Bakery-Style Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls / Flour and Fancy

Great cookbooks inspire us.  When I read a great cookbook – as I’ve been doing extensively this summer and plan to continue in the fall – I feel as if special secrets are being shared with me.  I’m transported to a quiet kitchen with a half-open window, the sounds of birds singing, and warm smells permeating in my nose.  Flour everywhere, sticky glazes leaving a sheen along the surfaces.  A great cookbook transports you and invokes a desire to bake that can only be satisfied when the oven is preheated and the standing mixer is churning ingredients.

My latest cookbook beloved is A Jewish Baker’s Pastry Secrets.  When I embarked on absorbing and devouring this text, I had one thing in mind: I wanted to read about the delicious pastries I see through glass cases when I’ve visited bakeries across the country.  I want to experience what those bakers are creating and make it in my own kitchen.  First stop: cinnamon rolls.  While I’ve made countless cinnamon rolls in my kitchen, I wanted to explore them from the perspective and the recipe stash of a renowned baking legend.  I enjoyed the more narrative style of these recipes and the high level of detail.

A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets / Flour and Fancy

Cinnamon is one of my favorite and most frequently used spices.  It’s so warming, so reminiscent of home.  When I think of cinnamon, I think of being wrapped in a blanket while reading my favorite book.  And with the abundant amount of this spice always freshly ground and nearby in my kitchen, I immediately fell in love with this recipe.

These cinnamon rolls are exactly what you would expect at your local bakery or coffee shop.  They are large, soft, and filled with sugar and spice.  They incorporate a butter streusel along with cinnamon and sugar to create a flavor that is second to none.  Instead of merely buttering the dough, sprinkling some cinnamon and sugar, and rolling, this recipe incorporates a separate streusel mixture to layer over the dough comprised of butter, two types of sugar, and flour.

Cinnamon Rolls / Flour and Fancy

I made these for my husband’s birthday, and when he took the first bite, his eyes lit up with amazement.  And naturally, I swelled with pride.  These are the best cinnamon rolls to have exited my oven.  The hardened sugary coating of the streusel bursting from the top of each roll; the soft, melty center.  Perfection.  We didn’t even both with the icing I made.

Taking a break over the last weeks from developing my own recipes and allowing myself to be inspired by the recipes shared by others in cookbooks filled with learned baking wisdom has been wonderful for me.  It’s allowed me to examine my own baking through the delicious delights of others.  The inspiration is beyond measure.

Cinnamon Rolls / Flour and Fancy

Sugar Buns (Cinnamon Rolls)
From A Jewish Baker’s Pastry Secrets / George Greenstein with Elaine Greenstein, Julia Greenstein, and Issac Bleicher
Yields 12 rolls

Ingredients

  • For the Butter Streusel
    • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
    • 1 to 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    • A pinch of teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • A pinch of ground nutmeg, preferably freshly ground
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the Cinnamon Rolls
    • 1 1/2 pound portion of Bundt Dough
    • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tablespoon water
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 tablespoon cinnamon, plus more to taste
    • 1 cup raisins (optional)

Method

Begin by making the Butter Streusel.  Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, a handheld beater, or a food processor fitted with the steel blade (the option I used), mix together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, two cups of the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.  Mix with short pulses only until combined; do not cream.  (If mixing by hand, rub the brown and granulated sugars and butter between your fingers, until it resembles coarse grain, and then add the two cups of flour, salt, cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and vanilla.)  Add the additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, if a small amount of streusel does not clump together when pinched and rolled together.  Transfer to a covered container.

On to the cinnamon buns!  Grease two jumbo 4-inch muffin tins (with six muffin cups each) or two 9 by 9 by 2-inch baking pans.

On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle measuring 18 to 20 inches long and 14 inches wide; have the long side facing you.  While rolling, dust with flour as necessary to prevent sticking.  Brush off any excess flour and then paint the dough with melted butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border along the top.  Rub the streusel through a sieve to resemble coarse grains or break up by hand using your fingers.  Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the buttered dough.  Lightly beat the egg with water to make an egg wash.

To make the filling, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and raisins (if you’re including them – I didn’t).  Sprinkle over the streusel.

Brush the 1/2-inch border at the top with egg wash.  Starting at the bottom edge, fold over a flap about 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide. Fold over again and press down lightly.  Keep folding and pressing until the end is reached.  Seal the seam by pressing with your fingertips.  Roll the dough over so the seam is centered along the bottom.

Trim the ends.  Brush the top with melted butter.  Cut into 12 equal pieces.  Place in the muffin tins or evenly space six on each baking pan, cut side up.  Brush the tops with the egg wash.  Set aside and allow to rise over the top of the rim, at least 45 minutes (time will vary with temperature and humidity).

Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Bake for about 35 minutes, or until evenly browned.  The time varies with the size of the buns and the pan being used.  If the top browns too quickly, cover with a tent cut from aluminum foil or a brown paper grocery bag.  When done, the top of each bun should feel firm to the touch and spring back when lightly pressed with the fingers.

If you are using baking pans, cool in the pan on a wire rack.  If you are using muffin tins, allow the buns to cool for five minutes and then remove them from the tins by placing an inverted baking sheet over the top and flipping the muffins over.  Use oven mitts or pads to avoid burning your fingers and invert each roll so that the baked top is upright.

Serve warm or at room temperature with or without your favorite icing.  The buns keep well in a plastic bag for several days at room temperature, or frozen for up to six weeks.  Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

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Disclaimer
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. The opinions on this book and its contents are my own. I only work with companies and endorse products that I have positive personal experience with and enjoy.

For The Love of Baking: Bundt Dough

A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets / Flour and Fancy

This summer has been all about cookbooks for me.

I have been working on a personal goal of spending my free time devouring as many books filled with recipes as possible, and this has been reflected in my content here.  After all, food is best shared, and recipes are treasures.  As I inhaled these texts and beautiful images, I also wanted to work on refining my baking game.  What could I learn from true masters to make baking in my own kitchen yield a more delicious and personally gratifying result?

One book that I studied thoroughly was A Jewish Baker’s Pastry Secrets.  This book adapts the recipes of a New York baking legend, George Greenstein, to the home cook.  From Jewish holiday baking to my area of interest, European classics, he presents his dough and pastry recipes in a way that creates dazzling results for the just beginning and highly experienced home baker.

I baked my way through this amazing cookbook with more delicious pastries than my household could possibly consume.  Even after years of baking, I found new adaptations to my own recipes that really opened me to new and excited baked results.  I journeyed with this book and came out a better baker.

One recipe for dough that I felt I had to share is the bundt dough recipe.  Bundt dough is the basis for great recipes such as crumb cakes, streusel buns, cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, hot cross buns and many other baked delights we all enjoy throughout the year.  It is a basic, yeast risen dough with lots of sweetness.  I’ve always had my own dough recipe that I use for bun baking, but I found this one to be a delicious new addition to my arsenal, yielding fluffy, flavorful baked goods that my husband and friends enthusiastically devoured.

I will be sharing a great recipe from the cookbook to use with this versatile dough, but first, I wanted to share the dough itself.  A great dough is the basis of any bun or bread, and a strong foundation is the key to great results.  Use this dough for your next batch of hot cross buns or sticky buns.  It is easy to assemble, rises beautifully, and is the basis for a beautiful pastry.

I’ll be sharing a recipe incorporating this dough tomorrow.  Until then, mix up a batch, put it in the refrigerator, and be ready to bake something sweet and delicious tomorrow.  Would you like a hint?

Cinnamon Rolls / Flour and Fancy

Master Recipe – Bundt Dough
From A Jewish Baker’s Pastry Secrets / George Greenstein with Elaine Greenstein, Julia Greenstein, and Issac Bleicher
Makes four pounds of dough

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup warm water (95 to 115 degrees)
  • 3 scant tablespoons (3 packets/21 grams) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, diced, or half butter, half solid vegetable shortening
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 cups bread flour (preferred) or unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, preferable freshly ground (optional)

Method

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over warm water to soften.  Add the milk, sugar, butter, eggs, flour, nonfat dry milk, salt, vanilla, and cardamom.  Pulse with the on/off switch until blended, making sure the flour does not fly out of the bowl.  You can cover the mixer with a kitchen towel for the first few pulses to keep the flour contained.  Then mix at slow speed until the dough comes together.  Change to a dough book, if available.  If mixing by hand, stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Knead with a dough hook in the stand mixer or turn out onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for 8 to 10 minutes, or more if necessary, until the dough has become elastic and has a silky sheen.

Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl, turning to coat.  Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in volume, 45 to 60 minutes (the time will vary with temperature and humidity) or allow to rise slowly overnight in the refrigerator.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.  Punch down, fold the ends in toward the center, and roll up into a tight rectangle.  Allow to rest for at least 10 and up to 15 minutes.

At this point, the dough can be refrigerated overnight.  (All or part of the dough can be frozen at this stage for a week or more, if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.)  I recommend dividing the dough into 8-ounce portions and shaping into balls.  Wrap and freeze individually.

Note: For a nondairy dough, substitute water for milk, magazine or shortening for butter, and omit the nonfat dry milk.

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Disclaimer

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. The opinions on this book and its contents are my own. I only work with companies and endorse products that I have positive personal experience with and enjoy.

Hijacked Biscoff Cookies

Hijacked Biscoff Cookies // Flour and Fancy

I was delighted when I got my hands on Milk Bar Life by Christina Tosi of the renowned bakery, Momofuku Milk Bar.  This text takes the baker and friends out of the bakery and into her own home, where she features simple, classic recipes made from supermarket ingredients.  Think of this as the weeknight cookbook.

When I began reading this cookbook, I immediately thumbed through to the cookies.  Milk Bar is known for its baked goodies, and I was immediately curious to know what these baking experts were making in their own homes.  Then, I found it – the recipe that would, hands down, be the one I used the most from this text.  The recipe that my husband salivated over.  The recipe whose pages now bear greasy, sugary fingerprints.  Hijacked Biscoff Cookies.

When I bake, I’m often baking with others in mind, and I knew this is a recipe that my husband would adore.  As a great lover of all things doused in cinnamon and a fan of ginger snaps, this recipe – among others in the book – has become favorites in our house.  Milk Bar Life // Flour and Fancy

These cookies are easy to make and, like their store-bought counterparts, don’t include eggs or animal by-products, making them an excellent choice for vegetarian and vegan friends.  This also means that you can lick the inside of the bowl without fear!  They are soft, sweet, and great for use with your favorite cutter to make lovely shapes.  In the cookbook, Tosi writes, “Biscoff cookies are the most delicious spiced shortbread cookie known to man…”  She’s not wrong, and this recipe allows us to skip the grocery shelf and make them right at home.  They aren’t the most beautiful cookie – a reason, I imagine, that an image of them was not present in the cookbook – but the taste makes up for their dull brown color.  They are great for an indulgent morning meal with coffee or tea and make a great after dinner dessert.

Baking cookies invokes the same inner sense of relaxation and centeredness for me that I feel after a yoga session.  The stirring.  The combining.  The scents.  After a bad or tedious day, nothing brings me back to center like baking, especially when it’s a batch of fragrant cookies to share.

Hijacked Biscoff Cookies // Flour and Fancy

Hijacked Biscoff Cookies
From Milk Bar Life / Christina Tosi
Makes about two dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • scant pinch of ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Method

  1. Put the flour, both sugars, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low until combined, about 30 seconds.  Add the butter and mix on low until just incorporated, about 45 seconds.
  2. Remove the dough from the bowl and roll into a log, 2 inches in diameter.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
  4. Slice the dough into 1/4 inch rounds and arrange 1 inch apart on a greased or lined baking sheet.  Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, or until fragrant and dark auburn brown.  Cool completely on the pan.

Baking Notes

I like baking these cookies with light versus dark brown sugar at times and find that the substitution yields great results.  So, if you only have light brown sugar in the house, don’t let that stop you from baking these cookies.  I also like adding just a dash of vanilla.  It adds a hint of sweet smoothness.

Disclaimer
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. The opinions on this book and its contents are my own. I only work with companies and endorse products that I have positive personal experience with and enjoy.

Easy Peach Crisp

Easy Peach Crisp // Flour and Fancy

Hello, peaches!  It’s about time you showed up for the party.

Every year, when warm weather descends, I (im)patiently begin my wait for peaches.  Here that wait ends in June when local growers begin to sell those delicious orange-red-yellow orbs that I associate with a sweet, succulent summer.  While I’m waiting, I always begin building the anticipation by delving into recipes.  This year, I found a favorite in Grill It, Braise It, Broil It: And 9 Other Easy Techniques For Making Healthy Meals.

Easy Peach Crisp // Flour and Fancy

Grill It, Braise It, Broil It is a delectable cookbook released by the American Heart Association filled with 175 recipes that are as delicious as they are healthy.  This text is a must for cooks and bakers at any level that love food with the added bonus of recipes that are designed to be healthy for your heart.  And not just baked items either – this cookbook features a plethora of dishes with a variety of cooking methods.  From stir-frying to steaming, blending to braising, this cookbook has a mouthwatering dish to meet the technique.  Some of my favorites include shrimp and watermelon salad with cucumber-lime vinaigrette, edamame dip, and pineapple and ginger mahi mahi.

But my favorite recipe from this cookbook is, hands down, the easy peach crisp.  First, it isn’t a fussy recipe – simple and straightforward while yielding a complex array of flavor.  Think peach pie without the crust.  Secondly, it incorporates a limited number of ingredients that come together in perfect harmony.  It accomplishes this while still being good for the ole ticker, and heart health is something I try to focus on.

Easy Peach Crisp // Flour and Fancy

With this recipe, a two-step process is employed and combined with 30 to 40 minutes baking time.  And presto!  A delicious peach crisp that serves four.  Might I suggest doubling the recipe?

What I greatly enjoyed in this recipe and the others in Grill It, Braise It, Broil It is the approach taken to allow readers to enjoy great food while making wise ingredient choices to better heart health.  All the recipes include only small amounts of sugar, healthier cuts of meat, and incorporate low-fat cheeses as well as substitutes for eggs and butter.  This is my new go-to cookbook for weeknight dinners and fun, healthy baked items.  It even contains great advice on a heart-healthy pantry.

The easy peach crisp, as I said, is the winner in my book, especially in June when peaches are just coming off the trees, warmed by the sun, sweet and juicy.  Enjoy!

Easy Peach Crisp // Flour and Fancy

Easy Peach Crisp
From Grill It, Braise It, Broil It: And 9 Other Easy Techniques For Making Healthy Meals
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 medium peaches, peeled and sliced, or 2 cups frozen unsweetened peach slices, thawed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon divided use
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup uncooked oatmeal
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons light tub margarine
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Put the peaches in a nonstick 8- or 9-inch square baking pan.  Stir in 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and the cornstarch.
  3. In a small bowl, using a fork, stir together the remaining ingredients, including the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.  Sprinkle over the beaches.
  4. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and the peaches are heated through.  Serve immediately.

Baking Notes
When choosing what oatmeal to incorporate into the recipe, I went with a flavored oatmeal I had on hand.  I used thinkThin Protein & Fiber Hot Oatmeal in the Madagascar Vanilla, Almonds, Pecans flavor.  It added great flavor notes to the crisp.  I also added an additional tablespoon of light brown sugar.  Yeah, I’m bad.  This recipe is also great with one cup of raspberries or blueberries added.

Disclaimer
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  The opinions on this book and its contents are my own.  I only work with companies and endorse products that I have positive personal experience with and enjoy.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pound Cake Bites

Strawberry Rhubarb Pound Cake Bites | Flour and Fancy

There’s nothing better than baking with flavors that celebrate the season.  With spring in full swing, there were two flavors that immediately came to mind when baking: strawberry and rhubarb.

Pound cake is perfect for any occasion – or no occasion at all – at any time of the year, and when combined with flavors of the season, it borders on perfection.  When I was working on the recipe for this pound cake, I knew I had to incorporate some spring and summer tastes into the batter.

Strawberry and rhubarb.  Like Bert and Ernie, Thelma and Louise, Batman and Robin, they are a dynamic duo that can’t be beat.  They compliment and enhance each other.  They unite in undeniable harmony.  And when combined as a swirled glaze in chunks of pound cake – well, it’s a well orchestrated symphony for your taste buds.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pound Cake Bites | Flour and Fancy

For this cake, I served it up in bites.  Why?  First, pound cake is decadent and rich.  It’s best not gobbled down but savored slowly and in small portions.  Secondly, this cake served as a bite allows for the addition of extra strawberry rhubarb glaze to be applied for added flavor.  I like to apply my glaze in a fashion that emulates a Jackson Pollack painting – chaotically and in excess.

I’m growing strawberries in my garden, and with the quarts of berries that we’ve already harvested, culinary inspiration naturally took hold.  Instead of buying a glaze from the grocery encased in plastic, I made my own glaze for this cake that incorporated plump strawberries and tangy rhubarb.  Glazes are incredibly easy to make and well worth skipping the store-bought stuff, and when making your own, the flavor combinations are endless.  Sure, strawberry glaze is easy to locate at your neighborhood store, but have you ever seen strawberry rhubarb glaze?

Fruity glaze, cream cheese, lots of butter – sounds like my kind of dessert.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pound Cake Bites | Flour and Fancy

Strawberry Rhubarb Pound Cake Bites
Serves approximately 90 bites with glaze

Ingredients

  • One cup fresh strawberries, cleaned
  • One cup fresh rhubarb, cleaned
  • 1/3 cup plus one tablespoon cornstarch
  • 5 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Three sticks of butter, room temperature
  • One 8-oz. package of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method

  1. First, make your glaze.  Slice strawberries and rhubarb into small pieces and place in your food processor.  Blend until smooth.
  2. In a small bowl, combine two cups of sugar and all the cornstarch.  Ensure that they are fully incorporated.  Then, transfer to a medium saucepan and add the water and fruit mixture.  Bring to a boil while stirring constantly.  Reduce heat slightly and cook until the mixture is thick, approximately five minutes.  Once thickened, remove from heat and transfer to the container of your choice.
  3. Allow the glaze to cool completely to room temperature, approximately one hour.  Once completely cooled, you can either refrigerate for use later or proceed with your pound cake.  If refrigerated, allow the glaze to return to room temperature before incorporating in the recipe.
  4. Next, let’s move on to the cake.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two standard size loaf pans and set aside.
  5. Using your standing mixer and paddle attachment, beat the butter until it is fluffy and creamy.  This should be done on a medium-high speed.  Add the three cups of sugar – one cup at a time – and blend until fluffy and light.  Think yellow clouds.  Add vanilla extract.
  6. Tear the cream cheese into pieces and add to the mixture, blending on medium until creamy and fully incorporated.  Then, add each egg one at a time on low speed until just blended.
  7. Add a third of the batter to each of the two loaf pans.  Then, using a teaspoon, apply ample spoons full of glaze to each pan.  Think of a traffic light.  One.  Two.  Three.  Using a toothpick or wooden skewer, swirl the glaze into the batter, creating a marbled look.  Then, pour the second third of batter into each pan and repeat.  Finishing by topping each pan with the remaining batter evenly distributed between the two.
  8. Place both pans in the oven and bake for one hour and 30 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted in the center and cleanly removed.
  9. Remove cakes from the the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes.  Then, remove to a cooling rack for a minimum of one hour.  Once cooled, slice each cake and cut the slices into small squares.  Leave the outer crust on the pieces or remove – your choice!
  10. Arrange the cake bites onto a piece of parchment paper.  Place remaining glaze in a fine tipped bottle and apply additional glaze as desired to the bites.  Use toothpicks to serve if desired.  Store any leftover bites in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Baking Notes

This recipe yields far more glaze than you will need for this recipe.  I always make extra and keep it in the refrigerator for topping ice cream or making super sweet pops with!

When in doubt, keep baking.  Pound cake is notorious for fooling you and not fully baking.  Don’t burn it, but trust your instincts.

Garden Beginnings

Garden Beginnings / Flour and Fancy
This year, spring has brought such a sense of rejuvenation in me.  I notice myself pausing to truly immerse myself in the changing beauty around me in a way I haven’t in the past.  I’m taking life slower – stopping to inhale the sweetness and appreciate the majesty.

Garden Beginnings / Flour and FancyI find that I’m savoring more – food, company, nature – and I feel more in tune with self.  I’ve committed to trying to achieve a more mindful existence, not allowing the hustle and bustle of each day to prevent me from appreciating individual moments.  While much of that I attribute to allowing myself to slow the pace, delving into a new and already much-loved yoga class, and thinking more deliberately, I have to admit the large role my garden is playing the process.

Garden Beginnings / Flour and Fancy

Garden Beginnings / Flour and Fancy

I find such a serenity in placing seed to soil, in planning the details, and watching the green seedlings burst from the black soil into being.  Feeling the sun overhead as a crouch over the dirt, create a small haven for each seed, and place it in the ground. It makes me appreciate the warmer temperatures in a way I haven’t allowed myself before – to play an active role in new beginnings and direct those energies toward my own experience as well.

Garden Beginnings / Flour and Fancy

Garden Beginnings / Flour and Fancy

We’ve endeavored to grow the following this year: romaine lettuce, collard greens, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, peppers, a variety of tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, onions, carrots, corn, cucumbers, squash, watermelon, and lots of bright, colorful flowers.  (Hoping to add rhubarb to the list!)  And while I expect to have more lessons learned this year just as last year, it’s the journey that remains the best part.

And, of course, the beautiful bounty transformed by chopping, stirring, mashing, and blending into something truly magical.  That part of the process can never be understated.

Garden Beginnings / Flour and FancyGarden Beginnings / Flour and Fancy

Garden Beginnings / Flour and Fancy

It’s Gardening Time!

It's Garden Time // Flour and Fancy

It’s the middle of April with spring clinging to the breeze.  The frost dancers have put up their shoes for the season.  And this opens us to my favorite part of spring: the beginnings of our garden.  You’ll remember my reflections on our first garden last year.  While we had grown little edibles in the past – some herbs here, a tomato plant there – last year marked our first major effort in generating some ample food stuffs and launching what we lovingly called our urban farm.  We approached the term with humor since we live far from an urban area but are hardly the embodiment of “country folk.”  We had victories; we had failures.  We had lots of fruits and veggies.  And we were both ready to do it all over again, bringing new ideas and lessons learned.

Diana, Princess of Wales Rose // Flour and Fancy

We’ve already planted our flowers for the season and begun to watch them grow.  The Diana, Princess of Wales roses we planted this year are already blooming!  Planting the flowers first is our way of getting jazzed up for the season.  First comes pretty blooms, then comes colorful fruits and vegetables.

Our organic seed collection has been growing over the last two months, and with each packet comes possibility.  Much of our garden last year was in containers, but this year, we plan to truly break and till the soil, planting all our seeds truly in the ground with both expectation and hope that this method will yield even better results. Coming into this year’s growing season after an abundance of lessons learned last year, I’m incredibly excited – both about the bounty and fun recipes that it will yield in my kitchen.  Photographing the progress is also one of my favorite parts, watching through images as the tiny seeds morph into colorful maturity.

Here’s some articles I’ve been enjoying as we prepare to put seed to earth in our vegetable garden:

Happy Gardening everyone!  And share your gardening images with me on Facebook – I’d love to see what you’re planting.

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies – and Stacey Ballis!

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies // Flour and Fancy

Stacy Ballis’s new book, Recipe For Disaster, debuted this week, and I’ve been in eager anticipation of its arrival for months. Stacy’s novels are some of my most loved reading for a number of reasons.  First, they always involve food, and in each story, food is almost a character unto itself, lightning every key moment in the prose.  And secondly, I find her work deeply relatable, with a strong but very human female central character that is always child-free and highly dynamic.

To celebrate the release of Stacey’s latest work – and I’m always looking for a good reason to celebrate! – I immediately referred to her e-cookbook.  Big Delicious Life: Stacey Ballis’s Most Awesome Recipes was published in October of last year and is a culmination of all the recipes that appear in her many works.  I have so many favorites in this recipe collection, and one of my go-to recipes is Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies.  If Big Delicious Life was laying on my kitchen counter in print form, the page with the recipe for these cookies would, no doubt, be heavily stained and barely legible.

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies // Flour and Fancy

These cookies were served up in her novel, Good Enough To Eat, and the first I’d read of her prose.  So, it only seemed appropriate that I whip up a batch of these cookies in my personal celebration of the debut of her newest title.

I’m a big fan of these cookies because they incorporate healthier ingredients while still being flavorful and delicious.  Whole wheat flour adds some whole grain to these chocolatey cookies, and the recipe only invoices one half cup of light brown sugar. None of the white stuff and no copious amounts.

Of course, like with all recipes, I am compelled to add my own touch.  While I’ve posted the original recipe here, I tweaked it a bit for my cookies.  I used egg white versus egg, 1% chocolate milk instead of skim milk, and nixed the rolled oats.  However, I’ve baked these cookies completely in line with the recipe and found them delectable.  And the “healthy” elements don’t detract from that classic chocolate chip cookie taste we all know, love, and leave for Santa.

Speaking of Santa, one of the other recipes in Stacy’s e-bookbook, Holiday Chocolate Loaf Cake, has become a holiday staple at my house.  I can’t describe how exceptional this cake is – moist, dense, perfect.  In short, everyone needs her e-cookbook.  And I hope you, too, are enjoying her newest release, Recipe For Disaster.

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies // Flour and Fancy

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe from Big Delicious Life: Stacey Ballis’s Most Awesome Recipes
Serves 12

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup organic brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 5 ounces dark chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, mix dry ingredients with a whisk to combine.  In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and milk, and combine well.  Mix in dry ingredients.  Add chocolate chips and oats.  Drop rounded teaspoons on greased cookie sheets, and bake for 12 to 14 minutes until browned around the edges.

Double Berry Muffins with Greek Yogurt

Double Berry Muffins with Greek Yogurt

Nothing beats a great muffin recipe for a delicious breakfast or afternoon snack.  Flour and Fancy is a testimony to my belief that muffins make everything better.  What you may not know is that I’m also a big fan of Greek yogurt.

I eat Greek yogurt every day.  Whether at home or traveling, Greek yogurt is always in my refrigerator, my spoon, or my mouth.  And why not?  With its high protein and probiotic content, it’s a superfood in its own right.  So, when Chobani contacted me and asked if I would feature one of their delicious yogurts in a recipe, I needed to look no further than the kitchen.  Chobani is, hands down, my favorite Greek yogurt brand.  My friends and I have conversations centered on the new Chobani flavor debuts and their thick, flavorful yogurt is one of my favorite desserts and snacks.  How could I refuse?

Muffins are a food best made at home.  Commercially produced muffins available to your grocery, the corner coffee shop, or your favorite local bakery are almost always packed with as much sugar, calories, and fat as cake and offer little nutritional content in return.  In short, they are nothing more an a decadent dessert.  And while we all know those versions, they don’t make for a balanced breakfast or a healthy snack.  To bite into a muffin packs nutrition and sweetness without all the junk, you’ll need to bake them first.

Double Berry Muffins with Greek Yogurt // Flour and Fancy

Fortunately, muffins are fun to make and not highly difficult.  You don’t need to be an accomplished baker or culinary school graduate to make a muffin that is flavorful and good for you!  And in your own kitchen, you can incorporate nutrient dense ingredients that give your body more than a fat-laden sugar rush.

Any muffin I eat comes straight from my oven, often burning my mouth because I can never wait for them to cool!  And I wanted to share one of my favorites in my muffin arsenal that incorporates fresh berries, wheat flour, Greek yogurt, and flax seed.  My Double Berry Muffins with Greek Yogurt make a great breakfast.  I enjoy them most on weekends with a good book.  With a total prep and baking time of 30 minutes, you don’t have to wait long to devour these muffins.

I hope you’ll enjoy these as well and arm yourself with this recipe anytime you’re craving a delicious, fruity muffin without breaking your health goal for the new year!

Double Berry Muffins with Greek Yogurt // Flour and Fancy

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons flax seed
  • 2/3 cup 1% milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 container (5.3 oz.) Chobani Greek Yogurt Simply 100 Vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • Cooking spray

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease two six-cavity muffin pans with cooking spray.  Grease the bottom only of each cavity.
  2. In a standing mixer, combine all wet ingredients – milk, oil, greek yogurt, honey, and egg – until well blended.
  3. Add sugar. baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and flax seed.  Mix well on a low setting.  Then, add the flours one at a time until just mixed.  Do not over mix.
  4. Mix in the raspberries and blueberries on a low setting, allowing the raspberries to break down and become thoroughly incorporated throughout the batter.
  5. Fill each muffin cavity.  Do not fill more than halfway to allow for rising.
  6. Bake for 15 – 17 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Allow muffins to cool in muffin pan for five minutes.  Then, remove to a cooling rack for five minutes additional cooling.  Serve warm.  Muffins may be stored in an airtight container for up to two days.

Note: The opinions expressed here concerning Chobani Greek Yogurt and their products are entirely my own.  I only work with and endorse brands that I have personal experience with and enjoy.

Holiday Recipe Favorites from Flour and Fancy


Christmas Tree // Flour and Fancy

It’s Christmas Eve, and if you’re like me, you’ve begun your menu planning – late.  You’re thinking about what you’re eating tomorrow and hoping you can squeeze in a last minute trip to the grocery for those must-have items.  And you’re thinking chocolate, sugar, and butter.

Here’s my top list of recipes from Flour and Fancy to make your holidays a little sweeter, a bit more delectable.  So while you’re savoring time with family and friends, don’t forget the sweet!

I hope each of you enjoy every giggle, every hug, and, of course, every bite this holiday season!  See you in 2015!

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