Grape Ricotta Danishes with Walnut Thyme Streusel

This post is sponsored by Bake from Scratch as part of their Better Baking Academy with Bob’s Red Mill. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

grape ricotta danishes

Grape ricotta danishes with walnut thyme streusel are the buttery-creamy-fruity-nutty pastry of your dreams! These homemade danishes are perfect for a weekend brunch or holiday spread and are so fun to make.

Better Baking Academy

I’m sharing these pastries with you as part of the year-long Better Baking Academy put on by Bake from Scratch and Bob’s Red Mill! Every month this year, this free educational series has been diving deep into different baking techniques — think macarons, pate a choux, and pie dough. Through detailed tutorials and clear recipes, Better Baking Academy aims to equip the home baker with a well-rounded set of skills that will set you up for a lifetime of baking success. Enroll in the Better Baking Academy now to access all the modules and recipes!

This month’s Better Baking Academy module is on fall danishes and lamination technique. While lamination may sound a little intimidating, let me assure you that it is very doable at home (there’s even a whole chapter on laminated pastries in my upcoming cookbook!). Learning how to laminate will open up a huge world of delicious baked goods — croissants, danishes, puff pastry, kouign amann, and so on. Like any other technique, lamination just takes some patience and practice. Here are a few pointers to help you on your way.

danish dough ingredients

Five Tips for lamination success

  • Use good quality ingredients. Now is the time to splurge on fancy European-style butter (at least 82% fat)! Not only will good butter make your pastries taste better, but the actual lamination process will be much easier — European-style butter is less prone to cracking due to its low water/high fat content. Using a strong, good-quality flour is key as well — Bob’s Red Mill Organic Unbleached All-Purpose Flour is a great choice. It has a higher protein content than a lot of other all-purpose flours, which creates a strong dough that can withstand rolling and shaping and pastries that will rise high in the oven.
  • Plan your bake. There’s actually not a ton of hands-on work required for laminated pastries, but you will need to plan for chilling and proofing times throughout the process. Figure out when you want to bake the pastries and work backwards from there to budget your time. I suggest reading the recipe through completely a couple times in advance, and trying to visualize each step before starting. The more familiar you are with the steps before you begin, the more enjoyable the entire process will be.
  • Measure carefully. Pull out your kitchen scale and ruler — pastries like precision! For best results, weigh your ingredients and measure carefully when rolling out and cutting. Roll your dough to the specified dimensions, and keep your edges and corners neat and sharp — this will help you achieve uniform, professional-looking pastries!
  • Manage temperature. Properly managing the temperature of your ingredients is critical for successful lamination. Your butter and dough need to be at similar temperatures before you try to combine them via lamination. They should cool but pliable — if too cold, the butter will shatter when you try to roll it out; and if too warm, the butter will melt into the dough. Test your butter block before starting lamination — it should be pliable enough to bend without breaking, but cool enough to easily release from the parchment paper. If you can feel the butter starting to crack as you roll, stop and let it soften for 5-10 minutes before proceeding. If the dough starts to feel sticky/melty/warm, stop and refrigerate for 5-10 minutes and try again.
  • Proof fully. Once you’ve shaped your pastries, proof them in a warm and humid environment. The oven with the light on and a dish of warm water on the shelf below is a great spot. (Just make sure the temperature doesn’t get above 80F degrees or the butter will melt!) When fully proofed, the pastries should look very puffy and jiggly with very visible layers. When properly proofed pastry hits the hot oven, steam from the butter will cause the layers to separate and create that beautiful flaky texture. Underproofed pastries tend to leak butter during baking and won’t have a light final texture.

Now, about these grape ricotta danishes with walnut thyme streusel! I decided to go with a classic coil shape that is simple but gorgeous. Also very important — it allows for plenty of filling! These danishes start with a ricotta filling spiked with honey and black pepper (one of my favorite punchy flavor combos!), which is then topped with fresh grapes. I used a seedless concord variety which were just perfect — after roasting in the oven they’re intensely jammy, but still retain some texture. I think blueberries, cranberries or even thinly sliced pears would work nicely here too — but do try the grapes if you can!

These danishes are generously sprinkled with a nutty streusel before hitting the oven. You’ll never find me saying no to streusel — not only does it taste delicious, but it adds a crisp layer of texture that complements the creamy ricotta and juicy fruit.

For a final bit of bakery style shine, brush your danishes with a little warm honey as soon as they’re out of the oven. Wait just long enough so that you don’t burn your tongue, then enjoy! These danishes are *chef’s kiss* perfect still warm from the oven and honestly so satisfying to make.

grape ricotta danishes 2

Grape Ricotta Danishes with Walnut Thyme Streusel

Makes 12 danishes | Danish base recipe adapted from Bake From Scratch

Ingredients:

For the Danish dough:
  • 4  cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
  • ⅓ cup (67 grams) plus 1 teaspoon (4 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon (9 grams) kosher salt
  • 2¼ teaspoons (7 grams) instant yeast
  • 1 cup (240 grams) whole milk
  • 1 cup (227 grams) plus 3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter, softened and divided
  • 2 large eggs (100 grams), room temperature and divided
For the ricotta filling:
  • 1/2 c (120 g) full fat ricotta cheese
  • 1½ Tbsp (30 g) honey
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1½ Tbsp (12 g) all-purpose flour
For the walnut thyme streusel:
  • 1/3 c plus 1 Tbsp (50 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c (50 g) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves 
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp (42 g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 2 Tbsp (25 g) chopped walnuts
To finish:
  • 1 cup (240 g) seedless concord grapes (or similar variety), halved if large
  • 2 Tbsp (40 g) warm honey, for glazing, plus more for drizzling
  • Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish

Method:

  1. Make the danish dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 1 cup (125 grams) flour, ⅓ cup (67 grams) sugar, salt, and yeast.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat milk and 3 tablespoons (42 grams) butter over medium heat until an instant-read thermometer registers 120°F (49°C) to 130°F (54°C). Add warm milk mixture to flour mixture, and beat at medium-low speed until combined. Add 1 egg (50 grams), beating until combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually add 2½ cups (313 grams) flour, beating just until combined and stopping to scrape sides of bowl.
  3. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at low speed until a soft, somewhat sticky dough forms, 5 to 7 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl and dough hook; add up to remaining ½ cup (62 grams) flour, 1 tablespoon (8 grams) at a time, if dough is too sticky. Cover and let rise  until slightly puffed, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and lightly dust with flour.
  5. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Shape into a 9-inch square, and place on prepared pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  6. Prepare the butter block: Using a permanent marker, draw an 8-inch square on a sheet of parchment paper; turn parchment over. Place remaining 1 cup (227 grams) butter on prepared parchment. Cover with a second sheet of parchment, and shape butter to fit inside drawn square, keeping edges straight and even. Keep wrapped in parchment paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  7. Freeze dough for 15 minutes; let butter block stand at room temperature until pliable, about 15 minutes.
  8. Laminate the dough: On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12-inch square. Unwrap butter block, and place on dough so corners of butter block touch center of sides of dough. Fold dough over butter block, meeting in middle, and press lightly to seal dough around butter block. Straighten dough and immediately roll into an 18×12-inch rectangle. Fold each short end to meet in center; fold in half. Turn dough 90 degrees, and roll out again. Repeat folding. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1½ hours; freeze for 30 minutes. (See Notes.)
  9. While dough is resting, make the ricotta filling and walnut thyme streusel. To make the ricotta filling, whisk together all ingredients until combined (for smoothest filling, pulse in a food processor). Transfer to a piping bag and refrigerate until ready to use.
  10. To make the walnut thyme streusel, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, thyme, and salt in a small bowl. Scatter the cold, cubed butter over the top. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the dry ingredients until moist clumps form. Mix in the walnut pieces. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  11. Shape, proof, and bake the danishes: Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 17×13-inch rectangle. Trim ½ inch off each side so rectangle is 16×12 inches. Cut dough in half lengthwise, and return one half to pan. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Cut remaining dough lengthwise into six 12″ x 1⅓” strips.
  12. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 teaspoon (5 grams) water and remaining 1 egg (50 grams).
  13. Brush a strip with egg wash. Twist strip; shape into a coil, making sure to keep it flat. Tuck end under, and place on prepared pan. Repeat with remaining strips. Brush shaped pastries with egg wash. Repeat with second half of dough.
  14. Let pastries rise in a warm, draft-free place (75-80°F/24-26°C) until danishes are puffy and jiggly and the layers are very noticeable. This may take as little as 20-30 minutes or as much as 1-2 hours, depending on how long it takes you to shape your pastries and the warmth of your kitchen.
  15. While pastries are rising, position oven rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
  16. Right before baking, brush pastries with a second coat of egg wash. Pipe a generous tablespoon of ricotta filling in the center of each danish. Press several grapes into the filling and sprinkle with a generous tablespoon of walnut thyme streusel. (Don’t skimp — the pastries will expand in the oven and you want to have plenty of filling and streusel in each one.)
  17. Bake, one batch at a time, until just starting to brown, 8-10 minutes. Rotate pan, and reduce oven temperature to 375°F (190°C). Bake until deep golden brown, 10-15 minutes more. (See Notes.) (Increase oven temperature to 425°F [220°C] before baking second batch.) Brush the grapes and exposed pastry with warmed honey. Serve warm or at room temperature, drizzling with additional honey and sprinkling with fresh thyme leaves just before eating, if desired. Best served same day but can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. (See Notes.)

Notes:

  • If you want to serve these for breakfast or an early brunch, instead of refrigerating for 1½ hours and then freezing for 30 minutes, just refrigerate overnight (no need to freeze).
  • Some ovens bake the bottoms darker than others, place a second pan under prepared pan when baking to prevent overbrowning. Not sure how your oven will bake? Can test with one on a sheet pan or just go ahead and double pan just to be safe.
  • Reheat stored Danish in a 350°F (180°C) oven before eating.

Sourdough pie crust

apple pie with sourdough crust

If you’ve hung around this site much, you probably know that I’ve got a thing for sourdough. Most often I use my sourdough starter to make bread — both crusty and soft — but I’ve been known to sneak it into things like chocolate cake and crackers. Repurposing “discard” (the portion of starter that is typically thrown away at each feeding) into something delicious is a challenge I really enjoy — not just because it reduces waste, but also because starter can add deeper flavor to so many baked goods! And pie crust is no exception.

Adding sourdough starter to pie dough is fairly straightforward. I’ve based this recipe on my go-to all-butter pie crust (which is in my book) by replacing all the liquid and part of the flour with ripe/discard starter. Since this recipe calls for a decent amount of starter, I usually save up a few days’ worth of discard in the fridge before making this crust. Since the starter isn’t for leavening, it doesn’t need to be at peak readiness as if you were mixing bread dough. As long as it still looks bubbly and isn’t overly soupy or acrid-smelling, it should work just fine. (I generally try to use my discard within 5-7 days.)

I’ve used sourdough pie crust for both sweet and savory pies and galettes. The starter adds a lovely depth of flavor. I don’t find it sour at all (though this will depend on the health/taste of your own starter!). It bakes up a little more tender than my regular pie dough, but is still plenty flaky as long as you handle it correctly (namely keep your ingredients cold and don’t overwork the dough!).

sourdough pie crust unbaked
A few notes:
  • I keep a 100% hydration (equal parts flour and water) starter, which is what I use for this recipe. I’ve never had to add any extra liquid, but if you keep a stiffer starter (or live in a drier climate) you might need a touch of ice water or milk to help bind your dough together.
  • Make sure your starter is well-chilled before using it to make pie dough. I like to measure it out and refrigerate it for at least a couple hours before mixing.
  • In general, I like to keep my butter pieces fairly large when making pie dough, especially if I’m going for maximum flake. I find it’s especially helpful when making sourdough pie crust since you have to work the dough a little more than normal to incorporate the starter.
  • When you first add the starter to your dough it may seem like it won’t incorporate. Avoid the temptation to add liquid or knead — just fold the mixture over itself and it should eventually start coming together.
  • The folding in step 4 is optional, but I almost always do it for extra-flaky and easy-to-handle dough.
  • You can halve all the ingredients to make a single 9″ pie crust, but I always make a double batch to maximize my time in the kitchen. Pie dough freezes incredibly well, and having a couple batches in the freezer stash makes me feel like a baking ninja: I’m already halfway to an awesome galette or pie!
Have crust, make pie!

Once you’ve made this sourdough pie crust, use it your favorite sweet or savory pie or try it in one of these recipes:

Sourdough pie crust

Makes enough for one double-crust 9″ pie | Adapted from Baked to Order

Ingredients:

  • 250g flour (I typically use 125g all purpose and 125g whole grain such as spelt, whole wheat, einkorn, or rye)
  • 1 1/2 tsp (6 grams) kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal brand)
  • 2 Tbsp (25 grams) granulated sugar
  • 250g unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 250g ripe or discard 100% hydration sourdough starter, cold (see notes above)

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Scatter the butter over the top. Use the pads of your fingers to flatten the butter pieces, tossing them with the flour mixture so each piece is coated on all sides. The butter pieces should remain fairly large, about the size of walnut halves. Work quickly so the butter remains cold.
  2. Scrape the sourdough starter over the flour-butter mixture. Use a flexible spatula to fold and mash the starter into the flour-butter mixture. Once the starter is well dispersed, use your hands to continue folding the dough over itself, giving the bowl a quarter-turn between folds, until there aren’t any dusty bits of flour remaining on the bottom of the bowl and the dough just holds together when you squeeze a bit in your hand. (Depending on the consistency of your starter and the humidity of your environment, you may need to add a drizzle of cold water or milk to bring the dough together; but I usually don’t need any.) You should still see visible pieces of butter—this is a good thing! Fold the dough over itself several more times, giving the bowl a quarter turn after each fold, to make a cohesive but ragged mass.
  3. If the dough is still cool to the touch at this point, continue on; if it feels at all soft or sticky, cover and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes before continuing.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a roughly 13-inch (33-cm) square. Brush off any extra flour and fold the dough into thirds like a letter. Fold into thirds again so you end up with a roughly 4.-inch (11-cm) square. Roll into a 3/4-inch (2-cm)-thick rectangle twice as long as it is wide and cut in half. Wrap each half and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 1 day. (The dough can also be frozen at this point and defrosted in the fridge overnight before using.)

Mini vanilla cake with buttermilk ermine frosting (plus a smash cake!)

first birthday cake plus smash cake

Last week we celebrated Isabelle’s first birthday. As I’ve looked back on the photos and videos from this past year and cheered her on as she’s started taking her first steps, I realize — despite the seeming never-endingness that is 2020 — time marches on.

Naturally, there was cake. We’re still sticking to very small gatherings here, so I made a petite birthday cake and a very petite one for Isabelle to “smash.” (Though let’s be honest — this is our third kid and this was hardly her first taste of cake!) It was the perfect size.

Buttermilk Ermine Frosting

Let’s talk for a minute about the buttermilk ermine frosting. If you’ve never made ermine frosting (sometimes called flour buttercream or boiled icing… uh, yum?) you really must try it! It’s fluffy and not too sweet, almost like a sturdy whipped cream in texture. This old-school frosting starts with a flour-milk-sugar roux that’s cooked to a thick paste on the stove. Once cooled, it’s beaten together with softened butter. I promise, it’s much tastier than it sounds! Ermine frosting is softer than Swiss meringue buttercream so it’s not the best for super sharp edges and intricate piping, but it’s tops for eating. Using buttermilk instead of regular milk gives it cream cheese frosting vibes; I’m totally using it the next time I make a red velvet or carrot cake!

A few notes:

  • The measurements for this cake are a bit odd because it’s scaled down / adapted from this old favorite vanilla cake recipe. The cup conversions are super awkward so I’ve just stuck with grams. I recommend baking by weight whenever possible — it’s much more accurate and quicker/cleaner than breaking out all the measuring cups! A scale is truly my favorite kitchen tool and a worthwhile investment.
  • To make the cakes pictured, I split the batter among two 6-inch cake pans and two 4-inch cake pans. For the most even layers, weigh the batter (told you the kitchen scale is handy!). Here’s how I do it: before baking, I weigh the bowl in which I’ll be mixing my batter. After I’ve finished mixing my batter, I’ll weigh the bowl with the batter, then subtract the weight of the bowl to find out how much my batter weighs. Then I divide the batter weight by however many pans I’m using. In this case, I first divided by 3 — this is how much batter I put in each of the two 6″ pans. Then I divided the remaining third of the batter between the two 4″ pans. Note that if you’re using different sized pans, they may bake at slightly different rates; though in this case all my layers finished around the same time. Not making a smash cake? You can just use three 6″ pans!
  • If you don’t have buttermilk, you can substitute plain milk (either lowfat or whole should work nicely) for a plain, delicious vanilla frosting.

Mini vanilla cake with buttermilk ermine frosting (plus a smash cake!)

Makes one 2-layer 6″ cake plus one 2-layer 4″ smash cake (or one 3-layer 6″ cake)

Ingredients:

For the vanilla cake:

  • 119g all-purpose flour
  • 136g cake flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 250 g granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 204g sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 136g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 60g neutral vegetable oil (I prefer grapeseed)

For the buttermilk ermine frosting:

  • 42g all-purpose flour
  • 140g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 255g buttermilk
  • 240g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

To assemble:

  • About 1/3 cup peach preserves (or other thick fruit jam)
  • Sprinkles, for decorating

Method:

For the vanilla cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C) with a rack in the middle position. Line the bottom of two 6″ pans and two 4″ pans with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pans.
  2. In a glass measuring cup with a spout, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and 50 grams of the sour cream.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Mix on low for 30 seconds to combine.
  4. With the mixer still on low, add the butter a spoonful at a time, followed by the oil and the remaining 154 grams of sour cream. Once all the flour is moistened, increase the speed to medium and beat for about 90 seconds. The batter will be very thick at this point. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and paddle.
  5. With the mixer on low, add half of the egg and sour cream mixture. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and paddle. Repeat with the remaining egg mixture.
  6. Fold the batter a couple of times with a flexible spatula to ensure everything is well incorporated. Divide the batter among the prepared pans (see notes above) and smooth the surfaces with a small offset spatula. Place the pans on a baking sheet.
  7. Bake until the cakes are puffed and springy, and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 28-35 minutes. (These cakes don’t brown much.) Cool 10-20 minutes in pan and then turn out to a cooling rack. For easiest assembly, wrap each layer in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator completely before filling and frosting.

For the buttermilk ermine frosting:

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt until well combined. Add the buttermilk and whisk until smooth.
  2. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until it comes to a boil. One the mixture starts boiling, cook for an additional two minutes. It should be thick and glue-like; if you run a spoon through the middle of the mixture, the line should remain for a second before slowly filling again.
  3. Remove from the heat and use a flexible spatula to scrape into a pie plate (using a wide, shallow pan speeds the cooling process). Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to keep a skin from forming. Cool completely to room temperature before proceeding.
  4. Place the butter in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium until very light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add the cooled pudding a spoonful at a time. Once all the pudding has been added, scrape down the paddle and sides of the bowl. Continue mixing until smooth.
  5. Switch to the whisk attachment and add the vanilla. Whip on medium speed until thick, smooth, and creamy, about 3 more minutes. Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week (or freeze for up to 6 months). Bring back to room temperature and rewhip before using.

To assemble:

  1. If you plan to pipe words or other decorations on your cakes, set aside a small amount of buttercream (I only needed a couple spoonfuls to pipe “One” and “1”). Transfer about 1 cup of buttermilk ermine frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Level the cakes if needed using a sharp serrated knife or cake leveler. Place one 6-inch round on a cake board or serving platter. Pipe a dam around the edge and fill the center with peach preserves. Place the second layer cut side down. Frost the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting to lock the crumbs in, then chill for about 15 minutes. Repeat process with the 4″ cake layers.
  2. Frost the cakes and decorate as desired. I tinted my reserved frosting with a drop of Americolor Dusty Rose and piped the text using a #2 Wilton tip (I recommend practicing a couple times on a piece of parchment paper). Cake is best enjoyed at room temperature.

Small batch baked apple cider donuts

Last week I was in desperate need of a fall spice fix. I’d recently found my donuts pans while cleaning out my baking supplies and we had a two large jugs of local apple cider, so the solution was obvious — apple cider donuts!

There’s a plain baked donut recipe from the early days of this blog, and this version is a direct descendent. I remember trying several baked donut recipes at the time of that original post, and the base recipe from The Kitchn was our clear favorite. It uses both yeast and baking powder for leavening, taking a page from southern-style angel biscuits. I love the texture of these donuts — they’re light, but still have the pleasing heft of a cake-style donut thanks to a good dollop of sour cream. To “apple ciderify” the base, I swapped out some of the sugar for light brown, added a good dose of apple pie spices, and used some reduced apple cider for the liquid. I also like to use a little bit of wholegrain flour to hint at rustic heartiness.

These donuts are most delicious still a little warm from the oven, though I’ll admit to thoroughly enjoying one the next day with my morning coffee. Maybe I shouldn’t have small batched them… (FWIW, the recipe is easily doubled.)

A few notes:

  • You can use either instant or active dry yeast for this recipe. If you’re using active dry, there really isn’t a need to activate the yeast in liquid beforehand as long as you know it’s still good. If you’re unsure, you can bloom it in a couple tablespoons of the apple cider, then whisk the bloomed yeast-cider mixture into the wet ingredients in step three. (Remember to subtract the amount of cider you use for blooming from the total cider called for in the recipe.)
  • Feel free to adjust the spices to your liking. I know many people dislike cloves, but it’s a spice that reminds me of mulled cider so I like to add a pinch. Cardamom would be nice here too, if that’s your jam. I do think that fresh nutmeg is a crucial spice not just for apple-y things, but for donuts in general. Freshly grated makes all the difference.
  • The most time consuming part of this recipe is reducing the apple cider and letting it cool. If you want fresh apple cider donuts in the morning, I suggest doing the reduction the night before and letting it cool at room temp overnight.

Small batch baked apple cider donuts

Makes 6 donuts / Adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients:

For the apple cider donut batter:

  • 100 g (3/4 c plus 2 tsp) all-purpose flour
  • 25 g (3 Tbsp) einkorn flour (can substitute whole wheat, spelt, or more all-purpose)
  • 1 tsp instant yeast (or active dry)
  • 50 g (1/4 c) granulated sugar
  • 50 g (1/4 c) light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of allspice
  • Pinch of cloves
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal brand; use 2/3 the amount for another brand of kosher salt or sea salt and 1/2 the amount for table salt)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 70 g (scant 1/3 c) reduced apple cider, at room temperature (see Notes)
  • 70 g (scant 1/3 c) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 28 g (2 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

To finish:

  • 50 g (1/4 c) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of allspice
  • Pinch of cloves
  • 42 g (3 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle. Grease a 6-count donut pan (I have this one) with baking spray and dust with flour. Make sure to grease and flour the raised center of each cavity too, as that is where donuts like to stick.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, instant yeast, sugars, baking powder, spices, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the egg, reduced apple cider, sour cream, melted butter, and vanilla until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until completely incorporated. Transfer the batter to a disposable piping bag and pipe into the prepared pan. Each well should be about 3/4 full. (You can also spoon the batter into the pan, but a piping bag is much easier and cleaner.)
  4. Bake the donuts until puffed and golden, about 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. While the donuts are baking, whisk together the granulated sugar and spices for the topping.
  5. When the donuts are done baking, remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 2-3 minutes. Transfer the donuts from the pan to the wire rack — I use a small offset spatula to gently dislodge them, then turn onto the rack. They should turn out easily if your pan was well prepared.
  6. While the donuts are still warm, use a brush both sides with melted butter and sprinkle with the spiced sugar. Donuts are best enjoyed still slightly warm from the oven, preferably with coffee or warm apple cider.

Note: To make reduced apple cider, simmer 240g (1 c) apple cider over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced to 80g (1/3 c). This is easiest to do if you weigh the pot with the non-reduced cider before starting to simmer. Subtract 160g from this number — this is your target weight after reduction. Exact time will depend on the size of your pan and how warm your stove is — start checking around 15 minutes. Pour reduced cider into a heatproof container and cool to room temperature before using. I make a little more than is called for in the recipe to account for small amounts that might be left in the pan.

Salted Malted Oatmeal Cookies

salted malted oatmeal cookies

As the mornings and evenings begin taking on a chill, I inevitably find myself adding an extra shake of cinnamon to my banana bread and searching out my jewel-toned sweaters. It’s fall, y’all — my favorite season! Even though this year continues to perplex in so many ways, I take comfort in the constants: crimson-colored leaves, fresh apples, slowly simmered soups, pumpkin patches.

There will be apple and pumpkin pies, for sure, but first — these salted, malted oatmeal cookies! These cookies are inspired by the spelt and honey oatmeal raisin cookies in my upcoming cookbook, Baked to Order — consider it a bonus variation! If you’d like to learn more about Baked to Order or to pre-order (incredibly helpful for authors these days!), please head over to my dedicated cookbook page — it has more information specifically about the book along with a list of places you can purchase all over the world. Also, I’ve got some some previews and giveaways planned closer to the launch date, so follow along on Instagram to get in on the fun!

OK, back to this recipe! To inject fall vibes into these cookies, I reached for malted milk powder, a mix of grain extracts and milk powder. (For a more detailed description, read this excellent article by Stella Parks.) Adding malted milk powder to baked goods imparts a roasty, toasty caramelized flavor — perfect for fall!

I like these cookies with lots of toasted nuts (I used pecans, but walnuts would be excellent too) and a hint of milk chocolate. Substitute a different type of chocolate if you prefer, but I enjoyed how the sweetness of the milk chocolate complemented the robust malty flavor. But your cookies, your choice!

A couple of notes:

  • A little inverted sugar gives these cookies the perfect amount of chew. I used golden syrup here — its caramel notes work so well with malt. Find golden syrup at your local British food store (many major supermarkets also carry it), or online. In a pinch you can substitute honey.
  • Malted milk powder increases browning, so it can be a little tricky to judge when these cookies are done. You want the edges to be set but the centers should be a little soft and lighter in color — the cookies will continue to set up outside the oven. Whenever I make a new cookie recipe, I like baking a single test cookie to test the perfect amount of time in my oven; that way you avoid an entire batch of over or under-done cookies.
  • A couple tips for beautiful looking cookies: first, for perfectly round cookies, use a round cookie cutter, offset spatula, or spoon to nudge the cookies into shape right after you take them out of the oven (do this right away before they completely set). Second, hold back a little bit of the mix-ins (nuts and chocolate) and stick a few pieces on top right before baking to give each cookie some visual interest. (And don’t forget the flaky salt!)
  • You can chill unbaked dough in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for longer storage. For oatmeal cookies in general, I prefer letting the chilled dough soften at room temperature before baking (I take them out 30-60 minutes before baking, or at least while the oven is preheating if I forget to do it sooner). I find they spread better that way.
salted malted oatmeal cookies

Salted Malted Oatmeal Cookies

Makes about 15 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 113 g (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 70 g (⅓ cup plus 1 tsp) light brown sugar
  • 70 g (⅓ cup plus 1 tsp) granulated sugar
  • 40 g (2 tbsp) golden syrup
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 40 g (⅓ cup) malted milk powder
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal; use 2/3 the amount for another brand of kosher salt or half the amount for table salt)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 125 g (1 cup) all purpose flour
  • 150 g (1⅔ cup) rolled oats (not quick)
  • 120 g (1 cup) toasted pecans, chopped
  • 85 g (½ cup) chopped milk chocolate
  • Flaky salt, for garnish

Method:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugars, golden syrup, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, espresso powder, malted milk powder, and salt. Mix on low to combine, then increase the speed to medium and cream until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle a couple times during this process to ensure even mixing.
  2. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the egg and vanilla. Increase the speed to medium and mix until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and paddle.
  3. With the mixer on low, add the flour. When there are just a few streaks of flour remaining, add the oats, followed by the pecans and milk chocolate. Mix just until combined. Use a flexible spatula to stir from the bottom of the bowl a few times to make sure everything is well-mixed and there are no pockets of unincorporated flour. Cover and chill until just firm, about 45 minutes.
  4. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with a rack in the middle and line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Portion the dough into ping-pong sized balls, about 55-60 grams each. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets about 2½ inches (6 cm) apart.
  6. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the edges are set and golden but the centers are still soft and pale, about 13 to 15 minutes. Rotate the sheet in the oven halfway through baking. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store leftovers for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
salted malted oatmeal cookies

Strawberry Buttermilk Layer Cake

We celebrated my older girl’s third birthday last week — how did that happen? It seems not that long ago that we were celebrating her impending arrival — and now she’s a happy, rambunctious child who loves kimchi, unicorns, pickles, rainbows, and berries.

Unlike her older brother, Hannah didn’t have too many requests regarding her birthday cake: just “strawberries.” So here we are with strawberry cake! I am happy to report it was a huge hit with the birthday girl, who usually isn’t too much of a cake person — she gasped with delight when she saw the cake, asked for seconds, and gobbled up the leftovers the next day. I think I know what her birthday cake tradition will be now.

A few notes:

  • The main challenge when baking with strawberries is that strawberries contain a lot of moisture. I chose to cook down the strawberries until they were reduced in half by weight — this concentrates the flavor beautifully. The reduction is easy to track if you use a kitchen scale. For this recipe, you’ll want to start with 240g strawberries (either fresh or frozen works), which is double the weight of the needed reduced puree. Add the strawberries to your saucepan (halved if large) and weigh the entire pan with the strawberries inside. Then subtract 120g from that number: this is how much your pan should weigh when your strawberries have reduced enough.
  • For this particular cake, I wanted a small but tall cake so I could do a rainbow effect. I divided the batter among three 4-inch pans (filled about 2/3 of the way, about 225g each), and baked off the rest of the batter as cupcakes. Pro tip: if you’re just baking a cupcake or two, pop your cupcake liners in individual ramekins so you don’t have to take out your entire cupcake pan!
  • The 4″ cake layers are thick, so I cut each in half for a total of 6 layers. You can do this with 6″ layers as well if you prefer more frosting and filling. Note that you’ll need a little extra frosting and filling if you go for additional layers.
  • For the rustic rainbow effect, I divided about a cup of swiss meringue buttercream (recipe from my book) into 5 equal parts, then tinted using gel food coloring (I mixed the colors individually, so sorry — no specific colors here). After crumb-coating and chilling the cake, I used a small offset spatula to swipe on equal bands of color, starting at the bottom. I placed Callebaut crispearls around the top edge for the gold “crown.”
  • Boxed strawberry cake has something of a cult following, but isn’t something I grew up eating. One of these days I’ll try the boxed version to see if this bears any similarities! My main objective for this cake was that it should taste like real strawberries and use real strawberries, preferably without fake extracts or difficult-to-find ingredients. I did use a tiny (1-2 drops) of red gel food coloring for a lovely pink hue — if you omit this, your cake will be tinted mauve/purple.
  • I wasn’t originally planning to blog about this cake, so sorry — I don’t have any great interior shots. The next time I make this cake I’ll update this post with more photos!

Strawberry Buttermilk Layer Cake

Makes one 2-layer, 6-inch cake

Ingredients:

For the reduced strawberry puree:

  • 240g strawberries, halved if large, fresh or frozen (but defrosted)
  • A couple pinches of granulated sugar, if needed

For the strawberry buttermilk cake:

  • 100g all-purpose flour
  • 100g cake flour
  • 120g reduced strawberry puree (see notes above)
  • 70g buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1-2 drops of red food coloring (optional, for more intense color)
  • 85g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal; use 2/3 the amount for another brand of kosher salt or 1/2 the amount for table salt)
  • 30g neutral vegetable oil (I use grapeseed)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp pure almond extract

To assemble:

  • 2-3 cups of frosting, depending on your design (see notes above)
  • Strawberry jam, if desired

Method:

  1. Make the reduced strawberry puree: Place the 240g strawberries and sugar, if using, in a medium saucepan. Weigh the entire pan with the strawberries inside. Subtract 120g from this weight and write this number down — this is how much the pan should weigh when your berries are sufficiently reduced. Heat the berries over medium, stirring frequently, until the berries break down and come to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue simmering and stirring until the mixture is thick like tomato sauce and the pan hits the target weight — about 25-30 minutes, but will depend on the size of your pan and heat of your stove. Scrape the bottom and the sides of the pan frequently to avoid scorching. When the berries are sufficiently reduced, transfer to a heatproof container and cool to room temperature before using.
  2. Make the strawberry buttermilk cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with a rack in the middle. Line the bottoms of two 6-inch (15-cm)-round cake pans with parchment paper, then grease the pans and dust them with flour.
  3. In a small bowl, sift together the all purpose and cake flours and whisk together thoroughly.
  4. In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the reduced strawberry puree, buttermilk, and food coloring (if using).
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low to combine, then increase the speed to medium and cream until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Use a flexible spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle a couple of times during this process. Add the oil and mix well to combine. Scrape down the bowl and the paddle.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each is well incorporated before adding the next. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well to combine. Scrape down the bowl and the paddle.
  7. With the mixer on low, add the flour and strawberry-buttermilk mixture in five additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Use a flexible spatula to fold from the bottom of the bowl a few times to make sure the batter is well-mixed.
  8. Divide the batter equally between the prepared cake pans, about 385 grams of batter each. Use an offset spatula to smooth the tops.
  9. Bake until the cakes are puffed and set and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, about 25 to 32 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Once the pans are cool enough to handle, run an offset spatula around the edges and turn the cakes out to finish cooling completely. For easiest assembly, wrap and chill the cakes in the fridge before filling and frosting.
  10. Assemble the cake: Trim the tops of the cakes to level if needed and peel the parchment paper off each one. Fill a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip with about 1 cup of buttercream. Place a dollop of frosting on a cake board, plate, or cake stand and place the first cake round on top. Pipe about ⅓ cup of buttercream onto the first cake round and spread it on smoothly using a small offset spatula. Pipe a ring of buttercream around the edge of the cake to create a dam. Fill the center with an even layer of strawberry jam. Finish by placing on the last cake round, top side down (this keeps the crumbs in while also ensuring a flat top). Use an offset spatula to spread a thin layer of buttercream over the entire cake to lock the crumbs in. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes, until set. After the cake has chilled, frost and decorate as desired. Serve at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

100% Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread with Maple and Oats

whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread

Making a 100% whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread has been on my baking bucket list for a long time. With cookbook recipe testing finished, the time was finally right! Although this loaf took many, many trials, I am pleased with how wholesomely delicious it turned out!

While I often replace about 30% of the flour in my go-to soft sourdough sandwich bread with whole grains, I knew making a completely whole wheat loaf would require some adjustments. One adjustment was amount of dough — because whole wheat does not rise as much as white flour, I had to increase the amount of dough in the tin to end up with slices that I considered tall enough.

Another adjustment was fermentation timetable. There is less “wiggle room” when it comes to whole wheat — the added nutrients cause fermentation to move quickly, which can cause the dough to overproof if you aren’t paying attention. Overproofing whole wheat doughs can lead to unpleasant sourness and a rougher crumb. For these reasons, I make this loaf all in one day (minus building the levain and soaker, which I prepare the night before). I experimented with refrigerating the dough partway through bulk fermentation (which I often do with other enriched doughs), but even with my fairly cold fridge the dough rose more than I expected and I ended up with overly sour loaves.

In addition to whole wheat flour, I decided to include an oatmeal soaker — I love the nutty tenderness oats add! Oats also hold on to moisture, helping this bread stay soft for days (though I especially enjoy this bread toasted)! I also used milk powder, maple syrup, and oil for additional softness and subtle sweetness. You can omit the milk powder if you want to keep this bread completely vegan, or try substituting a non-dairy milk powder. All in all, this loaf is nutty, wholesome, and just subtly sweet — — perfect for sandwiches and toast!

A few additional notes:

  • If you’ve made any of the enriched sourdough loaves on this site, you may remember that two keys to a soft crumb and good rise are thorough mixing and full proofing. This is still the case with this loaf. However, it is easy to overknead whole wheat dough, especially using a stand mixer; go slowly and check the dough often for the windowpane. (Alternatively, you can knead this dough by hand.)
  • If you follow me on Instagram, you may know that I worked quite a bit on trying to eliminate some small dense areas that can show up on the bottom and sides of pan loaves, particularly when using a 9x4x4 pullman loaf tin. After talking to some other bakers, a lot of reading, and additional tests, I’ve concluded that provided your fermentation is on point, this probably happens because the dough is being compressed as it rises and bakes. I don’t notice this issue in a standard 9×5 loaf tin (see comparison photos below), which has tapered sides (allowing the loaf to relax outwards). To me, this is an aesthetic issue — I don’t notice these areas when I eat the bread. Personally, I am willing to sacrifice a “perfect” crumb for a nice, tall slice; so I will continue to happily use my Pullman pan for this loaf! Keep in mind that there may be other reasons for dense spots — underfermentation or underbaking being the main ones.
  • There are many different ways to shape a sandwich loaf; I describe one I like below. It is similar to how I shape my soft sourdough sandwich bread; but instead of dividing the dough into three pieces, I keep it in one piece — the dough seems to compress a little less this way.
  • It’s important to bake and cool this loaf fully. Make sure the very center of the loaf registers 205F — there’s a lot of moisture in this loaf with the oat soaker, and if you underbake the insides will turn out gummy and the sides may cave in. Additionally, wait for the loaf to cool fully before slicing so the crumb can fully set — I like to give it at least 3 hours.
  • As with all recipes but especially sourdough ones, the times listed below are for guidance/general ballpark. Exact timings will vary depending on the strength of your starter, how fresh your flour is, and the temperature of your environment. Paying attention to the physical cues — the appearance and feel of the dough and amount of rise — is much more important than sticking to a strict timetable!

ww sandwich loaf proofing
ww sandwich loaves two tins
ww sandwich loaf crumb comparison

100% Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread with Maple and Oats

Makes one 9x4x4 or 9×5 loaf

Ingredients:

For the stiff sweet levain:

  • 24g ripe 100% hydration sourdough starter
  • 39g water, at room temperature
  • 72g whole wheat flour
  • 11g sugar (I used brown sugar)

For the oatmeal soaker:

  • 60g rolled oats (regular, not quick)
  • 150g boiling water 

For the final dough:

  • 177g water, at room temperature 
  • 34g neutral vegetable or olive oil
  • 45g maple syrup 
  • All of the stiff sweet levain
  • 336g whole wheat flour (I used half organic hard whole wheat and half Flourist sifted red spring wheat)
  • 30g milk powder
  • 9g salt
  • All of the oatmeal soaker

To finish:

  • Additional rolled oats, for garnish (optional)
  • 14g / 1 Tbsp melted butter (optional)

Method:

  1. Make the stiff sweet levain (Day 1, evening): In a medium bowl, mix together the starter, water, whole wheat flour, and sugar until well combined. It should resemble a stiff dough. Cover and ferment at room temperature (74-76F) until tripled in volume and the top is starting to flatten, about 10-12 hours.
  2. Make the oatmeal soaker (Day 1, evening): Place the oats in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Stir to make sure all the oats are hydrated. Cover and let sit until you are ready to mix the dough. (I do this at the same time I mix the levain.)
  3. Autolyse the dough (Day 2, morning): In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the water, oil, and maple syrup. Tear the ripe stiff levain into several pieces and add it to the liquid. Stir with a flexible spatula to disperse and break up the levain. Add the whole wheat flour and milk powder. Stir just until all the flour is hydrated and there are no dry spots. The dough should be fairly stiff at this point. Cover and let sit for 45 minutes.
  4. Mix the dough: Add the salt to the autolysed dough. Mix on low (speed 1 on a KitchenAid) until the salt is evenly dispersed and the dough begins to smooth out, about 3-4 minutes. Increase the speed to medium low (speed 2-3 on a KitchenAid) and mix until the dough is very smooth and supple and reaches windowpane stage, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the dough hook a couple of times during this process to make sure the dough is evenly mixed. (Alternatively, you can knead by hand — it will take longer, but this dough is easy to handle.)
  5. Add the oatmeal soaker: Add the oatmeal soaker and use your hands to squish it into the dough, folding the dough over onto itself several times to disperse the soaker evenly. Mix on low for one minute to make sure the dough is evenly mixed — do not overmix, or the gluten may start to break down. The dough may be a little sticky, but still strong and smooth and hold together easily. Transfer to a large oiled bowl or container for bulk fermentation. Desired dough temperature is 76-79F.
  6. Bulk fermentation: Let the dough rise at room temperature until it has risen 60-75%, about 2-3 hours at 75-77F. Because the dough was well-developed during mixing, there’s no need to do any stretches and folds (though you can if you want to). When ready to shape, the dough should feel airy and puffy, but still strong — do not push the bulk too far as the high whole-grain percentage can cause the dough to overferment quickly.
  7. Shape: Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. To create a very tight, even crumb (my preference for sandwich breads), use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle about 9 x 13. Starting with a short edge, roll the dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Let rest 10 minutes, uncovered. Roll into a rectangle again, along the seam, and re-roll like a jelly roll as tightly as possible. (Try to get the short edge as close to 9″ as possible, but a little under is fine — the dough will relax to fill the tin.)
  8. Coat: Lightly grease a 9x4x4 or 9×5 loaf pan. If you want to coat your loaf with oats, lay down a clean, lint-free tea towel and sprinkle with a thin, even layer of rolled oats. Lightly spritz the shaped loaf with water, then carefully flip the loaf onto the towel, seam side up. Use your hands to rock the loaf back and forth a few times so that the oats stick to the loaf. Transfer the loaf to the prepared pan, seam side down. Cover with lightly oiled plastic.
  9. Proof: Proof the loaf at room temperature until it has doubled in size and passes the “poke test” — when you gently poke the loaf with a floured finger, the indentation should fill back very slowly. In a 9x4x4 pan, the dough should have risen about 1 inch above the rim in the center (in a standard 9×5 pan, about 2 1/2 inches). This typically takes me about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours; but exact timing will depend on the warmth of your kitchen and strength of your starter.
  10. Preheat the oven: About 45 minutes before you anticipate your loaf being ready to bake, preheat your oven to 425F with a rack in the middle and a rack below (for steaming, optional). About 10-20 minutes before baking, place a few small dishtowels (preferably ratty ones) in a roasting pan. Pour enough very hot or boiling water over the towels to fully saturate them. Place the roasting pan in the oven on the lower rack. (This is optional but helps create steam in the oven. I find this gives the loaf a better rise and shiny crust without needing to use an egg wash.)
  11. Bake and cool: Bake the loaf for 20 minutes, then remove the roasting pan. Turn the oven temperature down to 400F and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes, or until the top is well browned and the internal temperature of the very center of the loaf reaches 205F. (If the loaf is taking on too much color for your liking, tent it with foil midway through baking.) Once the center has reached 205F, remove loaf from the tin and return to the oven to bake for 1-2 more minutes (optional, for more color on the sides/bottom). Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and brush melted butter over the top and sides — this optional finish helps keep the crust soft and flavorful. Let the loaf cool completely before cutting, at least 3 hours. Store leftovers in a sealed plastic bag for 4 to 5 days, or freeze for longer storage.
WW sandwich loaf pullman profile

Raspberry Lemonade Snickerdoodles

raspberry lemonade snickerdoodles

The idea for these raspberry lemonade snickerdoodles has been brewing in the back of my brain for awhile. I love a good snickerdoodle riff, starting with these gingerbread latte snickerdoodles a couple years back. After working on a classic snickerdoodle recipe + variations for my upcoming book, I’m now revisiting a few ideas that I didn’t have room to include (like these graham cracker snickerdoodles from earlier this summer). The beautiful multi-colored sugar cookies from Amy and Sarah inspired the look for this zesty and cheerful raspberry lemonade version!

Making these cookies is fairly straightforward, but for the full raspberry lemonade experience you’ll need a few special ingredients:

  • Cream of tartar: Cream of tartar is an acid (in powder form; find it in the baking/spices aisle of your grocery store). Combined with baking soda, cream of tartar leavens these snickerdoodle cookies and produces the classic snickerdoodle tang. While there are a lot of suggested substitutions for cream of tartar on the internet, I have not tried them in this particular recipe.
  • Freeze-dried raspberries: To get a concentrated amount of raspberry flavor in these cookies, I use ground freeze-dried raspberries. Freeze-dried fruit is an amazing way to amp up your baked goods as it brings intense flavor without extra moisture. I ground up whole freeze-dried raspberries into a powder and added it directly to the cookie dough. Freeze-dried fruit is available online and in many grocery stores.
  • Citric Acid: To give these cookies an extra tangy zing, I use a small amount of citric acid in the sugar sprinkle. Citric acid occurs naturally in citrus fruits (like lemons!) and is also artificially made and used as a flavoring agent and preservative. Citric acid is commonly found in the baking/spices aisle of the supermarket or in bulk food stores. Can you omit it? Sure, but your cookies will not be nearly as punchy. (You could try sprinkling a little lemon zest onto the cookies right after baking, but the flavor will be less potent.) Citric acid keeps well and can be used in many other recipes that might benefit from a little pucker!

Anyways, enjoy these summery snickerdoodles! They really put a smile on my face!

raspberry lemonade snickerdoodles unbaked
raspberry lemonade snickerdoodle stack

Raspberry Lemonade Snickerdoodles

Makes 12 cookies

Ingredients:

For the raspberry lemonade snickerdoodle base:

  • Zest of one medium lemon
  • 120g (scant 2/3 c) granulated sugar
  • 30g (2 1/2 Tbsp) light brown sugar
  • 113g (1/2 c) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use 1/2 tsp if using another brand of kosher salt or 1/4 tsp table salt)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 175g (1 1/3 c plus 2 tsp) all purpose flour
  • 6g finely ground freeze dried raspberries (1 Tbsp ground, from about 1/4 c whole freeze dried raspberries), plus extra for sprinkling (optional)
  • 1-2 drops pink/fuschia food coloring (optional, for more intense color)

For the lemonade sugar sprinkle:

  • 25g (1/8 c) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp citric acid

Method:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine lemon zest and sugars. Use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugars until fragrant — this releases the essential oils from the zest and intensifies the lemon flavor of the cookies.
  2. Add the butter, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt to the zest-sugar mixture. Mix on low to combine, then increase the speed to medium and cream until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle a couple times during this process to ensure even mixing.
  3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the egg. Increase the speed to medium and mix until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and paddle.
  4. With the mixer on low, add the flour. Mix just until combined. Use a flexible spatula to stir from the bottom of the bowl a few times to make sure everything is well-mixed and there are no pockets of unincorporated flour.
  5. Remove half the dough and wrap in plastic. Add the ground freeze-dried raspberries and food coloring (if using) to the remaining half of the dough and mix until combined. Wrap in plastic. Chill both pieces of dough until firm but still pliable, about 30-45 minutes.
  6. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar and citric acid for the lemonade sugar sprinkle.
  8. Divide each half of dough into twelve acorn-sized balls. You should end up with a total of 24 balls, 12 of each color (about 20g each). Gently press one ball of each color together to form 12 cookies total — don’t roll them too tightly so the colors remain distinct. Toss each in the lemonade sugar sprinkle, coating completely. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets about 2½ inches apart.
  9. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the cookies have puffed and edges are set but the centers are still soft, about 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate the sheet in the oven halfway through baking. Immediately after removing the cookies from the oven, sprinkle a little more ground freeze-dried raspberries on the berry half of the cookie, if desired. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Summer Fruit Pie with Spiced Streusel Topping

fruit streusel pie

Nothing is more quintessentially summer to me then a morning of fruit picking followed by an afternoon of pie-making. Despite an overall wacky 2020 so far, I’m thankful that we’ve still been able to make it out to the orchards. Candy-like strawberries, plump cherries, deeply hued blueberries, and blushing peaches — I love them all.

When we inevitably pick a little too much to eat out of hand (which is becoming increasingly rare — my kids are fruit fiends!), pie is the answer. I usually make one regular pie, then let my kids play with the pie dough scraps to form mini pies. When there aren’t enough scraps for a full top crust, I toss on a bit of crumb topping. Once, while enjoying one of these “scrap” pies, my husband asked me, with a twinge of guiltiness, “Is it wrong if I like crumb topped pies more than double crust ones?”

I had to laugh because I’ve suspected for awhile (and my very scientific IG polls confirm) that crumb-topped pies are the secret fan favorite. While we might ooh and ahh over intricate double-crust beauties, the crumb pies are always the first to disappear.

Now I personally love a double crust, especially a la mode. But I totally understand the appeal of a crumb topping. It’s an extra layer of texture and sweetness, and another opportunity to sneak in more flavors — spices, nuts, oats, and so on. Plus, I think crumb-topped pies keep better than double crust. I love a slice cold from the fridge after the topping has crisped up. All that to say — it’s high time for this streusel topped pie recipe!

streusel pie pre bake
A few notes:
  • Fruit preparation and amounts: It can be tricky estimating how much fruit you’ll need for a pie. I don’t think approximate numbers of fruits are very helpful because it all depends on the size of your fruit! My sweet spot for summer fruit pies (using a typical 9-inch pie plate) is roughly 1 kg (or between 2 and 2 1/2 pounds) of prepared fruit — i.e. the fruit is skinned (if needed), pitted, and sliced/chopped. So if you’re baking with something like blueberries which can be used as-is, you can just weigh the fruit directly. If you’re using something like peaches which need skinning and de-pitting, you’ll want to start with a bit more, maybe 3 1/2 pounds. When filling the dish, I’m looking for the fruit to come up to the crimps with enough to slightly mound in the center. Fruit shrinks in the oven, so this ensures a nicely filled pie after baking. For large fruits like peaches and nectarines, I slice into 1/4″ slices; large berries I halve or quarter; small berries I leave whole.
  • Pie thickeners: My personal favorite thickener for juicy fruits is arrowroot starch — it’s clear when cooked and has the least “gloopy” taste compared to cornstarch and tapioca starch. There’s a mix of art and science when it comes to thickeners, as well as personal taste. I like my pie slices to hold their shape once the pie has fully cooled, but not to be overly jelly-like. King Arthur Baking has a helpful pie thickener chart and their suggested amounts are usually pretty on for my tastes (if anything, I use just a touch less). The amount of starch below worked perfectly for both an all-peach pie and a pie with a mix of nectarines and blueberries.
  • Streusel tips: My favorite way to make streusel is with cold butter. I like the resulting texture, and the crumbs hold their shape better than streusel made with melted or room temperature butter. Keep your streusel in the fridge and don’t put it on the pie until just before you’re ready to bake — if the butter warms up, the streusel will flatten and spread. I like streusels that are roughly 1 to 1.5 : 1 : 1 ratio of flour + add-ins : sugar : butter, which results in a shortbread-like texture with mild sweetness. You can keep it as simple as all purpose flour, white sugar, and butter (and please, just a pinch of salt!); but I love having a bit of fun with my streusels. Here I’ve added oats, almond flour, and a touch of warm spices.
  • Bake your pie fully! If you’ve ever struggled with soggy bottoms and pies that don’t set up, you’re probably not baking your pie long enough. In general, with the amount of fruit I use, my full-size fruit pies rarely take under an hour to fully cook — usually closer to 70-80 minutes. You’re looking for the filling to bubble in the very center of the pie (where it takes the longest to cook). Thickeners don’t activate properly unless the liquid reaches a boil, so if the center of your pie isn’t bubbling your pie probably won’t set up. Be patient and tent your pie with some foil if the top is browning too fast.
  • Cool your pie fully! Likewise, if you’re wanting clean slices, you’ll have to let the pie cool down fully — about 4 hours. Now between you and me, if the pie is just for family, I’m not waiting quite that long — I don’t mind a messy slice, and fresh warm pie + a scoop of melting ice cream is one of life’s great pleasures. But even at home, I try to wait at least 2 hours so that the juices don’t completely run all over the place and I don’t burn my tongue.
  • Pie crusts and extra tips: My go-to pie crust recipe and method will be in my book, but I love this one or this sourdough option. For even more pie tips, see this post.

Summer Fruit Pie with Spiced Streusel Topping

Makes one 9″ pie

Ingredients

  • Enough pie dough for a single 9″ crust, homemade or store bought (see notes above)
For the spiced streusel topping:
  • 100g (3/4 c) flour, all-purpose or whole grain
  • 20g almond flour
  • 30g (1/3 c) rolled oats
  • 100g sugar (1/2 c) — I like half granulated, half brown
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 98g (7 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
For the stone fruit filling:
  • About 1 kg (2.2 lbs / 7-8 cups) prepared summer fruit (see notes above)
  • 50 to 100g (1/4 to 1/2 c) sugar, or to taste
  • 50g (6 Tbsp) arrowroot or cornstarch (see notes above)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 30g (2 Tbsp) bourbon (or 1 Tbsp lemon juice)

To assemble:

  • 1 Tbsp almond flour or cookie crumbs, or 1 tsp each all purpose flour and sugar

Method

  1. Prepare the pie crust: On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 13- to 14-inch round between ¼- to ⅛-inch thick. Roll from the center out, giving the dough a quarter turn after every roll to avoid sticking and ensure an even thickness. Dust off any excess flour. Carefully roll the dough onto the rolling pin and unfurl into a standard 9-inch pie plate. Gently lift the edges and press the dough into the bottom and sides of the plate, being careful not to stretch the dough to fit. Trim the overhang to 1 inch all around, then fold the excess dough under itself to form a border. The edge should be flush with the pie plate. Crimp the edges as desired. Cover and chill until the pastry is firm, at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven: While the crust is chilling, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) with a rack in the lower third. If you have a baking steel or stone, preheat that as well. If not, preheat a large foil-lined baking sheet.
  3. Prepare the streusel topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, oats, sugar, spices, and salt. Scatter the cold butter pieces over the top. Use your fingers to rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a clumpy cookie dough with no dry bits of flour remaining. Refrigerate until needed.
  4. Prepare the fruit filling: Place the prepared fruit in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, arrowroot starch, and salt (this helps prevent the starch from clumping). Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the fruit and stir until combined. Add the bourbon and stir to combine.
  5. Assemble and bake the pie: Remove the prepared crust from the fridge and place on a foil-lined baking sheet (unless the sheet is pre-heating in the oven — see notes above). Sprinkle the almond flour over the bottom — this helps absorb extra juices and keep the crust from getting soggy. Scrape the fruit filling (and all the juices) into the crust. Sprinkle the streusel mixture evenly over the top. Bake for 30 minutes, then turn down the temperature to 350F and continue baking until the filling is bubbling in the very center and the streusel is deeply golden, about 35-55 more minutes. Cool to room temperature before slicing, about 4 hours. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days.

Chocolate-freckled coffee and rye whisky ice cream

coffee rye whisky ice cream

I’ve been obsessed with making ice cream for the past year or so, ever since one of our friends kindly gave us her ice cream maker. I grew up in an ice-cream loving household; birthday cakes were often boxes of ice cream decorated with candy (even though more than half of us are lactose intolerant).

I’d hemmed and hawed for a couple summers about getting an ice cream maker — was it worth the space? Would I really use it? And now that I have one, I honestly can say I only regret not having one sooner!

(Side note: Yes, there are lots of “no churn” ice cream recipes out there. And ways to get around not having an ice cream maker. If you can’t or don’t want to invest in a machine, might I suggest you explore semifreddo recipes? They have a beautiful smooth and mousse-like texture, and aren’t as sweet/heavy compared to typical no-churn recipes involving sweetened condensed milk and whipped cream.)

Once you find some base recipes you like, homemade ice cream is all about experimenting and creating your own flavors. Try flavoring the base with an infusion or addition, add a mix-in or three, or both! For this chocolate-frecked coffee and rye whisky batch, I infused the dairy with whole coffee beans, mixed in a little rye whisky before churning, then added in some melted chocolate at the end of churning to create chocolate “freckles.” So. Delicious. I can’t wait to make this one again!

A few notes:

  • The base here is adapted from my go-to Philadelphia-style (eggless) ice cream base from Salt and Straw. It’s super easy to make, but it does require xanthan gum, corn syrup/glucose, and milk powder. I don’t recommend skipping these ingredients because they work together to create a beautifully smooth, non-icy ice cream that lasts well in a home freezer. I can easily source all three ingredients at my local bulk food stores and supermarket.
  • There are a lot of ways to flavor ice cream with coffee, but what I particularly liked about this cold infusion method was that the coffee flavor is super clean and not bitter at all. (You also don’t end up with a brown-colored ice cream that screams “COFFEE” which I thought was kind of nice.) I recommend weighing out the coffee beans before you add them, and then weighing them after they’re strained out. The coffee beans will inevitably soak up some of the liquid, so you’ll want to replace it before churning. Weighing the coffee beans will tell you exactly how much liquid to add back.
  • For best results, use fresh coffee beans. They don’t need to be super fancy or single origin, but fresh beans will impart the most flavor. I like to use an espresso roast, but use whatever you like.

One last note: my cookbook, Baked to Order, is now available for pre-order! It comes out November 17, 2020, and contains 60 sweet and savory recipes, with variations for every mood and craving. I can’t wait to tell you more about it in the coming months, but in the meantime please find more info on the Baked to Order cookbook page. Thank you so much for your support!

Chocolate-freckled coffee and rye whisky ice cream

Makes about 1 quart/liter

Ingredients:

  • 100g (½ c) granulated sugar
  • 15g (2 Tbsp) milk powder
  • ¼ tsp xanthan gum
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 330g (1 1/3 c) whole milk, plus more as needed (divided)
  • 40g (2 Tbsp) corn syrup or glucose
  • 113g (1/2 c) whole coffee beans
  • 330g (1 1/3 c) heavy cream, plus more as needed (divided)
  • 30-45g (2-3 Tbsp) rye whisky
  • 90g (1/2 c) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp neutral vegetable oil

Method:

  1. Make the coffee ice cream base: In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, milk powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Whisk in 330g milk and the corn syrup.
  2. Heat over medium, whisking constantly, until the mixture is steaming and slightly thickened and the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the 113g whole coffee beans, and cover. Infuse in the warm milk for 5-10 minutes. Pour the milk mixture and coffee beans into a heatproof container and stir in the 330g heavy cream. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator to infuse for 12 hours.
  4. Churn the ice cream: When you are ready to churn your ice cream, strain out the coffee beans with a fine mesh sieve. Weigh the coffee beans and subtract 113g — this is how much liquid was absorbed by the beans, and how much liquid you need to add back to the strained base via the rye whisky and extra milk/cream. (My beans weighed 213g, so I needed to add about 100g of liquid back. I added 40g of rye whisky, 30g milk, and 30g cream.)
  5. Churn the base according to the instructions for your machine, until the mixture has the texture of soft serve (for my machine this is about 20-25 minutes). While the ice cream is churning, melt the chocolate and oil together in the microwave or over a double boiler. During the last minute of churning, drizzle in the melted chocolate in a thin, steady stream.
  6. Transfer ice cream to a freezer-friendly container (a loaf pan works well). Cover with parchment paper, pressing it to the surface of the ice cream so it adheres, then cover with a lid. Freeze until firm, at least 6 hours. Ice cream will keep for up to 3 months.