Friday, September 25, 2015

Brioche Buns

The difference between store-bought bread and homemade bread is unbelievable.

Brioche is a type of French bread that contains butter and eggs, making the crumb richer and more tender.

These homemade buns are perfect for hamburgers, sliders, shredded pork or chicken sandwiches, or just to enjoy with butter and jam! 

One of the best parts about these buns is that they stay fresh for several days after you make them! So even though there are just two of us right now, I always make the full recipe (which makes 8 buns) and we munch on them for days. 

Brioche Buns

Makes 8 large buns (you can adjust the size as you desire)

1 cup warm water
2 tsp yeast
2 tbsp sugar
2 eggs, divided use
3 1/3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp butter, softened

1. Combine warm water, yeast, and sugar. Stir until dissolved and let it stand 5 minutes, until foamy. 

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, salt, and butter. Turn on the mixer with a paddle attachment until the butter makes small crumbs. 

3. Stir in one egg and yeast mixture. Using the dough hook attachment, knead for 6-8 minutes. Add more flour if necessary so the dough isn't too sticky. The dough should remove from the sides of the bowl, but not the bottom. 

4. Let rise, covered,  in a slightly warm oven, until doubled in size (45 minutes or so). Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and shape into round balls. Cover and let rise in a slightly warm oven until they're puffy. 

5. Brush with a beaten egg and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Place a pan with some water in it in the oven with the buns. 

6. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Homemade Oreos

We've all seen the recipes for homemade Oreos floating around the internet.

You know... the ones that are all soft and not at all like actual Oreos?

These, dear friends, are not like those fake Oreos at all. These taste exactly like real Oreos. 

They have exactly the right crunchy consistency, just like I hoped they would. And the frosting?

Creamy and smooth, exactly as it should be.

I made these Oreos to put into homemade cookies & cream flavored ice cream, but I can't stop eating them. We'll see if any of them survive. 

So, to sum up: homemade Oreos, perfect crunchiness (not reminiscent of whoopie pies at all), delicious flavor, without all the preservatives from the store-bought cookies. 

Homemade Oreos

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder, dutch process 
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp cream (or half & half or milk)

1. Using a mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. 

2. Add the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. Divide the dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour. 

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut out into desired shapes. Bake for 10-12 minutes on a lined baking sheet (I line it with my silpat, but you can use parchment paper). 

4. Let cool on a cooling rack and make the filling. Beat the butter for 30 seconds on medium, then add the vanilla. Add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, then add the cream as necessary to thin it to the desired consistency. 

5. Fill and serve. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Copycat Cheesecake Factory Honey Wheat Bread

I have a confession to make.

Every time I go to a restaurant that has complimentary bread (of any kind), I totally fill up on bread.

So much so, that I usually only eat a couple of bites of my entrée. It's bad. Bad, but so, so good.

We've all been to The Cheesecake Factory, right?

They serve complimentary bread baskets for you to munch on while you wait. The white bread is delicious, but have you tried the brown bread??? 

It's life-changing. Apparently it's called "honey wheat black (or black) bread," but I just call it the brown bread. I've wanted to try a recipe for this bread for a long time, but I could never find a good one that seemed reliable.

So I looked through different recipes to create my own. I gathered ideas from various recipes.

Friends, this bread is a home run. It tastes EXACTLY like the bread from the restaurant. EXACTLY LIKE IT!! Get out your mixers, because you're going to want to make this right now.

Copycat Cheesecake Factory Honey Wheat Bread

Yields: 5-6 small loaves

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp instant dry yeast
2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter, softened
3 tbsp molasses
1/4 cup honey
oats for decoration

1. In a medium bowl, combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast. Stir until combined and let it sit for 5 minutes to activate.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 2 cups bread flour, 2 cups whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Stir to combine.

3. Pour the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients and add the butter, molasses, and honey. Stir to roughly combine, then attach the dough hook. Add more flour if needed (the dough should not stick to the sides or bottom of the bowl). Knead on medium-low speed for 8-10 minutes, or until it passes the fingerprint test (meaning, when you poke it with your finger, it should bounce back slowly.)

4. Let dough rise in a covered greased bowl in a warm place until doubled. Mine took about 30 minutes because I put it in a 100 degree oven.

5. Divide the dough and form it into the desired shapes. Spray the tops with water and sprinkle oats, if desired. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with cooking spray and cover the loaves with it, then let them rise until doubled.

6. Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes, depending on the shape. Loaves are done when they sound hollow when you tap on them.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Kentucky Butter Bundt

Is there anything more elegant than a bundt cake?

They're round, dense, and not overly sweet.

This bundt cake is my absolute favorite. It's a simple vanilla bundt cake soaked with a butter glaze throughout the entire cake. The glaze goes on while the cake is cooling in the pan, and it creates a moist soaked cake with a slightly sugar crisp on the outside of the cake.

Bundt cakes have frustrated me in the past, because parts always seem to stick in the pan. I can't stand that! For this recipe, the cake didn't stick at all. The secret?

You have to let the bundt cool all the way in the pan before inverting it. 

This cake is great, because it's even better on the second and third days. This means you can make it the night before, and it will be even more moist the next day! This cake will still be great if you can't resist it on the first day, but I recommend waiting if you can! 

Kentucky Butter Bundt

Yields: approximately 12 servings 

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
2 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit. Grease a bundt pan liberally with butter or shortening, getting into every nook and cranny. Lightly sprinkle with flour and tap out the excess.
2. Place all the cake ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a bowl with a hand mixer). Mix on low for 30 seconds, then up to medium (about a 4) for 3 minutes. 

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55-75 minutes (it totally depends on your oven and altitude), or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

4. Prepare the glaze by combining all of the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan over medium low. Stir until everything melts and dissolves together, but make sure you don't boil it. 

5. Right when the cake comes out of the oven, poke holes in it with a knife. Keep the cake in the pan! Slowly pour the glaze over the cake, letting it soak in as you go. 

6. Let the cake cool completely (I covered it and left it overnight) before inverting. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. 

Note: Cake is best if you make it the day before so it can cool in the pan overnight. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Angel Food Cupcakes

I dream about food. Literally.

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night after having a dream about a kind of food. I keep a note in my phone for dream foods.

Some of my late night thinking/dream foods have been my Raspberry White Chocolate Truffle Cupcakes and my Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Soft Pretzels.

These cupcakes were another one of my "dream foods." Angel food cupcakes filled with jam, topped with whipped cream and fresh berries. Yum.

Angel Food Cupcakes

Yields: 16 cupcakes

3/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup cake flour (or 1/2 cup AP flour + 1/2 tsp cornstarch)
1/4 tsp salt
6 egg whites, room temperature
2 1/2 tbsp warm water
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with paper liners.

2. Combine half the sugar with the flour and salt.

3. In a large bowl, combine the egg whites, water, vanilla, cream of tartar, and remaining sugar. Whip together with a whisk until medium peaks form.

4. Sift a small amount of the dry ingredients into the egg whites, then fold in with a spatula. Do this in at least 6 batches to ensure even folding.

5. Fill muffin cups all the way to the top with batter and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

6. Fill with jam, if desired. Top with sweetened whipped cream (add a small amount of vanilla for an awesome taste), then garnish with berries.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cream-Filled Donuts

Is there anything better than a cream-filled donut? 

No, there really isn't. 

These donuts are my dream donuts. They're fried...

...tossed in sugar...

...and filled with pastry cream. 

How could you even go wrong with those elements? Fried, sugared, and filled??? Sign me up! 

These donuts are yeasted, which makes them perfectly chewy-- it also makes them take a little bit longer with the rise time. There are two options for the recipe: you can make the dough the night before, or you can make it the day you want to fry them

The sugar on the outside gives them the perfect sweet crunch, and the whipped pastry cream adds a delectable rich filling without being overly sweet. 

Cream-Filled Donuts

Yields: 12 donuts
Time: 2 hours (or overnight)

1 tbsp active dry yeast
2/3 cup milk, warm
3 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
3 eggs
7 tbsp butter, softened and cut into cubes

Pastry Cream:
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
3-4 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
6 tbsp heavy cream

Oil for frying (enough to go 3 inches up the side of your pan)

1 cup sugar for coating

1. Combine milk, yeast, and a pinch of sugar. Let it sit for 5 minutes to activate. Add flour, sugar, salt, and eggs. Using a dough hook, mix until combined, about 3 minutes. 

2. Add the butter, a little bit at a time, and knead (in the mixer, if you want) for 5-6 minutes, or until combined. At this point, you can wrap the dough and let it sit overnight. If you want the donuts sooner, let the dough rise, covered, in an oiled bowl in a warm place. Let rise until doubled, about 30-45 minutes. (I turn on my oven and put the dough bowl on top of the oven to get some heat). 

3. Make the pastry cream: Put the milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. While it's heating, combine sugar, flour, salt, and egg yolks until thoroughly combined. Once the milk is simmering but not boiling, remove the milk from the heat and spoon a few tablespoons into the egg yolk mixture while stirring. Continue to add the milk slowly. Once it's all been added, return it to the saucepan. Cook until it comes up to a boil and reaches the desired consistency. Add the vanilla and refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap. 

4. Roll out the risen donut dough and cut into 3" circles. Place on a greased cookie sheet, cover, and let them rise in a warm place until almost doubled in height. They will be pillowy when they're ready.

5. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 degrees fahrenheit. Put the coating sugar in a shallow bowl to dip the donuts after they're fried. Use a spatula to get the donuts off of the cookie sheet into the oil. I did them one at a time. Flip after 2 minutes or so. Place the donuts on a paper towel-lined plate. 

6. Once the donuts are still hot but cool enough to handle, dip them in the sugar and place on a cooling rack. I would have one in the oil at all times, and while another was cooking I would dip another in sugar. Don't let them cool too much or the sugar won't stick well. 

7. Whip the cream until very stiff. Combine it with the cooled pastry cream. Poke a hole in the donuts with a chopstick and fill using a pastry bag and a round tip (or a bag with the corner cut off). 

They're best the same day (but definitely still tasty on day two). 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Soft Sugar Cookies

You know those sugar cookies they sell at the store?

The ones that are so soft that they're almost cake-like? They have so much frosting and so many sprinkles that after a few bites, I have to stop eating. 

After you take just a few bites of those iconic cookies, you're left with that delightful (ha) aftertaste that's reminiscent of... well, nail polish remover. Or something like that. 

(Ladies, I know you know what I'm talking about. If you don't get all of the nail polish remover off after you use it and then accidentally lick your finger... WORST EVER!) 

These cookies are what those cookies should be. These are the perfect homemade version of them. They're so soft, they melt in your mouth. They have the perfect flavorful buttercream frosting, and then they're sprinkled with colorful sprinkles.

This recipe is really easy. Basically, you cream the butter and sugar. Add a few more ingredients, then add the dry ingredients. Then, I let it cool in the fridge for a few minutes while I prepare my pans, cutters, and frosting. Then, I cut them out on a floured surface and bake. Frost and top with sprinkles, and you have yourself a perfect cookie! 

Soft Sugar Cookies

Yields: 2-3 dozen (depending on the size) 

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg 
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp milk or cream
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1. Cream together butter and sugar for 4-5 minutes on high. Add egg, vanilla, and milk and incorporate well.

2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add slowly to the wet ingredients, mixing well as you go. Cover and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes or so. 

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Roll out the dough about 1/4" thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut out in desired shapes and move onto a silpat-lined or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on your preference. (I liked them at 8 minutes because I love them really soft.)

Buttercream Frosting

2/3 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp cream
food coloring if desired

Beat the butter, then add the powdered sugar little by little. Finish with the vanilla and cream, then add food coloring if desired.