Shrimp Boil Foil Packs

CELEBRATING MAY LONG WEEKEND!

Wherever you live across Canada, this May long weekend – typically marks the start of grilling season. It’s time to get outside in the sunshine, fire up the BBQ, and enjoy savory grilled food with family and friends. This distinctly Canadian holiday serves as the official marker to end winter. For Canadians, this is the first long weekend since Easter and a good excuse to celebrate the beginning of the summer season.

Seafood boils likely began with the Acadian Exile, which displaced thousands of Acadians from Canada’s Maritime provinces in the 1700’s to various regions of the U.S.A. Many settled in South Louisiana, where they became known as ‘Cajuns,’ and shared their tradition of boiling shellfish with seasonings and vegetables.

A shrimp boil is a dish that displays a medley of seafood, sausage, and vegetables, ultimately revolving around shrimp seasoned and cooked to perfection. Shrimp boil foil packet meals are everything great about a quintessential seafood boil neatly wrapped in individual packets without the mess.

Foil packets are the ultimate summer BBQ or camping meal! These shrimp boil foil packets are easy to make and quick to cook on the grill or over a fire but can also be made in the oven. There are lots of things to love about foil packet dinners. They can be made in advance (the day before or morning of), they travel well, and they require virtually no clean-up. There’s just something about the ingredients cooking and steaming all together over the fire, whether you’re camping or just in your own backyard (or cooking them in the oven), that makes these so good. Just assemble your ingredients, seal them inside using aluminum foil and parchment paper, and place them over your heat source.

This is an amazing recipe that’s full of flavor, perfect for the May long weekend.

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Shrimp Boil Foil Packs
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. or the grill to medium-high (about 400 F). If using frozen shrimp place the package under cold water for 10 minutes to thaw.
  2. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and add the potatoes and corn. Reduce the heat & bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes on simmer then drain into a colander. Set aside.
  3. While the potatoes & corn are cooking, prepare 4 sets of 12-inch by 24-inch long aluminum foil sheets. Fold each in half, forming a square. If using industrial aluminum foil simply prepare sheets measuring 12-inches square. Slightly fold up the edges of the sheets.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the drained potatoes & corn, sausage, thawed shrimp, onion, and garlic. Drizzle with the 4 tablespoons of melted butter, season with salt, pepper (if using), & Old Bay seasoning. Mix very well to coat all of the ingredients.
  5. Divide the shrimp boil ingredients between the four aluminum foil sheets. Neatly fold into packets, ensuring a good seal.
  6. Place them onto a baking sheet & bake for 15 minutes. If grilling, place the packets directly onto the grill surface & cook for 15 minutes, flipping once after about 8 minutes.
  7. Serve the packets slightly opened up, garnished with chopped parsley, a pinch of Old Bay seasoning, and a few lemon wedges. Serve the melted butter on the side for optional drizzling over the shrimp boil or for dipping.
Recipe Notes
  • For our meal, I did not add any salt or pepper. We found the Old Bay seasoning was enough for our liking. Just personal preference!

Banana Cream Pie Cookie Cups

It’s hard to pin down the origin of banana cream pie, but it seems adding bananas to the pie happened around the end of the 19th century, when bananas went from exotic to commonplace. Until then, most North Americans have never seen, never mind eaten, a banana.

The turning point in the banana business came with technological advances in transportation and refrigeration. Steamships and railroad cars brought the fruit to market faster, and refrigeration slowed the ripening process. The combination was a bonanza for the industry.

One of the earliest known published recipes for banana cream pie called for sliced bananas and powdered sugar placed in a pre-baked pie shell. The ‘Woman’s Exchange Cook Book’ from 1901 advises cooks to then put the filled pie in the oven for a few minutes and then remove it once the bananas have been softened. After the pie is removed from the oven, the cookbook instructs the cook to cover the filling with whipped cream and to flavor it with lemon juice.

A recipe published just five years later in ‘The Blue-Ribbon Cookbook’ provided a banana and custard filling, but the two were not blended together into today’s familiar, creamy banana filling. Instead, sliced bananas lined the bottom of the crust, and the custard was poured over it. By 1950 we get a version covered with whipped cream and toasted coconut.

An old fashioned dessert , but one of the most comforting treats, banana cream pie offers a rich, sweet and velvety filling. If you like bananas like I do, it’s one of those desserts where you put a spoonful in your mouth and can’t help but lean back and close your eyes as you savor the buttery crust and creamy filling.

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Banana Cream Pie Cookie Cups
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Banana Cream Mousse Filling
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Banana Cream Mousse Filling
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Instructions
Base
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper cups.
  2. Use a food processor to grind gingersnap cookies into a fine crumb. Melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl until melted. Combine melted butter with cookie crumbs and stir until there are no dry crumbs left. Divide ginger snap crumbs between the 12 muffin cups. Press down with a spoon or tart shaper.
Banana Cream Mousse Filling
  1. While the cookie cups are cooling, prepare the banana cream mousse filling. Whisk together the box of dry pudding mix and the milk. Add in the whipped topping and stir GENTLY until combined. Transfer to a pastry bag or a zip lock bag and store in the fridge until the cookies are fully cool.
  2. Take cookie cups out of muffin tin. Pipe banana cream mousse into each cup and top with a slice of banana. Sprinkle with a small amount of gingersnap cookie crumbles.
  3. Store in the refrigerator.

Sweet Red Bean Buns/ Anpan

Many people are often surprised to hear that beans can be enjoyed as dessert. But ‘anko’, a paste made from red beans called ‘azuki’, is a staple in traditional Japanese confectionery, and has been enjoyed by Japanese people for centuries. Anko, or sweet red bean paste, is the equivalent of chocolate in the western world. 

The origin of red bean paste dates back to the Heian period when Chinese travelers visited Japan with recipes for steamed buns. Japan adopted the recipe and incorporated meat and vegetables; however, Buddhist priests were unable to eat the meat-filled buns, so they opted for a substitute of boiled azuki beans. The beans only began to be sweetened during the Muromachi period when Dutch traders started importing sugar to Japan.

Anpan is a sweet roll that was first made in 1874 by a samurai named Mr. Kimura. He lost his job due to the dissolution of the samurai as a social class back in Meiji period. During that time, Japan was becoming more westernized, and bakeries started to appear. His new job was as a baker.

Soon after Mr. Kimura founded the well-known bakery called ‘Kimuraya’, which still exists today. Kimura created a bread that was more suited to Japanese tastes. He replaced the traditional Japanese red bean mochi (a Japanese rice cake made from short-grain glutinous rice) with western bread instead of mochi and it is here where anpan, the traditional soft Japanese bread roll filled with red bean paste, was first invented.  

Anpan, derived from anko red bean paste, and pan, taken from the French word for bread (pain), is undoubtedly one of Kimuraya’s most famous products, and one of the most popular types of bread in Japan. Like true artisans, their original recipe has not changed since their first conception. Kimuraya have also not patented their recipe, allowing other bakers to make the same product as they please.

You can find anpan in bakeries and convenience stores all throughout Japan. Anpan is almost always filled with azuki bean paste in varying textures. Some are smooth, and others are chunky. Zunda beans (green beans) and white soybeans are common fillings. Other non-azuki bean paste flavors are pumpkin, chocolate, and cream, to name a few.

Red Bean paste comes in many shapes and forms, but one thing is constant: the ingredient is a special and meaningful component of different East Asian cultures. With its creamy texture, red bean paste is suitable for a multitude of desserts. Its flavor is sweet and savory at the same time, with notes of chocolate and walnuts.

Just for fun, I thought I would try making some anpan buns to see if we would like them. Of course, what’s not to like …. there sweet and soft!!

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Sweet Red Bean Buns
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Sweet Red Bean Filling
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Sweet Red Bean Filling
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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.
  3. Lightly butter 2 muffin pans using only 20 cups total.
  4. Punch the risen dough down & transfer to a lightly buttered work surface. Divide the dough into 20 equal portions with about 50 grams each. Take one portion of the dough, shape it round, flatten it with a rolling pin, put a ball of red bean paste and seal it properly. Shape the ball, use a rolling pin to flatten (not too forceful or it will break the dough) it into a rectangular shape, use a sharp knife to cut 4 lines in the middle of the dough about ½-inches apart.
  5. Roll up, starting at the longest side of dough, twist & attach ends together. Place each bun in a muffin cup.
  6. Brush egg wash over tops of buns & sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cover buns with a tea towel & allow to rise for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden in color. Remove from oven. Take buns out of pans & cool on wire racks.
Recipe Notes
  • If you prefer your bun dough a bit sweeter use 1/4 cup as opposed to 2 Tbsp as I did.

Ube Bread Pudding w/ Ube Cream Cheese Drizzle

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.

When I first tried using it sometime back, it was in some sweet rolls that were filled with ube ‘halaya’ or jam and topped with Edam cheese. We absolutely loved them. My next adventure was some ube cheesecake for Easter (2019). Both of these recipes have been published here on the blog.

Now, I’m taking it another step further and making an Ube Bread Pudding. This dessert is best made over two days due to that fact that you are making the ube bread from scratch. Should be interesting!

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Ube Bread Pudding w/ Ube Cream Cheese Drizzle
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Ube Halaya (jam) Filling for Bread
Ube Bread Pudding
Ube Cream Cheese Drizzle
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Ube Halaya (jam) Filling for Bread
Ube Bread Pudding
Ube Cream Cheese Drizzle
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Instructions
Ube Halaya
  1. In a medium, heavy saucepan, melt butter. Add coconut & condensed milks; stir until heated. Add thawed, grated ube & stir everything together. This process takes about 40-50 minutes until the ube is cooked. The mixture will be thick & sticky. It is important to stir the mixture often during cooking to prevent it from forming a crust. Transfer the ube halaya to a container & set aside.
Ube Bread
  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 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. Grate cheese & set aside in refrigerator until needed.
  4. Grease 2 loaf pans. Punch dough down & divide in half. Roll each piece out to about 7x7-inch (18x18 cm) square. Spread ube halaya over each one leaving about 1/2-inch border all the way around. Sprinkle each square with Edam cheese then roll up in jelly-roll style. Pinch to seal seams & place seam side down in loaf pans. 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 bread for about 50 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven; cool for just a few minutes then pat with butter. Sprinkle with more grated cheese.
Ube Bread Pudding (ON THE FOLLOWING DAY)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 8 x 8-inch baking dish. Cut thick slices of ube bread into 1-inch cubes & spread out in baking dish. In a saucepan, melt butter into milk on medium-high; do not let it boil. Remove from heat when butter is melted.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk eggs & coconut extract together. Slowly pour egg mixture into butter/milk mixture & begin whisking immediately to avoid scrambling the egg mixture. Pour custard over the ube bread pieces; use a spoon to work liquid between the pieces.
  3. Bake for about 30-45 minutes or until the top is springy. While the bread pudding is baking, make the ube drizzle.
Ube Drizzle
  1. In a bowl, using a mixer, beat butter for 2 minutes then add cream cheese & beat for another minute. Add powdered sugar slowly then beat thoroughly; add vanilla. Mix in ube halaya until well combined. Add enough milk to make a drizzle consistency. Either drizzle bread pudding before or after cutting into serving pieces.
Recipe Notes
  • You will have extra Ube Bread & Ube Halaya but it will no doubt be eaten before you have a chance to freeze it. Other than just enjoying it by the slice, it makes great French toast as well.

Blueberry Lemon Poke ‘Bread’

The ‘poke cake‘ is an advertising invention of the late 1970s, when Jell-O created it to increase sluggish sales. The Jell-O salads of the ‘50s and ‘60s were outmoded and on the wane so this was a way to bring it back. These cakes were 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. Next, it is topped with a colorful Jell-O syrup, which trickles into the cake looking like brightly colored streamers.

But, like all successful desserts, even the poke cake has undergone numerous reinterpretations over time. Starting from the base no longer cooked only in vanilla flavor but also made with coconut, lemon, chocolate, with fruit & yogurt, arriving at the holes that are filled in other choices such as chocolate, cream, jams, etc. etc.

Although it would seem like poke cakes are a phenomenon born in corporate American kitchens, drenching cake in flavorful liquids is not new, or an entirely an American creation. 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 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. I think some blueberries and lemon curd will work nicely here.

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Blueberry Lemon Poke 'Bread'
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Dough
Glaze
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Dough
Glaze
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Instructions
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.
Assembly & Bake
  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 lemon curd & top with a couple of large blueberries. Allow cake to rise 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. Bake bread/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 15 serving pieces.

Pear & Gruyere Bread Pudding

It’s become that time of year. Our warm summer nights have slowly given way to crisp air. Layers have started to enter our daily fashion. Food preparation starts to gravitate towards warmth and comfort food. Pears of all shapes and colors, are waiting for us to pull out our oven mitts and get cooking. And, like so many fruits, there is the right variety for every job.

Here, sweet cinnamon bread meets juicy pears and the savory bite of Gruyere cheese. You want a pear variety that will hold its shape and won’t exude too much moisture as the bread pudding bakes, such as Anjou.

The nutty flavor of Gruyere compliments the pears and the cinnamon bread base. Its all bathed in a milk and egg mixture and left to sit in the fridge overnight. The next morning, simply bake and enjoy with the addition of something salty like you guessed it …. bacon!!

In 2015, ‘The Taste of a Memory’, a memorabilia/cookbook I wrote as a tribute to my wonderful parents, was published. It contained a compilation of stories, articles, recipes and reflections that evoke an intimate memory, a special time period and fond emotion brought about by the aroma and taste of food. Writing them down not only put them in print but allowed me to take a mental journey back to a gentler time.

This bread pudding recipe comes out of the low calorie section of that book. Who says bread pudding can’t be diet food !!

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Pear & Gruyere Bread Pudding
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Instructions
Cinnamon Swirl Bread
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together yeast, 1 tsp sugar & lukewarm water. Set aside until mixture begins to form a frothy foam, about 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, dry milk powder & salt. Add yeast mixture, melted butter, vanilla, raisins (if using) & beaten egg. Combine until dough comes together in a ball & no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise until nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  3. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. In a small dish combine 1/4 cup sugar with 1 Tbsp cinnamon.
  4. On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough into a 9 x 24-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with egg wash mixture & sprinkle with cinnamon /sugar mixture. Starting with a short end, roll the dough into a tight log & place seam-side down into greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
  5. Allow to rise, covered, for 40-60 minutes until loaf has crested 1/2-inch over the rim of the pan. Preheat oven to 350 F. while the bread is rising. Brush the loaf with egg wash & bake for 45-60 minutes, until golden. Cool the loaf in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Bread Pudding
  1. In a large bowl, combine pears, butter & 1 Tbsp sugar; toss gently. Butter a 9 x 9-inch glass baking dish & arrange half of the bread in it. Spoon pear mixture evenly over bread & top with shredded cheese. Arrange remaining bread over cheese.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together remaining 5 Tbsp sugar, milk, egg substitute & cinnamon. Pour milk mixture over bread pudding, pressing down lightly to submerge. Cover & chill 8 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Uncover, sprinkle with 1 Tbsp sugar evenly over pudding. Bake for 55 minutes or until golden & set. Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes
  • If you are making the cinnamon swirl bread, it helps to do this the day before making the bread pudding.
  • Alternately you could make your life easier & just purchase the cinnamon loaf at a good bakery.

‘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
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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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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.

Print Recipe
Fig Bread Wreath
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
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
You:
Rate this recipe!
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.