Friday, December 20, 2019

Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies

I found this recipe quite a few years back and have made it every Christmas since.  The original blog that posted it no longer exists, but fortunately I had saved a copy of the recipe!  It's so simple and easy, with a lovely subtle earl grey scent that comes after the first bite or so.  I like it so much I increased the tea by a bag.  They are lovely with tea or coffee, lightly sweet, and because they are shortbread, they last beautifully and freeze just as well.   The one admonition I will leave you with is to find real chocolate sprinkles!  I love the De Ruijter brand which can be found at Costplus World Market or online.  India Tree is another brand with an acceptable ingredient list.  If you want to go for something expensive, there is also the Callebaut brand vermicelli.  Just don't get the artificial, waxy, "chocolate flavored", chemical smorgasbord jimmies by Wilton, Cake Mate, or Betty Crocker, (basically your typical grocery store jimmies), or you may as well just leave them out.  There is not a huge chocolate flavor from the sprinkles, just a little something extra.

 These fabulous cookies will perfume your kitchen with the beautiful scent of bergamot.   If you love that orange aroma, I highly recommend giving these treats a try!

Earl Grey Cookies
Makes about 18 cookies

1½ sticks (12 tablespoons) butter, softened 
½ cup (100g) white sugar 
½ teaspoon vanilla extract 
2-3 Earl Grey tea bags (I prefer three)
2 cups (256) all-purpose flour, sifted 
2 tablespoons real chocolate sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.  With a mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and mix to incorporate. Cut open tea bags and pour contents into butter mixture. Mix until distributed.  Gradually add in flour on medium-low and mix well. Using a spatula, fold in chocolate sprinkles.  Form dough into heaping tablespoon size balls, (I use a cookie scoop), and place onto prepared baking sheets.  Keep dough balls about 2 inches apart. Using a fork, press each dough ball in a crisscross pattern to flatten slightly.  Cookies will not spread very much.  Bake in preheated 350°F (177°C) oven for 17 to 22 minutes, or until bottoms are golden brown.  Allow to cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to wire racks.  Cool and store in an airtight container. 

Approximate nutrition per cookie:


Monday, December 16, 2019

Treat Yourself to a Kringle with the BBB

If you grew up in the Midwest or perhaps a town with Scandinavian roots, then you probably know what a Kringle is.  While the shape differs globally, a pretzel shape in the Netherlands and an oval here in the US, Kringles are generally a multi-day affair made of Danish pastry that is layered, filled and shaped, then baked and iced.  They are quite popular, shipped all over the states especially during the Holidays, and flavor options have expanded enormously in the past decade or so.  We are sharing a modified, easier and faster version!  (It all comes together in under a couple hours if you have your ducks in a row.)

This quicker Kringle starts with a crispy, flaky pastry base followed by a choux paste top.  For even more convenience, you can make the bases the night before, wrap, and top in the morning.  While I have made a different version of Kringle before, this is actually the first time I have made pâte à choux!  It's not difficult, I may have over mixed it just a tad, but it still turned out delicious.  I suspect I left too much moisture in as well and should have baked a bit longer to dry out the choux.  No matter, more delicious practice ahead!  The notes I looked up later say to:
Add the flour all at once and quickly stir

Continue heating for another 2 minutes to drive out extra moisture. The bottom of the pan should form a film of choux.

Remove the choux and transfer to a bowl. It must cool a bit before adding the eggs or else you will cook them. Using either a spoon or paddle attachment with a stand mixer, begin incorporating the eggs one at a time.

Wait until the egg is fully incorporated before adding the next

Stop when you reach a smooth and soft texture. Test it by using a spoon to scoop up the dough. It should fall under its own weight. If it does not, continue to add eggs. Now your choux is ready for piping and baking.
  I also found that to encourage a lot of puff, you should pipe using a ridged piping tip to provide more surface area to get the largest oven pop.  Next time...  So many flavors to try out!  As there is little to no sweetener in the pastry bases, all the sweetness comes from your chosen toppings and can be tailored to suit your taste.  Our recipe is based on a King Arthur recipe for a Butter Pecan Kringle with lots of sweet caramel sauce and sugar.  Despite my sweet tooth, that option was a little too tooth achingly sweet to try out so I went with the host kitchen's suggestion of an almond raspberry Kringle.  I love almond almost as much as lemon.  Oooo, lemon Kringle!  Lemon, cream cheese Kringle!  Oh I totally have to try that, how could I not have thought of that before?  Well, this one was completely delicious and I would have liked it with apricot jam as well.

The toppings are limited only to your imagination.  We would love for you to try out your favorite flavor for this recipe and join in as a buddy baker this month!  You don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture will do. Just send a picture or your post of your finished loaf to Feeding My Enthusiasms by the 29th of this month. Be sure to put BBBuddy in the subject line. You will receive a Bread Baking Buddy graphic to keep or add to your post, and be included in our Buddy round up at the end of the month. New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.

Here is our host's version which is a non-dairy option:

Almond Raspberry Kringle
Adapted from King Arthur Flour 
About 16-18 slices

½ cup (8 tablespoons) non-dairy margarine, cut into pats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup cold water
4 oz. almond paste

1 cup water
½ cup (8 tablespoons) non-dairy margarine
¼ tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, at room temperature
½ tsp almond extract

about ½ cup seedless raspberry jam (just enough for a thin layer)
2-3 tbsp sliced almonds

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tbsp plant based milk, enough to make a thick but pourable glaze
1/8 tsp almond extract
pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line with parchment.  Make sure it's at least 18" x 13"; or use a 14" round pizza pan.

To make the base: Combine the margarine, flour, sugar and salt, mixing until crumbly.  I used a food processor cut the fat into the flour mixture.  Add the water, and stir to make a soft, sticky dough.  I took the host kitchen's suggestion and used a fork to stir as I slowly added the water.  Worked great.

Wet your hands, pick up the dough, and shape it into a 12" x 8" oval ring on the sheet pan; or a 10" ring in the pizza pan. This will be messy going, but just keep wetting your fingers and pushing it into a ring. An easy way to approach this is to first divide the dough into four pieces; roll each piece into a 9" rope, then connect the ropes and shape them into a ring.  (I folded the dough over on itself until it bound together enough to separate into four pieces which I rolled into quarter circles and joined, then covered with plastic wrap and rolled out until flat.)

Once you've made the ring, flatten the dough so it's about 1½" wide; basically, it'll look like a train or NASCAR track. Make a thin rope out of the almond paste and put it over the dough, connecting the ends so that the whole 'track' has a ring of almond paste in the middle of the track. 

 To make the pastry topping: Place the water, margarine, and salt in a saucepan, and heat over medium heat until the margarine is melted and the mixture is boiling.

Immediately add the flour, stirring with a spatula until the mixture is cohesive and starts to form a ball.  (Cook a while to drive off some moisture until it starts to leave a film on the bottom of the pan.)

Transfer the batter to a mixing bowl and let cool for a few minutes so as not to cook the eggs. Beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add the almond extract at the end.

Spread the pastry along the ring, covering it and the almond paste completely; you'll now have a much wider ring, though it won't be completely closed in the center; it should still look like a ring.

I piped the choux on first...
then spread it out.  Next time I would not spread
smooth so as to achieve more puff.

Bake the kringle for 50 to 60 minutes, until it's a deep golden brown. When the kringle is done, remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool completely on the pan.  (You want it to be deep golden brown to make sure the choux has baked off enough moisture.)

That bottom crust was so crispy and flaky!

To add the topping: First, have the sliced almonds all ready beside the pan of kringle; you'll be sprinkling them atop the jam as soon as you put it on.

Stir the jam with a fork to break it up and then spread it over the kringle in a thin, even layer, mostly in the middle. Sprinkle sliced almonds atop the raspberry jam, pressing them in gently. Allow the kringle to cool completely.

To make the icing glaze: Stir together the confectioners' sugar, salt, almond extract and enough non dairy milk to make a pourable glaze. Drizzle it over the kringle.

To serve, cut the kringle in 2" slices.
If you prefer, you can bake the base, almond paste and cooked dough topping the day before serving, then wrap well and let sit on the counter overnight. In the morning add the jam, almonds and glaze.

So tasty!

Here is the King Arthur version, almost a Turtle Candy topping! 

Butter Pecan Kringle
from King Arthur

Flaky Base
½ cup (8 tablespoons, 113g) unsalted butter, cut into pats
1 cup (120g) all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt*
¼ cup (57g) cold water
*Reduce salt to ¼ teaspoon if you use salted butter.

Choux Pastry
1 cup (227g) water
½ cup (8 tablespoons, 113g) unsalted butter
½ tsp salt*
1 cup (120g) all-purpose flour, preferable unbleached
3 large eggs, at room temperature
½ teaspoon butter-rum, eggnog, or vanilla-butternut flavor, optional but delicious
*Reduce salt to 1/4 teaspoon if you use salted butter.

12 ounces caramel, cut from a block (about 1 cup, packed); or about 3 dozen individual caramel candies*, unwrapped
2 cups (227g) toasted pecan halves
*Use fresh, soft caramels. If using harder, supermarket-type caramels, add a couple of tbsp milk or cream when melting, to keep them soft on the kringle; or substitute caramel sauce.

Icing Glaze
1 cup (113g) confectioners' or glazing sugar
2 tbsp (28g) heavy cream, half & half, or milk, enough to make a thick but pourable glaze
1/8 teaspoon butter-rum, eggnog, or vanilla-butternut flavor, optional but good
pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) a baking sheet that's at least 18" x 13"; or a 14" round pizza pan.
2. For the base: Mix together the butter, flour, and salt in a medium bowl until crumbly. Add the water, a tablespoon at a time, mixing in between until you’ve made a soft, sticky dough. Divide the dough into four pieces and roll each piece into a 9" rope. Connect the pieces into a 12" x 8" oval on the prepared baking sheet and, with wet fingers, flatten the dough to 1 1/2 ̋" wide, retaining an oval opening in the center.
3. Wet your hands, pick up the dough, and shape it into a 12" x 8" oval ring on the sheet pan; or a 10" ring in the pizza pan. This will be messy going, but just keep wetting your fingers and pushing it into a ring. An easy way to approach this is to first divide the dough into four pieces; roll each piece into a 9" rope, then connect the ropes and shape them into a ring.
4. For the pastry: Place the water, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously until the mixture is cohesive and forms a ball. Transfer the batter to a mixing bowl and beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg is absorbed before adding the next. Add your choice of flavoring at the end.
5. Spread or pipe the pastry over the ring, to make an oval of pastry that completely covers the oval of dough. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
6. For the topping: Melt the caramel in a heatproof measuring cup at half power in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring after each round, until the caramel is smooth. Pour the caramel over the pastry and immediately top with the toasted pecans. Let cool.
7. For the glaze: Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, salt, flavoring, and enough cream (or milk) to make a pourable glaze. Drizzle over the kringle before serving.
8. Store at room temperature, lightly tented with plastic wrap, for a day or so; freeze for longer storage. Kringle is best served the same day it's made. If you plan on serving it the next day, add the caramel, nuts, and glaze just before serving.
9. Want to get a head start? Bake the base pastry up to two days ahead, then cool, wrap, and store at room temperature. Top with filling and icing just before serving.

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes
Approximate nutrition for one slice of Kringle:

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Morning Buns - Overnight #BreadBakers

'Tis the season for company!  Of course I like having good food and treats to share with company, especially in December, but I often run out of time.  So the Bread bakers theme of an Overnight Breakfast Bread is particularly appropriate and helpful this month!  (Thank you Stacy of Food Lust People Love for hosting!)  I was originally planning on doing an overnight coffeecake or muffin, but just the day before I was going to bake, I discovered this recipe for Morning Buns in a Cooks Country cookbook I had checked out from the library that was ideal.  Not only do you prep it the night before, but you can also freeze it up to a month in advance and bake off just as much as you need!  These rich little buns are an indulgent treat to serve to guests.  Made of a rough puff style pastry and rolled like a cinnamon roll, they have a simple sweet filling combining brown and white sugars, cinnamon, vanilla, and a hint of orange zest which gives them a certain je ne sais quoi.  Hubby asked if it was peach or something when he tried one, then got the orange after I told him.  With such appealing flavor, these are a new favorite.

For texture, they remind me very much of kouign amann, only ridiculously easier to make!  I got much better lamination and flakiness on these buns than on both of the times I tried making the kouign amann.  There is also a little hint of sticky bun caramelization on the bottoms.  I think with the freezing option, these would also work for sharing when traveling short-medium distances.  We have family within 3-4 hours and 4-5 hours and often take coolers with us for gatherings.  With a few ice packs to keep the buns cold, if not frozen, I think they could go straight into the fridge for the next morning.  I had the dough all made, filled, and rolled in around an hour the night I made them.  The next day, 20-30 minutes to rise in a cold oven turned proofing box, then an hour to heat the oven and bake.  No getting up at O dark thirty to make cinnamon rolls.

Look at those layers!

Already have orders from family for the next get together!  Highly recommend these tasty little buns.

Morning Buns
makes 12
from Cook's Country TV Show cookbook

3 cups (15 oz) all purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
2¼ tsp instant yeast
¾ tsp salt
24 tbsp (1½ cups or 3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into ¼-in slices and chilled
1 cup sour cream, cold
¼ cup orange juice, cold
3 tbsp ice water
1 large egg yolk

½ cup (3.5 oz) granulated sugar
½ cup (3.5 oz) brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp fresh orange zest, finely grated or microplaned
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

Combine flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large (gallon size) zip top bag.  Add butter to bag and seal.  Shake bag to coat butter.  Press the air out of the bag and seal.  Carefully roll over the bag a number of times with a rolling pin to flatten the butter into large flakes.  Shake the bag between rolling.  Transfer flour mixture to a large bowl.  Combine sour cream, juice, water and yolk in a 2-cup glass measure and mix to combine.  Stir into flour mixture until combined.

Turn the shaggy dough onto a floured counter and knead briefly to form a cohesive ball.  Roll the dough out into a 20x12-in rectangle.  Starting at a short edge, roll the dough up into a tight cylinder.  Flatten the roll by patting into a 12x4-in slab.  Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap.  Freeze for 15 minutes.

Line a muffin tin with 12 paper or foil liners and spray them with a little cooking spray.  For the filling, combine the sugars, orange zest, cinnamon and vanilla in a bowl with a fork.  Remove dough from freezer and place on lightly floured counter.  Roll into a 20x12-in rectangle and spread filling over top to within ½-in of the edges.  Starting at a long edge, roll the dough into a tight cylinder.  Pinch the edges together to seal the seam.  Trim ½-in dough from each end.  (I took these ends and made a little butterfly roll in a ramekin with a little sugar and cinnamon so as not to waste them.  And for snacking.  Quality control, you know?)   Cut dough into 12 equal pieces and transfer, cut side up, into prepared tin.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a least 4 hours or up to 1 day.  (At this point is when you would go straight to the freezer instead of chilling, then transfer to a zip bag after they are frozen, and store up to one month.  Defrost overnight in the fridge and bake next morning as follows.)

Adjust the oven rack to the middle and place a pan with 3 cups of boiling water on the bottom of the oven.  Remove plastic and place buns in the oven.  Do not turn on the oven yet.  Close oven door and let the buns proof for 20-30 minutes until puffed and double in size.  Remove buns and water pan from oven.  Now heat oven to 425ºF.  Bake until buns start to rise, about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 325ºF.  

Bake for another 40-50 minutes until deep golden brown, rotating pan halfway through.  Let buns cool in the tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then transfer to the rack and discard the liners.  Serve warm.

Be sure to check out the other convenient make ahead options offered this month:
 #BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all of our lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.
We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

Approximate nutrition for 1 bun:
Do you really want to know?
Okay: (Actually with the butter that bakes out and stays in the tin, it's more like 298 calories and 122 from fat.  Is that better? ☺)