Friday, June 27, 2014

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Cinnamon Rolls

This month the Daring Bakers kept our creativity rolling with cinnamon bun inspired treats. Shelley from C Mom Cook dared us to create our own dough and kill it with any filling we wanted to craft tasty rolled treats, cinnamon not required!


When I was growing up, cinnamon rolls were one of my favorite breakfast treats, and one that I associate with special occasions and holidays. I still love cinnamon rolls, and often buy the refrigerated dough to bake off on the weekends. Until this challenge, I had never attempted to make the rolls from scratch, but was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was! Of course, it does take a little of planning, as the dough had to rise overnight, but this is definitely a recipe worth repeating!

After preparing dough and allowing to rise overnight, roll into a rectangle and spread with softened butter.

Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the butter.

Roll dough into a tight cylinder.

Cut cylinder into 12 equal size rolls.

Allow rolls to rise until doubled in size, then bake.

Add glaze to warm rolls and enjoy!

Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 12 rolls

Ingredients

Dough
1/2 cup whole milk
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
4 tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

Filling
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, very soft
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon

Glaze
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
4 tbsp butter, melted
3 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Make dough: Warm the milk and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan over low heat, until about 100 degrees F. Remove from heat and sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of the sugar over the milk mixture. Do not stir. Set aside for about 5 minutes, until foamy. Whisk the butter, vanilla and egg yolk into the mixture.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, remaining sugar, salt and nutmeg. Make a well in the center of the mixture, and pour in the yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until a dough is formed, then turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. Knead dough for 6 minutes, and then form the dough into a ball.

3. Brush melted butter into the inside of a large bowl, and place dough inside. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and allow dough to rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

4. Punch down dough to release air. Reform dough into a ball and place it in buttered bowl, covered with a buttered piece of plastic wrap. Allow to rise in the refrigerator overnight, or at least 4 hours.

5. On a floured surface, roll dough out into a 10 x 18 inch rectangle. Spread softened butter over the entire rectangle of dough. 

6. Make the filling by mixing together the granulated sugar and ground cinnamon, and sprinkle over the butter.

7. Roll the dough into a tight cylinder, beginning from the long side facing you. Cut cylinder evenly into 12 pieces.

8. Place the rolls in a buttered 13 x 9 inch pan, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm location for about 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.

9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake rolls for about 30 minutes, until golden brown. Allow rolls to cool for 10 minutes before adding the glaze.

10. Make glaze by whisking together the confectioners' sugar, sweetened condensed milk, melted butter, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Spread glaze over the warm cinnamon rolls and enjoy! 


-Posted by Jennifer



Monday, January 27, 2014

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Baumkuchen

The January 2014 Daring Bakers' Challenge was hosted by Francijn of "Koken in de Brouwerij". She challenged us all to bake layered cakes in the tradition of Baumkuchen (tree cake) and Schichttorte (layered cake).


I had seen pictures of cakes such as Baumkuchen before, but never knew the technique for creating so many layers until I participated in this challenge. The process was surprisingly simple, although time consuming, and the finished cake looks very impressive with its many layers. The cake wasn't too rich, with most of the flavor coming from the marzipan, and it stayed fresh for several days after baking. I will caution that you must watch the cake at all times when baking- just a few seconds too long under the broiler will ruin it! 

Spreading the first layer of batter into the cake pan.

Adding the second layer of batter.

Enjoy!

Baumkuchen
(9-inch cake)

6 eggs, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
2/3 cup marzipan
14 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

1/3 cup apricot jam
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tbsp coconut oil

1. Preheat oven broiler. Line 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper, and grease both the pan and the paper.

2. Separate eggs. Beat the egg whites with salt until whites hold soft peaks. Gradually beat in the sugar until whites hold stiff peaks.

3. Crumble marzipan and beat with butter, confectioner's sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, and beat well. Carefully fold in flour and egg white mixture, trying not to deflate the whites.

4. Spread about 1/10 of the batter into the bottom of the cake pan. Bake under broiler until golden brown, about 2 minutes.

5. Remove cake from oven and spread another layer of batter over the first. Bake under broiler until golden brown. Repeat this process until batter is gone.

6. Allow cake to cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

7. Heat the apricot jam slightly and strain through a sieve. Brush cake with the strained jam.

8. Melt chocolate chips and coconut oil in a double boiler, until smooth. Glaze cake with melted chocolate.

9. Allow chocolate to set, and enjoy!

-Adapted from recipe published in "101 heerlijke recepten voor cake & gebak" (ISBN: 3-7742-6073). English translation available at http://thedaringkitchen.com/recipe/tree-cake-baumkuchen.

-Posted by Jennifer


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Lebkuchen


I may be posting this a little later than I intended, but I believe that even though it may traditionally be a Christmas treat, lebkuchen is delicious any time of year. My mother's family descends from Germany, and I love making German pastries as a way to connect to my heritage. Lebkuchen is a traditional German Christmas cookie, similar to gingerbread. While gingerbread is usually sweetened with molasses, lebkuchen is usually made with honey, which gives the cookies a distinct sweetness and flavor. These cookies are soft and flavorful, with spices that remind me of the holidays, and a sweet, sugary glaze. 


Melt together brown sugar, butter and honey.

Add spices, baking soda, flour, almond flour, and egg to form dough.

Chill dough overnight in a plastic bag.

Roll dough out between 2 layers of parchment paper.

Use cookie cutters to cut dough.

Bake cookies and brush with sugar glaze.


Guten Appetit!


Lebkuchen
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

85 mL honey
115 g dark brown sugar
30 g butter
225 g all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
50 g almond flour

25 g powdered sugar
2 tsp water

1. Place honey, brown sugar, and butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until sugar melts, and remove from heat.

2. Sift together flour, spices, and baking soda.

3. Add half of the flour mixture and half of the beaten egg to the saucepan and mix well. Add remaining egg and flour mixture, and mix until completely combined. Mix in almond flour.

4. Pour batter into a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight, or up to 3 days.

5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 320 F/ 160 C. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

6. Roll dough out between two sheets of parchment paper to about 5 mm thick.

7. Cut dough with cookie cutters. It is best to use shapes that are approximately 1 inch wide.

8. Bake cookies for 8-9 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool on pan for about 5 minutes, before placing on cooling rack.

9. Whisk together powdered sugar and water to make a glaze.

10. Brush cookies with sugar glaze twice, then allow to dry. Cookies will keep fresh for at least one week in an airtight container.



-Posted by Jennifer


Friday, December 27, 2013

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Whoopie Pies

Blog checking lines: The December Daring Bakers' Challenge had us all cheering- the lovely and talented Bourbonnatrix of Bourbonnatrix Bakes was our hostess and challenged us to make fun, delicious, and creative whoopie pies! Delicious little cake-like cookies sandwiching luscious filling in any flavor we chose... What is there to say but "Whoopie!"



I remember seeing recipes for whoopie pies everywhere a few years ago, but never had an opportunity to try them myself. Therefore, I was excited to finally try these cookies for this challenge. I decided to stick with the traditional chocolate flavor for the cookie, but filled them with a mint cream cheese frosting to give them a holiday touch. I rolled the whoopie pies in Andes peppermint baking chips for an added crunch and flavor. The result was rich and delicious!

Getting ingredients together for the cookies

Scooping cookies out in tablespoon-sized balls.

Baked cookies

Filling the cookies with mint cream cheese frosting

Rolling whoopie pies in peppermint pieces

Enjoy!





Whoopie Pies
Makes about 16 small pies

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Beat together butter, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla in a large bowl. Once batter is smooth, beat in egg.

3. Sift in cocoa powder and stir until combined.

4. Beat in about a third of the flour, and then 1/3 cup of the milk. Continue alternating between beating in the flour and the milk, scraping the bowl occasionally, until all has been mixed in.

5. Drop the dough in tablespoon-sized balls on the prepared baking sheets. Leave room between the cookies for them to spread.

6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are set. Remove from oven and allow to cool on pans before carefully separating them from the parchment paper to cool on racks.

7. Sandwich cookies with cream cheese filling (recipe below) and roll in crushed peppermint pieces for garnish.


Mint Cream Cheese Filling

8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tbsp butter, at room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp mint extract
Peppermint baking chips/crushed peppermint candy (optional)

1. Beat together cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar, milk and mint extract until well combined. If filling is too thick, add a little more milk.

-Chocolate whoopie pie recipe adapted from recipe by King Arthur Flour, available at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/classic-chocolate-whoopie-pies-recipe. Mint cream cheese filling recipe adapted from recipe for YourCupofCake's mint buttercream, available at http://www.yourcupofcake.com/2011/05/andes-mint-cupcakes.html.
-Posted by Jennifer

Friday, September 27, 2013

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Pastel de Tres Leches

Inma was our September 2013 Daring Bakers' hostess and WOW did she bring us something decadent and delicious! Pastel de Tres Leches or Three Milk Cake, creamy yet airy, super moist but not soggy... just plain delish!



This challenge came at a perfect time for me, as I recently moved back to South Florida, and have been enjoying the delicious Hispanic desserts that are popular in the area. This cake is very sweet, yet light, due to the fluffy texture of the cake batter. I chose to make the traditional Tres Leches, and top it with fresh whipped cream and strawberries, but I would also eventually love to make one of my favorite variations- Mango Tres Leches! The recipe was very simple... the only difficult step was waiting for the cake to soak overnight before cutting into it! I was initially nervous about adding too much of the milk syrup, but found that the cake was able to hold all of the syrup without becoming soggy. 

Bake cake and poke holes to absorb three milks syrup.

Make three milks syrup.

Pour syrup over cake and allow to absorb.

Delicious!

Pastel de Tres Leches
Serves 12

Vanilla Sponge Cake
5 large eggs (separated)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour (sifted)

Three Milks Syrup
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp rum

Sweetened whipped cream, to finish
Fresh fruit, to finish

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 9" round cake pan.
2. Separate egg whites and yolks. Beat egg whites for 3-5 minutes, until soft peaks form. Slowly sprinkle in sugar, and continue beating for about 5 additional minutes, until stiff peaks form.
3. In another bowl, beat egg yolks for 5-6 minutes. Yolks will become creamy, puffy and light in color. Stir in vanilla extract.
4. Carefully fold egg yolks into egg whites. Gradually sprinkle the flour onto the egg mixture, and fold in carefully. Be careful not to allow batter to lose too much volume.
5. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 25 minutes. Toothpick inserted in cake should come out clean.
6. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool completely.
7. Once cake is cool, use a fork to poke holes all over.
8. Make syrup: Bring the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream and cinnamon to a boil in a saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until slightly thickened. Allow syrup to cool, then add rum.
9. Slowly pour cooled syrup over cake, brushing syrup onto sides of cake to ensure that liquid is evenly distributed.
10. Allow cake to rest overnight in fridge to completely soak up syrup.
11. Complete cake by icing with sweetened whipped cream and fresh fruit, as desired.

-Adapted from recipe by Chef Paulina Abascal, as published in Revista Secretos de la Pasteleria Caserais magazine.

-Posted by Jennifer





Saturday, August 3, 2013

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Milano Cookies

In a "celebration" of past Daring Baker and Daring Cook challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we'd like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe to try!


I've been participating in the Daring Bakers' Challenges for a few years now, so I had to look pretty far back into the archives to find a recipe I hadn't tried. As soon as I found this recipe for Milano cookies, I knew I had to make them.  Milanos are one of my favorite types of store-bought cookies, so I loved the idea of making them at home.  To make the challenge even better, the recipe originally came from Gale Gand, who is one of my pastry chef idols. After making these delicious cookies at home, I don't know if I'll ever want store-bought again!  They were surprisingly simple to make, and I loved the combination of the light, citrus flavored cookies with the rich chocolate filling.

Make cookie dough, and pipe into 1 1/2 inch segments.

Bake until golden-brown around edges.

Make filling by melting chocolate with scalded cream and orange zest.

Sandwich cookies with chocolate filling.

Enjoy!







Milano Cookies
Makes about 30 sandwich cookies

Cookies
12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
Zest of one orange


1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Cream butter with electric mixer, and mix in sugar.  Slowly beat in the egg whites, then add the vanilla and lemon extracts. Carefully mix in the flour until just incorporated. Do not overbeat!
3. Pipe out 1 1/2 inch segments of the batter onto a parchment-paper lined sheet pan, using a pastry bag with a 1/4" round tip. Leave at least 2 inches between each cookie, as they will spread in oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown around edges.  Remove from oven and allow to cool on pan.
4. Scald the cream over medium heat.  Pour warm cream over the chocolate chips, and allow to sit for about 1 minute.  Whisk the mixture until chocolate is melted. Whisk in orange zest. Allow mixture to cool slightly.
5. Spread chocolate filling on the flat side of one cookie, and press another cookie on top.  Repeat with remaining cookies.

-Adapted from recipe at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/gale-gand/milan-cookies-recipe/index.html

-Posted by Jennifer


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Crostata di Marmellata

Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers' host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens!  Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There's nothing like pie! :-)






This challenge was different than most, because it offered a choice between 4 different types of pies.  While all of the choices looked delicious, I ultimately chose to make the Crostata di Marmellata, as I have never attempted to make a lattice crust before, and wanted to challenge myself to try something new.  This pie was quite tasty, although very sweet.  I really enjoyed the crust, which tastes like a lemony shortbread, and is definitely good enough to be eaten on its own.  I would love to experiment with different fillings for this pie next time, to tone down the sweetness a little bit.

Prepare strawberry jam filling.


Mix together pastry crust, and line pie dish.


Fill the par-baked crust with strawberry filling and use remaining pastry dough to create a lattice.





Bake and enjoy!


Crostata di Marmellata

Filling:
3-1/3 cups strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
1-1/2 cups sugar
7 tsp pectin
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Pasta Frolla (Italian pie pastry):
2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cups sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
1-2/3 cups all purpose flour
Pinch of salt

1. Make filling: Stir together all of the filling ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil, while stirring constantly.  Allow mixture to boil for exactly one minute, then remove from heat.  Allow to cool completely.

2. Begin making pie pastry by creaming together butter and sugar with a stand or hand mixer, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in egg, vanilla and lemon zest, until thoroughly mixed.  Add the flour and salt, and beat just until dough comes together, about 1 minute.

3. Form dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

4. Lightly grease a 9" pie dish.

5. Roll out 2/3 of the dough on a lightly floured surface to fit the pie dish.  Transfer dough to pie dish and roll the edges to provide a surface to attach the lattice later.  Use a  fork to prick the bottom of the crust all over.  

6. Refrigerate pie dough in pie dish for 30 minutes. 

7. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line pastry in pie dish with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (or dry beans).  Bake for 15 minutes.  

8. Remove pie weights and parchment paper.  Allow crust to cool.

9. Preheat oven to 400 F.

10. Spread the strawberry filling over the pie crust.

11. Roll out remaining pie dough into thin strips to fit the pie dish.  Arrange the strips over the filling, in a lattice pattern.  Pinch the ends of the strips to the rolled edges of the crust.

12. Bake pie for about 20 minutes, until lattice is golden.

13. Allow to cool completely before enjoying. 

-Adapted from Carol Field's "The Italian Baker", available at http://carolfield.com/category/books/the-italian-baker/

-Posted by Jennifer