Grand plans were made to post some lovely pink hued macarons in honor of Valentine’s Day! In my mind they were beautiful and delicious and enviable. How hard could macarons be, anyway? I’m pretty knowledgeable when it comes to baking. I’d say I’m an advanced amateur. And I’m seeing macarons everywhere. If all of those people can make them, then I can. You know what happens when you start thinking like that? You get humbled. Big time. I overestimated my kitchen abilities and wound up with some cracked and foot-less macarons. Apparently macaron baking is a skill that requires practice. Hats off to those of you who make them well. You have my respect forever and always. So I will keep working on my macaron making. Maybe some day you’ll see a post on them! That is if I don’t get too discouraged and give up. Sometimes I do that…
Instead of finicky macarons I went with something I am more comfortable and familiar with, pastry! This would make a lovely Valentine’s breakfast. You can bake it the day before and then just warm it up in the oven briefly before glazing. You could also let it do the second rise overnight in the fridge and bake it in the morning.
This is my husband’s favorite cookie. I made 200+ of them as favors for our wedding guests. After trying many recipes I found that the one on the bottom of the lid of the Quaker Oats container was my favorite. But when I saw this one in my Test Kitchen cookbook I thought I’d give it a try. You know, for research. They are quite good and may give the Quaker recipe a run for its money.
But really a fair comparison can’t be made. I’d probably have to have them side by side to decide which is better. These are puffier and more tender than the others, they are more full of oats and are flavored with nutmeg instead of cinnamon. I kind of missed the cinnamon, so I’d add some the next time. I might also add more raisins.
If your childhood was anything like mine you have fond memories of eating Pillsbury crescent rolls. You’ve likely watched someone experience, or you’ve experienced for yourself, the frustration of getting the tube open after not peeling the paper enough and then banging it on the counter to get it to pop open. Maybe your mom let you help roll them up and put them on the baking sheet. And then you got to enjoy their warm, melt-in-your-mouth goodness with dinner. Pillsbury will always have a special place in my heart, but these homemade crescent rolls might be what my kids remember enjoying.
These were surprisingly simple to put together and bake. You do have to let them rise twice, once after making the dough and once after forming the rolls.
So you’re looking at a minimum of 2 1/2 hours from start to finish. If you want to serve them to your kids for dinner start them with enough time. I didn’t, so my kids ate them for dessert!
Be sure not to over bake these. They get a tad dry when cooked too long. Nothing that a little extra butter can’t cure, though! If you’re planning to make these and then reheat them for later (think make-ahead Thanksgiving bread) bake them until just slightly golden so you can reheat them without fear of them drying out.
You will probably need to make three sheets of rolls, 8 per sheet, unless you have large cookie sheets and a large oven. It’s perfectly fine to bake the first two sheets and bake the other right after the first ons come out. Just be sure to keep them covered.
These do rise during baking, so don’t place them too close together. Also, try to cook similar sized rolls on the same baking sheet. Unless you can roll a perfect circle of dough, some wedges will be bigger than others. They’ll take longer to bake, and the smaller ones will take less time. If you have different sized rolls on the same sheet some will be over baked while others will be under baked. I emphasize this point only because I had one sheet that had some quite small and some quite large rolls and I had this problem. Aren’t you glad you have someone to make mistakes for you?!
The only thing I might do differently would be to brush these with more melted butter right after baking. Because there isn’t much better than that.
From America’s Best Lost Recipe
Makes 24 rolls
1 stick plus 1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 cup warm milk (about 110°F)
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
4 1/2 to 5 cups flour
1 package instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Melt 1 stick of butter and let cool slightly. Mix with warm milk, sugar and eggs.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (or a large bowl) mix 4 1/2 cups flour, salt and yeast.
Add in the milk mixture and mix on low until dough comes together, then increase the speed to medium and mix for about 5 minutes. If dough seems sticky add in a couple tablespoons of flour.
Turn dough out onto a well floured surface and knead a bit and shape into a ball. Place dough into a greased bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, until doubled in size.
Melt the 1/2 stick of butter and set aside.
Prepare baking sheets (you’ll need 2 large or 3 regular) by lining them with parchment.
Turn dough out onto floured surface and divide into 3 equal sized pieces. Working with one piece, roll into a 10-inch circle. Brush with butter, then use a pizza cutter to slice dough into 8 wedges.
Take a sliced piece and roll, starting from the wide end, up to the pointed end and place pointed side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Cover rolls with clean towels or plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick spray and let rise for 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325°F and adjust racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until rolls are golden. Do not let them get too dark.
Bake third sheet of rolls if necessary.
Serve warm or let cool completely before packing up to serve later or freeze.
After having a baby (2 weeks and 3 days ago) I am anxious to have a semi-predictable life again and get back to some of the things I was doing before he was born, like baking, cooking and blogging. And sleeping, that’d be nice. However, I have been consistently reminded that life with kids, and especially life with a newborn, is anything but predictable. I tried and failed to make some coffee cake muffins earlier this week. I blame sleep depravity, the speed at which I tried to put everything together, not totally thinking through my plan, and holding a screaming baby while filling muffin cups with batter and streusel! Thankfully they only looked ugly but tasted delicious!
I was frustrated with myself. But I realize my expectations for getting back to blogging were set a little high. It’s just not going to happen like it used to, at least not for now. I am no longer guaranteed a time in the afternoon where all the sweet children are tucked away in their beds and I can cook, bake, take pictures and type away. So I’m going to be a little more realistic with blogging and be happy with whatever I can manage for the next couple of months! And remember to cherish this time with the babies, like so many people who have kids that are now grown, tell me to. After all, the days are long but the years are short.
This morning I found myself up at 7am with my two older kids while the little man slept in until almost 9:30! I took advantage of the time and baked up some super simple scones. This recipe sits right next to the coffee cake recipe I attempted yesterday and is in the ATK Family Cookbook. I figured it was a sign.
It took me less than 20 minutes to mix these up and get them in the oven. They’re done baking in 15 minutes and ready to eat in 10. The ingredient list couldn’t be simpler which yields a simple and satisfying scone with nothing extra to take away from the hearty oats and rich butter.
Eat these plain, warm or at room temperature. Spread with a little extra butter and jam. Have one for breakfast, one for mid-morning snack and one in the afternoon with some tea or coffee for a little pick-me-up. The scones aren’t too sweet, which is nice. They’re almost like a biscuit, just with more texture and a bit more dense.
I am so glad I stumbled across this recipe, and thankful for the cooperative children who made this blog post possible!
Toasted Oat Scones
From ATK Family Cookbook
1 1/2 cups oats, old fashioned or quick cooking
1/2 cup half and half (plus 1 tablespoon for brushing on the scones)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar (plus extra for sprinkling on the scones)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter, cold, cut into chunks
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Spread oats out onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Toast the oats for about 8 minutes, just as they begin to brown. Let cool.
Increase oven to 450°F.
In a small bowl, whisk half and half, the egg and vanilla together and set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder and pulse a few times.
Add in the butter and pulse until butter is in pieces no larger than the size of a pea.
Pour flour mixture into a large bowl and fold in the milk mixture until it just comes together. Flour your hands and bring the dough together in the bowl.
Turn out onto a floured surface and pat into a round about 1 inch thick. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and cut into 8 wedges.
Brush the tops with half and half, then sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
I made these rolls, took pictures and began this post a couple weeks ago since I was expecting a baby mid-June. I cannot believe I am actually posting this month! Special thanks to my amazing friend, Carrie, who held my sweet baby boy and also entertained my toddlers and therefore made it possible for me to finish this post this morning! You’re amazing 🙂
Our baby’s due date was June 19, so I knew I had to get this challenge completed before my typical completion of a Daring Bakers challenge, a day or two before posting. The day I made these rolls I thought, “It will be good to have these for our house guests after the baby comes.” thinking that this baby would be early like our other two. But over a week passed before our sweet baby arrived and we’d already finished off a pan! I froze the other pan after baking it so we did have some for grandparents when they came to see the baby.
And here he is! Christopher was born on June 23 and we love him.
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 fill it with any filling we wanted to craft tasty rolled treats, cinnamon not required!
This challenge had me excited from the moment I read it! I love cinnamon rolls, both the making of and the consumption of them. But I’ve never ventured beyond the traditional cinnamon sugar filling. This challenge encouraged creativity from the Daring Bakers. I know some people got incredibly creative, and I admire those people for not only having creative minds but for being brave enough to try something new! I played it pretty safe and just added peach preserves to the rolls. I know, it’s kinda lame. But it’s still super delicious!
I used a sweet dough recipe from America’s Test Kitchen as the base for the rolls. In the cookbook this dough is also used for hot cross buns and sticky buns. It comes together nicely, rises well, is easy to roll out and handle, and bakes into a lovely sweet bread. It’s a keeper.
Peach just seemed like a good summer choice, but you could use any kind of jam or preserves in these rolls. Add in nuts if you like. Or leave out the jam and make a simple cinnamon roll with a traditional cinnamon and brown sugar filling.
The icing is sweet with just enough tang from the cream cheese. You can make it more icing-like by adding less milk, or more like a glaze by adding a little more. The recipe below makes a generous amount for the 2 pans of rolls. Ice these when they are still a little warm so that the icing can seep in between the layers and get all wonderfully gooey. Or you can ice them individually to control the amount of icing on each roll since some people are big icing lovers and others are crazy not so much.
Peach Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
3/4 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 to 1 cup peach preserves
5 tablespoons cream cheese
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3-5 tablespoons milk
Whisk the buttermilk, butter and eggs in a small bowl.
Mix 4 cups of flour, sugar, salt and yeast in stand mixer fitted the dough hook.
Add buttermilk mixture to flour, mix on low until dough comes together.
Increase speed to medium low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Add extra flour if dough seems sticky, one tablespoon at a time.
Turn dough out onto clean counter and knead by hand to form a smooth round ball.
Place dough in oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours until doubled in size.
Fill, Shape and Bake Rolls
Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and dust lightly with flour. Pat the dough fat, and then use a rolling pin to roll dough out into a 12×16 inch rectangle.
Brush dough with melted butter, then spread with peach preserves leaving a 1/4 inch edge all around. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the preserves and spread out.
Roll dough into a long cylinder, as tight as you can get it. Pinch the edge of the dough to seal the roll.
Use a serrated knife to carefully cut into 14-16 buns.
Butter 2 round cake pans and place 7 or 8 buns in each. Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and let rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Rolls should be pressed up against each other. To Make Ahead: Pop them in the fridge after covering, before they rise. Keep them there for up to 16 hours. When you’re ready, take them out and let them rise at room temp for 1 1/2 hours, then bake as below.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Bake rolls for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and puffed.
Let rolls cool for 10 minutes before icing.
Icing (make while rolls are baking)
Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until mixed well. Add in milk, a tablespoon at a time until the icing is the consistency that you like.
Ice rolls in the pan or turn rolls out and ice on a platter.
This buttermilk chess pie is declared “the easiest pie to prepare in this chapter” in the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. And it truly is simple. It’s also quite delicious, creamy, smooth, rich and downright heavenly.
After making this strawberry rhubarb pie and finishing off the last of it recently I was seriously craving more pie. I’ve typically reserved pie for the holiday baking season, making cobblers more often in the summer. But that’s just silly. Pie can easily be a year round food and should be embraced as much now, when the weather is warm, as when it’s chilly out. While some pies are better for cool weather and some for warmer days, this one can be enjoyed any time of year. Pairing it with some fresh seasonal berries during the coming months will make it a great summer dessert.
You can serve this custard pie warm, room temperature, or chilled. The flavors shine through best when it’s warm or room temp, though.
The crust in this pie, as with most if not all pie, is important and can really make the dessert special. If you use a store bought crust the dessert will be fine, but if you have the time to make your own it will be extra delicious. I’ve used this all butter pie crust recipe from Smitten Kitchen the last couple of times I’ve made pie and I really like it. The recipe makes enough for 2 crusts, so just stash one away for another time.
The ingredient list is simple and straightforward, you probably have everything in your kitchen right this very moment. Once you make the crust all you have to do is whisk everything else together, pour it into the pie crust and bake. So, what are you waiting for?!
Buttermilk Chess Pie
From America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
1 pie crust, fit into a pie plate, chilled and unbaked
3/4 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon fine-ground cornmeal
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Berries for garnish
Whipped cream for garnish
Prepare pie crust by fitting it into a pie plate and placing the plate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Place a rimmed baking sheet into the oven and preheat to 375°F.
Whisk all of the ingredients together and pour into pie shell.
Place onto heated cookie sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes. Top of the pie should be golden brown and center should be just set.
Let cool on a wire rack until just warm or all the way to room temp.
Of course the first thing that comes to mind for me when I have ham around, after ham sandwiches of course, is quiche. I’ve made ham & cheese quiche before, and you’ve likely seen this combination many times. But this one is extra decadent and amazing thanks to some super yummy cheese that I had on hand. I LOVE when a meal comes together without having to try too hard and when you just so happen to have ingredients that end up being delicious together.
I had a little block of gruyere and some wine soaked goat cheese left from the Easter cheese tray. Any cheese would do, but these seemed to take this quiche to a new level of wonderfulness. Trader Joe’s has a goat cheese gouda that I think would be awesome, similar in flavor and texture to the goat cheese I used. It’s not your typical soft and creamy goat cheese, this one is soft but still grate-able.
The crust and the base for this came from this America’s Test Kitchen cookbook. Have you bought yourself a copy yet? What’s stopping you? I had to do some things differently with the crust because I started dinner at 5 and it needed to be on the table at 7. I didn’t have the time to chill the dough for an hour, roll it and chill for 30 minutes, par-bake for 30 and then bake the custard for another 45 minutes. So I improvised. The recipe below shows what I did, but if you have the time, chill the dough before rolling and par-bake for a full 30 minutes. It will yield a crispier crust.
The quiche base is not for the faint of heart. It’s heavy on the eggs, cream and whole milk. Add in the ham and cheese and you’ve got yourself a quiche that is hearty enough for the manliest of men. Add in a little crumbled bacon and they won’t have a hard time scarfing down a few pieces. But it’s not so heavy that you can’t serve it at a ladies lunch. It’s just too delicious for any sane person to say “no” to.
You can take this quiche base and add in whatever you want to. Make it vegetarian with mushrooms, spinach, peppers, asparagus, etc. Use bacon instead of ham, or cooked chicken or other meat. Play with the herbs as well. Endless options. Enjoy!
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into chunks and chilled
4 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks and chilled
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, roughly chopped
1 cup of cooked chopped ham
4 ounces of shredded cheese, 2 ounces of gruyere and 2 ounces of firm goat cheese such as goat gouda
In a food processor combine flour, sugar and salt, and pulse a few times to combine.
Add in the chunks of shortening and butter and pulse a few times until the fat is in coarse pieces.
Add the ice water into the machine, start with 3 tablespoons, pulse a few times, then add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing once or twice in between additions, until dough looks like it is just holding together, but not until it is smooth.
Pour the dough out onto a large piece of parchment and pat it together into a disk.
Place another piece of parchment on top and roll the dough out, as quickly as possible into a 12-inch circle. Peel off the top piece of parchment, then place the pie plate on top of the dough circle. Turn it all over together and carefully press the dough into the pie plate and peel off the parchment. Make sure the dough is pressed into the pan evenly, crimp the edges and transfer to the freezer for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Line the crust with foil and fill with pie weights, beans or rice.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, prepare the custard mixture while it cooks.
Remove the foil and weights, then immediately fill with the custard.
Whisk the eggs, milk and cream well in a bowl.
Whisk in the salt, mustard and thyme.
When the crust comes out of the oven scatter the ham on the bottom of the crust then scatter the cheese on top.
Move the pie plate to the oven then pour the egg mixture slowly into the pan until it is almost full. You may have egg mixture left over if you have a shallow pie pan.
Close the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes. Remove from the oven when quiche is just about set.
Scones. Glorious scones! Way better than muffins and not much more work. In some ways I think they’re actually easier than muffins, I never liked cleaning muffin tins. Scones are also easily adaptable. These scones are full of goodies, but a simple scone with nothing in it is amazing when spread with a little jam or truly and simply plain. If you’ve never tried to make scones, please do yourself a favor and make a batch of these! You’ll be amazed at how easy they are and how amazing they taste. This is yet another recipe courtesy of my current favorite cookbook, America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. I took the basic recipe and added in dried cherries, sliced almonds and white chocolate chips. I also brushed the tops with a little cream and sprinkled them with a little sugar. I would’ve liked to have used coarse sugar but couldn’t seem to find mine, probably a sign I need to do some pantry organizing. In the recipe they recommend forming the circle in a cake pan, then turning it out before slicing into wedges. What a wonderful idea! It keeps it perfectly shaped and makes for beautiful scones. But you can achieve equally tasty and lovely scones by free forming your disc. I like to use a pizza cutter to cut the scones, but a bench scraper or large knife will do just fine. Like I said before, make these with what you like or have on hand to make them your own and experiment to find a combination that you really love. Replace the cherries with your favorite dried fruit, the almonds with pecans, or walnuts, and leave out the chocolate altogether or use dark or milk chocolate chips. Be careful not to load too much into these, though. I used a total of 1 cup of additional ingredients and I wouldn’t go much heavier on the mix-ins than that. As with biscuits, don’t over mix or over work the dough. Mix and knead just until it holds together. Overworking will yield a dense scone that doesn’t rise as well. I do have to warn you about these. I photographed them while they were still warm and had a few bites of this one. A few bites turned into me eating the entire thing. And I loved every minute of it. So make sure to exercise some self control and don’t eat all of them yourself! Or do. Just call it “research” or “quality control”.
Dried Cherry, Almond and White Chocolate Cream Scones
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Ingredients
Makes 8 scones
2 cups flour, plus more for the counter
3 tablespoons sugar. plus a little for sprinkling
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter, cold, cut into chunks
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream, plus a little extra for brushing
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the food processor. Pulse a few times to combine.
Add the butter chunks and pulse until the mixture is coarse like sand with some larger pieces of butter.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the cherries, almonds and chocolate chips, then add the cream and the almond extract. Mix with a rubber spatula until the mixture just comes together.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead the dough until it comes together. Press into 9-inch cake pan or free form the dough into a 9-inch disk.
Turn dough out again (if you used a cake pan) onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.
With a pizza cutter or other cutting tool, cut the disk into 8 triangles, separating them from each other a little.
Brush with a little cream and sprinkle with a little sugar (or coarse sugar if you have some).
Bake for about 15 minutes, until tops are light brown.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.