Pineapple Coconut Oil Banana Bread

Summer is not my favorite season; yes, you heard me correct, I don’t like Summer, in fact I actually hate it.  I don’t like the intense sun, I don’t like the humidity, I don’t like how the heat and humidity drain my energy; I don’t like it because I have to temporarily halt major cooking and baking (unless I blast my air conditioner) and I don’t like walking around like a zombie waiting for the Fall to come.  Maybe I will feel differently if my house had central air and a pool in the backyard (but with this 100 plus year old house I strike out on both counts).   However, there is one thing I like about Summer…  (yes, just one thing) I like all the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables I find at the Farmer’s Market and at my local organic markets.  They look so vibrant and alive!  Many of these produce can be purchased throughout the year, but nothing compares with the taste of seasonal produce.

Ironically today’s recipe will remind you of a tropical island with pineapple, coconut and banana.  Pineapples you get at the market now are definitely sweeter than the ones you can get in Winter (I don’t even try to buy tropical fruits in the Winter, seriously, I don’t like how they taste).  I found today’s recipe here and so glad I tried it!

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Makes: two 8-by-4-inch loaves

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted (canola or vegetable oil, or browned or melted butter may be substituted)
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (1/4 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream may be substituted)
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, optional but recommended
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (2 large or 3 small ripe bananas)
  • 1 cup pineapple, diced (I used frozen; mango, peaches, nectarines, strawberries or blueberries may be substituted)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray two 8-by-4-inch loaf pans with floured cooking spray; set aside. (I have not tried it but I suspect you could bake as muffins, mini loaves, or in a Bundt pan, adjusting baking times accordingly).
  2. In a large bowl combine the eggs, coconut oil, buttermilk, sugars, vanilla, and whisk to combine. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, optional salt, and stir to just incorporate; don’t overmix because the gluten will overdevelop and bread will be tougher. Stir in bananas. Stir in pineapple (if using frozen, just add it frozen, no need to thaw it first. If using fresh or canned, make sure it’s well-drained or it could water-down the batter).
  3. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for about 45 minutes, or until top is golden and set, a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean (banana bread is gooey and it may not come out perfectly clean). If bread is browning too fast on the top, you may wish to lower your oven temperature to 325F in last 15 minutes of cooking, or tent the pan with foil; although I don’t suspect this will be an issue. Allow bread to cool in pan for about 15 minutes before removing and transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Bread will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container or large Ziplock at room temperature (I wrap my fully cooled bread in Clingwrap, then I place it in a gallon-sized Ziplock). Second loaf may be frozen for up to 3 months.

My opinion: If at all possible, I highly encourage you to use coconut oil and fresh pineapples (even though substitution options are given) – coconut oil gives mild, rounded and deep note (doesn’t taste like coconut so don’t worry), and fresh pineapples give authentic sweetness and texture to this wonderful bread.  I don’t think any ingredients or flavor compete against each other, they kind of all blend really well together.  I didn’t have to worry about storing the second loaf  because we polished off pretty quickly!!

Brunsviger

I have a very dear childhood friend living in Denmark.  In 2009 my family went to visit my friend and her family in Odense, Denmark;  Odense is on an island of Fyn (pronounced “foon”- also known as Funen for us English speakers) and is well known as a birthplace for Hans Christian Andersen (in fact they have a really nice Hans Christian Andersen museum in the city center of Odense).   Another famous Odense specialty is a pastry called “Brunsviger” – roughly pronounced “brons-we-ahr” but you have to say it a bit fast.  Danish is a language I don’t think I can master at all – a grave mistake if you try to pronounce words based on English pronounciation because they sound very VERY different!!  Anyhow, I learned how to make this even before I went to visit my friend in Denmark.  A year before my visit my friend and I were exchanging recipes and she gave this recipe to me, so basically I have been making this since 2008.  It is something like a flat version of sticky buns, but much better; it has caramelized brown sugar and butter topping (and many times custard cream blended into it).  You can literally find brunsviger at every bakery (and believe me there are tons of wonderful bakeries in Odense!!) and you eat this for breakfast and/or afternoon tea time.  Instead of typical birthday cakes many children will have brunsviger (shaped into gingerbread girl/boy, etc) with toothpicks with Danish flags all over brunsviger.  Unfortunately, outside of Fyn it is difficult to find brunsviger so I took full advantage and ate my share of authentic brunsviger!!

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I have no idea how many times I made this since 2008; it’s one of our family’s favorites and we don’t get tired of eating this at all!  It’s a special recipe because it was given to me by my friend and we have  very fond memories of Denmark (seriously awesome food there!!).   I took quite a few photos to explain various steps so I arranged the photos differently for this post, and I hope they make sense to you.

I usually put custard cream into the brown sugar/butter topping – I like to make the topping beforehand and keep it aside.  I like to make custard cream, but you can always use the instant vanilla pudding, but I do have to say the homemade one is very delicious and it’s not difficult to make at all:

Custard Cream:

2 Tablespoons flour

1/2 cups sugar

1 cup warm milk

2 egg yolks

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Mix egg yolks and sugar in a saucepan; all sifted flour and mix well.  Gradually add warm milk as you mix; place the saucepan on a low heat and add butter,  and stir until the mixture thickens (once it comes to a bubbling boil it’ll thicken soon after).  Let it cool completely.

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Brown Sugar/Butter Topping:

4 Tablespoons brown sugar

4 Tablespoons granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Add all the ingredients in saucepan on a low heat and bring to a slow simmer.  Take off the heat once everything has melted.  Slightly cool and combine with the custard cream.

**This dough recipe requires you to make fresh yeast dough, it’s quite easy, but if you feel intimidated you can substitute with store bought bread/pizza dough.

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Dough:  enough for 9×13 inch pan

1-1/2 Tablespoons dry yeast (or 2 yeast packets)

1 cup lukewarm water (divided into 1/2 cup each)

9 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 eggs

2 teaspoons sugar

4 cups all-purpose flour

Mix the yeast and 1/2 cup lukewarm water (dissolve the yeast and let it stand for few minutes until the yeast looks bubbly and spongy).   Mix melted butter and remaining 1/2 cup luke warm water and add to the yeast mixture.

In a standmixer add the yeast/butter mixture (I usually add the yeast mixture and butter mixture in the standmixer first) and add the eggs, sugar and flour.  Let it mix for less than a minute and with a dough hook knead the dough for about 3-4 minutes (scraping the sides).   Transfer the dough into a large glass or stainless bowl, cover with a plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 30-40 minutes (either on top of a radiator, inside an oven (that’s turned off) or in a microwave (just heat about 2 cups water in the microwave and add the bowl inside the microwave along with the hot water).

Once the dough has risen, punch it down and transfer it to a lined & greased 9x13inch baking pan with an aluminum foil.  Let the dough sit for about 15 minutes; then with all your fingers make indentations in the dough all across the pan (except for the edges) so that it looks like the dough has crater-like dents.   Spread the topping mixture evenly and bake in a 350F oven for about 30-35 minutes.  Let it slightly cool and dig in!!

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**Sorry, photo #9 should at #7 (oops)…

My opinion:  I always smile when I take this first bite and taste the brown/butter topping with custard cream… oh my… I am so glad I don’t live in Fyn, I will be frequenting the bakery daily for brunsviger.  If you want a little taste of Fyn, brunsviger is calling your name!

Cheese, Olive and Buttermilk Herb Bread

Since the weather is so much cooler I am so happy I get to go back baking breads!  I love working with yeasts and kneading the dough.  I truly missed it; although today’s bread is not yeast based bread it’s a real treat.  The recipe came from here (and it is a recipe from Mix & Bake by Belinda Jeffery).  As you can guess from the name, this is a very savory bread perfect with stews, soups or any light entrees. 

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335g (2-1/4 cups) plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
60g (I put about 2/3 cup) freshly grated parmesan
60g ( I put about 2/3 cup)grated cheddar
75g (I put about 1/3 cup)stuffed olives, sliced
1/4 cup snipped chives
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
2 eggs
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
310ml (1-1/4 cups) buttermilk
egg wash (optional), made from 1 egg yolk and 2 teaspoons water
extra thyme sprigs and sea salt, for topping

Preheat your oven to 180′C (350F). Butter a large loaf tin (about 23 x 13 x 6 cm) and either line with buttered baking paper or dust it with flour, then set it aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, pepper and mustard powder into a large bowl. Add both of the cheeses, the olives, chives and thyme and stir them thoroughly together.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the oil and buttermilk until they’re well combined. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Stir together until they form a thick, sticky batter. Scrape this into the prepared tin and smooth it out evenly. If you’re using the egg wash, brush it over the top, then sprinkle some small thyme sprigs and sea salt onto the loaf.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean – you can almost tell by the tantalizing aroma alone when it’s ready. Remove from the oven and leave the loaf in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack, remove the paper and leave it to cool.

This bread tastes best when it’s still barely warm or at room temperature. If you find you have leftover bread, wrap it tightly and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days. When you want to use it, wrap it loosely in foil and heat it gently in a 150′C (300F) oven. It is still fine for a few more days after that, but is best sliced and toasted.

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I like using fresh herbs, but you only use little compared to what you get, so I ended up drying the left over thyme.  I can always use the dried thyme for future use, yes, in fact Thanksgiving will be perfect!
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My opinion: Very savory and delicious!  This definitely is not a subtle savory, so if you like subtle savory flavor, you can decrease on the spices, but this bread is a great accompaniment to the Spaghetti Squash and Kale Gratin I made.  I am planning on making some vegetable soup some time this week too and this bread will go well with that also. 

Spiced Peach-Carrot Bread

Farewell Summer, farewell!  I must be one of the few people who are elated that this hot & humid Summer is gone (knock on wood – because Indian Summer may attack us!!).  We’ve been having such lovely almost Fall like weather the past few days and it feels so wonderful not having the AC on at nighttime. 

Another sign that we are moving into Fall is saying good-bye to the juicy peaches.  While we were in South Carolina we enjoyed their wonderfully juicy and sweet peaches and brought some back with us.  After eating enough peaches I decided to use the rest of them for making some healthy (well, at least I think it is) after school snack for my children.

I adapted today’s recipe from here;  instead of chopped pecans I added chopped cooked chestnuts, mixed in some whole wheat flour and ground flaxseed, and decreased the amount of sugar. 

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  • 3/4 cup chopped cooked chestnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped fresh, ripe peaches
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated carrots
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  1. Stir together both flour and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl; add peaches, next 4 ingredients, and chopped cooked chestnuts, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter into a lightly greased 9- x 5-inch loaf pan.
  2. 3. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 5 minutes to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

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My opinion: Subtle sweetness of peaches infused with carrots and chestnuts!!  I am so glad I added whole wheat flour and flaxseed!  My children really enjoyed eating this for snacks! 

Sticky Bun Breakfast Ring

Do you feel that the time is flying by really fast??  I used to think that time went extra slow when I was a child, however, as I grew older I’m constantly muttering “what? when did the time go??”.   I can’t believe it’s Father’s Day already this coming Sunday.  After the Father’s Day comes my birthday in 2 weeks, then a week after that we’re leaving for a 3 week vacation in Peru!

Ok, before I start to panic let’s go back to the Father’s Day.  I usually don’t buy refrigerated biscuits, but I wanted to make cupcake version of chicken pot pie with the biscuits.  I quickly lost that interest so I had few containers of refrigerated biscuits.  Hmmm, what to do, what to do.  I don’t like just baking them because I don’t like the taste, so I was trying to look for a recipe what will interest my taste bud.  Then I found this recipe here and I felt my problem was solved.  I thought this would be a really good breakfast for Father’s Day.  I wanted to make it first to make sure it tasted good. 

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2 small tubes refrigerator buttermilk biscuits
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 C. pancake syrup (I used maple syrup)
1/3 C. packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 C. chopped pecans, optional
1/4 C. chopped almonds, optional

Spray a fluted pan with non-stick spray. Combine the melted butter and syrup in a small bowl and set aside. In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts (if desired). Place about half of the syrup mixture in the bottom of the pan. Then sprinkle half of the brown sugar mixture on top. Lay the biscuits on the bottom of the pan, overlapping edges (closely together) to form a ring. Top with remaining syrup and sugar mixtures.
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Top with remaining syrup and sugar mixtures. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 1 minute in the pan, then invert onto a serving platter.
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My opinion:

I had enough refrigerated biscuits to make 2 pans, so I gave one pan to my neighbor friend.  Considering that this is refrigerated biscuit and super simple it tasted pretty darn good.  As I stated above for the ingredients, I used maple syrup instead of pancake syrup.  Not to be snooty, but I haven’t bought pancake syrup in many many years (I just don’t like all the artificial ingredients in the pancake syrup.  If I can use maple syrup why use the artificial variety?? is my motto).   Maybe because I used maple syrup I wasn’t able to invert the pan.  The bottom became slightly caramelized and it became almost like maple candy.  Next time I need to try to keep the pan in the oven for a short time and invert it right away (well, let’s see if that works). 

Overall, this is a great brunch recipe and if you are short of time for the Father’s Day or any special day, you’ll enjoy this recipe!

Homemade Bagels

I know, I know, you can easily buy bagels from one of those bagel stores, supermarkets or any corner stores. But this is what happens when the cooking curiosity creeps into you – “hmmmm, I wonder what homemade bagels would taste like compared to the store bought ones…”  I made these bagels while back ago and never got to post on my blog – so, here we go!

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(Cinnamon Raisin bagel)

This is the basic recipe for plain bagels; with this recipe you can make all different variations. This is also intended for bread machines, but if you’re interested in “real” handmade ones, go for it!!

Makes 8 bagels:

– 1 cup warm water
– 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
– 2 Tablespoons sugar
– 3 cups bread flour (you can use regular flour, in that case I usually put about 1-2 teaspoons of wheat gluten)
– 2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
– 3 quarts boiling water
– 3 Tablespoons sugar
– 1 Tablespoon cornmeal
– 1 Tablespoon melted butter
– if you want toppings – 3 Tablespoons poppy seeds or other seeds/toppings of your choice

1. Place the first 5 ingredients in the bread machine pan (recommended by booklet manual); select the “dough” setting or the “manual” setting
2. When cycle is complete, let dough rest on a lightly floured surface.
3. Cut dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each into balls, flatten balls, poke a hole in the middle, and twirl the dough carefully with your fingers to make the hole bigger and even. Cover bagels with cloth or plastic wrap and let it rest for 10 minutes.

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**For the real handmade procedures:  In a 1/4 cup warm water add the yeast and sugar and let it sponge up (about 10 minutes).  In a large bowl mix the flour and salt and add the yeast mixture and rest of the 3/4 cup warm water.  Mix well and knead for 10 minutes (you can easily do this in a stand mixer).  Let the dough rest (in a warm place with plastic wrap and towel covering the bowl)  for about 1 hour or until the dough doubles.  Punch it down and rest it rise again for another 1 hour.  Follow from step #3 from here. 

4. Bring 3 quarts of water to boil in a large pot, and stir in 3 Tablespoons sugar. Sprinkle cornmeal on a ungreased baking sheet.
5. Carefully transfer bagels to boiling water; boil for 1 minute, turning halfway through.
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Drain briefly on a clean towel or paper towel. Arrange boiled bagels on the baking sheet; brush tops with butter (and sprinkle toppings if you prefer).
6. Bake in a preheated 375F (190C) oven for 20-25minutes, until well browned.

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(Plain bagel)
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My opinion:

So, how does this homemade bagel stack up to the ones out there??? I feel weird saying this about my own bagel, but this tasted soooooo good!!! It reminded me of of the “real” NY bagels we used to buy at this Orthodox Jewish bagel shop!! Great texture and taste!

  Granted, I probably will not make this often (since I can get some good authentic bagels nearby), but if I ever move to a place where they don’t have good bagel shops I know I’ll be making this quite often (since my family LOVES bagels!!). 

Irish Soda Bread & Traditional Irish Breakfast

I have been thinking about good St. Patrick’s Day blog posts.   To be honest, I had no interest in posting about Guiness, whiskey, and/or green related recipes.  Instead, I turned to one of our family’s favorite mealtime – breakfast!!  While searching for Irish inspiration for my blog post I came across different photos of traditional Irish breakfast and I immediately knew I wanted to make it. 

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So, here we have eggs (whatever ways you want to make them), pan fried tomato slices/wedges, rashers (bacon), bangers (sausages), black pudding (blood sausage), white pudding (sausage without blood), homemade Irish soda bread, European butter, and homemade grapefruit curd.

The tricky part was getting the black & white puddings (by the way, you can use any type of sausages and bacons you like, although maybe just one time you can get the Irish variety).  Even though it’s very multi-cultural in Philadelphia, I don’t know of any Irish butcher or stores selling authentic Irish rasher, bangers, and definitely not black & white puddings.  There are enough Irish restaurants and pubs offering these as part of their menu, but not for selling.  So, I especially wanted to get the pudding and realized there are enough Irish purveyors online. I chose Tommy Moloney’s from New York.  They import the ingredients from Ireland and make the puddings and sausages on their premise. 

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Black & white pudding sizzling away!!  these were so very delicious!!  As far as I know, there are many countries with their own version of blood sausages.  Koreans have blood sausages too and they are very delicious.

Irish Soda Bread:  loved this bread!  There are many recipes out there, I personally think you can’t go wrong with any recipes.  The key is not to over mix the dough!!  I found this recipe here.

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons caraway seeds – optional. Apparently, the traditional soda bread did not have caraway in it. 
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease, then flour baking sheet. In large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt and optional caraway seeds.

Mix in buttermilk to form dough into ball. You may need to add a little more buttermilk. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until dough holds together, about 1 minute.

Shape dough into a 6-inch round. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cut 1-inch deep X across top of bread, reaching almost to edges.
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Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 40 minutes.Transfer bread to rack and cool.
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If not serving right away, wrap loaf in tea towel to prevent it from drying out too much. If not eaten in entirety, wrap well in foil or plastic wrap to keep as moist as possible.

Continuing with our hearty breakfast:
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Can’t eat like this daily, but it sure was GOOD!!!

King Cake 2

It does seem like just yesterday when I baked my first King Cake; oh gosh, it was an ugly looking thing and I wondered to myself “what have I done??”.    Fortunately, the “ugliness” didn’t transfer over to the taste department, which I was very happy. 

Yesterday I started off the Mardi Gras celebration with Buttermilk Beignets, which was absolutely de-li-cious!!  By yesterday afternoon I was prepping for my King Cake 2 from DamGood Sweet by David Guas (executive chef at Bayou Bakery in Northern Virginia).  I used the actual recipe from Fine Cooking page.  I decided to call this King Cake 2, so that we don’t get it confused with my not so pretty King Cake (1). 

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Yields 1 King Cake:

For the cake:
1 (1/4-oz.) package dry-active yeast
1/4 cup warm milk (105°F–115°F or warm to the touch)
1 cup plus 6 Tbs. bread flour plus extra for rolling
1 Tbs. honey
3/4 cup cake flour
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp.ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. table salt
5 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 plastic baby figurine (to hide in the cake), optional

For the egg wash:
1 large egg
1 Tbs. milk

For the icing and decoration:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 Tbs. light corn syrup
3 Tbs. milk
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 cups granulated sugar
Green food coloring
Gold or yellow food coloring
Purple or red and blue food coloring


To make the cake:
Whisk the yeast with the warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer until dissolved. Add the 6 tablespoons of bread flour and the honey and, using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until fairly smooth (there will still be a few lumps), 30 seconds to 1 minute, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume, about 20 minutes.

Once the dough has doubled, add 3/4 cup of the remaining bread flour, the cake flour, eggs, egg yolk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and almond extracts, and salt. Mix on low speed until combined, then switch to a dough hook, increase the speed to medium, and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Increase the speed to medium-high and begin adding 4 Tbs. of the butter 1 Tbs. at a time, mixing well between additions. Continue to knead until the dough forms a slack ball (it will ride the dough hook, be tacky, and not slap the bottom of the bowl, but it should generally come together into a loose mass), 2 to 3 minutes. If the dough doesn’t come together, continue kneading while adding up to 1/4 cup of the reserved bread flour, until it does.

Grease a large bowl with 1/2 Tbs. of the remaining butter and transfer the dough to the bowl, turning it over in the bowl to coat with butter. Cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap or damp kitchen towel and place the bowl in a draft-free spot until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper with the remaining butter. Generously flour your work surface using the remaining 1/4 cup of bread flour (if you used the bread flour in the dough, dust your work surface with more bread flour).

Turn the dough out onto the work surface and sprinkle the top with some flour. Use your hands to press and flatten it into a rectangle. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 1/4-inch-thick strip that is about 24 inches long by about 6 inches wide.

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Starting with one of the long sides, roll the dough on top of itself, making a long, thin baguette-shaped length. Pinch the edge to the body of the dough to seal, turn the dough so it lies horizontally on your work surface, and gently roll it on your work surface to even out any bulges and create a somewhat consistent 1-1/2-inch-wide rope. Bring the two ends of the dough together and pinch them into one another to seal.

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Carefully transfer the dough oval or circle to the prepared sheet pan. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set in a warm, dry spot to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 375°F. To make the egg wash, whisk the egg and the milk together in a small bowl. Brush the egg wash over the top and sides of the dough, and bake the king cake until golden and cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes. Immediately after removing the cake from the oven, make a small slit in the bottom of the cake and insert the baby figurine (if using). Set on a rack to cool completely.

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To make the icing:
While the cake cools, make the icing. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, milk, and vanilla together in the bowl of a stand mixer on low speed until smooth and completely incorporated. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel until you are ready to glaze the cake.

To decorate the cake:
To make the colored sugar, measure 1 cup of the sugar into each of 3 resealable quart-size plastic bags. Add 4 drops of green food coloring to one bag, 4 drops of gold or yellow food coloring to another bag, and 4 drops of purple food coloring to the last bag (if you don’t have purple, make it yourself: measure 2 drops of red and 2 drops of blue food coloring onto a spoon and mix with a cake tester or toothpick until combined). Seal each bag and then vigorously shake to combine the sugar and food coloring.

Spoon the icing over the cooled cake. Immediately after icing, decorate with the tinted sugar. I like to alternate colors every 2-1/2 inches, but you can also divide the cake into 3 sections and apply one color to each section. Slice and serve immediately.

Make Ahead Tips

You can store the cake in a cake box or on a baking sheet placed within a large plastic bag (unscented trash bags work well) for up to 2 days.

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My opinion:
Instead of coloring the sugar, I already had green, yellow and purple sprinkles.  As the Fine Cooking page mentioned, each color symbolizes certain qualities – gold/yellow : power, green : peace, and purple : justice.

For the icing, I put the icing in a quart size plastic bag and snipped off a tiny end so that I can pipe the icing on the cake.  For me this gave me better control of how I wanted to decorate the icing on the cake. 

I personally liked this version better than my first version with the cream cheese filling.  This was light and had subtle cinnamon flavor (which I liked).  From this version, you can add different fillings too, but I don’t think I’ll be doing that.  The plain version I was told (by David Guas himself on the Fine Cooking Mardi Gras question and answer session) is the traditional version.   For my King Cake, I didn’t put any figurine, but it’ll be a fun thing to do if you’re having an actual Mardi Gras party!

Buttermilk Beignets

Okay, as I said previously in my post, I am not a huge “holiday” themed person.  Not that I don’t like holidays, but sticking to one theme kind of cramps my style.  However, for the sake of blogging I’m going along with the theme of Mardi Gras!  Please don’t misunderstand me, I do like holiday themes when I see them elsewhere, and I end up enjoying cooking/baking these themed foods, but my mind takes a while to catch up to the concept. 

Last year I tried making my first King Cake which turned out to be rather disgusting looking cake, but tasted awesome.  This year I tried my hands on making beignets.  I am sad to say I’ve never been to New Orleans and to Café Du Monde.  Twice in the past my family and I actually planned to go during the children’s Spring Break, but never materialized.  So, until we can get down there, we’ll have to contend with the homemade version, which isn’t shabby, not shabby at all.  This beignet recipe came from DamGood Sweet by David Guas (executive chef from Bayou Bakery in Northern Virginia), which in turn was printed on the Fine Cooking page!

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This will yield about 4 dozen  beignets:

3/4 cup whole milk
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
4 tsp. active dry yeast
2-1/2 Tbs. sugar
3-1/2 cups bread flour plus extra for flouring work surface
1/2 tsp.baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
Peanut oil for frying
Confectioners’ sugar for serving, as much as you think you’ll need—then double that!

Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until small bubbles form at the surface. Remove from the heat, add the buttermilk, and then pour into a stand mixer bowl. Whisk in the yeast and the sugar and set aside for 5 minutes.

Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix on low speed, using a dough hook, until the dry ingredients are moistened, 3 to 4 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium and continue mixing until the dough forms a loose ball and is still quite wet and tacky, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set the dough aside in a draft-free spot for 1 hour.

Pour enough peanut oil into a large pot to fill it to a depth of 3 inches and bring to a temperature of 375°F over medium heat (this will take about 20 minutes). Line a plate with paper towels and set aside.

Lightly flour your work surface and turn the dough out on it.
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Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour, gently press to flatten, fold it in half, and gently tuck the ends under to create a rough-shaped round.

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Dust again and roll the dough out into a 1/2-inch- to 1/3-inch-thick circle. Let the dough rest for 1 minute before using a chef’s knife, a bench knife, or a pizza wheel to cut the dough into 1-1/2-inch squares (you should get about 48).

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Gently stretch a beignet lengthwise and carefully drop it into the oil. Add a few beignets (don’t overcrowd them, otherwise the oil will cool down and the beignets will soak up oil and be greasy) and fry until puffed and golden brown, turning them often with a slotted spoon, for 2 to 3 minutes.
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Transfer to the prepared plate to drain while you cook the rest. Serve while still warm, buried under a mound of confectioners’ sugar, with hot coffee on the side.

My opinion:  I wanted to make this for Sunday breakfast, but I knew it wasn’t realistic for me to wake up early.  I made the dough the night before.  I had the dough rise for an hour and put the dough in the fridge.   When I checked the dough in the morning it rose a little more.  I kept the cold dough out on the warmest part of the kitchen for about 30-40 minutes and proceeded with the rest. 

I honestly thought this was a lot of beignets when I first started cutting and frying.  HOWEVER, I am so embarrassed to say this: we probably finished off about 3/4 of these morsels.  My family couldn’t get enough of these.  Oh – my – gosh!!  these were so good!!  You bite into beignet and you instantly feel this bouncy, yeasty, & fried doughy texture; your teeth just sink into to this amazing sensation… wow… let me stop now before I start wanting more of these beignets.  By the way, these tastes the best when eaten  right away while they are warm!! 

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Making sure I got the last of the powdered sugar on my soon to be beignets!!

Mallorca

I have been wanting to make this Puerto Rican pastry for a while.  I first learned about Mallorca from Andrew Zimmern on his “Bizarre Foods” (and I don’t know why this was in the Bizarre Foods category, but whatever, right?).   It looked sooooo good I immediately started looking for the recipe.  We were even planning a Spring Break trip to Puerto Rico (which will not happen this year since we’ll be going to Peru in the Summer instead) and was looking forward to eating the “real” Mallorca.  After looking at different Mallorca recipes I found one that looked really promising and good on The Noshery (and I felt like I could trust this food blogger since she is originally from Puerto Rico). 

Originally called ensaïmada from Majorca, Spain, this delicious pastry came along with the Spanish colonist to Puerto Rico.  This pastry doesn’t need kneading, light in texture but has substantial richness to it.  It is most often sprinkled with powdered sugar and eaten as it is, or made into a sandwich (with powdered sugar). 

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Makes about 12-14 Mallorca:

  • 1 pkg dry yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons dry yeast)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 to 5 cups all purpose flour, divided use
  • 1 cup milk, lukewarm
  • 1 cup water, lukewarm
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 lb. butter (2 sticks), melted and cooled to lukewarm – I just used 1-1/2 sticks. 

In a mixing bowl, pour lukewarm milk and water, sprinkle yeast in add sugar and 1 cup of the flour. Set aside until the mixture starts to rise about 45 minutes.

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(This is what the yeast mixture looks like after 45 minutes)

Beat the egg yolks into the mixture, blending very well. Add the remaining flour little by little. Add 1/2 the melted butter (1 stick)  and set aside until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Dust the board where the dough will be rolled out with a little flour to prevent dough from sticking, keep some flour handy for dusting. Divide dough into 12 equal portions. Roll out each portion, brush with butter and roll into a long strip.
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(I would say this is about 12-13 inches long)

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Form into a coil, insert the inner end making sure it’s tucked in, same with the other end of the roll.
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Butter top. Place on greased baking sheets. Use 2 baking sheets placing 6-8 rolls on each sheet. Cover and let rolls rise until they have doubled in size.
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(I love Winter baking, because whenever I need my dough to rise, I just put them on my radiator right  next to the  kitchen window  where direct the sun comes in!)

Bake at 375 degrees F about 12-15 minutes. Cool on cooling rack and dust with poweder sugar.

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My opinion: As I said, this is rich (without weighing down kind of feeling).  The pastry itself is soft, tender and almost flaky.  I made exactly 13 Mallorca and within less than 2 days they were all gone!!  Believe me, this is a good size pastry!!  We mostly ate this for breakfast on the weekend and we immensely enjoyed it!!  For me, this wasn’t too difficult to make, but if you’re not used to working with yeast and bread/pastry dough you will have to be patient as you learn to “communicate” with them.  I’m thinking of making this again soon, maybe this coming week!