Cranberry Orange Upside Down Cake

Caramel Cranberry Orange Upside Down Cake
Lately, I find myself wandering through the house, doing chores, taking care of the little people and cooking and I think, “I should be doing something more.”  And not more in the sense of extra stuff, but more…grand? Important? I am not sure.  I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on just what it is I’m feeling.  I think I remember this feeling from when Olive was a baby.  There’s a certain amount of monotony to taking care of a baby in that first year.  Every day it’s the same feedings, the same breakfasts, the same play time, the same nap schedules, the same dinners, the same bedtime routines, etc.  It’s all the same thing, every day, for months.  And when they get a bit older, you can start shaking up the routine because they don’t have to eat and sleep every 3 hours.  But for a few months, there’s a bit of a Groundhog Day effect and I have felt it even more in the winter as we’re cooped up from the cold.

Each morning I pray that God will show me what needs to be done in His kingdom.  Who needs served?  Who needs a kind word or an encouragement? Who needs a meal or maybe even just a smile in the store?  I believe, although I don’t follow through with this belief far enough, that seeking God’s kingdom FIRST, really will cause everything else in my life “to be added to me.”  I get it so backwards.  I become so self-seeking.  How can my children or my husband make ME happy today?  When I seek God’s way of serving others first, I immediately feel content.  Enough.  Important. Working for self and for the approval of others is a bottomless well. It will never be filled and neither will I.  But flip the equation around and see to it that others’ bowls are filled before my own and God will see to it that my cup is running over.  It’s not always going to look like material wealth and health, but more importantly, it will start to look like real joy – from the inside out.

This cranberry cake was made for a few sweet ladies at a ministry our church helps out with from time to time called Family Promise. It’s a program that helps families who find themselves on the brink of homelessness to live and save up their income for rent while they live in the Family Promise house.  Our church volunteers to help a couple times a year by bringing dinners, having activities for the children and staying overnight. Last week was our week to serve so Matt and I signed up to take a meal and hang out with the families for a while after we ate.  There were two single mothers with infants and one single mother with a sweet, twelve year old girl living there, whom we’d met before and were so happy to see them, again.  We brought take-out from our favorite Hawaiian BBQ joint (I didn’t get my homemade meal-act together this time) and I brought this cranberry upside down cake.  We ate and watched TV together and played and I felt blessed by them.  We just brought the food – they brought perspective and showed us real joy – from the inside out.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake with Orange Zest Upside Down Cranberry Orange Cake

 

Cranberry Orange Upside Down Cake

For the fruit layer:
8 oz frozen cranberries
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
zest from 1 orange

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup sour cream (or Greek plain yogurt)

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  I like to do this to ensure all the fruit filling comes off the pan.

Pour the cranberries on top of the parchment paper and sprinkle with orange zest.  In a medium-size sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Add the brown sugar, orange juice and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts and boils gently.  Pour the mixture over the cranberries in the pan.

In a small bowl, stir together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium until well blended.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla and almond until combined.  With the mixer on low, mix half the dry ingredients into the batter until just combined.  Mix in the sour cream and then the remaining dry ingredients until just combined (in other words, don’t over-mix).

Scoop the batter into the pan (it will be thick) and then spread it around evenly with a spatula.  Place cake pan on a rimmed baking sheet to catch drips.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.  Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake and invert onto a serving plate.  Serve warm.

*recipe adapted from the Bonne Femme Cookbook’s recipe for Pear Cake Reverse

Cranberry Orange Cake Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Chewy Molasses Cookies

Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies Ginger Molasses Cookies
These cookies are like the feeling you get when you step out into a sunbeam with your bare feet and feel the warmth coming off the floor. You were previously a little cold and uncomfortable and now you’re warm and happy.  All that, my friends, in a cookie.  I made these a couple weeks ago when friends were coming to visit.  Paired with coffee and with the help of a red headed jabber-mouth, we had a very lovely afternoon together.  And because there was company, the redhead got three cookies before lunch.  So interesting how she didn’t want to eat her lunch that day…

There will be two original ideas from these cookies coming to you in time for Valentine’s Day.  The base recipe is from The New Best Recipe cookbook and like everything in that cookbook, it’s flawless.  Enjoy and make sure you have a friend over to help you enjoy them.

Ginger Cookies

Chewy Molasses Cookies

11 1/4 ounces (2 1/4 cups) all purpose flour (use Gold Medal – it has lower protein than most which will make a softer cookie)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened (12 tablespoons)
1/3 cup (2 1/3 ounces) dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup light or dark molasses

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, spices, pepper, and salt in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined; set aside.

Beat the butter with the brown sugar and the 1/3 cup granulated sugar at medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the yolk and vanilla; increase the speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds.  Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the molasses; beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.  Reduce the speed to the lowest setting and add the flour mixture and beat until just combined.  The dough will be very soft.

With a tablespoon measure, scoop out the dough and with wet hands, roll the dough into balls, then roll in the granulated sugar.  Place on the baking sheet 2 inches apart.  Bake until the cookies are browned and still puffy, the edges have begun to set, and the centers are still soft (the cookies will look raw between the cracks), about 11 minutes, rotating the sheet from front to back halfway through baking time.  Don’t overbake!

Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then let them cool on a wire rack to room temp.  Eat post haste.  

Caramelized Pear and Biscuit Pie

Caramelized Pear Biscuit Pie
Happy New Year’s Eve!  It is a frigid 20 degrees today with a windchill of about -5 and this morning as I got reluctantly out of my bed, I looked out the frosted window and saw gray.  Just gray with bits of white flocking everything in sight.  I thought of what I would make for breakfast for the redhead and for Matt, who was working from home due to the weather, and I wanted something warm and cozy with possibly a bit of cinnamon.  We had pears getting way too ripe on the counter and lest I waste such beautiful fruit, I decided to do a spin on Joy the Baker’s apple pie biscuits.  The apples for her recipe are obviously not mushy pear consistency and so they cut up and bake into biscuits nicely.  I knew that wouldn’t be possible with pears and I’d just end up frustrated, so I decided to do a free form biscuit/pie/tart mashup and the results were amazing.  I adapted her biscuit recipe to include creme and lemon juice instead of buttermilk and the result was cakey, tangy perfection on top of caramlized pears.

I highly recommend this dish.

Pear Biscuit Pie

Caramelized Pear and Biscuit Pie*

For the pears:
4 ripe pears, peeled and sliced
4 TBS brown sugar
4 TBS unsalted butter
1/2 tsp kosher salt

For the biscuits:
2 cups self-rising flour
2 TBS granulated sugar
4 TBS cold butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 heavy cream
2 TBS lemon juice
1/4 cup milk

In the super old, awesome, vintage skillet your husband got you for Christmas, melt the butter and brown sugar and salt together until bubbly.  Fold in the pears until they’re all coated and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 425F.  In a large bowl, cut the butter into the flour and sugar until it’s all well incorporated.  You can use your hands to break up the butter into tiny pieces in the flour, or just use a pastry cutter.  Either way, make sure it resembles tiny pea-sized crumbles.  Stir the lemon juice into the heavy cream and pour into the flour.  Stir up until it’s all moistened and then add the milk until a sticky dough forms.  You may need more milk.  Loosely form biscuits and layer on top of the pears.  Brush with a beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown.

*adapted from Joy the Baker

Pear and Biscuit Pie

Poppyseed, Prune and Lemon Coffee Cake

coffeecake
Coffee cake has always seemed a bit boring to me.  In a land filled with pies and cookies and brownies, why would you ever choose a coffee cake?  It’s cake’s slightly dry cousin.  I never see a coffee cake recipe and think, “Yeah, I’ll spend time making that” when I could be spending time making something more satisfying.

That was all until I saw this recipe from Tasting Table.  Do you get the Tasting Table emails?  If not, you should.  So many great recipes and interesting gift ideas abound in every email.  This coffee cake looked absolutely decadent (it should – there’s almost three cups of sugar – ack!) But I figured in the name of Thanksgiving indulgence and postpartum cravings, I’d dive in and try it.  And I dadgum near ate the entire pan myself.  Not my proudest moment, but it was pretty enjoyable.  The filling reminded me of fig newtons and the lemon zest brightened the entire sugar-laden thing up.  I’d definitely recommend making this when you have family in your house over Christmas.  It makes a ton, it feeds and satisfies a lot (or one person over the course of a week) and it is super comforting.  Enjoy!

coffeecake2
Poppyseed, Prune and Lemon Coffee Cake
makes one 13×9 cake

For the Streusel:

1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1¼ teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Coffee Cake:

Softened unsalted butter, for greasing
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk
4 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
¼ cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Filling:
½ cup chopped prunes
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup poppy seeds
Zest of 1 lemon

1. Make the streusel: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, light brown sugar, ginger and cinnamon until everything is well incorporated. Add the melted butter to the flour-spice mixture and mix with a fork or a wooden spoon until fully incorporated and clumps begin to form. Make ahead: Unbaked streusel can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month.

2. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 13- x 9-inch baking pan with the softened butter and dust the pan with flour.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

4. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, sour cream, vanilla extract and melted butter until very smooth.

5. Using a rubber spatula, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well combined.

6. Layer half the batter in the prepared baking pan; smooth it out to the edge leveling the top with an offset spatula. (Tip: Since the batter is so thick, it’s best to scoop it in ¼ cup mounds into the pan before spreading.)

7. Sprinkle the prunes evenly over the batter then sprinkle with the dark brown sugar and the poppy seeds. Top the filling with the lemon zest.

coffee cake
8. Layer the remaining batter over the filling using the same method mentioned above. Smooth out the top of the batter, ensuring it is even and reaches the edges of the pan. Sprinkle the top with the streusel, and then bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 45 to 55 minutes.  I had to bake it over an hour to get the middle done.  I recommend rotating it halfway through baking!

*recipe from Tasting Table

Christmas Cookies: Cranberry Rosemary and White Chocolate

Christmas Cookies
Every year since who knows when, I’ve been making these lovely little biscotti that have a wonderful marriage of sweet, tangy and savory all packed into one crumbly bite.  This year I decided to turn my biscotti into a soft sugar cookie and I absolutely loved the results.  I took the batch to my knitting group and it got rave reviews – and those ladies are hard to please!  I just love this combination – it’s so Christmassy in color and taste.  A bit of pine essence from the rosemary and the in-season cranberries with a little snow-capped action from the white chocolate.  If you wanted a more festive presentation you could skip adding the white chocolate chips and drizzle the tops with melted white chocolate!  These are easy and bake up beautifully – perfect for your Christmas cookie exchange and more unique!

Christmas Cookies - soft sugar cookies with cranberries, rosemary and white chocolate

Christmas Cookies*
makes 2 dozen give or take

2 cups (10 oz) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 TBS light brown sugar
1 large egg
1.5 tsp vanilla
2 TBS chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray.  Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and rosemary in a medium bowl.

Cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds.  Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined.  Add the cranberries and white chocolate chips and fold in until just combined.  Scoop out onto baking sheets into about a 2 tablespoon sized ball and lightly press down with your fingers to flatten out the top.  Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake 15 to 18 minutes, rotating halfway through.  Cool the cookies for a few minutes after they come out of the oven and then transfer to a cooling rack.  Serve with coffee and enjoy!

*base sugar cookie recipe from The New Best Recipe

Cranberry Rosemary White Chocolate Cookies

 

Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts

pumpkin doughnuts
I haven’t posted in a really long time.  I apologize.  Not that any of you were waiting around without anything to eat or lacking another post about complex carbs to drool over, but still.  I don’t like being inconsistent, but I’m thinking that may be the new word that will begin to define my life, starting in about four weeks.

We’ve been doing all kinds of prep to the house for the arrival of this tiny baby.  Amazing what all “needs” to be done to accommodate something that only weighs eight pounds.  But I’m a planner.  I love my ducks all in a row and a few of those ducks were still squawking around in my head, so we’ve been getting things done. We rearranged Olive’s room and Eleanor’s nursery, which will also be a guest bedroom.  I’ve made a Quiet Book for Olive for the one Sunday morning a month that our church doesn’t have their children’s program during services, and I’ve been trying to knit Eleanor a cardigan, which I’m sure she’ll like to put on one of her dolls when she’s five, because I think that’s about when I’ll be done with it.  Matt finished building Olive’s bed and I’ve bought the requisite new rug (I feel the need to buy a rug for each new life occasion) for the nursery and so we’re getting there.  Slowly but surely, I’ll be ready for this baby to enter our world.  Things left to do: buy Christmas presents for as many people as I can, write a few dozen blog posts, finish up my last three photo shoots, have a few cooking days to stock our freezer with ready to make meals for the winter, and create/shoot our annual Christmas card.  Yes, we will go to just as much trouble as we always do.  Unfortunately/fortunately.  It’s going to be epic. 🙂

So in the midst of all this planning, I woke at 6 last Sunday morning with my parents in town for a visit, a quiet house, and THIS picture on my Instagram feed.  I quickly scanned my brain pantry for the items and they were all there.  So, I got up and made them.  They were fantastically successful.  So easy and so worth buying a little doughnut pan, although I’m sure they’d bake up into amazing little mini muffins, as well, if you don’t have a doughnut pan.

I promise more regular posts in the coming weeks.  Life’s changing, but we still have to eat, right?!  I hope things have been going well for you.  And if they haven’t, these doughnuts will start you off in a better direction tomorrow.

baked pumpkin doughnuts

Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts*
makes 16

1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, or 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus heaping 1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two standard doughnut pans. If you don’t have doughnut pans, you can bake these in a standard muffin tin; they just won’t be doughnuts.
Beat together the oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, spices, salt, and baking powder until smooth.
Add the flour, stirring just until smooth.

Fill the wells of the doughnut pans about 3/4 full; use a scant 1/4 cup of batter in each well. If you’re making muffins, fill each well about 3/4 full; the recipe makes about 15, so you’ll need to bake in two batches (unless you have two muffin pans).  Bake the doughnuts for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. If you’re making muffins, they’ll need to bake for 23 to 25 minutes.

Remove the doughnuts from the oven, and after about 5 minutes, loosen their edges, and transfer them to a rack to cool.

While the doughnuts are still warm (but no longer fragile), gently shake them in a bag with cinnamon-sugar. If you’ve made muffins, sprinkle their tops heavily with cinnamon-sugar.
Cool completely, and store (not wrapped tight) at room temperature for several days.  I’d recommend a tupperware as opposed to a plastic bag.  They sweat like the dickens.

*taken from the King Arthur Flour website, which you all should subscribe to

 

Double Dark Chocolate Waffles

Double Dark Chocolate Waffles
The chocolate cravings have gone overboard.  I really blame it in all seriousness on pregnancy.  When I’m not pregnant, chocolate is good and fine, about on par with every other sweet. Not pregnant,  I don’t think about it outside of seeing it, I don’t dream up ways of using it to its maximum potential in breakfast foods, and I don’t think that it’s “needed” to get from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. successfully.  When pregnant…well, all those things suddenly become priorities.  Like on Labor Day, I got up and looked up a basic buttermilk waffle recipe and then thought of the maximum way I could choco-fy it.  And I did.  Yes, I’ve had a similar waffle recipe on this blog before, BUT it wasn’t as good.  These waffles are fluffier, less dense, and the chocolate chips remain melty like a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie during your entire breakfast.  So.  I’m not sorry for seeming repetitive.  If you’re pregnant, I’ll understand if I get a thank-you note in the mail later this week.
Double Chocolate Buttermilk Waffles
I topped these in three different ways and they were all good: melted butter and powdered sugar – easy, and the most cookie-like experience.  Butter with maple syrup: most waffle-like experience, but I’ve always felt that syrup on a chocolate anything is too much.  Turns out, it’s not.  And three: fresh raspberries all over the suckers.  Chocolate dipped fruit, anyone?  They were all good.  Dress it up, dress it down, this will be your new craving.

Double Chocolate Waffles
Double Dark Chocolate Waffles
makes about 12 Belgian-style waffles

2 cups AP flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Heat your waffle iron.  In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients with a whisk until fully incorporated.  In a smaller bowl, whip up the wet ingredients.  Gently whisk the wet into the dry until just combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Cook waffles to the waffle-iron’s suggested time (mine has a handy little light that goes off when they’re done) and keep in a 200 degree oven while you cook the rest to keep them nice and warm and crisp on the outside.  Serve with powdered sugar and melted butter, or whatever.  It really doesn’t matter – it’s all good.

Homemade Banana Meringue Pudding

Banana Meringue Pudding
I’ve had a long-standing love for banana pudding.  Between it and Bananas Foster, I have a hard time choosing my favorite.  At one point, it was my favorite dessert on earth.  I bounce back and forth, now, between Sticky Toffee Pudding or Bananas Foster.  Or anything with lemon.  Or chocolate.

My favorite type of banana pudding, however, is the one that has the sweetened condensed milk and sour cream and extra Nilla wafers and all that awesome goodness, but I’m always up for trying a new version. (Matt made this version pictured, by the way).  I’ve seen pastry chefs putting meringue on more than just pies for a while.  So when we saw a meringue on top of a banana pudding in the latest issue of Bon Appetit, we knew it had to be a winner.  And it was!  However, I immediately knew a few tweaks I wanted to do to it once we tasted it.  First, the base custard just wasn’t banana-y enough.  We always keep a few black bananas in our freezer – when you want banana flavor, nothing beats an over-ripe banana.  It’s so concentrated that just one will do to amp up the flavor in a vanilla pudding to make it burst with sweet banana flavor.  Also, I would use a cooked meringue or a brown sugar meringue instead of the one from this recipe because the meringue wept too much, filling the leftovers up with water.  Ick.  Cooking your egg whites and sugar before whipping takes care of this problem.

However, for a eat-in-one-sitting recipe, the Bon Appetit version was great (but not banana-y enough, and leftovers got weird).  So as long as you have a crowd, this dessert will impress and satisfy!  (for the recipe below, I’ve included my favorite meringue and I’ve added a super-ripe banana, pureed into the base).

Banana Pudding with Meringue
Banana Meringue Pudding

4 large eggs
cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 super ripe (black) banana
Pinch of kosher salt

 

Lightly whisk eggs in a large bowl just to blend. Whisk sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk milk into sugar mixture and heat over medium heat, whisking often, until very warm to the touch. Gradually whisk half of hot milk mixture into eggs, then whisk egg mixture back into milk mixture in saucepan.

Cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and whisk leaves a trail in pudding (it should be the consistency of mayonnaise), about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, add butter, vanilla, a super-duper ripe banana and salt and puree with an immersion blender until butter is melted and mixture is smooth.

 

Cover pudding with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto the surface. Chill until cool, about 2 hours.
For the meringue:

3 large egg whites (room temp)
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Place the brown sugar in a medium, heavy saucepan with high sides (that sugar will boil up and scare the meringue right out of you if you have a small pan), add water to cover, attach a candy thermometer to the pan, and turn the heat on high. When the sugar is at about 240 degrees, start whipping the whites on high speed (they should be foamy and starting to thicken before you add the sugar). When the sugar is at the high soft-ball stage (245 degrees), remove the thermometer from the sugar and, with the mixer still running, carefully avoiding the whip, pour the sugar into the egg whites in a thin stream. When steam starts to come off the whites, add the sugar more quickly. When all sugar has been added, continue whipping until firm but soft peaks form.

For Assembly:

1 box Nilla wafers
3 ripe bananas, sliced

Spread one third of the banana pudding into a casserole dish (9×9 or 9×13 will do fine).  Top with a layer of alternating bananas and cookies, then more pudding and repeat until most or all of your ingredients are used up.  Top with meringue and torch with a blow torch if that’s how you roll, or under a broiler with a very watchful eye (as in, don’t take your eyes off it).

Blackberry Lime Cinnamon Rolls with Lime Vanilla Bean Icing

Blackberry Lime Cinnamon Roll - cross section
Good Sunday morning to you all!  This week has been a tough one for me.  I got sick on Tuesday and as anyone who has ever been pregnant knows, you can’t take the good meds when you’re sick.  So I had the usual, insulting cold in the middle of summer, had two weddings and one family shoot to edit, made a ginormous birthday cake for a friend which took up all of Tuesday AND my wonderful redhead decided to cut her usual nap time in half, so I had only one good hour during the day to get my photo work done (still got the wedding done in my two-week time frame – bragging, I don’t care, gotta throw that out there).

Blackberry Lime Morning Rolls
In the midst of my feeling like my head was stuck in a cloud and everything else, I felt it was the right time to make cinnamon rolls.  I don’t know – it was just therapeutic.  A few weeks ago, Matt made Joy the Baker’s first Baking Bootcamp recipe – a triple berry cinnamon swirl bread – and it was just outstanding.  Wonderful recipe and the flavors were so perfect.
Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread
The day he made it, I knew I wanted to turn it into cinnamon rolls with some kind of citrus glaze.  I finally got around to it and…score.  They were so bright and comforting at the same time.  I will definitely make these again when I’m not afflicted with Taste Blindness (I’ll expound on that, later).  And you should make them, too!  They take about an hour less than typical from-scratch cinnamon rolls and can be used with most any fruit – so get creative!

Morning Rolls - Blackberry Lime

 

Blackberry Lime Cinnamon Rolls with Lime Vanilla Bean Icing*

For the Dough:
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup whole milk, warmed to a warm lukewarm
1 large egg yolk 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 1/4 cups King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt a bit of olive oil for greasing the bowl

For the Filling: 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups fresh blackberries
Zest from two limes
1 large egg, beaten for egg wash

In a medium bowl stir yeast with sugar. Stir in  the lukewarm milk and then add the egg yolk and melted butter.  Whisk together until thoroughly combined.  Allow mixture to rest for 5 minutes.  It should foam and froth. In a large bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Pour the milk mixture over the dry ingredients and start kneading it until it pulls away from the edges of the bowl. Place dough on a lightly floured counter and knead by hand for about 10 minutes more.  Dough ball should be smooth and damp, without being too sticky.  Shape dough into a ball. Grease a large bowl with olive oil.  Place the dough in the bowl and cover.  Allow to rest at warm room temperature for about 1 hours, or until doubled in size.

While the dough rises, whisk together the butter with sugar and cinnamon for the filling.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch cake pan.  Set aside. After the dough has doubled in size, place it on a lightly floured counter and knead twice.  Using a rolling pin to roll the dough to a rectangle of about 18×12 inches. Spoon the cinnamon filling over top, spreading evenly, leaving a clean 1-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle the fresh blackberries over the cinnamon filling and grate the lime zest over everything.
Blackberry Cinnamon Rolls
(My blackberries were apparently from the Land of Canaan, so I had to cut them up). Start by rolling the longest side of the dough.  The roll will be a bit lumpy because of all the berries. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into 1 1/2 inch rolls and place cut-side down.  Brush the rolls with the beaten egg. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Allow to cool for about 30 minutes before icing.

For the Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
juice from one lime
3 tbs heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
a good pinch of kosher salt

Mix everything together in a medium bowl and thin out the icing with more lime juice, or thicken it up with more sugar.  Easy as that!

Have a happy rest of your weekend 🙂

*I adapted Joy’s recipe for the Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread a bit, but you can see her original and wonderful recipe HERE.

Blackberry Lime Cinnamon Rolls

Lemon Panna Cotta and Gingerbread with Blueberries and Thyme

Lemon Panna Cotta with Gingerbread and Thyme
When we were in Nashville last week, we had the joy of eating at Catbird Seat – an intimate restaurant with a unique seating that allows its guests to watch the chefs prepare each plate.  This restaurant combines the nuttiness of molecular gastronomy and the comfort of Southern cuisine.  It’s impressive without being too fussy.  The food was amazing and we left very satisfied!  We were served things like grilled morel mushrooms stuffed with chicken liver pate (my favorite),
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a yeast soup filled with smoked croutons and potatoes (tasted exactly like a loaded baked potato),
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and the dish that inspired today’s post: a lemon cornmeal cake with goat’s milk panna cotta and blueberries with thyme and marjoram.  Here’s a pic of the dish from the restaurant:

This was one dish that I knew I could conceivably recreate at home without any fancy equipment.  Watching them assemble this was mezmerizing and I took a few guesses as to what each component was before the chef handed me the plate.  Perks of being able to talk to the chef while they’re plating 🙂  When I got home, I dreamed up my own version.  I love lemon and thyme together, so I knew I’d keep that aspect of the dish.  Instead of putting lemon in the cake like they did, I infused the panna cotta with lemon and then made a gingerbread for the base because I love the flavors of gingerbread and figured it’d go well with everything.  And it did!  I happened upon some really great blueberries that actually TASTE like blueberries and the combination of all the flavors is delicate but powerful and the panna cotta is so smooth, it risks falling completely apart if moved too much.  I loved how this turned out and it really wasn’t that hard to make the components and assemble.  Next time you’re at a restaurant and love a dish – try to recreate it at home!  It’s a good way to learn to be creative in the kitchen!

Lemon Panna Cotta with Gingerbread

Lemon Panna Cotta with Gingerbread

For the panna cotta (to be done a day ahead)*:

1 cup whole milk, divided
2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
Zest from two lemons, plus a wedge of the lemon
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or one vanilla bean, scraped)

Pour 1/2 cup milk into a medium bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let sit until gelatin softens, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine cream, sugar, lemon zest and wedge, and remaining 1/2 cup milk in a large saucepan. Scrape vanilla seeds from bean into saucepan; add bean (or add your vanilla bean paste). Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; cover and let steep for 10 minutes.
Bring cream mixture back to a simmer. Add gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved. Strain. Divide among eight 3/4-cup ramekins. Chill uncovered until panna cotta is set, at least 6 hours.  *adapted from Bon Appetit

For the gingerbread (to make a thin version like mine):

2¼ cups sifted (9 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon Dutch-processed cocoa
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
¾ cup mild or light molasses
¾ cup (5¼ ounces) sugar
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup milk
1 large egg

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large, rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray.

Whisk together the flour, baking, soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and coca in a medium bowl.

Beat butter, molasses, sugar, buttermilk, milk , and egg in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed. Add the dry ingredients and beat on medium speed until the batter is smooth and thick, about 1 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Do not overmix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.

Bake until the top springs back when lightly touched and the edges have pulled away from the pan sides, about 20 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack and cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Gingerbread can be wrapped in plastic, then foil, and refrigerated up to 5 days.

*if you want to make a regular pan of this, simply bake in a 9×13″ pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.   Adapted from The New Best Recipe.