Category Archives: Pastries

Cinnamon Sugar Rugalach

I made this a while ago, right before I came back to school. I had some leftover dough from the last time I made chocolate pecan rugalach. The dough freezes incredibly well, just thaw overnight in the refrigerator and you’re good to go.

This filling couldn’t be easier either. Just mix 4 Tbsp. softened butter with 1 Tbsp. cinnamon and about 1/2 c. brown sugar. Spread this mixture on rolled out rectangular dough and roll up jelly style. Cut and bake at 375 for 10 minutes and 350 for a further 5, until browned and gooey. Great treats to share! And cute as snails.

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Filed under Pastries, Snacks

Flakey Buttery Croissants

One might say that I’m picky when it comes to croissants. I don’t like the regular super market vegetable shortening-laden pastries that they call croissants. They have no real butter taste and no real flakiness. The perfect croissant for me has a flakey exterior with a hint of crunch and a soft, chewy interior that isn’t too airy. And an overwhelming taste of butter, of course.

Croissants like that are readily available from any of the excellent bakeries in Montreal, and so I’ve never attempted to spend most of the day in the kitchen, laboring over homemade ones. Until now. After reading Shirley O. Corriher’s recipe in her wonderfully useful and scientific book Bakewise I decided, you know, I’ve got so much time on my hands, why not try it?

So I did.

As far as first attempts go, it isn’t bad. Shirley described her croissants and very flakey, and I thought to myself, flakey is good. I mean, flakey is good, and I would never think that a pastry could be too flakey. But that is what they turned out to be. Too flakey. Which in turn gave them too much crunch on the outside. The inside, however, is nice and moist and chewy.

Also, the croissants had oodles of butter and oozed and pooled when they were baking that I was reluctant to peek in the oven. Doing so made me feel too guilty. 😉

So, in the end, I reached these two conclusions about making my own croissants:

  1. VERY time consuming, not that I didn’t know that from the beginning.
  2. VERY guilt-inducing, more so than buying bakery croissants.

I think I will probably stick with bakeries, since they do such a good job and have the time that I don’t. That is not to say that I won’t give it another go if one day I get snowed in and want to add some padding in preparation for hibernation.

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Filed under Breads, Breakfast, Pastries

“Best of 2000” Cinnamon Buns – End of July NaBloPoMo

First of all, thank you Ms. Kanis! You were always a wonderful, attentive, fair teacher who knew what she was doing!

This recipe came from a cooking class I took back in high school. No other cinnamon bun recipe, prior to, or post, this one, has impressed me as much. To me, these are truly the BEST. Not just from the year 2000 either.

Very few foods offer me the pleasure of wiping my brain clean, then flooding with the very taste and texture of it. I don’t often go, “WOW, this is GOOD.” Once was a pizza I ate in junior high, it tasted vaguely of butter. Don’t ask. Another time was during eighth period Culinary Arts, a single bite of cinnamon sugar encrusted brioche-tasting dough.

After I lost the recipe last year, I have searched up and down, in and out, for it. Finally, when I went back to Jersey earlier this summer I visited Ms. Kanis at my high school to get a copy. So so happy I have it again. It’s gem.

I think I can justify eating one for breakfast if it wasn’t glazed. Save the glazed ones for dessert, although the glazed ones are definitely better than the non-glazed. The taste of butter dominates in the glaze and adds an extra “oomph” to the bun. These are sticky, chewy, gooey. Everything you need in a cinnamon bun.

This remains one of the only recipes that I do not alter.

“Best of 2000” Cinnamon Buns
adapted from Ms. Kanis, WWPHSS, with much love and gratitude
makes 12 large buns

Dough:
1 package active dry yeast, or 2 1/4 tsp.
1/2 c. warm water
1/3 c. plus 1/2 tsp. sugar, divided
1/2 c. warm milk
1/3 c. butter, unsalted, softened
1 tsp. salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 1/2 c. to 4 c. all-purpose flour or bread flour

Filling:
1/2 c. melted butter, unsalted, divided
3/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. sugar, divided
1 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
3/4 c. chopped walnuts, I toasted mine first
3/4 c. raisins, optional, we didn’t use it in class, and I’ve never used it

Glaze:
1/3 c. melted butter, unsalted
2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2-4 Tbsp. hot water

To make the dough:

  1. Combine yeast, warm water, and 1/2 tsp. sugar in a measuring cup and stir, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix warmed milk, remaining 1/3 c. sugar, butter, salt, and egg; stir well and add yeast mixture.
  3. Add half the flour and beat until smooth. Work in enough of the remaining flour to make a slightly stiff dough, it will be sticky.
  4. Turn out onto a well-floured counter. Knead 5-10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour to the work surface as needed to keep it from sticking. As Ms. Kanis used to say, “As smooth as a baby’s bottom, or as smooth as my grandmother’s cheek.”
  5. Place in a well-buttered bowl, cover and let ruse until doubled in bulk. You can place it in the fridge overnight.

To make the filling:

  1. Punch down the dough and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll out on floured counter into a 15 by 20 inch rectangle.
  2. Spread dough with 1/4 c. melted butter.
  3. Mix together 3/4 c. sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over buttered dough. Sprinkle walnuts and raisins, if using.
  4. Roll up jelly-roll fashion, starting from the short side, so you end up with a 15 inch. log. Pinch edges to seal and cut into 12 slices
  5. Coat the bottom of a 9 by 13 baking pan (I used two 9 inch round pans) with remaining 1/4 c. melted butter. Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar. Place slices close together in pans. Cover and let rise until doubled. Once again, you can refridgerate overnight. For a treat in the morning!
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 23-30 minutes, or until nicely browned. Let cool slightly, then spread with glaze.

To make the glaze:

  1. Mix melted butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Add hot water 1 Tbsp. at a time until glaze is of desired consistency.
  2. Stir again before using.

If there is anything that makes me happy, even when I’m down, it’s these cinnamon buns. It fills your house with the comforting scent of cinnamon and sugar and your heart with happiness. Enjoy. 🙂

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Filed under Breads, Breakfast, Comfort Food, Pastries

Peach Galette

Yes, I’m crossing off that wish list one by one. It’s awesome.

I have a friend who dislikes all fruits that begin with a letter P, pineapple, pears, peaches. It’s too bad, because peaches are the fruits of summer. They are sweet, juicy, and have that soft, fuzzy skin that’s so hard to resist. The best part is biting into one and letting all the peachy good juices flow into your mouth and around your teeth. Truly one of summer’s treasures.

Now imagine those juices concentrated and slightly caramelized, and the softened slices of peaches bathing in it. Imagine a golden, flaky, buttery crust cradling the fruit.

Each bite is a clash of textures, with the peach slices willingly giving way to the crisp crust. What better way to capture the essence of summer in a dessert?

I love how the full flavour of the fruit shines through. It isn’t over-sweetened, like a lot of fruit pies. Baking really brings out the taste of the peaches.

Plus, it’s so easy. The crust is rolled out into a rectangle and folded around the filling. No tranferring to a pie plate, no patching the dough, no fluting.

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream, or why not both, for a decadent yet light dessert. Or have as a sweet snack on the go. It’s easy serving it to the kids; they can hold the pieces in their hands.

Must try!

Peach Galette
serves 9

Crust:
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 c. unsalted butter, cold
1 generous pinch of salt
3-4 Tbsp. ice cold water, depending on the humidity of your kitchen

Filling:
4 good-sizes peaches, cut into slices
1 Tbsp. flour
2 Tsp. corn starch
1 generous Tbsp. brown sugar
pinch of salt

1-2 Tbsp. butter, melted, for brushing, optional

  1. Whisk together the sugar, salt, and flour. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles peas.
  3. Add the water, one Tbsp. at a time, and toss with a fork until the dough begins to come together.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper for rolling.
  5. Dust your rolling pin and the dough with flour. Roll into a rectangle slightly larger than 9×12 inches.
  6. Trim the dough into a neater rectangle. Don’t toss the edges, bake them for a treat!
  7. For the filling, mix together the flour, corn starch, and sugar in a small bowl. Press onto the rolled dough, leaving a half an inch border.
  8. Layer the fruit onto the dough, overlapping slightly, leaving a 1-inch border all around.
  9. Fold the long sides of the rectangle over the fruit, the the short sides, folding and pressing the edges.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the peaches are softened and the crust is golden. Brush with melted butter if desired, it increases shine.

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Filed under Desserts, Pastries, Pie

Chocolate Pecan Rugalach

This is one of my favorite pastries. I remember making these for Christmas one year and giving some away to my friends. I think one girl ate half the box before lunch. These are incredible little morsels.

The dough is made with cream cheese and sour cream and isn’t excessively rich, as some doughs are out there. The recipe is from Marcy Goldman’s  The Best of BetterBaking.com. The filling is made with chopped chocolate, pecans, brown sugar, and a bit of oil to hold it all together. It’s rich, nutty, and has a subtle caramel undertone.

I have made a cinnamon and brown sugar filling before also. I will try a nutella filling one day. Hmmm…nutella.

Chocolate Pecan Rugalach
makes 3-4 dozen
adapted from The Best of BetterBaking.com

Dough:
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. unsalted butter, cold
4 oz. cream cheese, cold
1/4 c. sugar
3/8 tsp. salt
1 large egg, beaten
1/3 c. sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract, optional

Filling:
1 1/4 c. pecans, chopped very finely
2/3 c. chocolate chips, chopped very finely
1/3 c. light brown sugar
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. oil

To make the dough, combine flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Cut the butter and cream cheese into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, or two knives, until the mixture have pea-sized lumps. Beat the egg and vanilla together, if using. Add to the butter/flour mixture along with the sour cream. Work the mixture with a fork until it holds together. Knead a few times and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge to chill for at least an hour, or up to three days. I’ve also frozen the dough with no ill effects, just defrost before proceeding with the recipe.

In the mean time, make the filling. Mix the first four ingredients of the filling in a bowl. Pour in the oil and mix with a fork until the filling begins to clump together. Set aside.

Divide the dough into three or four equal parts. Pat each into a round disk on a floured work space. Roll into 10 inch rounds if divided the dough into fourths and 12 inch rounds if divided into thirds. Pat the filling onto the rounds. Using a sharp knife, cut each round into twelve slices, like a pizza. Take a slice and cut a half-inch slit on the bottom (the crust side), like you would for making croissants. Fold the cut corners towards the sides and roll up tightly into a small crescent. Repeat with all remaining slices.

Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven of 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for a further 10 minutes, or until browned and crisp.

I was nibbling on one earlier and thought to myself, “this begs for some coffee.” Serve with coffee. Share with someone and they will love you immensely.

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Filed under Chocolate, Pastries

Kataifi

What is kataifi?

Good question, before I saw it, I didn’t know what it was either. I got this Middle Eastern pastry at the Arlington Bakery, practically right across the street from the Quebrada Baking Co. The word kataifi apparently describes the shredded phyllo dough around the filling of the pastry and gives rise to the name of the pastry itself.

The pastry reminds me of a bird’s nest, the way it is all wrapped up around the sweetness in the middle. And is it ever sweet! The shredded phyllo is drenched in honey. I was overwhelmed. But the texture of the pastry was so delicate, like unwrapping a present, and unearthing the chopped walnuts in the middle. Its taste was reminiscent of baklava.

Doesn’t this look like some dark forbidden cave? Some monster is going to jump out at you any second now.

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Onion Lattice Pies

I made impromptu puff pastry. I say impromptu because it is not like the traditional puff pastry, nor the shortcut puff pastry that you sometimes find. I had leftover dumpling dough. I made green onion pancakes and onion pie. Traditional puff pastry uses a butter enriched dough and my dumpling dough is just flour and water. I did make a butter block and ended up doing four “turns” with the dough.

The result differs from the usual puff pastry. It isn’t as tender because of the lack of butter in the dough and probably because I was too impatient to let the dough rest for a longer period in between each “turn”. It isn’t as high as the traditional puff but was very flaky. Not a bad result for all my impatience and shortcuts. Just use frozen puff pastry if you don’t want to pitch in an afternoon of rolling and folding dough.

Now, the onions. It’s the best part of the pie. No question about it. I have no had onions for a while. Don’t know why, just didn’t pick them up at the store for a few months. I missed them. I really did. All the tears that come with cutting them and (almost) the bad breath that comes with eating them. Certainly the smell that comes with cooking them. My eyes have always been sensitive to onions. I almost always cry. None of the methods recommended on the internet or by people I know have prevented my tears. I’d long since given up on it. These days I just let it all out. Onions are just so…so…beautiful.

Don’t rush when you cook the sliced onions. Use low heat. Cover the pan. Stir. Let the aroma float up and out of the pan and fill your house. I realize that this might not be welcomed by all so maybe pick a time to make these when no one’s home. Enjoy your time alone and think about what’s on your mind. Channel any sadness and stress away through the bite and bitterness of the onions while slicing them. Then focus on what can be changed while you slowly caramelize those onions. As you bring out the sweetness of the onions, realize that your life is just so much sweeter when you can meditate on the aroma of onions.

Onions heal. Just try it.

Onion Lattice Pie
makes 4 pies

Homemade puff pastry, enough to roll into a 10 by 12 inch rectangle, 1/8 inch thick or 1 sheet frozen ready-made puff pastry, defrosted
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
freshly ground pepper
salt

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onions and cover the pan. Cook over medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes, or until very soft and mushy. Stir every once in a while, be careful not to let it burn. Add salt and pepper to taste. So simple. So sweet. So good.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the puff pastry and trim the edges. Cut into eight rectangles, measuring 5 by 3 inches. Fold four of the rectangles hot dog style, or vertically, and cut slits along the folded edge in 1/2 inch intervals. Do not cut all the way through. unfold the rectangles. Spoon the onion filling onto the four uncut rectangles, leaving a border around the filling. Cover with the cut rectangles. Press and seal the edges with a fork.

Transfer pies to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry has risen and is golden brown. Serve warm.

I twisted the trimmings from the puff pastry and baked them.

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