• Forget-About-Cinnamon-Rolls Cinnamon-Cardamom Buns

    Okay I’ll be the first person to profess my love for cinnamon rolls. Homemade or from the Pillsbury tube, they’re like a warm hug and a fuzzy blanket on a snowy day- but in food form. That makes sense sort of, right? Cool. Back to my point, I’ve been watching a lot of The Great British Bake-Off and was inspired by Bread Week to make these beautiful Swedish buns flavored with cinnamon and cardamom. I never thought I’d see the day where something would replace my cinnamon rolls, but these soft, knotted buns have definitely earned a spot in my snow day baking lineup. As a side note, who knew that it would be SO hard to find cardamom at a normal grocery store, is it just me? I spent at least an hour and a half at two different grocery stores and found not a trace, only to return home and find two full jars hidden in the back of my spice cabinet. I think the universe wanted me to try these too.

    Bread dough is something that has continuously mystified me. I made it a New Years Resolution of mine to try more bread recipes because I will NOT let it get the best of me, and I was pleasantly surprised by this one. As I understand it, there are several ways to start your bread dough, and I was originally nervous that the recipe I was following didn’t require you to bloom the yeast at all first, but it turned out just beautifully without that step so don’t be worried!

    If you’re looking to shake up your routine without straying too far from the classic cinnamon roll, the flavor of cardamom is truly under-appreciated, and brings a wonderfully spicy-sweetness to these rolls that will instantly make them a cold-weather classic.

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    Adapted from Food52’s Classic Swedish Cinnamon and Cardamom Buns.

    Makes: around 18 buns
    Prep Time: 1 hr.
    Inactive Time: ~2hrs.
    Total: about 4 hrs.

    Ingredients:

    For dough:
    1 tbs cardamom
    1 cup milk
    135 grams (about ½ cup) superfine sugar
    1 packet fast-action dried yeast
    150 grams unsalted butter, softened (about 1½ sticks)
    1 tsp kosher salt
    1 egg
    660 to 720 grams bread flour (roughly 2¾ to 3 cups)

    For filling:
    200 grams unsalted butter, softened (or 2 sticks)
    90 grams superfine sugar (a little more than a quarter cup)

    Beaten egg, for brushing
    1 tbs honey + 1 tbs corn syrup, for brushing
    Superfine sugar, for sprinking
    Ground cardamom, for sprinkling

    Steps:

    1. Add milk and cardamom to a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Heat until it reaches around 115ºF. Make sure not to overheat, if the milk is too hot it could kill the yeast and your dough won’t rise!

    2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar, yeast, salt, butter, and egg. Add the cardamom-infused milk and stir briefly, then add in most of the flour- this is by judgment really, but less is always more! Remember, you can always add more flour if the dough is too sticky, but you can’t take it out!

    3. To knead, either attach the dough hook to your stand mixer and let mix for about 5 minutes, or turn out onto a floured surface and knead by hand until its soft and smooth.

    4. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place, until doubled in size. Meanwhile, mix together the cinnamon, sugar and butter to make a smooth paste for your filling.

    5. Once the dough has sufficiently risen, turn it out onto a floured surface and divide in half. Roll the dough into a wide rectangle (measuring off my Silpat, mine was around 9″ x 13″, but don’t stretch too thin), and spread half of your filling over the entire area.

    6. Fold the dough in thirds long-ways (or “hot-dog style” like in elementary school) like you would fold a letter, taking the top third down to the middle, and then fold the bottom long side over the top. It should now be a third of the width, but the same length.

    7. Cut the dough into 2 inch wide strips (you can estimate this part), and then cut every strip down the middle but not all the way, so that each strip looks like a pair of pants. Also if that’s not the cutest line in a recipe I don’t know WHAT is.

    8. Take the cut strips and tie them into a rough knotted shape, feel free to experiment, their perfection lies in their imperfection. Place the knotted buns onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let rise again, until doubled in size (around 40 minutes or so).

    9. Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Brush each bun with beaten egg. Bake for around 10 minutes or until golden brown. The key is to underbake them just slightly so that they remain soft.

    10. Brush the still warm buns with the glaze of honey and corn syrup mixed with a little water (unless you can find golden syrup, in which case, use that!), and sprinkle with sugar + cardamom. Best eaten warm!

    xoxoD

     

  • Tea Time Madeleines

    Anyone who knows me at all knows that tea time is the most important time of day. Also, tea time usually happens around once every hour, I really LOVE tea. The thing is, it doesn’t really feel like tea time unless its accompanied by a sweet treat, so I always try to have something in the cookie jar. Enter these lil guys. Madeleines are a sweet french baked treat that’s half cookie-half cake, and can be flavored to your hearts desire, (plus they bake in 8-10 minutes, so it’s a win-win). They are traditionally baked in a special madeleine pan, which is delicately scalloped and makes each one look like a golden brown seashell. This recipe borrowed from Smitten Kitchen is a perfect base recipe to which you can add citrus, extracts, chocolate chips, dips, and what have you, but I have found that its light, vanilla flavor is well complimented by some lemon zest or almond extract. Also I apologize for the lack of photographic evidence here, its virtually impossible to take things out of the oven without my family descending and eating everything while it’s still piping hot, but you get the idea. Anyway, here goes!

    Makes: around 12 Madeleines
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Inactive Time: 3 hours
    Total: 3.5 hours

    Ingredients:

    ¾ cup all-purpose flour
    ½ tsp double-acting baking powder
    2 large eggs, at room temperature
    ½ cup sugar
    Grated zest of 1 lemon (if desired)
    1 tsp almond extract (if desired)
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    5 tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled

    Steps:

    1. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer and large mixing bowl), beat together the eggs and sugar until they lighten to a pale yellow and thicken, it should take between 2 and 4 minutes.

    2. Beat in vanilla extract, and at this point you can add some flavoring, I used the grated zest of one lemon in one batch, and 1 teaspoon of almond extract (in addition to the vanilla) in my second batch.

    3. Sift the flour and baking powder into the egg mixture, and gently fold together using a rubber spatula, then add the melted butter and mix until smooth.

    4. Cover the batter and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours (or overnight).

    5. Preheat the oven to 400ºF and butter and flour your madeleine pans. Divide the batter into your pans, filling each cup almost to the top, but not all the way full or they will bake over the sides (a lesson I learned the hard way).

    6. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the cakes are golden brown and spring back into shape when poked. Turn them out onto a cooling rack, and they can be eaten warm or at room temperature, preferably with a steaming cup of tea!

    Enjoy!! xoxoD

  • Classic Cream Puffs

    On this week’s episode of “My Adventures with Pâte à Choux”,  I conquered an old childhood favorite. I have vivid memories of Friday night pizza dinners where my dad, who drove to New Jersey every day for work, would bring home pizza from the special pizza place with the triangle windows, and a box of cream puffs for dessert. While I was perusing the unofficial baking bible, Erin McDowell’s The Fearless Baker, I came across this recipe and the memories flooded back, and suddenly eating a dozen cream puffs single-handedly was all I could think about. These can be done in so many ways, changing the glaze on top and the filling inside are definitely encouraged (TFB ones are topped with a beautiful berry glaze), but for today I went with a classic vanilla cream filling and a chocolate top.

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    This recipe is broken down into a few parts, the pastry, the filling, and the glaze. Pâte à Choux, a light french pastry dough, can be a little tricky, so I would recommend reading the directions all the way through (something I’m notoriously guilty of not doing), and set out all your ingredients in the correct forms, since once it gets going, there isn’t much downtime. These puffs are filled with vanilla diplomat cream, which sounds fancy, because it IS. But it’s also really just a mix of pastry cream and whipped cream together and wow is it good. At several times during the process I found myself standing over the bowl of it, “taste-testing” by the spoonful, we all know how that goes, right? ANYWAY, without further ado, happy baking!

    Pastry Dough

    ½ cup water
    ½ cup milk
    4 tbs unsalted butter
    1 tsp kosher salt
    1½ cups bread flour
    5 large eggs, beaten (plus 1 or 2 extra if needed)
    1 large egg, beaten + 1 tbs water (for egg wash)

    Steps:

    1. In a medium-sized saucepan, add water, milk, butter, and salt, and bring to a boil on medium-low heat. Add flour all at once, and immediately begin to stir. Reduce heat to low and stir constantly, until the mixture becomes sticky and forms a ball when moved around with the spoon. There should be a film of starch on the bottom of the pan.

    2. Transfer this mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or to a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer). Mix briefly on low so that the mixture is slightly cooled before you add in the eggs.

    3. Drizzle in beaten eggs in a steady stream with the mixer on medium, and mix until it is fully incorporated into the batter. It should be about 5 minutes.

    4. To test the consistency of the batter, dip the paddle (or whisk) into the batter, and lift. The batter should form a V shape that slowly separates from the batter remaining in the bowl. If this doesn’t happen or it breaks away too quickly, it means that the dough is too stiff, in which case, repeat step 3 with another beaten egg and test again. Add a final egg if necessary to reach the right consistency. At this point, add the batter to a piping bag or ziploc bag, fitted with a large circular tip or cut to about a ¾ inch opening.

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    5. Pipe small circular mounds of batter onto 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper, like above. If the tops are too pointy, dip your finger in water and gently flatten the tops so that they bake evenly. Let the piped puffs rest for 20 to 30 minutes until the batter forms a “skin” on the outside.

    6. Preheat the oven to 400ºF and position your oven racks to the upper and lower thirds of your oven. Brush each puff with the egg wash and bake until they are golden brown and crisp, about 24-26 minutes. If you’re unsure of their done-ness, tap the puff with your fingertip, it should sound hollow. Allow them to cool completely.

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    Sometimes the puffs will bake into some funky shapes, but I promise they will taste just as great.

    Diplomat Cream:

    3 cups whole milk
    ¼ tsp kosher salt
    ¾ cup granulated sugar
    ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 2 tsp vanilla extract
    5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
    1/3 cup cornstarch
    3 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
    2 cups heavy cream, whipped

    Steps:

    1. Combine milk, salt, and ¼ cup sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add them, along with the pod, to the milk mixture. If you’re using vanilla extract instead, do NOT add now because it will just boil off. Save the extract for the end, don’t worry, I’ll remind you!

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    This was my first time EVER baking with real vanilla beans, look how professional the little specks look!!

    2. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. In the meantime, whisk together the remaining ½ cup sugar and the cornstarch in a medium bowl and set aside. When the milk has reached a simmer, remove the vanilla bean pod and turn the heat down to medium-low.

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    One of the yolks broke but lets pretend it didn’t, they look so perfect otherwise!

    3. Whisk the egg yolks into the cornstarch mixture, and then carefully (and slowly!!) drizzle in one third of the hot milk mixture, whisking the whole time to keep the eggs from scrambling. This process is called tempering, and it helps raise the overall temperature of the egg mixture so that it doesn’t immediately cook when added to the hot milk.

    4. Add this tempered mixture back to the rest of the hot milk mixture, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula and making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pot as you go. Cook this mixture for three to four minutes, until it becomes very thick. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract if you’re using it.

    5. Push this mixture through a sieve (just in case there are lumps or accidental pieces of egg) into a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap by pressing it directly to the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until completely cooled.

    6. Right before filling the cream puffs, fold in the whipped cream to the chilled pastry cream gently until combined.

    7. To fill the cream puffs, you can go one of two ways: 1) slice each puff completely in half and fill the bottom half of each puff with cream before replacing the top, OR 2) using a pairing knife, cut an x into the bottom of each puff. Using a piping bag, fill each puff from the bottom until they feel full- I like to overstuff mine but it’s totally your preference.

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    One of these guys didn’t get the memo about the picture.

    Chocolate Glaze:

    4 ounces bittersweet (or dark) chocolate
    ½ cup heavy cream
    Drizzle of light corn syrup (optional)

    Steps:

    1. Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring heavy cream to a boil in a separate pot.

    2. Once boiled, add the heavy cream to the chocolate and let stand for a few minutes to allow the chocolate to melt. If you want the glaze to stay shinier, add a drizzle of light corn syrup and whisk until smooth.

    3. If you cut your cream puffs in half, spoon the chocolate glaze over the tops, the more chocolate the better! If you filled them from the bottom, dip the tops of the puffs into the bowl of chocolate and let the excess drip off.

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    Look at these beautiful bbs ready for eating!!

    At this point, do what I do, which is try not to eat all of them before anyone else in your family even makes it to the kitchen. I hope you enjoy!! xoxoD