Mar 31, 2012

Baked French Toast

We had some friends over for brunch the other day so I decided to make this Baked French Toast. Normally 30 minutes before we have a get together, I'm running around like a crazy woman in the kitchen. Which is why I hate it when people arrive early!! haha =) Not this time though, this baked french toast is so easy to make and I made it ahead of time and just popped it in the oven. I even had time to paint my toes. =P

This recipe comes from Bunny Pie. I can't find the link anymore. This tastes more like bread pudding without the creme anglaise than French toast. I love the crunchy topping with the soft custardy bread. It's great for an indulgent breakfast. Here's the recipe.

Baked French Toast
from Bunny Pie

5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup half & half cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 loaf french bread (1 lb), cut diagonally in 1 inch slices (better when stale)

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream and vanilla. Dip bread slices into egg mixture and place in light greased baking pan (see note). Refrigerate overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. In a small bowl, combine butter, sugar, maple syrup and nuts. spoon mixture over bread.

4. Bake in preheated oven until golden, about 40 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

  • I used a 9x13 glass pan to prevent over browning.

Mar 22, 2012

Strawberry Scones

One day I woke up and just wanted to make something for breakfast. Since it was a work day, I knew I had to make something fast, so I decided to make these Strawberry Scones. The original recipe was called Strawberry Shortbread Cookies and they're from Baker Girl. To me, they are more like scones, so I renamed them. These were really good right out of the oven and for about half the day afterwards, but the next day they got heavy and gummy. I'm not sure why. If you have an occasion where you'll eat them up right away, then I would make these, otherwise, I would probably skip it.

Here's the recipe:

Strawberry Scones
from Baker Girl

12 ounces strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (2 cups)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup heavy cream
Coarse sugar, for sprinkling over the cookies

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar; set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon zest and remaining sugar. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips until moist and fragrant.

4. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to the zest/sugar mixture and whisk to combine. Using a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture until you have coarse crumbs. Add the cream to the bowl and stir until the dough starts to come together, then gently fold in the strawberry mixture.

5. Use a small cookie scoop (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) to drop dough onto the prepared baking sheet, evenly spaced apart. To make them into scone size, drop 1/4 cup of dough onto baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let the cookies cool. The cookies are best the day they're made, but can be kept in an airtight container for 1 day.

Mar 19, 2012

A Better Oreo Buttercream

A while ago, I made oreo buttercream to go with some chocolate cupcakes. Little did I know, it became the most popular post on this blog! I haven't made them since then, but there were comments that some had problems with the buttercream being too runny. I found out why. It's because the egg whites were not heated enough. Because this was such a problem with so many, I decided to create a better oreo buttercream.

I came up with this buttercream. It's basically the buttercream I made for the wedding cake with crushed oreos added. This buttercream holds very well even in room temperature and I absolutely love the buttercream. I couldn't stop licking the bowl. It's so delicious!! Lots of oreo flavor!! The only problem with this buttercream is I wasn't able to use my pretty decorating tip because the bits of oreo would get stuck. Small price to pay!

Here's the recipe. Enjoy!

Better Oreo Buttercream
for 12 cupcakes

1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
26 tablespoons butter, softened (3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 oreo cookies, crushed

1. Whisk egg whites and sugar together in a big metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk occasionally until you can’t feel the sugar granules when you rub the mixture between your fingers.

2. Transfer mixture into the mixer and whip until it turns white and about doubles in size. (Here’s a tip: when you transfer to the mixer, make sure you wipe the condensation off the bottom of the bowl so that no water gets into the egg whites. This can keep them from whipping up properly.)

3. Add the vanilla.

4. Add the butter a stick at a time and whip, whip, whip.

5. Add the crushed oreos and whip until it's combined.

Mar 6, 2012

Vanilla Pudding Cinnamon Roll

I saw this recipe probably over a year ago. I kept thinking about it but never got a chance to make it. One, I was afraid to have 24 large cinnamon rolls in my possession without someone to give it to. Two, I just never had the time to make it. One day I just woke up and I knew I had to make it!! I read on the recipe that you can freeze the rolls, so I made half the cinnamon rolls and there are 12 more frozen cinnamon rolls waiting in the freezer.

I am so glad I took the time to make these!! I knew they would be good when I was kneading the bread dough. It was such a sticky dough, but once it started coming together, the dough was so soft and smelled so wonderful. Can you believe it? Even the raw dough smelled nice!! The best way to knead sticky dough is with this method. I highly recommend it! This is the way that I knead most of my bread doughs now.

When it came out of the oven, both Mr. G and I were so excited!! Within five minutes, we devoured three cinnamon rolls and these are LARGE rolls. I knew I had to call for backup! The rest of these rolls were given away!! These cinnamon rolls are really really good! Much better than anything from those "bons" people. They are so soft and the frosting just melts on top. MAKE THEM!!

Vanilla Pudding Cinnamon Roll
adapted from Mel's Kitchen

1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 ounce package instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
6+ cups flour (see note)

3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature (see note)
1 1/4 cups brown sugar (see note)
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (see note)

8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (see note)
2-3 tablespoons milk

1. In a small bowl combine water, yeast and sugar. Stir until dissolved. Set aside. In large bowl, take pudding mix and prepare according to package directions.

2. Add butter, eggs and salt. Mix well. Then add yeast mixture. Blend. Gradually add flour; knead until smooth. Do not overflour the dough! It should be very soft but not sticky. Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled.

Then roll out on floured board to 34 X 21 inches (see note) in size. Take 1 cup soft butter and spread over surface. In bowl, mix 2 cups brown sugar and 4 teaspoons cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top. Roll up very tightly. With knife put a notch every 1 1/2 inches. Cut with thread or serrated knife. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Cover and let rise until double again. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Remove when they start to turn golden (don’t overbake). Frost warm rolls with cream cheese frosting (combine butter and cream cheese and mix well, then add vanilla and sugar and mix again, then add milk for desired consistency). Makes about 24 very large rolls.

*Freezable Recipe: After shaping the rolls and placing them on the baking sheet, cover with lightly greased saran wrap and a layer of tin foil. Store in the freezer. The night before you want to serve them take out the rolls and put them in the refrigerator. Let them thaw in the refrigerator. Take them out about 8-9 hours after being in the refrigerator and let them rise until doubled. Bake according to the recipe. (If you have less time, you can take the rolls out of the freezer and let them come to room temperature on the counter – about 4 hours, then let rise until doubled).

  • *I used 7 cups of flour for my rolls, but the amount of flour will depend on the humidity, the brand of flour you're using, and other factors.  I would start with 6 cups and just add 1/4 cup of flour at a time until the dough is no longer sticky.  Sometimes dough will be sticky because it's not kneaded enough, not because there's not enough flour.  Make sure you knead it thoroughly before adding extra flour.
  • *For the filling, the original recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of brown sugar, and 4 tsp of cinnamon.  I decreased it to 3/4 cup of butter, 1 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 2 1/2 tsp of cinnamon.  
  • *As for the frosting, I decreased the confectioner's sugar from 3 cups to 1 1/2 cups.  It was sweet enough for me.  The consistency didn't suffer either. 

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