‘Twisted’ Mango Pie Bread

Bread shaping as an art form has a long history. Some types of dough lend themselves well to particular shapes. For instance, a high fat mixture like a brioche can be shaped or braided easily, while a sticky variety is better suited to something simpler.

Apart from braiding bread into a variety of shapes you can simply use the twisted method. No different than making a cinnamon twist but with a bit more prep work involved.

The filling is where you can let your personal imagination and creativity take over. I chose to make some mango filling for ours but any choice that appeals to you works. A note worth mentioning about filling though is that filled strands need more care during handling and twisting as they are prone to tearing.

The question to egg wash or not to egg wash? The main purpose of it is to enhance the top crust with a shine and crispiness. Even though I’m going to brush my bread with cream cheese glaze, I think its still a good idea.

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'Twisted' Mango Pie Bread
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword mango pie bread
Servings
WEDGES
Ingredients
Bread Dough
Mango Filling
Cream Cheese Glaze
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword mango pie bread
Servings
WEDGES
Ingredients
Bread Dough
Mango Filling
Cream Cheese Glaze
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Bread 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, 1/4 cup sugar & salt. Add yeast mixture, melted butter & beaten 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 damp towel. Set aside to rise for about 20-30 minutes.
Mango Filling
  1. While the bread dough is rising, place all ingredients for the mango filling (except cream cheese), in a heatproof bowl. Combine & microwave for 1-2 minutes until it resembles puree. Allow to cool. With a handheld mixer, mix mango puree & cream cheese to make the filling for bread.
Assembly & Baking
  1. Deflate dough slightly & divide into 4 equal parts & form into balls. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each ball into roughly 12-inch circles.
  2. Divide the filling into thirds. Spread 3 of the dough circles with mango filling. Layer them, ending with the circle that was left without filling. Using a pizza cutter, divide the layered dough into 10 equal strips.
  3. Line a 12-inch round pie dish with parchment paper. Carefully twist strips & place in pie dish, side by side. Cover with a greased piece of plastic wrap & allow to rise in a draft free place for about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  5. Brush with egg wash & bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven & allow to cool for about 10 minutes. While the bread is cooling make the cream cheese glaze.
Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, Beat together cream cheese,, butter & vanilla. Add sifted powdered sugar & beat to a smooth consistency. When bread is still warm brush with glaze.

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 décor!

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Cardamom Lime Easter 'Bunnies'
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Servings
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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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Servings
BUNS
Ingredients
Rum/Raisin filling
Bun Dough
Cream Cheese Filling
Egg Wash
Rum Glaze
Cross Paste
Servings
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!!

Fig Bread

Today, March 28th, marks the date of my mothers birth. Although she left this earth 43 years ago, her memory remains crystal clear. She was a wonderful mother who made our lives so much better in ways we never realized. She set a good example just by the way she lived the ‘best version of herself’.

When this date rolls around each year, I like to post something on the blog that I think she would have enjoyed to make. Baking was a ‘job’ she really seemed to enjoy and our family certainly reaped the benefits of that.

Since Easter is only a week away, I thought a fig bread would be nice. Fruit appears in myths from around the world with figs being regarded as a sacred symbol by many.

Velvety soft on the outside with sweet crimson flesh within, the fig is a captivating food. Widespread and abundant throughout the Mediterranean region, figs have been eaten fresh and dried for storage for thousands of years. The fig found its way to America with Spanish missionaries who brought the fruit to Southern California (USA), in the 1700’s. The variety became known as ‘Mission’ figs.

Easter and Good Friday inspire a particularly rich array of decorative breads and buns that make some of the nicest edible centerpieces.

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Fig Bread Wreath
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, European
Keyword Fig bread
Servings
Ingredients
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, European
Keyword Fig bread
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Bread Dough
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together yeast, 1 tsp sugar & warm milk. Set aside for about 5 minutes until frothy
  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. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Fig Filling
  1. Coarsely chop figs. In a bowl, cream together butter, sugar, cinnamon & cardamom; add figs. Stir to combine & set aside.
Assemble & Bake
  1. Fit a piece of parchment paper to cover bottom & sides of a 10-inch round springform baking pan. Deflate dough & divide into 6 parts. One small part of the dough will be used to for the middle. Roll out in a round circle & place a scoop of filling in the center. Pull sides up around filling & pinch together. Place the 'bun' in the middle of the pan, seam down. Roll out another small piece of the dough into a circle. Cut it into parallel strips then place strips over bun in a weave pattern.
  2. Next roll each of the remaining 4 strips into long rectangles (about 6" x 16" each). Divide filling between 2 of the strips, placing a row down the center of each one. Bring sides together over filling & pinch to seal.
  3. Lay one filled strip over each of the 2 remaining rectangles of pastry (seam side down). Cut angled strips on either side of filled pastry. Using these strips, form a braid over top.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Transfer braids to baking pan forming 2 circles around the center ball. Beat egg wash together & brush over surface of bread wreath. Allow to rise for about 15 minutes in a draft-free place.
  5. Bake until golden brown about 30 minutes. Remove from oven & place on a wire rack to cool.
Cream Cheese Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together cream cheese, butter, vanilla & powdered sugar until smooth. Drizzle or pipe over fig bread. Decorate with fresh figs if desired.

Savory Chicken & Onion Dutch Baby Pancakes

Today, February 16th, is officially known as ‘Shrove Tuesday’. This date varies from year to year and falls somewhere between February 3rd & March 9th. This traditional ‘feast’ day marks the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday and is always 47 days before Easter Sunday. The expression Shrove Tuesday derives from the word ‘shrive’, meaning absolve.

This day was observed by many Christians who wanted to make a point of self-examination to consider what wrongs they needed to repent. The ingredients for pancakes can be seen to symbolize four points of significance at this time of year.

EGGS -creation, FLOUR -the staff of life, SALT -wholesomeness, MILK -purity

For something different this year, I’m going the savory route with our Shrove Tuesday pancakes. When it comes to versatility, there aren’t too many dishes that can hold a candle to a Dutch Baby pancake. They easily go savory or sweet. You can go as minimal or maximal as you wish for the toppings or just have them warm from the oven as is.

The Dutch Baby is one of the simplest forms of pancakes to make. Just mix up a few pantry staples, pour the batter into a hot, buttery skillet or oven proof glass bowl and bake it until its puffed and golden.

I’m using a chicken/broccoli filling today. This meal is one of our favorites so we have enjoyed it with a variety of savory fillings.

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Savory Chicken & Onion Dutch Baby Pancakes
Instructions
Filling
  1. In a skillet, heat oil & sauté mushrooms for 5-7 minutes. Mushrooms will expel a lot of moisture. Continue to cook until mushrooms are tender & most of the moisture has cooked off. Season with salt & pepper. Steam broccoli in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until tender-crisp.
  2. Shred cooked chicken with 2 forks. Thinly slice green onions. Keep raw for topping filling with.
  3. Prepare chicken gravy mix. Even though the package suggests using only one cup of water, I like to use 1 1/4 cup so that it is thinner & will cover the filling nicer. If you feel you need to add some red pepper flakes to spice it a bit more.
Dutch Baby Pancakes
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Place (2) 6-inch diameter glass bowls (each with 2 tablespoons of butter in them) in the oven to heat while you are preparing the batter.
  2. In a bowl, whisk eggs & milk. Add flour & whisk until incorporated. Next, whisk in the Parmesan cheese, scallions, parsley, thyme, salt & pepper.
  3. Remove heated bowls; divide batter between them. Return to oven & bake for about 25 minutes. The Dutch baby will puff up during cooking & form 'bowl'. Once its removed from the oven & starts to cool it will deflate slightly.
  4. As soon as you remove it from the glass bowl, place it on a serving plate & fill with the mushrooms, broccoli & chicken. Top with gravy & sprinkle with green onions. Serve immediately. Your filling should be enough for 2 Dutch baby pancakes.

Raspberry Souffle

Soufflé is a light, airy cake that originated in France. In the dessert department, they are a hallmark of French culinary tradition.

The word itself comes from ‘souffler’, meaning ‘to breathe’ or ‘to puff’, which is what the egg whites do to the base once they hit the oven’s heat.

A soufflé has two main components, a flavorful base and glossy beaten egg whites that are gently folded together just before baking. It somewhat resembles angel food cake, but even lighter.

This billowy creation can be served as a sweet dessert or a savory meal. Sweet soufflés make spectacular desserts with fruit, chocolate or liquors. Savory soufflés usually incorporate cheese, vegetables, meat or seafood and are appropriate for a light meal or as a first course.

Soufflés are found all over France, with every region applying its own ‘spin’. This raspberry soufflé, with its nice pink color, makes a great Valentine dessert idea for that special meal.

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Raspberry Souffle
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Course dessert
Cuisine American, French
Servings
Ingredients
Course dessert
Cuisine American, French
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Raspberry Puree
  1. In a saucepan, combine raspberries, orange juice & sugar. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until sugar dissolves & raspberries have released their juices. Remove from heat.
  2. Strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl & using the back of a wooden spoon, push excess pulp through sieve. Return juice to the saucepan.
  3. Combine cornstarch with water & add it to raspberry mixture. Bring to a boil, allowing puree to thicken to a custard consistency. Remove from heat & allow to cool.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 F. Place an oven tray in the oven to preheat. Brush 4 ramekins with melted butter & dust with sugar. Set aside.
Raspberry Soufflé
  1. Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites in a medium bowl until soft peaks form adding 1 tablespoon of sugar while mixing to get a glossy texture. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the raspberry mixture, starting with half of the quantity.
  2. Once the egg whites have been fully incorporated into the raspberry mixture, pour evenly among prepared ramekins & fill them. Run your spatula around the top of each ramekin just above the soufflé mixture to remove the extras & clean the ramekins.
  3. Place soufflés on the preheated hot tray & bake for 15-17 minutes or until puffed & cooked through. Remove from oven & place on serving plates. Dust with powdered sugar & serve immediately.

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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Servings
CRUFFINS
Ingredients
Ube Halaya (Jam) BEST TO MAKE A DAY AHEAD OF USING
Servings
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.

Glazed Sour Cherry Yeast Cake

We seem to have had all the right weather conditions this year for our little cherry tree. It’s yield was close to 8 lbs (3.6 kg) of really beautiful fruit. I personally like using these cherries for cooking and baking as opposed to eating them fresh. The sweet/tart flavor lends itself so well to numerous recipes.

While the warmer summer months certainly slow down my baking activities, they never really stop completely. On the cooler or rainy days, I still heed the call to head to the kitchen for some baking therapy.

My recipe idea today was inspired by the 1970’s ‘Poke Cakes’. Originally created to increase sluggish sales for Jello-O gelatin, poke cakes are colorful and easy to make. A fork, chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon is used to poke deep holes all over the top of the baked cake(mix). Next, it is topped with a colorful Jell-O syrup, which trickles into the cake looking like brightly colored streamers. Once it is refrigerated until set, the cake is then slathered with Cool Whip.

Although it seems like poke cakes are a phenomenon born in corporate American kitchens, drenching cake in flavorful liquids is not new, or entirely an American tradition. England’s sticky toffee pudding, a single layer date cake, is poked all over while still warm from the oven with a fork or skewer and drenched in sticky butterscotch sauce. Genoise, the classic French sponge cake, is almost always soaked in sugar syrups spiked with liqueur, not just for flavor, but to keep the cake fresh and prevent it from drying out. Pastel de tres leches, or ‘three-milks cake’, is a beloved Latin American classic. Made from sponge cake soaked in a milky syrup combining evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream. All three called for this hole-poking action long before the 1970’s.

Of course, getting back to my German heritage, brings to mind a German butter cake or Butter Kuchen. This classic yeasted cake (actually more like a bread), seems to be very closely aligned with the poke cake idea. After the dough has risen and been rolled out, deep impressions are made for the filling to nestle in.

For our ‘cake’, I used an almond cream cheese filling to compliment the fresh cherries. We really enjoyed it!

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Glazed Sour Cherry Yeast Cake
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Course Brunch, dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Cake Dough
Cream Cheese Filling
Glaze
Course Brunch, dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Cake Dough
Cream Cheese Filling
Glaze
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Cake 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 flour & salt. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture 1 cup at a time, combining after each addition. Once all 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.
Cream Cheese Filling
  1. Beat together filling ingredients & set aside in fridge until ready to use.
Assembly
  1. Line a 15" X 10"-inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper. Place dough on paper & press out evenly in pan. Make about 20 deep impressions in dough with your fingertips. Fill each one with a spoonful of filling & top with a couple of cherries. Allow cake to rise 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake cake for about 20 minutes or until golden. Meanwhile, combine glaze ingredients. Remove from oven: cool for just a few minutes then drizzle with glaze. Sprinkle with sliced almonds. Cut into 24 serving pieces.

Hot Cross ‘Pockets’

Rich and decadent, dotted with dried fruit and nuts and fragrant with spices, what’s not to love about Hot Cross Buns?  When I think of Easter baking, there are two items that come to mind. An egg, rich Easter bread, baked in a cylinder loaf, and hot cross buns. ‘To die for’ is the only way I can describe the ones my mother made for us.

In medieval times, eating  hot cross buns marked the end of Lent because they were made from dairy products which were forbidden during Lent. Plain buns were traditionally eaten, hot or toasted, beginning on Shrove Tuesday through to Good Friday.

While hot cross buns are now sold throughout the year, they were once reserved for Good Friday alone. The rejection of traditions, categories and boundaries, etc. seems to be the accepted ‘norm’ in today’s society. It destroys specialness and undermines difference. I love traditions and enjoy specific things or foods associated with them on the actual occasions. As I researched these classic buns, I realized that there are as many ways to make them as there are families who bake them.

Sometimes the dough is slashed to make the cross. Other times a flour and water paste or a sweet icing is used to create the symbol. Then the same sweet dough can be made into a loaf form, bread pudding or french toast. 

On that note, I thought, why couldn’t these little treasures be ‘filled’ and baked in a round pan like pull-apart buns. I liked the nice presentation it gave as well as that wonderful traditional flavor.


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Hot Cross 'Pockets'

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Course Brunch, dessert

Servings


Ingredients

Course Brunch, dessert

Servings


Ingredients

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Instructions
Fruit Filling
  1. In a small bowl, combine citrus peel, cranberries, apricots & rum extract. Set aside to marinate while preparing dough. When ready to use, add chopped almonds. Drain off any excess extract.

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 flour, spices & salt. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture 1 cup at a time, combining after each addition. Once all flour has been added, knead dough 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. Punch down dough; divide into 18 equal pieces & roll each with a rolling pin. Divide, drained fruit mixture between rolls. Pull corners toward the center, pinching to form pockets. Place filled pockets in a round baking pan with the pinched corners up. Cover with plastic wrap & a tea towel; allow to rise for an hour or until doubled in size.

  5. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake pockets about 20 minutes or until baked & golden. Remove from oven; cool before drizzling with glaze in the form of a cross on each bun.

Glaze
  1. In a small dish, combine powdered sugar & lemon juice; mixing until a smooth consistency for drizzling.


Recipe Notes
  • If you wish, don't hesitate to brush each pocket with egg wash before baking. Probably easiest to do it with your finger tips.

Guava Cream Rolls

Today, March 28th, is my mother’s birth date. As we honor her beautiful memory, I’m sure each of my siblings will reflect on special times we shared with her. Forty-one years after her passing, I’m still doing many things in her likeness. Baking was a shared passion for my mother and I. We liked nothing better than to bake something together. After I moved from ‘home’ and would return for a visit, instead of having a coffee and visit we would get busy and bake something while we talked. Such great memories!

In honor of her fabulous kitchen skills, I decided to make some Guava Cream Rolls. If I have a little extra time when I grocery shop, I like to scan the import isles to see if there is something unique I can use in my baking. One of the items that caught my attention was guava paste. Also known as ‘guayabate’ or ‘goiabada’, guava paste is a very thick puree of the guava fruit cooked with sugar and often with added pectin.

Guava is very popular in Cuba, the Caribbean and Spain. This thick paste has a sweet, floral taste like a combination of pear and strawberry. It is often paired with cheese as an appetizer or in the filling of baked goods as well as in savory dishes.

For these rolls, I used a combination of sweet guava paste with savory cream cheese which gave this dessert a very distinct and tropical flavor.

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Guava Cream Rolls
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Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast & 1 tsp sugar in lukewarm milk. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow yeast to activate. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup sugar, melted butter, sour cream & egg. Add yeast mixture, stirring to combine.
  2. In another bowl, combine flour & salt. Add flour mixture, 1 cup at a time, combining with wet mixture. Once all flour has been added, knead dough for about 2 minutes until smooth & elastic consistency, Place dough in a greased bowl & cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about an hour. While the dough is rising, beat together guava paste & softened cream cheese to make filling. Line a 10-inch spring form pan with parchment paper; set aside.
  3. Punch the risen dough down & transfer to a floured surface then divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Divide each of them again into 4 parts, so to have 8 pieces of dough altogether.
  4. Roll each piece of dough out into a roughly rectangular shape with a thickness of 1/4-inch. Spread guava/cream cheese over each piece. Place one piece of rectangular dough over another one & start to roll a cylinder. Do the same with the rest of the dough; you will end up with 4 cylinder rolls altogether.
  5. Cut each roll into three pieces. Slice both ends of the roll ( about 1 1/2-inch long piece from each end) & put these 2 pieces aside. Cut the middle part of each roll into 4 triangles. In the middle of spring form pan, arrange the cut ends of the rolls around each other to form a circle, placing the cut sides down. Arrange the cut triangles to completely surround the middle circle.
  6. Cover pan with a tea towel & allow to rise in a warm place for about 30-40 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat egg with water to make egg wash & carefully brush the top of rolls when they have risen enough. Bake rolls for 30-40 minutes or until baked & golden in color. Remove from oven & brush immediately with melted butter. Remove spring form pan & cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before serving.