Chicken Pot Pie

I didn’t initially plan on sharing this recipe this week, but with the way that the weather’s been going lately in my corner of the country, it felt like an appropriate time to break out some comfort, stick-to-your-ribs food, and this one’s pretty much at the top of that list.

I attempted to make chicken pot pie for the blog several years ago, and it didn’t really turn out at all. Rather than accept complete defeat, I improvised on the fly and still came out with what I thought was a pretty tasty meal anyway.

But the L I took that day still bothered me. I wanted to make it right.

It’s taken me a while, but I finally think that I have.

When it comes to chicken pot pie, there’s not a lot of wiggle room for error. You can’t lean on one ‘element’ of the dish more than the other. You may have a great crust, but if the filling is bland/soupy/off, it won’t really matter. You may have a great filling, but if the casing is wack, then you’ll just be trying to eat ‘around’ it, which makes for a less than ideal eating experience.

Both the crust and the filling of a chicken pot pie have to be good, or the whole thing is going to bomb.

Making a good filling or crust for any kind of pie comes down to two things: seasoning and time. Salt and pepper alone for a pot pie filling don’t cut it for me; bay leaf, herbs and onion powder are musts. And even after the filling’s been seasoned, the flavor needs time to become more pronounced and tasty. Plus, the colder the filling is when you bake the pie, the better the bottom crust will brown and actually cook through instead of just becoming mushy/soggy.

Flaky pie crust comes from chilled and relaxed pie dough with big flecks of butter spread throughout. Relaxed pie dough is dough that’s been chilled for a while and gone even longer without being touched or handled. This takes time.

Making chicken pot pie isn’t difficult, but my recommendation for the actual labor of the dish is to spread it out across two days. Make the filling and the pie filling on Day 1, and let them rest overnight in the fridge. This will chill and relax the pie dough long enough to make it flaky, and it will allow the filling to grow cold enough to fill the pie but not soggy-ify the bottom crust, and most importantly, to develop maximum flavor.

On Day 2, the only thing there’ll be left to do is roll out the dough into the pie dish, fill the pie, then roll the second crust on top. The whole process of assembly takes less than 30 minutes, and in give or take another hour, you have what is a pretty amazing dinner if I may say so myself.

Chicken Pot Pie

Pie Crust Recipe Adapted from Food52, Filling recipe by Jess @CookingisMySport

Ingredients

For Pie Crust

  • 2 1/4 sticks (254 grams) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 2 cups (256 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (40 grams) whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons very cold water, plus more if needed

For the Filling

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 16 oz. bag of frozen mixed vegetables
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Onion Powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock*
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 large sprigs rosemary
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1/2 tbsp-1 tbsp. honey mustard (depending on taste preference)
  • 4 cups chopped, cooked chicken (about 1 large rotisserie chicken)

Directions

For Pie Crust:

In a large bowl, combine the flours, salt, sugar and black pepper. Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients, and stir together with a fork. Add the water, adding more tablespoon by tablespoon if needed just until it holds together.

Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into two portions. One should be slightly larger than the other. The larger one will be our bottom crust, the smaller one will be the top crust. Wrap both of these blobs in plastic, then press down to form a well-sealed disc. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling and assembling the pie. (I typically let mine rest overnight)

For Filling

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the onions and sweat until the onions are translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove to a small bowl and set aside.

Heat remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour. Cook until the mixture is just starting to turn golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth.* (The amount of chicken broth you use here is going to depend on how ‘runny’ or thick you want your pie filling to be. If you’re unsure, I would start with 2 1/2-3 cups, then gradually add more if after adding the chicken and veggies you think it’s a little thick. Also remember that it has to refrigerate, which will also make it thicken.) Bring the mixture to a simmer.

Add the onions, bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme. Season with salt, black pepper, onion powder and the honey mustard. Allow to simmer for a further 10 minutes, tasting adn adjusting for seasoning.

Add the frozen vegetables and allow to simmer for about 10-15 minutes, just long enough to warm the veggies through. Stir in the chicken.

Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Remove to a resealable container and refrigerate until cold, preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Take the pie dough discs out of the fridge, unwrap, and let hang out on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes.

Roll out the larger disc into a 12-inch circle and set into a 9-inch glass deep dish pie pan. Use your fingers to gently press the dough into the corners of the pan, so it’s as snug as can be. Roll out the smaller disc into a 10- to 11-inch circle. Fill the dough-lined pie pan with the cold chicken pot pie filling and use a spoon to smooth out to fill the pan completely. Top with the smaller round of pie dough. Trim any excess so you have an even ¾-inch overhang. Use your fingers to squeeze the two layers together, then fold the overhang under itself, so the edge is tucked into the pie pan and a ridge is formed. Use your fingers to reinforce this ridge, so it’s distinctly shaped, then crimp the edge of the pie crust into ruffles. The easiest way to crimp is by creating a guide with the thumb and pointer finger of your left hand, then pushing the dough outward with the pointer finger of your right hand. (If you’re a lefty, flip accordingly.) Use a paring knife to cut four slits in the center of the top crust. Place the pie pan on a rimmed sheet pan (this makes getting in and out of the oven a lot simpler).

Bake for 65 to 70 minutes (rotating halfway through), until the crusty is deeply golden brown. Let sit on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes—the filling will still be very warm, but not too liquidy.

Cut into big wedges and serve warm.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #418.

Cinnamon Sugar Croutons

Consider today’s recipe as a Part II from last week, where I shared a simple, but really special way to make your own croutons from scratch. This week, I’m back with a sweet option.

I’d actually never tried or even heard of sweet croutons before a few weeks ago. Croutons are typically envisioned for savory salads, and as such are flavored savor-ily (if that’s even a word).

But sweet croutons do in fact have their place and purpose. They can go in sweet fruit salads as a crunchy element. They’re good for sweet trail mixes with nuts and candy.

They are also absolutely fantastic for eating all by themselves as a sweet and crunchy snack. Ask my niece; that’s what she’s been doing with them quite contentedly.

Like last week’s Rosemary and Browned Butter croutons, these are a cinch to put together, and they yield such tasty results.

It’s actual cinnamon toast crunch, you guys. How awesome is that?

Cinnamon Sugar Croutons

Recipe by Jess @CookingisMySport

Ingredients

  • 1 (1 lb) loaf of sourdough bread, outer crusts sawed off, and cubed into 1-1/2 inch cubes
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon sugar (1/2 cup white granulated sugar mixed with 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon)

Directions


Preheat stove to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two sheet pans with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, mix together one tablespoon of the cinnamon sugar with the melted butter and whisk with a fork until dissolved, then set aside.

Pour the rest of the cinnamon sugar into a shallow container/bowl and set aside.

Place bread cubes into a gallon size resealable plastic bag. Drizzle the cooled cinnamon sugar butter over the cubes and toss with a spoon. Once you’ve used all the butter, reseal the bag and shake it around, until there is an even coating of butter on all the bread cubes.

Spread cubes into a single, even layer on each of the sheet pans.

Toast croutons one pan at a time on the middle rack of the oven, for about 15-20 minutes. Flip the croutons once halfway, to ensure they are evenly toasted. They’re finished when they’re crisp, golden brown and firm on the outside to the touch.

While croutons are still warm, toss them in the dry cinnamon sugar until evenly coated, Set on a piece of wax paper or aluminum foil to cool completely.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #417.

Browned Butter Rosemary Croutons

Are you all ready for one of the simplest, but tastiest recipes ever?

That’s not hyperbole. I mean every word.

I think Croutons are one of those things that you buy in the grocery store, anf never really thought about making them for yourself. Because, for what? It’s essentially a condiment for salad or soup, and who honestly wants to set aside the time to make their own condiments?

I used to feel that way the exact same way.

Then I made my own croutons, and let me tell you: I take it back. All of it.

Croutons from scratch are worth it, guys. So worth it.

In the first place, they’re cheap to make. All you need to make a crouton is bread, butter, and in this case, an herb sprig. If you go to the bakery section of any grocery store, you can pick out a loaf of bread for $1-5 that will work perfectly for croutons. Aim for a sturdy loaf with big airy pockets on the inside that you can easily cut into cubes and trim the crusts from; I used a sourdough boule.

In the second place, homemade croutons are easy. After cubing the bread, all you have to do is coat the cubes in butter and any other desired seasoning, then let them toast away in the stove until they’re crisp all over.

I could’ve just went plain for my first time making them, but I’m extra, so I decided to brown my butter first, then add a sprig of rosemary to it, just to up the flavor of my croutons past regular old toasted bread cubes.

I was honestly surprised by how much I loved the taste of these. In the first place, because the bread is freshly made, they have a fresh, heartiness to them that you just can’t get in a prepackaged crouton. Then, add that browned butter rosemary flavor to the texture, and what you’ve got is not just a delicious condiment, but a pretty delicious snack that’s tasty enough to stand over the stove and eat one after another, all on its own.

Not that I would know anything about that; just saying.

Browned Butter Rosemary Croutons

Recipe by Jess @CookingisMySport

Ingredients

  • 1 (1 lb) loaf of sourdough bread, outer crusts sawed off, and cubed into 1-1/2 inch cubes
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary

Directions


Preheat stove to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two sheet pans with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, gently swirling pan constantly, until particles begin to turn golden brown and butter smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and continue swirling the pan until the butter is a rich brown, about 15 seconds longer. Place the sprig of rosemary in the hot butter and allow to sit for about 5 minutes, until it’s no longer sizzling/crackling.

Transfer to a medium bowl, whisk in ice cube, transfer to refrigerator, and allow to cool completely, about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally.)

Place bread cubes into a gallon size resealable plastic bag. Drizzle the cooled browned butter over the cubes and toss with a spoon. Once you’ve used all the butter, reseal the bag and shake it around, until there is an even coating of butter on all the bread cubes.

Spread cubes into a single, even layer on each of the sheet pans.

Toast croutons one pan at a time on the middle rack of the oven, for about 15-20 minutes. Flip the croutons once halfway, to ensure they are evenly toasted. They’re finished when they’re crisp, golden brown and firm on the outside to the touch.

Allow to cool completely, and store in a resealble plastic container or bag.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #416, cohosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Roasted Tomato Salsa

Much like sour cream from last week, raw tomatoes are another one of those ingredients that I don’t care to eat on their own, but I’m very appreciative of what they can do as a recipe ingredient.

Salsa is one of those recipes. I don’t mind a verde, but a red salsa will always be my preference, and the flavor of the actual tomato plays a huge part in that.

I’m a huge advocate for roasting things. It concentrates and enhances ingredients’ natural flavor, and that’s especially true for tomatoes. I can’t think of a better (or an easier) way to showcase the flavor of when they’re roasted than in a fresh salsa.

This salsa broils tomatoes, onions, garlic and cilantro until they’re roasted/charred. They’re then blitzed together in a blender and seasoned, minimally.

And that’s literally it. Definitely one for the “You Can’t Mess This Up, No Seriously” category.

I will say that texture is also important here; I can’t stand runny tomato juice salsa. It’s gotta be chunky for me all the way. So I was very intentional in my blending to actually only press the Pulse button a handful of times so as to not have ‘soup’ instead of salsa. But if that’s your preference, feel free to blitz it for as long as you like until it’s as thin as you like.

This salsa made me scold myself for not having made myself some before up until now. It tasted so fresh and bright. The flavors of each of the broiled/roasted ingredients really shined through here, and my only regret about it i that I hadn’t made a double batch.

Roasted Tomato Salsa

Recipe Adapted from Serious Eats

Ingredients

  • 10 Roma Tomatoes, halved
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium yellow sweet onion, quartered and separated.
  • 8 oz fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice (about 1/2 a lime)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions


Preheat stove broiler on High. Line two sheet pans with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Arrange tomatoes and garlic cloves on one sheet pan and the other for the onions, cut side up for the tomatoes and onions. Lightly sprinkle the tops of the tomatoes and the onions with salt and pepper.

Broil on the rack of the nearest to the broiler grill. After about 7-10 minutes, check on the garlic cloves; if they are browned and the skins have begun to open, remove them from the oven and their skins, and set aside.

Broil the tomatoes about 5-10 minutes more, until they have begun to char and blister on the tops. Remove from oven, and broil the onions until they’re softened and beginning to char at the tips, 5-7 minutes.

Spread the cilantro out on one of the sheet pans; broil for about 35 seconds to 1 minute; don’t walk away from it. Once cooled, tear the softened cilantro into pieces.

Once the tomatoes and onions are cooled, place them and the garlic into a a blender. Pulse a few times until it forms a chunky paste; I only needed to pulse about 5-6 times to my desired consistency.

Pour the salsa into a bowl, season with the lime juice, cumin, smoked paprika and salt and pepper. Taste & adjust for seasoning, then stir in the wilted cilantro.

Chill in the fridge for about 30-40 minutes before serving.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #415

Herbed Sour Cream Pull Apart Loaf

By itself, I think that sour cream tastes awful.

I mean, it is really, really bad. It’s both a texture and a flavor thing for me. I know a lot of people like adding it to tacos and goulash and whatnot, but the mere thought of eating sour cream raw triggers my gag reflex every time.

However.

As terrible as I think it is as condiment by itself, in my experience, I have found that it is a stellar ingredient to bake with.

What it lacks in texture or taste by itself, it more than makes up for when it’s time to improve the texture of baked goods; practically any baked goods, really. For instance, I never go without sour cream when making biscuits if I can help it. It’s become one of my secret baking weapons.

I use it with biscuits and scones all the time and now, it turns out that I can now add it to the yeast bread repertoire.

I’ve made bubble bread a couple times before on the blog. It makes for an eye-catching presentation, it’s pretty simple to shape/assemble, and it’s a good tear-and-share loaf– if you’re inclined to share, anyway.

There are very few things that garlic, herbs and butter can’t make taste good, and bread is certainly no exception. I don’t know which I was a bigger fan of; the texture of the bread itself thanks to the sour cream and the bread flour, or the buttery herby garlicky flavor that’s in every bite.

Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to pick and neither do you should you decide to give this a try.

Just enjoy it.

Herbed Sour Cream Pull Apart Loaf

Recipe Adapted from Bake from Scratch

Ingredients

  • 3¼ cups bread flour, divided
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon flaked sea salt

Directions

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together 1½ cups of the flour, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and 1½ teaspoons kosher salt by hand.

In a medium saucepan, heat sour cream, butter, and ¼ cup (60 grams) water over medium heat until an instant-read thermometer registers 120°F (49°C) to 130°F (54°C). Sprinkle the active yeast on top, then sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the sugar on top of that.

Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until yeast is proofed and frothy.

With mixer on medium speed, pour warm sour cream mixture into flour mixture, beating until combined and cooled slightly, about 1 minute. Add egg, and beat at medium speed until combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually add remaining 1¾ cups flour, beating until well combined and stopping to scrape sides of bowl, about 1 minute.


Lightly spray a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
In a small bowl, stir together melted butter, garlic, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and remaining ½ teaspoon kosher salt.


Divide dough into 36 pieces. With lightly floured hands, working with 1 piece at a time (keep remaining dough covered to prevent it from drying out), roll each piece into a smooth ball. Dip each ball into melted butter mixture, and place in a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan. Pour any remaining melted butter mixture over dough in pan. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 35 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Sprinkle risen dough with flaked salt.


Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), 35 to 40 minutes, covering with foil halfway through baking to prevent excess browning, if necessary. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and garnish with rosemary, thyme, and parsley, if desired.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #414.

Sourdough Discard Biscuits

Happy New Year, everyone. We made it to 2022.

Whereas 2020 seemed to drag on forever, I feel like 2021 flew by. I have no idea where all that time went to, but here we are. I hope that all of you had a great finish to the holiday season and are having a great start to the new year.

Last year, I kicked off 2021 on the blog with a biscuits recipe, and as it would turn out, that’s how we’re bringing in 2022 as well. That’s pretty on brand for me.

Maybe I’ll even just go ahead and make it a running tradition from here on out.

Recently, I’ve been trying to teach myself how to bake with sourdough. It’s been on my baking Bucket List for I don’t know how long, and I’m somewhat ashamed of myself that I’m just now getting around to it, as sourdough is one of my favorite ways to enjoy carbs.

It’s definitely something that takes time and practice. I’d heard before going into this that a sourdough starter is somewhat like a baker’s ‘pet,’ and I’m finding out that that’s true.

You have to keep it stored in a specific container, at a specific temperature and give it specific amounts of ‘food’ at specific times in order to help it grow healthy. It’s a very involved process. This is my first pet ever, so I’m choosing to take all this very seriously, to the point where I even named my starter. It’s a He and his name is Donatello (No, not after the sculptor. After the turtle.)

Me and Donatello are still figuring out this whole sourdough business, but until we do, in the meanwhile, I’ve had quite a lot of discard on my hands at the end of every day. See, a starter is just composed of flour and water and ferment that gets produced from that flour and water paste. Every time you ‘feed’ a starter, you have to take out the majority of the starter and, well…’discard’ of it. But if you’re like me and throwing away food or even baking ingredients is difficult for you, then today’s recipe is a really perfect one.

Rather than just pouring off the discard into a trash can, you can actually store leftover discard in the refrigerator for a select period of time for occasions such as these and add it to Blank Canvas recipes to give them added ‘sourdough’ flavor. As my favorite Blank Canvas recipe is the Biscuit, I knew I had to try this.

The process for sourdough discard biscuits really isn’t that different from my process of making any other. The only difference here is that rather than sour cream or buttermilk, you rely entirely on the sourdough discard for the ‘wet’ ingredient that holds the dough together.

We really liked these. The sourdough flavor itself will probably depend upon on how long you’ve been keeping the discard in the fridge, but paired with the dried herbs, it’s a really great biscuit.

Wish me and Donatello luck on our sourdough adventures!

Sourdough Discard Biscuits

Recipe Adapted from Taste of Artisan

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon of your choice of dried herbs (like rosemary, thyme, basil or a combination of these)
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 3-4 cups sourdough starter*

Directions

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and dried herbs. 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 and add the sourdough starter. (Note: 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 475°. 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.

Spray the tops of the biscuits with cooking spray, or brush with melted butter and place in oven.

Once you’ve placed the biscuits into the oven, lower the temperature to 425F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the sheet pan and bake for additional 8-10 minutes, or until the tops and the bottoms of the biscuits are golden brown. (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.)

Allow to cool on pan for about 5 minutes before serving.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #413

Cranberry Pull Apart Wreath

Happy Christmas Eve eve, everyone.

We’ve reached the end of the 12 Days of Christmas series and we’ve just about reached the end of 2021.

That is absolutely bonkers to me.

The year flew by for me, and what a year it’s been. I have mixed emotions.

On the one hand, it’s been busy, challenging, and at times very stressful.

On the other hand, it’s also been very rewarding, validating and blessed.

Life’s not perfect, these are trying times we’re living in, and I’d be lying if I said it never got to me.

But at the end of the day, I like my life. I love what I do. I feel very blessed and grateful that I get to do it, and I have people in my life whose love and support makes all of the above possible. Those are facts that I try to remind myself of whenever times do get rough.

I understand that the holidays are not a particularly enjoyable time of year for everyone, for various reasons. To whoever you are and wherever you are that’s reading this, I hope that you can find at least a little bit of comfort, peace and joy, in whatever way that looks like for you. For me, doing this Christmas baking series is a huge source of my yearly holiday cheer. If it’s brought some to any of you, I really couldn’t ask for anything more.

I’ve been so excited to share this recipe with you all as the finale of the 12 Days of Christmas. It really surpassed my expectations and hopes for it when I first got the idea to try it out.

I’ve made pull apart bread twice before on the blog, with fantastic results. I knew going into this year’s series that I wanted to give it a holiday makeover, and this is what I came up with.

Pull apart bread requires a sturdy enriched dough that can stand up to the filling, and so I went with my go-to challah recipe for this. The filling itself is my go-to cranberry sauce recipe, but you can use whatever cranberry flavored jelly/preserves thing you prefer.

One thing I must insist on though is that you make sure your baking pan/tin is big enough to accommodate this loaf. I’m not kidding: this recipe makes a LOT of bread, y’all. Feel free to invite over a crowd, OR, make plans for a killer pain perdu. Both will work.

You guys, please have an amazing holiday and rest of the year. Congratulations for making it through 2021; here’s to 2022 and whatever it has in store for us. Please stay safe out there.

Jess ❤

Day 1: Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Day 3: Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Day 4: Sweet Potato Gingerbread

Day 5: Brown Sugar Cookies

Day 6: Gingerbread Biscotti

Day 7: Cranberry Custard Pie

Day 8: Pecan Pinwheel Cookies

Day 9: Browned Butter Pecan Tart

Day 10: Winter Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Day 11: Gingersnap Blondie Brookies

Day 12: Cranberry Pull Apart Wreath

Cranberry Pull Apart Wreath

Recipe Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Ingredients

  •  2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • the zest of 1 large orange
  • 2 cups of homemade cranberry sauce or preserves. (I use this recipe)

Directions

In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water. Sprinkle white sugar on top of that and allow to proof about 10 minutes until yeast is frothy.

Beat in honey, oil, eggs, orange zest and salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating to kneading with hands as dough thickens. (You may not need to use all the flour, this varies according to kitchen temperature and time of year)

Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed. Cover with a damp clean cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.

Grease and flour a 16 cup tube pan; set aside.

Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Divide in half and keep one half covered in the bowl while you work with the other

Roll the half out into a 12 inch square. Use a spatula to spread HALF of the cranberry sauce/preserves over the dough. Use a pizza wheel, bench scraper or sharp knife to cut the square into 16 small squares. Make 4 stacks of 4 squares each. Place each stack on its side into the tube pan. Gently separate the dough layers so the dough fills the pan (it doesn’t have to be neat). Repeat this step with the other half of dough and the other half of the cranberry sauce/preserves.

Cover tube pan with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel and allow to rise in warm place until dough rises by half its size, about 1 hour. Just before baking, sprinkle the top with white sugar. Bake until loaf is browned & cooked through (195-200 degrees F inner temp), tenting with foil if browning too quickly. Allow to cool in pan for about 30 minutes, then loosen with a knife around the sides. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool for about 30 more minutes before slicing and serving.

Gingersnap Blondie Brookies

Just two more days of the 12 Days of Christmas, and just three more days until the actual day of. I feel like it came super fast this year, and as always, I’m a little sad that it’ll be over soon.

I’ll tell you one thing I’m not sad about though: today’s recipe.

I’ve mentioned before here that the best desserts (in my opinion) are the ones that have texture to them, and blondies are one of my personal favorites on that score.

This recipe has texture written all over it. There’s two components: a rich fudgy blondie layer on the bottom, and a chewy gingersnap cookie dough that gets plopped all over on top.

When you put those components together, you get a thing of pure, delicious beauty.

What do you guys think? I promise, it tasted every bit as good as it looks.

Also, as an added tip: serve it a la mode. Trust me.

One more day left of the 12 Days of Christmas; be sure to go back and look at the past ten days of recipes if you haven’t already.

Day 1: Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Day 3: Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Day 4: Sweet Potato Gingerbread

Day 5: Brown Sugar Cookies

Day 6: Gingerbread Biscotti

Day 7: Cranberry Custard Pie

Day 8: Pecan Pinwheel Cookies

Day 9: Browned Butter Pecan Tart

Day 10: Winter Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Day 11: Gingersnap Blondie Brookies

Gingersnap Blondie Brookies

Recipe Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Ingredients

Blondie Layer

  • 1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar, light or dark
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For Gingersnap Cookie Layer

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sugar
  • Holiday colored sprinkles, if desired

Directions

For Blondie Layer: in a medium saucepan cook and stir brown sugar and butter over medium until melted and smooth, stirring frequently. Cool 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges. Grease foil. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir egg and vanilla into brown sugar mixture. Stir in flour mixture. Spread batter in prepared pan.

For Cookie Layer: in a medium bowl stir together flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. In a large bowl beat butter with a mixer on low 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar. Beat until combined, scraping bowl as needed. Beat in egg and molasses until combined. Beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour mixture.

Crumble cookie dough over blondie batter in pan. Sprinkle coarse sugar and sprinkles over top. Bake about 45 minutes or until browned and set. (The middle needs to have risen/puffed up; if it has not, the blondies are still not cooked through)

Cool in pan on a wire rack. Using foil, lift out uncut bars. Cut into bars.

Winter Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Although I think there are some recipe classics that just shouldn’t be messed with, sometimes I get an idea in my head for a new addition or flair to give a classic, and I just can’t get it out of my head until I at least give it a shot.

Today’s recipe was one of those times.

I’ve long been of the opinion that the chocolate chip recipe that I use is as close to perfect as can be. I’ve been using it for years and there’s only been one other time I made a modification to it.

However, while I was brainstorming for recipes to include on this year’s 12 Days of Christmas, this idea popped into my head and my curiosity kept eating away at me until I decided to finally give it a try.

What I’ve learned is that so long as you don’t change the basic chemistry of a baking recipe, you can feel free to add some variation to it and see what happens. That’s basically what I did here; taking my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe, and adding some winter spices to the dry ingredients.

I really really liked what the spice mixture did for this recipe. I was concerned that the cloves and pepper in particular would be a little bit too strong, but they’re really not. The first taste that you get is of the chocolate, but then as it lingers, the flavor of the spices begin to settle in on the tongue. It’s very pleasant, and what I think turned out to be a successful holiday adaptation of a classic.

Day 1: Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Day 3: Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Day 4: Sweet Potato Gingerbread

Day 5: Brown Sugar Cookies

Day 6: Gingerbread Biscotti

Day 7: Cranberry Custard Pie

Day 8: Pecan Pinwheel Cookies

Day 9: Browned Butter Pecan Tart

Day 10: Winter Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Winter Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Land o’ Lakes

Ingredients

  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups Butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chocolate chips, plus more if desired

Directions

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in bowl; set aside.

Combine butter, sugar and brown sugar in another bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy.

Add eggs and vanilla. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.

Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed until well mixed. Stir in chocolate chunks.

Using a 1/4 cup measuyre, scoop out portions of dough and roll into balls. Place the balls in a resealable plastic container and refrigerate for at least four hours, but preferably overnight.

Heat oven to 375°F.

Place the dough balls 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10-14 minutes or until light golden brown. (Do not overbake.) Press additional chocolate chips into the tops of cookies, if desired. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to cooling rack.

Browned Butter Pecan Tart

In the Top 5 rankings of my favorite pies, The Pecan has been the undefeated champion for years now. It just ticks all the boxes for me: sweetness, butter and texture in abundance. Not only that, when it comes to labor, pecan is one of the easiest to make.

Something I’ve started to do lately is experiment with see how well my favorite pies translate into different iterations, like tarts or bars. I had great results with Day 2’s Sweet Potato Bars, and today’s recipe on Day 9 is yet another experiment I did with successful results. Not only that, it features one of my favorite ingredients to bake with: browned butter.

Browned butter is one of those ingredients that in my opinion serves to elevate already delicious foods to heights you may not have thought them even capable of. I have yet to try it in anything, sweet or savory food alike when I haven’t been completely satisfied with the addition of browned butter. I’m pleased to report that the pecan pie is no exception.

I like to think of this as pecan pie for a crowd in that it serves more people than the standard 9 inch pie, and the browned butter gives it an added flair that you usually try to whip out when/if you’re trying to show off a bit for guests. It would be a perfect dessert for Christmas dinner. Just a suggestion.

Day 1: Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Day 3: Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Day 4: Sweet Potato Gingerbread

Day 5: Brown Sugar Cookies

Day 6: Gingerbread Biscotti

Day 7: Cranberry Custard Pie

Day 8: Pecan Pinwheel Cookies

Day 9: Browned Butter Pecan Tart

Browned Butter Pecan Tart

Recipe Adapted from the Daily Meal

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cup sifted cake flour

For the Filling

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup Golden Syrup or light corn syrup
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon, optional
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups pecan halves, lightly toasted

Directions

For Crust: Coat a 10-inch loose-bottomed fluted tart pan with nonstick spray (round or rectangular); set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter with the flat paddle attachment on medium-high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar gradually and continue to beat on medium-high speed until lightened and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg yolk until well combined. Add the flour and pulse the mixer on and off until it begins to combine, and then run the mixer on medium-low speed just until the dough begins to form. Scrape out onto plastic wrap and use the wrap to help press the dough into a flat disk shape. Wrap the dough thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Roll out on a lightly floured surface and fit into the pan, pressing into corners and trimming the top flush with fluted edges. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or freeze for 15 minutes while the oven preheats. (At this point, you can double-wrap the tart shell very well in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and refrigerate for up to 2 days before baking, or freeze for up to 1 week.)

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake directly on the oven rack for 8 to 12 minutes or just until it feels dry to the touch and is beginning to color around the edges. Check about halfway through baking; if the crust is puffing up, gently press back down with the back of a fork. Cool the tart pan set on a rack while you make filling.

For Filling: Place the butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium heat. Continue to cook until the butter browns, but do not let it burn.*

(To Brown Butter: Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, gently swirling pan constantly, until particles begin to turn golden brown and butter smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and continue swirling the pan until the butter is a rich brown, about 15 seconds longer. Transfer to a medium bowl, whisk in ice cube, transfer to refrigerator, and allow to cool completely, about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally.)

Remove browned butter from the heat and whisk in the sugar and golden syrup or corn syrup. Allow to cool slightly (you maybe transfer this to a mixing bowl if you like to hasten the cooling). Once it is barely warm, whisk in the eggs one at a time, then whisk in the bourbon, if using, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the pecans. Scrape into the crust.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes. The filling will be slightly puffed and set around the edges. The middle might still look a bit soft; that’s okay. It firms up tremendously upon cooling. Cool the pan on a rack. The tart is ready to serve or may be loosely covered with foil and stored at room temperature overnight.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #411, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.