Soft Pretzels Two ways

For some reason, my brain thinks anything bread-like is hard. But these came together super easily.

Because I can’t ever make up my mind between wanting a salty pretzel or a sweet one, I split the dough and made both,

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon sugar + 1/2 cup
2 teaspoons salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces flour
2 ounces butter, melted + some for brushing
Olive Oil
10 cups water + 1 table spoon
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk
1 cinnamon stick
ingredients

***

1. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the salt, one table spoon sugar, and active dry yeast. Make sure you have a dough hook attachment installed.
yeat1

2. Add the warm water, stir gently to dissolve. Leave alone for the yeast to wake up, about 5 minutes.
yeast2

3. It should start being a bit foamy and bubbling.
yeast3

4. Add the two ounces of melted butter and the flour.
flour

5. Turn on to speed 1 and mix to combine.
mix

6. Increase the speed to 2 and knead until it pulls away from the bowl, about 2-3 minutes.
knead

7. Remove from bowl and hook. Clean the bowl and lightly oil the surface. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a plastic wrap. Allow to proof for 55 minutes in a warm place with no draft (inside the cold oven with the light turned on is good).
rest

8. While the yeast is doing its thing, grind the cinnamon stick and combine with the half a cup of sugar. Combine the baking soda and 10 cups of water in a large soup pot. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly oil the paper. Beat the egg yolk in a small bowl with a table spoon of water.

Clean the kitchen. Anything, you have 55 minutes to wait.
sugar

9. Once the dough has doubled in size, set up a shaping station. For easier shaping, the surface should be lightly oiled. Turn the oven on to 450F.

You’ll need to cut the dough into 8 parts. Roll each part into a rope and fold into a pretzel shape.set-up

10. To make the shape: make a horseshoe shape with the dough, open end facing you. Twist the ends over each other. Flip the twisted bit into the middle of the circle, reshaping the circle if required, then push the ends into the edges.  It took me a few tries to get it right. They taste good when misshapen anyway.
shape

11. I was running out of hands so no pictures of this… Bring the water and baking soda to a rolling boil. Drop each pretzel into the alkaline solution for 30 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon to the prepared baking tray.

Brush the salty pretzels with the beaten egg yolk, and sprinkle coarse salt over them.
salt

12. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.
salt-baked

13. For the sweet ones, brush melted butter over the baked pretzels, then toss in the prepared cinnamon sugar.
sugar-baked

 

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Baked cider doughnuts

Tiny bites, perfect with tea or coffee or just to eat by the handful. Slightly modified from the recipe found here.

Next time I make them I might add a shredded Granny Smith apple to the dough.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup apple cider
2 cups flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tea spoon baking soda
1 tea spoon baking powder
1 tea spoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tea spoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
2 table spoon melted butter
1 tea spoon vanilla extract

For the glaze:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tea spoon cinnamon (or more, to taste)
4 table spoon melted butter
ingredients

***

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F
Pour the apple cider in a pot and boil for 15-20 minutes until reduced and syrupy.
reduced

2. Meanwhile, combine all of the dry ingredients.
dry

3. Whisk the wet ingredients in with the reduced apple cider.
wet

4. Combine the wet into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. If you over-reduced the apple cider, add some more until the batter is loose enough that no more dry flour remains.
combine

5. Spoon into a non-stick mini-muffin pan (or spray the thing with something like Pam). Or use a doughnut pan if you own one.

Put in the oven for 15 minutes.
spoon

6. In the meantime, melt the butter for the glaze. In a large shallow plate (pie dish, here) combine the sugar and cinnamon.
dusting

7. Remove the warm little doughnuts from the pan (they should just fall out).
baked

8. Using a pastry brush, brush some melted butter on each doughnut. Dust with the cinnamon sugar (or roll it in the sugar for a thicker glaze) then allow to cool fully.

Yields 48 mini doughnuts. Enjoy!
dust

Oatmeal cookies with cranberries and chocolate

I wanted oatmeal cookies, but I didn’t want to make banana cookies. And I dislike raisins…

So a bit of poking around in my pantry made me reach for leftover cranberries (from making the cranberry sauce) that I had frozen and a bag of mini chocolate chips. The resulting cookies are a bit crunchy, a bit chewy, with bright burst of cranberry and just a hint of dark chocolate. Craving satisfied 🙂

Ingredients :
1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tea spoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tea spoon salt
1 tea spoon baking soda
1 tea spoon cinnamon
1/2 tea spoon nutmeg
Seeds of 3 green cardamon pods
3 cups oats
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 mini dark chocolate chips
ingredients

***

1. Pre-heat the over to 350F.
Combine the dry ingredients (flour, salt, oats, spices, baking soda)
dry

2. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the sugar, brown sugar and butter.
butter1

3. Cream together until lighter and fluffy. Then add the eggs one at the time, mixing well between additions.
butter2

4. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
combine

5. Add the chocolate chips and cranberries.
add

6. Fold into the batter.
fold

7. Spoon unto cookie trays lined with parchment paper.
balls

8. Bake for 12 minutes. They will be very soft coming out of the oven and will firm up as they cool.
baked

9. Allow to cool fully and transfer to a air thigh box.
box

Molasses Cookies

I’m an awesome big sister (or so I keep telling myself) and made the molasses cookies my little brother had been craving for a month or so. Rustic, sweet, soft molasses cookies. Perfect for dunking in milk or tea or coffee.

Ingredients
2 1/2 cup flour
1 tea spoon baking soda
1 tea spoon baking powder
1/2 tea spoon cinnamon
1/2 tea spoon ginger
scant pinch ground cloves
pinch of salt
1/2 cup non salted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
2 table spoon milk
ingredients

***

1. Pre-heat the oven for 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.
dry

2. Combine the butter, brown sugar and molasses in the bowl of a mixer.
sugar1

3. Beat until smooth then add the egg. Beat until combined.
sugar2

4. Add half the flour, mix to combine. Add the milk, mix in and add the rest of the flour until just combined.
combine

5. Portion out (about 1/8 of a cup per cookie) and flatten with the back of a fork.
portion

6. Bake for 15-18 minutes and enjoy.
cookies

Pumpkin and cranberries muffin

I am not a huge fan of pumpkin pie. But I can eat a whole tray of these muffin without blinking… you have been warned.

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 tea spoon baking soda
1 tea spoon baking powder
1 tea spoon salt
1/2 tea spoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tea spoon ground cloves
1/2 tea spoon ground ginger
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
zest of one orange
1 tea spoon vanilla
1 cup orange juice
2 cups cranberries
ingredients

***
1. Pre-heat the oven to 325F
In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.
dry

2. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Cream the butter until light and fluffy, scrapping down the sides a few times.
butter

3 . Add the eggs one at the time, mixing well between each.
eggs

4. Add the puree, orange zest and vanilla extract.
add-puree

5. Add the orange juice and stir well to combine.
add-juice

6. Stir in the flours in 3 times.
flour

7.  Remove from the mixer. Fold in the cranberries with a spatula.
cranberries

8. Spoon into a muffin tin lined with paper liners (or a good non-stick muffin tin).
fill-cups

9.  Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool in the tins for 5 minutes or so then transfer to a cooling rack. Allow to cool to room temperature.
baked

Apple Spiced Cake with goat cheese icing and caramel drizzle

My brother asked for a home-made birthday cake for this birthday. This is what I made… It’s a pretty long process, do not try to make it after work as I did… Mine came out a bit “clumsy” for that reason.

Ingredients for the cake :
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tea spoons baking powder
1/2 tea spoon baking soda
1/2 tea spoon salt
1/2 tea spoon ground cinnamon
1/4 tea spoon ground allspice
1/4 tea spoon ground dry ginger
pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tea spoon vanilla extract
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cup applesauce
ingredients1

Ingredients for the icing :
6 oz goat cheese
8 oz mascarpone
2 table spoons butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tea spoon cinnamon
ingredients2

Ingredients for the caramel sauce/drizzle
1 cup sugar
6 table spoons butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup 35% cream
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch allspice
ingredients3

***

1. Butter and flour your cake rounds. Cut out parchment paper to line the bottom.
I used 1x 9″ and 2x 8″ cake molds because that’s what I have. If you have all the same size it’ll look better. If you have 4x 8″ that’s probably be best to have slightly thinner cake layers.
cake-molds

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, ginger and nutmeg.
dry

3. In a measuring cup combine the whole milk and vanilla extract.
wet

4. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the butter and sugar.
butter1

5. Cream together for a few minutes until fluffy.
butter2

6. Add the eggs one at the time, beating well between each addition.
eggs

7. Add the dry and wet ingredients in increment, starting and ending with the dry. No in between step pictures but the order is :
Dry -> Wet -> Dry -> Wet -> Dry
combine

8. Fold in the applesauce.
applesauce

9. Divide the batter into your cake rounds.
divide

10. Bake for 25 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes.
cool1

11. Remove from the pan (use a plate, they should drop right out when you flip them).
Remove the parchment paper and allow to cool fully on a rack.
cool2

12. While the cakes are cooling, make the icing.
Wash the bowl and paddle of the mixer and put all the ingredients in the bowl.
icing1

13. Beat until smooth, scrapping down the sides a few times.
Stick in the fridge for 1 hour to firm up some.
icing2

14. Time for caramel!
In a large sauce pan, combine the sugar with 1/4 cup of water. Turn the heat on medium.
caramel1

15. From this point on do not step away from the stove.
The sugar will first melt and get bubbly. You want to stir a few times to ensure all the sugar is melted.
caramel2

16. Then it will start to look hard and dry. You want to keep breaking this at this point to prevent lumps in the sauce.
caramel3

17. When it gets a color you like, turn the heat to low. Add the butter and stir until smooth. Add the cream and stir until smooth.
Remove from heat and add the bourbon and spices. Stir until smooth.

**Note my caramel is a shade darker then most people would aim for because I kinda like a tiny bit of the bitterness of it. YMMV stop at your preferred color of caramel.
caramel4

18. The residual heat in the sauce pan is enough to push the caramel into scorched territory (especially if you take it as far as I did). So transfer the caramel to a heat neutral vessel (here a quart mason jar) and allow to cool.
caramel5

19. Time to assemble.
Stack up your cakes with icing in between, ending with a thinner layer on top.
If you want to make it prettier cut the domed top of the cakes so they stack up more neatly.
assemble1

20. Drizzle as much caramel as you want over the whole thing.
cake

21. In a perfect world, put the assembled cake in the fridge for an hour to firm up. But my brother got home so we didn’t wait.
assemble2

22. Drizzle more caramel on the slices, if you want.
Makes for a rich but not too dense or heavy cake with plenty of sweetness. the tartness of the goat cheese is very nice in the icing and the caramel rounds it up.
slice

Date Squares

Simple, old fashioned date squares.

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups dates, pitted (lightly packed)
1 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups oats
1 cup flour
3/4 cup + 2 table spoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup butter
ingredients

***

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Line a 8-inch square baking dish with a strip of parchment paper, letting it hang over both sides. Butter the other two sides.
line-mold

2. In a pan, combine the dates, water, lemon juice and 2 tbs brown sugar. Bring to a boil.
date1

3. Add the baking soda. it will react to the acidity of the lemon juice and foam up. Keep stirring the whole thing.
date2

4.Keep cooking the mix over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. The dates will fall apart and turn into paste.
Set aside to cool.
date3

5. In a bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, and baking powder.
crumble1

6. Cut the butter into chunks and add to the bowl. The butter needs to be soft but not melted.
crumble2

7. With a pasty cutter (or your fingers if you don’t have one, like I did) combine the butter to the dry ingredients until no big chunks of butter remain nor any loose flour.
crumble3

8. Press half of the toppings mixture at the bottom of the mold. Try not to leave any gaps.
assemble1

9. Spread the date mixture over that base. try to even it out as best you can. You don’t want it to be too hot so it doesn’t melt the butter.
assemble2

10. Gently press the remaining crumble mix on top. Don’t press to hard, you don’t want the date mix to overflow. But try to get it compacted some so it gets crunchy.
asemble3

11. Bake on the center rack for 40-50 minutes until the crumble is a nice uniform golden color.
baked

12. Allow to cool. This will likely take a few hours, up to overnight. If you can, let the whole thing cool on a mesh rack (like for cookies) so the bottom cools at the same rate and doesn’t get mushy.
Once cool, turn over on a cutting board and remove the parchment paper.
unmold

13. Cut into squares according to your preference. I like smaller ones, so I got 25 out of this recipe.
squares

14. And enjoy!
eat