Pipe Dream #302: To French Vanilla – Quick Apple Cinnamon Buns

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These are nearly the same as the whole wheat cinnamon buns I tried once. They rely on a biscuit dough instead of a yeast dough as a base, so the prep time is drastically shorter. Granted, the end result is not a yeast bread like a traditional cinnamon roll, but that is hardly a concern if you’re pressed for time and craving butter and cinnamon rolled up in a little cakey bundle.

Since I opted to swap out the whole wheat flour for regular, I added apples, you know, for health reasons.

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JK, guys, JK. Apples are just yummy. Apples and cinnamon are a match made in heaven, and, dare I say, a match promulgated by American society? No, that can’t be right. Apples and cinnamon have to be a timeless flavor combo that transcends society. But let me tell you. I recently research the origins of “French vanilla.” I was like, “K, what the heck is ‘French’ vanilla? It seems like a 90s flavor that is no longer in fashion like the 90s powdered coffee drinks that no one drinks anymore. People these days just say ‘Vanilla.’”

Or, if we’re indulging in a bit of baker nerdery–Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla or Tahitian Vanilla Bean, etc.

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Anyway, the point is that French Vanilla really almost IS a flavor that was made popular in 90s marketing. According to wiseGeek:

“The term ‘French vanilla’ technically describes a particular type of custard base for vanilla ice cream. This base is associated with a strong vanilla flavor and odor, a rich golden color, and small flecks of vanilla beans. As a result, companies sometimes market things like candles and body lotions as having this scent, capitalizing on the exoticism of all things French and the association of luxury. While this usage is incorrect, it is extremely common.”

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Look at the spillage happening here. A veritable gold mine of apple chunk.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this history lesson. If not, I have high hopes that you’ll enjoy these cinnamon buns along with your French Vanilla instant cappuccino.

L

Quick Apple Cinnamon Buns
Adapted from Here in America’s Test Kitchen

Melted butter is used in both the filling and the dough and to grease the pan. Melt the total amount (8 tablespoons) at once, and measure it out as you need it.

1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, for pan

For the filling:
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

2 medium apples, chopped into small pieces (I ended up using about 1 1/2 of the apples)

For the biscuit dough:
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional flour for work surface
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the icing:
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup (4 oz) confectioners’ sugar

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Pour one tablespoon melted butter into 9-inch nonstick cake pan; brush to coat pan.

To make the filling, combine sugars, spices, and salt in small bowl. Add one tablespoon melted butter and stir with fork or fingers until mixture resembles wet sand; set filling mixture aside. Chop apples into small-ish chunks. I chose to leave the skin on, but you can peel them if you feel like it.

To make the biscuit dough, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Whisk buttermilk and 2 tablespoons melted butter in measuring cup or small bowl. Add liquid to dry ingredients and stir until liquid is absorbed (dough will look very shaggy), about 30 seconds. Transfer dough to a well-floured work surface and knead until just smooth and no longer shaggy.

Pat dough with hands into 12 by 9-inch rectangle. Brush dough with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle evenly with filling, leaving 1/2-inch border of plain dough around edges. Press filling firmly into dough. Using bench scraper or metal spatula, loosen dough from work surface. Starting at long side, roll dough, pressing lightly, to form tight log. Pinch seam to seal. Roll log seam-side down and cut evenly into eight pieces. With hand, slightly flatten each piece of dough to seal open edges and keep filling in place. Place one roll in center of prepared nonstick pan, then place remaining seven rolls around perimeter of pan. Brush with 2 tablespoons remaining melted butter.

Bake until edges are golden brown, 23 to 25 minutes. Use a spatula to loosen buns from pan. Invert buns onto a plate or wire rack. Cool about 5 minutes before icing.

Stir butter, powdered sugar milk in large nonreactive bowl until a smooth glaze forms, about 30 seconds. Spoon glaze evenly over buns; serve immediately. The buns are best eaten warm, but they hold up reasonably well for up to 2 hours.

Pipe Dream #301: To Holiday – Streuseled Sweet Potato Casserole

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I had this moment in October wherein I said to myself, “Wow, I really want to eat sweet potato casserole. With marshmallows. That sounds reallll good. Too bad I’ll have to wait until Thanksgiving. I’ll make a big 9×13 for the fam.”

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And then I realized, beautifully: I don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to eat this. Eating sweet potato casserole does not have to be limited to large family gatherings filled with traditional foods. It can be like, a normal food that I make myself and reheat for lunch. It has sweet potatoes in it, heaven knows.

potato cass

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So I set out to create a fairly simple recipe that I could throw together on a Sunday night. Sweet potatoes, eggs, spices, not too hard. I intended to make a sweet potato casserole. What I actually made was a sliceable sweet potato bar with pecan streusel topping (read: YUM CROSSWAYS). Next time, I’m going to leave out the eggs in the hopes that the texture will be more scoopable, less sliceable. Also, I will take more time to make sure the potatoes are really soft, so I don’t get chunks. Score one for impatience.

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Here’s the thing. I can’t tell if this casserole/bar is a dessert recipe or just a normal side dish recipe. It’s definitely got less sugar/butter/marshmallows than some desserts, but it isn’t just, like, boiled sweet potatoes. Maybe that is the beauty of holiday foods: no one can really tell if they’re eating healthy or not, but it is ok not to care for a day. The desserts can masquerade as sides and no one rings the alarm.

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There is protein in chocolate cake, there is calcium in cream cheese frosting, and there is Vitamin A in this sweet potato bar. Some nutrition gets through. I think.

Permissions aside, I remain

Lauren

P.S. Updated the recipes page of the blog–should be a little bit easier to navigate now. Enjoy the archives.

Streuseled Sweet Potato Casserole

An LH Original

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup maple syrup

3 T butter, melted

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger + a sprinkle of clove

topping:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans (50 g)

Chop the peeled potatoes into large chunks and microwave in batches until tender. I had to do three batches in a Pyrex measuring cup covered with a paper towel for about five minutes. It would probably be better for you to bake or boil the potatoes to ensure they are quite soft–my casserole had chunks.
Place potatoes in the bowl or a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add maple syrup, milk, 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt, spices and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until smooth. Add eggs; beat well. Pour potato mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking pan coated with cooking spray and spread evenly.
Combine flour, sugar and chilled butter in a medium bowl, cutting in the butter with two knives until crumbly. Cut in the pecans, and give the streusel a few good stirs until evenly combined. Sprinkle on top of the potato mixture.
Cover the pan with foil. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Uncover the pan and bake another 15 minutes or until the topping is browned.

Favorite Shots: Flowers Friday

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I found these unusuals in a bar with odd drinks. No filter.

L

Sprinkles Appreciation Day! Funfetti Cake Batter Cookies

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Every month at work, my team makes up a holiday, orders PizzaLuce and participates in general good times over the lunch hour. Past fake holidays:

  • Macaulay Culkin Appreciation Day
  • Board Game Appreciation Day
  • Bat Appreciation Day
  • Puffy Paint Appreciation Day

This month, it was my turn to pick a holiday, and can you guess what I chose?

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Sprinkles Appreciation Day, babyyyyy. Because who can say they don’t like funfetti things. No one. It’s too sparkly happy pink to be hated. It is called FUNfetti.

But actual true life, I don’t even like sprinkles, and I will brush off as many as possible. They’re crunchy and annoying and tasteless and detract from my cake experience.

 

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Frosting from a can. I’m not above it.

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These cookies weren’t quite as good as the other cake batter cookies I made once, but they are soooo easy. And very happy sparkly.

Have a generally good time,

Lauren

Funfetti Cake Batter Cookies

An LH Original, inspired by somewhere I’m forgetting

1/2 box cake mix

1/4 cup canola oil

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix together all ingredients except the sprinkles until well combined, then gently stir in the sprinkles. Don’t overmix them, or the colors will run together.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a baking sheet, leaving an inch or two between the cookies. Bake for 8-10 minutes until just set. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Pipe Dream #300: To Burst Your Blueberry Bubble – Blueberry Flax Oat Muffins

 

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Here is a little burst of blueberry for your day. These are healthy breakfast muffins, perfect for popping out of the freezer, zapping in the microwave and shoving in your pocket to eat on the morning commute.

Or, you know, fresh from the oven on a weekend morning slathered with butter.

Either way, they are a welcome addition to my life, especially gearing up for the busy holiday season. Never hurts to have a little health and a quick snack tucked away for the times when you’re running every which way.

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These are a one-bowl affair, working equally well with out-of-season grocery store blueberries or flash-frozen sale blueberries. I chose the latter. Hate to burst your blueberry bubble, all you Violet Beauregarde wannabes, but berries are not in season right now. We are not in the season of them. I’m buying nothing but citrus and pomegranates right now.

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Always every way,

L

P.S. This is my 300th pipe dream, and I didn’t even do anything special for it. I will sometime. Do something special, I mean.

Blueberry Flax Oat Muffins

Adapted from Pinch of Yum

½ cup rolled oats or old fashioned oatmeal

½ cup buttermilk (or regular milk + 1 teaspoon vinegar)

1½ tablespoons salted butter, melted

1 egg

⅓ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

½ cup + 1 tablespoon flour

1 heaping tablespoon ground flax

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a muffin tin with six liners , or grease six muffin tin cups with oil.

Combine the oats and buttermilk in a mixing bowl. Let the oats soak for 10 minutes, then add the melted butter, egg, brown sugar, and vanilla. Stir until just combined. Add the flour, flax, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir again until evenly moistened.

Before adding the blueberries, scoop a spoonful of batter into each muffin tin, using about half the batter. Gently fold the blueberries into the remaining batter and divide evenly between the muffin tins.

Bake muffins for 13-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Pipe Dream #299: To Birth Defect-Free Children – Gingerbread Men

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This was my first attempt at kids, and I’m really, really hoping that there is evidence behind the “practice makes perfect” aphorism.

Because this round of spiced progeny looked as though I may have had a few drinks and left me feeling vaguely like I had just left a tiled room smelling of industrial cleaner and unwashed bodies.

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Egg.
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Wrapped up and all ready for the incubator.

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I couldn’t even do the circles right. I actually half-blame the recipe for this one. Unlike some other cut-outs I’ve done, I think the dough was just too soft to be perfectly rolled. You could fix this by chilling the dough once you’ve rolled it out, but before cutting it into shapes.

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Mitten turned fish tropical fish for Sprinkles Appreciation Day. More on that day coming up later. Stay tuned!

Peace out, ballas,

L

P.S. This is just another mildly inappropriate post brought to you by myself.

Gingerbread Men

Adapted slightly from McCormick

Makes approximately 24 cookies

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in large bowl. Set aside. Beat butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electic mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add molasses, egg and vanilla; mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl until everything is incorporated. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Press dough into a thick flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness on lightly floured work surface. Cut into gingerbread men shapes with a cookie cutter. Place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake 8 minutes or until edges of cookies are set and just begin to brown. Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Decorate cooled cookies as desired. Store cookies in airtight container up to 5 days or freeze.

Pipe Dream #298: To Cinnamon Drop Some Limp Bizkits

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These are some limp bizkits.

Lolololo

If I send you an email or chat you, and I write an ‘lolololo’ that doesn’t end with an ‘L,’ it means I’m still laughing when I hit send, either because you are funny or I am.

Did anyone get my Limp Bizkit joke I just made???

Ok anyway.

cinn biscuit 1

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These were kind of weak. Straight out of the oven, slathered in cinnamon butter and honey, they were fluffy and melty, but a few hours later they were dry and nearly tasteless. All biscuit-y/scone type things are best fresh, but these were particularly yucky stale.

However, they were an excellent and extremely quick use of some milk that was about to sour (Did you know you can use sour milk for all kinds of baking recipes? Don’t toss it!). Impromptu brunch biscuit.

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Lolololo-ing,

L

Cinnamon Drop Bizkits

Adapted from Taste as You Go

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • cinnamon sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and salt until well-combined. Pour in the olive oil and milk and stir until just moistened.

Drop batter onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar to taste. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden on the bottom.

Serve warm with a slather of butter and honey.


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