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by Heather Harris Brady

Since we’re heading into a big party time of year with graduations and weddings, I thought I’d post something special. These petit fours are big on WOW factor. These tiny cakes are not a recipe to try when you’re feeling rushed, however! Pick a time when you’re feeling extra zen.

We’ll do the cake first, then cover filling and frosting in the next post. You can do this cake ahead of time, freeze it, then finish things up at a later date if that works better for you. This recipe is from Paula Peck’s Art of Fine Baking, and it makes a lovely fine-grained cake that is perfect for stacking. Seasoned bakers will recognize this method as being the same as a classic genoise.

Almond Butter Sponge, Makes one half-sheet

  • ¾ c. sifted flour
  • ¼ c. butter, melted and clarified
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ t. vanilla
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 1 t. grated lemon rind
  • ¼ c. almond paste

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease half-sheet pan and line it with parchment.

Combine the whole eggs, one egg yolk, sugar, vanilla and lemon rind in the top of a double boiler. Warm gently and carefully to lukewarm.

In a separate bowl cream the almond paste with the remaining egg yolk. I found it easiest to smear the paste out with a spoon and then cream them together. Set this aside.

When the egg mixture feels warm, start to beat it with a hand mixer. Beat at high speed for about five minutes. It will triple in bulk and look like whipped cream.

Pour the almond paste mixture over the top and sprinkle with the flour.

Fold them in, drizzling the butter as you go. Don’t overmix, just fold until there aren’t any streaks of flour.

Spread the batter evenly in the pan without pressing it too much.

Bake about 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove the cake from the pan and cool on a rack.


Four years ago: Hot Fudge Sauce
Three years ago: Wild Mushrooms Florentine
Two years ago: Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
One year ago: Mexican Sweet Bread (Conchas)


coconutcreamcake_17_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

I couldn’t wait to share this cake with you because I came across a tip that is literally life-changing, thanks to Cooks Illustrated. Apparently if you process heavy cream in a food processor you get frosting – that lasts for days! Who knew?

This is my “When Harry Met Sally” tribute cake because, as you might remember, in the movie Meg Ryan is very particular that her wedding cake be coconut with chocolate sauce. This cake has two layers of coconut cream, with chocolate ganache in the center. You will have enough ganache left over to serve it on the side of each slice. I used finely shredded coconut for this recipe, like this:

Coconut Cream Cake, Makes one 8″ two-layer cake

  • 3/4 c. coconut milk
  • 1/2 c. finely shredded coconut (plus extra for coating)
  • 2/3 c. softened butter
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 t. vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 2-1/3 c. cake flour
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • One recipe coconut pastry cream
  • One recipe chocolate ganache

Combine the shredded coconut and the coconut milk. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and the sugar together well.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla and the baking powder.

Beat in the half the flour, then half the coconut mixture – repeat.

You should have a thick creamy batter.

Divide it between greased 8″ cake pans.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the center springs back to the touch.

Cool the cakes on a rack, lightly covered with plastic wrap. Split the layers in half.

Put one half on a plate and cover it with coconut cream. Top with another cake layer.

Put half the ganache in the middle, between the two cake layers.

Now the magic part! Combine the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla in the food processor, with just the blade on.

Process for about a minute, until the cream has thickened.

Now process in 15-second pulses until you have what looks very much like soft-serve ice cream.

Cover the cake with the whipped cream. (Believe it not, it will keep very nicely in the refrigerator for days. I know – I didn’t believe it either. But I tried it and it worked!)

Then with more coconut. I used both finely shredded and the large flakes, just for fun.

Chill thoroughly and serve sliced with the reserved ganache. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.


Four years ago: Migas (Mexican Egg Scramble)
Three years ago: Caramel Apple Cake
Two years ago: Butter Muffins
One year ago: Cheesecake Bars


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by Heather Harris Brady

This recipe was inspired by the oat bran muffin recipe I have that I like so much. While these scones are whole grain, they are lighter and fluffier than many a coffeeshop scone. They are also very light on sugar.

Feel free to make substitutions or additions to the mix-ins, that’s part of the fun!

Everything Scones, Makes about 9 5″ scones

  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 1 c. oat flour
  • 3/4 c. spelt flour
  • 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. regular all-purpose flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. old-fashioned oatmeal soaked in 1/3 c. milk
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. almond extract
  • 2/3 c. whipping (heavy) cream
  • 1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1/2 c. shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 400. Combine the flours, baking powder and sugar in a food processor bowl. Add the butter.

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Process to crumbs. (You can cut this in if you don’t have a food processor.)

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Add the soaked oatmeal and all but 2 T. of the cream and process for 10 seconds. Let this mixture sit for five minutes, so the flour can absorb the liquid.

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Add the rest of the cream, vanilla and almond extract. The mixture will be sticky.

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Turn the dough into a bowl and fold in the chips, coconut and banana.

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Pat the dough into nine dollops on a greased baking pan. Sprinkle them with coconut if you like.

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Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly brown.

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Remove the baked scones to a rack to cool.

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See, light fluffy whole grain goodness!

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Goodness smeared with butter 😉

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These are large scones, so you can cut them in half to serve if you like. They keep nicely for a few days at room temperature, wrap and freeze for longer storage.

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by Heather Harris Brady

I came up with these cookies after noticing boxes of “ancient grains cookie mix” at the grocery store – for $7 a box! When I use alternative flours I try to work with the different textures rather than against them. These cookies are chocolate peanut butter because everyone expects peanut butter cookies to have a more shortbready, crumbly texture by nature.

I used a blend of quinoa flour and spelt flour, in combination with some regular unbleached white flour and some extra wheat germ. These are good keepers, and are great with a cold glass of milk on the side.

Ancient Grains Cookies, Makes about 36 3″ cookies

  • 1/4 c. butter, at room tempertaure
  • 3/4 c. packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 c. natural peanut butter (The ingredient list should read: Peanuts.)
  • 4 T. dark cocoa (I use Hershey’s Special Dark.)
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 c. quinoa flour
  • 1/2 c. spelt flour
  • 3/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 3 T. wheat germ
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream until light and fluffy.

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Beat in the eggs one at a time.

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Beat in the peanut butter.

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Then the flours, baking powder and baking soda.

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Beat in the cocoa and then the chips. You should have a nice creamy batter.

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Drop the batter by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.

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Bake for 10-12 minutes.

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Cool complete and then store in an airtight container. These keep nicely for about five days. Freeze in a ziplock for longer storage. I freeze half the baked cookies and use them to replenish the cookie jar – but they aren’t bad frozen 😉

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Four years ago: Champagne Sabayon
Three years ago: Chard Quiche
Two years ago: Burmese Chicken Soup
One year ago: French Breakfast Puffs


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by Heather Harris Brady

I’ve never an actual copy of Farm Journal magazine, but I LOVE their cookbooks and whenever I find them in antique stores I buy them. This recipe is based on one from their Homemade Cookies cookbook, and if you can imagine a Lofthouse molasses cookie this would be it. They are big, soft and while there is a lot of molasses in them the flavor is more mild than a traditional molasses cookie.

The whiteness of the icing starts to fade after a few days, just FYI. I made a few changes to the original recipe, including the addition of fresh ginger. They are amazing with a glass of cold milk or a cup of hot tea. They also cut out beautifully, and would make beautiful hearts if your Valentine is a fan of molasses cookies.

Ginger Creams, Makes about 40 3″ cookies

  • 1 c. butter, at room temp
  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. dark molasses
  • 1 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T. fresh ginger
  • 1 T. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 5 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. salt

Icing

  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 t. white vanilla
  • 1 t. water

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. Cream until light and fluffy.

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Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vinegar, ginger and molasses.

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Beat in 4-1/2 c. flour, the baking soda, baking powder and salt.

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You should have a pretty brown dough. At this point you can chill it for 30 minutes if you like.

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Generously flour a work surface and roll out a portion of the dough. Cut out your shapes and put them on a lightly greased baking sheet.

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Bake for about 12 minutes, until the edges are lightly brown. Repeat, roll out and bake the rest of the dough.

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Stir together the icing ingredients. Add a bit more water if necessary, to achieve a spreadable consistency. Ice each cookie with a thin layer. Let the cookies sit out until the icing is dry.

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These cookies, when iced, are best within three days. Freeze uniced cookies in an airtight container for longer storage.


Three years ago: Meatloaf Sandwiches – The Lazy Cook’s Super Bowl Sunday
Two years ago: Grandma’s Chocolate Cookies
One year ago: Salted Butterscotch Pots de Creme


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by Heather Harris Brady

It’s hard sending a child to college, it’s harder still when they come home down two jean sizes! So part of the reason I don’t post as much lately is simply that I spend a lot of time baking and mailing. While I do bake a lot of my son’s favorites to send, I do try to mix in surprises – like these apple pie bars. Apple pie is one of his favorite desserts, but it’s hard to deal with in a dorm room with a tiny fridge and no place to wash up.

Given that, I tried to pack all the pie goodness in these individual servings that he can take out of the freezer as need arises. I started with a base from my chocolate oatmeal bars and took it from there. You could have these as-is, or you could fancy them up by plating them and topping each one with a scoop of ice cream.

Apple Pie Bars, Makes about 16 2.5″ servings

For the bars:
2½ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. light brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
2 large eggs
3 cups old-fashioned oats
5 c. peeled and sliced baking apples

For the glaze:
1 t. vanilla
2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. water

Preheat the oven to 400. Combine the sugar and butter in a mixing bowl and mix well.

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Beat in the eggs.

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Mix in the rest of the dry ingredients.

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Reserve a cup of the mixture, press the rest into a greased baking sheet (mine’s about 14″ square).

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You’ll have to flour your hands, the dough’s quite sticky. Put the sheet into the oven and bake for about 12 minutes, until the edges start to lightly brown.

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While the crust is baking, heat two tablespoons of butter in a frying pan. When the butter’s melted add the apple slices.

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Saute over medium heat until the apples are just barely tender.

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Reduce the oven to 375. Spread the sauteed apples over the hot crust and sprinkle with cinnamon.

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Then dot the top with the rest of the reserved crust mixture.

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Return the sheet to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes, until the streusel is brown.

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Cut into squares while still warm.

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When the bars are cool stir up the glaze (just stir all the ingredients together) and drizzle it over the top.

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Once the glaze has set you can package them (for college shipping!) or store them in an airtight container. I would put them in the refrigerator to keep longer than two days.

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lemonsugarcookies11_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Anyone who’s been with this blog through the winter holidays knows that I have the same cookie lineup every year, but I continue to audition new prospects because never let it be said that I’m one to rest on my cookie laurels 😉

This is the first audition – a soft sugar cookie (which American readers will recognize as Lofthouse style). It has that same addictive cakey quality as the store-bought version, but with the twist of lemon poppyseed. It’s based on a compilation of recipes online with a few changes of my own. Sorry for the crappy picture, we’re really short on daylight at the moment!

I like the Scandinavian white-on-white coloring, but if you want to get crazy with frosting colors or sprinkles now would be the time!

Soft Lemon Poppyseed Sugar Cookies, Makes about 36 3″ cookies

  • 1/2 c. butter, at room temperature
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. lemon extract or bakery emulsion
  • Zest from two lemons
  • 3 c. flour
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 T. poppyseeds

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 c. butter, at room temperature1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. almond extract
  • 4 c. powdered sugar
  • 6 T. heavy cream

Combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy.

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Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. Then beat in the lemon flavoring and zest.

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Combine the remaining dry ingredients and half of them to the bowl. Beat well. Then beat in the yogurt.

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Add the second half of the dry ingredients and beat for another minute.

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Scoop the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, wrap it up as a ball and refrigerate it for at least an hour. When you’re ready to bake preheat the oven to 425. (I know, hot for a cookie recipe!)

Turn the dough out.

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Roll it out to about 1/3″ thick and cut. (I only worked with part of the dough at a time so I could make sure I kept the thickness consistent.)

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Put the cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

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Bake for 6-7 minutes. I took them out right around the 7-minute mark.

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While the cookies are cooling make the frosting. (I didn’t do the step by step here to keep the post length down.)

Beat the sugar and butter together, drizzling in the flavoring and half the cream. Mixture will be thick. Continue beating, drizzling in the remaining cream as you go, until you reach your desired spreading consistency. I have a stand mixer so I just turn it to high and let it run for about five minutes at this point. The longer you beat the creamier your frosting will be.

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When the cookies are completely cool frost them.

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You can leave them out, uncovered for an hour or so, and the frosting will crust over just a bit. I froze mine on the sheet and then stacked them between sheets of waxed paper in a freezer container to freeze until the holidays.

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Four years ago: 12 Days of Cookies
Three years ago: Russian Braids
Two years ago: Apple Clafouti
One year ago: Holiday Biscotti


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by Heather Harris Brady

First off let me note that I have not fallen off the wagon and gone whole-hog on the food coloring – that bright fuschia icing is from freeze-dried raspberries! I know, right? Perfect for upcoming holiday cookies! But I digress.

This cookie story starts with a trip my little slice of heaven on Earth – Whole Foods. I could wander that store for hours. In the bakery of the Whole Foods in question is a display of international cookies, including a lemon ricotta coated in pale pink raspberry icing. They are delicious.

So the quest began. Finding a recipe for the cookie was easy enough, and while I tinkered with it a bit they are basically the same. But the icing was going to be the hard part. I finally hit paydirt when I read a piece on a pastry chef who uses pulverized freeze-dried fruit for macarons.

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I got this bag at Target for $3.99 and only used about a third of it for this recipe. The color is spectacular and I’m going to experiment with this idea more in the future. I touched up the flavor with a bit of raspberry bakery emulsion and voila! These cookies are delicate, cakey and while you could use a lemon glaze if you want I think the raspberry really sets them off.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Raspberry Glaze, Makes about 30 3″ cookies

  • 1 stick of salted butter
  • 1 container of part-skim ricotta (15 oz.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 c. granulataed sugar
  • Zest of two lemons, finely grated
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 t. lemon bakery emulsion
  • 2-1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • For the glaze:
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/3 c. freeze-dried raspberries
  • 1-2 T. water
  • 1/2 t. raspberry bakery emulsion

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar together well.

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Beat in the ricotta, then the eggs one at a time, beating well after addition.

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Beat in the flour and baking powder.

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Stir in the lemon zest, juice and flavor. You should have a thick, creamy batter.

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Drop by tablespoons until a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake about 12-15 minutes, until the edges are light golden brown.

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Cool the cookies while you make the glaze. The freeze-dried raspberries are an amazing color, and they taste like raspberry popcorn.

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Put the raspberries in a spice grinder and run until finely ground to a powder.

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Add the raspberry powder to the powdered sugar.

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Drizzle in water until you have the desired consistency.

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Spoon the glaze over the cookies. You can do the whole cookie, or just a lacy pattern if you don’t want as much raspberry flavor.

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Let the glaze air-dry for about two hours and then store the cookies in an airtight container.


Four years ago: Apple Pie
Three years ago: Peanut Butter Pie
Two years ago: Ginger-Chocolate Scones
One year ago: Quick Orange Cinnamon Rolls


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by Heather Harris Brady

At this point we know there’s no escape. This next week is going to be miles of rough road, it’s going to call for coddling and coddling by definition calls for butter and cinnamon. Buckets of butter and cinnamon.

These cinnamon danish are based on one of my old guilty pleasures, the McDonald’s cinnamon danish. I don’t even think they sell them anymore and I haven’t had one in years. So I rebuilt it from memory and it’s pretty close! The pastry is flaky, the filling is loaded with cinnamon and the icing adds vanilla to the mix. I’m cutting some photos below to save length, but if you’re new to bread dough you can find mixing instructions and photos in one of my other bread recipes.

This does need to rise overnight, so start them the day before. you can cut this recipe in half if you like.

Cinnamon Danish, Makes about 30 3″ x 4″ Danish

For the dough

  • 4-1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 egg
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1 pkt. fast-rising yeast
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 12 T. butter (reserved, at room temp)

For the filling

  • 4 T. cinnamon
  • 1 c. fine bread crumbs
  • 1-1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 2/3 c. white sugar
  • 5 T. butter

For the glaze

  • 3 c. confectioner’s sugar
  • 4 t. vanilla
  • 2-4 t. water

Make the dough:

Scald the water and milk together in a saucepan, stir in the sugar and 3 T. butter. Cool to lukewarm and stir in the egg, flour and yeast. Let rise until doubled in bulk. Punch down the dough and knead it well, adding flour if necessary to keep it from sticking, until the dough is satiny and elastic. Wash and grease the bowl, put the dough back in, cover it with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge overnight.

On baking day:

Divide the dough into two equal pieces.

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We’ll work with one half at a time. Roll one ball of dough out to 1/4″ thickness. Slice the reserved 12 T. of butter in half, and then take one half and cut it into halves lengthwise. Put it in the middle of the dough.

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Fold the dough over the butter, bringing the bottom up and the top down to flop over it.

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Yay! We’re laminating! Roll this back out to 1/3″ thick. Repeat the fold, bottom up, top down.

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Repeat one more time: roll this back out to 1/3″ thick. Repeat the fold, bottom up, top down. Wrap your now-laminated dough in plastic wrap and put it back in the fridge and repeat the process for the other dough ball.

Preheat the oven to 375. Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix to fine crumbs.

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Get the first ball of dough back out of the fridge. Roll it out to 1/4″ thick.

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Let it rest for a few minutes and then cut it into squares. (This waiting period keeps them from shrinking.)

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If you want to be proper make an egg wash by beating an egg with 1 T. of water. We’ll use this to seal the edges as we fill. Take a square and add a tablespoon of filling to the center.

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Bring opposite corners up to the middle and seal them with egg wash or press them.

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Turn the danish seam side down onto a greased cookie sheet. Keep going until you’re done! It will be worth it, trust me.

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When the danish have nearly doubled in bulk take a sharp knife and make three slits across the top to show off that pretty filling.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes, until flaky and golden brown.

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Make the glaze while the danish are baking. Stir together the sugar and vanilla, and drizzle in water as needed for the proper pouring consistency.

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Lay the baked danish on a cooling rack and drizzle glaze over them contentedly, taking in deep healing breaths of the cinnamon steam as you go. You will immediately feel better.

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You will feel better yet when you take a bite.

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Four years ago: Calzones
Three years ago: Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
Two years ago: Chocolate Sheet Cake
One year ago: Sugarfree Apple Butter


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by Heather Harris Brady

Now I like a good four-page recipe probably more than the next girl, but there are times when you have to come up with something FAST. You found a slip at the bottom of the school backpack asking you to bring in something for the bake sale/party, you’ve been invited to a tailgate, or you just need cake like NOW.

This recipe is for those times. If you can stir you can make it. I promise. If you’re an experienced baker it’s still a lovely thing to throw together for a treat after working all day. It keeps well, it’s moist and velvety and it has that irreplaceable homemade thing going. It would also make a great Halloween dessert, just bake it in a round and drizzle a spider web-ish design in chocolate over the top. Boom.

Pumpkin Cake, Makes one 8″ cake or about 12 cupcakes

  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c. flour
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. oil
  • 1 t. fresh ground ginger
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda

Frosting

  • 4 oz 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 3 T. soft butter
  • 1 t. milk
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 c. powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the pumpkin, eggs, sugar and oil. Stir together well.

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Stir in the spices.

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Then the flour, baking soda and baking powder.

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Spread it evenly in a greased baking dish.

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Bake for about 25 minutes, until the center springs back to the touch. Set it aside to cool to room temperature.

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While the cake is cooling make the frosting. Combine the powdered sugar, butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl.

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Beat in the vanilla and the milk. Add a little milk if you need it to reach the desired consistency. Beat for two minutes.

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Spread the icing on the cooled cake.

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Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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I sprinkled some candied nuts on top.

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Keep leftovers refrigerated, and lightly covered.


Four years ago: Farmhouse Cornbread
Three years ago: Cheese Fondue
Two years ago: Brioche Coffeecake
One year ago: Apple Dumplings


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Now We’re Cookin’

My kitchen Pinterest page
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My Favorite Movies/Shows – Food Related

  • Chef's Table (!)
  • Chocolat
  • Chef
  • Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Hundred Foot Journey
  • Ratatouille
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
  • Master Chef (NPR)
  • Julia's Kitchen (NPR)
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