February 21, 2021

Buttermilk Biscuit Jammers

Every now and then I'll see a bake posted on Instagram and think to myself, "Now why didn't I think of that?"  This exact thing happened recently when I saw SF Cooking School post a picture on their Instagram stories of their take on Grand Central Bakery's famous buttermilk biscuits filled with jam.   These Buttermilk Biscuit Jammers are a genius combination of flaky, buttery biscuit filled and sweet, fruity jam.  I had to make some for myself.   
If you search google you can find Grand Central's recipe for their jammers pretty easily, like this one, but since I still had plenty of White Lily self-raising flour leftover from a past trip to Charleston I made my version of the buttermilk biscuit jammers with that instead.  The recipe was one I found on White Lily's Instagram account and only requires four ingredients: self-rising flour, butter, buttermilk and jam.     

The key to getting super flaky biscuits is to make sure all of your ingredients are COLD!  It also doesn't hurt that this particular recipe has a lamination technique that produces multiple layers.  Once I combined the flour and grated butter in a bowl I left it in the freezer overnight to ensure it was at the ideal temperature.  The next day I mixed in the cold buttermilk and shaped, folded, cut and filled the dough.  Use your favorite jam to fill the biscuits.  I used some store bought as well as homemade jams so I had a nice variety. 

As I write this post I literally just polished off my third biscuit.  They are THAT good and everything you'd want in a buttermilk biscuit.  Next time I make them I'll adjust for the following: cut the biscuits with slightly smaller cutter (using a 2" round cutter) and make the jam indentation a bit wider (so you get more jam!).  

February 13, 2021

Salted Caramel-Filled Brownies

I never would have thought to bake brownies in the form of a cupcake but I was easily convinced to give it a try when I saw these Salted Caramel-Filled Brownies featured on the cover of Cook's Country's Feb/Mar 2021 issue.  The combination of sweet caramel and sea salt is always a winner in my book.  The recipe features variations of the filling, like chocolate ganache and peanut butter ganache, which sounded delicious too. 

The trick with this recipe is to make sure you use parchment paper cupcake liners which are different from the paper liners you'd find at the supermarket.  I bought these ones from Amazon and I heard some Target stores also carry it.  If you don't use the parchment liners you run the risk of the brownies sticking to the liner.  Not pretty!

February 10, 2021

Chinese Almond Cookies

The Lunar New Year falls on Friday, February 12, 2021 and marks the start of The Year of the Ox.  In my family Tết is a major holiday centered around family and food.  Obviously this year we won't have the extended family gathering that we normally would, but we'll still celebrate nonetheless.

Even though these Chinese Almond Cookies aren't your typical New Year's fare I thought they'd be a great to serve as dessert.   I found the recipe from use real butter's blog and it couldn't be simpler to make.  My favorite thing is how the tops of the cookies shine like lacquer, stemming from the brush of egg wash they receive just before being baked.  The almond flavor really comes through from the almond flour and almond extract in the recipe.   

These cookies are delicious and not too sweet and can be served all year long, not just for New Year's.

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới 2021!!!!

February 8, 2021

Valentine's Day Yeasted Doughnuts


Last month's baking hiatus motivated me to get back into the kitchen even more than before.  Here's another Valentine's Day themed treat for you that will surely win the hearts and stomachs of your loved ones.  These Yeasted Doughnuts from Cook's Illustrated are hands down the BEST ever.   

When I first saw the recipe published in the May/June 2020 issue of their magazine I ordered a deep fat fryer straight away specifically to make the doughnuts.  Chalk it up to the corona crazies because I normally tend to avoid frying at home at all costs, but let me tell you, these doughnuts are more than worth it.

How cute are the heart shapes for Valentine's Day?  I rolled some of the doughnuts in a raspberry sugar (sugar + crushed, freeze dried raspberries) and filled them with my homemade raspberry jam. Others I dipped in a chocolate glaze and decorated with sprinkles.   I recommend trying to cut out as many doughnuts as you can from the first roll of the dough.  I've found that re-kneading the remaining scraps and re-cutting yields tougher doughnuts.  

Happy Valentine's Day!

Yeasted Doughnuts

4 1/2 cups (22 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
8 tablespoons (4 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 quarts vegetable oil, for frying

Chocolate Frosting
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup water
2 cups (8 oz) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of table salt 

For Jam-Filled Doughnuts
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup freeze dried raspberries, crushed
1 1/2 cup raspberry jam

FOR THE DOUGHNUTS: Stir flour, sugar, and yeast together in bowl of stand mixer. Add milk and egg and mix with rubber spatula until all ingredients are moistened. Fit stand mixer with dough hook and mix on medium-low speed until cohesive mass forms, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl if necessary. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let stand for 20 minutes.

Add salt and mix on medium-low speed until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl, 5 to 7 minutes. With mixer running, add butter, a few pieces at a time, and continue to mix until butter is fully incorporated and dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl, 7 to 13 minutes longer, scraping down bowl halfway through mixing. Transfer dough to lightly greased large bowl, flip dough, and form into ball. Cover bowl with plastic. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Transfer to refrigerator and chill overnight (or up to 48 hours).
Adjust oven racks to lowest and middle positions. Place loaf pan on lower rack. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and grease parchment. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter. Press into 8-inch square of even thickness, expelling as much air as possible. Roll dough into 10 by 13-inch rectangle, about ½ inch thick. Using 3-inch round cutter dipped in flour, cut 12 rounds. Using 1-inch round cutter dipped in flour, cut hole out of center of each round. Transfer doughnuts and holes to prepared sheet. (If desired, use 1-inch cutter to cut small rounds from remaining dough. Transfer to sheet with doughnuts.) Bring kettle or small saucepan of water to boil.
Pour 1 cup boiling water into loaf pan. Place sheet on upper rack, uncovered. Close oven and allow doughnuts to rise until dough increases in height by 50 percent and springs back very slowly when pressed with your knuckle, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
About 20 minutes before end of rising time, add oil to large Dutch oven until it measures about 1½ inches deep and heat over medium-low heat to 360 degrees. Set wire rack in second rimmed baking sheet and line with triple layer of paper towels. Using both your hands, gently place 4 risen doughnuts in oil. Cook until golden brown on undersides, 1 to 1½ minutes, adjusting burner as necessary to maintain oil temperature between 350 and 365 degrees. Using spider skimmer, flip doughnuts and cook until second sides are browned, 1 to 1½ minutes. Transfer doughnuts to prepared rack. Return oil to 360 degrees and repeat with remaining doughnuts. For doughnut holes, transfer all to oil and stir gently and constantly until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to prepared rack to cool. Let doughnuts cool completely, about 20 minutes.
FOR THE CHOCOLATE FROSTING: While doughnuts cool, microwave chocolate and water in medium bowl at 50 percent power until chocolate is melted, about 30 seconds. Whisk in sugar, cocoa, and salt until smooth and fluid. Let cool slightly.
Set clean wire rack in now-empty sheet. Dip top half of 1 cooled doughnut into frosting until evenly coated, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Invert doughnut and place on wire rack. Repeat with remaining doughnuts. Let doughnuts stand until frosting is dry to touch, 15 to 30 minutes, before serving.
FOR THE RASPBERRY JAM FILLED: Mix sugar and freeze dried raspberries in small bowl. Spoon jam into pastry bag or zipper-lock bag fitted with ¼-inch round pastry tip.
Working with 1 doughnut at a time, coat all sides of doughnut in sugar and return to rack. Insert paring knife through side of 1 doughnut until tip almost reaches opposite edge. Swing knife through doughnut, creating large pocket. Repeat with remaining doughnuts. Stand doughnuts slit side up in 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
To fill doughnuts, insert pastry tip ¾ inch into opening and squeeze gently until jam just starts to appear around opening, about 2 tablespoons jam per doughnut. Let doughnuts stand in pan for 10 minutes to allow jam to settle. Serve.

February 6, 2021

Raspberry Jam Shortbread Hearts


January came and went in a flash without much baking on my part.  To be honest I was a bit burnt out from all the holiday baking I'd done and on top of that work was keeping me busy, but now I'm back and raring to go.   First up are these super tasty and cute Raspberry Jam Shortbread Hearts which are perfect for Valentine's Day.  The crispy, buttery shortbreads are filled with my homemade, tart raspberry jam and are utterly delicious.  They actually remind me of the British "Jammie Dodgers" biscuit.  

I used a heart shaped thumbprint cookie stamp I bought from Williams-Sonoma a few years ago.  The set also comes with a rectangle and circle shape and cuts and shapes the cookie dough perfectly.  You get professional looking results with little to no effort!

For the shortbread dough I tweaked my favorite clotted cream shortbread recipe.  Since I didn't have any fresh clotted cream I just replaced that amount in the recipe with the same amount of butter.  The dough is super forgiving and you can't really mess it up.  My main tip is to roll the dough to at least 1/4-inch thickness; any thinner and it will be harder to get the nice embossed design on the cookie. 

Gift these cookies to your loved ones for the tastiest Valentine. 

 Happy Valentine's Day!

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