Bedfordshire Clangers w/ Variations

July is such a wonderful month. The weather’s warm, there’s still plenty of summer left, and the produce is literally amazing.

Midsummer means the farmer’s markets are brimming with great fruit & veggies. With such a colorful bounty of goods, we can settle into our summer cooking routines with tasty meals hot or cold.

But, even in summer, we sometimes crave ‘comfort food’ such as a ‘hand pie’. The humble hand pie goes by many different names: call it a pasty, a turnover, an empanada, or a ‘Bedfordshire clanger’….

A Bedfordshire Clanger dates back to at least the 19th century. It was typically made for agricultural workers to take with them to work as their lunch. The original pastry was made from suet and cooked by a boiling method. There is a theory that the pastry crust was not originally intended for consumption but as a vessel in which to protect the filling from the soiled hands of the workers.

The clanger originated from the county of Bedfordshire, a small, low-lying and predominantly agricultural county nestled in the east of England and adjacent counties, including Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire. 

The name is as intriguing as the food itself. The word clanger, it had been suggested, referred to the mistake of mixing sweet and savory fillings. But a more likely explanation was that in nearby Northamptonshire dialect, ‘clang’ means to eat voraciously.

Knowing their husbands would need lots of protein and carbohydrate sustenance, homemakers came up with the brilliant idea of a doubled, loaf-shaped pie. One end contained a savory filling that used the famed pork of the area while the other end was filled with stewed apples (made from local apples) as dessert. So, the two fillings didn’t combine, there was a ‘pastry wall’ in between blocking any flavors from mixing. A ‘secret code’ denoted which end was meat, and which was dessert: two knife slits on one end of the pastry top means meat, three small holes on the other shows the sweet. This was brilliant, an entire meal for the field workers – handheld, portable and delicious.

The version we have today is not its beginnings but its evolution. Once you’ve nailed this basic Bedfordshire clanger recipe you can experiment with all sorts of flavor combos, there’s really no limit to what you can combine in this savory/sweet pastry.

Since Brion takes lunch to work, I became intrigued with the idea and decided to get creative with the fillings. That way I could make a variety and freeze them and use as needed. These tasty little ‘clangers’ can be served as the main course for a warm-weather picnic or for a hand-held, backyard meal with the addition of a nice fresh salad at home.

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Bedfordshire Clangers w/ Variations
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Chicken w/ Caramelized Onions
Raspberry / Nectarine Filling
Blueberry Filling
Apple / Apricot Filling
Plum / Rhubarb Filling
Rhubarb / Apple Filling
Servings
Ingredients
Chicken w/ Caramelized Onions
Raspberry / Nectarine Filling
Blueberry Filling
Apple / Apricot Filling
Plum / Rhubarb Filling
Rhubarb / Apple Filling
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Instructions
Pastry
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sage & salt. Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour mixture & use your fingers to work them in. Alternately you could use a pastry cutter to do this.
  2. When the mixture resembles cornmeal with pea-sized bits of butter remaining, stir in cheese with a fork until evenly distributed. Sprinkle 6 Tbsp ice water over mixture & stir with a fork until dough begins to come together. If needed, add an additional Tbsp or two of ice water.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface & knead for about three times. Gather the dough into a disk & wrap in plastic wrap. refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Pork Filling
  1. Bake potato in microwave, peel & cut into small cubes. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet & sauté celery, onion, garlic & bacon together on medium heat until veggies are soft & bacon is cooked. Add ground pork, breaking it up well. Stir in dried herbs & spices. Cover & simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat & stir in cooked potato & cheese. Set aside to cool.
Spiced Meat Combo
  1. In a saucepan, sauté onion & garlic. Add ground meat, basil, thyme, cardamom & salt & pepper. Scramble fry until cooked, remove from heat & add parmesan & potato. Place in a dish.
  2. In the saucepan, melt butter; add flour to make a roux. Cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes. Slowly add beef broth, stirring until sauce thickens. Season to taste. Add to ground meat mixture & combine to form filling. Set aside until ready to use.
Turkey Filling
  1. In a skillet, cook bacon until just crisp, then remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain; chop when cooled. Remove all but 1 Tbsp of the bacon drippings from skillet.
  2. Add butter to the skillet, sauté onions, garlic & mushrooms with herbs & spices, scraping up any brown bits, until the onions have softened & mushrooms have lost most of their size & moisture. Stir in the bacon & shredded cooked turkey, taste for seasoning. Cook for another minute or two, then remove from heat & set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, combine Boursin, milk & spices (if using). Stir until Boursin has melted. Remove from heat. Add to turkey/veg mixture.
Chicken w/ Caramelized Onions
  1. Heat butter over medium low heat in a heavy ovenproof skillet. Add the onions cook for 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. When the onions are a deep golden color, remove them from the pan and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. Combine the flour, salt, chili powder, thyme, allspice, & black pepper. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess. In the same pan as the onions, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add each piece of chicken & fry for a few minutes until golden brown; flip & cook for a few more minutes. Transfer to a plate (it will not be fully cooked at this point, just browned – it will finish cooking in the oven).
  4. Turn the heat down & let the oil cool off a little bit. Make a roux with excess oil in skillet & dredging flour. Add chicken broth & cook until a sauce forms. Add the onions & chicken to the pan. Bake for about 20 minutes longer. When chicken/onion mixture is cooked, remove from oven. Allow to cool until ready to use.
Raspberry/Rhubarb Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cardamom & salt. Add water & stir then add chopped nectarines. Simmer until nectarine is slightly soft & liquid is thickened. Remove from heat & carefully fold in raspberries. Set aside to cool.
Blueberry Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients except blueberries. Cook until sauce starts to thicken then gently fold in blueberries & cook a couple of minutes more. Remove from heat & set aside to cool.
Apple/Apricot Filling
  1. Peel & dice apples. Drain canned apricot juice into a small saucepan. Add sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon & salt & combine. Add apples & cook until apples are tender. Cut canned apricot halves into quarters. When apples are cooked & sauce has thickened, remove from heat & add apricots. Gently combine & set aside to cool.
Plum/Rhubarb Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt & lemon zest. Add rhubarb & plums. Gently stir over a low heat. When enough juice has formed, allow to simmer until rhubarb is soft & juice has thickened. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool.
Sour Cherry Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, place sugar, cornstarch & salt. Add juice/water mixture & stir to thoroughly combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. Immediately remove from heat. Gradually fold in cherries. Set aside to cool.
Rhubarb/Apple Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, add the rhubarb, apples, salt & sugar. Add a drizzle of water if necessary & heat on medium. The rhubarb will begin to release liquid & break down as the apples soften. Heat the mixture until the moisture has evaporated & begins to thicken. Once the mixture is thickened, add the lemon juice, lemon zest and cinnamon. Place it in a bowl & allow to cool.
Apple/Pear Filling
  1. Heat butter in a small skillet until melted, add apples & pears & cook until fruit begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle sugar over mixture & continue to cook stirring often until fruit begins to lose its juices. Mix together cornstarch & lemon juice & add to pan. Simmer until mixture has thickened, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat & allow to cool.
Assembly/Baking
  1. Divide pastry into 5 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface (or dry wax paper) roll out each piece of pastry into 14 x 7 1/2-inches. The excess trimmed from the sides will be used for little pastry ‘walls’ dividing the sweet & savory fillings. Roll excess pastry into a 3-inch length.
  2. Cut each piece of pastry in half horizontally so you have (2) 7-inch long pieces from each piece of pastry. From the top of each piece, LIGHTLY make a line across your pastry 4-inches from the outside edge. This will help to place your fillings properly.
  3. On the 3-inch wide section, place savory filling to cover 2/3 of the area. Place one of the rolled strips after that then place sweet filling on the remaining 1/3 to complete the 'clanger'. The little rolled piece of pastry divides the savory & sweet filling.
  4. On the sweet side make 3 holes for vents & on the savory side make 2 slashes. This is the 'code' to let the person eating the clanger which was savory or sweet.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  6. Brush the edges of each pastry with egg wash. Lift the pastry from the opposite side over the fillings & seal the edges with a fork.
  7. Brush clangers with remaining egg wash & bake for about 30-35 minutes or until golden.
Recipe Notes
  • Due to the length of this recipe, I found making the savory & fruit fillings on one day & the pastry, assembling & baking the next, worked out well for me. Although these pastries are VERY time consuming, believe me, the are well worth it in the end, especially if your freezing some to use later. I baked them all & then wrapped them well before freezing.
  • You will probably find there will be enough savory & sweet fillings left over to make about 10 more clangers.
  • All of them will freeze well which will be a time saver for your next batch. Just make a recipe of pastry & your ready to assemble & bake.
  • If your not interested in freezing the 'leftovers', the fruit combined will make a wonderful crisp & the savory fillings can be used in quiche or casseroles.

Ube Cream Puffs w/ Craqueline Topping

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. In fact, one of the world’s top 10 food and beverage flavor manufacturers has identified the official 2024 Flavor of the Year as Ube. The 2024 Food and Beverage Flavor Trends Report is an annual summary by California-based T. Hasegawa USA.

Globally recognized for its innovation and expertise in flavor development and proprietary flavor enhancing technologies, T. Hasegawa remains at the forefront of consumer trends and shares these developments and research findings throughout the food and beverage industry.

Today, I’m making some ube cream puffs with a craquelin topping. Cream puffs start with choux pastry, a heady mixture of butter, milk, water, eggs & flour. When you combine these ingredients, they become so dense and sticky that it seems impossible they’ll come together as soft, puffy, light, tender. Heat is what initiates the expansion of the dense paste. Steam from the milk and water expands the pastry’s edges, puffing up its capacity until the oven heat provides just enough crispness and structure to hold the puffs’ boundaries. A cream puff expands so dramatically in the oven that it creates a cavern inside to hold any number of things—whipped cream, pastry cream, ice cream or savory fillings.

Cream puff pastry (or choux pastry) is the base for profiteroles (smaller puffs filled with ice cream), éclairs (elongated puffs filled with pastry cream and glazed), croquembouche (a tower of cream puffs held together and drizzled with caramel) and savory appetizer puffs called gougeres with cheese and herbs.

Craquelin (pronounced kra-ke-lan) is a thin biscuit layer that can be added over choux pastries before baking them. It is used to create a crackly appearance, crunchy texture and a buttery sweet taste as well as helping the choux pastry bake evenly to form hollow rounds. It certainly dresses up ordinary cream puffs and the taste is so unique.

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Ube Cream Puffs w/ Craqueline Topping
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Servings
CREAM PUFFS
Ingredients
Ube Pastry Cream
Craquelin Topping
Choux Pastry
Servings
CREAM PUFFS
Ingredients
Ube Pastry Cream
Craquelin Topping
Choux Pastry
Votes: 1
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Instructions
Ube Pastry Cream
  1. In a medium saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch & salt. Pour the milk & egg yolks into a bowl & whisk until combined then add liquid mixture to the saucepan slowly & whisk together.
  2. Add butter, bring mixture to a boil whisking constantly for one minute before removing from heat then mix in the ube extract.
  3. Transfer the pastry cream to a separate container (optional: first strain it through a mesh sieve to ensure the cream has a really smooth consistency) Cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap, ensuring that the plastic wrap touches the top of the pastry cream to discourage the formation of a skin on top of it.
  4. Place in refrigerator & chill for at least 2 hours before using.
Ube Craquelin
  1. Soften the butter then mix the ube extract into it. Add in the flour, brown sugar & salt. Mix together until thoroughly combined. Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper & flatten until the dough reaches about 1/4 inch thickness. Freeze the dough until ready to use.
Choux Pastry
  1. Pour the water, sugar, salt & butter into a saucepan & heat over medium heat. Stir the mixture together until the water is boiling & the butter is melted. Remove the saucepan from the heat & add the flour.
  2. Vigorously mix the flour into the butter/water mixture so that all the water is absorbed. Once the dough is formed, return the saucepan to the heat. Continue to mix & cook down the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the saucepan, about 2-5 minutes. You should be able to place a spoon into it & have it stand straight up.
  3. Transfer the dough to a bowl & allow it cool down for a couple minutes. Crack in the eggs one at a time, ensuring the previous egg is fully incorporated into the dough before adding in the next egg.
  4. Transfer the dough into a piping bag.
Assembly
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Remove the craqueline topping from the freezer & cut out disks of a desired size to put on top of the choux pastry.
  3. Pipe out mounds of choux pastry onto the prepared baking tray & top each mound with a craqueline disk.
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the choux mounds. DO NOT open the oven for the first 25 minutes of the baking process of the steam will release & the choux won't puff up properly.
  5. After about 25 minutes, open the oven & prick each choux with a toothpick, then return to the oven to cook for another 5-10 minutes depending on the choux size (this helps to dry out the insides to maintain a firm choux).
  6. Remove from oven once the choux is nice & golden brown. Prick each choux again with a toothpick to allow them to dry out even further while they cool.
  7. Remove the pastry cream from the fridge & fill a piping bag with it. Slice each choux pastry in half keeping them connected slightly on one side. Divide ube pastry cream between the 'cream puffs'.

Breakfast Cereal Mini Cakes

Since they were introduced in 1941, Cheerios have been a staple in households across North America. They remain one of the most popular breakfast cereals on the market and are now available worldwide.

Cheerios are primarily made from whole grain oats and come in an assortment of flavors. In fact, there are at least 15 varieties — with seasonal ones appearing on occasion.

A bowl of cereal is perfect for a quick breakfast. Or lunch. Or, let’s be honest, dinner. And while these are perfectly acceptable uses of cereal, there is so much more you can do with them from snacks and desserts to buttery casserole coatings that take the morning mainstay to new heights.

To enhance these cupcakes, the regular milk is switched out for ‘cereal milk’ (milk that’s been soaked in sweet cereal).

Cereal milk tastes like that dense, slightly sweet, starchy, oaty milk from the bottom of the cereal bowl, that everybody loves to enjoy at the end.

The nostalgic and comforting combination of milk and cereal combined in this cupcake recipe is really quite special. These seem like kind of a ‘kid’ thing but I’m sure it won’t take long for them to disappear.

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Breakfast Cereal Cupcakes
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Servings
MINI CUPCAKES
Ingredients
Mini Cakes
Servings
MINI CUPCAKES
Ingredients
Mini Cakes
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Instructions
Mini Cakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 24 cup mini muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup, stir together the milk & 1/4 cup Very Berry Cheerios. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, & set aside while you prepare the batter.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter & sugar on medium speed until light & fluffy. Add in the eggs on at the time, scraping the bowl as necessary.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, & salt. Using a fork, remove the cereal from the milk. Discard the cereal. Make sure you still have 1/2 cup milk, add more if necessary. Add the honey & vanilla extract to the milk. Whisk together.
  5. Gradually add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, mix to combine. Add 1/2 of the wet ingredients, mix. Repeat, ending with dry ingredients.
  6. Divide the batter between 24 muffin cups. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Frosting
  1. In a bowl, whip cream cheese & butter. Beat on medium-low speed until smooth & combined, 1-2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
  2. Sift powdered sugar into the cream cheese mixture & add the vanilla, lemon juice & salt. Beat the frosting on a low speed to combine, then increase the speed to medium-high & beat until light & fluffy, 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.
  3. Add slightly crushed cheerios & FOLD into mixture gently. Top each COOLED mini cake with a dollop of frosting then sprinkle with extra cheerios.
Recipe Notes
  • If you prefer, bake in 12 regular size muffin cups.

Manchester Tarts

The Manchester tart is an English baked treat with its roots tracing back to none other than the vibrant city of Manchester, England. This retro tart has a shortcrust pastry base that’s layered with raspberry preserves, custard, desiccated coconut and sometimes glace cherries. The combination of sweet preserves, creamy custard, and coconut creates a wonderful balance of flavors and textures.

The Manchester tart was a staple on school dinner menus until the mid-1980s and is now a staple in bakeries and home kitchens, cherished for its simplicity and delicious taste.

Over the years, the Manchester Tart has undergone numerous adaptations and variations, with some recipes incorporating different fruits, toppings, or pastry bases. However, its essence remains rooted in the tradition of British baking, symbolizing comfort and nostalgia for many who have enjoyed it throughout generations.

For my adaptation of these tarts I made a pastry cream to give a lightness and added some fresh raspberries to give some tang to balance the sweetness of the preserves. Instead of using the traditional glace cherry on top, I went with a few more fresh raspberries.


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Manchester Tarts
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Course dessert
Servings
TARTLETS
Ingredients
Tart Base
Pastry Cream
Raspberry Preserves/Fruit
Topping
Course dessert
Servings
TARTLETS
Ingredients
Tart Base
Pastry Cream
Raspberry Preserves/Fruit
Topping
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Tart Base
  1. Combine the flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, salt, & vanilla in a large bowl. Add the butter and mix with your hands until the butter is broken down into pieces the size of peas and the ingredients are well combined. Add the egg and mix with a spatula until the dough is smooth and the egg is fully incorporated. Don’t overmix.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and gently shape it into a ball. Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and flatten it into a disc. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight, until cold but still pliable. It should have the texture of clay.
  3. When the dough has chilled, unwrap the dough and place it on a silicone baking mat on your work surface. Roll it out into a rectangle about 1⁄8 inch thick, using a second silicone sheet on top. The silicone mat makes it easier to lift the rolled-out dough onto the sheet pan later. Make sure to work quickly so the dough doesn’t get too warm.
  4. Place the silicone mat with the dough on a baking sheet.
  5. Using the tart rings, cut out 18 circles of dough. Remove the rest of the dough from around the rings.
  6. Reroll remaining dough between 2 sheets of parchment. Using a sharp knife, slice strips about 10 inches long & 1- inch thick. These strips will make the sides of each tartlet.
  7. Working with one at a time, transfer a strip of dough to one of the tart rings and press it to the sides. Use your fingers to slightly push the bottom of the sides to the dough circle (to seal it). Repeat with the remaining strips of dough. Use a small knife to cut the edge to the rim of the rings.
  8. Transfer the baking sheet containing the tartlet shells to the freezer & freeze for at least 20 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  10. Bake tart rings for about 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven & take off rings to allow them to cool.
Pastry Cream
  1. Heat the milk over medium high heat & bring it to a simmer, almost to a boil.
  2. While heating the milk, place the sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch, vanilla & salt in a bowl. Whisk until you have a thick, smooth mix then set aside until the milk comes almost to a boil.
  3. As soon as the milk starts to steam or simmer, remove it from the heat. Slowly pour about a half of the hot milk in a thin stream into the egg mix, WHILE WHISKING CONSTANTLY to temper the egg mix. When the eggs have been tempered, add the egg mix back into the hot milk in the saucepan.
  4. Heat the custard base, over medium heat, while whisking vigorously until it starts to thicken – this should take about 1 – 2 minutes. Make sure to reach the corners of the saucepan so that the custard does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  5. While whisking, let the custard come to a boil (the custard will release bubbles). You may need to stop whisking from time to time for a few seconds to see if the custard is ‘bubbling’. Look for big bubbles breaking the surface of the custard.
  6. Lower the heat and cook for a further 1 – 2 minutes after you see the first bubbles break the surface, and make sure to whisk constantly.
  7. Remove from the heat & add the butter. Whisk in the butter, until it’s completely mixed in.
  8. Pour the custard into a bowl & immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap is touching the whole surface. This is to prevent a custard ‘skin’ from forming on top. You can also choose to pass the custard through a sieve to remove any lumps.
  9. Let the custard cool down to room temperature & then let it chill in the fridge for a few hours, until it’s completely chilled.
  10. The custard will have ‘set’ after chilling. So, it is important to whisk the pastry cream to make it smooth before using.
Assembly
  1. Once the base & custard have cooled, spread raspberry preserve over the bottom of pastry cases. Spoon in the custard, then sprinkle with the coconut & chill. Decorate with raspberries and a final sprinkle of powdered sugar on the berries. Serve.
Recipe Notes
  • I used two sizes of tart rings - 2 1/4 + 2 1/2" for these.

Chai Spiced Hot Cross Bread Pudding w/ Vanilla Sauce

CELEBRATING GOOD FRIDAY!

Bread pudding always gives me reason to remember good things. Truly a comfort food for those of us that recall it from childhood days. It’s not that the dish was invented here — that honor likely goes to clever medieval or even ancient cooks in Europe and the Middle East who had a surplus of stale bread on their hands. The perfect embodiment of the virtues of frugality and indulgence: day old bread, too precious to waste, is bathed in a mixture of milk and eggs and made into either a sweet or savory bread pudding (with a few other additions) and baked into something sublime. What makes it special is the blend of spices mixed into it and the sauce.

The chai spice baking blend, which is sometimes overlooked, adds a distinct warm flavor and depth. It can include a number of different spices. Cardamom is the most common ingredient, followed by some mixture of cinnamon, ginger, star anise and cloves. Pepper, coriander, nutmeg and fennel are also used but they are slightly less common.

This bread pudding combines hot cross buns with spices inspired by the world’s love affair with Indian chai. The origins of hot cross buns may go back as far as the 12th century. According to the story, an Anglican monk baked the buns and marked them with a cross in honor of Good Friday. Over time they gained popularity, and eventually became a symbol of Easter weekend.

Bread pudding, when done right, should have the perfect balance of gooey goodness and chewy texture. That’s why stale bread/buns are important. The bread needs a degree of crunch otherwise you will have ‘mush pudding’. For additional flavor, the pudding is served with a vanilla sauce. Who says bread pudding has to be boring!

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Chai Spiced Hot Cross Bread Pudding w/ Vanilla Sauce
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Ingredients
Bread Pudding
Vanilla Sauce
Servings
Ingredients
Bread Pudding
Vanilla Sauce
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Bread Pudding
  1. Place cubed hot cross buns in a greased 9 x 9-inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the milk, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, spices & salt. Pour over buns, making sure that the bread is completely covered by the milk mixture.
  3. Cover & refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.
  4. Set out the chilled bread pudding while you preheat the oven to 350 F.
  5. Bake 40 - 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the pudding comes out clean. Remove from oven & serve with vanilla sauce.
Vanilla Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, melt butter & add flour. Stir until mixture has a nutty aroma.
  2. Add salt, cream & sugar; stir until mixture becomes thick. Remove from heat & stir in vanilla.
  3. Spoon over servings of warm bread pudding.
Recipe Notes
  • You will notice I have only used 2 Tbsp sugar in the vanilla sauce to offset the sweetness of the pudding.

Neapolitan Swirl Cookies

I was intrigued by the concept of these cookies; in that they replicate the flavor profile of the ‘nostalgic’ Neapolitan ice cream. The name ‘Neapolitan’ comes from Naples, Italy. Many believe the history of Neapolitan ice cream can trace its roots back to ‘spumoni’ – a traditional form of ice cream originating in southern Italy and made of multiple blocks of ice cream put together. The most popular flavors of spumoni are cherry, chocolate and pistachio. Historically the colors of the Italian flag – green (pistachio), white (vanilla), and red (cherry pink).

As legend goes, in the 19th century, immigrants to North America from southern Italy (namely Naples) brought along the recipes popular in their homeland including spumoni. The dessert likely adapted to popular local flavors at the time being, chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.

Over time, this flavor trio has evolved into much more, such as cookies, drinks, cheesecakes, trifle, fudge, rice krispie treats, parfaits and the list goes on.

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Neapolitan Swirl Cookies
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
COOKIES
Ingredients
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
COOKIES
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
  1. Cream together butter & powdered sugar. Add egg & mix thoroughly. Sift in the flour, cornstarch & salt.
  2. Combine into a dough consistency. Divide dough into 3 equal portions.
  3. Add vanilla to the first one & combine well. To the second portion add strawberry flavor & red food gel; combine until evenly colored. To the third portion, add the melted chocolate & cocoa powder.
  4. Place each flavored ball of dough between parchment paper & roll out in a circle to an 1/8-inch thickness. On the chocolate piece place the vanilla layer & then the strawberry layer. Roll up in a 'cinnamon roll' fashion & place in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Using string, cut cookie roll in slices. This should create a nice 'feathery' look.
  7. Bake the cookies for about 10-12 minutes or until just lightly browned on the bottom.
Recipe Notes
  • I make use of the Lorann flavorings whenever I can. Lorann's professional strength flavorings and essential oils are 3x to 4x stronger than typical alcohol-based extracts. They smell & taste amazing!

Spice Balls w/ Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting

The weather is cooling, and fall baking fills the air with the warm aromas of cinnamon and pumpkin spice. Spice cake recipes from turn-of-the-century cookbooks call for early forms of baking soda, which require an acid and the presence of heat to create a reaction that generates carbon dioxide bubbles. Tomato soup being acidic, provides the acid to make that reaction occur, the same way applesauce does. These spice cake balls are using both applesauce and tomato soup, making them super moist and full of flavor.

Who knew that a can of tomato soup could be turned into a cake? Condensed tomato soup appeared in stores in the late 1890s, and recipes for tomato soup cake began appearing in cookbooks in the late 1920s, early 1930s. This cake gained popularity likely in response to the depression, since the original recipe didn’t contain eggs or milk, which were in short supply during that time. Canned goods were an important staple during the depression, and like mayonnaise, the soup serves to bring moisture and bind the cake together. While it does not leave a tomato flavor in the cake, it does give the cake a lovely reddish color.

The Campbell Soup Company didn’t actually produce a recipe until 1940 and by 1960 it was featured on a Campbell’s soup label, making it the first recipe ever to appear on a soup can.

Tomato soup cake has moved beyond its humble origins. It is truly a recipe for all ages and for all seasons, a recipe that has been revised and modified to suit changing needs and tastes, a recipe that has stood and triumphed over the test of time. Around 1966, a cream cheese–frosted version surfaced, which remains the most popular version to this day.

The pumpkin spice cream cheese frosting is truly the ‘icing on the cake‘.

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Spice Cupcakes w/ Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting
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Servings
OR 12 CUPCAKES
Ingredients
Spice Cake
Cream Cheese Frosting, Divided
Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting
Servings
OR 12 CUPCAKES
Ingredients
Spice Cake
Cream Cheese Frosting, Divided
Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Spice Cake Balls
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. If you are using cake pop pans it is not necessary to grease them. If you are using muffin cups, line with paper cups.
  2. In a large bowl, cream sugar & butter. Mix in applesauce & tomato soup.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking powder & baking soda.
  4. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients along with walnuts or pepitas. Fold together, mixing lightly. Do not overmix batter.
  5. Bake about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Place cream cheese in a bowl & beat with mixer until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar, vanilla & salt. Combine well.
  2. For Pumpkin Spice Frosting: Divide cream cheese mixture (from recipe above) in half. To one half of the mixture add the pumpkin pie spice.
  3. In a piping bag, fitted with a star piping tip, place the white cream cheese frosting on one side & the pumpkin spice frosting on the other side of the bag, Pipe a swirl over each 'spice cake pop'. Decorate with some whole pepitas if desired.

Cherry Puff Cake

Because sometimes, less really is more. Dessert recipes can range from multi-component, complex creations to something as low-key as fresh berries with a mound of whipped cream.

It’s been said, ‘stressed spelled backwards is just desserts’. Let’s just say that you’re having a party and need to whip up some desserts by tonight. You could either become stressed over it, or you could make an easy, minimal ingredient dessert so that you don’t show up to the party empty handed.

This recipe is proof that you don’t need a pantry full of exotic ingredients to satisfy your sweet tooth because sometimes the simplest things are the most delicious. 

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Cherry Puff Cake
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Rating: 5
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch & salt. Add juice/water mixture & stir to combine.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes them immediately remove from heat.
  3. Gradually fold in the cherries. cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Assembly /Baking
  1. Roll out puff pastry & slice into (4) 3-inch wide strips.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, remove cherries from sauce. Place cherries tightly next to each other in a line down the center of each pastry strip. Pinch the edges together to seal the cherries inside.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  4. Line an 8-inch pie pan with parchment paper. Wind the pieces of dough around one another, spiraling until you have a circular cake.
  5. Bake 'cake' for about 25 minutes or until cake is golden brown. Remove cake from baking pan to cool on a wire rack.
Serving
  1. Whip package of whip topping as directed on package. When cake has cooled, swirl topping over it then drizzle with cherry sauce. Slice & serve.

Blackberry Dampfbuchteln

When I was growing up, I remember my mother making something she called ‘dampfnudeln’. The taste was wonderful and as I recall, these were sweet yeast dumplings in a vanilla custard sauce. I’m not sure if they had anything in the center or not.

Dampfnudels have been a pretty big deal in Germany since the 1600s. As legend has it, during the war, a hungry Swedish army arrived in Freckenfeld, a small town in Germany. The army had threatened to murder everyone there and destroy the town, however, they agree to leave in peace if they were fed. That was the moment town baker, Johanes Muck, rose to the occasion and along with his wife and apprentice, made 1,286 dampfnudels. To honor his heroic efforts, Johanes’ grandson, built a gate known as Dampfnudeltor, made with 1,286 little stone bumps.

The people of Freckenfeld still celebrate the origins of the dumpling and the heroic baker 400 years on with an annual festival. The Dampfnudeltor is even featured in the town’s coat of arms. And if that isn’t enough not only is there a song about them, but a film too – the Dampfnudel Blues!

Traditionally, cooks steam dampfnudel dough as it bakes. Once these ingredients are mixed, they are formed into tight balls of dough and placed close together in an iron pan. The pan is covered with a lid and placed in the oven to cook. The lid is required to create the soft, noodle-like texture associated with this dish. By the time the dish is done, all the liquid will have evaporated from the dish.

Depending on whether the dish is served as a meal or a dessert, dampfnudel may have a sweet flavor. As a dessert, this dish is typically topped with a sweet vanilla sauce, or served with a rich custard. It can also be eaten with stewed fruit. As a main dish, this dough is typically served with vegetables or sauerkraut. It can also be used as side to dip in stews or soup and may even be steamed in chicken broth when served in this manner.

It seems there are endless recipes and preparations, variations on recipes and variations on variations …. ROHRNUDELN, HEFENUDELN, GERMKNODEL, DAMPFNUDELN, BUCHTELN and on and on. Basically, they are all yeast dumplings, sweet (or savory) but the preparation varies somewhat. Some are poached in a milk/sugar liquid, whereas others are baked. Some are filled, some not. Most seem to be served with a vanilla custard.

For mine, I’m trying to incorporate some blackberry compote in a soft, sweet yeast bun with some vanilla custard. I think I’ll call them ‘dampfbuchteln’. Buchteln are a typical Bohemian dish from the region in the middle of Europe that was formerly German. It was from there, that recipes like this made their way into German and Austrian kitchens. That name seems fitting, having the characteristics of both kinds of buns.

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Blackberry Dampfbuchteln
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Course dessert
Cuisine German
Servings
Ingredients
Blackberry Compote
Sweet Roll Dough
Vanilla Cardamom Sauce
Course dessert
Cuisine German
Servings
Ingredients
Blackberry Compote
Sweet Roll Dough
Vanilla Cardamom Sauce
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Blackberry Compote
  1. In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch & salt; add juice & stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, simmer until thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Immediately remove from heat. Gradually fold in blackberries. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. I found it easier to make the compote a day ahead of the buns.
Dough
  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 together flour & salt. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture, 1 cup at a time combining well after each addition. Once the flour has all 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 & a tea towel. Allow to rise for at least 1 hour in a draft free place until dough has doubled in volume.
  4. Punch dough down & turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal sized pieces & roll each into a ball. Place under a tea towel so they won't dry out. Take one ball & shape it into a flat circle large enough to hold a spoonful of compote.
  5. Fold over & pinch the edges, then carefully shape into a ball again. Place in a buttered 12-inch spring form pan, seam side down. Repeat with remaining dough balls. Cover with tea towel & let rise for another 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake buns for about 20-25 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven; cool for just a few minutes then pat with butter. When completely cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar if you wish.
Vanilla Cardamom Custard
  1. Sift together cornstarch, flour & cardamom. Using a whisk, combine the beaten eggs & the flour mixture until powders are dissolved. In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together milk, sugar & salt. Once sugar & salt are dissolved, add in the egg mixture & keep stirring everything until the mixture is thickened. Remove from heat & stir in butter & vanilla. Nice to serve warm under the blackberry dampfbuchteln.

Apricot Raisin Five-Spice Oatmeal Cookies

I’ve always been a huge fan of Chinese 5-spice. The aroma and flavor are just pure magic. This peppery-sweet mixture provides endless options for its use. 

Perhaps the most amazing thing about this spice blend is how well it compliments both sweet and savory dishes.

In this recipe, the apricots offer a subtle sweetness to these cookies, while the Chinese 5- spice adds a spicy perspective and chopped pepitas add a nutty crunch. Blend that all together with oatmeal & raisins and you get a nice range of flavors.

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Apricot Raisin Five-Spice Oatmeal Cookies
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Rating: 5
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Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
  1. Cream butter & sugars together well. Add egg & vanilla; beat until light & fluffy.
  2. Sift together flour, five-spice powder, nutmeg, salt & baking soda.
  3. Fold the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. When the dry ingredients are almost incorporated, add the oatmeal, raisins, apricots & seeds.
  4. Chill the dough for about an hour before baking for best results.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  6. Scoop onto parchment lined cookie sheet about 2 1/2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes. Do not over bake or the cookies will lose their chewy texture.
  7. Yield: 28 cookies