Hey Y’all! Today I’m writing about this blueberry cake from Edna Lewis’ cookbook, The Taste of Country Cooking. This might be the best cake I’ve ever made. The best part? This Blueberry cake doesn’t require a mixer– a whisk will do!…
My apple cider doughnut recipe is the result of me doing too many things at one time and not paying attention. So the story goes, I was trying to figure out if anyone had created a copycat recipe for the apple cider doughnuts from SkyTop Orchard in Flat Rock, NC. My research came up empty, though I did watch a local reporter make the doughnuts for a feature.…
So we are those crazy people that bought a house during a pandemic. It was and continues to be chaotic. We were first time homebuyers and nothing about the experience was how I thought it would go: We liked the first house. We were under contract 48 hours later. We did our closing in less than 20 minutes wearing masks. Entertainingly enough, our realtor was trying to photograph this momentous occasion and the real estate attorney was basically like “y’all have to get out”.
I’ve been on this challah kick lately that I don’t think is going to end anytime soon. Challah is the perfect sandwich bread. It’s soft, with a little bit of a crust. The grilled cheese sandwiches are magnificent. But my favorite part of the recipe is the stress relieving component of making challah. Maybe it’s the kneading by hand for 10 consecutive minutes or when the directions say “punch” that just resonates with me right now. The world is a mess and I am coping the best I can.
After the stress relief (read: violence), my next favorite part of making challah is obviously the abundance of design choices. So many braids, so little time. I’m partial to the five strand, but I’m always up for the challenge of learning something new. In an effort to practice the shaping, I whipped up another batch of the super secret Challah recipe that my friend Dan gave me. Sorry, I can’t share the recipe, because then I’d owe him royalties for life. Jokes aside, the end result was a ton of challah in the house for no real reason other than I wanted to make it. So I did what any practical girl would do– I made lots and lots of Challah French Toast. Challah French Toast for days. I am not sure my husband will eat French Toast ever again.
Challah French Toast Tips:
- Use day old challah. Seriously. The first day of a challah loaf is sacred– you should just be carb loading by eating the challah itself. It’s that good. But seriously, on the first day that you make the bread it’s too soft to drown in eggs and heavy cream.
- Slice the challah thick, at least 2 inches. Challah itself is pretty sturdy, by slicing it a bit thicker is the right call for the soaking step.
- Don’t measure the “seasoning”. I know some people want specific instructions on how much cinnamon or vanilla to add, but this is entirely up to your tastes. I dialed back on the maple syrup because I didn’t want the french toast to be overly sweet– a personal preference. There isn’t a right or wrong answer here. Just kidding there is a wrong answer: don’t use too much salt. You’ll regret that. Otherwise, the sky’s the limit.
- We aren’t dipping the challah into the egg. We are soaking the challah into the egg mixture. This is so important and so easy.
I could write 3 more paragraphs extolling the virtues Challah French Toast. Guarantee that this Challah French Toast is the best Challah French Toast recipe in the history of Challah French Toast Recipes. Or I could regale you with some family tale of lore relating to Challah French Toast. That third one is impossible because I don’t think this southern girl even knew what Challah was until college. So now that I’ve written the phrase “Challah French Toast” at least five times, the SEO gods, might accept this word offering and deliver this webpage to the top of the google search. But anyway, here is the recipe for Challah French Toast 🙂Print
An easy french toast recipe that uses leftover challah.
- 1 Challah loaf, sliced into 2 inch thick pieces
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup heavy cream or milk
- Pinch of Salt
- Vanilla Extract
- Maple Syrup
- In a large measuring cup whisk together the eggs, heavy cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, vanilla extract and maple syrup.
- Pour the egg mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 pan.
- Place the slices of challah into the pan on one side for 5 minutes. Flip the slices of challah and repeat for an additional 5 minutes. There should be very little liquid left in the pan when you’re finished.
- Heat a frying pan over medium high heat. Throw a couple pieces of butter onto the pan to coat the pan. Using a pair of tongs, transfer the challah to the frying pan and cook on each side 2-3 minutes until golden brown.
- Serve immediately, topped with fresh berries, powdered sugar and syrup.
Feeding A Crowd? Preheat the oven to 200ºF and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. As the french toast comes out of the frying pan, transfer it to the cookie sheet and keep warm in the oven until you’re ready to serve.
Fall is in the air, sort of. It’s still 90 degrees here, but after Labor Day, it’s like a switch goes off and all of a sudden it’s pumpkin EVERYTHING. Lattes, candles, Little Debbie cakes. If it’s possible to put pumpkin spice on a thing, someone has already done it. My friends, why settle for pumpkin everything when you could have Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls.
Remember the brown butter cinnamon rolls I made last year? Probably not, because my readership is hovering around 500. I appreciate all 500 readers(!!) For the newbies, this recipe is completely different. If you are afraid to color outside the lines, that’s the recipe you want. If you’re willing to be brave and try something new then sweet potato cinnamon rolls are for you.
Why would you eat pumpkin spice when there is a perfectly good alternative: Sweet Potatoes.
I made a quick list of all the reasons why you should add sweet potatoes to your cinnamon rolls:
- Sweet Potatoes are cheap. You can buy a pound for like 35 cents. If you don’t like them, you haven’t made a huge investment.
- The extra starch from the sweet potato basically guarantees a moist fluffy crumb. This addition makes the cinnamon rolls melt in your mouth.
- Sweet Potatoes manage to be both savory and sweet bringing all kinds of flavor to your baking.
Sweet Potatoes + Brown Butter Cinnamon Filling + Cream Cheese Frosting.
The savoriness of the sweet potato added to the dough,followed by the warmth of the cinnamon combined with the nuttiness of the brown butter and finally the tanginess of the cream cheese. It was almost too much but also everything all at the same time.
I *might* have danced a shimmy after eating the first bite. Okay, maybe it was an all out revival-like praise dance. While a sweet potato cinnamon roll is not something that I ever encountered growing up, this might be the most southern thing I’ve ever eaten. No exaggeration. Melt in your mouth, fight over the last one cinnamon roll goodness.
- This recipe requires planning because there are several things that need a bit of lead time. The sweet potatoes must be roasted the day before and the puree needs to be cold before you start mixing the dough.
- Make sure you do not add anything to the roasted sweet potatoes when you puree. Specifically, DO NOT ADD MILK to the sweet potatoes! In my second attempt, I got fancy and tried to use my Vitamix. Fun Fact when you blend with a Vitamix you need some liquid. That ½ cup of milk messed up my dough. I recommend using a food processor if you have one.
- Brace yourselves. You are going to make browned butter twice. Brown butter is SO luxurious, it just adds so much warmth to the cinnamon rolls. You won’t regret it.
If you don’t know how to make sweet potato puree, check out my step by step process which includes my non-scientific “Squeeze Test” method.
What about saving cinnamon rolls for later?
There are a few schools of thought on freezing cinnamon rolls. You can
a) shape and freeze before the second rise bake the cinnamon rolls,
b) parbake the cinnamon rolls and then freeze and finishing baking later or
c) make the cinnamon rolls completely and freeze the finished product.
I love this post I found on joyfullythriving.com because Kristen tries all methods mentioned and shares a nice run down on what to consider when choosing your approach.
I am team on bake, frost and freeze. Surprised? I sure as hell was. I *just knew* that freezing before the second rise would be the better experience. But I don’t have my life together like that. This requires a thaw in the refrigerator and then they need to sit on the counter for an hour or two. Ain’t nobody got time for that. You could just make them from scratch in that amount of time.
With the third method, you bake the cinnamon rolls, frost them, let them cool COMPLETELY. Then I freeze them in “packs” of 2 or 4. Why? Because on a Saturday morning 2 months later when I just want a cinnamon roll, I can pull out 2, microwave them for 30-45 seconds and have instant brunch. Just add the mimosas.
Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls with double the browned butter, cinnamon and a tangy cream cheese frosting.
For the Dough
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 3 ½ cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp instant dry yeast
- 1 ¾ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ cup milk
- 1 cup cold sweet potato puree
For the Filling
- 1 stick of butter (softened.)
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp salt
For the frosting
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 4 ounces cream cheese (softened)
- 1 tbsp whole milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp sea salt
Make the Dough
- In a heavy bottomed pot melt the stick of butter over medium heat. Continue cooking until flecks of brown begin to collect on the bottom of the pot, and the butter smells “nutty”. Remove from the stove and cool the browned butter to 115ºThis should take about 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t let the butter cool too much, because the heat from the butter will activate the yeast.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir together the flour, sugar, yeast and kosher salt and baking soda until combined.
- Stir the cold sweet potato and milk in the pot with the slightly cooled butter. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir with spatula to create a shaggy dough.
- Fit the stand mixer with the dough hook and knead on low speed until smooth, about 20 minutes.
- Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and place the dough in a warm spot about 70ºF to 75ºF for 90 minutes until the dough is puffy and has doubled in size.
Make the Filling
- In a small saucepan brown the butter over medium heat. Stir the butter frequently and remove from heat once the butter begins to brown and smells slightly nutty. Set aside to cool.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
Assemble the Rolls
- Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with an aluminum foil sling by laying two long pieces of foil perpendicular to the pan, allowing the foil to hang over the sides. Spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray.
- Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour and roll the dough into a 13 inch square. Brush the brown butter evenly across the dough leaving a ½ inch border on the edges. Evenly sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on the dough. Taking care to make sure every inch of dough has filling. Roll the dough from the side closest to you in a tight cylinder. Press the dough at the end together creating a tight seam.
- Using a bench scraper cut the rolls into 12 pieces and place in the prepared pan. Cover the pan with foil and refrigerate overnight.
Bake the Rolls
- Preheat the oven to 350ºPull the cinnamon rolls out of the refrigerator and sit them on the counter while the oven is warming. Bake the rolls covered for 45 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes to reach desired brownness.
Make the Cream Cheese frosting
- While the cinnamon rolls are in oven, start the frosting. In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and salt until smooth.
Finish the Cinnamon Rolls
- Spread a half cup of the frosting on the rolls immediately after the rolls come out of the oven. Let the rolls cool slightly, for 10-15 minutes before adding the remainder of the frosting.
Y’all know how much I love BraveTart, right? Well if you didn’t know, I have a long-running baking crush on Stella Parks. It all started when she posted that herringbone pie crust– like 3 years ago and since then Stella has never let me down. When I made her oreo vanilla cream recipe, I literally yelled in my kitchen, “Damn that’s good , Stella!”. For short period of time, my husband thought I had an actual friend named “Stella” I talked about a complete stranger that much. …
Ever have browning bananas in the fruit bowl with a plan to make banana bread? This happens to me frequently. Good intentions- I always have them. Even still, a lot of times those bananas end up in the trash. This particular week, my husband was throwing not so subtle shade about what should happen with those bananas. “What could we possibly do with these bananas besides turn them in to compost? If only there was someone in the house with the talent to turn these bananas into anything else?” Did I mention my husband is a lobbyist? Yeah, he does that shit to me too. So after several hypothetical questions posed out loud, I made this healthy banana bread. But instead of my normal recipe, I lightened them up a bit. …
Did you do all of your holiday shopping online this year? I am usually the person who figures out exactly the last moment Amazon can deliver before Christmas. Then I wait until that very last minute to order gifts. Amazon isn’t as reliable as they used to be. “Two Day Shipping” sometimes means a week. So this year I went old school and actually went shopping. In person. At the mall. It wasn’t the sea of humanity that I’d remembered. Yes, the parking lot was a travesty, but overall it wasn’t that bad. In some ways it felt festive. People standing in lines to purchase Buy One Get One Free merchandise. everything at Gymboree was on sale. People out and about trying to make some Christmas magic happen for their loved ones. …
My baking is mostly based on whim, which I admit is weird, but I really just bake whatever comes to mind. Not a whole lot of curating happening over here. I like a challenge and when I have time to dig in, I do. For whatever reason, when it comes to baking I am 100% confident that whatever I try will work out the first time, which almost never happens, but nevertheless I persist. The beautiful brioche doughnuts you see here, took out how to took a ton of research and three attempts to get just right. As usual, the third time was the charm…
Have you ever had a mini white chocolate baguette?
It seems weird, right? Right. The funny thing is that this is the last thing I ever expected to be my favorite thing at La Farm Bakery in Cary, NC. The bakery is located in a strip mall that includes a nail salon and a liquor store.
Once you get inside you realize you are in a legit French bakery filled with pastry, croissants and loaves of artisanal breads. It’s almost impossible to make a rational decision when you are in the line, because EVERYTHING is compelling. In order to keep my budget in tact, I use the buddy system. A responsible person needs to ask me if I actually need a container of pimento cheese and the seasonal sugar cookie AND the homemade Jam made by someone named Dorothy.
My first four trips to La Farm, I was focused on the La Farm sourdough and the croissants. Who has time for a white chocolate baguette when there are croissants?!?!? White Chocolate + Baguette is an unlikely pairing that will change your life and ruin your Keto diet forever.
I took a group baking class with the Master Chef Lionel Vatinet and basically I lost my mind.
- I showed him pictures on my phone of:
- the awful croissants (the butter was too warm)
- the focaccia ( good bubbles!)
- I asked him to autograph (2!) cookbooks
- Took a picture with him, which I shared on Instagram immediately.
- Made suggestions to the marketing lady about all of the classes that I would attend.
I literally did not have a single ounce of shame. The poor marketing lady asked me if I was in marketing. When I told her I was a lawyer, y’all the look on her face was priceless!
The La Farm Cookbook was my real introduction to bread baking. I’ve tended to focus more on the sweet side of the baking spectrum, and realized that bread baking is technical and requires precision, but despite the rules, you are making edible art.
A couple of process notes:
- Scoring aka the slash marks. It seems straight forward, you slash the dough about 1/8 of inch deep with a razor blade or sharp knife. Sounds simple enough, but I didn’t have a razor blade or knife sharp enough at the time, and got the weirdly deep slashes you see above. I ordered a lame on Amazon thinking that would solve the problem, but learning to score properly takes practice and well shaped dough.
- Shaping. I didn’t want to be too rough with my dough and in the end the shape is decent, but not tight enough. Practice makes perfect.
- I recommend using a large pizza stone with a steel bowl to make these. At the time I only had a 7 1/2 Qt Oval Dutch oven so I made 2 baguettes at a time. It took forever.
**Please note that I am not in anyway affiliated with La Farm unless you count frequent trips for breakfast and brunch and bread.
Famous La Farm Mini White Chocolate Baguettes
- 16 ounces white bread flour
- 1 .5 tsp fine sea salt
- 1.5 tsp instant yeast
- 11.25 ounces warm water ((65 to 70 degrees F) )
- 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
- kitchen aid mixer with dough hook and paddle attachments
- pizza stone
- large stainless steel bowl
- food thermometer
- bench scraper
- parchment paper
- lame/ razor blade/ very sharp knife
- In a stand mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt and yeast. Do not let the yeast and the salt touch.
- Check the temperature of your water to make sure it’s 65 to 70 degrees.
- Using the paddle attachment on the stand mixer, turn the mixer on the stir setting to whisk the dry ingredients together.
Then slowly add in the water and mix until a dough begins to form. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure all the dough is fully incorporated.
Switch out the paddle attachment for the dough hook and knead on medium speed for approximately 5 minutes.
- On a very lightly dusted work surface, flatten the dough into a rectangle and sprinkle the white chocolate evenly, then fold the dough over the chocolate pieces, like an envelope — lengthwise first, then fold the short side in– resulting in completely incorporated white chocolate chips.
- Form the dough into a ball by lifting the front and folding it over and pulling it across the counter top 4 or 5 times until a ball forms. It will be ready to proof when the the dough is no longer sticky to the touch.
- Lightly dust a large bowl with flour, place the dough ball in the bowl smooth side up and cover with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm spot (75 to 85 degrees– like the inside of your microwave)
Let the dough rise for 1 hour, or until almost doubled in size
- Using your bowl scraper, remove the dough from the large bowl and onto a clean lightly floured countertop. Let the dough relax for a minute, and then use a bench scraper to stretch the dough into a 12 x 4 inch rectangle. Cut the dough with the bench scraper into 8 pieces.
- Shape mini loaves into a batard shape — reference the video linked above. Place the mini loaves on to a baking sheet with parchment paper, 4 loaves per sheet pan. Cover with plastic wrap. Then set the baking sheets in a warm (75 to 80 degrees F) draft free place for 1 hour.
- 30 minutes into the second rise, place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F.
- Before baking, score the baguettes with a sharp razor blade; lame or knife, cutting the skin 1/4 inch into the dough. Slide 4 loaves on the parchment paper on to the pizza stone and cover with a large stainless steel bowl. Bake for 10 minutes then remove the bowl carefully, with oven mitts and the a large knife. Let the baguettes bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes
- Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 1 hour.