Simple, Subtle Beauty – Rustic Fig Galette

I mentioned earlier that my aunt has a fig tree that has been very prolific this year. So prolific that one day, she gave me a whole box full of fresh figs! It was just like Christmas! With all of the fresh figs, I knew I wanted to bake something delicious. And I’ve been itching to make a galette, so it wasn’t hard to decide to bake a fig galette!

In my mind, a galette is a lazy person’s version of pie. So this recipe was really easy, especially because I took the easy way out by using store-bought pie crust. (I promise I’ll make pie crust from scratch one day!) All I did really was roll out the pie dough, spread it with jam, cut up the figs, sprinkle them with sugar, fold up the edges of the pie dough, and bake it.

The fig galette came out beautifully, despite not being precise or perfect. There’s a certain type of beauty that comes from rustic items. Maybe it’s the homemade feel that warms my heart.¬†The imperfections and blemishes of rustic things remind me that they were made by human hands and are labors of love. Although store-bought baked goods often taste pretty darn delicious and look absolutely gorgeous, there’s something about homemade baked goods that always makes them win over the store-bought ones (for me personally). Homemade cakes or cupcakes that look professionally made, though beautiful, are not as appealing to me as the homemade items that are more rustic looking.

This fig galette is the perfect example of the beauty of rustic, homemade baked goods. Although it has many imperfections, it’s all of those imperfections that make it even more gorgeous. (Kinda like that One Direction song, right? Haha jk). Each bump and crack in the crust is evidence of the effort and love put into making it. Knowing that little fact makes the galette just a bit more beautiful because it shows the care that the person who baked it has for you. Aww how sweet! (Sorry for this bit of cheesiness, I guess I’m feeling a bit sentimental right now :P).

The natural sweetness of the figs and the buttery crust pair well with a cup of hot tea whether you’re eating the galette in the morning or at night. It’s the perfect way to finish off a nice dinner with family or friends – I can imagine just munching on it in between sips of tea or coffee and conversations with loved ones. Or it’s the perfect indulgent breakfast to eat while standing in the kitchen, soaking in the morning sunlight and reading the paper. It’s subtle, simple actions like this that warm my heart and make me feel content with life. ūüôā

Fig Galette
Adapted from Simply Recipes

1¬†butter pie crust recipe¬†(I used store-bought pie crust from Trader Joe’s)
1 1/2 pounds mission figs, tips cut off and discarded, quartered
1/4 cup jam (I used plum amaretto jam since it was in the fridge, but use any jam you have on hand)
2 Tbsp sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Roll out dough to a 14-inch diameter round of even thickness. Place on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet.
2. Spread jam on the rolled out dough, leaving a 2-inch border along the edges. Arrange the quartered figs in a circular pattern, again leaving a 2-inch border. Sprinkle sugar over the figs.
3. Fold the 2-inch bordered edge of the crust over the figs, pleating the crust.
4. Place in the middle rack of the oven. Bake at 375F for 45-50 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned and the fruit is bubbly.
5. Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes.

Apple Picking in Sebastopol – Apple Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Growing up in the southwestern part of the US, I missed out on a lot of produce picking since the desert isn’t as fertile as New England or California, except for those Hatch green chiles. So when my housemates suggested going apple picking a few weekends ago, I jumped at the opportunity to finally experience the manual labor of harvesting fruit.

In college, I went berry picking once with one of my friends at a farm outside of Austin. Although we had an awesome time, we were more focused on just looking at the berries (and having a photoshoot :P) rather than picking them. So we ended up picking only a handful of them. This time though, my housemates and I were serious about the harvest. We traveled to an apple farm in Sebastopol, a town about an hour away from the Bay Area. The farm actually has more acres of Asian pears than apples, but they only let people pick apples. That day, golden delicious and jonagold apples were in season. We were led to several rows of trees weighed down with ripe apples and we went straight to picking. Since the apples were so ripe, they were pretty easy to take off the trees. Some of them were so ripe that they just fell of the trees as we picked off other apples. After only about half an hour, we had several boxes filled with apples and headed back to weigh out our bounty. We ended up picking about 35 pounds of apples that day!

The farm also had many blackberry brambles and let us pick some blackberries. If you haven’t picked blackberries before, let me warn you, it’s rather difficult. Choosing ripe blackberries is a difficult task in itself since most of them are either not ripe enough or too ripe (i.e. they get squished when you pick them). On top of that, the blackberries rest in thorny brambles and to get the best ones, you end up getting scraped and scratched by the thorns. I gave up pretty early, but my housemates soldiered on and ended up picking about 3 pounds of berries.

With its apples and asian pears, the farm makes and sells asian pear apple juice, which is very delicious and refreshing. In order to pick apples, we had to sign up for a membership, which basically meant buying 12 bottles of juice. In addition to the juice, the farm also makes several different jams using asian pears, blackberries, and other fruits. We bought a jar of plum amaretto jam and a jar of asian pear, lavender, blackberry ginger jam (that’s a mouthful).

With 35 pounds of apples, I went right to work at baking up something delicious using apples. It didn’t take much effort to find apple recipes. Apparently, everyone is in the mood for apples now – Baked by Rachel is even posting an apple recipe each day. That’s how I found this recipe for cinnamon apple pull apart bread.

Pull-apart breads seem to be trendy these days. I’ve seen pins of all varieties all over Pinterest, from sweet ones (such as lemon and cinnamon sugar) to savory ones (i.e. cheddar, beer and mustard). This type of bread is a bit more complicated than others I’ve made before since you have to cut the dough into strips several times and then try to pack those strips into a loaf pan. And with the cinnamon filling, it turns out to be pretty messy. It was also a little difficult keeping all of the apples together on top of the dough and in between the strips.

I’d like to say my bread baked up beautifully, but that was not the case. I let it rise for an hour, but perhaps this wasn’t enough time. When I baked the bread, the top browned, but inside seemed pretty undercooked. I baked it for nearly twice as long as the recipe says, but I think the bread was still a bit doughy. Perhaps it was because I used some leftover sweet dough that I froze and didn’t let it thaw enough before I used it?

Although I was pretty unsatisfied with the final product, my housemates enjoyed the bread. I had baked the bread late at night and left it out to cool, but when I woke up the next morning, 3/4 of the bread was gone! Later that day, they told me how delicious it was and asked for the recipe. So I guess the bread didn’t turn out that bad or my housemates like eating doughy bread. ūüėõ

Apple Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread
Adapted from this recipe

For the dough:
3 1/4 ‚Äď 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pkg or 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
4 tablespoon butter, melted
1/3 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the filling:
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups apples (I just sliced one large apple)

1. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of sugar in warm water and sprinkle yeast on top. Let rest for 10 minutes or until foamy.
2. Combine and mix the dry dough ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Add the yeast mixture and remaining wet dough ingredients to the dry mixture.
4. Mix the dough until it comes together. Move the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead for several minutes until dough is smooth. Add additional flour as needed.
5. Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow to double in size, roughly one hour. (You can also refrigerate the dough overnight, but make sure to let dough sti at room temperature for 20-30 minutes to warm up before rolling).
6. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
7. Prepare the filling by combining the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and butter.
8. Thinly slice the apples and roll out dough, on a lightly floured surface, into a 12 x 20″ rectangle (I just eyeballed this).
9. Spread the dough with the cinnamon filling and lay the apple slices on top.
10. Cut the dough into 6 sections, roughly 3 x 12″. Carefully lay sections on top of each other, this will be messy and dough will stretch.
11. Cut dough the into 6 stacks. Turn stacks on their sides and tightly pack into prepared loaf pan.
12. Allow to rise for additional 30-60 minutes or until roughly doubled in size.
13. Bake at 350F for 45-55 minutes. (I ended up baking for nearly 90 minutes.) After 30 minutes, cover with foil and continue baking.
14. When bread is golden brown, remove from oven, cool on a wire rack, and enjoy!

This post has been Yeastspotted and submitted to Bake Your Own Bread.

Sticking with the Classics – Homemade Yeast Doughnuts

For some reason, I’m very intrigued by doughnuts, especially the specialty doughnuts that Doughnut Plant or Dynamo Donuts sell. It’s a bit weird since I don’t really like eating doughnuts. My dad was part of a doughnut club at his work and would have to buy bagels and doughnuts once every two months for it. I remember I always preferred the bagels over the doughnuts, which were too sweet and oily. However, I do have to admit that soft, fluffy glazed doughnuts (i.e. those from Krispy Kreme) are delicious.

My interest in doughnuts has led to an itching desire to make homemade doughnuts. But the act of deep-frying always scared me off. I recently decided to suck up my fear and finally make doughnuts for a welcome brunch my housemates and I hosted a few weeks ago. I figured it was the perfect event to try since everyone loves doughnuts and I wouldn’t be stuck with leftovers. I was so excited about making doughnuts that I bought a doughnut cutter!

Making doughnuts is pretty easy and all the recipes are basically the same. The dough is super simple and you just need to cut out doughnut shapes, then fry them, and glaze/decorate them. However, let me warn you, cutting out the doughnuts is extremely tedious. Since I was making food for at least 40 people, I made a large batch of dough. Little did I know just how many doughnuts it would yield. I probably spent 1-1.5 hours just cutting out circles of dough and then cutting out the doughnut holes. I ended up cutting out way more than 40 doughnuts. Luckily, unfried doughnuts can be frozen.

The only difficulty with doughnuts is that they are best when served hot and freshly fried. Now, that is perfectly fine when you’re only making a dozen. But when you’re making at least three dozen, it’s a bit harder serving them fresh. Thankfully, my housemates were wonderful in helping me. One of them did all the frying while another one made all the glazes. And a third housemate helped me glaze and decorate the doughnuts. It was pretty hectic but we managed to get the doughnuts out hot and fresh.

Despite all the craziness, the hard work was all worth it. When I brought the doughnuts out, everyone was so impressed and praised how beautiful they were. Here’s a life tip: putting sprinkles on doughnuts is definitely one of the best things you can do.

I would have liked to make some doughnuts with crazy flavors, but since I was cooking for about 40 people, I decided it’d be better to play it safe and make classic yeast doughnuts with the standard glazes: plain, chocolate, and maple. Even though I prefer the more exotic, non-traditional dishes and flavors, I have to admit that the classics can be pretty awesome too. And these doughnuts definitely confirmed that. It’s like what people say, when you’ve found a good thing, you don’t mess with it. (Or at least leave it to the pros to do that).

*Another photography tangent: How about these non-instagram photos (well, except for one… I couldn’t resist :P)?! My friend recently bought a Nikon DSLR and snapped up a few photos of the doughnuts for me. They look amazing! So clean and crisp. The quality really makes me want to invest in a DSLR (I’d buy a Canon)!

Homemade Yeast Doughnuts
Adapted from The Doughmesstic

1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/3 stick melted butter (not hot, just melted)
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 cup all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
Oil for frying

1. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of sugar in the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast on top and allow to rest around 10 minutes or until foamy.
2. Mix the milk, sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla in a bowl.
3. Add the yeast mixture and stir.
4. Combine the flour and salt. Add the flour in 1 cup increments to the liquid mixture and mix until dough comes together. (You may use more or less flour than specified in the recipe.)
5. Knead the dough until smooth and place dough in a greased bowl.
6. Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
7. Roll out dough to 1/3 in. thick and cut out doughnuts with a doughnut cutter or two biscuit or cookie cutters.
8. Place doughnuts on cookie sheets with parchment paper and let rise for at least 15 min.
9. Heat oil to 350-360F and carefully drop doughnuts in one at a time. Let each side cook until golden brown. Cooking time will vary based on the heat of your oil, but 15 seconds per side worked for me.  Remove doughnuts from the oil and pat with paper towels.
10. While they are still hot, dip the doughnuts in the glaze and decorate with sprinkles!
11. Serve immediately! Your guests will thank you. ūüôā

This post has been Yeastspotted.

Homesick for Texas – Peach and Cream Cheese Kolaches

Despite not having grown up in Texas, I still consider myself to be somewhat Texan and associate with Texas all the time. I suppose living in Texas for four years brainwashed me. ūüėõ The funny thing is that when I first arrived in Texas, I wasn’t its biggest fan. I felt like I had been transported to another planet (ok, maybe that was a little exaggerated, but Texas does feel like a foreign country sometimes).

Living in Texas also introduced me to new foods, from real southern BBQ (before moving to Texas, I thought BBQ was hamburgers and hot dogs) to Tex-Mex.¬†One of my favorite foods I discovered in Texas was the kolache – a breakfast pastry similar to to the danish, but made with bread dough instead of danish/croissant dough. Even though it was originally brought over by Czech immigrants, Texans have made the kolache their own by putting their own twist on the fillings and even the¬†pronunciation. Texans say “kol-ah-chee” while the Czech¬†pronunciation¬†is “kolach” (with a silent “e”).

For some reason, kolaches are rather difficult to find outside of Texas. I’m sure they’re available in the Mid-West, but in California, no one has heard of them. So, feeling homesick for both the delicious pastry and Texas, I decided to make my own kolaches. I looked up a few recipes and found these from Homesick Texan and Confections of a Foodie Bride.

Kolaches consist of a basic sweet dough that are shaped into rounds or squares and filled with whatever fruit topping you like. Some people even stuff them with sausage. Common fruit fillings include apricot and blueberry. However, since I only had peaches in the house, I made peach kolaches instead. I also had an expiring block of cream cheese, so I made cream cheese kolaches as well.

This recipe was really easy to follow and straightforward. The only little problem (if you can call it that) was that I made the kolaches a tad too big. I thought I had shaped them into fairly small balls of dough, but boy was I wrong. They ended up rising quite a bit in the oven and became gigantic kolaches. Another difficulty I encountered was filling the wells. I suppose I just tried to put in too much filling because for every kolache, the filling spilled out of the well and down the sides. So make sure you put parchment paper underneath, which makes cleaning up extremely easy.

One of my fondest memories of eating kolaches was right before finals. Each semester, the Women in Engineering program hosted a pre-finals feast, consisting of Texas’ finest foods: breakfast tacos, chips and queso, and of course, kolaches. The fluffiness of the bread and the sweet filling of the kolache comforted me as I grew nervous about my imminent exams. After only four years, I’ve fallen in love with many traditions and cultural¬†idiosyncrasies of Texas, with kolaches being near the top. Making these kolaches brought back good memories and brought a bit of Texas to California.

Peach and Cream Cheese Kolaches
Adapted from Homesick Texan and Confections of a Foodie Bride

For dough:
1 package of active dry yeast
1 cup of warm water
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 eggs
3/4 cup of melted butter
1 teaspoon of salt

For cream cheese filling:
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon

For peach filling:
2 peaches
peach jam (I used apricot jam)

For posypka:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of sugar in warm water, then sprinkle yeast on top. Set aside for 10 minutes or until foamy.
2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, 1/2 cup of melted butter (reserve 1/4 cup for brushing on the pastry) and salt.
3. Add 1 cup of flour and yeast to the egg mixture and mix.
4. Stir in about two more cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time. The dough should be soft and moist.
5. Knead dough for about 10 minutes on floured surface.
6.¬†Put dough in a greased bowl and let rise covered until doubled in size‚ÄĒabout an hour. (I left in the refrigerator overnight and let the dough warm up the next day before using it.)
7. After dough has risen, punch it down. Pull off egg-sized pieces (maybe even smaller!), roll into balls, and then flatten to about three inches in diameter.
8. Place flattened pieces on a greased cookie sheet, brush with melted butter, cover and let rise again for another half-hour.
9. While waiting for the dough to rise, make the fillings and posypka. To make the cream cheese filling by beating the cream cheese, sugar, and lemon zest. To make the peach filling, cut up the two peaches into small pieces and mix with peach/apricot jam. (I microwaved the jam to make it more liquidy.) To make the posypka, crumble the butter, sugar, flour, and cinnamon together with your hands.
10. After second rising, gently make an indention in the center of the dough with two or three fingers. Fill each well with peach filling or cream cheese filling (about 1 tablespoon) and sprinkle with posypka.
11. Bake at 375F for 12 to 15 minutes and serve warm. Kolaches are best eaten warm and fresh from the oven, but they also taste good the day after.

This post has been Yeastspotted and submitted to Bake Your Own Bread.

Drooling for Doughnuts – Doughnut Plant

When I first arrived in New York City, I headed straight for one place: Doughnut Plant. Having heard sooooo many amazing things about the doughnuts, I made Doughnut Plant the top place I had to visit in NYC. That says a lot about this place since I don’t even like doughnuts that much.

The scaffolding blocked the sign. ūüė¶

Since I was closest to the 8th Ave and 23rd St location (the second location), I headed there. Once you enter Doughnut Plant, you’re transported into a world centered around doughnuts. There was doughnut art lining the walls, doughnut tiles engraved into the tables, and a giant tv screen displaying and flashing through all of the doughnuts offered. Talk about doughnut overload or doughnut lovers’ heaven.

They even have doughnut shaped chairs!

Since my brother raved on and on about the tres leche doughnut, I bought that right away. I had also heard about the Peanut Butter and Jelly glazed doughnut, which is a square doughnut covered with peanut butter glaze and filled with raspberry jelly. Both were good, not too sweet, which I appreciated. However, the tres leche was a bit better. Like many have said, Doughnut Plant’s cake doughnuts are better than their yeast doughnuts.

All of the doughnuts… yum!

Not knowing the next time I’d be back in NYC, I paid Doughnut Plant one last visit on my last day. For some reason that day, a regular old Monday morning, they had sold out of most of their doughnuts by 10am. So I only had the choice of the carrot cake and blackout doughnuts.¬†I had wanted to try their creme brulee doughnut, which I’ve heard is amazing, but due to unforseen circumsatnces, I tried the carrot cake doughnut instead. It was actually very good. Not too sweet, which surprised me a bit. The frosting wasn’t as flavorful as I had hoped and I wanted a bit more filling in the doughnut. But overall, it was delicious.

I highly recommend Doughnut Plant if you’re ever in NYC, even if you’re not the biggest doughnut fan. You probably can’t find a shop with such a wide variety of flavors. This should definitely be one of the top places you visit, if not the very first. ūüôā

Trying new things – Strawberry and Cream Cheese Biscuits and Scones

Ever since eating my Southern friend’s biscuits, I’ve always wanted to try to make them. However, I like to put twists on traditional dishes/recipes, so I decided to add strawberries and cream cheese to spice up the traditional biscuit.

I mainly followed Deb’s recipe for strawberry and cream biscuits, but wanting to live up to the name more, I added chunks of cream cheese into the batter.

My biscuits didn’t turn out that fluffy, possibly because of my biscuit cutting technique and the lack of shortening. I didn’t have a biscuit cutter, so I used a glass instead. People advise only pressing down into the dough; however, my glass wasn’t sharp enough to actually cut the dough, so I ended up twisting the glass a little. I know, I know, I committed a biscuit sin! I’m not exactly sure how to get really soft and fluffy biscuits, so if you have any tips, please let me know!

I may also have not kneaded the dough enough. Deb cautioned against mixing the dough too much; however, I may have taken that advice a little too far. My dough was very soft and didn’t hold its shape as well as bread dough does.

The biscuits seemed to puff up a little in the over, but deflated a bit after I took them out. Now, the biscuits weren’t hard, but they definitely were not very flaky and fluffy. I’d say they were more of a cross between biscuits and cookies.

               

Cute little biscuits with chunks of the cream cheese and strawberries!

Getting a little tired of tediously cutting out circles of dough, I decided to make the rest into scones. I just rolled the remaining dough into a circle, patted it down slightly, and cut it into eight triangles. I think the texture of the dough fit the scones a little better; however, these scones were not as crumbly as store-bought scones. The problem may have been that I cut the butter too much into the flour since I had smaller than the advised “pea sized” balls of butter.

Although my first attempt at biscuits and scones wasn’t as successful as I had hoped, the products were still delicious. I will (rather unwillingly) admit that I ate all of the scones throughout the week. The small size of the scone made it the perfect snack or sweet addition to breakfast.

I took the biscuits to a barbecue, where they quickly vanished within 30 minutes of opening the container. Either they were extremely delicious or people were so ravenous that no one noticed their failures as biscuits. These biscuits are the perfect example of my theory that as long as you don’t burn whatever you’re baking, it’ll taste good. After all, baked goods are just mixtures of butter, sugar, and flour. Since that combination is so delicious, even if you mess up the recipe, you’ll still end up with a pretty tasty result. Messing up really only changes the texture of the baked good anyways. So, on that note, don’t be afraid to try baking. It’s pretty forgiving and usually, you’ll end up with a yummy product (assuming you didn’t burn it :P).

This post has been Yeastspotted.

Easier than braiding hair – Braided Lemon Bread

The second I saw this recipe for braided lemon bread from Smitten Kitchen, I knew I had to make it someday. I filed it away in my brain and waited for the opportune moment. So when I made too much lemon curd for the brioche crescent rolls, I secretly did this:

What I love about this recipe is that it’s so straightforward and easy yet yields a final product that is so intricately beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that everyone will believe that this braid was store-bought instead of homemade. For example, when I delivered the bread to my friends, they were all so impressed by it and were convinced that I had bought it rather than made it. I felt a little bad accepting their praises since it really was super easy to make.

Despite looking complicated to make, this bread is actually extremely simple. So much easier than french braiding hair, which I still can’t do. ūüėõ All you have to do is cut the sides into strips and alternately lay them over each other. Easy, right? Following Deb’s step-by-step photos doesn’t hurt either.

What’s also great about this recipe is that you can make the braid ahead of time, and then bake it right before you’re ready to serve it. I made the dough and braid the night before, then baked it the next morning, so it was nice and fresh for breakfast.

This bread is really delicious – my friends gobbled it up within 30 minutes. The soft, fluffiness of the bread is complemented with the tartness of the lemon curd. Since I didn’t have pearl sugar (I really need to invest in it, so I can make Liege waffles!), I sifted powder sugar on top. However, the cream cheese is rather unnoticeable. In fact, my brother couldn’t even taste it when he ate it. So I’d either increase the cream cheese filling or leave it out completely. The latter is probably better since the flavor of the lemon curd overpowers the cream cheese anyways. You could also exchange the lemon curd with any kind of curd or jam. I think raspberry jam would be a delicious alternative.

If you’re looking for a recipe to impress friends with, this is it. This lemon braid is perfect to bring to a brunch, like Deb did, or as a dessert to a dinner party. When your friends and family see this bread, they’ll praise you for your master baking skills and you’ll smile and say thanks, knowing that it was actually incredibly easy to make.

This post has been Yeastspotted and submitted to Bake Your Own Bread.

A Berry Good July 4th – Mixed Berry Cupcake/Muffins

For July 4th, I decided to skip baking a traditional flag cake and the non-traditional hidden flag cake, even though Pinterest was flooded with them (as Deb from smitten kitchen duly noted). Besides my housemate ended up baking one and our kitchen is definitely not big enough for two flag cakes. So instead, I decided to bake berry cupcakes since I had a tub of expiring sour cream and a bag of frozen berries sitting in the freezer.

Creaming the butter and sugar

Now, I’m not sure if these exactly classify as cupcakes since they looked like muffins. I like to think they were cupcakes since I creamed the butter and sugar and added each egg one at a time. Usually, I think of muffins as ¬†the “mix the wet ingredients, mix the dry ingredients, and then add the dry to the wet” kind of recipe whereas cupcakes are more of the “cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs, then alternately add the flour and milk” type. It makes sense since creaming the butter and sugar lightens the batter and makes the final product more fluffy. This is probably why muffins are much denser than cupcakes. But don’t quote me, I’m no expert on cupcakes or muffins. I usually just do what the recipe tells me.

Mixing in the frozen berries

The original recipe was for lemon cream cupcakes, but I modified it by adding in frozen mixed berries at the end. No need to thaw the berries, in fact that’ll result in berry juice instead of actual berries. Also, try not to mix the berries too much since that’ll break them up.

All ready for the oven

I noticed that while baking in the oven, the cupcakes rose quite a bit and then deflated after I took them out. Not sure how to prevent deflation yet. I remember seeing a tip on Pinterest about baking them at a lower temperature, but I have yet to try that.

Since I hate to waste leftovers, I frosted the cupcakes with leftover lime buttercream frosting (the one from the margarita cupcakes). These cupcakes are pretty sweet already and didn’t really need the frosting. So I’d recommend just sifting some powdered sugar on top instead of frosting them (especially with old frosting). Plus, without the frosting, you’ll be able to see the bright colors of the cupcakes!

    

Unfrosted cupcake vs. Frosted cupcake

(And you can paint your nails red to match them… not like I intentionally did that… ¬† ¬†Or you can just patriotically paint your nails!)

I brought these cupcake/muffins to a Fourth of July BBQ and they were devoured pretty quickly. What’s nice about this recipe is that it’s not just strictly for a special holiday, like those flag cakes. You can make these muffin/cupcakes for any kind of party/BBQ or even for breakfast or dessert!

Mixed Berry Cupcakes/Muffins
Adapted from allrecipes

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
Zest from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sour cream
1 bag of frozen mixed berries (or whatever berries you want)

1. Cream the butter and sugar.
2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
3. Mix in the lemon zest and vanilla.
4. Combine the dry ingredients.
5. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the sour cream to the creamed butter mixture.
6. Fold in the frozen berries.
7. Fill a paper-lined muffin tin with batter (each one 1/2 or 3/4 full of batter).
8. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes.
9. Cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
10. Sift powdered sugar on top or frost with your favorite frosting (a lemon buttercream or cream cheese frosting would go well with these cupcakes).
11. Paint your nails to match the berries in the cupcakes and enjoy!

Lazy Sunday – Brioche Crescent Rolls with Lemon Curd

A few weeks ago, I had a few lemons that I wanted to use up quickly, so I decided to make lemon curd. It’s surprisingly very easy! Just lemon juice, eggs, butter, and sugar. I couldn’t believe it. Knowing that I’d get very bored just eating lemon curd on toast, I searched for some recipes to use it up. Once I saw this one for brioche crescent rolls filled with lemon curd, I knew I had the perfect recipe.

I used homemade lemon curd, but you can always use store bought if you don’t have enough time or enough lemons. If you do have those two things, I definitely recommend making your own lemon curd. It really is very simple. The first time I made it, I noticed some of the egg whites had cooked in my curd. So I spent a good 30 minutes trying to fish out those egg white pieces.

Can you spot the egg whites?

Not wanting to go through that process again, I found this awesome tip from Fine Cooking.¬†Cream the butter and sugar first until fluffy, then beat in the eggs, and finally add in the lemon juice. You’ll end up with a lumpy yellow mess that looks pretty disgusting. But don’t worry, once you put in on the stove, it’ll become smooth and creamy lemon curd. I tried a second time, following the tip, and got beautiful, delicious lemon curd with absolutely no cooked egg white pieces!

As I’ve said before, I’m a little hesitant when it comes to baking with lots of butter. So I cut down on the butter in this recipe and used only 1/2 cup of butter. As I was mixing in the butter, I already thought that it was too much. But despite decreasing the butter, the crescent rolls¬†were still pretty rich.

I made half of the recipe and got about 18 crescent rolls. As you’re making them, be careful not to put in too much lemon curd on the dough. I did that several times and lemon curd was peeking out of the crescent rolls, and then spilled out as the rolls baked.

These crescent rolls puffed up and browned beautifully. The dough was so soft and fluffy while the lemon curd was tart and sweet. It’s a great combination because the tart lemon curd cuts the richness of the buttery brioche.

I baked these on a Sunday morning for my family for breakfast. They’re a nice sweet treat to enjoy with your morning cup of coffee as you read the headlines of the newspaper and bask in the sunshine on a lazy Sunday.

Brioche Crescent Rolls with Lemon Curd
Adapted from girlichef

Brioche Crescent Rolls
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 warm water
1/8 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten, at room temp.
2 1/4 teaspoon yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp.
1 cup lemon curd (or any type of citrus curd)
1 large egg, beaten w/ 1 tsp. water (egg wash)
powdered sugar, for sifting

Lemon Curd
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest

Brioche Crescent Rolls
1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of sugar in warm water, then sprinkle in yeast. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, place the milk, sugar, and 1 cup of the flour. Add the eggs and mix until well combined. Add the yeast mixture and another cup of flour and mix until well combined. Add salt and remaining flour about a ¬Ĺ cup or so at a time, until the dough comes together but is still fairly sticky.
3. Pull the dough out of the bowl and place onto a well floured surface. Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes.
4. Add a quarter of the butter at a time, waiting until well blended before adding more.
5. Clean the large bowl you used earlier, transfer the dough to the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
6. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let sit for 30 minutes to warm up.
7. Divide the dough in half. Roll out one half of dough on a lightly floured surface into a circle that is about 10 inches wide. Cut into 12 equal wedges/triangles.
8. Add two teaspoons of lemon curd to the base of each triangle. Starting from that base, roll each triangle of dough and form into a crescent shape. Pinch ends to seal.
9. Place each crescent roll on a parchment lined sheet tray. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
10. Preheat oven to 350F during last 15 minutes of rise time. Brush each crescent with egg wash and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Lemon Curd
1. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
2. Beat in the eggs.
3. Add in the lemon juice. (Mixture will look very lumpy and chunky).
4. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook over medium heat, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon. The mixture will thicken as you cook it.
5. Cook for 15 minutes until the mixture is thick enough to leave a path on the back of the spoon.
6. Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest.
7. Pour lemon curd into jar or bowl and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
8. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming.
9. Spread on bread, toast, english muffin, etc… and enjoy!
You can keep fresh lemon curd in the refrigerator for a week or two.

This post has been Yeastspotted.

Childhood Nostalgia – Red Bean Buns

Growing up, I ate a lot of red beans. No, not the savory kind used in rice and beans, but the sweet kind commonly found in Asian desserts. Sweet red bean soup served after dinner and soft buns filled with red bean paste were some of my favorite desserts. Anytime I saw red bean anything being offered, my eyes would widen and I’d choose it immediately.

So when I saw this recipe for red bean buns, I knew I had to make them. To make the dough, I used the same recipe for soft, fluffy bread using the tangzhong method. I used canned red bean paste, but you could make your own. To make the rolls, you simply enclose a small ball of paste with a circle of the dough, then roll out the dough ball into a flat oblong shape. The funnest part was cutting slits into the dough, but make sure not to cut too deep or else you’ll end up with strings of red bean buns. Simply roll the dough up (hot dog style), brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

These red bean rolls bake and brown beautifully. My mom, lover of hot out of the oven baked goods, quickly snatched up a roll once I brought the tray out of the oven.

She was so impressed by these rolls and exclaimed that they looked exactly like those sold in Chinese bakeries. My friends reinforced this when I brought them the rolls the next day. I’m pretty sure if I had packaged the rolls in one of those pink boxes the Chinese bakeries use, no one would have guessed the rolls were homemade.

Since moving away from home for college and now grad school, I rarely eat any kind of Chinese food. I suppose the overexposure to it growing up as a kid has resulted in my avoidance of Chinese restaurants as an adult. Although I do enjoy certain Chinese dishes, I usually prefer to eat other Asian cuisines, especially Korean, Japanese, and Thai. However, these red bean rolls were so delicious that I could resist eating them or deny that they were amazing. Plus, they brought me back to my childhood and let me indulge in a bit of nostalgia.

Like childhood, these¬†buns are pretty simple,¬†even though they may seem rather complex. They’re also super light and fluffy, just like how life felt as a kid. Not yet weighted by the burdens of adulthood, kids can fly as high and as far as they want. Hopefully, in producing bakery-worthy goods, these red bean buns will make you feel like that once again. ūüôā

Red Bean Buns
Adapted from Happy Home Baking

Dough for soft, fluffy bread (follow this recipe just omit the pandan extract)
1 can of red bean paste, roll into balls of equal size
1 egg for egg wash
White sesame seeds (optional)

  1. After the dough has risen, divide the dough into equal sized portions (the number can vary depending on the size). Roll each portion into a ball and let them rest for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Flatten the dough into a round disc. Enclose each red bean paste ball with a flat disc of dough. Pinch and seal the seam tightly. Flatten the dough into a round disc and roll out into a longish oval shape. Use a knife to make a few slits, but don’t cut all the way through. Roll up into an oblong roll, then seal and pinch the edges.
  3. Place the rolls, seam side down on a greased baking tray. Leave some space in between the rolls to allow them to expand. Let the rolls proof for the second time for about 45 mins, or until they double in size.
  4. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle white sesame seeds on top.
  5. Bake in pre-heated oven at 350F for 15 mins or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on cooling rack.

This post has been Yeastspotted.