Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day to All...

Today is a day that we take a moment to remember those who served our country! Thank and pray for those who were able to come home and those families who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. We thank you ALL for your dedication and sacrifice.

This weekend I was able to go South and visit my family. Nice to be able to remember what is important in life.....FAMILY!!! I always enjoy looking forward to these weekends since they tend to consist of a room with over 20 people, a lot of laughs and great food. Luckily for me they let me bake... So for this event I was asked to create a classic  - Strawberry Shortcake featuring my Ging-gi's Pound Cake .

Over the last few years, classic recipes have been taken to crazy limits with unique changes or themes. But for me, I think this recipe is as simple as it gets and needs to stay that way. As most Pound Cake recipes go....the less ingredients the better!

Ging-gi's Pound Cake
1 C Unsalted Butter, softened (plus additional for pan)
2 C White Sugar
2 C Unbleached Flour
1 Tsp Vanilla
5 Eggs

Turn oven on to 350 Degrees. Grease and Flour Bundt Pan (I use wax paper when greasing with room temp butter). In a bowl, cream together Butter and Sugar. Add one egg at a time alternating with Flour. Add Vanilla and combine well. Put into prepared pan and smooth top. Cook for 55 minutes. Check if done with toothpick (should come out clean).

Now here is my Grandmothers trick that works wonders with a Bundt pan. (Thankful for her tricks she taught me) Remove pan from oven and put cooling rack on top of pan and flip over so top of pan is resting on cooling rack (Do not lift off pan!).

Now wet a hand towel with cold water and place on top of hot pan (do not burn yourself!!) Push down in hole between pan to help take out heat and stop the crust of cake from continuing to cook. Let sit for about a minute. Repeat two more times. Pan should be cool to the touch now. Bang cooling rack and pan (at the same time together) on counter and cake should pop right out.

Enjoy this recipe and moments with your own family!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cherries Cherries Cherries......

If you know me I love baking with any type of fruit I can get my hands on. Since we are almost to June, let's delve into the wonderful treat called... Cherries. 

There are so many options but I am sure your first thought was cherry pie. Or maybe that was just the conversation I was having in my own head where I wished one would magically appear when I open my oven door. Did you debate on checking the oven just incase?? I did....Drat! 

So I guess making Cherry Turnovers is in order since mental fruition doesnt seem to work. Luckily, this recipe is designed to show you how easily you can make them from scratch. Now is the moment to jump up and down with excitement!

I prefer to make Turnovers with a Pâte Brisée dough. This dough is an extremely buttery, flaky base perfect for a pie, tart or pastry such as this. It is important to note with this dough it needs to remain cold and attempt to touch as little as possible. This will allow you to enjoy the flaky crust the butter helps create which this dough is well known for.

Pâte Brisée
1 1/4 C Unbleached Flour, plus additional for dusting
1 stick Unsalted Butter
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Sugar
5 Tbsp Ice Water

First step, cut butter into small cubes and freeze for one hour to it is chilled completely. Next, in a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add butter and pulse several times (about 45 seconds) until mixture is course with small pieces of butter. Finally, add water one Tbsp at a time until mixture clumps together. If you put some between your fingers and it doesn't sticks together add more water. 

Remove dough and place on clean surface shaping into a round. Here is where you do not want to touch the dough more than needed or the butter will melt. You should see small flecks of butter in the dough (Yum!!) Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes (minimum). You can keep the dough chilled for up to 3 days.

Cherry Filling (or you can use premade filling)
4 C Frozen Unsweetened Cherries, unthawed
1 C Sugar
3 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 1/2 Tbsp Lemon Juice

Place frozen cherries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice in a heavy bottom saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat,  constantly stir. Once boil is reached, turn down heat and simmer until thickened. Cool.  

To put together turnovers
Be sure to let dough sit for 15 minutes before you start working with it. Turn on oven to 400 Degrees. Sprinkle flour on clean surface and on round. Roll out dough into a rectangle 16x11. Trim edges and cut into 6 squares.  (Set aside these scraps for a secret below)

 Fill each square with 1 1/2 Tbsp filling. Fold each dough square into a triangle and seal with a fork. (You may need to dip fork in flour to keep from sticking.)  Cut 3 steam vents in top of each turnover and place on cookie sheet. (Optional - Brush top of turnover with milk and sprinkle with sugar.)

Bake for 24 minutes until golden brown.  Once baked, place on rack to cool. 

EXTRA - Now back to the dough scraps you have left over.  At this moment, don't throw away these pieces of flaky dough and instead turn into a great treat. Brush one side of the dough with either water or milk then sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar. Cut into bite size pieces (I use a pizza cutter) and place on cookie sheet. Bake in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes until golden. Cool and Enjoy!!! 

There are so many other fillings you can use for these turnovers - Apple, Peach, Blueberry, etc...What would be your favorite?? 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cream Cheese Frosted Cinnamon Rolls

Back in Junior High, I was taught how to make Cinnamon Rolls from scratch without yeast. At that time, I thought it was so exciting to make them instead of purchasing the pop-open can from the store. Over the years, I have been known to pull out that little piece of paper containing the recipe when there was a calling but time was of the essence.

While I am grateful for that recipe, I have learned there are improvements that exist to make a much more enjoyable cinnamon roll. My entire life one thing I have enjoyed is making yeast bread. I have been known to spend an entire Saturday making bread by hand and then giving it away because there was too much for one person. So I am excited to share my recipe for Cinnamon Rolls that incorporates this love for yeast breads.

For this recipe, I choose to use a Challah dough but other basic doughs such as Brioche or Boule can be used. One thing to note with this recipe is the Challah dough used can be made either the same day or even up to 4 days before. (The dough also freezes well but will need to be thawed and left to rise before used).

Challah Dough 
adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day - J. Hertzberg & Z. Francois
1 C lukewarm water
3/4 Tbsp Granulated Yeast (3/4 packet) (I purchase the yeast in a bottle and store in refridge)
3/4 Tbsp Salt
2 Eggs, beaten
1/4 C Honey
1/4 C Unsalted Butter, melted
3 1/2 C Unbleached Flour

Mix together in a stand mixer with a dough hook (or in a bread machine in Dough cycle only)water,  yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter.  Once that is combined, add the flour. If you do not have this equipment, dough can be mixed with a spoon but gently stir until combined. You may need to use floured hands at end to incorporate final flour.

Once combined, cover bowl with plastic wrap loosely and leave on counter to rest at room temperature for two hours.  Once the initial rise is complete, dough can be used immediately or be refrigerated in a lidded but not airtight container for up to four days.

Cinnamon Rolls (makes 12-14 rolls)
1/4 C Unsalted Butter, softened
1 C Sugar
4 Tbsp Cinnamon

First step, combine sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. I used a sifter to combine to make sure there were no clumps. Set Aside.

To make the cinnamon rolls, remove dough from fridge and cut in half. Dust dough with flour and shape into a ball by stretching surface into the back of the ball of dough until it makes a smooth top.

With a rolling pin, roll out dough to a 1/4 inch thickness rectangle on a floured surface. Be sure to use flour to keep it from sticking and turn over dough as you roll out. Once dough is rolled out, spread softened butter onto dough with a pastry brush or spatula. Sprinkle half of Cinnamon/sugar mixture over dough. Roll dough up from long end and pinch seams to seal.

Cut dough into 1 1/2 inch pieces either with sharp serrated knife (or my trick - unflavored dental floss or thread. Slide under dough and cross on top to cut dough). Put cut edge side down in pan but make sure  pieces are not touching (Do not pack pan). Once pan is full (I fill two pans), cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hr. 20 min.

Twenty minutes before you are ready to bake, turn oven on to 350 degrees. Bake 23 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.  Spread frosting onto warm rolls and serve.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces (1 pkg) Cream Cheese, room temperature
1/4 C Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1 C Powdered Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract mix until well combined.
Now that you know one of my favorite yeast bread recipes, what's your favorite to make??

The beautiful plate used on the finished cinnamon roll photo is from Check out the beautiful work done by Asya. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Old Fashioned Vanilla Butter Cookies

Over the years, I have learned many things about baking. One thing I know is it is wise to have a few amazing recipes for desserts you can be proud of (that may take more time than usual to prepare) and ideas when you need quick minimal recipes you can make from your pantry with little ingredients and/or a short timeframe. This recipe is one of the latter. Only the basic ingredients are needed and the add-ins can be an assortment of what you have available.

While there are great Chocolate Chip recipes or even Oatmeal Raisin, I use this recipe to step away from the classics and venture into a Vanilla Butter cookie I can mix and match add-ins.

Basic Vanilla Butter Cookies
1 C Butter, room temperature
1 Egg
1/3 C White Sugar
1/3 C Brown Sugar
2 C Flour
1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda

Heat oven to 350 Degrees. Cream together sugars and butter until combined. Add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Here is where you can add ingredients of your choosing. (see below for ingredients of cookies pictured)

Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet. (I used a small scoop - about 1 Tbsp. to make small cookies) Cook until golden brown for about 12 minutes.

Cranberry Oatmeal Spice Cookies
3/4 C Dried Cranberries (finely chopped)
3/4 C Old Fashioned Rolled Oatmeal
1/2 Tsp Nutmeg (fresh ground)
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Ground Cloves
1/2 Tsp Ground Ginger

Chocolate Chip Butter Cookies
3/4 C Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Other Add-in Ideas
Peanut Butter Cookies
Use only 1/2 C Butter and add 1/2 C Chunky Peanut Butter

Oatmeal Raisin
3/4 C Old Fashioned Rolled Oatmeal
3/4 C Raisins
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon