Apple · Bread · Recipes

Falling for Apple Fritters

My favorite baking season is here! I’ve been doing less baking but still trying to squeeze some in, here and there. This time last year, I was baking and sharing all kinds of recipes. I haven’t gone as crazy this fall because, well, COVID and everyone in my house is trying to eat super healthy to keep our immune systems in a place to help fight off that horrible virus. Also, depending on the day, we’re not eating gluten or dairy. Sometimes, we’re strict vegans and other days we’re not. Kind of all over the place!

Carrie was off school Friday and we decided to make our annual trip to an orchard where they also sell apple fritters. First of all, everyone in NE Ohio was off school and flocked to that place! I didn’t feel comfortable being there so we grabbed our fritters and went right back to the car to eat them. I was so excited! I took my first bite and it was disappointing. Second bite, bland. Third bite, stale. I PUT THE APPLE FRITTER BACK IN THE BAG and decided it was definitely not worth eating. It was disappointing but not the end of the world. I knew right then and there that I’d just make my own apple fritter experience.

This morning, Carrie and I made our own. I had this recipe saved from Half Baked Harvest (my true love!). I bought local apples at Countryside Farmers’ Market on Saturday and I was ready to have my fritter moment.

I NEVER fry anything. I made an exception today and embraced all the elements of the recipe. It was 100% worth it!

These Apple Fritters are light, full of warm spices and the apples cook just enough and are bursting with flavor! Carrie didn’t want the coffee glaze the recipe calls for so we just left that out and I added a tiny bit of lemon juice to the glaze to cut the sweetness a little. They are beyond delicious! They’re little bites of glorious fall flavors.

Little pillows of apple goodness!

After eating (inhaling) the first one, I took them over the top by adding a little homemade apple butter. I’ll just be here all day eating these!

Get the recipe (Half Baked Harvest), avoid all the crowds and stale, dry fritters and make them while all the juicy apples are in season. You won’t regret it!

From the heart,

Shannon

Bread · Pie · Recipes · Savory Dishes

Sourdough Pizza Crust + GF Pizza Crust

Sourdough is really having a moment. A sweet friend gave me some of her sourdough starter. I made bread and it was delicious. I made rosemary crackers and I keep making them because they’re so scrumptious! It was just a matter of time until I tried my hand at sourdough pizza crust.

We’ve been making pizzas on a regular basis during quarantine. It’s fun and everyone gets to let their creativity flow into their pies. By the time we’re finished, flour is everywhere and toppings are scattered from one end of our kitchen to the other! We’ve made them on a pizza stone in the oven and on our Big Green Egg (for some reason, they always burn). I’ve checked out some of my fellow bakers’ Instagram accounts and admired their homemade pizzas made in wood-fired ovens or special pizza ovens. We’ve tried several dough recipes and techniques and last night we found our favorite so far!

The sourdough craze is making me crazy (among other things). It’s truly a love/hate relationship I have with my starter. I don’t want to love it but I do. Every single time I do the whole feeding process, I swear it’s my last. Then, I fall in love with it and I feed it and nurture it the way any good starter mama would. I came across a recipe for sourdough pizza crust on this cute site: Little Spoon Farm. I was intrigued because they use a cast iron skillet. I have nothing but love for my iron skillets so I knew I had to try it!

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IT IS SO GOOD AND REALLY EASY TO MAKE! You get all the char and the dough has that slightly sour flavor while being light and airy with a crispy crust. We made a smaller, starter pizza to share and it cooked up really well too! You just can’t go wrong with pizza.

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Carrie has been trying to eat less gluten so I made her a gluten free crust. I didn’t get a picture but it was also really delicious! Here are links to both recipes:

Cast Iron Pizza Crust and Gluten Free Pizza Crust

Homemade pizza is worth the mess and I know exactly what’s going into our pizzas. We also get to use a lot of local ingredients, so it’s just a win all the way around! These recipes are both fantastic! I hope you try them and feel free to let me know how you make pizza and your preferred toppings!

From the heart,
Shannon

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Bread · Recipes

May celebrations and a strawberry rhubarb muffin recipe

May has been quite strange. Some days have been filled with sunshine, hikes, baking, sourdough starter, sourdough bread, sourdough crackers, games, sidewalk chalk, home work outs, House Parties, FaceTime sessions, and walks. Other days have included rain, snow, news from family members that they’re jobs are going away (along with their pay), ill parents, parents who’ve passed, pets who’ve passed, hours spent inside, and days that make me feel like I just want to run away to a remote island and not think about all the terrible things going on.

I don’t want to get too deep here because this is meant to be a place mostly filled with cheerful topics and recipes. However, there’s no denying we’re all dealing with situations and emotions that are pushing us to places we may be unfamiliar with. There are times I struggle but I’m thankful my family is healthy and safe. In the midst of all the pandemic news, I’ve recently been blessed with tidbits of joyous occasions and moments and I’m choosing to focus on those!

  • I was able to support local businesses for Mother’s Day and graduation shopping!
  • We’ve been fortunate to have local, fresh food to make meals at home!
  • Rhubarb is in season!
  • Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and Carrie and I made a cheesecake to celebrate!
  • BIG NEWS: both of my daughters are graduating this year!

Hannah graduated yesterday with her Master’s Degree and Carrie will graduate from 8th grade in June. Before COVID, the next several weeks were set to be jam packed with all sorts of celebration. It’s looking differently than I planned but my heart is just as full, thanks to technology (Zoom!) and people who care and truly go above and beyond! It’s amazing how the worst times can bring out the absolute best in people and situations!

Congratulations, Hannah! We were able to watch the virtual ceremony, and it was great to share her big day with her! She and her fiancé went to campus a couple weeks ago and took photos. Just look at that smile; she’s beaming! For the past couple years, she’s worked full-time, attended classes, written papers, spent countless weekends and nights studying or working on group projects, got engaged, moved and adopted a puppy. She’s basically Superwoman!

Carrie’s school is unique because it’s preschool through 8th grade. Many of the students have been there since they were very young so 8th grade graduation is a pretty big deal. The school has put a lot of effort into honoring and recognizing the 8th grade class of 2020. She was surprised by teachers the other night and she felt super special! They showed up in separate cars, honking horns, masks on and clapping their hands as they walked up our driveway. Carrie couldn’t believe it! They brought a sign and sang a song. They also delivered a gift but the real gift was seeing their faces and hearing them tell Carrie how much they miss her and how proud they are of her! These are some extraordinary humans! I’m so proud of you, Carrie and am excited to celebrate your graduation!

Shortly before Carrie’s teachers arrived, my neighbor texted me that their rhubarb plant was full and I could take all I want. I ran over, grabbed rhubarb and whipped up a quick batch of my Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins. Unfortunately, they weren’t ready when the teachers were here but I took some to neighbors and a couple other friends nearby. These are so easy to make and you can use any kind of berry or fruit you have on hand. Perfect to make for mom, if you’re lucky enough to be with her for Mother’s Day or for your special grad who may be feeling sad about missing out on all the end of year festivities. Strange times indeed.

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Let’s hurry up and get through this so we can all get back to celebrating special occasions IN PERSON! In the meantime, wishing all the mamas a sweet Mother’s Day and a big congrats to all the 2020 grads who’ve stepped up and demonstrated their resilience in a time none of us were prepared for.

I hope all of us are able to find and cherish the happy moments in all the stress and uncertainty. Sending you lots of hugs!

From the heart,
Shannon

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Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour (I used Mud Run Farm whole wheat pastry flour)
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup oil (I used coconut)
1 egg
1/3 cup milk of your choice
1 cup fresh berries/fruit
Topping
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cubed butter
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400; Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl. Combine oil, egg and milk and add to dry ingredients. Fold in fruit. Scoop into muffin pan. Combine all topping ingredients using hands or pastry cutter and sprinkle on top of muffins. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Makes about 9-10 muffins. Recipe can easily be doubled! Enjoy!

Bread · Recipes

More Time (and a recipe)

Here we are! It’s nearly the end of March and what a month this has been. This post is kind of all over the place because there are resources I want to share but I also want to share a little personal life for a sense of connection to so many of you! I hope you’re staying healthy and safe and finding the extra time to be a gift. Finding “more” time is something I hear people say they wish they had more of. The bright side of this quarantine is that, more time is exactly what we have.

Time to breathe. Time to reflect on what’s really necessary in our busy lives. Time to give our kids and fur babies extra hugs. Time to get outside and notice that everything is waking up from the winter sleep. Time to connect (virtually) with family and friends. Time to dust off some old board games. Time to do TikToks with our teens (see the video at the end!). Time to clean out a closet or organize a pantry. Time for family room dance parties. Time to admire our kids for adapting to new ways of learning. Time to thank teachers for being creative and dedicated in ways they never imagined they’d have to. Time for driveway basketball and hopscotch games. Time to explore a hike we’ve always wanted to do. Time to figure out how to access and do a home work out. Time to bake and make meals together. Time to wonder what we’ll do when things go back to normal.

Home workouts; cinnamon rolls and coffee; hiking; matcha in my favorite mug (Billy Ritter)

I thought I’d use some of my time to share what we’ve been doing to fill up our days (and a healthy recipe below). This week is Carrie’s spring break and we were planning to go to Florida to visit my mom and get in some sun and beach. This week looks a little different than we planned but we’re trying to make the most of it. We all are and I feel for everyone who’s had to cancel plans or wonder about what the next couple months will bring. My heart goes out to all the health care workers, grocery employees, airline employees and everyone else who must get out there everyday and do their jobs. Thank you! As always, I’m thankful for farmers who continue to do what they do so we have access to healthy food. If you live in NE Ohio, Countryside is launching Countryside Curbside to help with access to local food makers! Creative solutions are everywhere!

Since all of this quarantine came to be, we haven’t really been on a schedule, which is tough for me. I like structure and routine. I actually thrive with structure and routine. I’ve let it all go. No specific wake up time or schedule throughout the day. What I’ve tried to do is have a list of things I’d like to accomplish each day. I’m not getting hung up on specific times. For example, I want to work out, get outside, make meals, connect with a friend or family member, read, play games, tackle a house project and catch up on some shows I’ve wanted to watch. I try to fit all of these in each day but I’m not stressing about it because we all have enough to stress about. If I start to feel antsy, I take Daisy for a walk or pour myself into an online yoga session. How about you? What are you doing to fill your days? Are you finding joy in having time or is it stressful?

Here’s a snapshot of some of our days. Lots of outside time, cuddles, food and games (not pictured–plenty of wine!):

I voted; Daisy Mae keeps me warm; we spotted a beaver at CVNP; beautiful sunset; homemade soft pretzels; photo fun with Carrie (and Jasmine).

Carrie and I did an Instagram Live on St. Patrick’s Day while making cupcakes; hiking in CVNP; playing James Bond (card game); supporting local brands-Masthead and Cleveland Kraut; more hiking in Summit County Metroparks.

Nothing too complicated here. I’m so lucky to have what I need and I hope to be able to share some of that with others throughout this challenging time. I keep supporting local and small businesses and we’re staying home. Carrie, Daisy and I have been home for 14 days (except for voting). Casey had to work and he’s been home for 3 days.

I’ve been baking but not nearly as much as I’d like because there aren’t enough home work outs to burn off the calories I’d consume if I had baked goods within reach 24/7. I don’t have any self control when I’m stuck at home! Also, I’m trying to not blow through all of our ingredients in case we really need them later.

The other day I made a healthier version of banana bread and it has been a nice little treat and thought I’d share it here. It’s not overly sweet and it’s delicious with a smear of nut butter (I love Nosh and they’re offering free shipping across the U.S. with promo code HUNKERDOWN) and a drizzle of honey (Brighton Wool and Honey is one of my favorites). I also love to sprinkle hemp seeds or chia seeds on top. The point is, this bread feels like bread but isn’t full of the carbs and sugar I’m trying to limit. Yay! I’ve also been experimenting more with healthy alternatives to some of my favorite comfort foods and baked goods. This one is a winner!

If you’re on Instagram, the videos are in my highlights. It’s easy, healthy and yummy!

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Friends, I wish you health–physical and mental! We’re all in this and we’ll get through it with kindness, patience and love. Sending you all a BIG virtual hug and hoping you find lots of ways to spend your gift of extra time that bring you joy! Here’s something you might get a laugh out of (gotta love TikTok!):

From the heart,
Shannon

 

 

Bread · Holiday · Pumpkin · Recipes

Rolling into Thanksgiving!

Is it really November 26? I’m feeling very behind on all holiday things. Anyone else? This past weekend, Carrie and I drove to NC to see a concert put on by Carrie’s broadway idol, Jessica Vosk. It happened to be near Hannah’s place so, as a big bonus, we got to see Han too! It was a great trip! Brunch, wedding venue tour, concert, met Jessica Vosk, hot yoga and avocado toast. Super quick and fun trip! It was a little easier to leave this time because Hannah’s coming home for Thanksgiving! 

Usually, when November 1st hits, I’m knee deep in Pumpkin Roll making. Not this year. I don’t know why but I hadn’t made any until today. Time has definitely snuck away from me and here it is the week of Thanksgiving and I’m cramming in some Pumpkin Rolls.

I told Hannah and Carrie this is their year to learn to make them while Hannah’s home. They’ve always enjoyed the scrumptious treat but never really spent time making these with me. I want them to know how so they can keep this annual tradition alive for years to come.

I learned how to make Pumpkin Roll from my mom and grandma and have always associated it with Thanksgiving because it’s usually part of the dessert line-up. I love it! Pumpkin Roll is delicious and classic and it’s a dessert that can be made weeks or months in advance and stored in the freezer. It’s actually much easier to slice while it’s frozen! It also makes a wonderful gift.

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You don’t need many ingredients but you do need space and dedicated time and patience. Don’t be intimidated by the rolling. I’m going to share some of my tricks with you and you’ll see how easy it is.

Fresh, seasonal ingredients make for a perfect cake. Eggs (these are from Harvest Bell), sugar, vanilla, pumpkin purée, all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice.

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Prep your pans! I use jelly roll style pans. I line them with unbleached parchment and give them a quick spray with oil to be sure they don’t stick. It’s not pretty but it gets the job done.IMG_6717

Start by beating the eggs, sugar and vanilla until nice and thick. Can we talk about the color of those eggs for a second? Beautiful!

Add the pumpkin purée (mine is homemade from pie pumpkins I got from Martha’s Farm) then add the dry ingredients.

Pour the batter into prepared pans. I’m making a double batch. One plain and one with pecans. Please add pecans! Just chop them and sprinkle them on top before baking. My sweet Daisy Mae is there to make sure I get it right! 🙂

Pop them in the oven and clean up your mess. You could also have a cup of coffee or glass of wine. Yeah, do that! These only bake until the top springs back when touched. If you bake it too long, there’s a chance it will crack when you roll it.

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Here’s where I have some advice on the rolling. For years, I flipped these things out onto a towel covered with powdered sugar. There was always a dust cloud of sugar and it went EVERYWHERE! Also, the whole process made me nervous–would the cake come out of the pan, would it crack, would I miss the towel??!! Enough of that! I adopted a new technique a few years ago and it much less messy and more calming for the baker!

I get a larger cookie sheet ready by turning it over and covering it with a tea towel. I use my handy dandy powdered sugar sprinkler jar to sprinkle sugar right on top of the pumpkin roll when it comes out of the oven. Then I put the towel and cookie sheet on top and gently invert it. Remove the pumpkin roll pan and parchment and roll up the hot cake. Let it cool completely in the towel on a cooling rack. Cotton tea towels work best.

When the Pumpkin Roll is cool, make the filling which is simply cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla whipped up with a mixer until creamy and fluffy.

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Gently unroll the cake and spread the filling to cover the cake. If your cake cracks, do not panic. These things are very forgiving. Keep spreading the filling and move to the next step.

Roll her back up nice and tight. It’s best to do that right onto a piece of plastic wrap then sprinkle a little more powdered sugar over the roll and wrap the whole thing tightly in the plastic then in foil. Stick it in the fridge or freezer for several hours to set up.

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When you’re ready to serve, simply slice to your desired thickness. I like to slice mine in about 1″ slices. It’s so pretty and always tastes amazing!

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For me, Pumpkin Roll is about the memories I have of Thanksgiving. I miss those big family gatherings. Due to all sorts of family changes, it’s hard to keep everything the same. That’s one of the many things I love about food. It can give all the feels, bring back nice memories and create new experiences.

Maybe next year Hannah and Carrie will make this for me! Until then, I’m ready to get going on preparing one of my favorite meals of the year. I have much to be thankful for! Safe travels if you’re traveling and enjoy time with all those you’re with. Happy Thanksgiving!

From the heart,
Shannon

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Pumpkin Roll
Ingredients
Cake
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 TBSP pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup pure pumpkin puree
Choppped pecans, if desired (highly encouraged!)

Filling
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 TBSP butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat eggs, vanilla and sugar until thick. Add in pumpkin and mix to combine. Stir in flour mixture. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. If adding pecans, sprinkle those on top.
3. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen then sprinkle the top with powdered sugar and invert cake onto a larger cookie sheet covered with a tea towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool completely on wire rack.
4. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Roll cake as tightly as possible. Wrap in plastic wrap then foil and refrigerate at least one hour.

Store prepared Pumpkin Roll in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also store in the freezer for up to one month. Remove frozen Pumpkin Roll and slice in 1″ slices and serve at room temperature.

If you want to double the recipe, it’s about 3 cups of batter per pan.

Bread · Pumpkin · Recipes

Pumpkin Cranberry Scones

I wish I had a fun memory or story to share about these scones. The truth is, I never made scones before this. I modified this Pumpkin Cranberry Scone recipe from a magazine my mother-in-law sent me a couple weeks ago. I flipped through the magazine and saw these and thought, I don’t know why I’ve never made scones. They’re one of my favorite things to eat and when I have one, it feels like an indulgence.

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We had our first snow for the season here in NE Ohio this week. I want to be upset about that (not a fan of winter!) but I’ve decided to embrace all the wonderful things about a snowy day (you can remind me of these in February). Unlimited cups of warm, freshly brewed coffee and tea, a cute hat and scarf, my coziest socks and big, thick sweatshirts. One of the challenges with this November snow is it makes me think of Christmas instead of Thanksgiving. I’m a full blown Thanksgiving person. I give it all the attention and don’t bust out a single Christmas decoration until the day after Thanksgiving. These Pumpkin Cranberry Scones taste like November and look a little like Christmas. It’s pretty cool these little darlings can accomplish that amazing feat!

Simple ingredients are all you need. My trusty Mud Run Farm pastry flour made the scones light and tender.

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You’ll also need: salt, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar, cranberries, pumpkin, eggs, butter and half and half.

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Start with the dry ingredients then add the wet and combine. These couldn’t be easier to put together and if you have all the ingredients measured, making what feels like a fancy breakfast is a breeze.

Gently knead the dough then roll or pat into a circle and cut into wedges.

Place the wedges on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with an egg wash and into the oven they go! That’s it! See all the chunks of butter? That’s your fluffy, flaky, fabulous factor!

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While they’re doing their thing in the oven, whip up a quick citrus glaze just to take them over the top. Powdered sugar, orange zest and juice, butter and a little cream.

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When the scones are finished baking, let them cool for a few minutes then get that glaze on them! The combination of flavors is so good and these truly are a fusion of all things November and December! I don’t have to feel guilty about eating something that kind of reminds me of Christmas because it totally still screams Thanksgiving! Brilliant! Also, I’d never feel guilty about eating a freshly baked scone. These are not super sweet and are the perfect texture for dunking.

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I added some raw pepitas and more dried cranberries to the top to make them extra festive. I think they’re beautiful and all the colors make them fun and not too fancy!

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Don’t wait for a special occasion to indulge! You can have these ready for breakfast or brunch in no time. Put on your cute scarf, puffy sweatshirt and cozy socks and meet your friend, spouse or significant other for afternoon coffee. Bring these glorious treats along to enjoy together. Eating scones together is the best kind of day!

From the heart,
Shannon

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Pumpkin Cranberry Scones
Ingredients
2 ½ cups pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter, cut up
½ cup dried cranberries
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup half-and-half, light cream, or milk
½ cup canned pumpkin
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 TBSP water

Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
1 TBSP butter, melted
2 tsp orange zest
2 TBSP orange juice
Add cream or milk as needed to thin

Instructions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees °F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the 1/2 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add cranberries and toss well. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; set aside.

In a small bowl stir together the 2 eggs, half-and-half, and pumpkin. Add pumpkin mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until combined.

Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. Knead dough by folding and gently pressing it for 10 to 12 strokes or until dough is nearly smooth. Pat or lightly roll dough into an 8-inch circle. Cut circle into eight wedges.

Place wedges 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl combine the 1 egg with the 1 tablespoon water. Brush wedges lightly with egg mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Remove scones from baking sheet. Let cool for 5 minutes before spreading with glaze.

For glaze, in a small bowl stir together powdered sugar, the 1 tablespoon butter, the 2 teaspoons orange zest and juice until well combined.

Spoon glaze over warm scones, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with dried cranberries and/or raw pepitas if desired.

Recipe modified from: Better Homes & Gardens

Apple · Bread · Recipes

Apple Cider Doughnuts

It’s finally feeling chilly here in NE Ohio and we’re drinking tons of warm apple cider! Carrie takes a mug of it to school almost every day. I enjoy it with a cinnamon stick, splash of bourbon or both. We make our annual trek to Patterson Fruit Farm to get apples, pumpkins, fritters, doughnuts and apple cider. I’m crazy about their apple cider doughnuts and only indulge one time a year. I thought I’d try making my own. I’ve made baked doughnuts many times but never made apple cider doughnuts. What have I been waiting for?

This recipe is super quick and easy. It’s a good one to make on a weekend morning for your family, or get together with friends for brunch OR simply make them for yourself! There’s nothing better than fresh doughnuts!

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My vision for this Saturday morning was similar to the spreads you see in food magazines this time of year. You know the ones. The family is hanging out around a little fire in matching plaid shirts, cute winter hats, hands cupped around their warm drinks, smiling because they’re outside among all the changing leaves, eating doughnuts. It’s a nice picture, isn’t it?

My plan: Get up early, write in my gratitude journal, shower, make these doughnuts, take some quick pictures for the blog, pack up the doughnuts along with freshly brewed coffee and steaming hot chocolate and hit a local trail with the family. Get in a brisk walk then reward ourselves with a yummy fall treat. Doesn’t that sound so fun?

It didn’t happen. Carrie woke up complaining of a sore throat and headache which put a real wrench in my plan. Casey just doesn’t eat in the morning and he wasn’t making an exception today. Mama’s gotta roll with it so, we (Carrie and I) enjoyed a more slow-paced breakfast at home. The Apple Cider Doughnuts seemed to help me forget Plan A. That isn’t completely true but I do think they lifted Carrie’s spirits a little and that’s worth way more than cute plaid shirts and morning hikes!

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These doughnuts are baked and come out light and fluffy. The ingredients are likely things you already have on hand: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, egg, apple cider, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and plain yogurt. Also, you’ll a donut pan. I love mine from USA Pan.

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Step one is to boil the cider to reduce it so it has a more intense flavor. This only takes about 10 minutes and it’s worth it. Once reduced, let it cool. You’ll use this in the dough and the glaze.

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Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another larger bowl. Add the dry to the wet and mix just until it all comes together.

I like to use a pastry bag to pipe the batter into the doughnut pan. You could also use a baggie or just spoon it in.

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As I was taking the photo above, there was cute Daisy Mae eating her breakfast! This also reveals the high tech photo studio I have in my kitchen! 🙂 I’m just keeping it real and it’s not ideal but I’m working with what I have! See that beagle?

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Pipe the batter and bake the doughnuts at 350 for about 8-12 minutes. Transfer from pan to wire rack.

Melt butter and add some of the apple cider reduction. Dunk the doughnuts in the butter cider combo then they get a dusting of cinnamon and sugar. Not great lighting here. There’s no window near my counter.

EAT THEM WHILE THEY’RE STILL WARM!

Apple Cider Doughnuts are a delicious start to the day or weekend. Maybe, you’ll even be eating these outside while wearing a plaid shirt and cute hat, sipping a warm drink! If you’re like me and life doesn’t always go as planned, you’ll appreciate these little pillows of fall flavors even more! Actually, just make a double batch!

From the heart,
Shannon

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Apple Cider Doughnuts

Ingredients:
Doughnuts
1 cup apple cider-reduced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 TBSP plain yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Pinch cloves
Pinch salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder

Cinnamon Sugar Coating
3 TBSP unsalted butter
2 TBSP of the reduced cider
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:
Doughnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one 6-cup donut pan.

In a small saucepan, heat the apple cider over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a simmer. Continue to simmer, stirring every minute or two, until it is reduced by about half, around 10 minutes. Take off the heat, whisk in the butter until melted and combined, and set mixture aside for a few minutes to cool. Use 1/2 cup of the reduced cider for the doughnuts, and a couple tablespoons for the glaze.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the reduced cider/butter mixture, sugar, egg, yogurt, and vanilla until well-combined.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients – flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet, and stir to combine. Do not over mix.

Fill a pastry bag or large size baggie with the batter and snip off the end. Fill each cavity about 2/3 of the way full.

Bake for 8-12 minutes, until risen and browned on the edges. Set aside to cool for 2-3 minutes, then remove to a wire rack set over parchment paper or a baking sheet.

Cinnamon Sugar Coating
While the doughnuts are baking, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the reduced cider with 3 tablespoons melted butter in a small bowl (big enough to dip the donuts in). Whisk together sugar and cinnamon in another similar sized bowl.

One by one, dip one side of the warm doughnuts into the butter/cider mixture, then into the cinnamon sugar mixture. Sprinkle extra cinnamon sugar on as you wish!

Recipe modified and adapted from other recipes (Sally’s Baking Addiction and Food Network)
Bread · Pumpkin · Recipes

Birthday Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding

Yesterday was Casey’s birthday.  I usually try to make him one of his favorites when we celebrate.  He loves bread pudding! I’ve never made it for him and this is the year! Since I’m trying to do pumpkin recipes during September, I decided to put a pumpkin spin on traditional bread pudding. That turned out to be a real good idea!

Bread pudding comes in many forms but it’s basically cream, eggs, vanilla and bread baked all together. What’s not to love?

Casey likes more of a custard type bread pudding. As I reviewed recipes, I concluded that to get a more custard like texture, the cream should be cooked and the entire thing should be baked in a water bath.

I wish I could tell you I took the simple route but I really wanted to make this incredible for him. Therefore, I made a few components that all came together to make one spectacular explosion of flavor!

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This thing is layer after layer of flavor! Let’s get into making it!

First off is a Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise. Huh? I didn’t know much about that but it’s rich and full of half-and-half, vanilla beans, egg yolks and sugar. Simmer the half-and-half and vanilla bean and seeds then slowly whisk into the eggs and sugar mixture. Strain it and cool in an ice bath. Look at all the pretty vanilla bean flecks. It should be smooth and beautiful! Pop it in the fridge until it’s time to dish up your dessert.

Spicy Caramel Bourbon Sauce is not difficult to make, but it definitely requires your attention because there’s boiling sugar involved. The flavor of this sauce is not for people who fear flavor. I’m one of those people who love flavor and concluded this sauce belongs in everything. I added it to my coffee. I kept thinking about it hours after I finished making it. It’s unique and so, so good! I’ve never used star anise in anything before. It packs a little punch! Oh, and there’s bourbon.

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You just have to watch that sugar and catch it right when it’s at the amber color stage and quickly whisk in the warm cream a little at a time. This sauce can be made ahead of time, just stick it in a jar in the fridge. Well, I mean, after you put some in your coffee. Warm it up later to pour on top of the bread pudding.

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Now it’s time to get going on the main dish. You may already have your pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin puree made if you caught my last couple posts. You get to use them in this recipe! Cream, milk, eggs, sugar, spices, pumpkin, vanilla, bourbon and BREAD!

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I’m using challah bread. You can certainly use pumpkin bread but I’m sticking with challah since Casey isn’t as crazy about everything pumpkin as I am. Challah holds up well and soaks in all the custard. A nice french bread would also work well.

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Make the custard, cube the bread, pour the custard over the bread and bake.

Take a deep breath. Lots of steps and lots of dishes to be done. Grab ya a swig of bourbon. Chase it with some of the challah bread dunked in the caramel sauce. Do the dishes and wait for the smell of the bread pudding to find its way into your kitchen.

Carrie had a field hockey game after school so I made this and left to go to her game. When we got home, I heated up the sauce, Carrie made whipped cream, I got all spun up making sure each one was assembled correctly, we sung, blew out candles and dug in!

Start with the layer of Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise, add the warm bread/custard, drizzle with the warm Spicy Caramel Bourbon Sauce and top with fresh whipped cream. AMAZING!

We all loved it! Casey approved and we were practically licking our bowls. I was pouring sauce on pieces of bread from the pan and shoving them in my mouth. You know, the stuff you eat right out of the pan doesn’t count, right? 🙂 The only change I’d make is to use less bread or make more of the custard. Ummmmm. More custard! I’ll do that next time. There will be a next time on this one!

This is one of those desserts that takes time if you want to make all the sauce components (which, I highly recommend). If not, just make the bread pudding part and top it with ice cream or whipped cream and call it a day. You can experiment with different spices, breads and flavors.

Happy birthday, Casey! Thanks for always supporting and trying my baking ideas! I loe you (I know there’s no v…it’s our thing).

Birthday 2019

From the heart,
Shannon

Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons bourbon

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Combine the cream, milk, vanilla bean and seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  3. Whisk together the yolks, sugar, maple syrup, and pumpkin puree in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture until combined, remove the vanilla pod, and whisk in the bourbon. Strain the custard into a clean bowl.
  4. Scatter the bread cubes in a buttered 9 by 13-inch baking glass baking dish.
  5. Pour the custard over the bread, pressing down on the bread to totally submerge it in the custard. Let sit for 15 minutes to allow the bread to soak up some of the custard.
  6. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan and pour hot tap water into the roasting pan until it comes half way up the sides of the glass dish. Bake until the sides are slightly puffed and the center jiggles slightly, about 1 hour.
  7. Remove from the oven and water bath and cool on a baking rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
5 large egg yolks
1/3 cup pure cane sugar

  1. Bring the half-and-half and vanilla bean and seeds to a simmer in a medium saucepan.
  2. Whisk together the yolks and sugar in a medium bowl until at the pale ribbon stage.
  3. Slowly whisk in the hot half-and-half, return the mixture to the pot, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture coats the back of the spoon.
  4. Strain into a bowl and set over an ice bath. Stir until chilled.
  5. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Spicy Caramel Bourbon Sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup apple juice
1 star anise
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1 to 2 TBSP Kentucky bourbon

  1. Combine the cream, apple juice, star anise, ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let steep for at least 20 minutes. Strain the mixture into a clean, small saucepan and place back over low heat while you make the caramel.
  2. Combine the sugar, water and, vinegar in a medium saucepan over high heat and cook without stirring, until it’s a deep amber color, about 8 minutes. Slowly whisk in the warm cream mixture a little at a time, and continue whisking until smooth. Add the bourbon and cook for 30 seconds longer. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm. The sauce can be made 2 days in advance and refrigerated. Reheat over low heat before serving.
Recipe modified from foodnetwork.com and my own brain.
Bread · Pumpkin · Recipes

Pumpkin Spice Rolls

Hi! I feel fall in the air. Even though the temps here in NE Ohio are quite warm, the air feels different. I’ve been studying all sorts of fall recipes and feeling downright giddy about one of my favorite baking seasons. Please give me all the pumpkin baked goods in the world! My Pinterest boards and baking notebook are overflowing with all the things I want to make! What better way to spend September than by sharing all things pumpkin?

Pumpkin Spice Rolls topped my fall baking list. I really hope you make these! They’re worth every single second you’ll spend planning, baking and eating them. I made this version a few years ago to sell at one of the farmers’ markets. My original cinnamon rolls always sold out. It was fall, I was feeling pumpkin-y and these marvelous rolls were discovered. My regular customers enjoyed them and I liked that they looked like fall. The pumpkin taste is subtle and gives the dough the most beautiful color and texture. Swapping out the cinnamon filling for a pumpkin pie spice filling is a scrumptious change.  If you’re like me and start making pumpkin recipes before stores sell pumpkin pie spice, here’s my recipe to make your own.

When you make these rolls and take that first bite, your life will be changed and you’ll probably never want a regular cinnamon roll again! Never say never. However, these are super special.

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This is a yeast dough recipe. Don’t be scared, it’s so simple to put together. Start with good (mostly local) ingredients. Get the sugar, milk and yeast mingling then add the rest of the ingredients and let the dough hook on your mixer do the work.  You can also knead by hand.

The big difference in this recipe is the addition of pumpkin and spices.  They really transform the texture and flavor of the dough. Once the dough comes together, place it in a bowl and put in a warm place to rise.  Step one is complete!

While the dough is rising, mix up the filling. Brown sugar and lots of pumpkin pie spice. Line a pan with parchment and butter it. The parchment is a must!

Gently roll out the dough. Once it’s rolled, smear butter all over it. Some people melt their butter to do this step but I like the butter to just be soft enough to slather it. Think back to your kindergarten finger painting days! Want in on a little secret? I write words or notes in the butter. Yep. I’ve always done that. Depending on my mood, they can be pretty interesting! Have fun and put some love into these babies!

Next comes the spices. Don’t skimp and generously sprinkle them over the butter layer! Roll the dough towards you and slice. I’ve seen all kinds of methods for slicing. The one that works best for me is my good bread knife. Try to keep the rolls tight.

Place the slices in the prepared pan and let them rise again. When they’ve doubled in size, bake them and enjoy how amazing your house smells! If you bake these in the morning hours, you will not have to beg anyone to get out of bed! The first picture below is before the rise and the third picture is after. If you don’t want to bake them right away, don’t go through with the second rise yet. You can stick them in the fridge and get them out about an hour before you want to bake them to let them rise.

While the rolls bake, make the icing. It’s a simple vanilla cream cheese base. I also like to add bourbon. I didn’t on this batch but if you want to kick them up a notch, experiment with adding bourbon or maple syrup or more pumpkin pie spice. Even more pumpkin would be yummy!

Frosting these is somehow very therapeutic. I always do it when the rolls are warm. You can use as much or as little as you wish.

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This next step is very important. Get one out of the pan right away, sit down, take a deep breath, don’t think about anything else, and dig in. The first bite will get you feeling like this is what’s been missing from your life. The next bite will ensure that it will never be missing again. Ever.

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Are you doing a Pumpkin Spice Roll happy dance? Maybe it’s just me but I’ve been known to break out in dance when I eat something so good!

The day I made these, I was home alone.  I’ve been on a really clean eating plan and I haven’t had any sugar for a few weeks. Don’t even get me started on why I ever thought that was a good idea. That all flew out the window when I pulled one of these out of the pan to take photos. I was already sipping a glass of homemade cold brew (full of cream and pumpkin pie spice). I couldn’t resist and ate one of these big rolls in a matter of seconds. I love all the things about them and I enjoyed the heck out of it with my afternoon coffee. Feelings of comfort and joy came over me and I actually felt pretty darn happy in that gooey, pumpkin, spice filling, frosting, coffee moment!

I took one with me to give Carrie when I picked her up from school. She immediately lit up, thanked me, inhaled it in the car and got right to her homework as soon as she walked in the door.  See?  Life changing.

From the heart,
Shannon

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Pumpkin Spice Rolls
Dough
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut up, room temperature
4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup lukewarm whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp instant yeast or active dry yeast

Filling
1/3 to 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed (you can use light or dark or mix them)
3 to 4 TBSP pumpkin pie spice

Icing
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 TBSP unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or bourbon or maple syrup
3-4 TBSP whole milk

Directions
To make the dough: Place milk and sugar in your mixing bowl.  Sprinkle the yeast on top and let sit for 4-5 minutes.  Add remaining dough ingredients to bowl and mix together and knead all of the dough ingredients to make a smooth, soft dough. You may need to add more flour if it’s too sticky.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to grease all sides, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 60 minutes, or until it’s nearly doubled in bulk.

To fill and shape the buns: Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough into a ~16″ x 21″ rectangle.

Spread the dough with the 1/3 to 1/2 cup butter. Write a cute word or note in the butter (do it!). Mix the brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice, and sprinkle it evenly over the dough.

Roll the dough into a log and cut it into 12 slices (about 1 inch thick).
Place the buns in a parchment lined and buttered 9″ x 13″ pan. Cover the pan and let the buns rise until they’re nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. If you aren’t planning to bake now, stick in the fridge and get them out about about an hour ahead of baking time.

While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.
Uncover the buns, and bake them until they’re golden brown, about 15 minutes. While the buns are baking, make the icing. You can also make the icing ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for days, just let it soften up.

To make the icing: In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter, sugar, and vanilla.

Remove the buns from the oven. Spread the icing on the buns while they’re warm.
Serve buns warm, or at room temperature. Wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for a day or so; freeze for longer storage.
Yield: 12 large buns.

Bread · Recipes

Zucchini Bread

Yesterday, I went to my favorite farmers’ market, Countryside in Howe Meadow.  After being gone for most of July, I’m back in the swing of things and getting my hands on as much local, summer fruits and veggies as possible!

I’ve always liked zucchini.  Before the days of zoodles, I prepared it all sorts of ways.  I grilled it, baked it and baked WITH it.  It’s versatile and healthy.  Zucchini has a decent amount of potassium and is loaded with vitamin C.  It’s good for your heart!

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Zucchini bread is one of those seasonal indulgences that just feels right about this point in the summer.  Sliced and toasted with good butter or cream cheese. Yum!  While at the market, I picked up a jar of cashew almond butter from my friends at Nosh Butters.  If you haven’t tried their nut butters, I encourage you to partake in their samples the next time you see them at an event.  All of their flavors are delicious as well as vegan, gluten free, and palm oil free.  I’ve been known to hang out with a jar of nut butter and a spoon on occasion and theirs are some of my favorites.  Plus, their business philosophy is right on and it’s another local, small business we can support!

While hanging at their booth at the market, it dawned on me that nut butter would be delicious smeared on zucchini bread.  Yes!  The cashew almond variety is mellow and has just the right texture to slather on some beautiful bread.  I covered up all the pretty green flecks of zucchini before I took this photo.  I promise, they’re in there!

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If you’re loving all the zucchini and looking for ways to bake with it, try this recipe and get some Nosh nut butter to take it over the top! My recipe is light and not weighed down by tons of brown sugar like some of the ones I’ve seen.  You can certainly make this your own by substituting gluten free flour, adding nuts, berries and change the oil type to suit your taste.  This recipe can simply serve as a guide!  🙂

Summer harvest is upon us and I’m digging it!  What are some of your favorite ways to make zucchini?  I’d enjoy hearing new ideas!  Happy baking!

From the heart,
Shannon

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Zucchini Bread
You don’t even need a mixer for this recipe! It can be made in a regular loaf pan, mini loaf pans or a lined muffin tin.  I usually double or triple it and make tons to freeze or hand out to neighbors, friends and local businesses.

Ingredients:
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup coconut oil melted (or whatever oil you like to bake with)
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups shredded zucchini (12 ounces)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)
Cooking spray

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through baking soda) in a large bowl. Combine wet ingredients in a large bowl; add sugar, stirring until combined. Add zucchini; stir until well combined. Add flour mixture; stir just until combined. Stir in walnuts (or fruit) if using.

Divide batter evenly between 2 (8 x 4-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.  Adjust baking time depending on what size bread you’re making.