I’ve recently become fixated on Challah and this post will contain some pointers and tricks but no actual recipe. I’m still working on finding my favorite challah recipe, I’ve tried two within the past week but I haven’t yet found one with the “egg-y” quality that I adore in challah. My ideal loaf of challah is lightly sweetened but with so many eggs inside that the dough itself is yellow and the crust is hard and beautifully browned. So far, I’ve been able to achieve beautiful puffiness with my challah dough but not that egg-y quality that I want. In my quest for the perfect challah, I’ve tried a recipe from a Le Pain Quotidian cooking class that I took several years ago and one from King Arthur Flour. Next on my list is the “Perfect Challah” recipe from the New York Times and I will let you all know how that one goes! As a baker, I often become fixated on one specific recipe for several days until I believe I have perfected it! One of the most memorable recent occasions of this was my obsession with quiche where I got up at four in the morning to re-do my quiche recipe multiple times. I just have a tendency to want to find ~the recipe~ for something, a recipe that I can count on always. During the semester, I got hung up on baguettes which I’ve made both in Baltimore and home in California to varying degrees of success. I’m still working on that but I took a break to focus on enriched breads which I find are easier to make in a pinch.
Challah is my favorite enriched dough and the only one that I make on a semi-regular basis. Its “enriched” qualities come from the use of oil and eggs as the fat that the yeast feeds on. The dough itself is very light and fluffy and the crust is browned but still soft and often covered with sesame seeds. Challah doesn’t require any special baking equipment, I usually bake mine on two cookie sheets in my oven. Its crust doesn’t need any additional steam and you can use whatever toppings you have on hand. When making challah, I try to have all the ingredients at room temperature. Any dough needs to reach a certain internal temperature before it will start the process of rising and fermenting. However, the internal temperature is especially important for enriched dough because the fats weigh down the dough making a big rise harder to achieve. I also use lukewarm water, around 90F, when making the dough to help with the internal temperature. Looking from the outside, the braiding of challah bread looks incredibly complicated but I’ve found the braiding process soothing and easier than expected. A three or four strand braid is pretty common for challah bread and I usually go with a three or a nine strand braid. For braiding, I handle the dough just like my hair. Actually, for dads trying to learn how to braid, challah dough might provide a good place to practice the more complicated plaits before trying it on your daughter’s head. King Arthur Flour has some great youtube videos on the most basic braids and like any part of baking, your braids will improve with practice. Let me know if you enjoyed this more technical type of post in the comments below. I can’t wait to share my final challah recipe with everyone and until then, Happy Baking!
I love the holidays, covid or not, because of all the baking! I absolutely adore having a seasonal reason to bake and there’s nothing that cheers me up more than some lovely Christmas cookies. I always make a ton of cookies from different recipes around the holidays and these are the results of my latest experiment! I’m so lucky that this recipe worked out, it’s from the Wall Street Journal and I have NOT had good luck with some of their recipes. This past year, I’ve had a hard time with snicker-doodles and these were a perfect recipe for someone who regularly messes up the more delicate snickerdoodle. I love the spices mixed into the dough for snicker-doodles and this recipe provides the same spices with a bit more of a punch. The article that I got the recipe from described them as Jamaican snicker-doodles but I would describe them more like gingerbread snicker-doodles. They’re hardier cookies and the article recommended shipping these out to relatives as they would hold up better in the shipping process. I would have shipped some out had any made it out of my kitchen! They were so delicious that my family and I ate them all up within the week. I’m excited to make this recipe for many years to come, it’s amazing!
This recipe makes about twenty four cookies and the original recipe recommended doing 3 ounce dough balls for the cookies. I halved that amount to about 1.5 ounces per cookie and found that the smaller size works better for me. 3 ounce cookies would have been too big for my family and I but it may be just the right size for some! The true star of the recipe is the spices but we cannot neglect the hidden hero, cream of tartar. Cream of tartar is a byproduct from wine-making and it’s a chalky powder that winemakers will scrape from their barrels after they’ve removed the wine. Cream of tartar acts as an acid, balancing out the spreading tendency of the sugar and butter, and keeps the cookie together in the baking process. If a recipe calls for cream of tartar, if you don’t have any, go get some. It’s not worth it to try and substitute another acid like lemon juice, it just doesn’t work right. I am speaking from personal experience because I attempted to substitute lemon juice in several batches of snicker-doodles and they spread horrifically. I had to scrape the cookies off the baking tray and was very distraught. But we all fail during baking and I’m taking advantage of this never ending year to try and branch out in my baking despite the potential for failure. So I hope that you have some cream of tartar at home and can make these cookies for yourself and your family this holiday season! Happy baking!
Bulla Cookie Recipe
For the Dough
330 grams (2 3/4 cup) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
297 grams (1 1/2 cup) granulated sugar
54 grams (1/4 cup) light brown sugar (if using cups, pack the sugar down)
2 large eggs
For the Sugar Topping
99 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
To make the dough, first combine the dry ingredients (from flour down to ground pepper). Mix well with a fork.
Beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes in a mixer and longer by hand. Scrape the bowl and mix again for less than a minute. Beat in eggs one at a time until mixed completely.
Add in dry ingredients in one or two additions to the butter/sugar mix. Mix on low until just incorporated, try not to over mix.
Scoop out dough, about 1.5 oz each, and roll into a ball. Grease several containers and place the dough inside. Cover and refrigerate at least 3-4 hours, ideally chilling overnight. The dough can also be frozen at this stage as well and it keeps for 3 months in the freezer.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 and make the sugar topping by combining all the ingredients. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Roll cookies in sugar topping and make sure they are completely coated. Place on sheets with at least 2 or 3 inches in between cookies and bake 10-14 minutes. (If your oven runs cold, bake 14 minutes) If baking from frozen, bake an additional 2-3 minutes but be sure to watch the cookies to prevent them burning.
Let cool to room temperature on a wire rack and enjoy! They stay good for 5 days in a airtight container.
These are so good that one did not even make it to the plate for a photo. The day after I baked these, they were GONE! They are so good and I cannot wait to share the recipe! I found these after searching around for fall desserts on the New York Times Cooking App and came across these darlings! On their app, they’re called Pecan Tassies and are meant to be similar to a bite-size cookie. I ended up modifying the recipe slightly and making them much larger for a more satisfying bite and now I’m calling them mini-pecan pies! I love pecan pie and it’s one of my favorite foods that we have around the holidays. It’s also the favorite pie of my father whose birthday falls around Thanksgiving time. This year, I wanted to make these for our scaled down gathering and they have already been a big hit with my boyfriend. I can’t wait to make these for my whole family over the holidays!
I made a couple of modifications to the original recipe that really make all the difference. My recipe makes about ten cupcake sized pecan pies which I baked in a single muffin tin using reusable muffin liners. You can also make these in a mini-muffin pan that produces quite a few more so it’s your choice. The baking time doesn’t vary so you can’t go wrong either way. The dough that holds the pecan pie goo is quite soft and should be handled as quickly as possible so it doesn’t get tough or melt all over your hands. I added a tablespoon of maple sugar to my recipe which more than the two teaspoons of sugar from the original recipe but the addition makes the mini pies truly delectable. If you don’t have maple sugar, you can use regular granulated sugar or look for some maple sugar in stores. In my post “Maple Shortbread Cookies” I also include instructions for how to make maple sugar from maple syrup which you can always do as long as you have Grade A maple syrup around. The pecan pie goo is delicious but make sure your butter is truly melted before you mix it. When I was making my mini pies, I didn’t melt it as well as I should have and ended up with butter chunks that I slowly had to melt while trying not to cook the egg that I had already beaten in! As long as your butter and cream cheese are close to room temperature, it’s a super easy and quick recipe to whip together. Happy baking!
Mini-Pecan Pie Recipe
For the Crust
85 grams (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
123 grams (4 oz) cream cheese at room temperature
1 tablespoon maple sugar (or granulated sugar if that’s all you have)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
128 grams (1 full cup) All Purpose flour
For the Filling
1 large egg
78 grams (1/4 cup) maple syrup
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
28 grams (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
66 grams (2/3 cup) pecan halves, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 and spray a dozen non stick muffin cups.
Make the dough. Beat together the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and salt until creamy. Beat in the flour until the dough just comes together. Portion out the dough and press into a cup shape in the muffin tin.
Make the filling by whisking together all the ingredients except the pecans.
Sprinkle the pecans inside the crust in each of the cups before you add in the filling to evenly distribute the pecans. You’ll use 2 or more tablespoons per crust.
Bake until the filling is set and the crust is brown 20-27 minutes (the original recipe went to 25 but I needed two extra minutes so go to 27 if your oven takes its time when baking stuff)
Remove the tin from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least ten minutes. After ten minutes, remove the pies from the muffin tin and let cool on the wire rack. Once cooled, eat with a little whipped cream on top for a truly decadent mouthful!
These cookies are a little more laborious than my preferred cookie recipes but it is totally worth it! I’ve never made button or thumbprint cookies but I thought I’d give it a try! I was super pleased with the way that these came out! Normally, molasses and other liquid sweeteners like honey have a tendency to spread the dough as it bakes and it can create really moist but very flat cookies. These cookies are fantastic and moist but hold their shape very well. I think they’re really cute and they’d make a great cookie for a holiday cookie exchange once we don’t have to worry about covid-19.
The trick here is the two-hour chill in between making the dough and baking it. It may be tough to wait if you’re impatient like me but I found that taking a nice long walk made the two hours pass by in a breeze! The cookie also uses two different kinds of sugar, brown and turbinado or raw sugar. The difference is that the “raw” sugar comes in large, golden crystals that the dough is rolled in at the end to create a distinctive “sparkle” on the outside. Rolling them in the “raw” sugar is an easy way to give them a little pizzaz. This “raw” sugar is available in most grocery stores in the baking aisle, you just may have to hunt for it a little bit. I also filled these cookies with two different fillings. If you look closely at the pictures, there’s a slight color difference that gives it away. For about half, I used leftover chocolate ganache from my Chocolate Cake recipe from a couple weeks back. For the other half, I used the filling from the recipe. Below, I’ve doubled this amount because the original recipe amount only filled half of my cookies… They’re easy to overfill so go easy on the filling at first, you can always go back in and refill if needed. I hope that you find this recipe as delectable as I did and happy baking!
Spiced Molasses Chocolate Buttons Recipe
For the Dough
195 grams (1 1/2 cup +2 tablespoons) All Purpose flour
35 grams (6 tablespoons) unsweetened cocoa
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
142 grams (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
106 grams (1/2 cup packed) dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
85 grams (1/4 cup) molasses
100 grams turbinado sugar to coat
For the filling
57 grams (1/3 cup) bittersweet chocolate (I used semisweet chocolate chips and it seemed to not be too sweet)
28 grams (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chopped into smaller pieces
1/2 teaspoon molasses
Sift together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger, and all spice in a medium bowl.
Beat together butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy in a separate, large bowl. Beat in the egg until well mixed then add and mix in the molasses.
In two additions, mix together the dry and wet ingredients in the larger bowl until well-blended. Scrape the bowl then refrigerate the dough in the bowl for two hours. To retain the moisture, cover with cling wrap.
When ready to bake, line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350F.
Pour turbinado sugar onto a plate or bowl. Using a tablespoon scoop, scoop and portion the dough into balls. Roll in the sugar until covered completely. Place on the baking sheet about 1 1/2 inch apart. (They spread while baking but not by much)
Bake until set around the edges but still soft in the middle, 10 or 11 minutes depending on the strength of your over. Remove from oven and using a spoon, create a deep indent in the middle of each cookie. Return the cookies to the oven and bake 5-6 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the pans on a wire rack.
To make the filling, place the chocolate and butter together in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave in thirty second intervals until melted. Mix well between intervals (I have a terrible microwave and it only took me a minute to melt it) Once melted and mixed together, stir in the molasses.
Transfer the filling to a ziplock bag or a pastry bag. Snip a corner off the ziplock bag and fill each cookie. Let sit at room temperature until the filling is firm. Enjoy!
Wow these were amazing! I got this recipe from the New York Times Cooking app and had been wanting to make it for a while! I had some leftover apple cider from a trip to the orchard a few weeks ago and decided to give it a try! These were delicious! They are the same as the apple cider donuts traditionally sold by apple orchards but even better! I liked them more because I felt that they didn’t get soggy after a day or two of sitting around and they were a joy to eat! They had the same texture as a donut but without all the fat and grease from being deep-fried! The original recipe is for baked donuts but the only thing that makes them donuts is being baked in a donut pan. Because I am a college student and not a professional baker, I do not have a donut pan. However, I have multiple muffin pans that I put to great use as part of this recipe! It has been tasted and approved by my boyfriend so I feel very good about putting this recipe out for the world to see!
There isn’t a lot of technique involved with the recipe but there are a few tricks to know about the butter and eggs used in this recipe. For butter, most recipes call for softened or room temperature butter. It is ALWAYS better to leave butter out overnight to soften but I have found that the microwave works out just fine in a pinch. I microwave butter for thirty second intervals and keep a close eye on the butter. Once it is easy to leave an indent in the butter, it doesn’t need to be microwaved anymore and has reached the softened or room temperature stage. Another trick with temperature is with eggs. I leave my eggs in the fridge most of the time because I’m never sure when I’ll use them next. This recipe calls specifically for room temperature eggs as do many recipes with an end product that is moist but strong. An easy trick for getting eggs closer to room temperature is to boil some water. Let it cool and then pour it over the eggs. The temperature of the water will gently heat the eggs without cooking them completely. This is an easy trick that can help you stick to your recipe and get great end results. I used both of these tricks while making these muffins because they were a spur of the moment decision! I hope that you are able to be equally spontaneous in your creation of baked goods and I wish you luck with these! Happy baking!
Baked Apple Cider Muffins
For the Muffins
225 grams (1 3/4 cup) All Purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
140 grams (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
165 grams (3/4 cup) light brown sugar
50 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
120milliliters (1/2 cup) apple cider
For the Topping
100 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
To coat: 6 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350F and line a muffin sheet and a half. This recipe made me about 15 muffins so be prepared to move to the second pan.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking powder.
In a separate and larger bowl, cream together the butter and two sugars. Beat until light and fluffy
Once fluffy, beat in the eggs one at a time, ensuring they are fully mixed in. Then add the vanilla extract and mix until smooth.
In two additions, add the flour mixture, stirring in between additions. Gently pour in apple cider and stir until the batter becomes smooth and consistent.
Divide the batter evenly amongst the prepared cups and bake 23-27 minutes. Time will vary based on the heat and strength of your oven. Check for done-ness by inserting a toothpick into the center of a muffin and if it comes out clean, then it’s done!
While muffins are baking, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon and melt the butter. Keep the cinnamon-sugar and butter separate.
Once the muffins are done, let sit in the pan for five minutes. Once cool enough to touch, dip in butter then roll in cinnamon sugar. If you’re an enthusiast with the sugar, you may need to make more. If so, use the same amounts as before and store whatever you don’t use as long as it hasn’t touched butter.
Enjoy your muffins right away or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container and enjoy!
So I have to admit that the cover photo for today’s blog post was graciously taken by the recipients of this cake. Two of my friends recently celebrated their marriage and being a big baker, I asked if I could bake them a yummy if slightly messy cake. I had originally planned to do a butter cake with ganache frosting, a classic bumblebee cake. Looking around my pantry, I noticed I had a boxed mix of devil’s food cake that I had been dying to use and this seemed like a a perfect opportunity! Using a boxed cake mix meant that I was able to take my time with the other parts of the cake that added a lovely touch and taste. I should have taken a little extra time with the royal icing lettering but hindsight is 20/20! The royal icing was a little on the runnier side and smooshed together a little but I see that as protecting the privacy of the intended recipients!
This cake has everything! Two layers of delicious cake with a simple syrup for additional moisture with a ganache frosting and royal icing lettering! This cake was actually a two-day process which sounds daunting but I actually think it makes the whole thing much less stressful. Taking the time to properly chill the cake and the frosting allows for the icing process to be much more stress-free! I really enjoyed icing the cake, something I’m not sure that I’ve ever said before. I used to HATE icing cakes; it was always way more trouble than it was worth. I would get crumbs everywhere and could never get a smooth coating of frosting! Let me tell you that has all changed! Equipped with the right tools and knowledge, I’ve become much more at ease in the icing department. The decorations still need a little bit of work but we can’t all be perfect! To properly ice a cake, you really should use a rotating cake stand. I used to hear this all the time and thought it was a bunch of hooey but it really has some merit. It makes it so much easier to get the sides of the cake without taking off too much frosting. Using offset spatulas also helps a LOT. The funky shape to these spatulas helps to evenly distribute the frosting in an intuitive way. One word of wisdom is that the offset spatula should never actually touch the cake. The spatula is used to move around the frosting which ends up covering the cake for you.
This ganache recipe is also one that I have used for a few years but have never taken the time to use all the different bowls and pans that it calls for. Even though it makes way more dishes (which my father never appreciates), this recipe is an easy way to get lovely tempered chocolate frosting for a whole cake. The key to this ganache is the right combination of hot and cold. It’s not as finicky most tempered chocolate recipes but it does need to be warm while being made. The cacao percentage of the chocolate is also very important. The original recipe calls for 62% cacao but I’ve never been able to find that and I use 66% cacao. This is a pretty dark chocolate but doesn’t need much sugar to sweeten it. This recipe won’t really work with a smaller percentage of cacao because the ganache will be too sweet and a little oily. It’s worth the extra couple bucks to get a higher cacao percentage for this recipe. I made this ganache on the morning of the assembly of the cake and put it in the fridge to chill before applying to the cake. One super easy way to soften the ganache if it has chilled is to put in a tablespoon or two of hot water and mix it into the ganache. It helps to soften it without exposing it to the harsh temperature induced by the microwave. Not that I don’t love a good microwave but it doesn’t quite do it for this recipe. I hope that you try this recipe and let me know about your successes or failures in the comments below! Happy baking!
Chocolate Cake Recipe
For the Cake
1 box mix of chocolate cake or your favorite chocolate cake recipe
For the Simple Syrup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
For the Ganache
10 ounces of 66% Cacao chocolate
75 grams (2/3 cup) powdered sugar, sifted
170 grams (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
42 grams (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
For the Royal Icing
113 grams (1 cup) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon egg white
Make the cake the day before assembly. Cut the pieces and wrap in cling wrap. Let chill in the fridge overnight.
To make the ganache, combine chocolate and powdered sugar in a heatproof bowl.
Put a medium pan of water on to simmer. This will act as part of a bain marie to melt the chocolate so make sure the heatproof bowl fits neatly into the top of the pot before you start the boil
In a small saucepan on medium heat, warm the heavy cream to a simmer. Once simmering, pour over the chocolate mixture and stir until the sugar is melted.
Nest the chocolate bowl over the pan of simmering water. Heat the bowl and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
In a small heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Add about a half cup of the chocolate mixture to the eggs and whisk vigorously with a fork to temper. Once shiny, pour back into the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine.
Add butter to chocolate and stir until smooth. Pour hot ganache through a sieve into a heatproof container and chill for at least 1 hour.
While the ganache is chilling, make the simple syrup. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat until sugar has dissolved into the water. Remove to a heatproof container and let cool. (This simple syrup works for cocktails as well so try to make some if you have leftovers)
Once the simple syrup and ganache have cooled, remove the cake from the fridge.
Unwrap and gently brush a conservative amount of syrup over each half of the cake. Make sure the cake is moistened but not soaked by the syrup.
Take the half of the cake that was the top and place on the cake stand. Take a generous dollop of ganache and spread it over this half.
Once thoroughly frosted, put the bottom half on top, with the side that was in the bottom of the pan on top. This ensures a flat cake.
Add dollops of ganache around the side of the cake. Using offset spatula, spread a thin layer of ganache over the sides.
Once a thin layer is created, chill the cake for at least an hour. While it is chilling, make the royal icing.
For the royal icing, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. If too thick, add a teaspoon of water until desired consistency. If too runny, add additional powdered sugar until it stiffens.
Once the cake has chilled, remove from the fridge. Place a generous dollop of frosting on top and cover. Once the top is covered, add ganache to the sides to fully coat the cake.
To smooth the sides, hold the offset spatula tight to the side of the cake and spin the rotating stand while holding the spatula steady. Push the excess frosting from the sides to the top of the cake. Once there, smooth off into the top layer with the spatula.
Chill cake for at least 30 minutes before adding words or serve immediately. It will stay well wrapped in the fridge for five days.
If adding words, put the royal icing into an icing bag with a small writing tip and write out desired message. Make sure the icing isn’t too runny or your cake may look like mine!
Oh my gosh is it shortbread??? Again?? When does the obsession with shortbread end you may ask??? My answer at the moment is never!!! As a kid, I really hated the short texture in cookies where they just crumbled apart in my hands. I always preferred my cookies soft and honestly, I still like my chocolate chip cookies a little under baked so that they stay soft for days! However, I think shortbread reminds me so much of the Great British Baking Show and I refuse to watch the newest season without my mother present, so I’m compensating by making as much shortbread as humanly possible. Shortbread is also a celebration of simplicity with a huge flavor packed inside each cookie! I never appreciated nuance in my cookie but I’m really starting to, especially with the quantity of cookies that I’ve been making lately!
I actually made this recipe about a week before I choose to post about it because I wanted some time to experiment with the recipe a little bit. This recipe is originally from King Arthur Flour where it was credited to Alyssa Rimmer of Simply Quinoa! So you can thank Ms. Rimmer for the original recipe and myself for a few modifications. When I made it the first time, it was really heavy on the cinnamon and pecan but lighter on the maple. I had chosen these cookies for their maple flavoring and was disappointed when they didn’t deliver as much punch as hoped for in the maple department. As much as I complained about it not going as perfectly as I wanted, my boyfriend still taste-tested as many as he could get his hands on! So obviously, there are fans of the original recipe but I’ll be putting my variations next to the recipe below. I replaced the confectioners sugar with maple sugar and doubled the amount of salt. I thought it was missing salt from the original recipe but a doubled amount may be too salty for some. These are also a super quick cookie to throw together, so the opportunities to modify the recipe just a tad to your taste are only limited by your quantities of the ingredients! Let me know what you think of recipe or any of the modifications in the comments below! Happy baking!
I am so excited to finally have maple shortbread cookies that have worked! For several weeks, I’ve been baking and baking trying to find a good maple shortbread recipe. I’ve never been the biggest fan of shortbread but I’ve recently become absolutely obsessed with the crumbly crunch of these cookies. They remind me a lot of the Great British Baking Show because they seem so quintessentially British. For several weeks, I’ve been trying recipes with various levels of success. I’ve added maple syrup to several recipes to try and emulate that maple flavor without much success. Using maple syrup as a sweetener in a recipe is a lot like using molasses in the way that it adds the moisture and causes the cookies to spread. Maple syrup isn’t a good sweetener for shortbread because it adds a moistness to the cookie that is great for a cake but not so great for a cookie that you want to be very short or crisp. Below is a photo from one of my early experiments. The cookies were delicious but they definitely were not shortbread. They were a joy to eat but not quite what I was aiming for so I decided to try again with a recipe from King Arthur’s Flour.
When I was researching maple shortbread recipes, I came across quite a few that used maple sugar, something that I had never heard off. I looked it up online and even on Amazon, a one pound bag of the stuff sells for around $8!!!! That’s more than I pay for a five pound bag of flour!!! I kept digging and found out exactly what maple sugar is which is the crystallized sugar granules from maple syrup! Being an adventurous baker, I set out to make my own maple sugar from syrup and it turned out really well! You definitely need a candy thermometer to check temperatures but equipped properly, you can have a good quantity of maple sugar in minutes. The process is dangerously simple; you heat the maple syrup in a pot until it reaches about 50-60 degrees above its boiling point. From there, you beat it (by hand or with a stand mixer which is easier) until it crystallizes. Because I have a bit more experience and I can be a little reckless, I decided to do this and came up with about a fourth a cup of maple sugar! I would NOT recommend an amateur baker doing this but it can be done in a pinch if needed. Buying it is definitely easier and safer! If you feel that you have enough experience, look up instructions online and enjoy! I thought it was very fun!
This recipe is adapted from one from King Arthur Flour that actually makes maple shortbread sandwich cookies. My goal was to try and get the maple shortbread nailed before I started doing more complex stuff so my recipe only includes the shortbread dough. I used two different techniques for rolling out the dough. One was a traditional roll and cut out with cookie cutter while the other was using a cookie stamp. My mother gave me a beautiful pinecone cookie stamp for Christmas this past year and I’ve been dying to use it. This recipe gave me a great opportunity to try it and I think it came out very well for a first attempt! Either method you choose to use, I would roll to dough out to about 1/4 of an inch thick. I think it makes for a more satisfying cookie and it holds the shape much better. I hope you enjoy baking these as much as I did!
131 grams (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) All Purpose flour
Beat together the butter, salt, sugars, and vanilla extract/maple flavor.
Add flour and mix until the dough comes together.
Wrap in cling wrap and chill for thirty minutes if using a cookie cutter. Chill for 2 hours if using a cookie stamp.
Preheat oven to 300F and line a cookie sheet
Cookie Cutters: If using, roll dough out to 1/4″ thick and flour the cutter. Cut out cookies and place on lined sheet.
Cookie Stamps: If using, remove tablespoon scoops from the chilled dough and roll into a ball. Lightly flour both the dough ball and the cookie stamp. Place the dough ball on flour and press down with the cookie stamp. Gently peel the cookie out of the stamp and place on lined sheet.
Bake for 20-25 minutes depending on thickness of the cookie or until the cookies just begin to brown.
Remove from oven and cool on the cookie sheet.
Once cooled, eat and enjoy!
A comment made by my boyfriend is that the texture is similar to pie crust. If I end up using it as piecrust, I’ll let you know how it goes! The recipe can also be easily doubled for more cookies. They store well in an air tighter container for several days and the dough/cookie can be frozen.
These were a lovely shortbread recipe that came together in a matter of minutes! These cookies did need quite a while to cool in the fridge so factor that in when you’re planning on making them and make sure that you have plenty of fridge space for all the cookies! I decided to make these after a particularly bad baking day last week. I talked with one of my best friends in the whole world for an hour or two over FaceTime and she inspired me to bake these! I had been wanting to make a lemony dessert for some time; I haven’t been able to let go of the summery feeling that lemons bring and decided to capitalize on this. I grabbed a lemon at the store and was able to make do with what else I had at home. I really loved how crisp and short that these turned out! I haven’t had a ton of luck with shortbread in the past but these were great cookies to start with.
The recipe only calls for a teaspoon or two of lemon zest but I ended up zesting a whole lemon into the dough and it wasn’t too much for me. The dough, sans the lemon zest, is actually a great shortbread base that could be added to to make a ton of different kinds of shortbread. I’ll be experimenting with this in the future so I’ll keep you all posted if I find a good derivative of this recipe for another flavor. The dough also held its shape really well after being rolled out and chilled. I’ve had issues with this in the past and it’s made me wary of using some of my trickier cookie cutouts but go wild here! The cookies will hold so find your craziest cookie cutter and get baking! Let me know in the comments below how it works out for you and happy baking!
Lemon Shortbread Recipe
113 grams (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature (indents when you poke it)
29 grams (1/4 cup) powdered sugar
2 teaspoons packed lemon zest (I zest the whole lemon but I love lemon)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
120 grams (1 cup) All Purpose flour
pinch of kosher salt (between 1/8 teaspoon and 1/4 teaspoon)
Granulated sugar for rolling
Line two baking sheets. (The dough can be made 3 days in advance and just chill in the fridge until needed)
Beat together butter and powdered sugar. Beat in lemon peel and vanilla extract
Beat in flour and kosher salt and beat until just blended.
Transfer dough to a large piece of plastic wrap and press into a disk. Cover with another piece of plastic wrap and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness.
Place plastic-wrapped disk into the fridge and chill until firm, 20-30 minutes
Position a rack in the top and bottom third of the oven and preheat oven to 350F.
Transfer dough from plastic wrap onto a sugared surface. It replicates the non-stick that flour helps with but coats the dough deliciously.
Cut out shapes in the dough with a cookie cutter or lid of a mason jar or with the lid of a clean drinking glass.
Place cut outs on the cookie sheet about 2 inches apart and chill for 10 minutes. Coat lightly with sugar before putting them back in the fridge.
Bake cookies until light brown, 10-15 minutes. Watch carefully, the cookies around the edge of the cookie sheet with brown faster.
I made this recipe over the summer, somewhat successfully but I actually lacked the proper amount of chives that the recipe called for. Last week, I got a massive bunch of chives within my CSA box and immediately thought of this recipe to put them to use. A quick side note on CSA boxes! Over the summer, I worked in food systems and nutrition research and found out that CSA boxes were not only a great way to help a local farm but they also help you to reduce the carbon footprint of your food because it is sourced locally and it has helped me a ton in my journey to become a better cook. CSA stands for community supported agriculture and it’s much more common that I had previously thought. The pandemic has actually increased interest in this and many farms are unable to keep up with the demand!!!
It was hard to find an open slot when I came back to school in the fall but I’ve been getting a weekly “Ugly” share from Moon Valley Farm which delivers to various locations in Baltimore. My share or box usually contains various vegetables with the occasionally bunch of fruit and it has encouraged me to really broaden my culinary horizons. One of the veggies that has come pretty consistently in my boxes the past few weeks is okra, which I had never ever cooked or eaten. Now, I’m enjoying an okra and tomato stew for lunch that I never could have made a few months ago! I really enjoy my CSA box but I also have the time to dissect and cook through my whole box. It can be really tough at first but I have learned a lot and love getting my box every week. I encourage everyone to look into purchasing locally sourced agriculture in any form, not just from a CSA. It both reduces your carbon footprint and encourages you to eat seasonally! Although, I am still tempted by the sales of pineapple and lemons from far-away countries so even my food purchasing process has quite a bit of leeway!
Back to the baking aspect of this blog! This recipe is based off a recipe that came in my King Arthur Scone pan that was a Christmas gift from my lovely parents. I did make a few changes to the recipe to fit it to what I had in the fridge and to lighten up the recipe a little. American scones are a pretty heavy affair, full of butter and cream. Because I had some frozen low fat buttermilk, I defrosted that and used it in the recipe and it worked out really well! I often have to buy dairy for recipes but I don’t really drink it or use it in other recipes so I’ve taken to freezing it in specific quantities and defrosting it as needed. Fresh dairy is always preferable but if I’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that you must be flexible! On a college budget, I’m always looking for ways to stretch my grocery budget and my freezer has been the greatest thing ever for helping me do that. I also substituted the regular bacon for turkey bacon. It’s not as greasy and I think it adds plenty of flavor without some of the fat. I’ll put the original recipe guidance down below in parentheses next to my additions. I really recommend not doing the recipe if you don’t have enough chives or green onions. The two are interchangeable and you could probably even use half of each if you don’t have enough of them individually. They really add just a subtle onion flavor that complements the overall scone. These come together super quickly and are a delicious breakfast treat! They can also be frozen and baked at will, just freeze the dough before you get to the step where you brush them with buttermilk/cream. Let me know if you try the recipe in the comments below and happy baking!
Bacon, Chive, and Cheddar Scone Recipe
241 grams (2 cups) All Purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
14 grams (1 tablespoon) baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar (offsets bitterness of baking powder, please use)
57 grams (4 tablespoons) cold, unsalted butter
113 grams (1 cup) coarsely grated or diced cheddar cheese
14 grams (1/3 cup) chopped fresh chives
227 grams (1/2 pound) turkey bacon, cooked, cooled, and crumbled (original recipe calls for regular bacon)
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk (original recipe calls for heavy cream)
Preheat oven to 425F with a rack in the middle or upper third of the oven. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk together the flour, slat, baking powder, and sugar. Work the butter into the flour mixture until the mix is unevenly crumbly with the butter in pea sized pieces.
Mix in cheese, chives, and bacon until evenly distributed.
Add 3/4 cup of buttermilk or cream, stirring to combine. Try to squeeze the dough together and if it won’t stay cohesive, add a little more buttermilk or cream.
Transfer dough to lined cookie sheet and pat into a 7 inch disk about 3/4 inch thick. Use a knife or bench scraper to cut the disk into 8 wedges. Separate these wedges a little and brush them lightly with buttermilk or cream.
Bake scones in the middle or upper third of oven for 22-24 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and cool them in the pan they were baked.