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.

Spanish Tortilla

Spanish Tortilla1

I used to be a pretty diligent breakfast eater, but as of late I’ve really fallen off the wagon with it. Whereas I used to get up early to make sure I got my breakfast sandwich all warmed up or my cereal and yogurt packed to take with me to work, the truth nowadays is that I give myself a pat on the back if I don’t sleep through my alarm and get myself dressed and out of the house in enough time to stop by the coffee shop for my mandatory latte.

Spanish Tortilla4

Yet despite my negligence for the meal itself, I’ve never lost my love of breakfast food. Sometimes me and the family will truck out for a weekend brunch, but not too often. Then inevitably, I’ll see some picture or recipe online or on television featuring breakfast food and suddenly I get mad at myself for skipping out on it so often now.

Spanish Tortilla2

Lately I’ve been getting cravings to have breakfast for dinner more often in lieu of typical ‘entree’ dishes. Instead of chicken or roast or stew, I find myself craving cereal & milk, pancakes, waffles, biscuits smeared with jam, sausage and (of course) omelettes. So for the past two weeks or so, I’ve been eating breakfast food for dinner pretty regularly. Today’s dish is one of those dishes, and I knew the first time I made it that I wanted to share it on the blog with all of you guys.

Spanish Tortilla5

When I first came across the recipe, the name was somewhat of a mystery to me; when I think of a ‘tortilla’, I usually imagine some kind of flour or corn tortilla being involved in there somewhere. (Which, I know probably betrays a lot of my inexperience in Mexican cooking). The interesting thing about this dish is that there’s really no flour or corn tortillas involved in it at all. But that definitely doesn’t take away from the taste; so far as I’m concerned they can call this thing whatever the heck they want to, it is GOOD.

Don’t flip out on me guys, but this was actually my first time cooking with chorizo. I’ve eaten it before of course, but never bought and used it as an ingredient before in my own kitchen. I can safely assure you that I’ll be certainly be using it frequently from here on out, particularly in my omelettes. Chorizo and eggs are a match made in Heaven; the smoky flavor of the meat works so well with the blank canvas of the eggs. The addition of the Yukon potatoes in the tortilla really helps to ‘bulk’ it up and make it even more filling and hearty.

Spanish Tortilla3

There’s really only one tricky part to pulling this dish off, and that’s the part where you have to turn the tortilla over in the skillet as a whole to finish cooking the other side. Don’t flip out: so long as you have a decent non-stick skillet, a large rubber spatula, and a large plate set to the side, you can easily pull this off. Follow the recipe directions, be patient and careful with your wrist action and you’ll be fine.

I ate a wedge of this Spanish tortilla with salsa and Frank’s Red Hot sprinkled on top with two slices of buttered/jellied toast on the side for a DELICIOUS Breakfast for Dinner meal.

Try it, mmkay?

(Happy Fiesta Friday #107 co-hosted this week by  Margy @ La Petite Casserole and Su @ Su’s Healthy Living)

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

Spanish Tortilla

Recipe Adapted from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2015

Print

Ingredients

  • 7 tbsp plus 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds (3 to 4 medium) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, quartered and cut into 1/8 inch thick slices
  • 1 small onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers, rinsed, dried and cut into 1/2-inch thick pieces
  • 4 ounces Spanish style chorizo, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 4 thinly sliced scallions

Directions

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add the chorizo, stirring occasionally until the chorizo is browned and the fat as rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet to a small bowl and set aside.

Toss 4 tbsp of the oil, the potatoes, onion, 1/2 tsp of the salt and the pepper in a large bowl until the potato slices are thoroughly separated and coated in oil. Heat 2 tbsp more oil in the 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the potato mixture to the skillet, and set the bowl aside (do not rinse). Cover and cook, stirring occasionally with a heat-proof rubber spatula, until the potatoes offer no resistance when poked with a paring knife, 22 to 28 minutes. (some slices may break into smaller pieces, but that’s ok).

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and remaining 1/2 tsp salt into the reserved bowl until combined. Using a heat-proof rubber spatula, fold the hot potato mixture, red peppers, chorizo and scallions into the eggs until combined, making sure to scrape all of the potato mixture out of the skillet. Return the skillet to medium high heat, add the remaining 1 tsp oil and heat until just beginning to smoke. Add the egg-chorizo-potato mixture and cook, shaking the pan and folding the mixture constantly for 15 seconds; smooth the top of the mixture with the heat-proof rubber spatula. Reduce the heat to medium,cover and cook, gently shaking the pan every 30 seconds, until the bottom is golden brown and the top is lightly set, about 2 minutes.

Using the spatula, loosen the tortilla from the pan, shaking it back and forth until the tortilla slides around. Slide the tortilla onto a large plate. Invert the tortilla onto a second large plate and slide it, browned side up, back into the skillet. Tuck the edges of the tortilla into the skillet.Return the pan to medium high heat and continue to cook, gently shaking the pan every 30 seconds until the second side is golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Slide the tortilla onto a cutting board, cool for at least 15 minutes. cut into wedges and serve with salsa and hot sauce (like I did.)

Apple Fritters

Apple Fritters1

Hi everyone. It’s been a little bit since my last post and Thanksgiving has come and gone. If you were in America and were celebrating, then I hope everyone was able to cook and eat lots of delicious food with even more delicious leftovers. I was responsible for the bulk of our family’s meal, as I have been for the past few years. This year though, we got to gather at my twin sister’s and brother in law’s new house. This was awesome for two crucial reasons: first of all, her kitchen is GORGEOUS and has nearly TRIPLE the counter space that my tiny apartment kitchen does. Anyone who loves to cook knows how much this was appreciated by yours truly. Second, unlike the previous years where I end up doing most of the prep and meal cooking myself, this time I had Jas right next to me to help, and she made an awesome sous chef.

Apple Fritters3

Every year, no matter what I always get the same anxiety about the turkey.  I just do. Since it is technically the “main dish”, I feel the pressure not to mess it up.Turkey can so easily go from a great entree to a dry, chewy disaster. In the past I’ve done both a dry brine and last year, a traditional brine. This year though, I did something that was completely new and different to me:

An overnight turkey. You read that right. A turkey that cooks overnight so that by the time you wake up early on Thanksgiving morning, the WHOLE THING is already finished.

I know, I know. You’re skeptical. So was I. But just hear me out: I actually got this recipe from my grandmother, who informed me that before I took over the responsibility of cooking the bird for the family, THIS was the method she used to cook the 20-24 lb turkeys for our entire family. And judging that those birds were all absolutely delicious, I decided to go ahead and take her word for it and try it out on the turkey this year myself.

Apple Fritters4

Basically, all you have to do, is season the turkey all over with melted butter and a flavorful spice rub. Then, stuff the cavity with celery, apples, onion, chicken bouillon cubes, sage and marjoram. 4 cups of boiling water get poured into the bottom of one of those giant roasting pans, then you make sure the lid to the pan is closed tightly. The turkey is roasted at 475 degrees for one hour, then you shut the oven off and DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR FOR ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING.

That’s it. Seriously. That’s all you have to do.

I took the pan out at 9:00 a.m. Thanksgiving morning and looked inside. The whole thing was not only done, it was still moist, and the skin outside had a decently browning on it. Oh yeah, and it was delicious too. I just couldn’t believe it. It was like…magic.

I’m so impressed with it that I’m seriously considering roasting ANOTHER turkey using this method and sharing the recipe on the blog so that you guys can get in on this. Plus, with both our and my brother in law’s families over for dinner, we weren’t left with hardly any leftovers and I already miss that turkey, so another one would actually not be unwelcome here.

Apple Fritters2

What does any of that have to do with today’s post? Oh, nothing at all. In fact, I’ve had this post in my folder for a while now, but I just haven’t gotten around to sharing it yet. I made these little babies the same weekend that I made the absolutely heavenly Deep Dish Apple Pie from my last post with the rest of the apples we picked from the apple orchard. Anyone who knows me, knows I love a good doughnut. Probably the only thing I love more than a good doughnut is a good apple fritter. When it’s done right, it’s just SO good.

And these are more than good guys. Trust me on that. They’re everything that an apple fritter should be: the glaze is sweet and just thick enough to form those lovely crevices in the fritter, which is soft and perfumed with the fresh apple on the inside. Don’t let the lengthy recipe scare you- they’re really not that hard to make. It does get a little messy in cutting off the apple filled dough into portions to fry, and you do have to make sure that the apples stay stuffed in. But even if you lose a few, that’s still totally fine. Just do what I did and fry off the spare apple chunks by themselves; they taste just as good as the apples.

Guess what? I’ve already started on the 12 Days of Christmas series that I do here on the blog every year and I am SUPER excited to share the first two recipes I’ve got done for you guys. They’re probably two of my new favorite Christmas treats I’ve made- and considering how many Christmas treats I’ve cranked out in my life, that’s really saynig something. I’m thinking on actually starting before we get to the point where it’s twelve days before Christmas. In the first place,I’m just that excited to share the recipes with you guys, and in the second, it will give me a little more leeway and less pressure to have twelve recipes and posts ready to post in twelve straight days. Regardless, Day 1 is coming soon, so stay tuned for that. 🙂

(I doubt anyone’s still there, but I’m also linking this post up to Fiesta Friday #96)

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

Apple Fritters


Recipe Courtesy of Chow.com

Ingredients

  • 1 Recipe for Basic Yeast Donuts (see below)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 sweet-tart baking apples, such as Honeycrisp or Pink Lady, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • Flour, for dusting

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar, also known as confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Warm water, as needed
  • Vegetable oil for frying

For Basic Yeast Donuts

  • 2 3/4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed to 105°F to 115°F
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Directions

For Basic Yeast Donuts

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together 2 cups of the flour, the yeast, sugar, and salt. Add the warm milk, vanilla, and egg yolks. Mix until smooth. Add the remaining flour and the butter and mix until incorporated. Continue to mix on medium speed until the dough is soft and smooth (it will be slightly sticky). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a draft-free place to rise for 1 hour, or refrigerate for up to 12 hours.

To form Apple Fritters

Mix the dough and let it rise according to directions for Basic Yeast Donuts. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the apples to the pan and sprinkle with the sugar, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until tender and the liquid becomes a syrupy glaze, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

Roll the dough out to a 1/2-inch thickness.

Spread the apple mixture onto half of the dough, then fold the other half over the apples.

Using a bench scraper or a large knife, cut the dough into 1/2-inch strips, then cut the strips into 1/2-inch pieces in a cross pattern.

Scoop up the pieces and rearrange, cutting them again in a cross pattern. Make sure the apples are well dispersed throughout the dough.

Flour your hands really well and form the dough into a log measuring 12 inches long and about 3 inches wide

Sprinkle the log with flour and slice it crosswise into 12 pieces. Coat 2 rimmed baking sheets with flour. Transfer the uncooked apple fritters to the baking sheets, smashing the pieces of dough and apple together. Tuck in any apples that stray, and press each fritter into a flat round. (Make sure you really press the pieces together and flatten before you let them rise, or the fritters will come apart during frying.) Let the fritters rise until puffy, about 20 minutes.

To make glaze: Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl. Add the maple syrup and vanilla and stir until smooth. Add enough water to form a loose glaze. Set aside and cover with plastic wrap until you need it.

Fill a large, heavy-bottomed pot with at least 2 inches of oil (the oil should not come more than halfway up the pan). Heat over medium-high heat until a deep-frying thermometer registers 350°F. Using a spatula, carefully and gently lower 1 or 2 fritters into the oil. Don’t crowd them.

Fry for 1 to 2 minutes per side, turning a few times, until the fritters are light golden brown and cooked through.Remove with a spider or slotted spoon, drain on a wire rack over a paper towel, and let cool slightly before glazing.

Repeat with the remaining fritters. Be sure to keep the oil temperature consistent while frying. While the fritters are warm, dip the rounded side into the maple glaze, letting the excess drain back into bowl. Place back on rack to set. 

Glazed Chocolate Donuts

Chocolate Donuts4

I’m annoyed guys. Know why? I’ve been having tech issues.

My computer’s been on the fritz.

About 2 and a half weeks ago I got this email from Microsoft offering me a free upgrade to Windows 10. I hate Windows 8 (I don’t know what the developers were thinking with that abstract ‘home screen’ that pops up whenever you push the start button), so I agreed to take the scheduled upgrade and told them to email me when it was ready.

Chocolate Donuts2

The appointed day came around. I let my laptop stay open that night, and went to bed. The next morning, I looked through the new interface and was pretty satisfied with what I saw. No more stupid, ugly home screen on Windows 10.

But there was a problem. Two actually.

Now, my computer won’t go to sleep. When I shut the screen down, it does go dark, but the keyboard stays lit and the actual machine keeps running as if it’s still awake. Then when I open the screen, it won’t turn back on. If I want the screen to work, I have to shut the computer off completely, then turn it back on.

Chocolate Donuts1

Which brings me to the next issue: now, the ‘Shut Down’ command in my start menu won’t shut down the computer. If I want to turn off my laptop, I have to press down on the power button and manually shut it off. Which, of course, isn’t good.

I’m currently paying for a subscription/protection plan with Geek Squad so, when I first noticed the issue, I scheduled an appointment at my local Best Buy and took the laptop in and left it with them to fix. The next afternoon, they called and told me that the problem was fixed.

Something about a BIOS update that my laptop needed- whatever that means.

I am by absolutely no means, tech savvy. So, I took their word for it, thinking to myself, “Hey, they’re the ‘ex-perts’ here. They know what they’re doing.”

Apparently, this was a mistake.

Chocolate Donuts3

Because less than a week after I picked the laptop back up from Geek Squad, lo and behold, it’s back to having the exact same problem.

There could be any number of reasons for this, I suppose. Maybe there’s another BIOS update that my laptop needs (though I still have NO idea what BIOS updates are). Maybe Geek Squad didn’t really fix the problem in the first place. Maybe it’s a new issue.

Or maybe Windows 10, like it’s predecessor, also sucks.

Regardless, I now have to schedule another appointment with the tech guys at GS and hope that they get it right this time. I’m pretty pissed off about it. But rather than focus on that, I’d prefer to focus on something else. Something much more pleasant than malfunctioning electronics and the paid experts who don’t do it right the first time.

Chocolate Donuts5

Like donuts. Glazed chocolate donuts.

There’s something about a thick, soft glazed chocolate donut that can just hit the spot and make everything all better.

There’s a place called Quality Dairy in my area that bakes wonderful chocolate donuts. The only ones I’ve ever been able to eat to be honest, as typically I prefer plain glazed, or apple cider. I’ve wanted to make ones on my own for a while. King Arthur Flour’s recipe for chocolate donuts looked very doable, I just had to make a few adjustments.

First, like every other chocolate baked good that I make, I added a tablespoon of powdered instant coffee to the batter. Interestingly enough, the coffee flavor doesn’t come through- but it does give a REALLY big boost to the chocolate flavor of just about anything. So stick that in your bag of tricks. Second, I had to coat mine in a powdered sugar glaze- only way to go.

The result, as you can see, is marvelous.

I’ll be taking my donuts with me to the Fiesta Friday #82 party, co-hosted this week by Kaila @ GF Life 24/7 and Sarah @ Sarah’s Little Kitchen, where hopefully I can continue to commiserate about my tech woes with all of you sympathetic people. After all, we’re all bloggers here- we all understand how annoying tech problems can be, right?

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

Glazed Chocolate Donuts

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour Baking Companion

Print

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (2 oz.) chopped semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips
  • 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick, 2 oz.) butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/2 oz.) sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 1/2 cups (14 3/4 oz.) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ( 1 1/2 oz.) unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tbsp. instant coffee powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 cups (about 2 lbs.) vegetable oil or shortening (2 1/2 lbs.), for frying

Glaze

  • 3 1/2 cup (350 grams ) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (2 1/2 fluid ounces) hot water

Directions

In a small, heatproof bowl, combine chocolate and butter. Cover with plastic wrap and melt over simmering water or at medium power in the microwave. Stir to combine and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter/chocolate mixture with the eggs and sugar and mix until light. In a separate bowl, whisk together baking powder, baking soda, salt, flour, cocoa and instant coffee powder. Add to egg mixture and stir to moisten. Add buttermilk and vanilla, mixing just enough to bring dough together. Gather dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling out.

To make doughnuts, heat oil or shortening to 350F in a Dutch oven that will hold at least 1 1/2 inches of oil. On a lightly floured surface, roll out chilled dough to a 1/2-inch thick circle. Cut into doughnut shapes with a doughnut cutter, or with 2 biscuit cutters-a large for the outside, a small for the hole. Fry the doughnuts 2 or 3 at a time; cook for 90 seconds on 1 side, turn, and cook for 90 seconds on other. Remove donuts from oil with slotted spoon or spider and drain on paper towels.

To make glaze, mix all ingredients in a bowl with a whisk until smooth. Dip each donut into the glaze, making sure they are covered completely. Place on a wire rack above a sheet pan to catch any excess glaze. Let sit for 20 minutes until glaze is set.

Curried Ginger Scones

Curried Ginger Scones1

The coffee shop near my job is really kinda depressing to me for several reasons.

First, their coffee usually just isn’t that good. Believe me, I’ve tried giving them the benefit of the doubt several times. I’ve bought multiple items on their menu just in case it was a fluke recipe; lattes, cappuccino, hot chocolate. NONE are really worth writing home about- or the $3.00 + change they charge for them. They’re not disgusting just…blah. Bland. However, since they’re the closest thing available to me, and more importantly because I have to feed my coffee addiction (or else bad things happen) I do still get a drink from them on the regular.

Curried Ginger Scones2

I had to mix things up, though. The barista there and I have a special understanding; she swaps out the regular vanilla syrups used in one of the lattes on their menu (it’s not good) with butterscotch syrup just for me, which really makes the drink taste a world of a lot better.

I kinda wish they would give me the credit for the new drink. Name it in my honor and put it on their menu or something. I feel like I did them a major favor. It actually tastes like it should cost $3.18 now.

Curried Ginger Scones4

Second thing about the coffee shop that depresses me? There’s no hot barista guy working there that I can flirt with in the morning to shake me out of my boredom. Y’know, the guy who gives me the extra shot of espresso free of charge with a commercial-worthy wink “just because” and calls me by my first name and always asks me how my weekend was or what my weekend will be like.

This should be basic elementary coffee shop stuff 101, amIright?

But even more depressing than the just-below-average coffee and absence of a hot barista guy named Wes in the coffee shop are their “baked goods”. The quotation marks were intentional. I’m really not even sure if I should call them that- seems like an insult to be honest. There’s nothing “good” about them. It’s that bad, you guys. I almost don’t even know where to start. They over bake EVERYTHING. I mean, good Lord. Whoever they’re paying to be their baker/pastry chef needs to be fired. or at least they should let me sit down and talk to them about some basic fundamentals of baking.

Curried Ginger Scones3

Cookies shouldn’t be completely flat and sunken in the middle when they set up. And they should not, should not, SHOULD NOT be dark brown across the top. That’s a burned cookie. It will crumble- and not crumble like Chips Ahoy, either. It’ll crumble like sawdust. Gross.

The scones are really what make me want to burst into tears though. Those poor, poor scones that never did anything to hurt anyone. Those poor scones that just wanted to be great. Those poor scones that have go through such cruel and unusual punishment. They’re over baked to the point where the inside of the scones looks like biscotti. They’re way too brown, I feel like if I squeezed it, it’d crumble into sawdusty crumbs. You’d never be able to tell that there was any butter layered in that overworked, over cooked dough. It’s a travesty.

Curried Ginger Scones6

Scones are one of life’s greatest joys. They deserve better. They deserve to BE better.

They deserve to be these Curried Ginger scones. I so wish I could sit down with the baker at the coffee shop near my job and teach him or her how to make these. I feel like I could change their life.

Curry and ginger is a marvelous combination; there’s just enough bite, spiciness, and sweetness in both to balance off of one another. Pair this up with a cup of coffee, and you’re more than good to go. You’re ready to face the world.

I’m taking these scones to Fiesta Friday #70, co-hosted this week by newbies Dini @ Giramuk’s Kitchen and Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau. See you guys there 🙂

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

Curried Ginger Scones


Recipe Courtesy of The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

Print

Ingredients

  • 3 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 stick butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk, yogurt or sour cream

Directions

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the ginger, mixing to distribute, then the curry and sugar. Cut in the butter till the mixture is crumbly.

Add the buttermilk (or yogurt or sour cream), stirring till the dough just holds together. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and pat it into a 10-inch square, about 1/2-inch thick.

Cut the dough into triangles, and transfer them to a lightly greased baking sheet. Place the scones in the freezer for 30 minutes to allow the dough to firm up (this will also make the scones rise higher)

Bake the scones in a preheated 425°F oven for 20 minutes, or until they’re golden. Remove them from the oven and paint them with ginger syrup, if desired.

Harvest Apple Challah

Apple Harvest Challah4

Sometimes life is just made up of everyday annoyances, irritations, unfortunate circumstances and overall ‘sucky-‘ things.

It snowed earlier this week in Michigan.

End of April. We got snow.

I’m sorry to say that round here,  that’s nothing new. My senior year of high school, we got a full blown snow storm on Easter Sunday. I still remember going out to shovel the sidewalk in blowing snow when we got home from church.

It sucked.

Apple Harvest Challah1

Oftentimes I can shrug off suck-y things as exactly that: suck-y things. For example:

Snow in April.

Random, unexpected and extremely inconvenient cooking fails (when I specifically planned on doing a photo shoot for the blog that day).

My paycheck doesn’t have a few extra zeros at the end.

Sucks.

Apple Harvest Challah5

I’ve never been to Europe.

Stephanie Meyer is a gazillionaire and a bestselling ‘author’, and I’m…not either of those things.

Chris Evans hasn’t figured out that we’re meant to be together and proposed to me.

I don’t have the thighs of a Victoria Secret Model.

Sucks.

Apple Harvest Challah2

But for every one of the daily, inconvenient ‘suck-y’ circumstances of every day life, I bet we all can think of just as many (if not more) convenient, not suck-y circumstances that make up for all that. I certainly can.

For one: challah. Challah is one of my all-time favorite things ever, period. It’s beautiful. It’s delicious. It’s the best.

Challah can make up for a lot of those daily suck-y things.

(Except maybe the one about Chris Evans. That still smarts pretty bad no matter what.)

Apple Harvest Challah3

Somehow, I always end up baking challah around this time of year. Last year, I went all out and made regular Challah and a Vanilla Bean Challah. This year, I still wanted to try and make a twist on the original so I decided to go with this recipe for Challah stuffed with apples.

Challah itself can be a labor of love if you’re keen on twisting the dough into elaborate shapes. Or if you’re like me, and still has to Google EVERY SINGLE TIME how to correctly braid the dough no matter how many times I’ve made this bread before. This apple challah is, I will admit, somewhat more  labor intensive.

However, it’s worth it. More than worth it.

Apple Harvest Challah6

As you guys can see, this dough is as soft, fluffy and moist as a bread dough can get. The fat challah rolls pull apart at the slightest tug, letting the tender apple chunks fall out into your hands. Best of all, the filling leaks out ever so little so that the bottom of the dough has a thin layer of syrupy brown sugar goo. And of course, there’s the trademark challah golden brown crust on top that is ever so ‘thunk-able’ with your fingers so that you know for sure that you’ve done it right.

So.much.yum.

Definitely does not suck.

If I had to critique one thing about this recipe, it’s that I had way too much dough to try and stuff into a 9 inch cake pan. Mine wasn’t wide or tall enough by far, so I opted for one of deep, oval casserole pans instead. I think it gave me a much bigger rise for my dough anyway, so that was totally cool with me.

Cheers, guys!

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

Harvest Apple Challah

Recipe Courtesy of King Arthur Flour

Print

Ingredients

For Dough

  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast

For Apple Filling

  • 2 medium-to-large apples, NOT peeled; cored and diced in ¾” chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  ¼ cup granulated sugar

Glaze

  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • coarse white sugar, optional

 Directions

1) Pour water in a small bowl; add yeast and 1 tsp. white sugar. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until proofed and foamy at the surface.

2) Pour yeast mixture into a stand mixer and add vegetable oil, honey, eggs and salt, stirring well to combine. Using dough hook add the flour, 1 cup at  a time until dough is smooth and elastic.

3) Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 2 hours, or until it’s puffy and nearly doubled in bulk.

4) Lightly grease a 9″ round cake pan that’s at least 2″ deep, or grease a 9″ or 10″ springform pan.  Toss the apple chunks with the sugar and cinnamon. Gently deflate the dough, transfer it to a lightly greased work surface, and flatten it into a rough rectangle, about 8″ x 10″.

5) Spread half the apple chunks in the center of the dough. Fold a short edge of the dough over the apple to cover it, patting firmly to seal the apples and spread the dough a bit.  Spread the remaining apple atop the folded-over dough. Cover the apples with the other side of the dough, again patting firmly. Basically, you’ve folded the dough like a letter, enclosing the apples inside. Take a bench knife or a knife, or even a pair of scissors, and cut the apple-filled dough into 16 pieces. Cut in half, then each half in halves, etc.  Lay the dough chunks into the pan; crowd them so that they all fit in a single layer (barely). Lots of apple chunks will fall out during this process; just tuck them in among the dough pieces, or simply spread them on top. Cover the challah gently with lightly greased plastic wrap or a proof cover, and allow it to rise for about 1 hour, until it’s a generous 2″ high. It should just crest the rim of a 9″ round cake pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 325°F.

6) Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush the dough with the egg mixture, and sprinkle heavily with the coarse sugar, if desired. If you’re going to drizzle with honey before serving, omit the sugar. Place the bread in the lower third of the oven. Bake it for 55 minutes, or until the top is at least light brown all over, with no white spots. Remove the challah from the oven, and after 5 minutes loosen the edges and carefully transfer it to a rack.