Lemon Ginger Sweet Rolls

When you’re the unofficial ‘designated cook/baker’ in your house, a part of the job is cooking to suit the tastebuds of your audience. Special requests excluded, it’s not all about you; gotta feed everybody. Plus, there’s no point in making something that you have to to eat all by yourself (I also can’t really afford to do that).

I think I’ve mentioned here before that my sister doesn’t like cinnamon rolls. I do. But I’m willing to compromise. So I’m always having to find and bake alternatives that satisfy both our tastebuds. This was one of them. Because one thing she does love is citrus, this was another.

Recently I’ve been doing a bit more baking with lemon and really enjoying it. Even though we’re in September and rapidly approaching fall, global warming has us still experiencing those intense summer temperatures. So it becomes a bit easier to still have a taste for the summer flavors, and we all know lemon is certainly one of them.

With my last citrus rolls, I went with a combination of orange, ginger and cardamom to great results. This time around, I only needed to make a couple of adjustments. Ginger and lemon is a classic flavor combination, so I decided to really go for it here.

The dough is flavored with lemon and ground ginger, but for the curd filling I decided to go ahead and add minced crystallized ginger, just to give it that added spiciness. You can always buy crystallized ginger from the store, but my personal recommendation is for you to just make it yourself. It’s easy, cheap, and you get more bang for your buck. There’s a tutorial on my Instagram page if you’re interested.

I mean, what can I really say about these y’all? You’ve got eyes. The lemon in both the dough and the lemon filling keeps the flavors fresh and sharp. The icing on top (that is perfectly optional by the way) of course adds sweetness, but then that ginger comes in to give it that spicy kick that offsets the sweet.

These are really, really, REALLY good and I don’t say that lightly. I did good.

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Lemon Ginger Sweet Rolls

Adapted from a Previous Recipe on Cooking is My Sport

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 2 teaspoons active yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk, warmed to about 100°F
  • 1/2 cup  (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temp
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon white sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the Filling

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 4 tablespoons, (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup candied/crystallized ginger, finely minced

For Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • A few tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested

Directions

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast on top of the warm milk, then sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of white sugar on top. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until proofed and frothy.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, use the paddle attachment to combine the butter, eggs, 1/4 cup of sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and 1 cup of flour with the yeast mixture until smooth and combined.

Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour, along with the salt, ground ginger and nutmeg . Knead for about 5 minutes, until a soft slightly sticky dough is formed.

Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour and knead with your hands about 5 more minutes until the dough is smooth and pliable. Grease a separate bowl and punch the dough down into it, then flip it back up so that both sides are oiled. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a damp towel and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

In the meantime make the filling: in the bowl of the standing mixer use your fingers to rub the sugar together with the lemon zest until fragrant. Add the butter and beat together with the paddle attachment until it’s creamy. Add the ginger and nutmeg. Slowly drizzle in the lemon juice until it’s thin, but still creamy. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until you’re ready to fill the rolls.

Grease a 13 x 9 baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and roll out to a large rectangle, about 10 x 15 inches. Use a spatula to spread the lemon filling on top of the dough. Sprinkle the crystallized ginger on top of the filling in an even layer. Roll the dough up from the long end tightly to keep filling from spilling out. Use a bench scraper or sharp knife to divide in half. Divide each half into 6 pieces so that you have 12 rolls. Arrange the rolls cut side down in the bottom of the baking dish. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and damp towel and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake rolls for 35 minutes or until dough inner temp reaches 190°F. Meanwhile, combine all of the ingredients for the icing together in a bowl. Pour/spoon some of the icing on top of the rolls as soon as they come out of the oven. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving, but they are best eaten still warm.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #193.

Sausage-Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole

When I get into conversation with people about my love of food and cooking, sometimes I’ll get questions about how I learned. Sometimes I get asked for advice as to how to help someone else, who isn’t a huge cooking fan, still become a better one.

I’ll tell y’all like I was told by the cooks I learned from: start with something simple. Something so simple, you would have to go out of your way to mess up.

Once you pull that dish off, practice it a few more times until you get comfortable with it. Maybe even so comfortable you don’t need the recipe itself anymore–you just throw the stuff together and it still turns out, because it’s just that easy. Once you reach that level of comfort, that’s when you can start experimenting and flex a few more of your cooking muscles.

Trust me, they’re under there.  You just gotta work em out a little bit more to see them.

Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, everyone needs to have a set of what I like to call ‘Go-To’s’ for the kitchen. Go-Tos are recipes that can be thrown together with minimal ingredients, minimal effort, and a minimal recipe and still turn out a perfectly satisfying meal.

Breakfast Casserole was one of the first simple recipes that I began practicing when I was first learning how to cook. It’s simple, it’s minimal, it’s nearly impossible to mess up. Because the recipe itself is versatile, there’s plenty of room for experimentation and variation in the ingredients. To this day, it’s one of my Go To recipes that I always find myself coming back to when I know I’ve got to cook something for dinner, but don’t feel like putting up much of an effort. Cause that happens, even to me.

A breakfast casserole is basically where you throw all of your favorite omelette fillings together, pour beaten eggs and milk over them, then bake it in the oven until it’s firmed up. All of us love different things in our omelettes, so that’s where the versatility of this recipe comes in. This exact recipe is what I like, but don’t feel as though it’s carved in stone; swap out the individual ingredients to fill it with whatever you prefer to eat in yours.

The most important thing to ensure that breakfast casserole turns out is to make sure you’re using enough eggs and milk to cover all of the solid ingredients in the pan. Too little liquid and the ratio of the bake gets thrown off and it won’t hold together when you cut into it.

That’s really all there is to it, y’all. This one goes into the “You Can’t Screw This Up Category” for sure, so I would recommend trying it out for yourself. It’ll brighten your day–or weekend.

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Sausage Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground pork sausage (or turkey)
  • 1 lb spicy ground pork sausage (or turkey)
  • 1 medium onion, diced finely
  • 2 bell peppers, finely diced
  • 1 30 oz package of Frozen shredded hashbrowns (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • Salt and pepper, onion powder
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese  of your choice (I think Cheddar or Swiss would work fine for this)
  • 12 large eggs
  • 2 cups milk

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 11 x 13 baking dish.

Brown the sausage in a large greased skillet, until no longer pink. Drain and set aside in a bowl, but save about 1/3 cup of the sausage grease.

Pour a few tablespoons of the reserved sausage grease back into the skillet, then saute the onions and peppers in it until they are softened and have a bit of color to them. When they’re done, remove them to the bowl with the sausage crumbled and stir together. Set aside.

Prepare the hashbrowns according to the package instructions, using the remaining reserved sausage grease to cook the hashbrowns in, seasoning them generously with salt and pepper. When the hashbrowns are finished, stir them together with the sausage and veggies.

In a large bowl combine the eggs, milk, using a large whisk to stir until the yolks are all broken up. Season the mixture generously with salt, pepper and onion powder.

Spread the meat and veggie mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the egg mixture over the top, using a spatula to make sure the filling is coated and mixed in thoroughly with the eggs.

Place the baking dish on a sheet pan, then bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until puffed/firmed up and the center is clean when pierced with a butter knife. In the last 15 or so minutes of cooking, sprinkle the cheese on top and move the baking dish up one row in the oven to help it brown more on top.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #287, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Rita @ Parsi Cuisine.

 

Cranberry Orange Cream Scones

Sometimes I feel like I could be doing this whole ‘food blogger’ thing so much better than I am.

Looking back at where I’ve started, it goes without saying that I’ve stepped my game up on the photography end. Those first few posts were downright cringeworthy (And no, do not go back to look at them. I beg of you.)

But when it comes to the social media engagement part of this food blog gig…meh. I’m slacking off on that end, and I know it.

I only post new recipes once a week. That’s pretty sparse in comparison to the normal grind of food blogging. And even if it were the norm to post new recipes once a week, I still don’t do anything throughout the week in the meantime between time. I don’t do flashback posts on the FB page. I don’t ask questions, or post tips for cooking or baking. I don’t do that whole What I Ate/Am Eating for Lunch and/or Dinner thing (which I think is weird anyway, no offense to those of you who do participate)

I very much stay in my lane. I make my tiny little blog post on Fridays, I link it up to Fiesta Friday, then to a few other social media outlets (Pinterest, FB, Twitter & Instagram), and then I go about my business.

I wish I could promise y’all that I’m gonna “do better” and start posting more recipes, much more often. But that would feel slightly disingenuous. I’ve been doing the one-post-a-week routine for several years now and it’s one that works for me. Most of the time, it keeps me from feeling pressured or stressed about constantly putting out new content. The minute food blogging starts feeling stressful is the minute I’ll stop doing it. My posting schedule works for me; if it ain’t broke, why try to fix it?

There is one thing that I admit would be worth the effort for me to do more of on here. I want to be better about showing the actual process of the recipes, step by step. If you’re not experienced (especially with baking) sometimes written instructions fall a little short, even if they’re as detailed as I try to make mine. It’s not practical for me to keep my pricey shooting camera around while I have stuff out and messy in the kitchen ( as I definitely can’t afford to fix it should the worst happen). But I have recently been trying to make better use of my phone for those purposes.

If you guys check out my Instagram profile page, you’ll see where I’ve saved past Stories I’ve made into permanent Highlights. These Highlights are pretty much step by step instructions of particular recipes, DIY ingredients and special techniques that I use while baking. So far I’ve covered things like DIY Candied Ginger & Ginger Syrup, Perfect Pancakes and Roasted Garlic. Today’s recipe happens to be the subject of my latest Highlight. So if you’re interested in seeing the ‘play by play’, you should go ahead and check out the Highlight, then come right back here to read the recipe itself.

So far as the actual process goes, I’ll let the Highlight do most of the work, but I will say here that the heavy cream is what makes ALL the difference with these scones. The more that I make scones and biscuits, the more I’m starting to appreciate the differences between them, as sometimes I think the lines get blurred.  A good rule of thumb would be to use heavy cream for scones, and buttermilk for biscuits. The heavy cream produces a ‘cakier’ crumb, while the buttermilk will contribute more to a flaky, layered one.

 

These scones are my new favorite. Try them and you’ll understand why.

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Cranberry Orange Cream Scones

Recipe Adapted from TeaTime Magazine

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • The zest of 1 large orange
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
  • 2 cups (plus more if needed) cold heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

 

Directions

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, orange zest and cranberries together in a bowl and stir together with a fork.

Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients.

Make a well in the center.  Pour in the heavy cream. Use a large fork and a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add additional heavy cream until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the scones to be tough.)

Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle.

Wrap the rectangle in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the scone dough out onto it. Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Cut the remaining dough into squares, about 2″ each.

Remove the cut scones to a baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Sprinkle the tops with white sugar. Place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered.

Bake until scones are golden brown, 20-25 minutes.

Iced Orange Cream Scones

Watching Downton Abbey always makes me have this random and somewhat impractical wish to drop everything, go off the grid and open a tea room somewhere.

I didn’t use to like it at all, but I’ve gotten into drinking a lot more tea over the past few years. I’m partial to spicy ones, both for flavor and because they really help cure some of my digestive woes.

Unsurprisingly, my favorite part of running a tea room would be the menu planning. Tea rooms menus feature all kind of dainty and delicious looking treats. I have yet to tackle making cucumber or watercress sandwiches. I still haven’t checked off the Victoria Sandwich Cake from my Baking Bucket List (soon come though). There is one staple from the tea menu that I’ve made my share of: the almighty scone.

I’ve been trying to bring my scone making technique up to par with my biscuit making one, especially as the method for making them is so similar. I have a whole post dedicated to laying out the steps for what I consider to be the best biscuits I’ve ever made. I intend to do one for scones too, but in the meanwhile I wanted to share a recipe I tested along the way to getting to Scone Nirvana.

It starts with one very crucial ingredient: heavy cream. Heavy cream not only helps with the crumb of the scone, the added fat in it helps with a higher rise. I also let the scone dough rest in the fridge overnight. It gave the gluten time to rest and firm up so that when I cut them out, the edges weren’t as easily compressed as they could be if they were still soft. They baked up so beautifully that I seriously considered leaving them plain, but I decided to go along with my original idea of trying out how they would hold up to a thin layer of icing. The answer, again, was beautifully.

If my whimsical tea room idea were a reality, this would without question be going onto the menu. Although they’re technically scones, the crumb is so delicate and fluffy that they honestly reminded me of a dense cake. The icing process does admittedly require some time and attention, but it’s worth it. They’re divine, with or without a cup of tea on the side.

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Iced Orange Cream Scones

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons butter) frozen
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream, plus more if needed

For Icing

  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 7 tablespoons of water, enough to make a thin glaze
  • orange zest, for garnish, optional

Directions

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together in a bowl and stir together with a fork. Beat the eggs together with the vanilla in a small bowl with a fork and set aside.

Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Stir in the orange zest.

Make a well in the center. Pour in the beaten egg-vanilla mixture. Pour in the heavy cream. Use a large fork and a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add additional heavy cream until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the scones to be tough.)

Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down and pat & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle.

Wrap the rectangle in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the scone dough out onto it. Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Cut the remaining dough into squares, about 2″ each. Cut the squares into triangles. (You can also leave some as squares if you want to keep them a little bigger; the sizes here are up to you).

Remove the cut scones to a baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered.

Bake the scones for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven, and allow the scones to cool right on the pan. When they’re cool, if you wish, you can cut each scone in half once again to make even tinier scones. Or, you can leave them as is.

For the icing: stir together the powdered sugar and enough of the water to make a glaze that is not so watery that it’s runny, but not too thick so that it won’t run down the sides of the scones.

Line another baking sheet with foil and a wire rack and set next to your bowl of icing.

Place a scone upside down into the bowl of icing. Gently lift it out, right side up and balance it on a spatula (the kind you’d use to flip pancakes) As the icing starts to run down the sides, use a fork to help spread it around evenly. Place the iced scone on the wire rack and sprinkle with orange zest.

Repeat process with the rest of the scones. Allow to sit for at least one hour, until the icing has hardened.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #265, co-hosted this week by Laurena @ Life Diet Health and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.

 

Cranberry Orange Rolls

Tell me some of the traditions you or your family had when you grew up. How about some of the traditions that you have now?

I think that my love for Christmas started because of all the traditions that we had while I was growing up. I enjoyed those traditions and the way that they made me feel, and it created this huge nostalgia for the holidays that lasts to this day.

In elementary school, I remember the traditions that happened on the last day before our Winter Break. Classes ended early and for the latter half of the day, the school would turn into a ‘holiday carnival’ of sorts. Each classroom would turn into a fun activity for us to do until was time to go home. One room had games, one room had holiday movies playing on a television, one room was for making Christmas ornaments, another was for decorating Christmas cookies, and so on.

My mom and my sisters and I had a tradition of driving around the neighborhood on Christmas Eve night and looking at other house’s lights and decorations that they put up.

Now that I’m grown I have several holiday traditions of my own. We try to put up our Christmas tree within the first couple of weeks of November, which is also when I dust off my holiday playlist. There is a list of holiday movies that we watch all throughout the month of December. And of course, I do the 12 Days of Christmas here on the blog.

I’ve heard about a lot of families that have a tradition of eating cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. We don’t, but it’s a holiday tradition that I can definitely get behind.

My sister doesn’t like cinnamon rolls (insert eyeroll emoji), so whenever I get the craving for breakfast rolls, I have to get a bit creative and make something that she’ll like. These Honey Sausage Rolls were a hit. These Orange Rolls were a HUGE hit.

And then came today’s rolls.

I don’t know who it was who first came up with the flavor combination of cranberry and citrus, but whoever they are, they were a genius who truly gave us a Christmas miracle. It has truly never, EVER let me down. These were so delicious. Where do I even begin?

The dough itself is flavored with vanilla, orange zest and juice. The powdered milk and instant potato flakes are there to improve the overall texture of the finished product–it gives the rolls a chewy, but light richness.

The filling is both tart and slightly sweet thanks to the combination of cranberry and orange juice. I think it gives a great, fresh balance of flavor to the icing that gets slathered on top of the rolls while they’re still warm.

As you can see, this recipe makes a modest sized bunch. If you’re baking for a crowd, you may want to consider doubling it. You may want to consider doubling it even if you’re not baking for a crowd. I wish that I had.

We’re over halfway through the 12 Days of Christmas already! Check out the other posted recipes if you haven’t already:

DAY 1: VANILLA RED PINWHEELS

DAY 2: CHRISTMAS ELF BITES

DAY 3: THREE FRENCH HEN PIES

DAY 4: CRANBERRY BUCKLE

DAY 5: GINGERBREAD MARSHMALLOWS

DAY 6: HOLIDAY SPICE S’MORES

DAY 7: CRANBERRY ORANGE ROLLS

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Cranberry Orange Rolls

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) softened unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dry powdered milk
  • 1/4 cup potato flour, or dry instant mashed potato flakes
  • 1 egg, beaten

For Filling

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

*A heaping 3/4 cup of leftover cranberry sauce will work in lieu of the filling as well. This is my go-to favorite recipe.

For Icing

  • About 1 1/2 cups powdered
  • A few tablespoons orange juice

Directions

Lightly spray an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish or cake pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a small bowl, pour the water, sprinkle the yeast on top. Sprinkle the sugar on top of that. Allow to sit for ten minutes, until proofed and frothy. In a medium size bowl combine the flour with the dry milk and potato flour and stir with a fork. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, pour the proofed yeast, the orange zest and juice, the butter, vanilla extract and salt. Use the paddle attachment to stir together. Switch to the dough hook and add the dry ingredients in increments. When the dough starts to gather around the hook, remove from the bowl, turn out onto a clean work surface, and use your hands to knead the dough for about 10 minutes, adding more flour if need be until a smooth dough is formed. (The dough should spring back when you press your finger into it.)

Grease the inside of the mixing bowl, place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled in a warm place, about 65 minutes.

To make the filling: Combine all of the filling ingredients except the melted butter in a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Remove from the heat, and stir in the melted butter. Set aside to cool.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface that you’ve sprinkled with flour and gently deflate. Roll/pat it into a 16 x 12 rectangle.

Spread the filling out onto the dough. Roll up into a log tightly, pinching the seams closed to seal. Cut the log into 9 slices. and place the slices into your prepared baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and your damp kitchen cloth. Allow to proof for an additional 45 minutes until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush the proofed rolls with the beaten egg. Bake until golden brown in the center (an instant read thermometer should read 195-200F), 35-40 minutes. Cover with foil if they’re browning too quickly.

To make the icing, combine the powdered sugar with just enough OJ to make a smooth glaze. After the rolls have cooled for about 7-8 minutes, Spread the icing over the rolls while they are still warm so that the icing can seep into the crevices of the rolls. Keep any leftovers in a sealed plastic container in the fridge.

I’ll be sharing these at this week’s Fiesta Friday #254, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.

Breakfast Slab Pie

I seriously cannot believe that we are making our way through November already. 2018 is almost over. We’ve already started getting ingredients for Thanksgiving, which I’m always excited for, but it definitely doesn’t feel like it’s going to be happening in a matter of weeks. From there, things REALLY get busy round here, what with the 12 Days of Christmas baking series–I started making my list of this year’s recipes earlier today and I’m already excited to get started on that, so stay tuned.

We still have brinner at least once a week in our house, but it’s been a while since I posted a new recipe for breakfast on the blog. I wanted to change that and so this past week, I decided to go ahead and make something new for our brinner.

Slab pie is one of those things that I really enjoy baking–more so than a lot of other things that I like. It makes a whole lot of pie for a crowd, with a comparatively low amount of labor. Up until now, I’ve only made sweet fruit dessert slab pies and although they’ve been fabulous I have been curious about what it would look like if I took it to the savory side.

The method for making the pie crust is my normal method of grating frozen butter into the dry ingredients. It might seem ‘extra’ to go to the effort of buying a box grater if you don’t already have one, but I will say it again and again until I’m blue in the face: frozen butter & a box grater will change your pie crust making life. It will also transform the way you make biscuits and scones. If you don’t know, now you know.

I think one of the best things about this recipe is how versatile the filling can be. I’ve provided a recipe below of what I used for our slab pie, but with breakfast foods in general, the possibilities are endless. It’s no different here. If you don’t like sausage as a protein, use ham. Or mushrooms. Or chorizo. If you don’t like green bell peppers, use red or yellow. If you don’t like spinach, use potatoes. Do what you heart (or tastebuds) tell you to do.

Be careful when you pour the beaten eggs on top; make sure it’s mixed into the filling well so that it doesn’t spill over too much into the crust. Use your fingers to try and make sure the crust is pinched together tight at the corners of the pie especially. Also, bake the slab pie on the lower rack of the oven to make sure you get the golden brown, flakey crust results that you see in the pictures–the closer it is to the heat, the faster it will cook on the bottom.

Have a good weekend, guys!

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Breakfast Slab Pie

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

Crust

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 24 tablespoons (1 1/2 cups) cold unsalted butter, frozen
  • 3/4 cup cold water, plus more if needed

For Filling

  • 2 lbs of roll breakfast sausage (pork or turkey, doesn’t matter), browned and drained
  • 8 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained thoroughly
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 12 eggs, (plus one for the egg wash)
  • salt and pepper

Directions

For Crust: In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour with the salt and pepper. Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the cold butter directly into the dry ingredients. Stir together with a fork. Make a well in the center, then pour in the water. Stir together with a fork and spatula until it forms a craggy mass. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it two to three times, just until it comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 17 x 11 baking sheet and set aside.

Place the crumbled, browned sausage in a large bowl. In a large skillet, saute the onions, then the bell peppers until they are softened and translucent, about 7-10 minutes each. When finished, add to the bowl of sausage. Mix in the drained spinach. Stir together until evenly combined.

Divide the pie crust in two, making one portion slightly bigger than the other. On a floured surface, roll out the larger portion into a 17 x 11 rectangle. Use your rolling pin to help transfer it to the greased baking sheet, using your knuckles to press the crust into the corners; try to make sure there’s some overhang over the sides of the pan.

Spoon the sausage filling into the crust, smoothing over the top with a spatula. (You may have some leftover; place it in an egg scramble at a later use) Place in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, beat 12 the eggs together, then season generously with salt and pepper. Remove the filled pie from the refrigerator. Carefully pour the beaten egg mixture over the filling, using a fork to help it seep in evenly. Roll out the second piece of pie crust into a rectangle. Drape it over the filling, and crimp the edges to seal the pie.

Use a sharp knife to create 2 steam vents in the center (not too big though, or the eggs may leak out). Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl with some water, then use a pastry brush to brush it over the top crust.

Bake the pie on the lower rack of the oven until the crust is golden and the filling is set, 55-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool about 10 minutes before slicing into squares serve.

Sharing at the Fiesta Friday #249, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.

 

Glazed Yeast Doughnuts

One of the earliest food memories that I have is a love for glazed doughnuts. My mom’s taught Sunday School for practically my entire life and every Sunday morning on the drive to church I remember sitting in the back seat, still groggy, but also silently praying in my mind that she would stop by a cornerstore down the street from the church that sold the most delicious doughnuts for dirt cheap. My favorite one to get would be a plain glazed doughnut ring.

No sprinkles. No frills. No bells & whistles. A plain, glazed yeast doughnut was really all I would want. The Sundays when I got one were instantly brighter Sundays. Perfectly glazed doughnuts were delicious enough to do that all on their own–they still are.

I know there’s nothing quite like a glazed Krispy Kreme, especially when it comes hot off the belt. (Seriously, I’m drooling just thinking about it now), but I will also say that making glazed doughnuts at home can deliver the goods as well.

Last week, I gave my own personal definitions/differences between donuts and doughnuts: donuts are those made without using yeast as a leavening agent, much like these cake donuts. Doughnuts do use yeast as a leavening agent. In any case, that’s how I choose to define them.

I thought that a perfect glazed doughnut would be the perfect example to use for today’s post.

So aside from the inclusion of yeast, what makes yeast doughnuts different from cake donuts? The biggest difference is texture. Cake donuts are given that name for a reason: the texture is going to be soft, but dense. I think of it almost being like a coffee cake that gets deep fried, then dunked in cinnamon sugar. Yeast doughnuts are much more lighter and airier on the inside. See what I mean?

With yeast, there’s going to be a bit more time needed to set aside for the dough because unlike cake donuts, the yeast will need two rising times. The first is for the whole mass of dough, the second is for after you’ve shaped them into rings–OR, if you wanted to get creative with it, you can form them into cruller twists like you see in the pictures.

This dough is admittedly, lightly sweetened. It’s main flavors are vanilla and nutmeg–they’re simple flavors that leave plenty of room for the real star of the show: that glaze. After you dunk the still warm doughnuts in the glaze,  you then allow them to sit for a few minutes so that they can drip off the excess and allow the residual glaze to set.

Don’t they look just divine? I promise you that they tasted even better than they look, which is why I encourage all of you to give them a shot yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #236, co-hosted this week by Julianna @ Foodie on Board and Debanita @ Canvassed Recipes.

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Glazed Yeast Doughnuts

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

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Ingredients

For Doughnuts

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk, warmed to about 110° F
  • 2 tablespoons melted and cooled butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1—2 tablespoons milk (or enough to make a smooth glaze)

Directions

In a small bowl pour the warm milk. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of white sugar on top of that. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until proofed and frothy.

In a small bowl combine the beaten egg, melted butter and vanilla extract. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment combine the flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, salt and ground nutmeg until just blended. Switch to the dough hook. Pour in the yeast mixture as well as the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until a soft dough is formed. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes.

Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes until it’s smooth and soft. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turn it over once, then cover with a piece of plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel. Allow to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2-2 hours, until doubled in size.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and gently deflate. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out doughnuts with a 2 1/2″ to 3″ round cutter, or form them into cruller twists that you pinch at the ends. Remove to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and let the doughnuts rise for 30 minutes to an hour, until doubled in size.

Meanwhile heat 2 inches of oil in the bottom of a heavy bottomed pot to 350°. Prepare 2 baking sheets; one lined with paper towels, another lined with foil on the bottom & a wire rack on top. In a shallow, wide dish mix together the powdered sugar & milk with a fork. Keep the dish nearby.

Carefully place the doughnuts in the oil, 2 or 3 at a time, and fry until golden brown, about 60 seconds per side. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on the baking sheet lined w/paper towels. Wait 1 minute or 2 until doughnuts are warm (but no longer piping hot), then dip the tops in the glaze. Gently turn over and dip the bottom in the glaze before removing to the foil lined baking sheet on top of the rack. Allow to sit until glaze has set on doughnuts. Eat immediately or keep refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Cinnamon Cardamom Cake Donuts

I think that it’s pretty safe to say that all of us love donuts/doughnuts, right?

If you don’t then you may as well stop reading because this post (as well as next week’s) aren’t really for you. This is for all of us who love donuts/doughnuts.

Why did I give it two spellings? Is there a difference between donuts and doughnuts? I’m not sure if there’s an actual technical difference in the terms, but I do know how *I* personally distinguish the difference.

For me, it really just comes down to the method/ingredients. When I think of ‘Donuts’, I think about the method that does not include yeast. ‘Doughnuts’ do include the yeast in the dough. Don’t ask me why this is. Both donuts and doughnuts create ‘doughs’, but my mind just automatically associates the yeast with the ‘dough’, so there it is.

One big difference between donuts made without yeast and doughnuts that are made with yeast is the inner texture. The donuts made without yeast usually use baking powder/baking soda as their leavening and produce a denser, ‘cake-like’ texture. As a result, these are often called cake donuts. Donuts made with yeast have a lighter, airier texture.

A few weeks back, my niece was asking me if we could make doughnuts together. Because I like giving her what she wants and because it had been a while since I’d made doughnuts myself, I decided to make a day long project of it. She couldn’t decide which one she wanted, so we ended up making two different kinds–Cake Donuts AND Yeast Doughnuts. Cake Donuts will be today’s post. (Yeast Doughnuts will be next week’s, so stay tuned for that.)

Cake donuts are a tad bit easier than yeast doughnuts to make since you don’t have to worry about dealing with yeast and rising times. I already described the interior as dense and cakey, while the outside is rough and craggy–this is perfect for catching up whatever topping you choose to put on them, whether it’s icing or sugar. The dough itself for these is flavored with lemon and vanilla. The cinnamon sugar topping I flavored with both cinnamon and cardamom, just to give it an extra spicy note to complement the sweet. In short, these were great. The sugary topping gave a nice crunch to the soft inside and the flavors were spot on. I really wouldn’t change a thing.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #235Fiesta Friday #235, co-hosted this week by Mara @ Put on Your Cake Pants and Hilda @ Along the Grapevine.

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Cinnamon Cardamom Cake Donuts

Recipe Courtesy of “Glazed, Filled, Sugared & Dipped” by Stephen Collucci

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Ingredients

For Donuts

  • 3 cups cake flour (all purpose flour will work as well)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Cinnamon Cardamom Sugar

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

In a medium size bowl, combine the buttermilk, melted butter, egg yolks and vanilla extract with a fork. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest. Add the beaten egg and mix on low for a few seconds. Add the buttermilk mixture and mix until just combined into a stiffish dough.

Place a piece of parchment paper on clean work surface and sprinkle it with flour. Flour your hands or a spatula and scrape out the dough onto the piece of parchment paper. Flour a second sheet of parchment paper and place it on top of the top. Use a rolling pin to flatten it out until it’s 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick. Place the dough on a baking sheet and refrigerate it for 45 minutes to an hour (it’s ready when it no longer sticks to the parchment paper when you peel it away).

Towards the end of the refrigeration, heat 1 1/2-2 inches of oil in a heavy bottomed pot to 350°. Prepare 2 sheet pans; one lined with paper towels and the other with a piece of foil on the bottom and a baking rack on top. In a shallow dish, combine all the ingredients for the cinnamon cardamom sugar together with a fork. Keep the dish near your frying station.

Peel off the top sheet of parchment paper and flip the dough over onto your clean work surface that you’ve dusted with flour. Peel off the second sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle the dough with more flour. Flour your cookie/donut cutter and cut the dough into 2 1/2-3 inch rounds.

Fry the donuts in batches (don’t crowd the pot, no more than 3 at a time) until golden brown, 1-2 minutes per side. Drain on the paper towel lined baking sheet. While the donuts are still warm (but not piping hot) toss them in the cinnamon cardamom sugar and place them on the baking rack lined sheet pan. Eat immediately, or store for up to 2 days.

Vanilla French Toast

When it comes to the great breakfast carb debate, there are usually three major camps of people:

Team Pancakes, Team Waffles, and Team French Toast.

I’ve said already a few times that pancakes are my one true love, so if I had to pick a team, I would be on Team Pancakes. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have love for the other ones though. I like ’em all. I’m planning on getting a waffle iron pretty soon, so I should be able to start sharing waffles recipes on the blog then. But there really is no excuse for my not having any French Toast on the blog yet. So, I’m fixing that today.

Good French Toast starts with a great loaf of bread. You want to make sure it’s got a good outer crust, a dense inner crumb and can be sliced very thick. If your bread slices are too thin, then it’ll absorb too much liquid and the finished product will be flat like pancakes. No good. A few months ago I shared a recipe for what I’m pretty positive is the easiest loaf of bread that I’ve ever made. It was called English Muffin Toasting Bread and it produced a sturdy loaf with a coarse, close-textured crumb. I said back then that it would make excellent toast and it did…I also said that it would make perfect French Toast.

Turns out, I was right about that too.

The cream in the egg mix makes the toast cook up rich and fluffy on the inside. Before you even ask if the nutmeg is *really* necessary, I’m going to just stop you  right there and say a firm ‘yes’. It gives just enough spice to compliment the sweet of the vanilla and you DO need it.

Now I just said that good French Toast starts with a good loaf of bread and I’m going to say it again: good French Toast starts with a good loaf of bread. If you don’t feel like baking the English Muffin Toasting bread, I do know that Trader Joe’s sells a challah loaf that will also work well. As will store-bought Texas Toast. Keep in mind that because this is a very simple recipe with simple flavors, they’ll taste at their best when they’re given the best foundation–in this case, bread. So go with the good stuff.

Sharing this at this week’s Fiesta Friday #232, co-hosted this week by Laurena @ Life Diet Health and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.

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Vanilla French Toast

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour Baking Companion

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) heavy cream (or half and half)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons rum (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 slices thick sliced bread (like Challah, Texas Toast, or English Muffin Toasting Bread)
  • Powdered sugar and maple syrup, for serving

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 285°. Place a rack on top of a sheet pan that you’ve lined with foil or parchment paper. Arrange the sliced bread on the rack, then place in the oven for 12-15 minutes. (This is just to dry out the top/bottom of the bread enough so that it isn’t overly soaked by the cream-egg mix).

Once the bread is done drying out, lower the oven temp to 250°.

In a shallow dish (large enough to fit about 2 slices) whisk together the eggs, cream, salt, nutmeg, rum and vanilla until smooth but not foamy.

Place the butter and oil in a heavy skillet and set it over medium heat. Don’t let it get too hot; if it starts to smoke, it means that it’s too hot and your toast will cook too quickly.

Place 2 pieces of the bread in the soaking dish, turn them over, and turn them over once more. It should take about 15 seconds, total; you want the bread to absorb the liquid, but not be too soaked/saturated.

Place the bread in the preheated skillet and fry it for 3 minutes before turning. It should be golden brown before you turn it—if it isn’t, you can SLIGHTLY raise the heat. Fry on the second side for about 2 minutes. Transfer it to the rack rimmed baking sheet and keep it in the oven while you finish frying the rest of the bread.

Once it’s all done, dust it with powdered sugar and serve with syrup.

 

Mile High Biscuits

So, a few days ago on social media, I saw some talk about their being a National Buttermilk Biscuit Day. I had no idea such a thing existed. I randomly Googled it and there are conflicting opinions on when exactly it is; some folks say May 14th. Others seem to think it’s May 29th. Personally, I don’t know and couldn’t care less what day it is–any day that’s set aside to celebrate the buttermilk biscuit is a-okay with me. I may be a little late to the celebration, but better late than never. The Biscuit Holiday Spirit is kept alive in my heart (and my belly) all year round, I assure you.

I don’t blow my horn about too many things, but one thing that I will not only blow, but blast from the rooftops about, are my biscuit making skills. They’re solid. I make excellent biscuits. It’s just a fact. This wasn’t always the case. I’ve mentioned many times before that my very first foray into baking, EVER, was an attempt to make angel biscuits. As I’ve also mentioned many times before, this was a tragic mistake. As I found out, making excellent biscuits isn’t an exercise for baking beginners. It just isn’t. There’s both a science and art form to it. Even after I became a decent baker, my biscuits still just ‘ok’ and not great, and I knew they were just ok and not great.  It bothered me. So, I started doing some research as to how to get the results I wanted: tender biscuits with LOTS of layers that rose high.

After nearly four years of baking, lots of practice, and even more ‘just ok but not great biscuits’, I think I can finally say that I’ve found the perfect method to making tender biscuits with lots of layers that rise high (and that last part was very important to me). I’ll go ahead and share all the tips I’ve learned to achieve them in celebration of National Buttermilk Biscuit Day. Some of them are ones I’ve mentioned before in other biscuit recipes I’ve shared on the blog–others are new. Regardless, pay attention and bookmark/save/pin this post so that you can go back to it later.

The first is an oldie but an essential goodie: freeze your butter. PLEASE. If you don’t follow any other piece of advice I give you, make sure that you follow this one. The use of frozen butter changed my biscuit making baking life. Why? Because great biscuits start with VERY cold fats–the colder the fats, the better they will be. The butter won’t melt/dissolve if it’s frozen. Now, frozen butter IS kinda difficult to cut, especially into even pieces. This brings me to the second tip: use a box grater to cut the frozen butter. Why? You want to make sure the butter is evenly distributed into the dough so that all of the biscuits have layers and are evenly buttery. The large holes on a box grater will cut the butter into the pea sized pieces you want that will evenly distribute into the flour without you having to rub them with your fingers–which may cause them to melt.

This third one I only recently started applying myself and it too was a game changer for me: use cake flour. Why? Cake flour is just flour that has a lower protein content than all purpose flour. It’s also been sifted many times, which results in a product with a much finer crumb. Cake flour will make your biscuits SO MUCH MORE tender and fluffy on the inside. I had read about using cake flour to make biscuits a long time ago, but for a while I just resisted trying it because it’s more expensive than all purpose. However, there is a DIY method to ‘making’ it yourself without having to splurge the special stuff.

Measure out 1 cup of flour. Take out 2 tablespoons of the flour. Now add in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift it together through a strainer about 5-6 times.

Boom. You have now made 1 cup of DIY, work in a pinch CF. Repeat the process for however many cups of CF you need for your recipe; I’ll usually do 4 at a time.

Fourth: place a shallow pan of water in the bottom of the oven while it preheats and keep it there while the biscuits bake. Why? Water and high heat create steam when they meet. Steam makes the layers in the biscuits expand and rise. Fifth: cut the edges off of your rectangle of dough before you cut the biscuits. I’ve found that the edges of the dough tend to be tough and compressed together after being rolled out and layered several times. The biscuits’ll rise higher if you get rid of them. Sixth: Don’t twist the biscuit cutter when you cut. Why? It collapses the edges, seals off the layers and the biscuits won’t rise. Cut straight down, then quickly lift it up and keep it moving.

Seventh: place the biscuits close together on the pan. Why? The closer they are together while baking, the more steam pockets that will form between them. Remember what I just said about steam? Mmhm. This is what will make them rise upwards and form tall biscuits rather than spreading outwards and cause them to be wide and flat. Eighth: Freeze them for 10 minutes before baking. Why? This is just to ensure that the butter in the biscuits is as cold as possible before it meets the very hot, steamy oven. The ‘shock’ of that cold-meets-hot ingredients will help the biscuits to rise higher and have more layers.

Aaaaand, that’s about it. It sounds like a lot of info, but in practice it’s not complicated. Just follow the recipe and apply the tips and you’ll be fine. Have a good weekend guys.

Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #226, co-hosted this week by the lovely Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

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Mile High Biscuits

Recipe Adapted from CountryLiving.com

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups cake flour, spooned and level
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup frozen butter
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper.

Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the butter into the dry ingredients and stir a few times to combine. Make a well in the center of the bowl.

Pour the buttermilk into the well and use a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add additional buttermilk until it forms a shaggy dough.Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the biscuits to be tough.)

Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down and pat & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle.

Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter to cut biscuits, pressing scraps together to make more no more than two additional times. Discard the rest of the dough.  Place biscuits, slightly touching, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill 15 minutes in the freezer.

Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. (You may have to cover the biscuits with foil if they begin to brown too quickly.