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Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

21 Nov

I think I must be the worst wannabe blogger ever. I mean let’s just be honest–it’s been forever. So welcome back, to both you and me. (And now I’m just going to pretend like nothing’s happened–I’m an awkward person.)

When I think of cinnamon rolls I never think, “I can totally do that in an evening.” Let’s face it, if you want cinnamon rolls, you call in sick and prepare yourself to be elbow-deep in flour for the next six hours. Unless you’ve enlisted the Dough Boy, they are definitely not a convenience food. And if we’re being completely honest, the ones from the tube are just not the same (think bread to filling ratio) and also, who can risk the mini heart-attack from opening those things?

I was not looking for a cinnamon roll recipe when I found this one. And a happier accident never was, because I am here to tell you that these cinnamon rolls are actually easy. I know, you think I’m fibbing. You’re thinking, “She’s gone away for months, and now she’s come back like nothing ever happened, and she is going to tell us that she has an easy cinnamon rolls recipe? Yeah right.”

To which I can only say: “Try them.”

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from Mrs. Schwartz’s Kitchen

Printable Recipe

Rolls:

1/2 cup warm water

2 tablespoons instant yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree

1/2 cup melted butter

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon salt

5 1/2 cups flour

Filling:

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 cups brown sugar

4 teaspoons cinnamon

Frosting:

1/2 cup butter

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup heavy cream

3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

The night before, combine water, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk together lightly and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine pumpkin, butter, eggs, and salt. Mix together until the ingredients are well combined. Add the pumpkin to the yeast mixture and stir until combined.

Add 5 cups of flour to the mixture and, using a dough hook, beat all the ingredients together until a ball forms. If the dough is still sticky, add the remaining 1/2 cup flour and mix until combined.

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough sit overnight in the refrigerator. Check on your dough once before you go to bed, just to make sure you don’t have a dough monster taking over your fridge.

In the morning, remove the dough from the refrigerator and set aside. In a small skillet, melt the stick of butter for the frosting over medium-low heat until brown bits start to form on the bottom and the butter begins to smell a bit nutty. Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine all ingredients for the filling in a medium bowl, and using a pastry cutter, mix together until the mixture resembles a thick paste.

On a floured work surface, turn the dough out and begin working it into a large rectangle. I found it best to smoosh with my hands first and then use a rolling pin. Once the dough has been rolled to about a 1/4 inch thickness, spread the filling over it, making sore get an even layer. Roll the dough up as tightly as possible.

Lightly grease an 11″ x 7″ baking dish. Cut the ends of the rolls off and cut the remaining roll into eight equal sections. Place the rolls cut side up in the prepared dish. Cover and let rise one to two hours.

Preheat oven to 350. After the rolls have risen, bake 17-20 minutes, or until set. While the rolls are baking, prepare the frosting. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the browned butter, cream cheese, heavy cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Mix together until well combined.

Let rolls cool slightly before frosting.

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Lemon Layer Coffee Cake

27 Jan

Well here’s the bad news: it’s still winter. But the good news is that This storm brought a snow day our way. I’m pretty sure I love snow days even more than my students–teachers like to sleep in too! And on a Friday? It couldn’t get any better. I guess winter does come with a few perks.

I continue to be obsessed with lemon. I’m taking any chance I get to double or even triple up on the flavor–in hopes of chasing away the grimness of a rainy winter day with bright citrus.

This coffee cake affords just that sort of opportunity: fresh zest in the dough, filling, and frosting. It is a beautiful and unique pastry, perfect for a special occasion–even if your occasion is just an unexpected three day weekend.

Lemon Layer Coffee Cake

Adapted from Radishes and Rhubarb

Printable Recipe

Dough

2 3/4 cups flour, divided

1/4 cup sugar

1 package yeast

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup milk

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup water

zest of 1 lemon

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups of flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. In a small saucepan combine milk and butter, heating on low until butter is just melted. Remove from heat and add water. Allow mixture to cool slightly and then add lemon zest and vanilla. Once the mixture has cooled, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until everything is moistened evenly. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition until just combined. Add the remaining flour and mix until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky.

Generously flour a work surface and turn the dough out. Knead the dough until it is no longer sticky, about one minute. Place the dough in a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place and allow to rise 45-60 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Lemon Filling

3/4 cups sugar

zest of 2 lemons

zest of an orange

1/4 cup butter, melted

While the dough is rising, mix together the sugar and the zests. Set aside until ready for use.

Grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. Punch down the dough and turn out onto a floured work surface. Roll the dough into a 12″ x 20″ rectangle. Brush liberally with the melted butter. Cut the large rectangle into five 4″ x 12″ strips. Top each strip with about 2 tablespoons of the sugar and zest mixture and cut them lengthwise into five smaller rectangles, each about 2 1/2″ x 4″. Stack the small rectangles on top of each other and layer them into the prepared pan. Repeat until all the dough has been cut and stacked into the pan. Cover the pan lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise 30-50 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350.

Once the dough has risen a second time, bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

Cream Cheese Glaze

4 ounces cream cheese

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Mix together the cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice into a glaze. Carefully remove the cake from the loaf pan and place on a wire rack. Pour on glaze, allowing it to run over the sides. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Lemon Loaf

17 Jan

We are in the middle of a deep freeze up here in the North. I’ve driven over a mountain and through the snow and slush and blizzards and freezing rain and I’m seriously craving spring.

Nothing says spring to me like lemons. I love every sort of citrus dessert there is, but lemon holds a special spot in my heart. I became smitten with loaf cakes working in the corporate coffee world–it’s a staple of the food case. Those cakes are packed with oil and preservatives but they are so tasty. Homemade could only be better, right?

These loaves are dense, moist, and are soaked in lemon syrup and topped with lemon glaze. Triple lemon–that’s enough lemon to beat away even the deepest of winter blues.

Lemon Loaf

Adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Printable Recipe

Loaves

3 cups flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cup sugar

8 eggs

1/4 cup lemon zest (about 4 lemons)

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

2 cups unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/2 cup plain greek yogurt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Lemon Syrup

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

1/3 cup sugar

Lemon Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar

5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease two 9″x5″ loaf pans.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a food processor, mix sugar and eggs until well combined. With the mixer running, pour the melted butter down the feed tube until combined. Add the yogurt and vanilla extract and pulse a few more times to incorporate.

Pour the wet ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add the flour mixture in three parts, stirring gently with a wooden spoon until just combined.

Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake for 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out with just a few crumbs on it. Let cool about 15 minutes and then carefully remove from pans and set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

In the meantime, heat the ingredients for the syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 3 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool slightly while you poke holes in the tops and sides of the loaves with a skewer. Brush on the syrup and allow it to soak into the loaves, until you’ve used it all up. Allow loaves to cool thoroughly.

In a large measuring cup, whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice until the glaze is a pourable consistency. Pour the glaze over the loaves, allowing it to run over the sides.

Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

15 Jan

It was a good week in Spanish 2. The discovery of only grades of 90% and above on a grammar pop quiz made this señorita very happy. These results were cause for serious celebration and maybe even a reward. Naturally I turned to baking.

They did ask me to buy them something at the store, but they clearly have no idea who I am. Buy something at the store? Por favor. Their class is in the morning so I knew I would need to strike the right balance between a morning-time snack and something sweet and I knew it would have to be better than store-bought.

And then I happened across these beauties. They are muffins so they fit into my “breakfast food” requirement. And they are “frosted” in sugar, so they were definitely sweet enough for teenagers. As far as better than store-bought, you might just need to try them for yourself. But I can tell you they were quite well received in Room 205.

Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

Adapted from On Anna’s Plate

Printable Recipe

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/3 cup sour cream

3/4 cup milk

1 1/2 cup sugar, divided

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray or butter a muffin tin.

Mix flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, 3/4 cup sugar, egg, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Once you pull the muffins out of the oven, start melting the butter. Put the remaining 3/4 cup sugar in a shallow bowl. Dip the tops of the still hot muffins into the melted butter and then into the sugar. Let cool completely.

Cinnamon Chip Scones

13 Dec

I have to confess: I went back to the King Arthur store. I’m considering pitching a tent and wintering there. Eventually I did build up the chutzpah to leave, and obviously I came away with some great finds–including some cute little cinnamon chips that I decided to mix into scones for a warming breakfast treat.

I had only ever made scones once before in my life, and suffice to say they were not an overwhelming success. So, while the idea of cinnamon chip scones sounded delicious and perfect, I was not confident in my ability to pull them off. But, I think you’ll agree, they turned out quite beautifully.

Cinnamon Chip Scones

Adapted from Big, Bold, Beautiful Food

Printable Recipe

2 cups flour

1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons sugar, divided

2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold butter

3/4 cup and 2 tablespoons heavy cream, divided

1/4 sour cream

3/4 cup cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 425°. Sift together the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Measure the heavy cream and sour cream and put both back in the fridge so they remain cold. Measure the cinnamon chips and place those in the fridge too.

Cut the butter into small pieces, and using a pasty cutter or a fork mix the butter into the flour mixture until the flour resembles a coarse meal. (You could also use a food processor–pulse the two together until the consistency is right.)

Mix in the cinnamon chips. Add the heavy cream and sour cream and mix together as well as you can. The dough will be very crumbly and only vaguely resemble a dough, but press on. Dump the dough out on a lightly floured work surface and shape the dough into a circle, pressing it together so it holds its shape.  Pat it flat, or use a rolling pin. Cut the circle into eight wedges and transfer to a baking sheet. Brush the tops with the rest of the heavy cream and spinkle with remaining sugar. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Baked Vanilla Bean Donuts

2 Dec

To celebrate Friday, I wanted to make something that didn’t have to set overnight–something that could be enjoyed (almost) right away. I recently visited the King Arthur Flour Store in Norwich, Vermont. It is a place that I could happily live (From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler-style) for probably the rest of my life. They have so many flours, gadgets, and baking supplies a girl could just go nuts. The true find of the trip, though, was a donut pan. Fried donuts seem intimidating due mostly to their dangerous nature, but the oven I can handle so I snatched it right up. It’s turning out to be quite the investment–turns out baked donuts are super easy to make and even easier to eat! And the bonus–they’re ready in less than an hour! This recipe is pretty sweet, so they’d go perfectly with a cup of coffee–and I never say no to that!

Baked Vanilla Donuts

Adapted from Love Veggies and Yoga

Printable Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

about 2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 eggs

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 generous teaspoon vanilla extract

1 vanilla bean (optional)

Heat the oven to 325 and grease the donut pan with cooking spray. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk to remove any lumps in the flour. Add the buttermilk, eggs, butter, vanilla extract, and the seeds scraped from the inside of the vanilla bean. Using a wooden spoon mix by hand until the ingredients are just combined, about 50 strokes. Don’t mix too much or you’ll have tough donuts. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (or in a pinch cut the corner off a plastic kitchen bag) pipe the batter into the pan, filling each mold about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 10-12 minutes. My donuts took a full 12 minutes–but every oven is different. I would start checking every two minutes after the 8 minute mark. I tend to undercook my donuts just a little bit to keep them moist–I take them out before they start to brown, when tops still look a little wet but springs back when you touch it. Let the donuts cool completely.

Vanilla Bean Glaze

A donut is not a donut without frosting!

1 cup powdered sugar

2-3 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon (or more) vanilla extract

seeds of 1 vanilla bean (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, stirring until all the powdered sugar has been mixed in.  Dip the cooled donut tops into the glaze, allowing any excess to drizzle off. And here’s the best part–you donuts are ready to enjoy right now!

Snowy Day Step-By-Step Croissants

23 Nov

Six inches of snow fell last night and school was cancelled this morning. While deciding how to start off my long holiday weekend, my sister came across some fig goat cheese which sounded too good to pass up. Croissants are a baking project best suited to those days where you don’t have much else going on (or the weather has decided you should abandon what plans you had), so I decided to whip some up to enjoy with our cheese tomorrow morning. This was my first attempt at croissants, and I must admit that I was a little intimidated before I started. Don’t be intimidated–they’re not tricky, they just have a lot of steps! After seeing (and tasting!) the finished product I have to say the amount of work was definitely worth it. They are crispy and flaky on the outside but the inside stays soft and buttery. These are a good special-occasion treat–go ahead, impress your family and friends!

Croissants

Adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Printable Recipe

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup warm water

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter

Mix  water, one cup of flour, and yeast together until the any lumps in the flour are gone. Cover and let rise for about an hour.

Add the remaining flour, cream, and salt to the risen mixture and knead for about a minute. Cover and let rest for about 20 minutes.

Knead the rested dough by hand for about 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, place the butter between two sheets of plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to pound it into a 7″ square.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly-floured work surface. Roll the dough out into an 11″ square, making sure the dough isn’t sticking as you roll. Place the butter square diagonally in the center of the dough.

Fold the four corners of the dough over the butter square. Pull the edges and pinch to seal the seams.

Very carefully, roll the dough out into a 14″ square. Start in the center and move toward the edges, tapping the dough with the rolling pin until the butter begins to soften. Flour your work surface and rolling pin to make sure the dough isn’t sticking.

Once your dough has reached the right dimensions, fold it into thirds, like you would a letter. In croissant terms, this is called a “turn” of the dough.

Complete the second turn of the dough by folding it in thirds again in the opposite direction.

Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for two hours.

Roll the dough out again into a 14″ square and complete two turns again. (Fold the dough in thirds length-wise and then again width-wise.) Wrap in plastic again and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Roll out the dough a third time and complete two more turns of the dough. At this point, the dough is ready to cut and shape.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the dough half and, on a lightly floured surface, roll each half out into a 6 1/2″ x 15″ rectangle. Transfer each rectangle to a baking sheet and refrigerate for about 20 minutes, just until the dough is firm.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut the dough in to triangles with bases roughly 3″ wide.

Make a slit in the center bottom of each triangle. Start rolling the base toward the point of the triangle, one hand on either side of the slit you just cut. Move your hands away from each other, starting to make the classic croissant shape.

Place the rolled-up croissants on your parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let them rest overnight in the refrigerator to let the flavor of the dough develop.

After the dough has rested, preheat the oven to 375°. While the oven is heating, beat one egg with about a tablespoon of heavy cream and brush the mixture on the croissants. Bake for about 35 minutes, until puffed up and golden brown.  Remove the croissants from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Happy breakfast!