Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

We’re just on the cusp of December.

If you’ve been following this blog for at least a year, you know what that means. If you haven’t been following the blog for at least a year and have no idea what’s going on, you picked a great day to show up.

Annually straight after Thanksgiving, I kick off a special holiday series on the blog called the 12 Days of Christmas. It’s exactly what it sounds like:

12 days of holiday-themed baking and cooking recipes that I share from now and leading up to just before Christmas.

It’s always a lot of work, but it’s definitely a labor of love that I genuinely look forward to every year. When I was growing up, the holidays were a time when a lot of really delicious baking happened, and it gave the season a special feeling that I try and rekindle for nostalgia’s sake now that I’m old enough to do it for myself.

So let’s just get right into, shall we? Although the majority of the recipes I make for the 12 Days of Christmas are sweets, I do always try to throw at least one savory option in there, and this year, the savory dish is what we’re starting out with.

Sausage rolls aren’t huge here in the States, but from what I can tell, they’re huge across the pond in the UK, particularly at this time of year. British sausage rolls are typically made with sausage that’s been flavored with ‘wintery’ spices, then wrapped and baked in puff pastry. I knew going into the series this year that I wanted to do a Christmas sausage roll, but puff pastry isn’t my favorite.

So I made some adjustments.

The sausage filling of these rolls is flavored with pretty much all of the spices you’d associate with Christmas flavors, and if you’re a fan of Christmas meat pies like sausage rolls or French Canadian Tourtiere, you’ll recognize the flavor profile I was going for. However, for the casing part, I deviated from tradition, making neither puff pastry or pie crust; instead, these are wrapped/rolled/baked in a chewy/fluffy yeast dough. Additionally, the bottom of the pan is lined with a honey cinnamon glaze that makes the most delightful ‘goo’ to pair with the saltiness of the rolls themselves. In that sense, they’re kind of like Winter Spice Sticky Buns.

Pretty delicious start to this year’s 12 Days of Christmas I’d say.

Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients

For Sausage Filling

  • 1 1/2 pounds breakfast sausage
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • Onion powder, salt and black pepper, to taste

For Bread Dough

  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 (1/4-oz.) envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 large eggs

For Glaze

  • 3/4 cup (6 oz.) salted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest plus 1/2 cup fresh juice (from 1 orange)

Directions

For the Sausage Filling: Heat about 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a skillet. Brown the sausage in the skillet in crumbles. Remove from heat and drain well. Move sausage into a medium size bowl and stir in the butter, honey, and spices. Set aside and allow to fully cool. (I prefer to let mine sit in the refrigerator overnight to let the flavors develop, but you don’t have to if you’re short on time.)

For Glaze: Melt the butter in a 2-3 quart saucepan.  Stir in the rest of the glaze ingredients into the saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

For Buns: Heat milk in a 3-quart saucepan over medium until bubbles begin to form around the edge of pan. Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine warm water and yeast in a 1-cup measuring cup. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the white sugar on top of the yeast mixture. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until bubbly.

Add yeast mixture, salt, 2 cups of the flour, and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar to warm milk; stir until relatively smooth. Place mixture in a warm place (85°F) until bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the shortening with the paddle attachment (or using a handheld mixer) until fluffy. Add the 2/3 cup of sugar and beat together until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time. Gradually spoon in the yeast mixture to the shortening-sugar mixture, mixing on low in batches until combined. Add remaining 3 cups flour, in batches, beating just until blended after each addition.

Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook; beat dough on medium speed until smooth, 10 to 12 minutes. Turn the dough out onto floured surface and knead with your hands for an additional 2 minutes. Grease/oil a bowl and place dough inside, covering with plastic wrap and damp towel. Allow to stand in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled in size.

Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the honey glaze in the bottom of the dish, being sure to cover all corners (you can pour in more if you want a more gooey, sticky bottom on your buns). Set aside.

Punch dough down on a floured work surface to deflate air bubbles. Divide in half, place one half back in bowl and re-cover with plastic wrap. Roll out the other half to a rectangle, about 10- x 8-inches. Sprinkle one half of the sausage filling over the dough, leaving 1 inch border around. Starting from the long end, roll into a tight cylinder and pinch together to seal. Cut off & discard the two short ends to create smooth, even buns. Cut cylinder crosswise into 4 to 5 (1 1/2-inch-thick) rounds. Place each bun cut side down in the baking dish. Repeat with second dough half and sausage filling. When finished, cover the baking dish with plastic wrap & a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size 30-40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°. Bake buns on middle oven rack until golden brown on top, 55 minutes to 1 hour. (If buns are getting too brown, cover with aluminum foil after baking 30 minutes.) When finished, brush or drizzle some of the remaining honey glaze on top of buns.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #408.

Apple Cider Donut Muffins

We’re just about approaching the close of autumn (which is wild to me; time flies), but I knew I didn’t want it to get too late before I got around to making something with apple cider in it and sharing it here on the blog.

I’ll be honest with you all: what I really wanted was a fried apple cider doughnut. I’ve done/shared it before on the blog, but that was years ago when I was still very new to blogging and I think those pictures are terrible. So ideally speaking, I would’ve just done a do-over of that post.

However, any of you who have made scratch/fried doughnuts before knows that they are…a project, one that can take up a lot of time. And the way my life is set up right now, time is just something I have a lot less of than I did when I first began blogging.

But, I mean… I still wanted a donut.

So, I compromised with time and with myself. And, here we are.

Still Apple Cider Donuts…but also, muffins.

The most obvious difference here was the one that was most important for me: the cooking time. Depending on what kind of dough/batter you have, making doughnuts from scratch can be an hours long project.

I didn’t have hours to spare, and fortunately, this recipe doesn’t need them. In fact, if your cider is already boiled/reduced, you’ll probably be done in 1 hour, tops.

I was very pleased with how these turned out. Apart from the quicker and easier baking process, they still satisfied that craving I had for an apple cider donut without having to go to the extra trouble.

They’ve also been kid-approved by the resident taste tester in our house, so if that doesn’t sell em to you, I don’t know what else will.

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Apple Cider Donut Muffins

Recipe Adapted from New England Food Today

Ingredients

For Muffins

  • 2 cups sweet apple cider
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon table salt

For Sugar Topping

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted

Directions

For Muffins

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin pan either with butter or shortening and set aside.

Put the apple cider in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer until the liquid is reduced to 1 cup. Set aside to cool.

In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Using a standing or handheld mixer, cream the butter with the sugar in a large bowl at medium speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each. Add the vanilla extract and blend.

Add a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat just to combine. Add half the reduced cider and beat to combine.

Repeat with another third of the flour mixture, then the rest of the cider, then the remaining flour mixture.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Bake until tops are firm and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 5-7 minutes.

For Topping

In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon. As soon as the muffins are cool enough to handle, brush their tops and sides with the melted butter, then roll in the cinnamon sugar to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #406, co hosted by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

My Pancakes

Although this blog was founded with the understanding that I love to cook and have gotten rather good at it over the years, there are a few things that I have put forth concerted effort towards become very good at making.

I’ve said (and shown) before that Biscuits are one of them. Today’s recipe is another.

I don’t think I’ve ever shared this on the blog before, but if you were to ask me what my favorite food was, at just about any point in my life, the answer would always be the same: pancakes. Pancakes are hands down my favorite food, of all time.

I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember. There is never a time where I’m not up for them. They have all the basic components of basically everything I love about food: carbs, butter and sweetness (from syrup).

It’s a little weird to look back upon now, but even during the time that I ‘couldn’t’ cook, I learned how to make pancakes. They were “just Add water’ pancakes, but still; it was that important to me. Later on, when I did decide to learn how to cook for real, I decided to elevate my Pancakes Game and learn how to make them from scratch.

To be honest, I’m a little embarrassed and disappointed with myself that it’s taken this long for me to share this recipe on the blog. It’s one of my favorites, I’ve been using it for years and there’s never been a time that it ever let me down.

Pancake connoisseurs will know that there is an art and a science to a pancake. They’re not all the same. Some folks like them thin, others like them thick. Some folks like them with fruit, and others like them plain. Some folks prefer to make them in a skillet, others prefer a griddle. My preference has always been for a thick and cakey pancake. If fruit like blueberries or strawberries are thrown in, great; I’m perfectly fine eating them plain as well.

I know that most people just prefer to fall back on Bisquick or other Just Add Water mixes, and I understand that. However, I do believe that makig pancakes from scratch is worth the added 1 or 2 steps–and it really is just 1 or 2 added steps.

Having said that, this is a straightforward and I believe, relatively easy recipe. The only distinction that my pancake recipe has from many typical others, is that I take the added step of separating my eggs, beating the egg whites into soft peaks, the folding them into the batter at the last minute. You wouldn’t believe the difference this makes in the finished product. The pancakes come out light, fluffy and cake-y, which is exactly how I (as well as everyone I’ve ever made them for) likes them.

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My Pancakes

Recipe Adapted from Veronica’s Cornucopia

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup canola oil, or melted butter, plus more for the skillet
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

In a medium size mixing bowl combine together all of the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt). Stir together with a fork and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the egg yolks, canola oil or melted butter and the vanilla extract. Stir together.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then pour the egg yolk/oil mixture inside the well. Add the buttermilk, then stir gently, just until combined–do not over-mix or the pancakes will be rubbery. It’s fine if there are lumps left in the batter.

Place the egg whites in a small bowl, then using a handheld mixer, beat them until they are white and have stiff peaks that are still soft.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Lightly coat a skillet or a griddle with 1 tablespoon of butter and Heat to medium low.

Drop 1/4 cup of batter onto heated skillet/griddle. Cook on first side until bubbles begin to form on surface, 2-3 minutes. Flip over and cook another 2-3 minutes until golden brown and centre springs back when lightly touched.

Keep finished pancakes in the microwave or a cold oven while you cook the rest.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #403.

THE Blueberry Muffins

If you live with children under the age of 10 then you know that they can be very….particular, about what they do and do not like to eat.

Maybe some of you even live with adults who are the same way.

I live with my niece, and although I know she’s not as picky an eater as other little kids I’ve known, she is a girl who knows her own mind and her own taste buds. She likes what she likes. She doesn’t like what she doesn’t like. She’s polite, but if she’s not into something I make, she’ll opt not to eat it and ask for something else.

However.

When she discovers that she IS into something I make, I get requests for it A LOT. And the best (at times, funny) part is, most of the things that go over the best with her, are the simplest to put together.

Case in point, today’s recipe.

My niece LOVES my blueberry muffins.

I mean, to the point where I never have to ask beforehand whether or not she’s in the mood to have them; the answer is literally always yes.

If she’s really hungry, she can put away three or four of these bad boys in one sitting, easily. Which, is a great feeling for me personally.

Outside of a significant other, or a woman over the age of 50, I don’t think there’s any better praise I like getting for my cooking than a little kid. And the second best part of that is, these are some of the easiest things that I bake.

Even if you don’t like blueberries, I think it’s hard to dislike blueberry muffins. They’re just really, really good. I know that it’s super easy in this day and age to go down the baking aisle in the grocery store and pick up a “Just Add Water” mix, but…just hear me out.

It’s just as easy and more than worth it to make them from scratch. It really is.

I’m including two ways to make this recipe: you can make them in regular muffin cups, or you can also bake them in a muffin top pan–one of my more recent kitchenware buys that I’m very pleased with. Both taste wonderful, both are easy to do. Besides that, these are Picky-Eater certified.

What better endorsement could you need to try them out?

THE Blueberry Muffins

Recipe Adapted from AllRecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup milk, or as needed*
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners, or spray a muffin top pan.

Combine the flour, the white sugar, salt and baking powder in a medium size bowl.

Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup

Add the egg and vanilla extract. If you’re making regular muffins, add the 1/3 cup of milk or as needed to reach the 1-cup mark. If making the muffin tops, add only 1/4 cup of milk

Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries.

Fill muffin cups or muffin top cavities.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #398, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

Peach Rosemary Breakfast Rolls

The summer really is flying by, isn’t it?

I can’t believe we’re at the half-way mark of August already. Inevitably, the end of summer lights a fire beneath me to make and eat all of the ‘summer’ foods as quick as I can before they’re out of season and the Fall’s here all over again.

I love finding new recipes to try that then give me options to be able to try out yet another recipe. I’ve done it several times before on the blog, with great results. Today’s another one of them.

In last week’s post, I made Peach Rosemary Jam, as a nod to my favorite summer snack: the peach.

Peach jam is always a great thing to have on hand in your fridge for toast or biscuits, or scones but as soon as I first tasted the finished product, I knew it was too good to not at least try to incorporate into something else. Jam is a great for fillings, whether it’s mini pies or tarts or today’s recipe: breakfast rolls.

Since my sister doesn’t like cinnamon rolls (sigh), I’m always trying to experiment with different types of breakfast rolls with different fillings that I can make that still remind me of them enough to where I don’t miss them too much. I’ve had some pretty great results with it thus far and I’m pleased to say that today I’m making another addition to that growing list.

To minimize the labor time for these, I recommend splitting it up over two days. Make the jam at least one day ahead; it could not be easier to put together, but it’ll taste the best when it’s had time to have an overnight rest in the fridge so that the texture can set and the flavors can develop.

After the jam is done, you proceed the same way you would with any sweet roll recipe. I really wanted the jam to be star of these, but I did add a tiny bit of cinnamon to the dough.

Honestly? It’s like getting to eat peach pie for breakfast.

Final note: I did give a recipe for icing for these just in case you wanted the full ‘breakfast roll’ experience. I iced some and left some plain just for comparison, and honestly, I don’t think they need the icing at all. They’re plenty delicious enough on their own.

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Peach Rosemary Breakfast Rolls

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
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Filling

  • 2 lb. yellow peaches, pitted, peeled, and coarsely chopped (about 6 cups)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

For Icing (Optional)

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • A few tablespoons fresh orange juice

Directions

For Dough

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, 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 and cinnamon. 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.

For Filling (I recommend making this a day ahead)

Place the peaches in a large nonreactive skillet. Stir in the sugar and rosemary. Let sit, stirring once or twice, until the sugar begins to dissolve, 5 to 10 minutes.

Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium high, and cook, stirring frequently, until the peaches start to break down, the liquid begins to evaporate, and the mixture begins to thicken, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. If you find that the chunks of fruit are too big for your liking, use a potato masher to help break them down.

Continue to cook until the jam has thickened, 3 to 4 minutes more; it is done when you can pull a spatula through the jam and the space you clear stays open for 2 or 3 seconds. The mixture will continue to thicken as it cools, so make sure to stop a little shy of your desired thickness.

After it has cooled to room temperature, place jam in the fridge to chill.

For Assembly: 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 about heaping 1 cup of the peach jam filling on top of the dough. 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 on the middle rack 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.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #393.

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.

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.

Sweet Potato Biscuits & Cranberry Butter

Happy New Year everyone.

If you’re reading this, it means that you’ve made it 2021. Give yourself a pat on the back. Let out the breath that it feels like we’ve all been holding for I don’t know how long.

What a year. What a time to be alive.

2020 was a rough year for most of us. We may have survived it, but I’m sure we all know of others who did not, and those who are still struggling going into 2021. I’m not one for making New Years resolutions, but I am on board for maintaining a positive perspective even in the midst of negativity, and trying to spread positivity where I can.

If your 2020 was particularly difficult, I’m very sorry. You have all of my best wishes and hopes for a better and brighter 2021 where things begin to turn around. Please know that trouble doesn’t last always. This too shall pass. You’ll make it.

After spending a lot of time and effort getting pretty good at baking them, biscuits have become my happy place. I thought a happy place recipe was, a great recipe to kick off the new year with on the blog, so here we are.

I mean: don’t these make you feel at least a little happy just looking at them?

Sweet potato biscuits have been on my radar for a while to try out. I always had hesitation about it because most of the recipes I’ve seen others put out, the biscuits seemed to come out flat and hockey-puck like to me. The potato just seemed to be weighing everything down and one of my biggest biscuits pet peeves are biscuits that don’t rise.

But that was all before I developed my personal technique of biscuit-making that to date has never failed to give me the results that I want. As it turns out, it still doesn’t even when adding mashed sweet potato to the mix.

Sweet potatoes are a heavy ingredient, but what I found they do most for biscuit dough is take the place of the majority of the liquid. You won’t need to add as much buttermilk because the sweet potatoes themselves are moist and give the dough the moisture it needs to hold together, as well as the finished biscuits the moisture they need to not be too tough and dry.

These taste perfectly fine on their own, but I decided to give them an accompaniment using some spare cranberries I still had leftover from the 12 Days of Christmas sitting in my fridge. It comes together in minutes, and the sweet tartness pairs pretty well with the savory flavor of the biscuits.

Here’s to sweet potato biscuits, cranberry butter, and 2021. May one be just as wonderful as the other, and vice versa.

Wear a mask. Social distance. Be kind.

Sweet Potato Biscuits & Cranberry Butter

Recipe Adapted from Allrecipes.com and Let’s Dish 

Ingredients

For Biscuits

  • 2 large, orange fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more for potato water
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 1/2 cup-3/4 cup buttermilk*
  • 6 1/2 cups self rising flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen

For Cranberry Butter

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of one medium orange

 

Directions

For Biscuits:

Cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise. Cut each in half again lengthwise, then in half cross-wise. Cut each piece in half to make evenly sized chunks. Transfer into pot; cover with water and add a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer on high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and cook until potatoes are tender, about 17 minutes. Drain thoroughly; return to pot and mash potatoes. You will need 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes. Cool thoroughly.

Transfer cooled mashed potatoes to a medium size mixing bowl and add brown sugar, stirring to combine. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Stir together with a fork.

Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Stir together with a fork to coat with flour after each addition of about 1/3 to 1/2 stick. This will prevent butter from clumping. Mixture should look like floury pieces of butter.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add sweet potato mixture. Toss with a fork until evenly distributed, but don’t overmix.

Drizzle in the buttermilk. The amount you add here is going to vary according to the time of year and your location. You may need to use all of it, you may not. Start with 1/2 cup and stir the dough together with the fork, just until it begins to come together in large clumps. Add more flour if you need to, just enough to make it hold together.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or a clean smooth countertop 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.)

Use a bench scraper or a large sharp knife to divide the dough in half. Roughly shape each half into a square. Stack one of the halves on top of the other and use a rolling pin to roll it together into one mass. Repeat this process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle. (This is a process of layering so that the biscuits will bake flaky).

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

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

Remove the cut biscuits to the baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, placing them rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Freeze until cold, about 15 minutes.

Bake until golden brown, 18 to 23 minutes. You may need to cover them with foil to keep from browning too fast. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the way through; the edge shouldn’t look wet or unbaked.

For Butter: 

Use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, powdered sugar, honey, cinnamon, vanilla extract and orange zest together until fluffy. Add the cranberries.

Store in the refrigerator, but it’s best to bring it to room temperature to serve.

Linking this post to Fiesta Friday #361.

“Berry” Christmas! Scones

Four days left before Christmas, and we’re winding down to the final three recipes of this year’s holiday baking series. I’m just about through with all the “merry and bright” baking I’m going to do before the Big Day. Somehow, every year it seems to both fly by and take a while, but as with every other year, I can honestly say that I’m so glad I decided to do it. It puts me in the holiday spirit like nothing else can.

I love making scones in general because they’re another one of the ‘blank canvas’ recipes that can stand up to a lot of customization. Once you have a good base scone recipe, you can adapt it to practically any flavor or occasion that you like. The more comfortable you get with baking, the more you’ll want to experiment. For my good, base scone recipe I defer to the clever folks at King Arthur Flour; I then tweaked, modified it so that it was more…Christmas-y.

Orange and cranberry are my “merry and bright” go-to flavors. I really tried to inject as much of it as possible into this dough, which is why it has the zest of two oranges and up to 2 cups of FRESH cranberries. I’ve made scones with dried ones before but this time I wanted to go with fresh so that they would burst while baking and create pockets of tart flavor to counterbalance the sweetness of the sugar, although I wouldn’t say these are overly sweet. The addition of vanilla and almond extracts give it that warm, bakery flavor.


While I was feeling good about placing fresh cranberries in the dough, I was a little concerned about the rise on the scones and that the berries might get in the way of that. As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about. They rose beautifully, much higher than I anticipated honestly and even though I know sour cream does amazing things to scone and biscuits dough I was still amazed at how light they turned out in texture.

If you’re the type of person who likes to eat a nice breakfast treat on Christmas morning, then this recipe was added to the series with you in mind. I recommend making the dough the night before, then popping the scones in the oven in the morning, so that they’re ready for you to eat as or after you’re opening presents, drinking coffee/tea, and whatnot. Be sure to check out the rest of the recipes from this year’s 12 Days of Christmas; just two days/recipes left!

Day 1: Orange Cranberry Buns

Day 2: Sausage Bread Pudding & Cranberry Sauce

Day 3: Sugar & Spice Crackers

Day 4: Cranberry Cookie Tart

Day 5: Spicy Gingerbread Sticks

Day 6: Reindeer Munch

Day 7: Jell-O Butter Cookies

Day 8: Gingerbread Blondies

Day 9: Chocolate Chip Cookie Brittle

Day 10: “Berry” Christmas! Scones

Berry Christmas! Scones

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1-2 cups fresh cranberries
  • Zest of two oranges
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1-2 cups buttermilk* (The amount of milk to use is going to vary depending upon the time of year and the location you’re in because of the varying moisture levels in the air. I always start with one cup, then gradually add more as I deem fit).

Directions

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar and stir together with a fork.

 Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Add the cranberries and zest. Stir with a fork.

In a small bowl combine the eggs with the extracts and stir until the yolks are broken. Set aside.

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

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or a clean smooth countertop 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.)

Use a bench scraper or a large sharp knife to divide the dough in half. Roughly shape each half into a square. Stack one of the halves on top of the other and use a rolling pin to roll it together into one mass. Repeat this process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle. (This is a process of layering so that the scones will bake flaky).

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

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

Remove the cut scones to the baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, placing them rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Freeze until cold, about 15 minutes.

Bake until golden brown, 18 to 23 minutes. You may need to cover them with foil to keep from browning too fast. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the way through; the edge shouldn’t look wet or unbaked.

Sausage Bread Pudding & Cranberry Sauce

I’ve said it before, but one of the goals I set for myself in doing this Christmas series every year is to try and include at least one savory option in the mix. There are plenty of people out there who aren’t into sweets. God knows *I* don’t know or understand that lifestyle, but I can at least acknowledge that it exists by trying to factor it into my offerings on the blog for Christmas.

The savory baking I tend to do at Christmas usually translates into warm, comfort food-style dinners or brunch foods. In 2016, it was Stuffing Bread. In 2017, it was Tourtiere. In 2018, it was chicken hand pies. This year, I decided to do a little bit of recipe recycling to come up with something different.

Last week, I kicked off the series with these Orange Cranberry Buns. The recipe made quite a lot of them; there were leftovers. Granted, they were perfectly delicious all on their own, but I did get to thinking about ways I could use them for something else. What do you guys do when you’ve got a bunch of leftover bread sitting around? My thoughts exactly; you make bread pudding.

Now granted you don’t HAVE to make those buns just to make this dish. Any flavor or style of bread will work so long as it’s bread with a strong and sturdy crumb that can hold up under the milk and egg soaking. Look around the bakery aisle of your grocery store for challah, brioche, potato rolls; any of those will work perfectly here. But I will say that using these buns for it would be an AMAZING choice. Your tastebuds would thank you for it.

Most times, bread pudding is extremely sweet; a dessert, really. But, I’ve experimented with savory variations of it before here on the blog, which is what gave me the idea for this dish in the first place. That recipe used ham. This one uses sausage. Sausage is a very common ingredient when it comes to traditional dressing, and the flavors in that dish are the inspiration for the flavor profile I was shooting for. When it comes to mix-ins, I kept it simple. Spinach and onions and that was great for us. However, it’s really up to you as to what else you put inside. It’s kinda hard to screw this up when it comes to the mix-ins.

The cranberry sauce may seem like an odd choice for a savory dish, but just hear me out: it works. The saltiness of the sausage plays against the sweetness of the bread, and when you add the tartness and slight bitter flavor of the cranberry sauce to that, it’s a REALLY great bite. My sister took one bite of bread pudding together with a bit of the cranberry sauce, smiled and said, “Wow. It tastes like Christmas.”

That should tell you everything you need to know.

Day 1: Orange Cranberry Buns

Day 2: Sausage Bread Pudding & Cranberry Sauce

 

Sausage Bread Pudding & Cranberry Sauce

Adapted from a previous recipe on Cooking is My Sport, and Anne Burrell

Ingredients

For Bread Pudding

  • 7-8 cups cubed leftover, stale bread (you want a nice and sturdy bread, like a challah or brioche)
  • 3 lbs pork sausage
  • 16 oz fresh spinach
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups milk, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of your favorite herb blend (Italian seasoning will work fine)

For Cranberry Sauce

  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries
  • 6 clementines, peeled and sectioned
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Directions

For Bread Pudding

Place the bread cubes in a medium size bowl and stir together with 1 cup of the milk. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until bread has absorbed most of the liquid.

Meanwhile, pour about 1 tablespoon of oil in the bottom of a large skillet or pot, and brown the sausage over medium heat. Drain the grease and set aside sausage in a medium sized bowl.

Saute the spinach in the same pan/pot until it is just wilted and vibrantly green, about 5 minutes. Remove to a separate bowl and set aside.

Saute the onions in the same pot, until they are translucent and limp, about 7-10 minutes. Remove to another bowl and set aside.

In medium size bowl, using a wire whisk combine the eggs, the milk, and the seasonings, beating until yolks are broken.

Spray an 11 x 13 baking dish generously with cooking spray. Spread half of the bread cubes in the dish. Scatter half of the sausage, spinach and sauteed onions on top of the cubes in an even layer. Drizzle half of the egg-milk mixture over that. Repeat, layering the rest of the bread, then the sausage, spinach and onions. Then, pour the rest of the egg-milk on top.

Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 350°F. Uncover the dish then bake on the middle rack until the top is golden brown and the pudding is firm in the middle, 60-65 minutes. Serve warm with the cranberry sauce.

For Cranberry Sauce:

In a small saucepan combine fresh cranberries, clementines, orange and cranberry juices, sugar, cinnamon stick, and star anise.

Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the dried cranberries and simmer for 10 to 15 more minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Store overnight in the fridge to allow sauce to set, then serve alongside bread pudding

Linking to Fiesta Friday #357, co-hosted this week by Diann@Of Goats & Greens.