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Butter Tarts

Butter Tarts

For months I have been hearing about an exciting sweet treat. In fact, I thought that they must be a new creation since I had never heard of them before. However, when I started researching them I learned that these are not at all new. Canadian Butter Tarts have been around for at least a century.

Butter Tarts are a true Canadian original. While there may be similar styles of treats in other countries, this is classically Canadian.

I decided to make these for the first time over the weekend. These little two bite treats sounded like a great accompaniment to the cheese board.

I started with my standard pastry crust. Because Daughter Number Two came early to spend time with us I put her to use. I gave her the task of putting the pastry crust in my mini muffin pan. Her fingernails were making this a little difficult. Daughter Number Four suggested she use a bottle stopper. While that was a great idea it wasn’t perfect. A champagne cork actually was the perfect size and shape. Teamwork is important in a kitchen.

This filling is so easy to make. Butter Tarts are a delicate and rich dessert with simple ingredients. I was hopeful that they would live up to the hype. Also, I wanted something that my family would enjoy.

My recipe made two dozen butter tarts. They looked great and smelled incredible. Daughter Number Two wanted to know if we could share one for quality assurance purposes. After tasting the Butter Tarts she wanted to know if we needed two dozen or just one dozen to share. The girls all had one before the party.  That’s a good sign unless you’re a guest at the party.

There were plenty to share with my family, too. Everyone who tried Butter Tarts liked them. What’s not to like? Delicious buttery pastry crust filled with a buttery caramelized filling. These have me singing “Oh, Canada”.

The best part is that they are easy to make. I will definitely be making Butter Tarts again when I need a two-bite dessert. They store well and because of their size they are excellent to take to a party or potluck. Furthermore Butter Tarts would be a great accompaniment or ending to a variety of menus.

Have you heard of Canadian Butter Tarts? Have you tried them yet? If not, you definitely should.

Butter Tarts

Pastry Shell (Crust) Recipe

  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons ice water (plus more if needed)
  • 8 tablespoons butter (ice cold)

Filling:

  • 1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg

For Pastry Shells (Crust):

  1. In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, and sugar several times to combine. Add butter. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with just a few pea-size pieces remaining.
  2. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed with fingers (if needed, add up to 2 tablespoons more ice water, ½ tablespoon at a time). Do not over mix.
  3. Place dough onto a work surface; form dough gently ball, then with your hands press into a disk about 3/4-inch-thick. Wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.
  4. Remove dough from refrigerator before rolling out crust. Allow about 10 minutes before rolling.
  5. Roll out into a lightly floured surface to between 1/8” and ¼” thickness. Cut into 24 circles about 2 ¼” diameter.
  6. Gently press each cut pastry crust into the well of a mini muffin pan. Refrigerate pan of shells while mixing filling.

For filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl mix brown sugar and salt.
  3. Then beat the softened butter into the sugar by hand until smooth. Do not use an electric mixer as it will incorporate too much air into the filling.
  4. Add vanilla and egg and mix until thoroughly combined and smooth.
  5. Remove pastry shells from refrigerator.
  6. Using a teaspoon fill each pastry shell about halfway until all are filled.
  7. Place muffin tin on a baking sheet. Bake 13 to 15 minutes in preheated oven, or until centers are set.
  8. Remove tarts from oven to a wire rack. Cool for 2-3 minutes.
  9. Using an offset spatula or table knife run gently around the edge of each tart to loosen.
  10. Allow tarts to cool completely.
  11. Again using the offset spatula or table knife remove the tarts from the muffin tin by running around and under each tart gently.

 
 

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Devil’s Food Cake

Devil’s Food Cake

Sometimes I stumble upon something that, almost by accident, becomes iconic. That is exactly what happened when National Devil’s Food Cake Day rolled around and I wanted to make a Devilishly good cake.

Really, I had criteria for the cake that were very basic. I needed to have all of the ingredients in my house. Therefore, I wasn’t going to be using baking chocolate. I was out. What I did have, of course, was cocoa powder.

Not too many parameters. While Devil’s Food Cake is generally a layer cake Daughter Number Four asked if I could make this in a regular cake pan. She doesn’t like frosting. My guess is that she thought it easier to take the frosting off this way.

I whipped up the cake and set it aside to cool. About an hour later I headed back into the kitchen to make some frosting. My original plan was to frost the Devil’s Food Cake with chocolate buttercream. As I was pulling out my ingredients I opted to add one more ingredient and turn this into Mocha buttercream.

This was the decision that my 2 youngest daughters will forever be grateful. I frosted the cake and refrigerated it. No one seemed overly hungry for cake after dinner. What an odd turn of events. However, both girls asked for a piece after school the following day. Daughter Number Four was just about to wipe off the frosting and give it to her sister when she tasted it. She asked if I had made coffee cake.

A quick definition of coffee cake as it pertains to my youngest child. Her favorite restaurant as a small child was a Chinese Buffet in our local mall. For dessert she would get Chocolate Mousse Cake. It is common on Chinese Buffets and is a layered dessert with chocolate cake, coffee mousse, and gelatin.

I explained to her that the frosting was Mocha which is chocolate and coffee. She ate the cake and the frosting. Later, she asked for another small piece.

The following day after school both girls asked if there was any Devi’s Food Cake left for a snack. There was, and I told them to take as big a piece as they thought they could eat. I had already eaten too much cake. D3 took an enormous piece. D4 took a small piece, then immediately cut a second small piece and set it on the plate. She informed me that this is the only frosting she has ever liked.

Through a mouthful of cake D3 said that the combination of the Devil’s Food Cake and the mocha frosting made this the best cake ever. She told me that this was one of the only cake’s I should ever make. Oh, and only with this frosting.

I am so glad that I made this cake. In the past some of my Devil’s Food Cake attempts have not provided the dark chocolate flavor I wanted. Also, some have been a bit dry. This was neither dry nor lacking in chocolate-ness. It feels good to find the best ever.

Do you like Devil’s Food Cake? What kind of frosting do you use on it?

Devil’s Food Cake

Cake

  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Frosting

  • ½ cup butter (1 stick, softened)
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons milk (more if needed)
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

For Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease and flour two 8-inch-diameter cake pans or one rectangular cake pan.
  3. Whisk together sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in large bowl to blend.
  4. Sift in flour, cocoa and baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine.
  5. If making layer cake divide batter between prepared round pans. For rectangular cake pour batter into prepared pan.
  6. Bake until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
  7. Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes. Turn cake out onto wire rack and cool completely. Frost when cooled.

For frosting:

  1. In a small bowl add espresso powder and water. Set aside.
  2. Add softened butter to a large mixing bowl. Using electric mixer beat until smooth. Sift ¼ of powdered sugar and cocoa powder into bowl. Mix together slowly.
  3. Add about ¼ of the milk. Mix until smooth.
  4. Alternate adding sifted powdered sugar and cocoa with milk until you have the consistency you want. Add more milk or sugar if necessary.
  5. Beat in reconstituted espresso and vanilla.
  6. Frost cooled cake. Refrigerate frosted cake or any unused frosting.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2018 in Baking Recipes

 

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Chocolate Chip Muffins

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Have I mentioned how much I love all of the honored foods this month? The flowers are in bloom, birds are singing, and yesterday was National Chocolate Chip Day! While most posts I saw paying homage to these delicious morsels put them in cookie form I did not. I made Easy Chocolate Chip Muffins.

Muffins are one of my favorite foods to make. In my opinion muffins are the original fast food. They are a small size quick bread, so they don’t take long to make. The prep time is a matter of minutes and they take less than 30 minutes to bake.

Beyond the time aspect is how versatile muffins are. A standard muffin batter can be turned into something wondrous. The add-ins and upgrades are endless. You can add cocoa powder to the batter to make chocolate muffins. You can add baking chips, nuts, or fruits to flavor them. Toppings can be added to provide more flavor and texture. Muffin batter is a virtual blank canvas.

I chose easy Chocolate Chip Muffins in honor of National Chocolate Chip Day so the girls could have them for breakfast. Muffins are a great breakfast or brunch food. They are small and portable so they travel well. Also, they are not completely void of nutritional value. I would say they are no worse than breakfast cereal.

My girls were thrilled to have fresh out of the oven easy Chocolate Chip Muffins for breakfast. I offered to package them to take. D4 started eating one immediately. Then she asked how many she could have. Two. These were standard size muffins, not mini muffins. Two seemed like plenty. D3 did want hers to go. She also asked how many she could have. The same answer; two.

I told the girls I was going to drop one off at their grandmother’s house. My usually generous daughters who love their grandmother very much questioned if that was necessary. Apparently they are suddenly concerned about her health. These might have too much sugar in them, or saturated fat. I assured them that she didn’t have any concerns with those.

After taking one to deliver to my mother I wrapped up the rest for later. Oh, after I had one for breakfast. Nothing with chocolate lasts long in my house. Easy Chocolate Chip Muffins are definitely on the list of quickly eaten items.

Did you celebrate National Chocolate Chip Day? What did you make or eat? Also, what is the most exciting Chocolate Chip thing you heard about? For me, it was a local brewery who tapped a Chocolate Chip Beer yesterday! I hope I can get over to try it before it’s all tapped out!

May really is one of the best month’s for food!

Easy Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Colored sugar (for decoration)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Grease the cups of a twelve muffin pan, or line with paper liners.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Add chocolate chips and stir to coat.
  5. In a small bowl whisk together milk, egg, oil, and vanilla.
  6. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients.
  7. Stir gently to blend. Do not overmix. Batter will not be smooth.
  8. Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full. Sprinkle colored sugar on top, if desired.
  9. Gently tap filled muffin pan on counter top to remove any air bubbles.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes until brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean of batter.
  11. Remove pans to cool on a wire rack. After 5 minute remove from pan and continue cooling on rack.

 

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Buttermilk Biscuits

Buttermilk Biscuits

Yesterday’s brunch was not an elaborate one, like the one I did for Crêpes Suzette Day. When Mother’s Day falls the day before National Buttermilk Biscuit Day there is only one thing to do. Make Buttermilk Biscuits for brunch.

In the south they believe the key to a good biscuit is the right kind of flour. I think that using butter instead of an alternative fat is definitely a necessity in making a good biscuit. The other key is using buttermilk.

I could into the science aspect of why butter and buttermilk make for the best biscuits I will refrain. What I will say is that butter is absolutely necessary, and buttermilk makes a better choice than anything else. They both play a huge role in the quintessential flavor of a buttermilk biscuit. Also, the acid in buttermilk helps tenderize gluten. This makes the biscuits softer.

If I have mentioned in the past that Daughter Number Three loves biscuits, I’m mentioning it again. She has told me that every brunch can be biscuits and she’ll be happy. In the quest to make my children happy I do throw biscuits onto the brunch menu about every 6 weeks. D3 likes BIG biscuits. So, since yesterday was a special occasion I made big biscuits.

My buttermilk biscuits had a diameter of over four inches and stood almost 3 inches high. They were golden, buttery, flaky, and delicious.

The consensus was that they were almost too big. Even D3 had a tough time eating the entire biscuit. She did not give up, though. She conquered the big buttermilk biscuit because it was so good.

No matter what your choice of toppings or accompaniments is, don’t forget to celebrate National Buttermilk Biscuit Day!

Buttermilk Biscuit Recipe

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter (cold and cut into ¼” pieces)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (cold)
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk (cold)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Pulse to blend.
  3. Add the butter pieces and pulse until butter is incorporated, but not blended. You want to see a mixture that resembles coarse meal, with a few pea size lumps.
  4. Add ¼ of buttermilk and pulse a few times. Repeat until all of the buttermilk has been added. If you need to pulse more to get a rough dough you can. Be sure not to overmix.
  5. Pour the biscuit dough onto a floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, lightly roll the dough to a thickness of about 1 ½ inches.
  6. Using a biscuit cutter or large circular object, cut the biscuits.
  7. Place biscuits on a baking sheet about 2” apart.
  8. Using a pastry brush, brush tops of biscuits with milk.
  9. Bake in preheated oven until biscuits are golden brown. They should sound hollow when lightly tapped.
  10. Remove from oven to a cooling rack. Cool slightly before serving.

 

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Looking through the food calendars I discovered that this is National Raisin Week. I have several recipes in my repertoire that contain raisins: Raisin Sour Cream Pie, scones, and Picadillo to name a few. I rarely make what most people think of when raisin foods are talked about; Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.

Growing up mom would make snacks and treats for us that she believed to be healthier. Looking back, just the fact that she made them from scratch makes them better than store bought! She would make Oatmeal cookies rather frequently, but not the traditional kind. A couple of my brothers didn’t like raisins.

A few years ago I was looking for a recipe for Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and was thrilled to find this healthy version. It is definitely healthier than the ones my mom used to make. They taste pretty darn good, though.

I am fortunate in that my girls do not dislike raisins. I can make any of the previously mentioned foods or these Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and they will eat them.

So, celebrate National Raisin Week May 1-7 by making something with naturally good raisins. If you want something that is a healthy I would skip the Raisin Sour Cream Pie and go straight for these Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. Well, you could make the Picadillo. That’s pretty healthy, but it isn’t a cookie!

Do you eat raisins? If so, did you eat Oatmeal Raisin Cookies growing up? I feel like they were a staple. Although, like the meme I have seen, if you think you’re biting into Chocolate Chip and it happens to be Oatmeal Raisin it isn’t quite the same.

Chocolate Chip Day is in May, too! There’s something to look forward to.

Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours and baking powder. Set aside. 

  3. In a large bowl, whisk together oil and sugar until light. Add egg and vanilla and whisk until combined. Add flour mixture and stir until combined. Mix in oats and raisins. 

  4. Form into 1 ½ inch balls and place on baking sheets about 2 inches apart. 

  5. Bake for about 15-17 minutes, until lightly browned.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2018 in Baking Recipes

 

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Simple White Cake Recipe

Simple White Cake Recipe

Although I had the menu planned out for Easter I was not sure what I was going to make for dessert. While having a phone conversation with Daughter Number One she suggested that I make a Checkerboard Cake.  I used to make those regularly when she was little. The directions I have call for 2 boxed cake mixes. I opted to make a simple white cake recipe instead.

You may be wondering why I was making the cake that D1 recommended when she wasn’t going to be with us. There are many reasons, one of which was because she asked. Another reason was to try out the simple white cake recipe. Additionally I have not made this as frequently for Daughters Three and Four. I thought they would enjoy the checkerboard cake.

Checkerboard cake

Checkerboard Cake

I am pleased that I made the checkerboard cake. It was a beautiful addition to our Easter meal. The simple white cake recipe was indeed simple. It was also very tasty. We all enjoyed this cake very much. My traditional white cake recipe is lighter in texture, but it also takes more time. Also I don’t think it would have worked in the checkerboard cake very well.

The Hubs picked out the colors for the checkerboard cake and Daughter Number Three chose the color for the frosting. I added some sugar sprinkles on the top for a little extra pop. The colors were the epitome of springtime. The simple white cake recipe with its heavy vanilla flavor, topped with light cream cheese frosting, was great for spring.

White Cake, Pink Frosting

White Cake, Pink Frosting

I have already been requested to make this cake again. The girls thought it was fun and they loved the way it tasted.

If you are looking for a simple white cake recipe definitely go with this one. If you want to make this cake more special I recommend buying a checkerboard cake pan insert. It is great for holidays and special occasions.

Do you have a favorite special occasion dessert? Does it require any special equipment to make? I would love to know!

Simple White Cake Recipe

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (softened)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk (extra if needed to make smooth)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 – 9” round cake pans. See notes.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Note 1: This recipe makes 2-9” round cakes. Halve the recipe for 1 9 X 9 square cake.

Note 2: To make checkerboard cake make the full recipe. You will need it somewhat thin. Use a checkerboard cake insert. You will need 3 – 9” round cake pans. For 2 color cake you will need 2 colors of food coloring. It will require approximately 4 cups of prepared frosting.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2018 in Baking Recipes, Dessert Recipes

 

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Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

Easter dinner has changed for me over the years.  Of course in my childhood it was all about the hunting. Someone else was in charge of the food. Then I had my own children which came with the excitement of egg dying and Easter baskets. I planned and prepared the Easter dinner. This year even my little girls are big girls. No one wanted to dye eggs. I hard boiled eggs and was ready to dye, but it didn’t happen. The two oldest girls couldn’t come home so it was four of us. I chose to do brunch and a later dinner. Brunch was Hot Cross buns and a sample board, more than just a cheese board.

Sample Board

Sample Board

Hot Cross Buns is something I have wanted to make for years. I have never eaten Hot Cross Buns before, but have read enough about them that I knew what to expect. Similarly, I knew what I did not want to experience in a Hot Cross Bun, so the recipe had to be just right.

My initial plan was to make an egg dish and a cheese board. It’s important to be flexible in life, so that as the wind blows you can bend with it. Knowing that the Hot Cross Buns would be ready after church I opted for a large sample platter. It was full of plenty of good things over and above cheese that would keep everyone satisfied until dinner.

My sample board consisted of goat cheese with honey and pecans, herbed cheese spread, and cheddar. It had 3 kinds of crackers and assorted nuts. There were strawberries and blackberries on the board as well as mixed olives and chocolate. A pickled egg, Coho salmon, and tomato tulips rounded out the board.

Sample Board Diagram

Sample Board Diagram

Everyone loved it. I had enough of a mixture that everyone was able to pick out something to eat along with Hot Cross Buns. Also, because there was no real mess to clean up it didn’t impede my dinner making. The girls and The Hubs could continue to nibble on crackers, nuts, and Easter candy all afternoon.

The Hot Cross Buns were tasty. They will be a wonderful addition to Easter every year. I’m still a little bummed that we did not dye Easter eggs this year. I am not pushing for anything, but I know one day I will have grandchildren to dye eggs with me. Not too soon, though.

What are some of your Easter traditions? Have they changed as your family has changed, possibly grown up and moved out? Maybe you have teenagers in your home who are too old to dye Easter eggs. Next year I think I will dye them by myself.

Hot Cross Buns

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (2 (1/4 ounce packages))
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1 large egg (separated)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (more if needed)
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup currants (plumped in the microwave and cooled)

For the icing

  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar (sifted)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  1. Combine the water and milk in a large glass measuring cup. Microwave in short bursts to bring to 110 degrees. Sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar and flour over the surface of the warm milk mixture. Set aside without stirring, until foamy. Whisk the butter, egg yolk and vanilla into the yeast mixture.
  2. Whisk the flour, sugar, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger in the bowl of a stand mixer. Make a well in the center of the flour and add in the yeast mixture. Using a flat beater or the dough hook on low mix to make a thick, shaggy, and slightly sticky dough. Make sure the dough hook is attached and beat for about 5 minutes on medium high. Add in more flour if necessary. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead in currants. Dough should be soft and elastic. Shape into a ball.
  3. Oil or butter the inside of the mixer bowl. Place dough in bowl, turning to coat lightly with oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
  4. To form the rolls: Butter a 9 by 14-inch baking sheet. Turn the dough out of the bowl and pat into a rectangle about 16 by 8 inches. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Portions should be roughly 2 ounces each.
  5. Preheat to 375 degrees.
  6. Tuck the edges of the dough under to make round rolls and place them seam-side down in the prepared pan. Leave space in between each roll. Cover the pan with plastic wrap or a lint free towel and set in a warm place until the rolls have more than doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  7. Remove the covering and brush the tops of the buns with beaten egg white. Bake rolls until golden brown and puffy, about 25 minutes.
  8. For the glaze: Stir together confectioners’ sugar milk until smooth. Spoon icing into a pastry bag, or a zip top bag and make a small cut in the corner of the bag. Ice a thick cross shape over the top of the warm buns.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2018 in Baking Recipes

 

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Irish Scones

Irish Scones

For Sunday brunch I wanted to carry on the Irish theme from St. Patrick’s Day. In the past I have made a full Irish breakfast for The Hubs when he has asked. I did not really want to put that much effort into the brunch, so I opted for Irish Scones.

Of course I love scones because they are bread. They are similar to our American biscuits, but sweeter. They are light and flaky and perfect for topping with Irish butter and jam.

The Hubs has made English scones on several occasions for the family. Most notably he made several flavors for the wedding of William and Kate, which we all sat up and watched. We have had chocolate chip, cherry chip, cinnamon chip, and pecan.

We have never made our own Irish scones, and I was unsure whether to add the currants or not. I am glad I did. While I added less than the ½ cup they were a flavorful addition. My scones turned out buttery, flaky, and moist. I couldn’t taste the baking soda and no flavor overwhelmed any other.

Irish Scones with Jam

Irish Scones with Black Currant Jam and Marmalade

I did end up cooking some turkey bacon and eggs to go with the Irish scones. There were also some Irish cheddar’s that I sliced to go with the brunch. It added a nice rich depth to the plate. In fact, Daughter Number Four said she preferred the stronger Whiskey cheddar to the milder plain cheddar.

Brunch

Brunch

She then asked me why we only eat brunch on Sundays when it’s so delicious. I replied that it wouldn’t be as special if we had it every day. Daughter Number 3 in her very literal fashion added that no one was home at brunch time Monday-Friday. D4 looked at me with a grin and said, “Well, it is Spring Break this week and we will all be home.” I’m not sure if that was a sweet request or a challenge. Let’s see what happens this week.

Have you eaten Irish scones? If so, do you have a favorite way to top them? For me, Irish butter is a must, but then I think Irish butter is the tastiest.

Irish Scones

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces cold Irish butter (cubed)
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ – ½ cup dried currants (soaked in 1 tablespoon warm water)
  • Coarse grain sugar for top (if desired)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a baking pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray, or line with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt. Stir with a fork to blend.
  3. Using your fingers, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, leaving some pea size pieces.
  4. Make a well in the flour mixture and add ½ cup buttermilk. Blend gently to make soft dough. Do not overmix.
  5. Fold in currants.
  6. Pour the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Press dough in a circle roughly 8 inches, ½ inch thickness. Using a sharp knife cut dough into 8 wedges.
  7. Place wedges onto prepared baking sheet and brush with remaining buttermilk. Sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired.
  8. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until golden.
  9. Remove pan from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes.
  10. Serve scones warm with Irish butter and jam.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2018 in Baking Recipes, Brunch Recipes

 

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Homemade Pop Tarts

Homemade Pop Tarts

Sometimes my ideas for cooking and baking are quite obvious. I’ll read something or be watching a show and a little seed will be planted and begin to grow, like the egg salad. There are yet other times, take Sunday brunch, that I have no idea what I am going to make. Everything sounds good, nothing sounds good, or for whatever reason I struggle to decide what I am going to make. Eventually I settled on fairly standard fried potatoes, scrambled eggs, and link sausage for The Hubs. I also decided to try my hand at Homemade Pop Tarts.

My girls love boxed morning pastries that are so full of preservatives that I’m not sure they qualify as food. However, I have never been a huge fan, although I have eaten more than one over the course of my lifetime.

On our Spring Break vacation to Washington DC a few years ago we ate at a restaurant called Ted’s Bulletin. They served something called Ted’s Tarts, which were a homemade version of the Pop in the Toaster kind. They were very tasty.

I had thought about making on a few occasions since that trip. As I was struggling with what to make for brunch this past Sunday I decided that my something special would be Homemade Pop Tarts. I start most food adventures by perusing some recipes to get a basic understanding. If I see a recipe that seems ideal I use it. If I don’t I either rework it using what I know, or I combine parts of the recipes I read.

With the Homemade Pop Tarts I probably read 6 or 10 recipes. Not one seemed like exactly what I wanted, so I took the basics of a couple of them and made my own. Everyone in my house was waiting excitedly for them to be done so we could eat brunch. When they were finally ready the result was successful.

Of course I was pleased with how they turned out and will definitely make them again. There are some things that I will add next time. First of all I will  use frosting on them. For this batch I chose to use sprinkles on unfrosted tarts. Not that it will alter the taste much; I just think they would be pretty that way. Another change would be to try some other fun fillings. For this batch I used a brown sugar cinnamon filling, a raspberry jam filling, and also a caramel sauce.

Homemade Caramel Pop Tart

Homemade Caramel Pop Tart

What food have bought that you just know if full of preservatives that you decided to make from scratch? Was it a successful swap? I try to do this for my family and sometimes it’s a win, like Homemade Pop Tarts!

Homemade Pop Tarts

  • Pie Crust Recipe X 2

Pie Crust Recipe

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons ice water (plus more if needed)
  • 8 tablespoons butter (ice cold)

Brown Sugar Filling

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water or milk

Sprinkles or Frosting for Topping

    1. In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, and sugar several times to combine. Add butter. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with just a few pea-size pieces remaining.
    2. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed with fingers (if needed, add up to 2 tablespoons more ice water, ½ tablespoon at a time). Do not over mix.
    3. Repeat.
    4. Place dough onto a work surface; form dough gently ball, then with your hands press into a disk about 3/4-inch-thick. Wrap each dough tightly in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.
    5. Remove one dough from refrigerator before rolling out crust. Allow about 10 minutes before rolling.
    6. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment.
    7. Roll dough to form a rectangle about 1/8” thick, about 9” X 12”. Cut dough into rectangles 3” X 4”. Carefully lay cut rectangles on prepared baking sheet.
    8. Remove 2nd dough from refrigerator.
    9. Mix brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Spoon 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle of each dough rectangle on the baking sheet.
    10. Roll out 2nd dough exactly as first. Cut into 3” X 4” rectangles. Using a fork, prick the tops of each dough rectangle, in 2 rows of 4. This will allow the steam to vent.
    11. In a small bowl whisk the egg and 1 tablespoon of water or milk. Using a pastry brush go around the outside of one of the dough rectangles on the baking sheet with egg wash. Use one of the dough rectangles with vents to cover the filling, matching the sides as closely as possible. Press down gently to stick.
    12. Using the flat edge of your fork tines, press into the tart to crimp and seal all edges. Repeat with each tart.
    13. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Refrigerate the baking sheet of tarts, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
    14. Remove pan from refrigerator and sprinkle tops with sugar or sprinkles.
    15. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
    16. Remove pan from oven and place pan onto wire rack to cool slightly before serving.

    If icing the tarts, cool before icing. 

    Other filling ideas are jam, 1 tablespoon per tart or caramel syrup / topping.

     
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    Posted by on March 13, 2018 in Baking Recipes, Breakfast Recipes

     

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    Pie Crust Recipe

    Pie Crust Recipe

    In this blog I share my history with cooking and baking and my successes and failures. One of the biggest personal baking successes for me comes in the form of something so simple; pie crust. I owe this success to my mindset regarding pie crust and an outstanding pie crust recipe.

    Let me give a quick recap of my pie crust history. My grandmother made fabulous pie crusts. For some reason my mother had trouble making homemade pie crusts. The more she tried and did not have success the more she became entrenched in the belief she could not make pie crust.

    She continued to attempt making pie crusts even when I was a child. However, she would always she that she was not good at making them. Mother had my grandmother’s pie crust recipe and just knew that she was following the directions exactly. There was still no success.

    When I was old enough to begin my own journey with pie crust making I got my grandmother’s recipe. I followed the directions. It was a mess. My ability to make pie crust was doomed, like my mother’s.

    Fast forward many years. When I needed to bake a pie I purchased roll-out pie crusts. Always. I don’t remember the occasion, but I needed to bake a pie and told The Hubs I needed to buy a pie crust. He found recipe for an ‘easy’ pie crust and made it.

    Well, if HE could make a pie crust then I knew I could make a pie crust. I attempted to replicate his success with his pie crust recipe. Oddly, I did not have the same success. Maybe it was a curse of some sort upon me passed down from my mother.

    A short while later I tried a different pie crust recipe, again because The Hubs had made a successful pie crust. This crust achieved a vastly improved outcome. However, the crust was not very flaky and it did not have the taste I wanted.

    With that success the curse was broken. I continued looking for the ultimate pie crust recipe that would be flaky and delicious. There was a renewed excitement in my pie baking.

    Then it happened. I found a pie crust recipe that was exactly what I was looking for. When I began to roll it out I was cautiously optimistic. It was as near perfect as any pie crust I had ever made. Not only did it look great, but it smelled like butter.

    Ever since then I have used the same recipe for making pie crust and it is 99% of the time a win. I usually blame the humidity when it doesn’t turn out quite right. This is the basic pie crust recipe I use for all of my pies, pot pies, quiche, and other pastry dough creations. I used it most recently for homemade breakfast tarts (aka pop tarts).

    If my family was asked they would probably agree that this is definitely the biggest baking success for me. Of course they are the beneficiaries of this success most frequently.

    Do you bake pies? If you do, do you make your own crust or use a pre-made one? Give this one a try. It has my stamp of approval.

    Pie Crust Recipe

    • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
    • ½ – 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 2 tablespoons ice water (plus more if needed)
    • 8 tablespoons butter (ice cold)
    1. In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, and sugar several times to combine. Add butter. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with just a few pea-size pieces remaining.
    2. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed with fingers (if needed, add up to 2 tablespoons more ice water, ½ tablespoon at a time). Do not over mix.
    3. Place dough onto a work surface; form dough gently ball, then with your hands press into a disk about 3/4-inch-thick. Wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.
    4. Remove dough from refrigerator before rolling out crust. Allow about 10 minutes before rolling.
    5. For a pie crust: On a lightly floured board or counter roll dough into a circle about 12” diameter. Gently roll crust over rolling pin. Unroll onto pie plate, fitting crust into bottom of plate and gently over the sides. Using a table knife trim the overhang to just past the edge of the pie plate. Use thumb and forefinger to pinch the edge of the crust.
    6. Bake unfilled for cream pies at 375 degrees about 30 minutes. For filled pies follow recipe for pie filling.

    Pie crust directions are general, not specific to an individual type of pie.

     
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    Posted by on March 12, 2018 in Baking Recipes

     

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