Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

Nothing is more comforting in cold weather than a fresh, warm and gooey cinnamon roll, am I right or am I right? Yeah. I’m right. Cinnamon rolls have always been there for me, through the good and the bad. If you’re having a tough day there’s nothing that 2 (or 3 or 4 or 6) warm cinnamon rolls won’t fix.

What happens in my home lately goes like this: I write and test recipes, photograph them, and then I’m left with copious amounts of pastries and snacks. It sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? I’ll admit that it’s very dreamlike until there’s a

Bûche de Noël taking up an entire shelf of your tiny French refrigerator. Your conscience says no, but your body and your heart say yes and before you know it, you’ve blacked out and eaten enough for six people. Just kidding, what? Of course I would never do that. That’s just ridiculous…

This recipe will make 6 cinnamon rolls. You can make it by hand, or with the help of a mixer. I recommend using the mixer for this because it can be tough to incorporate the second half of the flour, but it can be done!

I like to bake mine in a muffin pan. This constricts the area they grow in, and pushes them up to be taller, which I like. The sugary filling also caramelizes around the bottom of the muffin pan, giving you a truly sticky and gooey roll. This is my favorite part. But! Never fear, they don’t have to go into a muffin pan! For larger, fluffier rolls, just pop them on a baking pan. They will spread more, and they will still taste amazing.They will also get a little more crispy, so if that’s something you prefer you should just nix the muffin pan idea.

Ingredients:

¼ cup (50g) of white sugar

½ stick (56g) of butter, cut into cubes

1 pkg (7g) instant yeast

2.75 cups (350g) of all-purpose flour

2 eggs, beaten

½ cup (120g) whole milk, warm

1 teaspoon salt

For Filling:

Room temperature butter, or melted

¼ cup (55g) brown sugar

½ cup (50g) white sugar

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

1. Combine warm milk with yeast and set aside.

2. In bowl of mixer, combine sugar, flour, salt, and butter (not warm but not cold). Run on low speed with paddle attachment until you see no more butter chunks, about 5 minutes.

3. Add beaten egg to milk and yeast mixture.

4. With machine running on low to medium speed, pour in the liquid. Let combine fully, then turn up the speed for 1 minute. Turn off mixer. Cover with a kitchen towel and proof for about an hour or until doubled.

*At this point you can refrigerate overnight and shape the next day, then proof for 1 hour if you prefer.*

5. Empty the dough out onto a floured work surface and roll it into a rectangle (my measurements are about 7″ x 9″). Don’t roll it too thin or your rolls won’t hold up well. Butter the entire surface and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture and a bit of salt. Roll up the rectangle and cut it into six rolls. Proof for one hour.

6. Egg wash and bake in an oven on 375 degrees for about 14 minutes or until a lovely brown color is reached. Drizzle with a mixture of 1 cup powdered sugar and about 2 tablespoons of milk… Or enjoy it without the glaze!

Thanks for reading, like my new Facebook page for more updates!

The Next Recipe You Should Master: Crêpes

image
image
image

Photograph(s) © David Katzenstein

A few days ago I was talking on the phone with my aunt. We talk about once a week and sometimes our talks last over an hour. In our last conversation we were talking about writing, and she told me that the most important thing to remember is “write what you know.”

I began thinking, “what do I know?!” I know cookies. I know pies. I know Southern comfort food. I also know crêpes, and I think everyone else should know about crêpes too.

When I was living in New York, I actually got three separate gigs serving crêpes at events. It was funny to imagine being a Crêpier, but I’m always up for a challenge or a new experience, so I went for it! Two of the events were for Festival Daniou (www.festivaldaniou.com). Festival Daniou is a Brittany-based summer chamber music residency for internationally recognized young musicians that engages with the history, culture, and cuisine of its region through performance. The first three photos on this post are from the first time I made crêpes at the festival! And before you ask – yes, that’s my majestic pouring and wrist swirling in action. 😉

Both events were lovely and I had the opportunity to serve miniature Kouign-amann, profiteroles and classic galettes. Brittany is well known as the place where Kouign-amann and crêpes themselves began. Crêpes were then known as galettes, which means “flat cake.” They were made with buckwheat flour, which gave the crêpe a much heartier, earthy flavor.

I don’t know how many crêpes I’ve made, but I’d guess it’s close to 1,000. When I began making crêpes in my apartment in Brooklyn, I tested several different recipes that the Festival Danilou organizer Simon Frisch had passed down to me from his family! A lot of them were still in French, and they were all handwritten. I tested, failed, burned, flipped, ate, and shared a lot of crêpes with my roommates. It took me at least a week to master the perfect flick of the wrist that would flip the crêpe over mid-air. I still mess it up to this day though! Around that same time my husband bought me my own crêpe pan as an anniversary gift, and the rest is history.

The recipe I’m posting is for regular crêpes with all purpose flour. Perhaps in the future I’ll do a post on galettes, but for now this is a good place to start. The aforementioned anniversary crêpe pan is still in the US (because it’s heavy!), but using a normal frying pan or cast iron is totally fine.

image

I like my crêpes a little thinner and delicate than most, I’d say. If you want a more cake-like, thick crêpe, omit the ¼ cup of water. Or just make pancakes. You could also use only water instead of milk. Once you master the basic crêpe, you can change everything around to find your perfect recipe.

Ingredients for 12-14 crêpes*:
*depends on pan size, egg size, etc.

1 cup whole milk
¼ cup water
4 eggs, beaten
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
Butter, for frying pan
1 tablespoon sugar (if making sweet crepes)

1. Sift flour and salt together.

2. Combine beaten eggs and milk.

3. Using a fork or whisk to mix, slowly pour the milk and egg mixture into the center of the bowl of flour. Mix it together gradually, and slowly add more liquid as you go. This will avoid clumps. The total mixing should take about 2 minutes – don’t rush it!

(Alternatively, you can combine all the ingredients in a blender and pulse for 30 seconds until combined and bubbly – but why get the blender dirty when you can mix it by hand?)

4. You now must let the batter rest for at least one hour at room temperature. Trust me (or overnight), you don’t want a gummy crêpe.

5.  Heat your frying pan over medium-high. When you drop a pat of butter in the pan, it should hiss and fuss. If it doesn’t your pan isn’t hot enough. You want to maintain this temperature the entire time you’re cooking the crêpes. You also want to keep adding butter, or your crêpe will get stuck. The butter also promotes gorgeous browning. I used nearly a stick of butter making 12 crêpes. I really love butter.

6. Pour about ¼ cup of batter into the pan, swirling with your wrist to evenly cover the pan’s surface. Depending on pan size, you may need more or you may need less. If it doesn’t cover the whole pan, pour in a little more in the vacant spaces.

7. The crêpe will cook on each side for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown. Loosen the edges of the crêpe with a (heatproof!) spatula, then flip it. Some people use their fingers. Some people use an offset spatula. Some people, like me, try to flip it with a flick of the wrist. Cook all the crêpes and leave them in a beautiful stack under some tin foil if you are serving them soon. If not, they’re just as good reheated in the oven.

Before the flip…

And after. Now all that’s left to do is serve your crêpes however you please!

You could add ham and cheese, and melt it together in the oven…

image

You could add melted chocolate, or Nutella, if you must. 

You could smear some greek yogurt, berries and honey on them.

No matter how you serve them, they’re delicious and versatile!

Like my new Facebook page for more recipes and updates at http://www.facebook.com/thealexanderroberts 

Pâte Brisée (Pie Dough)

image

Brisée and I have had a long, tumultuous, on and off relationship. Simply known to most as “pie dough,” this dough can make or break a quiche or an apple pie. If you know a few basic points about pie dough, you can easily make some at home that will rival the pies of your favorite bakery.

Important Tips To Remember:
– Warmth is your enemy when making this dough. If your dough gets too warm, the butter will melt right out (or right in, making a more dense dough).
– Keep all ingredients cold. Your water (ice cold!). Your flour. Your butter. Even the bowl you are mixing it in should be refrigerated!
– Work quickly and confidently. 

This recipe is versatile and can be used in a multitude of ways. I choose not to add any sugar to the dough, but if you must, you can add a sprinkle. It’s nice to have a bit more sugar if you’re making a sweet pie, but if you’re making a quiche or something similar I would avoid it. 

Making pie dough becomes a lot easier when you have the correct tools, such as a bowl scraper or bench knife. This recipe will make enough for two 9 inch pies, or one double crusted pie.

Ingredients:
400 grams all purpose flour (3.25 cups)
200 grams butter (2.25 sticks)
1 teaspoon of salt
Approximately 150 grams of ice cold water (½ cup)

1.  Measure out all of your ingredients and refrigerate them until they’re nice and cold. Cut the butter into small cubes, or slivers. Add the salt to the flour.

2. Work the butter into the flour using a fork, pastry blender, your fingers (quickly!), or a bench knife on a work surface. You want small, scraggly pieces of butter in the flour – not big chunks, but not completely invisible either.
Once all of your butter is blended into the flour, pour the flour out onto a clean work surface. Form a circle shape with a hole in the center, like a big donut. 

3. Pour the water into the hole in the middle and using a fork, mix it carefully to combine the liquid with the flour. Don’t let the water out of the center!
Using your hands, press all of the ingredients together gently until it sticks together. Too dry? Add a little water at a time by sprinkling it from your fingertips. You can also add flour if you find your dough is getting to wet. 

Depending on the day and the weather, you may need more or less liquid! You will understand after making the dough a few times.

4. That’s it! Refrigerate the dough overnight, or at least 1 hour until it’s completely cold. Take care of your dough and it will take care of you!

image

Serious Note: Do not over mix or overwork. This photo shows right about where my dough is when it’s finished. I only pack it together enough to hold. Remember, this dough is not going to be completely cohesive. It’s going to be scraggly and shaggy looking. It will not be as wet as you probably think it should be, and you may still see chunks of butter. That’s great! It means your dough is going to be beautifully flaky. In the same sense, really large chunks of butter will disappear and leave a hole in your pastry if it’s too big!

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

image

I’ll admit that I’ve been making a strange amount of banana bread lately. It’s because I’ve been testing and tweaking a recipe that I can depend on time and time again. I also had to finally admit to myself that I do, in fact, have a chocolate problem. My past two weeks have been full of chocolate, just like this banana bread. Nothing’s wrong with that!

A few banana bread tips:
1. You can just use all white sugar if you don’t have any brown sugar on hand.
2. Riper bananas are better for banana bread, because the starch in the banana breaks down into sugar over time.  This makes for a stronger aroma as well as a more moist and sweet final product. Yay!
3. Don’t over mix! Once you add the flour, work it as little as possible. You don’t want a tough or dense bread.

*Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

image

Ingredients:
114g (1 stick) melted butter, cooled
100g (½ cup) sugar
100g (½ cup) brown sugar
250g (2 cups)  of flour  
2 eggs
150g (1 cup) chopped chocolate or chocolate chips
2 ripe bananas
1 tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda

Mash bananas and combine with sugars. Whisk in the butter, followed by the eggs, salt, and vanilla.

Add the chocolate, and stir to combine.

Fold in the flour along with the baking powder and baking soda. Do not over mix.

Pour into a butter/greased loaf pan and bake for approximately 1 hour, or until a knife comes out clean and the banana bread bounces back if you poke it with your finger. Note: melted chocolate on the knife doesn’t mean it’s raw! 

image

Wrap in plastic once cool to store. This bread will stay moist for nearly a week!

image

The Chocolate Chip Cookie

image

A person’s favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe says a lot about them. It’s taken me a while to perfect my recipe, but I think I’m finally in a position to share my favorite. It’s finally getting cold outside, so naturally I jump at any excuse to turn on my oven. 

image

Ingredients:

1.25c all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon salt
1 stick of butter
½ cup of brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg

1.5-2 cups chopped chocolate 

1. Combine melted butter with both sugars, salt, and vanilla. Whisk it.
2. Add egg, whisk until fully incorporated.
3. Switch to a spatula or wooden spoon and fold in chocolate, flour, and nutmeg. Cut into the dough with the spatula and fold just until all the flour is absorbed and you see no more streaks.
4. Portion cookies and bake on 350 degrees until golden brown but still a little raw in the center. Approx. 10-14 minutes depending on the size of your cookies and your oven.

I tend to portion my cookies a bit smaller since I have a small oven. Keep in mind that the size of your cookie is directly proportionate to it’s texture and baking time. For more tips, here’s a really helpful article about the chemistry of a perfect cookie: http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2013/12/the-food-lab-the-best-chocolate-chip-cookies.html

Peach Cobbler

Hello everyone! This is the first time in a few weeks I’ve really felt like writing anything. I’ve been in a bit of a rut here in Paris, but I am pushing myself out of it. It’s been a tough ride and I’m still figuring a lot of things out (like the entire French language), but I’ve decided to take a different approach and things are already looking better. I haven’t given myself enough time to absorb the greatness of the new city I live in. That changes now.

About two weeks ago I snagged the last of what I thought might be nice white peaches. I got lucky; they were. Produce can be tricky around here. They sat on the counter for a few days before I finally decided to do something with them. I wanted to make dessert for two, so I decided on a quick cobbler! Oh, how I miss the Southern United States and it’s delicacies. This took me back. 

You’re really free to use any fruit for this. Just take into account the amount of liquid it’s going to produce when it’s baked. A juicy peach will produce enough liquid to make a crust soggy, so to avoid that I tossed about ½ a teaspoon of flour into the diced fruit. 


What You Need (for 2 mini cobblers):

75g butter (about ¾ stick)
100g flour
1/2t baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tbsp cream
3 peaches, medium diced or 2 cups of any fruit

1) Butter 2 small ramekins. Combine flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Mix peaches in a separate bowl with 1 tablespoon of flour, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and a pinch of salt.

2) Blend butter into flour using your fingers or a fork. Don’t melt it! 

3) When butter is broken down almost completely, stir in the yolk and the cream. Just bring together, do not overmix. Chill for at least 10 minutes. 

4) Since I used mini ramekins, I quickly shaped my dough into a disk shape and put it over the top of my peaches inside of the ramekin. You could also take a spoon and just drop spoonfuls over the peaches in a baking pan. 

Bake on 350 degrees until golden brown. 

*If you wish to make a regular sized cobbler in a square baking dish, multiply this recipe by 3. 

Sweet Potato Hummus

Holy crap, it’s been too long since I’ve written a blog post… But! I have an excuse. I just moved to Paris last month! It’s beautiful here. I’m getting more adjusted (and learning more French) each day. I can’t believe I live here.

So, as far as what I cook in France, I’ve had to keep it very simple. My kitchen is very simple – I don’t have a mixer, or a big oven yet. But that’s ok! I used my little food processor and made Sweet Potato Hummus. Yes, it’s as good as it sounds.

This recipe was originally written for All She Cooks (http://allshecooks.com

image

I roasted my sweet potato with rosemary, paprika, olive oil & sea salt. 

Sweet Potato Hummus 

Makes enough to snack on for a week, and share with friends.

image

You’ll need:
400g chickpeas, soaked overnight or canned
400g sweet potato, roasted until tender
1 garlic clove
½ cup olive oil
Salt

image

This recipe is extremely easy and rewarding. Just combine all your ingredients except the olive oil in your food processor. Let it run until it’s as smooth as it will get before the help of he olive oil comes in. When it’s processed, slowly drizzle in your olive oil to a consistency of your choice. I like my hummus very smooth and creamy. Some like it chunky. Add a splash of lemon juice if you like. I also added 1/4tsp of turmeric! 

Spread it on bread or pita. Add it to a sandwich. Dip cucumbers or peppers in it. Bon appétit!

image

Pancetta & Parmesan Scones

Pancetta & Parmesan Scones
By: Stacie Merriman
www.FeedYourKnead.com

When I think of scones, sweet dense biscuits with sugary glaze dripping down the sides come to mind. But scones can also be savory. This recipe uses pancetta, which is an Italian bacon, and parmesan cheese. Since both of these ingredients are salty on their own, I did not add any additional salt to the dough. These are perfect with eggs and fresh fruit, and are best served warm. Enjoy!

Makes 8

2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (cold)
1 egg (room temp)
1 cup shredded parmesan (use the good stuff, not the crap in the green jar)
4 thick slices of pancetta – about 4 oz. (diced and cooked in skillet)
4 green onions (whites and a little bit of the green)
½-¾ cup buttermilk
egg wash (1 egg beaten lightly with a little water)
Preheat convection oven to 375° (350° if not convection). Line baking sheet with parchment paper or cooking spray.

Dice pancetta and cook in a small skillet. Use a slotted spoon and transfer to a few paper towels to soak up any excess fat.

In large bowl combine flour, baking powder, pepper and Italian seasoning. Cut in COLD butter with a pastry blender. If you don’t have a pastry blender, you can use 2 butter knives to work the butter into the flour. Don’t mix too much, you want to see little chunks of butter.

Add egg and parmesan, mix well. Add pancetta, onions and ½ cup buttermilk and combine well. If the dough is too thick, add a little more buttermilk, one Tablespoon at a time until dough comes together and forms a ball. Lightly flour a board and transfer dough to the board. Pat into a 10” round. Cut into 8 wedges and place on baking sheet.

Brush with egg wash. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Boozy Brown Butter Apple Pie

image

There are many wonderful pie recipes out there but, for me, nothing pairs up better with apples than brown butter. The dark, earthy, aromatic flavors perfectly compliment the sweet vibrancy of good apples at their ripest, and I’ve added a little bourbon to tie them together. If you have your own crust recipe that you prefer, please use it! The butter vs. shortening battle is one that will never be won. In making this pie be sure to use good, fragrant apples (I prefer Granny Smith and Pink Lady).  Like anything, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

image

Crust:

3 C. Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 t. Salt
1 T. Sugar
1 Cup Vegetable Shortening
½ Cup Ice Water (more or less as needed)
1 t. Vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl combine flour, salt, and sugar.
2. Using a pastry blender cut shortening into flour mixture. Work with hands until dough is shaggy.
3. Sprinkle in the water and the vanilla and toss with a fork until just combined. Work with hands until dough is homogeneous.
4. Separate the dough into two equal parts. One will be used to line the pie plate, and the other for the top.
5. This dough can be used immediately, or can be wrapped in wax paper and refrigerated until you are ready to make your pie. If storing for later be sure to let it come back up to room temperature before rolling.

Filling:

½ Cup Unsalted Butter
3 T. Flour
¼ Cup Water
½ C. Sugar
¾ C. Brown Sugar, Packed
2 oz. Good Bourbon
½ Split Vanilla Bean, or 1 Tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
6-8 Apples of your choice peeled, cored, and sliced thin.
1 ½ T. Tapioca Pearls

1. In a heavy pot begin to melt butter on low heat until it is completely liquefied, then increase heat to med-high. Here you must watch carefully as the water begins to cook off and your butter begins to darken. This will happen fast!
2. Continue to stir making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot. You’ll begin to notice that the solid fats in the butter turn dark brown. When butter begins to give off a nutty, fragrant smell and you’ve achieved a deep yellow/golden color remove pot from heat temporarily to suspend browning.
3. Once removed from heat mix in 4 T. of flour. Return pot to burner and continue to stir until a paste is formed.
4. At this point you can add your sugar, your brown sugar, and vanilla, bourbon, then water. Stir to combine and boil until it begins to thicken.
5. Add the apples and stir.
6. Here’s where the magic begins!  One of the best reasons to precook the apples like this is it really pulls out the flavor.  You’ll begin to notice the apples breaking down, and the caramel will thin out. The flavors begin to combine and it smells wonderful.
7. The cook time here will vary. If you are using Granny Smith apples you will need to cook them a bit longer. The flavor is the best, but they sure are starchy! When the apples are tender (smaller pieces will begin to fall apart) remove the pot from heat and stir in 1.5 T. of tapioca pearls (these will hold your pie together).
8. Allow to cool as you prepare your crust.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Construction:

1. Pour apples into your prepared pie shell and smooth/compress with a wooden spoon to achieve a nice dome shape.
2. Dress pie with a lattice top like I did,  or roll out remaining crust into a circle large enough to cover your pie.  Invert crust on top of pie and, after cutting off any excess dough with a sharp knife crimp edges with a fork. To form a vent cut two slits in center of pie to form an X.
3. Brush the top of your pie with milk and sprinkle with sugar. This achieves a really nice color and texture when baked.

Baking:

1. To catch any potential juices, place pie on a cookie sheet  and position on the center rack of your preheated oven.
2. Bake for 35-45 minutes. As the apples are mostly precooked your main goal is to a achieve a nice golden brown crust.

image

Enjoy!

Recipe by Faron Vassen, Instagram: milkandstone 

The Easiest Ice Cream You’ll Make All Summer

Yep, you’re just two ingredients from the perfect, easiest ice cream you will make all summer long. All it takes is one small container of heavy cream and a can of condensed milk. You don’t need an ice cream machine – just a stand mixer, or a hand mixer, or a strong arm with a whisk. It takes about 10 minutes of mixing and a few hours to freeze into lovely, velvety ice cream.

While you can branch off and make any flavors your heart desires from this basic ratio, the flavor in this recipe is Blackberry & Crème Fraîche. It tastes a lot like cheesecake.

Ingredients:

One pint heavy cream
One 14 ounce can of condensed milk
1 pint of blackberries, fresh, or another berry
4 heaping tablespoons crème fraîche
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon vanilla bean powder (or 2 teaspoons good quality vanilla extract)
Zest of ½ a lemon

Method:

Smash berries with back of spoon in a bowl; set aside.

Whip the cream to stiff peaks. Not so far that it separates!

Pour the can of condensed milk into the bowl with the cream. Also add the smashed berries, salt, crème fraîche, vanilla bean powder (or extract), and lemon zest. Fold all ingredients together with a spatula.

Pour the ice cream mixture into a metal loaf pan, pie plate, or similar dish. Anything will do as long as it can go into the freezer. Freeze for 5 hours, or overnight. Share with everyone that you love.