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.

Orange Sweet Rolls

If I had to give my blog one valid criticism in terms of content I would say that one of them would be that there are certain dishes that I don’t make/share enough of on here. There aren’t enough salad recipes on Cooking is My Sport. This isn’t because I don’t like salad–I actually love it, provided it’s done with the right mixings and a delicious dressing. It’s just that most of the salads I make for myself aren’t exactly…recipe-worthy. There’s no real formula to it and I don’t even really “make” most of it. I mix raw bell peppers, caramelized onions, rotisserie chicken together and have Catalina dressing/Sriracha mixed in. It’s absolutely delicious, but it’s not much of a ‘recipe’.

There should also be more variety to my Breakfast section, especially #1, since we eat breakfast for dinner so often in our house, #2 It’s one of the things I like to cook the most. I’ve said before that pancakes are my one true love, but strangely enough I’ve never posted them here. Part of that is my photographer’s anxiety at being able to get good, drool-worthy pictures of pancakes. (It’s harder than it seems). There are also other favorite breakfast foods I have that I still haven’t shared on the blog yet, for reasons.

I know that many food bloggers will create and photograph entire dishes that they don’t eat and will either give away or even….(gasp) throw it away.

Yeah, I  definitely don’t have enough money laying around to waste food like that. Everything I make/bake/post on this blog, we eat. And that actually explains why I haven’t been able to make some of breakfast foods I like, since I’m not the only one who lives here and my tastes don’t always align with everyone else’s. For example…I love cinnamon rolls.

LOVE. Cinnamon. Rolls.

However…my older sister doesn’t really like cinnamon rolls.

God, it pains me to even type that. C’mon, who DOESN’T love homemade cinnamon rolls (and Cinnabon, obviously)? But, tis true. She’s just not a huge fan of cinnamon, so even though I love them I don’t make cinnamon rolls often. However, recently I was able to find a middle ground between our tastes to where I could make something else that she WAS pretty satisfied with, and that also satisfied my craving for a cinnamon roll. Fortunately, she does like citrus, so I thought I would try to do something with that for a brinner one night.

Personally, EYE think that cinnamon and orange are a delicious pairing, but as my sister’s tastebuds really don’t agree with me, I decided to improvise and look for some other spices to use to flavor both the dough and the filling for my sweet-rolls-that-were-not-going-to-be-cinnamony. For the dough, I used vanilla, fresh orange zest and cardamom. Cardamom has a zesty, almost fruity flavor itself and when paired with the orange I thought would give it a familiar spiciness that the cinnamon would’ve given.

The filling is different from most cinnamon rolls recipes where a generous glob of butter is melted down then mixed into the cinnamon sugar. Here, orange zest is rubbed into the sugar, then mixed with softened butter, orange juice, cardamom and ginger. This forms a smooth kind of ‘paste’ that gets rubbed over the dough before the whole things gets rolled up. (Make sure you use all of it too! It may seem like it’s too much, but just smooth it out as evenly as you can with a spatula and tuck in any excess.) You’ll see why when they’re finished baking.

In some cinnamon roll recipes, I’ve noticed that the filling gets absorbed into the dough itself so that by itself there isn’t much gooey goodness inside. Not with these. The smooth orange ‘paste’ when baked up almost becomes like a stiff curd. It’s got a slight crust on the outside and is bright, tart, sticky goodness on the inside. The spices are just what’s needed to contrast the sweetness. These are delicious enough to eat on their own, but I do love a good icing on my buns so I made one with powdered sugar and more fresh orange zest and juice. I’ve found that it’s best slathered on the rolls almost as soon as they come out of the oven. That way, the icing will sink into all those nooks and crannies of the swirls and absorb the flavor of the dough. Yum.

So, I think I really pulled this out. Not only do I get to add another much-needed recipe to my Breakfast foods section, my sister really loved these. As did I. As will you when you make them for yourselves. Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #218, co-hosted this week by Ginger @ Ginger & Bread and Julianna @ Foodie on Board.

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Sweet Orange Rolls

Recipe Adapted from The Kitchn

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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 orange, zested
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

For the Filling

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 4 tablespoons, (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice

For Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • A few tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 orange, 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, orange 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 and cardamom. 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 orange zest until fragrant. Add the butter and beat together with the paddle attachment until it’s creamy. Add the ginger and cardamom. Slowly drizzle in the orange 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 orange 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 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.

Spinach Ham Bread Pudding with Smoky Red Pepper Sauce

Hey y’all.

Sorry about missing last week. I don’t have a good excuse–I was just in an off mood and for some reason couldn’t get enough focus. I kept pushing back and procrastinating in writing the post until I finally just decided that it wasn’t going to happen. I have been doing quite a bit of both cooking and baking to try and perk myself up though, so you’ll get to see the product of that in the coming weeks.

When I cook and bake, I usually have a habit of making quite a bit of food at one time. This is mostly so that I don’t have to do very much heavy cooking throughout the week. I know it’s not for everyone, but we’re staunch believers in meal prep and leftovers round here. As such, I try and re-purpose the leftovers into new dishes, just to mix things up and not get bored.

Last week’s post were these English scones that I flavored with orange. Because I doubled the recipe we actually had quite a few left over and although it would’ve been fine to just eat them on their own, I got an idea for another way to use them.

We usually have breakfast for dinner once a week and I wanted to do something a bit different than biscuits or pancakes (either one is what I’ll usually make). When I saw that I also had some leftover ham in the fridge, I knew that there was one of two ways we could go with it: scone breakfast sandwiches, or I could go ahead and try to make a bread pudding-strata…thingy to share on the blog.

As you can see, the bread pudding-strata thingy won out.

First of all, I know that most strata and bread pudding recipes call for a French bread or a sturdy type of bread like challah or brioche to be used as the base. If you are in a hurry then you can of course go ahead and buy some in a store for this–it’ll still turn out great. However. If you’ve got the time, I really do recommend making and using the scones as the bread base. I know it may seem like an odd choice, as the scones are on the sweet side and this is a savory dish.

But they work. They really do. The orange flavor gives the dish a special taste that we agreed it wouldn’t have if I had just used regular bread. The next time I make this, you can bet I’ll be putting in the extra effort to and baking the scones to use as the base.

If ham is not your favorite protein, then you can definitely substitute it for another protein–sausage, turkey sausage, chicken-sausage. You could leave the meat out entirely if you’d like to make it vegetarian and just use mushrooms. Don’t sweat it too much. This bread pudding-strata thingy is very forgiving in terms of swapping out ingredients.

I know I could’ve left it plain and still had a tasty dish, but I’m a huge condiment lover. Plus, as most bread puddings DO have sauces on the side I decided I would make a sauce for this one.

This is what I like to call a little ‘recipe recycling’. You guys remember the spiced meatballs I made earlier last August? Well I decided on a whim to try and see if the sauce that I made to go along with the meatballs would also pair nicely with the bread pudding-strata thingy. The sauce looks like it’s a tomato base, but it’s actually roasted red peppers, roasted onions and roasted garlic that I pureed together in the blender, then simmered over the stove with smoked paprika and a few other spices. I really love it all on its own and I thought that it would be worth a try to see what else I could ‘recycle’ it with.

I was once again, pleasantly surprised. The sauce was a perfect smoky compliment to the bread pudding/strata, that in and of itself has a very nice balance of sweetness from the scones, and saltiness from the ham and cheese. Even with the meat and carbs, it filled me up without making me feel too full. I’m not really sure what the proper term for this thing would be considering that I think it somehow manages to check all the boxes of bread pudding, strata, casserole, and breakfast bake at the same time. I’m not sure the name of it really matters considering that we really liked this, and I think you would too. So why not give it a try?

Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #214, co-hosted this week by Abbey @ Three Cats and a Girl and Antonia @ Zoale.com.

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Spinach Ham Bread Pudding with Smoky Red Pepper Sauce

Recipe Adapted from The Kitchn

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Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk, divided
  • 4 cups 1-inch cubes of bread (I used these leftover English scones, but you’re free to use any kind of bread you like)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • Seasoned salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cups diced ham
  • 1 (16-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed as dry as possible
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese

Smoky Red Pepper Sauce

  • 6-7 red bell peppers, de-stemmed, seeded and cut into halves or quarters
  • 3 sweet yellow onions, cut in halves
  • 1 whole head of garlic, outer loose skin removed, but still whole
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons ras el hanout spice mix (optional, if you can’t find it you can always use cumin)
  • 2-3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2- dashes Soy Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

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.

In a separate bowl combine the eggs, the remaining 3/4 cup of milk, garlic, sage, thyme and seasoned salt and pepper. Beat together with a fork.

Grease a shallow 2 1/2 quart baking dish. Spread half of the bread cubes in the dish. Scatter half of the ham, spinach and cheeses 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 ham/spinach and cheese, 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, 55-60 minutes. Serve warm with the sauce.

For the Sauce: Rub about 1 teaspoon of vegetable or canola oil on top of garlic head. Sprinkle the top with salt & pepper and place in the middle of a piece of aluminum foil. Wrap the foil around the garlic, like a package. Place on a half sheet pan and bake in the oven for about 50-55 minutes. Remove and allow to cool until warm enough to handle.

Meanwhile, crank oven up to 450°. Line two sheet pans with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.  Drizzle the peppers with oil, salt & pepper, then arrange with the cut sides down on the pans. Roast in the oven until the skins have started to char & separate from the inner flesh and the peppers have started to collapse, about 25-30 minutes (you may need to rotate pans halfway to ensure even roasting).

Remove the peppers and onions to a bowl and cover with foil to allow to cool down, about 30 minutes. Once cool, use your fingers to rub away the outer skins of the red peppers (they should come away easily). Discard skins and place roasted veggies into a blender or food processor. Take the roasted garlic head and break off individual cloves. Use your fingers to press/squeeze out the pulp into the container of the blender/processor with the veggies. (It should come out very easily). Place the lid on, and puree the mixture together on high speed until very smooth.

Pour the mixture into a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Pour in the beef broth and add the spices, Soy and Worcestershire sauces, sugar and salt & pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and allow sauce to cook for about 20 minutes.

English Scones with Creamy Orange Butter

Fresh, creamery butter. Is there anything more comforting?

I say there is.

Points to all of you who can name the movie that quote comes from. (Hint: It’s one of my favorite rom-coms and stars the very pleasant to look at Hugh Jackman.) But to the rest of you, I’ll just go ahead and re-emphasize my point: fresh creamery butter is great, but it’s made even better by what you can have it with, or what you can add to it.

I’ve always wanted to throw or at least take part in an Afternoon Tea get-together. I think it would be fun to gussy up and put out a whole Downton Abbey-style spread. I’m an absolute sucker for a tray or basket of baked goods so while I do like ginger and chamomile tea, for me the best part would definitely be getting to bake and enjoy all of the sweet/savory goodies that would be served alongside it.

There’s nothing like watching Great British Bake-off for getting into the afternoon tea ‘spirit,’ if there even is such a thing. I love baking in general, but every time I watch an episode of Bake Off, I just want to get going on whatever challenge it is that I’ve just seen the bakers take on. Sometimes they’re complex recipes, and sometimes they’re deceptively simple (i.e. so simple, they’re simple to mess up). One of those recipes would definitely have to be the scone and I thought it would be a good post to do today considering the subject– because you just can’t have a proper tea without scones.

If you’ve been following the blog for a while now, you know that this is far from my first hack at making scones, but it is the first time I’d made a proper English one. For a while I wasn’t aware that there was much of a difference between English ones and the ones I’d been used to making. Turns out that they differ in a few ways: first, they’re usually not as sweet as most other scones. They’re more supposed to be the vessel for sweeter condiments like jam or preserves. They’re also made with beaten eggs, which results in a more fluffy crumb than most flaky scones that depend only on butter and baking powder for leavening.

The ingredients may be a bit different, but I still kept the method for making these almost identical to the method I use for making scones and biscuits–it’s just the way I get the best results. I did decide to give my proper English scones my own twist by first, adding a tad bit of vanilla to the dough, and second, adding orange zest and juice. Finally, because I did say that English scones are meant to be vessels for a flavored condiment, I also whipped up an easy condiment to pair with these: fresh creamery orange butter. Doesn’t it look delicious? And it couldn’t be easier to put together: butter, orange zest and orange marmalade. That’s it.

I’ve gotta say y’all, I think I’d actually be brave enough to serve a platter of these scones up to Mary and Paul–I mean, I’d definitely still be scared, but I’m pleased enough with these so that I could do it without having a panic attack. They’re just really good. The orange in both the scones and butter is what makes such a difference. The texture of the scones is light and fluffy while the orange gives them such a fresh, clean flavor. (If lemon or lime is more to your liking, you could definitely swap out for either one with equally great results). I was frustrated at first because these didn’t rise as high as I wanted them to, but by the time I got around to eating one slathered with the butter I didn’t care anymore. Turns out, delicious food makes it hard for me to stay in a rotten mood. Cheers.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #212, co-hosted this week by  Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Antonia @ Zoale.com.

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English Scones with Creamy Orange Butter

Recipe Adapted from Cooking Channel

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Ingredients

For Scones

  • 500 grams all purpose flour
  • 80 grams unsalted butter, frozen
  • 80 grams white sugar
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup milk, plus more if needed

For Orange Butter

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade or preserves
  • Zest of 1 orange

Directions

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

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

In a small bowl combine the eggs and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg mixture. Pour in the milk and orange juice. Gently stir together with a fork until the dough forms a somewhat homogenous mass.

Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 425°F.

Turn out the dough onto the surface. 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.

Using a 2-inch cutter dipped in flour, stamp out rounds and place them on the prepared trays. Try not to twist the cutter; just press down and then lift up and push out the dough. Re-roll any remaining dough and cut out more scones. Place the sheet pan in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Bake the scones for about 15 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

For Orange Butter: Use a handheld mixer or the paddle attachment of a standing mixer to beat together all the ingredients until light and fluffy. Store in the refrigerator.

Winter Spice Toaster Tarts

It’s about that time again….

I know I say it every year, but I really can’t believe we’ve reached December and are on the verge of entering a new year. I wouldn’t exactly say 2017 flew by, but it is rather ethereal that it’s almost over and that we’re so close to starting 2018. Show of hands, how many of y’all have your Christmas trees up?

Hopefully it’s a good number; now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s undeniably the holiday season. Mine’s been up since the first week in November. (Shh. Don’t judge me. I have the Christmas spirit of Buddy the Elf.)

If you’ve been following the blog for at least a year, then you already know what the month of December will bring ’round these parts. If you’re new here, then welcome. This post will kick off a little series I’ve been doing annually from CIMs very first Christmas called the 12 Days of Christmas. For 12 days I share Christmas-themed baking recipes that I think would fit in rather nicely on a holiday spread of goodies that you make for yourself or others.

Baking twelve days worth of treats is no small task, but guys, I’m still so excited to get this series going. The 12 Days of Christmas is my absolute FAVORITE time of year to be a food blogger. There are so many delicious looking posts/recipes that I get to see fill my timeline and also contribute myself. I try to plan ahead and put out a variety of posts that can be tried out by both amateur and advanced bakers. Sometimes all goes accordingly to the plans–other times…most times, I have to adjust/tweak a bit.

Regardless, I always end up having fun, which is what really matters.

I first made my own pop tarts about two years ago. I wasn’t sure how it would go–or if it would go at all. But the 12 Days of Christmas seemed like a good time to test it out. I found that it’s actually a pretty easy process and that both the dough and filling go VERY well with just about whatever you want to do with them. Today’s recipe revisits my first go at toaster tarts, but then tweaks it a bit with the addition of some new ingredients. Those new ingredients are a Winter Spice mix that has classic holiday baking flavors: ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves. There’s also some pepper (yes, pepper) just to give it an extra kick.

I added about two generous tablespoons of this spice mix to the base of my buttery toaster tart dough. It doesn’t alter the chemistry of the recipe, but it sure does give a whole new depth of flavor to dough itself. The filling I did keep the same just because I love it SO much, but I realize not everyone is a cranberry-clementine fan, or you just may not have the time to make it from scratch. As I said, you really can do anything you want with the filling within reason. Any jam, jelly or preserves you want to use would work. If you’re a fan of apple butter or pumpkin butter, it’ll work. Heck, if you want to use biscoff spread, cookie butter, or Nutella: IT’LL WORK.

But come on: doesn’t that cranberry-clementine filling look delicious? Don’t you want to at least try it? I thought so. Sharing this recipe at today’s Fiesta Friday #200.

Stay tuned for more recipes for the 12 Days of Christmas!

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Winter Spice Toaster Tarts

Recipe Adapted from Anne Burrell & Williams Sonoma

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Ingredients

For Winter Spice Mix

  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

For  Cranberry Clementine Filling

  • 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

For Tart Dough

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of Winter Spice Mix
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup cranberry clementine filling

For Decoration

  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • A few tablespoons of milk
  • About 1-2 tablespoons of light corn syrup
  • Holiday themed sprinkles

 

Directions

To Make Winter Spice Mix: Combine all of the ingredients together in a small bowl and keep in an airtight lid. Set aside.

For tart filling: 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. Set aside, cool completely.

For tart dough: combine the flour, winter spice mix confectioners sugar, salt in a bowl. Add the butter and cut in until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add milk and egg yolk and mix together, just until dough comes together. (You may need to add a bit more milk here. I did, adding just enough until it held together in a ball.) Wrap dough ball into two sheets of plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

 Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On a floured work surface, divide dough in half and form each into a rough rectangle. Roll 1 rectangle until it measures about 16×9 in. Using a ruler and pizza cutter, cut dough into 12 small rectangles, each about 3×4 in.

Lay half the rectangles on the work surface and lightly brush with the beaten egg. Spoon about 1 tbsp. of the filling into the center of each, spreading it over the dough but leaving a 1/2 inch border.

Top with a plain dough rectangle, crimping the edges together with a fork– try not to let any filling ooze out.

Preheat oven to 375°. Place 6 tarts on each baking sheet, spacing them out evenly. Lightly prick the tops with a fork to create steam vents– be careful you don’t prick through both layers so the tarts don’t leak while baking!

Position 2 racks evenly in the oven and bake the tarts for 15-18 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cool on a wire rack.

To decorate, combine all ingredients (except for sprinkles) together in a small bowl, adding additional milk if glaze is too thick to spread. Spread or drizzle glaze over tarts, topping with sprinkles is desired. Allow to set up and harden, about 15-3o minutes. 

 

Sausage Stuffed Honey Buns

I have a confession to make.

I don’t think I’ve ever admitted it to anyone before. I’m pretty sure I’ve never even said it out loud. I considered keeping it to to myself and taking this huge, scandalous secret with me to my grave just because I know that it’s going to shock some (and maybe a lot) of you. You might even second guess or doubt my instincts for taste and good food. I’ve tried to deny it. I’ve tried to change it. But it’s just no good. This is just who I am. This is my truth and well, here it is:

I…don’t like the Little Debbie Honey Buns. At all.

I know, right? But calm down. Take a deep breath. Just let me explain.

When I was growing up as a kid, Little Debbie snacks were almost like a form of currency on the school bus, at lunch tables, lockers, the playground, etc. A few of my classmates and a drama teacher had full running ‘businesses’ hocking a pop up shop of candy, pickles and Little Debbie treats. Weird? Nah, not really. They made a killing off it because as it turns out, kids love candy, pickles and Little Debbie snacks. I remember being jealous of their profits. But I guess I just didn’t have the ‘entrepreneur’ knack…or more importantly, the start-up funds from my mom to kickstart a hustle of my own.

Don’t get me wrong y’all, I’m not knocking Little Debbie snacks entirely. There are several that I did and still DO think are tasty; the Donut Sticks for one.  Oatmeal Cream Pies for another. And Star Crunch. Terrible for you? Yes. Delicious? Double Yes.

All of the above snacks would be apart of the pop up stores, lunch room swaps and locker purchases in my childhood. But the biggest seller–I mean the one that was the *most* popular, hands down–were the Honey Buns. Everyone loved Honey Buns. For those that still don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, Honey Buns are yeast pastry buns flavored with ‘honey’ and ‘cinnamon’, then dunked in a thick layer of ‘icing’. I have my reasons for throwing the quotation mark shade, and they have everything to do with my distaste of the infamous Honey Bun that last to this day.

Like many other mass produced packaged snacks, Honey Buns are loaded with preservatives. I realize that this just comes with the territory but whatever the preservatives are that used to make them, they don’t gel with my taste buds. I’m just speculating here, but I’m pretty sure the amount of actual honey and cinnamon that are in a finished Honey Bun isn’t…much. And it shows.

And then there’s that icing. Oh God, that icing. The texture is what throws me off. It’s gloopy. It’s gelatinous. It’s…y’all I don’t even *know* what it is, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to. What I do know is that I find it yucky and it’s a large part of why I never liked Honey Buns and finally stopped trying to.

Look guys, if you’re a huge fan of Little Debbie Honey Buns, that’s fine. You’re not alone. Quite a lot of other people are.

But the way I see it, if you’re going to indulge in a Honey Bun, why not make it an actual…honey bun? Y’know, one where the dough is fresh baked and isn’t loaded with preservatives, where it can go beyond just a snack and actually act as a filling breakfast, a bun where there’s  more than just a thimble sized amount of honey involved?

Do I have a your attention yet? Good.

As you can see, these aren’t a thing like the Little Debbie Honey Buns, and frankly I think that’s a plus. The dough is soft, fluffy and chewy. They’re crammed with breakfast sausage that I browned then flavored with brown sugar, cinnamon, pepper and (of course) honey. After that, they’re rolled up cinnamon bun style, but wait! Now we’re at the *really* good part: an ACTUAL HONEY glaze that’s lightly flavored with orange juice/zest is both brushed on top of the rolls as they bake, but also poured beneath them in the pan. What this results in, is a thicker,, stickier, syrupy glaze that you can drizzle and drag the rolls through once they’re finished. It’s everything.

I don’t know about you, but I feel so much better. I got a huge load off my chest and shared an awesome recipe with y’all all at once. That’s a great way to go into the weekend. Hope all of yours is a good one. Be easy.

Sharing this post at Fiesta Friday #198, co-hosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com and Liz @ Spades, Spatulas and Spoons.

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Sausage Stuffed Honey Buns

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

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Ingredients

For Glaze

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

For Sausage Filling

  • 1 1/2 pounds breakfast sausage
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For Bun 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

 

 

Directions

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 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, cinnamon, pepper and brown sugar. Set aside and allow to fully 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.

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Scones

Hey, hi, how are y’all doing? Just thought I’d check in and give an update on my little ‘problem’.

I’m still hooked on coffee. I’ve been meaning to do better, but I just haven’t been able to kick the habit. The cravings are still coming on strong and I continue to satisfy them with little to no remorse. I think at this point the largest reason would be that I’m just not up to getting over all the withdrawal symptoms, worst for me being the headaches. Caffeine withdrawal headache are the WORST. And short of taking some ibuprofen and soldiering through, there’s really not much you can do about it until your body just comes around to accepting that it isn’t going to be getting any coffee anymore.

And I’m not ready to tell my body that. Not sure if my body would even listen to me if I tried. So I’m not. Coffee and I still going strong and as it turns out, all of you will benefit from this ongoing relationship.

Along with my addiction, my quest to incorporate coffee into my favorite baked goods also continues. I’ve already done it (and done it pretty well I think) with cookies and cake. Now, I’ve found that there’s a way to do it (and pull it off) with scones.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: baking and cooking with coffee is similar to cooking with booze in that you only want to use something you’d be fine with drinking all on its own. I promise that the flavor of the java you use will inevitably come through these scones, so make sure that it’s a flavor you actually like. If you’re partial to french vanilla flavored coffee (like me) then use a french vanilla coffee. If you like Hazelnut, use Hazelnut. Or Mocha. Or French Roast. Heck, if you wanted to use a cappuccino here, that would work too. Whatever you want, just make sure that what you’re using is something you do actually…want.

I do think that these would’ve tasted delicious all on their own, but to give them a little something special, I decided to add a cinnamon sugar streusel on top for flavor, texture and overall appearance. I think the cinnamon pairs very well with the coffee and by the time it’s finished baking, the streusel has a buttery crunchy bite to it that gives it a pleasant contrast with the inside of the scones. I cut them rather small and dainty, but you can feel free to go as big or little as you want. Oh yeah, and the only way to possibly improve these would be to…you guessed it.

Dip them in coffee.

I love how these turned out, guys. Coffee lovers unite!…at the Fiesta Friday #196, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

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Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Scones

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

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Ingredients

For Scones

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, cold
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 5 tablespoons instant coffee, espresso, cappuccino, divided
  • 1/4 cup warm milk, plus more cold milk if needed
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For Streusel

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°.  Dissolve the instant coffee/espresso in the warm milk. Mix together until thoroughly combined and place in the fridge.

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

Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Use a sharp knife to cut the cream cheese into chunks and fold into the dry ingredients, use the fork to mash up the larger chunks until they’re roughly the same size as the grated butter.

Make a well in the center of the butter/cream cheese/flour mixture. Pour the milk/espresso in the center. Add the beaten egg and vanilla extract. Mix together with a large rubber spatula. If too dry, you can add some more milk 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.

Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to divide the rectangle in half, then divide the halves into thirds or fourths squares (depending on what size scones you want). Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place the cut scones on it. Freeze them for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, fill a shallow pan with water and place it on the bottom rack of the oven.

In a small bowl, mix together all of the streusel ingredients. Just before baking the scones, lightly spray each one with some non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of the streusel on top of each one.

Bake them for about 12 minutes. Turn the oven off, leave the door closed & continue to bake for additional 8-12 minutes, until scones are light golden brown. Serve warm with butter, jam or cream cheese.