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!

******************************************************************

Winter Spice Toaster Tarts

Recipe Adapted from Anne Burrell & Williams Sonoma

Print

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.

***************************************************************

Sausage Stuffed Honey Buns

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

Print

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.

*****************************************************

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Scones

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Print

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.

Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake

First, let me just wish prayers, well wishes and safety to everyone in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and everywhere else that are being affected by these terrible hurricanes.

Second, today’s post is about doing things that I haven’t done for a while.

I haven’t traveled very far for a long time. The last time I was on a plane was when we made the cross-country move to California, almost exactly a year ago. Since then I’ve pretty much stayed on the west side. But that’s about to change.

By the time you guys read this post, I’ll have already hopped a Red Eye flight and arrived back in the Mitten for a visit, for the first time in a full year.

Apart from the fact that I cannot believe a full year has passed so quickly since the move, it’s going to be good to get back in my hometown to see my family again. We’re fortunate to live in a time where technology like Hangouts, Facetime and Messenger exists and I can video chat with them, but it’s not the same as in-person contact. The huge distance factor creates this feeling where you it’s like you’re out there in a kind of ‘bubble’ where you’re apart from other things that are going on.

I’m looking forward to taking a brief pause in the everyday routine and get back to something that I’ve been away from for a while. Sometimes it takes actually revisiting a memory, place or person to make you realize how much you missed them. That’s certainly the case with my going back to the hometown, and it’s also the case with today’s recipe.

Cause y’know, I can find a way to make just about anything link back to my food. It’s kinda what I ‘do’.

Before I baked the recipe and wrote this post I really can’t remember the last time I ate coffee cake. And I did try to remember. It’s not likely that I can forget food that I ate and really enjoyed so the chances are, I either haven’t had coffee cake in close to a decade, or if I did, it was so Godawful that I’ve subconsciously blocked it out of my memory.

(And if it was awful, I’m choosing to just not count it as something I actually ate. Therefore, the calories I wasted by eating it don’t exist. Cause, I do what I want,)

One thing I can promise is that I’m not going to be able to forget eating this cake. Nor do I want to.

The sour cream inside the batter makes the cake soft, with a moist crumb that (unlike a lot of run-the-mill coffee cakes) isn’t overly dry and crumbly. A ribbon of brown sugary goodness runs through the middle. Then on top is my personal favorite: the buttery cinnamon sugar streusel topping that when baked, forms an almost crunchy texture contrast to the softness of the cake. And because I just don’t ever know when to quit, I topped all of it off with a smooth powdered sugar icing drizzle.

If you’re like me and it’s been a long time since you had coffee cake, do yourself a favor and let this be the recipe that makes you go back to it and remember why you love it so much in the first place.

Linking this up to this week’s Fiesta Friday #188, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Nimmi @ Adorable Life.

****************************************************************

Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Print

Ingredients

For Cake

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick)
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

 

For Filling

  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

For Streusel Topping

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk

 

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9 or 10 inch tube pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the filling. Set aside. In another small bowl, set aside the ingredients for the streusel topping. Set aside.

In a large bowl of a standing mixer (or using a handheld one) cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract.

In a medium size bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder with a fork. Slowly fold in the dry ingredients into the wet. Place half of the batter into the bottom of the tube pan, using a spatula to spread it out.

Sprinkle the filling over the batter, then pour the rest of the batter on top of it. Use a butter knife to gently swirl the filling throughout the batter. Sprinkle the topping over the batter until completely covered.

Bake for 40-45 minutes in the oven, until a toothpick/tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cake from oven, allow to cool in pan for about 20 minutes, then turn out and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Sweet Cornmeal Scones

Sweet Cornmeal Scones5

Smoked paprika. Onion powder. Worcestershire sauce.  Hoisin sauce. Onion soup mix.

This seems like a random list, I know. But in my private little world of cooking and baking, it totally makes sense.

There are certain ingredients that I have a slight obsession with. If you’re a cook, you’ll know what I mean. No matter what, you always have to have them in your house/kitchen. You search for excuses to put them to use. You’ll swap them in recipes that don’t necessarily call for them, because YOU know from experience that they serve their own unique purpose. I’ve certainly found that to be the case for me with the above mentioned ingredients.

I used to think paprika was pointless. It gave dishes a reddish hue but I never could distinguish a prominent flavor in regular paprika. I still can’t. But the day I discovered smoked paprika? Whooooo. I was hooked. The earthy smokiness is a flavor that will work with just about ANY savory dish, especially Latin and Middle Eastern ones. I freely admit to dumping entire tablespoonfuls of smoked paprika in braises and spice rubs. The tastebuds of the people I’m feeding always thank me later–and if you start using it generously in your food I promise that the tastebuds of the people you feed will thank you as well.

I’m gonna keep it 100 with you guys: I depend on onion powder in seasoning my food even more than I do salt and pepper. Yes. It’s that serious. I’m really sitting here trying to think if there is ANY savory dish that I make where I don’t use onion powder…….yeah, no. There’s not, and that’s because onion powder makes everything taste better. Worcestershire sauce and Hoisin sauce kinda go hand in hand. If you’re making a beef or pork dish and you want to add a deeper, richer layer of flavor to your sauce, then I highly recommend you keep them handy. A tablespoon of hoisin  and few shakes of Worcestershire sauce in a beef stew will REALLY give it that extra boost: trust me on this. lastly, If you think you’re really bad at making gravy–or you’re not bad at it, but you need to make some fast in a pinch, then using dry onion soup mix combined with beef broth is a quick & easy way to get good results.

I left one ingredient off that list on purpose, because it’s largely centered on today’s recipe.  Here’s the thing, guys: I have a slight obsession with cornmeal. I love it. I search for ways to put the stuff in everything, in both sweet and savory applications. I’ve shared two cornbread recipes on the blog already (my grandma’s recipe included which is made of more cornmeal than flour). The fried chicken recipe I shared a few weeks ago was posted alongside a recipe for biscuits that had cornmeal in them. I’ve made several yeast breads that have cornmeal in the dough–heck, I just made one yesterday that I’ll be sharing soon. There’s even a cookie recipe I tried with cornmeal that I really liked. I even sometimes put a sprinkle of cornmeal in my stews, chilis or braises to both thicken the liquid, and give it a subtle corny flavor.

And now, just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be yet another cornmeal recipe I could throw at y’all, here I am… throwing another cornmeal recipe at you.

You only have to take a brief glance at the Recipe Index to figure out that I’m kinda fond of scones.Every so often I get a crazy craving for one that I just have to appease, whether it means finding a coffee shop with a good selection or just making them myself. This time, I went with the latter and decided to see what would happen if I made my favored breakfast pastry with one of my favored ingredients.

This is what happened, and I gotta say: I like it. Cornmeal does admittedly add a coarser, grittier texture to ANY dough you make so if you’re searching for a light and fluffy scone, this may not be the one for you. However, these still do have layers and a flakiness to them that I think the cornmeal adds an interesting and different texture to. They’re somehow flaky and bready at the same time. Flavor-wise, you taste the sweetness from the light brown sugar then the subtle sweetness of the corn-y flavor and somehow, the two just really work together. Oh, and did I mention these were made even better smeared with butter and jam? Cause they were.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #184, co-hosted this week by Petra @ Food Eat Love and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

*****************************************************

Sweet Cornmeal Scones

Recipe Adapted from Food.com

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, frozen, plus more for brushing
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, plus more as needed
  • Turbinado sugar for sprinkling, optional

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal salt, baking powder, baking soda and brown sugar with a fork.

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 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 30 minutes. In the meantime, fill a shallow pan with water and place it on the bottom rack of the oven.

Brush the scones with melted butter and the turbinado sugar, then bake in the oven on the middle rack for about 15-20 minutes, until they’re golden brown on top. Remove from oven to a wire rack. Serve warm, spread with butter or jam.

 

Curried Pumpkin and Ginger Scones

curried-pumpkin-ginger-scones1

I remember the first time I tried coffee. I hated it.

I’d been wanting to for a long time. My dad would drink a French Vanilla flavored brew and if I close my eyes I can STILL remember the exact smell that would waft out of his coffee cup and into the air of the car as we drove. It was a delicious aroma. I just knew that the coffee HAD to taste as good. I mean, why else would so many adults want to drink it all the time?

I had my first sip of coffee the same way I had my first sip of Coca Cola: in secret when no adult was looking and I really wasn’t supposed to. I walked away from one with no regrets. It may very well be battery acid but all I knew back then was that Coke tasted amazing and it wasn’t fair that my mom wouldn’t let me drink it.

Coffee? Heh. I thought it bitter. Too bitter. Kinda gross, actually. I was so disappointed. I felt let down. How could something that smelled so good taste bad? And why did grown ups guzzle up so much of the stuff?

It took me a while longer before my mind changed andI began what’s been a long on-again, off-again relationship with coffee. I’ve been drinking it for about thirteen years (Yeah, I know. You do the math and it’s a long time. I started too early. It is what it is.) Those first two or three years it really wasn’t that serious: I mostly just stuck with the cold slushy-like frappucinos from Starbucks with only a few shots of espresso and are mostly just sugar and milk anyway. But as time went on, I upped my game and went with the real stuff, learning that it’s an acquired taste that may be slow to develop, but once had, is almost impossible to get rid of.

And believe me, I’ve tried to get rid of it. Multiple times.

Right now I’m in the midst of another one of my relapses and I’m actually okay with that. Life is short, there worse things in the world to be hooked on and I’m not about to feel guilty over having myself a daily cup of coffee….not to mention a little extra something on the side.

Because honestly, doesn’t the coffee taste that much better when you’re munching on something tasty to go with it? You guys know I’m right.

When I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to bake, I like to eat either the spicy Lotus biscuits alongside my coffee, gingersnaps, or some honey-flavored graham crackers. When I’m not in a hurry and do have the time, I’ll make scones. If you guys have been following me for a while you know I’ve got a special love for scones. They’re my favorite accompaniment to coffee and I made up my mind a long time ago to get good at making them for myself so I wouldn’t have to pay $4-5 for one from a coffee shop.

And I have to say, I think I’ve succeeded.

I had a leftover can of pureed pumpkin in my cupboard from Thanksgiving that I never used. I’d also just finished candying some ginger from a batch of ginger syrup I’d made. I didn’t want the pumpkin or the ginger to go to waste, and as they do go together so well, I thought they’d work very nicely in a scone dough. Besides the combination of those two ingredients, there are a few other things I love about this recipe:

It’s given a extra kick of spice by the addition of curry powder and turmeric. I know that those are spices normally used in savory dishes, but trust me: they REALLY do work with the ginger. The bite tempers the sweetness of the scone while the turmeric and the pumpkin also gives them a lovely golden brown color. Second, the crystallized ginger and turbinado adds a layer of chewy/slightly crunchy texture to the top of the scones. I know we’re just now getting into summer, but the smell of these will almost make you wish it were autumn already. I really loved how these turned out and if you try them (even if it’s just to bookmark for later) I think you will too.

Linking this post up to Fiesta Friday #173, co-hosted this week by Lindy @ Love In The Kitchen and Paula @ Her Life Is Love.

*************************************************************

Curried Pumpkin and Ginger Scones

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Print

Ingredients

  • 3 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup minced crystallized ginger, plus more for sprinkling (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (optional, for color)
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter or margarine, cut into eight pieces
  • 1/2 cup cooked, pureed pumpkin or squash (canned is fine)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 beaten egg, for brushing on top, optional
  • Turbinado sugar for sprinkling, optional

 

Directions

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper & lightly spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, the 1/2 cup ginger, curry powder, turmeric and sugar. Mix well with a fork and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the buttermilk with the pumpkin and mix together until the pumpkin has mostly dissolved in the buttermilk.

Using the large holes on a box grater, cut the butter into the dry ingredients. (You can also use a pastry blender or a pair of knives for this, just cut the butter into chunks first.) Mix with a fork until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and pour the pumpkin-buttermilk mixture inside. Using a floured rubber spatula mix together until just combined. (It’s going to be sticky)

On a well floured surface (like a cutting board, pastry mat or a secured piece of wax paper) turn out the dough and pat/roll it into a long rectangle, about  1/2 inch thick. Try to handle as lightly as possible with your hands.

Using a bench scraper, pizza wheel or knife, cut the dough into squares and transfer them to the baking sheet, placing them close together. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place a shallow dish filled with about 1 inch of water on the lower rack of the oven about 10 minutes before baking and leave it in there (this will aid with the scone rise)

Brush the scones with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the extra crystallized ginger and turbinado sugar.  Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm or at room temp. Scones can be wrapped in plastic wrap to preserve freshness, then reheated by wrapping in damp napkin and reheating in microwave for 15-20 seconds.

Six Braid Cinnamon Streusel Crunch Challah

6 Braid Challah7

Oh man, you guys.

Oh maaaaaaan.

Where do I even START?

Well, off the bat I guess I can begin with sending a huge apology to all my followers who celebrate Passover. This post is probably the LAST thing you want to see as we approach a holiday that’s supposed to make the leavened stuff off limits.

6 Braid Challah2

But to the rest of us who don’t, just pop a squat and let me chew your ear off about this bread.

THIS.BREAD.

It’s definitely one of the more ambitious undertakings I’ve encountered in the kitchen, but ever since the idea for it popped into my head a few weeks ago, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Still, I was slightly intimidated and paranoid that this would be one thing I couldn’t successfully pull off. After all, the most I’ve ever attempted in challah is three braids that I usually wind into a round and bake in cake pans. This would involve much more labor not just in braiding, but also nailing the outer topping that I wasn’t even sure would work with the texture of the bread.

6 Braid Challah5

So when Easter came around, I decided to put it off and make Pane di Pasqua instead. It turned out beautifully.

But I STILL wanted to try and see if I could pull this off; a six braid challah that I dipped in cinnamon sugar, then sprinkled with a cinnamon streusel on top.

So this past week, I sat down and started planning. I remembered a similar brioche recipe I’d seen done at another food blog and decided that if she could successfully pull it off with brioche (a more temperamental dough by far), then I could almost definitely be able to make this work with challah, particularly the laid back/fail-proof/go-to recipe I’ve been using for the past four years or so.

6 Braid Challah3

I did decide to make one key revision to that recipe though, and I have to say it was a random decision that REALLY made all the difference. I swapped out one cup of all  purpose flour in the dough for one cup of whole wheat flour. This was a wonderful idea, as it gave a distinct but subtle earthy nuttiness to the dough that complemented perfectly with  all the sweetness you’re gonna get from the ‘rest’ of it.

And ohhh, the rest of it.

If challah can be improved at all, then it’s got to be when you dip it in cinnamon sugar and sprinkle it with a buttery cinnamon streusel topping. The chewiness of the bread combined with the crunch of the pecan streusel is a mouthgasm of epic proportions.

And when you just HAVE to eat it warm/hot because you just can’t wait any longer for it to cool down after taking it out the oven? Guys.

You.will.DIE.

6 Braid Challah6

I know it may seem like an overload to make this a six braid challah, but in retrospect I can’t see making it any other way. The thing is, the more braids there are, the more of the cinnamon sugar coating that gets wound into the center of the loaf itself. Check out the layering on the inside; you can’t get that with just three braids. You gotta put in the extra work to get all that goodness.

And yes,I know six braids is daunting. It was for me too at first. But as I instruct in the recipe, a simple google search can be your best friend in getting those six braids wound together all nice and pretty.

Just make sure you find the how-to pic/video and have it handy BEFORE you get your hands smeared  messy with melted butter and cinnamon sugar. (Don’t ask why I’m telling you that. It’s not relevant.)

6 Braid Challah4

There is one thing I have to put out there: this recipe yields two HUGE loaves of challah. You will have two HUGE six braid cinnamon streusel crunch challahs on your hands by the time you finish. Just let that sink in. ‘Cause that’s a lot of bread. 

I also refuse to be held responsible for what should happen if you don’t feel the imperative to share the wealth with some friends/family. I know I did. Because I’m not stingy. And because I still want to fit in my jeans.

I’ll leave you with one last thought just in case you weren’t completely sold on making this bread for yourself: Cinnamon Streusel Crunch Challah French Toast

*DEAD*

Aaaaand how about one more time with a full-body shot?

6 Braid Challah1

It came to me. My own. My love.

Myyyyyyy preciousssssssssss.

Follow the heavenly smells and bread crumbs I’m leaving behind me to the Fiesta Friday #115 party where we’re being hosted by  Julie @ Hostess At Heart and Ashley @ Too Zesty.

Six Braid Cinnamon Streusel Crunch Challah

Recipe Adapted from Allrecipes.com and Half Baked Harvest

Print

Ingredients

For Challah

  •  2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

For Cinnamon Sugar Coating

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 tsp cinnamon

For Streusel

  • 1 1/2 cups white all purpose flour
  • About 1/4 cup of crushed pecans
  • 1/4 tsp table salt

Directions

Mix the all purpose and whole wheat flour together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over barely warm water. Add 1 tsp of white sugar and let it stand for about 10 minutes until yeast is proofed and puffy.

Beat honey, oil, the 2 eggs, and salt into the yeast mixture. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating to kneading with hands as dough thickens.

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. Towards the end of the rising period, make the cinnamon sugar coating: pour the melted butter and vanilla extract in a shallow dish. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a shallow dish as well.

Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Divide in half and knead each half for five minutes or so, adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky.

Divide each half into six pieces and roll into long snake about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Using a pastry brush, brush the melted vanilla-butter over both sides of the ropes. (You can also just dip it in the butter if you don’t have a pastry brush, just try and shake off the excess.) Then using your fingers, sprinkle the brown sugar mixture thoroughly over the ropes until they have a good coating. Don’t be shy with it, this is gonna get a little messy. Save the leftover melted butter and brown sugar as well- you’ll use it later.

Pinch the ends of the six snakes together firmly and braid from middle. You can google ‘Six Strand Challah Braid’ as I did and find MANY resources that will help you through this process.

Grease two baking trays and place finished braid on each. Cover with plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel and let rise about one hour.

To Prepare the streusel: pour the melted butter into the brown sugar and add the all purpose flour, salt and pecans. Stir with a fork until it forms small clumps. Let it sit for about 30 minutes until firm; you may also want to refrigerate it for about 15 minutes depending on how long you let your braids rise.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Take your braids and lightly spray them with a coating of PAM baking spray. Gently sprinkle and press the streusel into the top of the challah braids until there is a generous coating over each.

(Note: you ARE probably going to have leftover streusel. Don’t throw it away! After your bread is done baking, simply spread the leftover streusel out on a parchment lined sheet pan and bake it on its own in the oven for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Use the excess to sprinkle on top of ice cream or yogurt; or you could just eat it all on it’s own.)

Bake the challah loaves at 375 degrees F for about 40 minutes. Inner temp should be 195 F-200 F and the bread should have a nice hollow sound when thumped on the bottom. Cool on a rack for at least one hour before slicing.