December 27, 2015

Monkey Bread

This is my last post of 2015 and I think I'm ending the year on a really high note.  I don't exaggerate when I proclaim this Monkey Bread is absolutely A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!  I'm kicking myself for never trying to make it before.  Dare I say I may even prefer it over cinnamon rolls because it's so simple to make and so fun to eat.   

I've seen versions that use store bought bread dough but it's so much more delicious when you make it from scratch yourself.  This recipe from Cook's Country is easy to follow and would be great for the little ones to help with.

The yeasted dough is divided in to small pieces, rolled in melted butter, tossed in brown sugar and cinnamon and finally baked in a bundt pan.  The brown sugar and butter melts in to a yummy, gooey caramel that perfectly coats the bread.   How perfect would it be for breakfast or brunch?  

For those of you who want a smaller bread you can easily cut the recipe in half and bake in a small bundt pan.  That's what I did for the monkey bread in these pictures.  

Wishing everyone a wonderful new year!  Happy 2016!!!!

December 21, 2015

Cinnamon Walnut Babka

My introduction to Babka began with a Seinfeld episode.  The one where Jerry and Elaine are waiting to buy a chocolate babka for a dinner party but end up with a cinnamon one.  According to Elaine the cinnamon variety was the "lesser babka", but I beg to differ.

I liken babka to a Jewish version of brioche.  The yeasted dough is laden with lots and lots of butter for extra richness and filled with brown sugar, walnuts and cinnamon.   Since I didn't have a recipe I turned to my friends at Cook's Illustrated for help.  Caution: I don't recommend attempting this babka without a stand mixer because of the amount of mixing and butter required in the dough. 

The rested and chilled dough rolled out beautifully and was super easy to shape.  After a rise at room temperature it baked in the oven for about an hour.  The smell of caramelized sugar, cinnamon and walnuts was hypnotic.  I'll be bringing these loaves to my parents to enjoy for Christmas.  I know they'll love it.

December 13, 2015

Holiday Cookies

Every year I love to make cutout cookies to celebrate the holidays and give as gifts.   Normally I stick to my foolproof sugar cookie recipe but this year I decided to add gingerbread to the mix.   And I'm so glad I did!  The dark molasses and spices from the gingerbread just scream Christmas to me.  

I found a great gingerbread recipe from one of my favorite blogs, The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle.  After an overnight chill in the fridge the dough is easy to roll out and cut.  The baked gingerbread is firm but still soft, if that makes sense, and the royal icing complements the cookies so nicely.

My theme for holiday decorations this year was red and white, like a candy cane stripe.   I decorated my tree with this scheme and all of my holiday baking and packaging followed suit.  I hope my friends and family will love it as much as I do!

December 6, 2015

Sugar Cookie Tree

I picked up this Wilton Cookie Tree Cutter Set from a Black Friday sale at Michael's and have been anxiously waiting to use it ever since.   To anyone who's ever said they aren't good at cookie decorating this project is for you.    It's super easy to make and the results are really professional looking.

I made a batch of my favorite sugar cookie recipe and cut out the different sized stars using the  cutters from the set. After the cookies were completely cooled I brushed on white royal icing then sprinkled the tops with clear sanding sugar.   Let the cookies dry overnight and then stack them to form your beautiful tree!  How simple is that?

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