Does anyone else come home from work and shirk all other responsibilities to bake something instead? No? Just me? Okay cool, cool. Anyway, as you can guess, that’s exactly what I did last week when I came across some coffee cake inspiration. It all started when I saw a picture of some coffee cake on Instagram, and it had a beautiful layer of rhubarb laced through the middle. However, since it’s January and rhubarb is not exactly “in season”, I had to take another route. The base recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen and it can be found here, but I made a few tweaks and god it was so good. SO good in fact that I went back to my parents house this weekend and made another one within an hour of being home.
The best part about this cake? Within an hour its prepped and in the oven, and it can be customized based on what you have on hand! The reason why mine had cherry jam? It was in the fridge and I didn’t feel like going to the store! The middle could have any other kind of jam, nutella, cooked fruit, or it could be served plain, it’s totally up to you. It’s also lovely with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, a drizzle of glaze, or with nuts mixed into the crumble. While it’s best eaten the day of, I can confidently tell you that I was eating it for three days as a “before dinner dessert”.
Here are 5 things to be happy about before we get started! ONE. A spur of the moment trip. TWO. Little Women (2019). THREE. Eating dessert before dinner. FOUR. Coming in from the cold and getting under a warm blanket. FIVE. Sneaking your own candy into the movies.
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons All Purpose Flour, divided 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon Dash of nutmeg ¾ teaspoon salt 1¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon butter, softened and divided 2 eggs ½ cup whole milk 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste 1 cup cherry jam (or fruit of your choice!)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl down after each addition. In a liquid measuring cup, mix together the milk and vanilla.
Turn the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and the milk mixture alternately in batches, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined.
Spread half the batter in the prepared cake pan. Spoon the jam over the cake batter, leaving a half inch border on all sides. Carefully drop the remaining batter over the jam layer in small spoonfuls, spreading evenly until the jam is fully covered.
In a small bowl, mix the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, tablespoon of butter, and 2 tablespoons of sugar with your hands until crumbles form. Sprinkle the crumbles over the top of the cake. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes in the pan before removing. Best eaten warm with a cup of coffee because DUH, coffee cake!!!
Hello! I know I usually post my recipes on Tuesdays, but I was too excited about these not to share earlier. This weekend, I attempted what I deem to be one of the most technically difficult home-baker undertakings- the croissant! These buttery, flaky pastries can only be paired with a coffee and maybe some jam, but are also pretty perfect just warm from the oven. To be honest, making these croissants wasn’t hard per se, just labor intensive. It’s important before you take on this project that you read up on the process, and read the recipe through in its entirety, maybe twice.
The main technique used in the making of croissants is called laminating, so before we get into the recipe, I figured I would outline it for you. When you laminate in baking, you are folding a flat sheet of butter into a dough, to create alternating layers of dough and butter. In doing so, the butter melts while baking to create the classic flaky texture of the croissants you know and love. It’s a time-consuming process, specifically on a warmer day, which it was when I tried it on Saturday. It makes sense, the warmer your environment, the quicker the butter starts to soften and/or melt. So, you fold a few times, roll out a few times, then the dough goes back into the fridge until the butter is chilled enough to continue, and the gluten is relaxed enough to keep rolling. It’s a delicate balance- if the butter is colder than the dough, it can break into pieces and distribute unevenly. If vice versa, the butter will start to seep out of the dough as you roll.
After learning all this, you can imagine my surprise that my first attempt went so well. As a matter of fact, I popped them into the oven (which doesn’t have a window in the door), and said a quick prayer because I was so nervous. When I opened the oven ten minutes later as the suspense was killing me, I promptly burst into tears upon seeing them. My sister happened to arrive home from dinner and, seeing my tears out of context thought everything had gone wrong, sorry for the mini heart attack Kathleen!!
Anyway, this is quite a project, but I’m here to tell you it’s doable! The dough can be prepped and laminated in one day and then assembled into croissants the next, as well as frozen for the next time you need a croissant fix. The recipe, originally from King Arthur Flour, makes 24 and since I live with only 1 person, I put half the laminated dough in the freezer for the next rainy day. Trust me, the feeling of knowing you can make a croissant from scratch is remarkable, I’m basically a french pastry chef now you guys. Except for, you know, the culinary degree, the accent, and the ability to make any other kind of fancy french pastry.
Before we start, here are 5 things to be happy about today: ONE. A productive weekend. TWO. A Sunday afternoon stroll with a late lunch. THREE. Re-watching old Disney movies on a gloomy day. FOUR. Heavy fountain pens for handwritten notes. FIVE. Organizing your drawers and finding a piece of clothing you forgot about.
Let’s do this!!!
2 eggs + plus enough warm water to make 2 cups ¼ cup granulated sugar, divided 5 ½ to 6 cups all purpose flour, I recommend using King Arthur brand 2 ¼ tsp (1 packet) instant yeast 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, I recommend using Kerrygold 1 scant Tablespoon salt
1 7/8 cups unsalted butter, cool to the touch, I recommend using Kerrygold ¾ teaspoon salt ½ cup all purpose flour, I recommend using King Arthur brand
For the Dough
Add the eggs and water to a large mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 3 cups of the flour, and the yeast. Mix until there are no dry spots and the mixture is blended. Set aside.
For the Butter
Cut the cold butter in 1 inch pieces and add one at a time to the bowl of a stand mixer, combining with salt and flour. Beat on low speed until just smooth, without whipping air into the butter. Make sure all the butter is incorporated evenly.
Spread the butter on a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper and shape into an 8 inch square. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Finishing the dough
Pour the melted butter onto the yeast and flour mixture. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar, 2½ cups flour, and the salt. Mix the dough until a dough forms, and knead for 5 minutes. If it’s too sticky, add more flour a tablespoon at a time. Once the dough is smooth and elastic, pat/ roll it into a 9 inch square, then wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Laminating the dough
Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and roll into a 12 inch square. Unwrap the butter square and place it on the dough at a 45 degree angle, so that the butter looks like a diamond shape in a square shape. Gently pull the corners of the dough over the butter block into the center, pinching the seams with a little water so that they’re secure. Once the butter is totally enclosed, dust the top lightly with flour, then flip the whole packet over.
Tap the dough with the rolling pin, gently encouraging it into a rectangular shape, with the long sides vertical to you. Once it’s pliable, roll this dough packet into a 20 inch x 10 inch rectangle. If the dough starts to stick, dust with a little flour. If any butter looks like its about to start leaking, seal the edge with a little water.
Sweep the excess flour off the dough and fold the whole thing into thirds like a letter. It’s very important that all the sides line up exactly, since the more folding you do, the more unaligned they would become if a fold was off. This is your first “turn”.
Rotate the dough so that it looks like a book about to be opened. Once again roll the dough into a 20 inch x 10 inch rectangle and fold like a letter, aligning all the edges. This is your second “turn”. At this point, wrap the dough and return it to the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes, to firm the butter and relax the gluten.
After this resting period, repeat the rolling and folding for two more turns, then wrap tightly and refrigerate the dough for another hour. At this point you can also leave it overnight and then shape the croissants tomorrow, or freeze the dough for later use.
Shaping the croissants
Cut the dough in half and return one half to the fridge or freezer. Roll the other half into a 13 inch x 18 inch rectangle. Using a pizza cutter or long sharp knife, trim the edges of the dough a ¼ inch all the way around to expose the laminated insides. This will allow the dough to rise fully.
Cut the dough into thirds lengthwise and then in half crosswise to give you six roughly 4 inch by 9 inch rectangles. Cut these pieces in half diagonally and arrange them so that the points face away from you. Stretch the dough of each triangle slightly and then cut a 1 inch notch at the base of the triangle.
Roll the two inside corners of the notch up towards you, then roll the dough towards the tip, building the classic, curved croissant shape. It’s important that the tip of the triangle ends up underneath the croissant so that it doesn’t puff up. Place the shaped pastry on a parchment lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining triangles. If you’d like, curve the ends of the croissant inwards to make a half circle shape. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove the shaped croissants from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature for at least 1 hour. You should notice them rise noticeably over this hour long period.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Brush each croissant with egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon water). Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until deep golden with no raw dough visible in the overlapping layers.
Allow to cool on a baking rack for 20 minutes before eating. Serve with lots of jam and a cup of coffee please!!
Congratulations, you just made croissants!!! xoxoxo
Looking for another baking challenge? Try here, here, or here!
Has it been a month since I posted?? I didn’t even realize, time flies at the end of the year, (and decade!!) doesn’t it? But anyway, I’m back now, and here to talk about stamp cookies! Naturally I asked for almost exclusively cooking related gifts for Christmas, including Alison Roman’s Nothing Fancy, a proper chef’s knife, AND a beautiful set of Nordic Ware cookie stamps. Maybe it was just me but I felt like my Instagram feed was flooded with stamp cookies this season, and I started to feel left out! So many people offered fancy cookie combinations, including shortbread and citrus, gingerbread and rum butter, but I was immediately drawn to these, rich dark chocolate and peppermint glaze. Like hot chocolate in a cookie!! Originally found here, I made a few minor adjustments and these beauties came out like glazed tiles and I LOVE THEM.
Moving into a new year and a new decade, I find myself looking back on what the last few years have brought me- some ups and downs for sure, but also this space to bake and write, and people to share it with. I moved out on my own, took on challenges that scared me, and made a freaking loaf of sourdough from scratch! I am very thankful for what I have done, and I can’t wait for what’s in store. I wish you all the happiest of new years and many stamp cookies, too!
Before we bake, here are 5 things to be happy about today! ONE. Popcorn at the movies, and the fact that it somehow is better than any popcorn you make at home. TWO. Sleeping late on a rainy day, knowing that you don’t have anything to do. THREE. Cherry cordials with syrupy centers. FOUR. Serving drinks in a punch bowl. FIVE. Movie trilogies.
Let’s bake! Recipe makes about 3 dozen glazed cookies.
3 cups all purpose flour 1 cup cocoa powder (I like Hershey’s Special Dark for this) 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon baking powder ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon ¼ teaspoon instant espresso powder 1 cup salted butter, softened 1½ cups light brown sugar 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups confectioner’s sugar 8-12 tablespoons heavy cream (have more on hand) ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon peppermint extract Pinch of salt
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and instant espresso.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the softened butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next. Mix in vanilla.
Add the dry ingredients all at once and cover the mixer so that the flour doesn’t go everywhere when the mixer is turned on. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl a few times during the mixing so that all dry ingredients are incorporated- the dough will be very thick!
Turn the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and wrap tightly, chilling for at least 1 hour before proceeding.
Once the dough is chilled, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
(There are a few ways to make stamp cookies, but my directions below are my favorite way, I found they kept the cookies the most intact and even.)
Working with about half the dough at a time, take about 2 tablespoons worth of dough and roll it into a ball between your palms. Dust the desired cookie stamp with cocoa powder to prevent sticking, and press the stamp down on the center of the ball of dough, pushing on all sides so that the pressed cookie remains fairly even, and the pattern is fully embossed. Gently peel the cookie off of the stamp and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
If you’re a perfectionist like me, then take a circular cookie cutter with approximately the same size as the stamp, and cut off the rough edges of each cookie. Repeat until all dough is used.
Bake the cookies for 7 to 10 minutes, switching the trays from top to bottom oven rack halfway through. It’s best to stay on the less baked side, as this will ensure the cookies stay soft after baking.
While the cookies are baking, whisk together all the glaze ingredients in one bowl. It should be the consistency of glue, thick, but pourable, so feel free to adjust with an extra tablespoon of confectioners sugar or cream as necessary.
When the cookies are finished baking, brush the glaze over the warm cookies with a pastry brush almost immediately, this will help the glaze melt into every line of the pattern and cover the cookie evenly.
Allow the cookies to dry completely before storing, and enjoy!!
PSA, the cookie stamps I used can be found here, but these cookies can also be made by rolling the dough a ½ inch thick and cutting out circles.