Cardamom Lime Easter ‘Bunnies’

Although we may change the way we celebrate Easter this year, we can still enjoy some great food. One of the special things about any holiday is the brunch that seems to come with it and Easter is no different. The word itself sounds like coziness.

The practice of creating special breads to celebrate holidays, harvests, religious rites and other occasions worldwide, dates back thousands of years. In some cases, breads aren’t symbolic as much as traditional, baked as a reminder of family, togetherness and celebration. They often contain warm spices like cinnamon or cardamom. Some have a touch of liqueur added to them while others are created in special shapes or have little surprises baked in them.

Cardamom may not get the acclaim of cinnamon, nor does it pop up in recipes as often as ginger, but its flavor pairing capabilities are extensive. This is a flavor that you may love or hate, but for me it is very addictive. Warm, subtly spicy, exotically aromatic, a flavor that transforms both sweet and savory recipes into heavenly dishes.

With some simple snipping and shaping, this cardamom sweet dough turns into adorable bunnies for Easter brunch. Edible table d├ęcor!

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Cardamom Lime Easter 'Bunnies'
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Instructions
Sweet Dough
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together yeast , 1 tsp sugar & lukewarm milk. Set aside until yeast mixture begins to form a frothy foam, about 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, remaining sugar & salt. Add yeast mixture, melted butter & egg. Knead until dough comes together in a ball & no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Transfer dough to a greased bowl & cover with a tea towel. Set aside in a draft free place until dough doubles in size, about an 1 hour.
Filling
  1. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, lime zest, cardamom & butter. Mix well. Set aside.
Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, beat together cream cheese, butter & lime juice. Add powdered sugar & mix until glaze consistency. Set aside until buns are baked.
Assemble & Bake
  1. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide in half; roll each half into a rectangle about 12x10-inches. Sprinkle filling evenly over one of the rectangles. Place the second sheet of pastry on top. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the pastry & lightly roll with a rolling pin.
  2. With a pizza cutter cut 14 strips. You will use 12 of the strips for 'bunnies' & 2 strips for their tails. To form bunnies, overlap one end of strip over the other to form a loop; bring the end that's underneath up over the top end, letting one end extend on each side to make ears.
  3. Place the shaped 'bunnies' on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving about 2-3-inches between them as they will expand a bit. Cut each of the remaining strips into 6 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball & place it in the loop to form the tail. Loosely cover the 'bunnies' & let them rise for about 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush bunnies with egg wash & bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven & allow to cool slightly on a cooling rack.
  5. While still slightly warm, brush bunnies with glaze. Sprinkle with lime zest & top tails with whites candies.
Recipe Notes
  • If you prefer your bunnies to be a bit more plump, instead of making 12, just make 8 or 10.

Rum & Raisin Hot Cross Buns

The ultimate Easter bun! Who doesn’t love hot cross buns?! Given the baked good’s long history, legends and superstitions have had ample time to develop and grow around them.

Hot cross buns are inseparably linked to Easter and to Christianity. But in reality, they probably have pre-Christian origins. Cross buns were baked to celebrate ‘Eostre’, the Germanic Goddess after which the season of Easter is said to be named.

Over the years, the bun has evolved and changed. Victorian recipes suggest various glazes to top the bun with after baking, including molasses or a honey/turmeric combo. The buns have become spicier too, with the addition of mace, caraway seeds and even coriander.

While some hot cross buns appear on grocery and bakery shelves as early as New Year’s Day, the sweet bun is usually associated with the end of Lent.

Every year I like to try and make a different version of these traditional, seasonal treats. This year I’m going with a ‘rum raisin‘ idea. Should be good!

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Rum & Raisin Hot Cross Buns
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Rum/Raisin filling
Bun Dough
Cream Cheese Filling
Egg Wash
Rum Glaze
Cross Paste
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BUNS
Ingredients
Rum/Raisin filling
Bun Dough
Cream Cheese Filling
Egg Wash
Rum Glaze
Cross Paste
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Instructions
Rum & Raisin Filling
  1. In a bowl, combine raisins, warm rum & sugar. Cover with plastic wrap & allow to sit for at least 40 minutes. Strain, discarding liquid.
Bun Dough
  1. In a large bowl, combine lukewarm milk, yeast & 1/4 cup sugar. Let stand until mixture is frothy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together 5 1/3 cups flour, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg & allspice. When yeast mixture is ready, add half of the flour mixture to it, beating until just combined. Beat in melted butter, eggs & rum/raisin mixture. Gradually add remaining flour mixture, kneading until smooth dough forms. Add remaining 1/3 cup flour if needed as the dough should not be sticky.
  3. Grease a large bowl, place the dough in it& turn to grease top. Loosely cover & allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Cream Cheese Filling (Balls)
  1. In a shallow dish, combine sugar & cinnamon. Cut cream cheese into 12 cubes. Roll each into a ball shape then roll them in the cinnamon sugar, coating evenly. Divide dough into 12 pieces. Place a cream cheese ball in the center of each piece of dough, pinching to seal seam. Roll each piece of dough into a ball & place in PARCHMENT lined muffin cups. Cover & let stand in a warm, draft-free place for about 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. In a small dish, whisk together egg & a Tbsp milk. When buns are ready to bake, brush with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. While the are baking prepare RUM GLAZE & CROSS PASTE.
Rum Glaze & Cross Paste
  1. In a small saucepan, place water, spiced rum & sugar. Over medium heat, bring ingredients to a simmer & allow to bubble gently for 3-5 minutes. The volume of the mixture should drop by at least half. Remove from heat & set aside until ready to use.
  2. In a small dish, whisk together cornstarch, flour, sugar & water until a thick paste forms. You want your paste to be stiff enough to be able to pipe in a clean line, but still manageable.
Finishing Touches
  1. Brush warm rolls with rum glaze & allow to cool. Using a pastry bag fitted with a piping tip, pipe paste over top of buns to form a cross.
Recipe Notes
  • If you prefer, don't hesitate to make these buns without the cream cheese inside. I'm sure they will be just as good --- they're hot cross buns!!

New Year’s Good Luck Pretzel

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE!

As we begin a new chapter in our lives today, it certainly comes with many hopes and expectations for 2021. I thought featuring a ‘Good Luck Pretzel’ would be very appropriate for today. The question is …. do these pretzels really bring good luck? If you believe in the power of positive thinking then I say…. YES!

Because it has such a history as a staple of life, bread has inspired endless traditions in many cultures that tie it to holidays and seasons. The breaking of a Good Luck New Year’s Pretzel is a long time German tradition, thought to bring good luck and prosperity in the New Year when eaten at midnight or at breakfast on New Year’s Day. This particular pretzel is not a lager pretzel accompanying a mug of beer, but rather a sweet dough or a babka dough that goes with a champagne toast as the clock strikes 12:00, or a with a bit of butter eaten first thing at breakfast New Year’s morning.

There are many theories on the origins of the pretzel’s shape. Some say that the pretzel’s shape was derived from the way German monks prayed with their arms crossed over their chests. Others have said that the shape comes from the winter solstice sign that was a circle with a dot in the middle on the old calendar. Still more say that the shape was created from the way the German children used to run through the streets with pretzels around their necks wishing good luck to relatives as the new year approached. No matter what the real reason is for the pretzel’s shape, a little luck for the upcoming year definitely does not hurt.

Unlike traditional pretzels, no boiling is involved before baking the ‘good luck pretzels’ and the dough is a little sweeter. The tops are often sprinkled with pearl sugar instead of coarse salt.

Brion & I wish everyone happiness, health and of course a little good luck in the new year!

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New Year's Good Luck Pretzel
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Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine warm water with yeast & sugar, Set aside for a few minutes to proof & become bubbly.
  2. Add the egg, salt & oil; blend in. Combine flour & dry milk powder. Slowly start adding flour/milk mixture, stirring until you get a soft, pliable dough. Cover with a tea towel & set in a warm, draft-free place until dough doubles in size.
  3. Once the dough has risen, divide one quarter from the main ball & set aside. Roll the remaining dough into one long 'snake', with the middle being the widest & tapering slightly at the ends. Shape into a pretzel on the prepared baking sheet. Divide the remaining quarter of the dough into three equal pieces & roll into long, even 'snakes'. Braid together.
  4. Whisk together the egg wash & generously brush the entire pretzel. On the bottom part, attach the braid. Brush the braid with more egg wash & sprinkle with pearl sugar & sprinkle with cinnamon if you wish. Place in a warm draft-free place & allow to rise for about 15 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  6. Bake pretzel for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.

Christmas Turkey Pizza

In 2019, Boston Pizza, a Canadian pizza chain created a Christmas pizza which literally consisted of a turkey dinner on top of a pizza crust.

The most notable aspect of their Christmas pizza was the ‘singing box’ it came in. The company had an advertising agency create a caroling delivery box. Using a play on ‘Carol of the Bells’, the jingle ran through the components of the holiday menu item: ‘cranberry sauce, gravy on top, turkey as well and also cheese. Why the cheese? Cause we love cheese, turkey & cheese, four kinds of cheese’.

Like those musical greeting cards that emit tinny tunes when you open them, the ‘Chorus of the Pizza’, playing box reportedly operated using a light senor device. When the box was opened, the music played, as soon as it closed, silence.

The singing box was to replicate carolers coming to your door, but it was better because they brought pizza and you didn’t have to stand awkwardly listening to people sing to you.

I’m not sure if Boston Pizza is using this kind of promotion in 2020, but based on their ad from 2019, I developed a Christmas pizza ‘copy cat’ recipe. Great taste and a nice way to use some leftover turkey.

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Christmas Turkey Pizza
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SLICES
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Instructions
Pizza Dough
  1. Cook potato, peel, mash & cool. In a small container, combine yeast with lukewarm water; whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let stand about 3 minutes until foamy.
  2. In a large bowl, combine yeast/water, butter, salt, sour cream & potato; mix well.
  3. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough about 5-10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a draft-free place until doubled in size, about an hour.
Herb Sauce
  1. In a skillet, melt butter; add herbs & cook for 2 minutes. Pour in your choice of either heavy cream OR chicken broth. Heat until hot, about 2 minutes more. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Set aside to cool slightly.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll or press dough into a 16-inch circle. Transfer with paper to either a 14-inch pizza pan or a flat baking sheet.
  3. Carefully spread the 1/2 cup herb sauce over the bottom of the pizza (leaving the outside ring without sauce). Sprinkle a bit of the cheese over sauce then layer with turkey & stuffing. Drizzle with turkey gravy & top with remaining cheese. If you prefer, brush the outside edge of the pizza ring with egg wash.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven & slice.
  5. When you are ready to serve, dot pizza with cranberry sauce or just let everyone put on their own.
Recipe Notes
  • As an alternate to the herb sauce, using 1/2 cup bottled lite Alfredo sauce w/ Parmesan cheese makes a good choice.

French Christmas Bread/ Gibassier

Among the world’s many artisan breads and cakes, the breakfast bread ‘gibassier’ is one of the most popular in the French tradition. This buttery, textured bread is somewhat like an Italian panettone. What makes gibassier unique, is the use of orange blossom water which gives the bread a distinct flavor that is difficult to replicate with any substitute.

The recipe appears to have originated in the rocky, southeast of France, in Lourmarin Village, Provence. Many believe that this generations-old treat is named after the mountain called Le Gibas, which forms part of the village’s horizon.

Gibassier can be shaped and made as one big round loaf or larger or smaller single serve breads. Whatever size they come in, they are slashed or snipped decoratively before they are baked to give the fleur de lis or snowflake appearance.

It is difficult to say whether gibassier is a biscuit, a pastry, doughnut or a cookie. One thing is for sure …. its taste is unique. Traditionally served at breakfast and is dipped into honey butter while it is still warm.

Each Christmas I enjoy to try making a Christmas bread from another culture. Of course, that means as an extra bonus, researching the food history behind it.

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French Christmas Bread/ Gibassier
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine European, French
Keyword Gibassier
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Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine water, yeast & 2 Tbsp sugar. Allow to sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, 1/4 cup sugar & aniseed. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture & add eggs, butter, orange blossom water, orange zest & candied orange peel. Whisk to form a slurry, pulling in a little flour from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Pour the yeast mixture over the egg slurry. Mix to make a 'shaggy' dough. Turn out on a floured surface & knead until a smooth, elastic dough forms, about 10 minutes.
  4. Place the dough into a lightly buttered bowl, cover with a tea towel & allow to rise in a draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
  5. Punch down the risen dough & turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into two equal pieces & shape each one into a ball. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Flatten each ball of dough into a disc about 1.5 cm thick & place each one on one of the baking sheets. Cut the disc into 6 sections, leaving them connected at the center.
  6. Make a cut through the center of each section without cutting all the way through to the edge. Best to use something you can press straight down as opposed to dragging a knife through the dough. Pull the sections outward to separate & elongate them a little. Using your fingers, open out the slits & form a V-shape in the top of each section.
  7. Cover each loaf loosely with buttered plastic wrap. Set aside to rise in a draft-free place for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  9. Brush each loaf with a little egg wash. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden & baked through. Slide the loaves onto a wire rack & brush with honey butter while still warm or dust with sugar.

Persimmon & Almond Brioche Buns

I never fail to get drawn in by the sight of fresh persimmons at the grocery store. Not only do they have a wonderful flavor but you can use them in so many ways.

Their strangely tropical characteristics pair nicely with many spices, such as cinnamon and cardamom. With a little imagination, cakes, cookies, pies and even some ‘persimmon brioche’ can be made from the persimmon fruit.

In reading about this fruit, I came upon some interesting weather folklore. I’m unsure if its true or not, but it said you can predict winter weather with a persimmon seed.

The first thing was to find a locally grown persimmon, which of course, is not possible for us in our location. You wait to pick and cut into the persimmon after it gets a bit soft … almost mushy. Then you open the fruit and cut open the seed.

Look at the shape of the kernel inside:

  • If the kernel is spoon-shaped, expect plenty of snow to shovel.
  • If it is fork-shaped, plan on a mild winter with powdery, light snow.
  • If the kernel is knife-shaped, expect fridgid winds that will ‘cut’ like a blade.

Interesting!!

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Persimmon & Almond Brioche Buns
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Instructions
Brioche Dough
  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add milk & heat until lukewarm, but not hot. Stir in yeast. Allow yeast mixture to proof for about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar & salt; add both eggs & combine. Add the yeast/milk/butter mixture. Continue to mix until the dough forms a ball & there is no dough sticking to the sides of the bowl.
  3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface & knead well until dough is smooth (about 10 minutes). Form dough into a ball. Grease mixing bowl with butter. Place dough in the bowl, cover & allow to rise until its roughly doubled in size (about 1 hour).
Persimmons
  1. Peel, halve & slice persimmons into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place in a shallow dish with sugar & cardamom; toss gently to evenly coat slices. Set aside.
Cream Cheese Filling
  1. In a bowl, whisk together softened cream cheese with milk. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, beating until mixture is smooth. Add lemon juice & set aside.
Brioche Dough
  1. Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured surface & punch down. Divide it into 12 equal parts. Roll the dough balls into discs 4-5-inches in diameter & about 1/4-inch thick. Place the discs onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with a buttered piece of plastic wrap. & allow the dough to rise again in a draft-free place for about 25 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. When dough has risen, using your fingers, press the center of each disc down, leaving about a 1/2-inch rim. If necessary, you can dip your fingers in egg wash to keep the dough from sticking during this process.
Assembly & Baking
  1. Spread about a teaspoon of the cream cheese filling in a thin layer in the depression of each disc. Press some persimmon slices in the center over the cream cheese. Brush the outer edges of the discs with egg wash mixture. Place buns in the oven & bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven & transfer to a wire rack, keeping them on the parchment paper.
  2. Combine the apricot jam & warm water. Microwave to thin the jam to a liquid consistency. Brush buns LIGHTLY with glaze & garnish with almond slices & pearl sugar.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns

It doesn’t have to be fall to crave something pumpkin. It’s still a bit early for Halloween jack-o-lanterns but not too early for some pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

This recipe builds on the traditional cinnamon roll, but adds the magic of pumpkin and fall spices. The dough is more subtle, moist and not too sweet in taste. With the addition of pumpkin to the dough, it adds a nice vibrant orange color. The filling is the classic pumpkin pie spice mix, blended with butter and sugar. What makes the buns even more special is they are then ‘baked‘ in the spiced ‘sauce’ mixture. Last but not least, topped with some whole pumpkin seeds, adds a delicate crunchy texture.

Pumpkin, like zucchini, seem to grow in abundance so it is always nice when they can be used in either sweet or savory recipes.

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Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns
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Filling
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BUNS
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Dough
Filling
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Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, add yeast, lukewarm water & 1 tsp sugar. Allow to sit about 10 minutes until frothy.
  2. In a large bowl, combine yeast mixture, butter, salt, cinnamon, eggs & pumpkin puree. Mix well. Add flour, one cup at a time, until well combined. Knead dough for about 8-10 minutes or until smooth & soft. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with a tea towel & allow to rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  3. While the buns are rising, place sauce ingredients (except pumpkin seeds), in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, while whisking, until sugar has dissolved & ingredients are combined. Remove from heat & set aside to cool for a few minutes while you are preparing the buns.
  4. In a small dish, combine filling ingredients, set aside.
  5. LIGHTLY butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Turn dough out onto a floured surface; roll out into a rectangle (about 12"x 18"), approximately 1/2-inch thickness. Spread the melted butter across the rolled out dough leaving 1/2-inch around the top edge. Sprinkle filling mixture over butter. Roll up tightly lengthwise towards the top edge. Using a sharp knife (or a string), cut dough into 12 slices. Place in prepared pan. Pour cooled sauce evenly over buns. You can reserve a bit for drizzling on top after they are baked if you wish.
  6. Cover the buns with plastic wrap & a tea towel. Set aside in a warm place for 20 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven; allow to rest for a few minutes then drizzle with remaining sauce & sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.
Recipe Notes
  • Once the sauce is cooked & cooled, you can blend with a mixer or blender to keep it from separating if you wish.

Marinated Chicken & Artichoke Pizza

Pizza is one of the easiest meals you can make at home. I most always prefer to make my own crust but nothing wrong with a purchased one or some focaccia bread pizza crust. Once that crust part has been taken care of, its really just a matter of topping the pie with all your favorite ingredients and waiting for it to come out of the oven.

But of course, there are a number of things that can go wrong even so. You might think that there’s no such thing as too much cheese …. but there is. Cheese normally means a lot of grease, your pizza could fall apart under the weight of all that dairy.

Too many toppings can cause overly cooked crust or under-cooked toppings. Another thing I find super important, is making sure the toppings are sauteed so they are not releasing too much moisture into the crust.

Since Brion & I are both lovers of marinated artichokes, putting them on a pizza sounds real good. Artichokes are technically the flower buds of a thistle plant that hasn’t blossomed yet. Its kind of amazing to think we can enjoy these odd little culinary treats in so many ways.

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Marinated Chicken & Artichoke Pizza
Instructions
Pizza Dough
  1. Cook potato, peel, mash & cool. Combine yeast with lukewarm water; whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let stand about 3 minutes until foamy. Add butter, salt, sour cream & potato, mix well.
  2. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Pizza Topping Prep
  1. Slice chicken into strips, saute in some drained artichoke marinade until most of it evaporates. Set aside.
  2. Saute mushrooms & onions in a teaspoon of butter until moisture evaporates. Set aside.
  3. Shred cheese. In a small dish combine spices.
  4. Drain sun-dried tomatoes & black olives, blot on paper towel & slice tomatoes.
  5. Cut each piece of (drained) artichoke in half.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll or press dough into a 16-inch circle. Transfer on paper to a baking sheet.
  3. Carefully spread the 1/2 cup marinara sauce over the bottom of pizza. Season with spice mixture. Sprinkle with a bit of cheese then layer with mushrooms, onion, chicken, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, olives & remaining cheese.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven & slice. If you prefer, brush the top of the outside (dough) ring with artichoke marinade either before or after baking.
Recipe Notes
  • If you like, press pizza dough into a 16 X 12-inch rectangle instead of a circular shape.

Ube Cruffins

Ube (pronounced OO-bay), is a purple yam native to the Philippines and other areas of Southeast Asia. Ube is a very versatile ingredient. It is not a purple sweet potato or taro, it is a purple yam. Its special taste reminds one of vanilla, pistachios or chestnuts. The vibrant purple color inside and out is uniquely photogenic.

Ube has been used for decades in Filipino cuisine and has now caught on in North America, especially in the form of desserts.

If you’re not familiar with ‘cruffins’, they are a hybrid of a croissant and a muffin. The dough that would be used to make a croissant is rolled up on itself and placed in a popover or muffin pan to be baked. This is how they achieve their characteristic and striking appearance. Next, they are filled with jam, creams, curds, ganaches, etc… You might say it’s about reinventing the croissant.

The first known cruffin was created by Kate Reid in Melbourne, Australia in 2013. A former designer of Formula One racing cars, Kate is no ordinary patisserie. As far back as she remembers, she had a close connection to cars. Her father, being an avid classic car collector, young Kate and her brother would hover around when he was restoring classic Porsche 911’s, sitting in the driver’s seat pretending to go on road trips.

Kate Reid wanted to work at the pinnacle of motor sport. She had the vision that working in the upper echelon of innovation and technology for the automotive industry would give her the opportunity to be incredibly innovative, thinking outside the box and really pushing the boundaries of what was possible.

She tilted her entire education towards earning a degree in aerospace engineering, which eventually led her to a job in Formula One as an aerodynamicist. However, she discovered that it was not what she had imagined it would be like.

From a young age, Kate Reid always loved baking. One day it occurred to her that baking could be more than just a hobby. Fast forward to today, Kate is a pastry chef and the founder and business owner of Lune Croissanterie in the city of Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia. Seven years in operation, Lune has become known as the prime location for the perfect croissant. It’s a combination of the passion, inspiration and complexity of the croissant.

She harbors no regrets about her big career change, living by the credo that ‘we get one chance at life, so why not love what you’re going to devote your time and mental capacity to’.

One thing for sure, culinary history never gets boring! So now I’m inspired to make some ‘ube cruffins’ and we just happen to have some special little Filipino friends that can be the official taste testers!!

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Ube Cruffins
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Ube Halaya (Jam) BEST TO MAKE A DAY AHEAD OF USING
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CRUFFINS
Ingredients
Ube Halaya (Jam) BEST TO MAKE A DAY AHEAD OF USING
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Instructions
Ube Halaya (Jam)
  1. In a medium, heavy saucepan, melt butter. Add coconut & condensed milks; stir until heated. Add thawed, grated ube & combine well.Cook over a low heat. It is important to stir the mixture often during cooking to prevent it from forming a 'crust'. This process takes about 40-50 minutes until the ube is cooked. The mixture should be thick & sticky. Transfer the ube jam to a container & set aside.
Cuffins
  1. In a small dish, heat milk to lukewarm. Add yeast & 1 tsp sugar; let sit for 5 minutes to allow yeast to activate. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup sugar, melted butter, sour cream & egg. Add yeast mixture & stir to combine.
  2. In another bowl, whisk flour & salt. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture one cup at a time, combining after each addition. Once all the flour has been added, knead on a lightly floured surface for about 2 minutes.
  3. Lightly grease the large bowl, place dough in it & cover with plastic wrap & a tea towel. Allow to rest for at least one hour, in a draft-free place until dough has doubled in volume.
  4. Lightly grease cups of either a popover or muffin tin. Sprinkle work surface with flour. Roll dough out into a rectangle 21 X 16-inches (about 54 X 40 cm). WITHOUT CUTTING through, mark dough into six equal strips starting on the longest side.
  5. Thinly spread ube jam on strip # 2 & #5 (numbering from the left side). Fold strip #1 & #6 over the jam. Lightly spread the top of each folded side with more jam then fold each one toward center.
  6. Now spread the top of one folded piece, then bring the other side over it. With a rolling pin, slightly press entire layered roll flatter.
  7. With a buttered, sharp knife, cut the strip along its entire length into 3 strips. Next cut each strip horizontally into 4 (or 5) pieces. Carefully lift each piece, stretch it out a bit & then twist it.
  8. Form it into a ring & place in muffin (or popover) cup. When all cruffins are in the pan, use a pastry tube & pipe some ube jam in center of the spiral.
  9. Allow cruffins to sit in a draft-free place for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake cruffins for 20-25 minutes. Grate cheese & set aside.
  10. When cruffins are baked, remove from the oven. While still warm, sprinkle with grated cheese.
Recipe Notes
  • Instead of piping ube jam in center of unbaked cruffins, you can reserve any extra for serving on the side instead.
  • Instead of making a 'true' croissant dough, I used my favorite (sweet) yeast dough. Of course, you don't get the flakiness of a croissant, but the taste & tenderness of the cruffin was still real good.
  • Another alternative would be to use frozen puff pastry.

Blueberry Babka Rolls

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Today as we celebrate Mother’s Day, many special memories come to mind. My mother passed away in 1978 but even after 42 years, time has changed nothing. I still miss the sound of her voice, the wisdom in her advice, the stories of her life and just being in her presence. I miss her today as much as the day she left us and I always will.

It is also with very loving thoughts, I celebrate my mother-in-law, Dolores, for her loving and kind ways and for raising that ‘special’ man I love sharing my life with. Love to my sisters, who gave so much of themselves to be the great mom’s they are.

Babka ….. an old world beauty with roots in both the Jewish and Eastern European communities. A cake like, sweet yeast bread, richer than that of a cinnamon bun but not as rich as a Danish pastry. The name Babka means ‘little grandmother’ in many European languages.

Traditionally, babka was filled with seeds, nuts and sometimes even honey or filled with layers of cinnamon sugar or chocolate. This classic baked good has been making its way into every corner of the food world. A great babka dough is a blank canvas for almost any filling. Many other flavors have been developed and have become equally popular.

Fruit lovers can now indulge in apple-cinnamon or raspberry and apricot cream cheese babkas. There is also a Middle Eastern favorite using halva (sesame candy) or a completely savory version with sun-dried tomatoes.

This bread seems very fitting on our Mother’s Day blog.

Print Recipe
Blueberry Babka Rolls
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
ROLLS
Ingredients
Babka Dough
Blueberry Filling
Streusel Topping
Servings
ROLLS
Ingredients
Babka Dough
Blueberry Filling
Streusel Topping
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Babka Dough
  1. In a small bowl, place water & sprinkle with the yeast & a pinch of sugar; stir to combine. Allow to stand until frothy, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together 4 cups of the flour, sugar & salt. Make a well in the center of the flour & add eggs, yolk & oil. Whisk to form a slurry, pulling in a little flour from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Pour the yeast mixture over the egg slurry. Mix the yeast, eggs & flour with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough that is difficult to mix forms. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface & knead for about 10 minutes. If the dough seems very sticky, add flour a teaspoon at a time until it feels tacky. The dough has finished kneading when it is soft, smooth & holds a ball-shape.
  4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap & place in a draft-free area. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
Blueberry Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch, sugars & salt. Add water & blueberries; cook until clear & bubbling. Remove from heat & add lemon juice; cool completely.
Streusel Topping
  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, powdered sugar, salt & baking powdered. Cut butter into small chunks & add the flour mixture. Using your fingertips, work the butter into the flour mixture until it forms LARGE, coarse crumbs. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.
Assembly
  1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough into a rectangle, roughly 40 X 60 cm (15" X 24"). Spread half of the filling on center third of the dough. Fold one of the sides over the center & spread the remaining filling on top. Next, put opposite side of the dough over all & gently press together.
  2. Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut 15 strips, between 2 - 2.5 cm (3/4"-1") thick. Twist each strand of dough a few times then, holding one end between you thumb & forefinger, coil the dough to form a circle. Finish by pinching the outer end to the ring, so it holds the circular shape when baking. Repeat with remaining strips. Place rolls on lined baking sheet as you make them. Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap & set in a draft-free place until rolls have doubled in size.
Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush rolls with egg wash. Sprinkle streusel & chopped nuts evenly over the tops, pressing lightly so the crumbs adhere to the rolls. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven & place on a cooling rack.