Breakfast Honey Buns

This morning treat will scratch your itch for cinnamon rolls without any refined sugar. The dough itself is unsweetened, relying on a honey goo in the bottom of the pan to take it from yeasted bread to breakfast dessert. Do you tend to overindulge on sweets in December? This gives you a special treat to enjoy with your coffee that isn’t too much. (I may never make traditional cinnamon rolls again.)

I adapted this recipe from Baking With Less Sugar, a book that I’m really enjoying (and one that I featured in my recent gift guide.) I’ve tweaked the ingredients a bit and the timing – I always think it’s easier to do the prep the night before.

honey bunsBreakfast Honey Buns

Dough:

2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 c. vegetable oil, olive oil, or coconut oil
1 c. warm water

Goo:

8 tbls. unsalted butter
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. cream or 1/3 c. half and half
1/2 c. water
1/4 tsp. salt

Filling:

2 cups hazelnuts
6 tbls. soft unsalted butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. cardamom
a sprinkling of fresh nutmeg
1/4 tsp. almond extract

  1. Combine the dry dough ingredients with the wet. Knead by machine or hand until the dough feels supple.
  2. Leave to rise for an hour in a warm place.
  3. Make the goo by combining all ingredients in a small sauce pan over low and whisking until homogeneous. (Yes, it will look pretty thin, but don’t worry, it’ll work out.) Set aside to cool.
  4. The filling is best prepared by pulsing all of the ingredients in a food processor until the nuts are your desired size, but you can definitely chop the nuts and incorporate the butter by hand.
  5. When the dough has risen, roll it out into a long rectangle. Smear with filling, leaving about a 1/2 inch bare on one of the long sides. Roll up tightly and gently, sealing with the bare edge. Cut into 12 equal buns.
  6. Pour the goo into a 9×13 inch pan. Spread evenly and place the buns in the pan, keeping a space between each bun to allow for rising and baking.
  7. Seal with plastic wrap or lid and pop in the refrigerator.
  8. In the morning, uncover, and place in a cold oven. Set the temperature for 400F and allow the buns to come to temperature with the oven. Start your timer for 25 minutes when it hits 400F.
  9. Enjoy warm!

Notes:

  • To make and eat right away, increase the first rising time to 2 hours and, after forming the buns and placing them in the goo, let rise for another hour.
  • For our small family of three, I prepare the recipe using two square pans and freeze the second pan for a future weekend.
  • If you’re looking for a sweeter treat or more complete tips for making a roll, check out Cinnamon Rolls Your Way

Guest Post: Squash and Veggie Sandwich Bread

squashThis month’s guest post comes from Rebecca K., island mom, artist, and home baker. She turned wintertime’s abundant storage squash into a healthy staple for her family. Thank for sharing, Rebecca!

Squash and Veggie Sandwich Bread

EVERY MOTHER NEEDS TO KNOW! Your children will eat and enjoy vegetables, given they can be properly hidden. This bread is loaded with nutrition from veggies to whole grains. If any of your children eschew the goodness of veggies, keep them well-stocked on this bread. The recipe is a modification of Small Potato’s Oatmeal Bread recipe, so follow the steps of that description with a few tweaks.

4 tbsp. melted butter
2 tbsp.—1/4 cup brown sugar (depending on taste)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
1 cup rolled oats
¼ cup wheat bran
¼ cup nonfat dry milk
2 generous tbsp. vital wheat gluten
2 ½ tsp. instant yeast
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 ½ cup pureed butternut squash*

  1.  Mix the melted butter and brown sugar together until the brown sugar is incorporated.
  2. Add in the dry ingredients and mix together.
  3. Ensure your squash puree is lukewarm and mix into the bread. If you have a good mixer with a dough hook, I just let it do the rest of the job and set it on a low setting. Let it go at it for about 5 minutes. This is where you have to watch the dough a bit. You want it to be soft and a bit sticky but not so much as a sweet bread or cinnamon roll dough…it should hold its form and ball up. Depending on the water content of your squash puree, you may need to adjust your flour content by 4 tbsp. to achieve the right consistency.
  4. Oil your bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise 1 hour than punch down dough, roll out into a rectangle and roll to fit in your loaf pan.
  5. Cover and let rest for about 1 hour.
  6. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Bake bread for 40 minutes then cool on wire rack.

*Rebecca’s notes:

  •  I have also done a mix of pureed carrots and squash with great success.
  •  I always keep butternut squash stocked in our house because it is so conducive to use in many breads. I’ve used it in cinnamon rolls, waffles, and pancakes and not seen any reduction in the rate of family gobbling. Just assume it is equivalent to most liquids you might use and substitute.

Boiled Milk Cream Cheese Frosting (Without Confectioners’ Sugar!)

DSC_5659Do you ever indulge in heavy research mode for a recipe? I browsed friends’ cookbook collections and even went to the library for this one – all for the sake of a birthday request. My mission? To create a dessert that brought cheesecake and carrot cake together. Because I had a carrot cake recipe that I really loved, I decided to focus on creating a frosting that would evoke cheesecake. I started looking for an option that would be an alternative to the ubiquitous cream cheese frosting made with confectioners’ sugar. Though we all secretly love this (don’t deny it), this type of frosting is often way too sweet and distracts from the nature of the carrot cake.

So, after a lot of looking (and a lot of boring my friends with discussions about frosting), I discovered an “old fashioned” way of creating a cream cheese frosting. Essentially, you make a sweet roux and then mix in the butter and cream cheese. The result is a lightly sweet and creamy frosting that feels like pudding on your tongue. It was not difficult to make, but it definitely took some time and patience. (As R. said, this was a recipe created for a time when you were in the kitchen all day anyway.) Pay close attention to the temperature of ingredients and you will have success.

This frosting can be made ahead and refrigerated. I iced my first cake on the day it was made. The frosting went on easily, smoothly, and had a little glisten to it. I then refrigerated the rest of the batch and used it on the third day after it was made. The frosting tasted unchanged, but the texture was a little more grainy. (Still beautiful, but had a different sheen than on the first day.) Refer to the notes below for more specifics on how to hold the frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting (without confectioners’ sugar)

Frosting on day 3

Frosting on day 3

For one cake with layers (and a little left over)

16 tbls. unsalted butter
8 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 c. AP flour
3 tbls. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. whole milk
2 tsp. vanilla

  1. Set out butter and cream cheese on your counter to come to room temperature. (Go ahead and just do this when you wake up in the morning, so you won’t forget.) If you are patient and wait until these ingredients can be squished with your finger, you’ll know your frosting will be smooth. There really is no way to simulate this with heating. Have patience.
  2. Combine sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk in milk.
  3. Pour the milk mixture through a fine mesh sieve (to remove lumps) into a medium saucepan. If there is extra sugar in the bottom of your sieve, try to press it through with a rubber spatula.
  4. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils. This will take about 7-15 minutes and it will look very thick (and a little splattery – so be careful of hot bubbles.)
  5. Transfer the boiled milk mixture to the bowl of your mixer. Let cool completely. This takes about 2-3 hours.
  6. When cool, add vanilla to mixture and beat with the whisk attachment on your mixer until blended or about 30 seconds.
  7. With the mixer running on low, add the butter and cream cheese in small pieces (about 2 tablespoons each.)
  8. Increase the mixer to medium and beat until fluffy, an additional five minutes.carrot cake with boiled milk icing
  • Frosting should be used at room temperature. If you’re making it ahead of time, refrigerate it in a container with a tight fitting lid. Before you want to spread it, let it sit on the counter for about an hour. Beat briefly with the whisk attachment on your mixer to return a little fluffiness.
  • Frosting will last about a week in the refrigerator.
  • Serve with carrot cake (or maybe a dark chocolate cake).
  • This turned out to also be the perfect topping for birthday cinnamon rolls.
  • I eventually found this recipe on the Cook’s Country website and worked through it. They have a lot of great down-home and “vintage” recipes that can be read with a subscription.

Cake Update (or How to Make a Giant Cake)

This tasty yellow cake with spunky vanilla frosting has now become my favorite celebration cake. I’ve made it for several birthdays and events (and convinced friends to make it, too.) I recently adapted it to serve 40-50 and wanted to share my tips in case you too find yourself in need of a big cake for a crowd.

How to adapt a recipe for a half sheet cake pan:

  • For a half sheet cake pan (12X18X2), you’l need to double a recipe that calls for a 9X13 cake.
  • Bake the cake at 350F for 40-47 minutes. If, at 25 minutes, you find the edges are beginning to brown, tent them with foil. Before I placed the cake in the oven, I prepared the foil by measuring it out over the top of the pan and cutting a rectangle in the middle. This helped me to just open the oven quickly, place it on top, and close the door.
  • Check the crumb with a toothpick in the center. It should, of course, come out clean. (The internal temperature of the cake should be 209-210F, but I found this less reliable of a test. Stick with the toothpick!)
  • To have success with the frosting, really commit to letting all of the ingredients come to room temperature. Because it was such a big batch. I used the electric mixer and whisk attachment for all steps, instead of folding in the final yogurt cheese by hand. It will become smooth, shiny, and very easy to decorate with.
  • Need more help? Do what I did and call King Arthur’s Baking Hotline. (Don’t have them in your contacts? You need to! These lovely, helpful people can be reached on a live chat, also.) While you’re at it, be sure to sign up for Baking Circle forums.

Pumpkin Sandwich Treats

We were in NYC not too long ago and happily spent some time doing nothing in Sweet Melissa’s Patisserie. One of my favorite spots in the city, this laid back bakery and cafe has pastries, ice cream, light meals, and lots of interesting hot drinks (complete with homemade marshmallows.) Melissa’s baking book is one of the treasures of my collection and a book that I think any baker should have on her shelf. Every recipe is reliable, a little unique, and solidly delicious. The directions are always clear and uncomplicated, so you can have confidence that even a beginning baker will find success.

On the search for a new pumpkin dessert that would use up some of the pumpkin I’ve roasted for Thanksgiving pies, I decided to make Sweet Melissa’s Pumpkin Cookie Cakes.  I was curious to see molasses in the ingredients list and was afraid that it might overpower my sweet, fresh pumpkin. Having faith in the book paid off, of course, and the cookie cakes turned out to be a lovely balance of flavors. My homespun variation on the recipe was to add some yogurt cheese to the filling.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies, 2 dozen sandwiches
(You’ll want to serve 2 per person.)

Filling:
6 tbls. homemade yogurt cheese
6 tbls. unsalted butter, room temperature

I usually have a cheese hanging hook installed under my cabinets but haven’t done that yet in this new kitchen. Here’s my improvisation: small skillet as hook, large skillet as weight. Worked!

3/4 c. confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Sandwich cookies:
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
8 tbls. unsalted butter

3/8 c. molasses
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin puree

2 c. AP
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. fresh nutmeg, ground
3/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 c. milk

  1. To make yogurt cheese:
    Place a large piece of cheesecloth over a bowl and scoop the yogurt into it. Tie or rubber band the ends and hang for about 10-12 hours, letting the whey drip into the bowl. (You will know that it is done when it no longer looks wet.)
  2. Cream the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the molasses, egg, and pumpkin. Mix until smooth.
  3. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add, alternating with milk, to the pumpkin mixture.
  4. Using a 1 1/2 inch cookie scoop, drop carefully onto a baking sheet covered with parchment.
  5. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes. Cool.
  6. To make the filling:
    Be sure that your butter is at room temperature. Beat with confectioners’ sugar. Then, beat in yogurt cheese and vanilla. (If your filling appears lumpy, it is because your butter was not quite right. Fix this by blending it in the food processor just until smooth.)
  7. Sandwich a small dollop of frosting between two cookies and serve!

Notes:

  • These cookies could certainly be eaten as a breakfast treat.
  • They are pretty sticky, once cooled. Be sure to place the bottom of the cookie on the cooling rack. Tops stick. When packaging, add a layer of parchment between cookies or they are likely to stick together.

Potato Biscuits

Well, we may not have realized our homesteading dreams yet, but we are now one step closer to that idyllic, pastoral life. Just look at this beautiful biscuit cutter!

I fell in love with this and bought it at KY Craft, a festival of local artisans in Lexington. Sold by Campbellsville Handmade Cherry Furniture, we were first attracted to the absolutely exquisitely crafted cupboards in the booth. Do look at some of their samples, though the photographs really don’t show the artistry that they can coax from their wood. We also enjoyed meeting the guys at Hound Dog Press. They had a press set up and were encouraging people to make coasters. (The toddler loved watching the wheels and ink.) Check out their especially lovely wood engravings here or, if you’re a Kentuckian living far from home who’s ever had to explain where your home state was, you might think this is funny. We bought a beautiful butter pot from Crosswinds Pottery and regret passing up the charming thumb pot for watering seedlings.

The toddler and I just had to try this biscuit cutter out right away. The wooden cutter performed beautifully – with just a little tap, out popped perfect biscuits! They were light, yet sturdy enough to handle a fried egg. If your storage potatoes are starting to feel a little squishy (like mine are), I suggest making up a few batches of these. Freeze them before baking.

Potato Biscuits

Makes about 10-12.

white potatoes, 8-1o ounces (probably one large)
1 cup AP flour
1 tbls. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
6 tbls. unsalted butter
1/2 c. milk

  1. Peel potato and cut into 1/2 inch rounds. (If your potato has been stored and is extra starchy, go ahead and rinse it.) Simmer in water for about 10 minutes until tender. (Alternatively, you could use 8 oz. of leftover mashed potatoes.)
  2. Measure dry ingredients into a bowl.
  3. Drain, cool, and rice the potatoes. (Pass them through the holes of a skimmer or spoon, if you don’t have a ricer.) Gently mix the potatoes into the dry ingredients with a folding motion.
  4. Cut the butter in with a pastry blender or knives. Add the milk, gently cutting through the dough with a fork.
  5. On a floured surface, knead gently a few times, pat into a 1/2 inch rectangle, and cut with a floured cutter. Place on a baking sheet.
  6. Bake at 400F for 10-12 minutes.