fast remedy–to the point where we now have it on hand at all times the same way you might always have aspirin or TUMS in your medicine cabinet. A spoonful of ginger syrup does wonders for my gut–besides that, it’s absolutely delicious.

One of the best things about this recipe is that it’s actually a 2-in-1. You get a batch of both ginger syrup and candied ginger within about one hour. It’s become a staple in our home, and if you try this recipe out, I think you’ll understand why.

See below for possible recipes with which to used candied ginger that have already been posted on the blog:

Lemon Ginger Sweet Rolls

Ginger Biscotti

Ginger Pound Cake

Chewy Ginger Cookie Bars

Curried Pumpkin and Ginger Scones

Double Ginger Sugar Cookies

Curry & Ginger Crackers

Curried Ginger Scones

Ginger Syrup & Candied Ginger

Recipe By Jess @CookingisMySport

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw, peeled ginger, sliced into coins (about the thickness of a quarter)
  • 2 1/2 cups white sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Directions

Pour the water & 1 1/2 cups of the sugar together in a saucepan and stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil.

Add the ginger slices and reduce heat to a low simmer and allow to cook for a further 25-30 minutes, until the ginger is tender and the ends begin to curl. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

Place the remaining cup of sugar in a shallow bowl, pan, or tupperware container.

Take the ginger (which is now candied) out of the pan and using a fork, toss in this additional white sugar. Spread it out on foil, or wax paper for a few hours to dry.

Store in a sealed container in the fridge: you now have crystallized ginger that you can use however you want; MUCH cheaper than buying it in stores.

The liquid left in the saucepan is your ginger syrup. You’ll want to refrigerate this as well.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #390.

Mixed Berry Streusel Bars

Apologies for yet another hiatus. As I said last time, I’m going through another huge transition in my life; a 2800+ miles kind of transition, and for those of you who have never been through one of those, they are…a lot.

Between crappy moving companies, crowded airports, uncomfortable flights, hot & muggy weather, a whole lot of sweat, and an endless (ENDLESS, I tell you) barrage of cardboard boxes. I am so.over.moving.

The good news is, the move itself is finally done, and we’re finally starting to settle into the new space. It might even start to resemble a real home provided I can muster up the energy (and to be honest, the ability) to actually put together some furniture rather than just continuing to camp out on a mattress on the the floor like a college student.

I do plan on getting back into my full cooking/baking swing in this new space but, in full transparency, today’s post is one I’ve had in the arsenal for a while now, but still haven’t gotten around to posting yet. It still fits the time of year though and looking back at the pictures I’m feeling rather tempted to make it one of the first desserts I make in our new home.

Here’s a pro-tip: just about any summer fruit dessert recipe you can think of, can be adapted to suit just about any summer fruit that you’ve got on hand. So long as the volume measurements match, it’s your world.

For instance, this recipe was originally only supposed to be for blueberries. But at the time, I didn’t just have blueberries on deck; I had blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. So, I used a combination of them all. The only thing that mattered was that what I used came out to equal 4 cups of fruit.

The base of these bars is a basic vanilla shortbread crust that gets pre-baked to a golden brown before the fruit filling is added and topped with an almond streusel. It’s a really simple dessert to throw together that is a perfect blend of sweet and tart.

Mixed Berry Streusel Bars

Recipe Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Ingredients

For the Shortbread crust:

  • 14 Tbs. (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
  • 1 3/4 cups, plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

For Filling

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries or blackberries
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

For Streusel Topping

  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup, firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 Tbs. chopped raw almonds

Directions

For the Shortbread Crust

Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking dish.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt and vanilla and beat on medium speed until the mixture is crumbly, about 30 seconds.

Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish and using damp hands, gently press in an even layer into the bottom of the pan. Using a fork, prick the dough in several places. Bake until the crust is light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer the dish to a wire rack and let cool completely. Increase the oven temperature to 375°F.

For the Filling

in a large bowl, combine the berries, lemon zest, lemon juice and almond extract and toss to coat. In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, cornstarch and salt. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the berries and toss to distribute evenly. Transfer to the cooled crust and spread in an even layer. 

For the Streusel

in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and almond extract and stir until the mixture is crumbly, with some large chunks remaining. Stir in the almonds. Sprinkle the streusel over the blueberries. Bake until the filling is thick and bubbling and the streusel is golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into squares and serve.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #389, cohosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Deep Dish Summer Fruit Pie

Hey y’all, sorry for the extended absence. There’s a lot of change going on in my life right now (again) and I’ve been super busy with getting ready for the transition.

Change is great but it can also be uncomfortable, irritating, overwhelming and downright stressful. I really needed a break from all that, so here I am, taking a few minutes to actually act like I’m a food blogger.

There are very few things that can cheer me up like pie. I love to make and eat it year-round, but especially during the summer time when particular fruits are in season, like stone fruits and berries.

When both became available at my local grocery store, I knew I wanted to make a pie, but I wanted to do something a little bit different with it than the typical 9-inch round with a lattice top or something else like that. I also had a LOT of fruit, that I didn’t think would fit in my regular pie pan.

So, what was a girl to do?

Deep dish pies are a favorite go-to of mine for when you have a lot of fruit you need to use, and when I was deciding how I would make it work for this one, I started wondering if it would be possible to use my 11 x 13 baking dish to make one (a first for me.)

I’m really happy with what I came up with. It’s a variation on several pies and fruit desserts I’ve made in the past and decided to smush together here as a sort of experiment. The bottom crust is a standard, all-butter one you’d find in most pies out there. My filling is a combination of peaches, nectarines, and blueberries, but as I’ve noted in the recipe, you can opt for what you most prefer here.

The top crust of the pie is where I deviated a little bit from the norm. It’s actually the ‘crust’ recipe I use for whenever I make peach cobbler. It comes together in minutes and doesn’t require any resting or intensive labor. You just scoop and plop it on top of the filling. It spreads and puffs as it bakes, creating a fluffy biscuit-dumpling crust that soaks up all the juices from the peaches wonderfully.

I know I talk a lot about certain foods tasting like the seasons, but this really does taste like summer time. The fruit is bright, tart and slightly sweet while the different textures of the crusts give it that buttery richness without overtaking the filling completely.

This was a successful ‘change’ for me when making pie. Here’s to other changes going well.

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Deep Dish Summer Fruit

Recipe Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Ingredients

For Bottom Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, frozen
  • 6 to 8 Tbs. (90 to 125ml) ice water

For Filling

  • 3 lb. yellow peaches, peeled, cored and cut into slices 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 lb. yellow nectarines, peeled, cored and cut into slices 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 1/2 cups blueberries, blackberries or raspberries (or a mixture of both, it’s up to you)
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3 Tbs. bourbon
  • 2 Tbs. vanilla extract

For Biscuit Topping

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing
  • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

For Bottom Crust:

 In a medium sized bowl combine the flour, sugar and salt and stir together with a fork. Using a box grater (or use a knife to cut it into cubes) grate butter directly into the dry ingredients. Add 6 Tbs. of the ice water and gently stir together. The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky. If it is crumbly, add more water 1 tsp. at a time, pulsing twice after each addition. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and shape into a disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight, preferably overnight (the crust will be more tender).

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 20-by-14-inch rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Fold the dough in half and transfer to a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Unfold the dough and press into the bottom and sides of the dish. Trim the edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, and fold in the excess dough so it extends just beyond the rim of the dish. Refrigerate the pie shell for 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 375°F

For Filling:

In a large bowl, stir together the fruit, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, cornstarch, bourbon and vanilla until well combined. Pour the fruit filling into prepared shell.

For Biscuit Topping:

Into a bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut or grate the butter into small pieces. Add it to the flour mixture and stir with a fork or a pastry blender until it looks like coarse bread crumbs. Pour in the cream and mix just until the dough comes together. Don’t overwork; the dough should be slightly sticky but manageable. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls over the pie filling; There can be gaps, the dough will puff up and spread out as it bakes. Brush the top with some heavy cream and sprinkle with some turbinado sugar; put it into the oven on a baking sheet to catch any drips.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven 75-80 minutes, until the filling is bubbling, and the top is golden. (You may need to cover the pie with aluminum foil to keep it from browning too quickly.)

Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for at least 2 hours before serving.

Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #386.

Hoisin Meatballs

I don’t know what it is about them as a dish that prompts this response, but I’ve just always thought of meatballs as a celebration/special occasion food. They’re like the little black dress of party foods; they go with everything. It’s never a bad time to bring them out.

Cocktail hour at a wedding? You serve meatballs.

Graduation open house? You serve meatballs.

Wedding or baby shower? You serve meatballs.

Summer barbecue for a crowd? You serve meatballs.

Typically the above scenarios will have precooked frozen meatballs in order to serve them en masse, which is perfectly fine. But I tend to prefer to make my own from scratch. I’ve shared several recipes before on the blog with different variations of meatballs. The possibilities are pretty wide for what you can come up with.

One of the more underrated ingredients that I keep in my pantry/fridge is hoisin sauce. If I had to describe the taste, I’d say it’s like…an Asian ketchup. A lot of times it’s used for stir-fries, but I actually use it for non-Asian dishes as well.

Here’s a pro-tip for you: a tablespoon or two of hoisin sauce in your beef stew broth will give it INCREDIBLE richness of flavor. I keep it on hand for that reason alone.

This recipe is pretty straight forward and easy, and the real only ‘labor’ involved in it is rolling meatballs, which I personally find somewhat therapeutic once I get into a groove. I tend to bake mine to give them a more even cook all the way around, and it’s also healthier than frying. I use ground turkey as a base, but I do add a little bit of ground pork roll sausage just to make sure they don’t dry out, as turkey can sometimes do.

The meatballs are wonderful all by themselves, but the hoisin sauce is the hero of this dish, no question. Hoisin all on it Its own is pretty thick and strong, so this one gets thinned out with some orange juice and chicken broth, then flavored with fresh ginger and sesame oil. I

Whatever the occasion you’re cooking for, I recommend trying these. They’re delicious.

Hoisin Meatballs

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine and Cooks Illustrated

For Meatballs

  • 3 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 lb. ground sausage
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic clove
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 6 sliced scallions
  • 1 1/2-2 cups panko breadcrumbs*
  • 4 eggs

For Sauce:

  • 3 teaspoons vegetable/canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts sliced 1/8 inch thick on bias
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Sesame seeds, optional

Directions

For Meatballs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two sheet pans with aluminum foil and place two wire racks on top of each pan. Lightly spray the rack with cooking spray and set aside

In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey and sausage with the ginger, garlic, sugar, pepper, and scallions.

Add the soy sauce, then the eggs. Pour in 1 1/2 cups of the panko breadcrumbs and mix together with your hand; don’t knead it too much though, or the meatballs may be tough. If the mixture seems too wet, you can always add the extra 1/2 cup more of the panko breadcrumbs to tighten it up.

Shape into meatballs (about 2 heaping tablespoons each. Place 1 1/2 inches apart on a lightly greased (with cooking spray) rack in an aluminum foil-lined jelly-roll pan.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes on the middle rack, or until browned.

For Sauce

Melt about 3 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a medium sized saucepan and heat until shimmering. Add the grated ginger and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 15 seconds.

Add the hoisin sauce, orange juice, and broth and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the saucepan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Simmer until liquid reduces and thickens to desired consistency.

Stir in the sesame oil and the scallions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the sauce over the meatballs and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #384.

Strawberry – Raspberry Lemonade Cookie Bars

Have you ever eaten something that was so delicious, you almost didn’t have the right words to describe it?

It’s not frequent that this happens to me, but when it does….you can pretty much guarantee that I’m going to share it here.

As this week, and some of the coming weeks’ recipes will indicate, fruit-y bars have become a real favorite of mine lately. There are so many different flavor combinations and possibilities you can try out, and I haven’t had a failed experiment yet–especially not today.

You guys. These, are, SOOOOOO GOOD.

It combines two of my favorite sweet treats (a sugar cookie and strawberry lemonade) into one dessert that was just made for summer baking.

One of the best things that I appreciate most about this recipe is the ratio of the fruit to the cookie. As much as I like fruit bar recipes, a lot of times, the proportion of fruit to crust is often unbalanced, with the cookie taking up most of the ‘space’ just to ensure the curd has a sturdy foundation. Not so here; the strawberry lemonade curd is the shining star of this dessert and it is FABULOUS. The flavors are so bright, sweet and yet tart that is really does taste like strawberry lemonade that’s been thickened into a smooth, slightly textured curd.

Please make these. They really are one of the best desserts I’ve ever had or made.

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Strawberry-Raspberry Lemonade Cookie Bars

Recipe Adapted from The Improv Kitchen

Ingredients

For Crust

  • 18 Tablespoons (2 sticks and 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

For Filling

  • 12 oz (2 heaping cups) frozen raspberries, thawed and drained
  • 12 oz (2 heaping cups) frozen strawberries, thawed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons lemon zest (6 lemons worth)
  • 6 egg whites
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahreneit. Line a 13 x 9 square baking dish with parchment paper, spray with cooking spray and set aside.

For the Crust: In a medium size bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

Add in vanilla. Add flour until just incorporated. If it is still too dry/crumbly to hold together, you can add 1 teaspoon of water at a time just until it is moist enough to form one dough ball.

Dump dough into baking pan and press with your hands until it evenly covers the bottom of the dish. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until slightly golden brown. Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes. 

For the filling: If you prefer for your bars to be seedless, you can press the raspberries through a sieve, or give them a blitz in the blender first. (I don’t mind seeds, so I skipped this step.)

In a medium bowl, combine the thawed and drained fruit, the sugar, egg whites, eggs, lemon juice and zest, flour, and salt to the bowl and stir with a wire whisk or a fork to combine.

Pour the mixture onto the crust (don’t worry, it’s supposed to be a very loose mixture, it will thicken) and bake for 45-50 minutes. (A pretty good way to tell if its done is if it’s firm towards the outside, but still has a tiny bit of ‘wobble’ in the middle)

Let the bars cool to room temperature and then place in the refrigerator overnight to set up fully. (You can place them in the freezer for a few hours to expedite this process, but overnight is better if you’ve got the time.)

Cut into squares and serve.

Linking up to Fiesta Friday #382.

Browned Butter Cornbread

I’m not (nor will I likely ever be) a vegetarian, but if the time ever did come to where I was making that lifestyle choice, there are a few foods/dishes that would make that transition much easier for me to adjust to.

Greens and cornbread are one of them.

Greens and cornbread are a classic Southern staple in the US; a cornerstone of the cuisine that is aptly titled Soul Food. Although they’ve always been served as a side dish at the dinners I grew up on and the ones that I make, they’re delicious enough to me to where I really would be content to do without the meat altogether and just eat a big bowl of greens (collards, cabbage or turnip, I don’t care) and cornbread all to myself. There’s just something so comforting about a pan of warm, golden-crusted cornbread that I will never get enough of.

My go-to cornbread is my grandmother’s recipe, but recently I decided to give it a little bit of a twist with another ingredient that it just seems like I can never get enough of: browned butter. I’ve already got quite the collection of browned butter recipes going on the blog and I’m really pleased to announce that it’s now time for yet another one.

There’s really nothing in this world that browned butter cannot improve, cornbread included. My only concern going into this little experiment was that the nutty, caramel-y flavor of the browned butter would make it too sweet for me, as I tend to prefer saltier cornbread. But it really didn’t. The browned butter does give the cornbread a different buttery richness, but it’s not particularly sweet.

What it IS however, is delicious.

It’s kind of impossible to mess up a straightforward cornbread recipe like this one, so I hope that you’ll give this one a go.

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Browned Butter Cornbread

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
  • 2 cups plain yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups whole buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp. liquid bacon grease/drippings
  • 2 large eggs

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9 inch cake pan (or square pan) with cooking spray and set aside.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a 2 quart saucepan. Let it cook and watch it closely until 3-5 minutes until the butter begins to foam, forms a golden brown color and browned bits form on the bottom. (It will have a sweet, nutty smell). Immediately remove it from the heat. 

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

In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and the melted browned butter. Make a well in center of cornmeal mixture, and add buttermilk mixture, stirring until just combined.

Pour batter into cake pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and toothpick inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean.

Let cool slightly; cut cornbread into slices, and serve warm.

 Sharing this post at Fiesta Friday #381, cohosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Rock Cakes

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, then you’ll know that biscuits and scones are some of my favorite things to bake. However, if you’ve paid attention to my personal techniques for making both of them, you’ll also know that it’s a process. Not a difficult one, but one that does involve a little more time, effort and tools than some may be able to spend.

No judgment; sometimes I’m the “some” that I’m talking about.

There’s nothing wrong with taking short cuts in the kitchen so long as the finished product still tastes good. Even though it’s still my preference to go with my tried and true way of doing things, there are times during the week when I don’t have time to ‘go the longer way’ in making biscuits or scones, and I too choose to ‘take a shortcut.’

The quickest shortcut for making biscuits that will still turn out tasting great are Drop Biscuits, where you make a biscuit dough, but rather than going to the trouble of rolling out the dough, you just scoop it out and plop it onto a pan and bake it off. The result is a biscuit that has a craggy outer texture, but (so long as you haven’t overworked the dough) is still tender on the inside. The scone counterpart to a Drop Biscuit, is the Rock Cake.

Don’t be thrown off by the name. Rock Cakes are far from the tough hockey pucks you may be imagining they taste like. In my opinion, the name likely comes from their appearance. Because the dough hasn’t been rolled, smoothed out, or given time to rest, it bakes with an uneven and craggy exterior. But that exterior is where the rough inconsistency ends.

If you break open a rock cake, you’ll find that the texture is much closer to a traditionally made scone than you might expect. It was close enough to where I was genuinely surprised at the result. They’re not as fluffy or light as normal scones, but they are tender enough to where you’re not disappointed that you took the shortcut in the first place to make them.

I had just bought a muffin top pan that I wanted to try out, and this seemed like the perfect recipe to break it in. I had really great results with it, but if you don’t have one that’s no problem. The cakes will probably just spread a little more on a regular sheet pan–and as a remedy to that, you can always place the batter/dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes to make a bit more stiff before baking.

These are really great smeared with butter and jam alongside a cup of your favorite morning beverage– or just by themselves at any time of day.

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Rock Cakes

Recipe Adapted from BBC Food

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (225 grams) self-raising flour
  • 1/3 cup (75 grams) white sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (about 125 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut in to cubes*
  • 1 cup (150 grams) dried fruit (I used Trader Joe’s Orange Dried Cranberries)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. spray the cavities of a muffin top pan (Mine makes 12 at a time) with cooking spray, or line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine the flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl and cut in the cubed butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. (You can cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a fork, a pastry blender, or as I always prefer, grate the butter in with a box grater). Mix in the dried fruit.

In a small clean bowl, beat the egg and milk or heavy cream together with the vanilla extract.

Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until the mixture just comes together as a thick, lumpy dough. Add a teaspoon more milk/heavy cream if you need it to make the mixture stick together.

Place heaping tablespoons of the mixture onto the prepared baking tray. If you’re not using a muffin top pan, leave space between them as they will flatten and spread out to double their size during baking.* (As a way to lessen the spread, you can always place the dough in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before baking to make it ‘stiffer’)

Sprinkle the tops with white sugar.

Bake for 15–20 minutes, until golden-brown. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #380, cohosted by Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons.

Pecan Toffee Snickerdoodles

Hey y’all. It’s been two weeks since my last post rather than the typical one. It wasn’t intentional, I’m just super preoccupied with the goings-on of RL and apart of RL for me right now is getting ready to finish out one stage of my life and transition into a completely different one. I’m a bit on the frazzled side most of the time, but in a good way. Just send me lots and lots of good vibes over the next few weeks.

I’m pretty picky when it comes to my preferences for cookies. It’s a texture thing for me. I do prefer to make them for myself at home just because my texture preferences for cookies are very particular, and I know that I have a better chance at getting the texture that I want in the cookie if I do it myself.

Snickerdoodles are one of those cookies where the texture is key and for that reason, if I want one, I’m more than likely just going to bake it rather than buy. I’d had my eye on this recipe to try out for a while and it really only needed sone modifications in the technique to get it to where it needed to be.

Most snickerdoodles are just flavored with cinnamon, but these have added flavor and texture with the addition of both toasted pecans and chopped Heath chocolate bars. I do recommend giving them the overnight chill in the fridge. There are very few cookie recipes where I don’t do this, as I find that chilled dough just results in a better textured cookie that won’t spread like a pancake when you bake it.

This is truly a next level snickerdoodle. The combination of cinnamon, chocolate and pecans just really works and I’m not sure if I’m ever going to be go back to making them the plain way every again.

Wear a mask. Social distance. If you haven’t already, get the vaccine when you can. Be kind.

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Pecan-Toffee Snickerdoodles

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature  
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar 
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar 
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extraxt
  • Five 1.4-ounce chocolate toffee bars, chopped 
  • 3/4 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped

Directions

Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, or using a handheld one, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until just combined.

With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients. Beat on low until just combined. Add the chopped chocolate toffee bars and pecans and stir to combine.

Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup or a cookie scoop to scoop leveled mounds of cookie dough. Roll each mound into a ball. Transfer cookie dough balls to a plastic container (place a layer of wax paper, foil or parchment paper in between the top and bottom layer of dough balls so they don’t stick together). Cover the plastic container and refrigerate overnight.

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 375 degrees F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Arrange the cookie dough balls evenly spaced out on the baking sheets. Use the heel of your hands to gently press them down about 1 1/2-2 inches.

Bake the cookies on the middle rack of the oven for about 10-12 minutes, until the edges are rippled and golden brown and the center is soft. Lift the baking sheet up a few inches, then let it tap down once against the flat surface of a countertop.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat baking process with the remaining baking sheets.

Also linking this up to Fiesta Friday #379.

Raspberry Hamantaschen

This post is late. In more ways than one.

I typically try to have my weekly blog post up by Saturday, but I was up against a deadline for work and had to push the blog post back a day. Then, this particular post is one I intended to have up several months ago, when it would have made more sense and aligned more with its cultural significance.

But in any case, here we are.

I’m not Jewish, but I was raised in a Christian church where we read from the Book of Esther at least once a year. Long story short, Esther was an ancient Hebrew queen who married a Persian King called Xerxes. The villain in the Book of Esther is one of the King’s advisors, a man named Haman who conspires to kill all of the Hebrew people in Persia without realizing that the Queen herself is Jewish.

In the end, Esther and her cousin Mordecai manage to outsmart Haman and save the Jewish people of Persia from extermination, which from what I understand, is what the Jewish celebration of Purim commemorates. At Purim, Hamantaschen cookies get made. For what ever reason, the cookies are named after Haman, with their triangular shape signifying the shape of his hat.

(At least, that’s my understanding of it, but anyone can feel free to correct any part of the above that’s not accurate if you celebrate Purim.)

Anyway, Purim 2021 was several months ago, but I’ve been intending to try to make Hamantaschen for several years now. I had some raspberry preserves on hand and the process seemed relatively easy, so I decided to give it a try.

Don’t be intimidated by all the steps. The directions are thorough but that’s just to make the process as clear and easy to follow as possible, and if you’d like visuals, just check out the link to the blog I adapted the recipe from.

These were delicious. As you can see, they bake up very pretty and although there was a little bit of seepage of the raspberry preserves, it wasn’t anything that ruined the look or the taste.

Wear a mask. Social distance. Get the vaccine if you can. Be kind.

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Raspberry Hamantaschen

Recipe Adapted from Tori Avey

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into chunks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-5 tsp water (if needed)
  • 1 10 oz jar of raspberry preserves (I liked mine with the seeds, but you can go with seedless if you prefer)

Directions

Sift flour together in a small bowl with the salt. Stir with a fork and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium sized mixing bowl until light and fluffy.

Add the egg, orange zest and the vanilla, beating together just until combined.

Add the flour in two batches, mixing just until combined. Begin to knead dough with hands till a smooth dough ball forms. Try not to overwork the dough, only knead till the dough is the right consistency. If the dough is still too dry to hold together, add a few teaspoons of the water at a time, just until it comes together.

Form the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 3 hours to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly flour a smooth, clean surface. Have the raspberry preserves and 1 teaspoon scoop ready.

Unwrap the dough disk and place it on the floured surface. The dough will be very firm after chilling.

Divide the dough into quarters. Roll one quarter at a time out to 1/4 inch thick. At the beginning, it will be tough to roll out– you may need to pound it a bit. A heavy rolling pin works best. As you roll, cracks may form on the edges of the dough. Repair any large cracks with your fingers and continue rolling.

When the dough reaches 1/4 inch thickness, scrape the dough up with a pastry scraper, lightly reflour the surface, and flip the dough over. Continue rolling the dough out very thin (less than 1/8 of an inch thick). The thinner you roll the dough, the more delicate and crisp the cookies will turn out– just make sure that the dough is still thick enough to hold the filling and its shape! If you prefer a thicker, more doughy texture to your cookies (less delicate), keep the dough closer to 1/4 inch thick. Lightly flour the rolling pin occasionally to prevent sticking.

Use a 3-inch cookie cutter (not smaller) or the 3-inch rim of a glass to cut circles out of the dough, cutting as many as you can from the dough.Gather the scraps and roll them out again. Cut circles. Repeat process again if needed until you’ve cut as many circles as you can from the dough. 

Place a teaspoon of the preserves into the center of each circle. Do not use more than a teaspoon of preserves, or you run the risk of your hamantaschen opening and the preserves spilling out during baking. Cover unused circles with a lightly damp towel to prevent them from drying out while you are filling.

Assemble the hamantaschen in three steps. First, grasp the left side of the circle and fold it towards the center to make a flap that covers the left third of the circle.Grasp the right side of the circle and fold it towards the center, overlapping the upper part of the left side flap to create a triangular tip at the top of the circle. A small triangle of filling should still be visible in the center.

Grasp the bottom part of the circle and fold it upward to create a third flap and complete the triangle. When you fold this flap up, be sure to tuck the left side of this new flap underneath the left side of the triangle, while letting the right side of this new flap overlap the right side of the triangle. This way, each side of your triangle has a corner that folds over and a corner that folds under– it creates a “pinwheel” effect.

Pinch each corner of the triangle gently but firmly to secure the shape. If any cracks have formed at the places where the dough is creased, use the warmth of your fingers to smooth them out.Repeat this process for the remaining circles.

When all of your hamantaschen have been filled, place them on a parchment lined baking sheet, evenly spaced.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-25 minutes, until the cookies are cooked through and lightly golden. Start checking them at 10 minutes; because the dough thickness tends to vary on these cookies they can cook quite fast if rolled thin. In most ovens it will take around 15-20 minutes, but best to keep a close watch over them as they cook to avoid overcooking or burning.

Cool the cookies on a wire rack. Store them in a tightly sealed plastic bag or Tupperware.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #377, cohosted this week by Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons.