Lime Chiffon Cake with Mango Whipped Cream

lime chiffon cake with offset spatula

I’ve been dreaming of making this cake for some time now: soft, fluffy layers of chiffon sandwiched with citrus curd and mango frosting. I’ve tried once or twice in the past, but it was never as good as I wanted: cake layers were too dry, or the frosting was too heavy. But this time around it was just right! This is the perfect style of cake to serve to people who don’t like desserts that are too sweet, or as a light ending to a large meal.

A few notes:

  • If you’ve never made any type of sponge cake before, I recommend reading through the tips on my mom’s sponge cake recipe before starting. Same principles apply.
  • If you make your own lime curd for this recipe, I definitely recommend saving your lime rinds and making some fresh lime syrup to use as your cake soak. I followed the directions here (substituting limes for lemons) and just let the mixture sit overnight before draining.
  • The mango whipped cream frosting uses a game-changing food processor method by Stella Parks (which she learned from a Japanese bakery), and it’s the perfect accompaniment to chiffon — light but flavorful from the addition of freeze-dried fruit. I really don’t recommend using a butter-based frosting with this cake as it’s just too heavy.
  • I got my freeze dried mangoes from Trader Joe’s, but you can also source it online.
  • To decorate this cake, I dehydrated some lemon and lime slices by baking them at 200F for a few hours until dry (flipping them every hour or so). I also added a bit of chopped freeze-dried mango.
lime chiffon cake from above

Lime Chiffon Cake with Mango Whipped Cream

Makes one 6-inch cake

Ingredients:

For the lime chiffon cake:

  • 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 150g cake flour
  • 175g caster sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • generous 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 60g (1/4 c or 60ml) lime juice
  • 60g (1/4 c or 60 ml) water
  • 76g (1/3 c or 80 ml) oil
  • Zest of two limes
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

For the mango whipped cream:

  • 23g freeze-dried mango
  • 75g granulated sugar
  • 3 c heavy cream, chilled

To finish:

  • Simple syrup or fresh lime syrup
  • ~4 Tbsp lime curd (I use David Lebovitz’s recipe: it makes a lot more than you need for this cake, but you can use the rest on toast or freeze leftovers)
  • Dehydrated lemon and lime slices (optional, for garnish — see notes)
  • Chopped freeze-dried mango (optional, for garnish)

Method:

For the lime chiffon cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the lower third. Line three 6-inch pans with parchment, but do not grease the sides of the pan.
  2. Sift together the cake flour, 150g caster sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl (you’ll eventually be mixing the whole batter in this bowl, so choose a nice wide one!). Whisk to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the egg yolks, lime juice, lime zest, water, oil, and vanilla to the well, and whisk until smooth.
  3. Beat the egg whites on medium-low speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium, and whisk until soft peaks. With the mixer still on medium, slowly add the remaining 25 grams caster sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until you have glossy firm peaks.
  4. Using a silicone spatula, carefully fold the egg whites into the egg yolk batter 1/3 at a time. Mix just until the batter is homogeneous and no white streaks remain.
  5. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans, about 250g each. Give each pan a couple raps on the counter to dislodge any big air bubbles.
  6. Bake until the cakes are puffed and firm and a tester comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes (do not open the oven door until at least 20 minutes have passed or the cakes might collapse!). Allow to cool a few minutes in the pan, then run an offset spatula around the edges (this helps minimize shrinkage). Cool another 10-15 minutes in the pan, then remove the cakes from the pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Once cooled, Chill the cakes before frosting, at least 1/2 an hour.

For the mango whipped cream:

  1. In a food processor, grind the freeze dried mango and sugar into a fine powder. Stir with a fork to break up any clumps.
  2. Add the cream and pulse until very thick and creamy, about the consistency of Greek yogurt. Be careful not to over-process or the cream will turn to butter! If you spoon out some of the cream, it should hold its shape when the spoon is overturned. Use immediately, or refrigerate until needed (it should keep for about a week).

To assemble:

  1. Trim the tops of the cakes to level if needed and peel the parchment paper off each one. Place a dollop of cream on a cake board / plate / cake stand and place the first cake round on top.
  2. Brush the top of the cake generously with syrup. Spoon about 1/3 c of mango whipped cream on top of the first round and spread it on smoothly with an offset spatula. Drizzle a couple tablespoons of lime curd in the center, taking care not to go too close to the edge so the curd won’t leak out the sides.
  3. Repeat step 2 with the second layer. Finish by placing the last cake round top side down (soak it with simple syrup before placing it on top).
  4. Spread a thin, even layer of mango whipped cream over the sides and top of the cake to lock the crumbs in. Refrigerate for about 15-20 minutes until set.
  5. After the cake has chilled, spread a thick, even layer of cream on the top and sides. I used an offset spatula to create some texture. Decorate with dehydrated citrus slices and freeze-dried mango pieces, or as desired. Chill until ready to serve.
lime chiffon cake

Sourdough Enriched Morning Buns

sourdough enriched morning bun

Happy New Year! I’m kicking off 2019 and year 4(!) of this blog with my current favorite breakfast pastry: sourdough enriched morning buns!

Morning buns are sort of a mash-up between a cinnamon roll and a kouign amman/croissant. They’re rolled and shaped like cinnamon rolls, but made with laminated dough and dusted with sugar so you get a gorgeously flaky exterior and a softer, caramelized center. I love the variety of textures in this pastry! Morning buns are also a great place to start if you’re new (like me) to laminated doughs! The final dough doesn’t have to be rolled quite as thinly as if you were making croissants, and you don’t have to individually shape each pastry — just slice, proof, and bake!

This morning bun recipe uses a yeasted laminated dough, which involves making a regular yeasted enriched dough (spiked with sourdough starter for flavor and strength) and folding it around a block of butter. You then give the dough-butter package several rolls and turns to create hundreds of thin alternating layers of dough and butter. When the proofed morning buns hit the hot oven, the yeast combined with the steam from the butter help give these pastries their beautifully golden flaky layers.

Originally I tried making these pastries with “quick” danish doughs (Nigella Lawson has a famous one); and while they tasted good, I really wanted to see how much different they’d be with the real deal. In the end, I vastly preferred the fully laminated dough and think it’s worth the extra time and effort.

I won’t beat around the bush: laminated dough is a bit fussy to work with and requires attention and precision. If you’re anything like me, it’ll take you several tries to get a product you’re reasonably happy with. But if that doesn’t scare you off, I’d say go for gold and give fully laminated a shot! Even if your pastries aren’t perfect, they’ll still probably taste better than most things you can buy in the store…and they are incredibly satisfying to make! Just choose a couple days when you can relax and focus and have some fun in the kitchen. Plus, once you’ve gotten the hang of laminated dough, it will open up a whole new world of homemade danishes, croissants, and other delicious pastries you can produce in your very own kitchen.

morning buns top down

A few notes:

  • Dough and butter temperature is really important for successful lamination. You basically want the dough and butter to be similar consistencies so they will roll out easily. The butter should feel cool and pliable — not melty or brittle. If the butter is too cold, it will crack into pieces and if it’s too warm, it will melt into the dough. I’ve had best success with a butter temperature around 55-60F at the start of lamination. I recommend reading through this post for lots of great lamination tips and information.
  • Along the same lines, you will want to rest the dough in the fridge between turns just long enough so the dough can relax and the butter can firm up enough to roll out without melting. In my cool Canadian kitchen in the winter, this takes about 30-40 minutes. If you’re in a warmer climate, you may need longer. At any rate, if it’s feeling at all soft and squishy, refrigerate it an extra 5-10 minutes. And if you feel the butter breaking up at all, let it sit for a few minutes at room temperature before rolling out.
  • The dough will get increasingly more difficult to roll out as you do more turns (all that rolling is essentially developing the strength of the dough). Use firm, even strokes and don’t be afraid to flip the dough back and forth to make sure you’re rolling evenly. You may need to rest the dough in the fridge halfway through the final roll.
  • Before you start lamination, make sure you have a large and clear work surface. You’ll also want to have a long rolling pin, measuring tape / ruler, and pastry brush handy along with a bowl of extra flour for dusting your surface and pin.
  • Do your best to maintain sharp corners and edges throughout the lamination process as this will give you the best results. Don’t be afraid to use your hands to tug the dough a bit to get it into the right shape.
  • Use good quality European style butter, at least 82% butterfat. Not only will this make your pastries taste better, but the lamination process will be easier. In my experience, European style butter is noticeably more pliable and less prone to breaking.
  • My family really enjoys raisins in these morning buns, but they do have a tendency to fall out when you’re dusting the finished pastries with sugar. No big deal, just push them back in. Or leave them out entirely if you’re not into raisins. Feel free to play around with the filling spices as well — some lemon or orange zest would be lovely, or add some ginger and nutmeg for warmth.
  • These pastries proof best in a warmish (~80F), humid environment. The oven with the light turned on and a bowl of hot water next to the sheet of pastries is my go-to spot. You don’t want it too hot, however, or the butter will leak out.
  • I usually make these pastries over two days. On day 1, I build the levain in the morning. I mix the dough in the afternoon and do the turns before going to bed. Then in the morning, I do the final roll out, shaping, proofing, and baking. You can also do the final roll and refrigerate the dough on a large sheet pan overnight, but don’t fill and shape the morning buns until you’re ready to proof and bake as the sugar will liquefy.

morning bun with coffee

Sourdough Enriched Morning Buns

Makes 12-14 buns | Dough recipe via The Fresh Loaf; morning bun portion inspired by various sources (see here, here, and here)

Ingredients:

For the levain:

  • 44g ripe sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 75g water
  • 134g bread flour
  • Mix and ferment at room temperature until ripe (6-12 hours). The levain should roughly triple in size, and the domed top should be slightly flattened.

For the final dough:

  • 361g bread flour
  • 135g milk
  • 77g egg (about 1 1/2 large eggs, or 1 egg + 2 egg yolks)
  • 60g sugar
  • 10g salt
  • 7g instant yeast
  • 41g unsalted butter, softened*
  • All of the levain
  • 310g unsalted butter, cold (roll-in)*

For the filling and coating:

  • 75g granulated sugar
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 100g raisins, optional
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • Additional granulated sugar for dusting the tins and rolling the finished pastries

*For best results, use a European style butter with at least 82% butterfat

Method:

  1. Mix together the final dough ingredients (except the roll-in butter) until combined, about 5 minutes on low speed using a stand mixer or 8-10 minutes by hand. The dough shouldn’t be at full gluten development (it will gain strength through fermentation and rolling), but it shouldn’t be sticky. Flatten into a rough rectangle, place on a baking sheet (I really like quarter sheet pans for this), wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or up to overnight).
  2. About 30 minutes before you want to begin lamination, take the roll-in butter out of the fridge. Slice into pieces and pound into an even 7.5″ square using a rolling pin. An easy way to do this for me is to draw a 7.5″ square on a piece of parchment, flip it over (so you don’t get marker or pencil into your butter), put the butter inside the square, and place another piece of parchment over it. Pound and roll the butter until it is an even square of butter, using a bench knife to clean up and sharpen the edges/corners as you go. Place back into the fridge to firm up for about 10-15 minutes before beginning lamination (see notes above).
  3. Remove the dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into an 11″ square. Remove the butter from the fridge and place it in the middle of the dough like a diamond. Fold the four flaps of dough over the butter to seal it in, pinching the edges to seal.
  4. Roll the dough into an 8″ x 24″ rectangle, flouring the dough and pin as necessary. You shouldn’t need too much flour, but use as much as you need so nothing sticks. (Just brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush before folding.) Do a single book fold by folding the top third of the dough down and the bottom third up over the middle, using a bit of water to “glue” down the layers. Before folding the top edge down, trim the edge to expose the butter (you can save the scraps and bake them off in a mini loaf pan at the end!). Give the dough a 90-degree turn so the opening is on the right, cover with plastic, and rest in the fridge for about 30-40 minutes to relax and chill.
  5. Do two more book folds following the step above, chilling the dough 30 minutes after the second fold and at least 90 minutes (or overnight) after the third and final fold.
  6. When you are ready to proof and bake, prepare a muffin tin by brushing each cavity with some of the melted butter and dusting with granulated sugar. Mix together the sugars, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
  7. Remove the dough from the fridge onto a lightly floured surface. Allow to sit for a few minutes. Roll the dough into a large rectangle about 13″ x 18″ (it should be about 1/4″ thick). Rotate the dough so a long edge is facing you. Brush the entire surface with the rest of the melted butter, then sprinkle it evenly with a generous layer of the sugar mixture (you probably won’t use all of it, but don’t be stingy) and raisins, if using. Use the rolling pin to gently press the sugar and raisins into the dough. Starting from the long end closest to you, roll up tightly like a jelly roll. (If the dough is starting to feel soft at this point, chill for about 10 minutes to make cutting easier.) Slice into 1 1/2″ pieces and place buns cut side up into the prepared tin.
  8. Cover the morning buns with lightly oiled plastic wrap and proof until very puffy and jiggly, about 2 hours at warm room temperature (see above). About 1/2 an hour before baking, preheat the oven to 425F.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375F and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes or until the buns are deeply golden and the centers register at least 200F. (If they are browning too quickly, tent with a piece of foil halfway through baking.) Cool the buns in the pan for a couple of minutes, then carefully remove and roll each bun in the remaining sugar mixture (I add an additional ~75g granulated sugar). Morning buns are best consumed fresh out of the oven, but any extras can be stored in an airtight container and reheated for about 5 minutes at 350F the next day or two.

Mushroom Meringues

mushroom meringues
These mushroom meringues may well be the most magical things I’ve made all year. I honestly couldn’t stop smiling after making a batch of these because they just looked so….mushroomy! These fungi confections are a traditional decoration for Buche de Noel (I used them to decorate a “Yule Log” cake), but they would also make a quirky addition to a cookie box or a sweet little stocking stuffer. They aren’t difficult to make, but they do take a bit of time. However, you can easily break up the work over a few days — just bake the meringues one day, and decorate while watching your favorite cheesy holiday movie!

A few notes:

  • This recipe is easily scalable. The basic proportion I used is 1 part egg whites to 1.5 parts sugar. (You can use 1:2 if you want them sweeter, but honestly they were plenty sweet for me.)
  • If you want your mushrooms to stand on their own, keep the caps on the smaller side (maybe 1-2 inches across) and the stems on the shorter, squatter side.
  • If you’re using these mushrooms to decorate a buche de noel or something of that sort, it’s perfectly fine (and even desirable) to have caps and stems of different sizes and lengths — it adds to the whimsy and realism! You can always use a dab of frosting to stick them down so you don’t have to worry if they don’t stand on their own.
  • If you make a mistake piping, just use a spatula to scoop up the meringue and put it back into the piping bag.

mushroom meringues 2
mushroom meringues in egg carton

Mushroom Meringues

Makes 20-24 medium mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 70g egg whites (about 2 large)
  • 105g caster sugar
  • Large pinch of salt
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • Seeds of half a vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g white chocolate or white candy melts
  • Cocoa powder for dusting

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 225F. Line one large (or two medium) sheet pans with parchment paper. Prepare a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (I used a 1/2″ one).
  2. Put the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium low until frothy, then add the salt and cream of tartar.
  3. Turn the speed up to medium and continue beating until the meringue holds soft peaks. Add the sugar a spoonful at a time, waiting about 10-15 seconds between additions.
  4. When all the sugar has been added, turn up the speed to medium high and continue beating until the meringue is glossy and holds very stiff peaks. Add the vanilla bean seeds (or vanilla extract) and whip until combined.
  5. Transfer half the meringue to the prepared pastry bag. Use a dab of meringue in each corner of the sheet pan to “glue” the parchment paper down. To pipe the caps, hold the pastry bag vertically about 1/2 an inch above the baking sheet and squeeze (without moving the bag) to form a round. When the cap is your desired size, stop squeezing and flick your wrist to complete the cap. Continue piping rounds until you’ve used up all the meringue in the bag. They won’t spread or puff much so you can pipe them quite close. If you have any peaks of meringue, use a damp finger to flatten and smooth out the caps.
  6. Fill the bag with the remaining meringue and pipe stems. Again, hold the bag vertically about 1/2 an inch above the baking sheet. Squeeze and slowly lift the bag, then stop squeezing but continue lifting to form “kisses”. Continue piping until you’ve used up all the meringue. (You’ll want to pipe a few more stems than caps as they’re more likely to topple or break.)
  7. Bake the meringues until they’re completely dry and release easily from the parchment, about 80-90 minutes. Turn the oven off and let the meringues cool down completely (a few hours or overnight).
  8. When the meringues are completely cool, use a microplane to shave down the tops of the stems so they’re flat. Dust some cocoa powder over the mushroom caps if desired. Smudge the cocoa with your finger to get your desired “dirty” look. Smudge a little on the stems as well if you like. (I used different cocoa powders — natural, Dutch processed, and black — to get a variety of looks, but use whatever you have or like.)
  9. Melt the white chocolate or candy melts. Use a small paring knife or flower nail to make a small hole in the bottom of a cap. (Work gently so you don’t pierce all the way through!).* Use a chopstick to widen the hole so the end of the stem will fit inside. Dip the end of the stem in melted chocolate, then stand the stem up. Carefully but firmly push the stem through the hole. Using a small brush, dab a little extra white chocolate around the join to seal. Set the mushroom in the well of an egg carton to allow the chocolate to set. Store in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks.
  • *Note: you can also just “glue” the stems to the caps without making a hole. I tried both ways and found the hole method to be a little more secure and realistic-looking, though more time consuming…
  • Sparkling Caesar Cocktail

    sparkling caesar cocktail montellier

    This post is sponsored by Montellier. As always, all ideas and opinions expressed here are my own.

    During our dating days, my husband did his best to give me a quick study of Canadiana. This included (but was not limited to) Saturday night hockey, poutine, and Caesar cocktails.

    Caesars are a brinier version of Bloody Marys, using clam-spiked tomato juice in place of regular. Colorful and punchy, they’re the perfect cocktail for your next holiday brunch. In this version I’ve added Canadian-sourced Montellier Lime Carbonated Water to add a refreshing and festive fizz. Cheers!

    Sparkling Caesar Cocktail

    Serves 1

    Ingredients

    • 1 oz. Canadian rye wiskey (or vodka, or more Caesar mix for a virgin drink)
    • 0.5 oz. lime juice + lime wedge for rimming/garnish
    • 2.5 oz. caesar mix, chilled
    • 1 can Montellier Lime Carbonated Water, chilled
    • Dash of worcestershire sauce
    • Hot sauce to taste
    • Pinch of fresh ground pepper
    • Caesar rim

    Method

    1. Rim a 6 to 8 oz glass with your favourite caesar rim mix.
    2. Add the rye, worcestershire sauce, lime juice, hot sauce (if using) and Caesar mix to the glass.
    3. Fill rest of glass with Montellier Lime Carbonated Water.
    4. Sprinkle a pinch of fresh ground pepper on top.
    5. Garnish with lime wedge and serve!

    Gingerbread Latte Snickerdoodles

    gingerbread latte snickerdoodle stack
    I’m a relative latecomer to gingerbread. Neither of my parents are fans of spice cakes and the like, so gingerbread men and houses weren’t a part of my childhood. It wasn’t until college, when one of my best friends suggested a gingerbread making party, that I had my first memorable gingerbread experience; and ever since then I’ve been trying to make up for lost time. I enjoy sneaking in gingerbread spices wherever possible — bread, morning pastries, coffee, cakes, and now — the classic snickerdoodle. And since one of my all time favorite flavor combos is espresso and gingerbread, I also added a bit of espresso powder to make these gingerbread latte snickerdoodles!

    These festive snickerdoodles are delightfully simple to make. I’ve added brown butter and brown sugar to add a bit more chew. I also prefer a mix of flours — bread, all purpose, and some type of whole grain flour — for texture and flavor, but all purpose will do just fine as well. A drizzle of white chocolate and a few Crispearls add a little festive flair. I hope you’ll enjoy these as much as I do!

    Gingerbread Latte Snickerdoodles

    Makes 12 cookies

    Ingredients

    For the gingerbread spice mix:

    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp ground ginger
    • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
    • 1/4 tsp allspice
    • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1/8 tsp cloves
    • Few cracks of black pepper

    For the cookie dough:

    • 113g unsalted butter
    • 60g light brown sugar
    • 60g granulated sugar
    • 1 large egg (straight from the fridge is fine)
    • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp cream of tartar
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
    • 1 1/2 tsp espresso powder
    • 80g bread flour
    • 60g AP flour
    • 30g einkorn flour
    • 1 1/2 tsp gingerbread spice mix

    For the sugar coating and decoration:

    • 1 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar (or cane sugar)
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp light brown sugar
    • Remaining gingerbread spice mix
    • 30g white chocolate, melted
    • Sprinkles or Crispearls

    Method:

    1. Combine all the gingerbread spice mix ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
    2. In a small saucepan, brown the butter. First, melt the butter over low heat; then turn up to medium high and cook, stirring frequently with a silicone spatula, until the butter foams, crackles, then browns. Transfer the butter, along with all the browned bits, to a large bowl and allow to cool slightly while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
    3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, espresso powder, and 1 1/2 tsp of the gingerbread spice mix.
    4. Whisk the brown and granulated sugars into the brown butter until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and whisk until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Cover and refrigerate for about 30-60 minutes to allow the dough to hydrate and solidify slightly. (Cookie dough can be chilled overnight; if chilled for more than a couple hours, allow to soften for 20-30 minutes at room temperature for easier portioning.)
    5. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 375F with a rack in the center. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.
    6. Prepare the sugar coating by combining the granulated and brown sugar with the remaining gingerbread spice mix.
    7. Portion the cookie dough into 12 golf-sized balls, about 35-40 grams each. Roll between hands into a smooth ball, then toss in sugar coating. Space cookies a couple inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
    8. Bake sheets one at a time for 9-11 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Cookies should be puffed and the tops starting to crack, but the centers should still look a little soft. After removing the pan, bang it a couple of times on the counter to help deflate the cookies and get that crinkled top. Cool cookies on the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
    9. When cookies are cooled, melt the white chocolate. Decorate cookies as desired, topping with sprinkles or Crispearls before the chocolate sets. Cookies keep well in an airtight container for about 3 days.

    Sourdough Crackers: Lavash and Grissini

    sourdough lavash

    Crackers are a popular food in our house. My kids love them. They’d probably eat crackers for dinner if they could (or anything else labelled “snacks” for that matter). So while everyone else is whipping out their royal icing and cookie stamps, here I am over here making sourdough crackers.

    Don’t get me wrong — there will be plenty of cookies happening in our house too. But right now, I’m just having a little too much fun with crackers! They are actually quite fun to make with kids, too. The dough is easy to handle and roll, and my son never gets tired of adding “sprinkles” to things (even if they’re sesame seeds instead of sugar).

    sourdough grissini

    This sourdough cracker formula can be used to make either lavash crackers (a crisp flatbread) or grissini (thin, crunchy breadsticks). Leave them plain with just a sprinkling of flaky salt, or add seeds / spices to add texture and additional flavor! (Just be careful with dried herbs and spices as a tiny bit goes a long way.) You can even sprinkle on some grated cheese or knead some into the dough. My favorite cracker flavor combo is smoked paprika, garlic flakes, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, black pepper, and a little flaky salt. Yum!

    These sourdough crackers are tasty on their own, but also make a great addition to a nosh or charcuterie plate. They keep well, so make a few batches now to have on hand for your holiday entertaining needs!

    sourdough crackers plate

    sourdough crackers plate 2

    A couple of notes:

    • This is a flexible formula for sourdough crackers that you can easily scale depending on the amount of discard you have. I usually save discard in the fridge for a few days, then bake off a large batch. The easiest way to scale this recipe is as follows:
      • Weigh the amount of starter you have
      • Add half that weight in flour (so if you have 200 grams of starter, add 100 grams flour)
      • Figure out how much flour you have total, including the flour in your starter (100 grams from the starter + 100 grams added = 200 grams total flour)
      • Add 2% of the total flour weight in salt (2% of 200 = 4 g)
      • Add 10% of the total flour weight in honey (10% of 200 = 20g)

      (I tried writing this out in baker’s percentages; but since there’s a bit of disparity over how to express starter in a formula, it ended up being more confusing than helpful. So there you go. Mathing for the day over.)

    • The baking temperatures and timing on these crackers are just a guideline and may vary considerably depending on your oven and how thinly you roll or cut your dough. If you like your lavash more like a flatbread (softer), pull it out sooner. If the edges are crisp but the middle needs more time, take out the sheet and carefully trim off the edges, then return the sheet to the oven finish crisping the rest. For grissini, you want more of a “low and slow” approach — you’re basically trying to dry the dough out without the breadsticks burning, so you need a lower temperature + longer bake. Experiment and find out what works best for your oven!
    • For more baking with sourdough discard ideas, see this post.
    • For a DIY Raincoast Crisp recipe, see this post (you can sub in 1 cup of starter for 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup buttermilk if you want!).

    Sourdough Crackers: Lavash and Grissini

    Makes about one baking sheet’s worth of crackers

    Ingredients:

    • 100g ripe sourdough starter (100% hydration)
    • 50g flour (I like a mix of bread and wholegrain)
    • 10g olive oil
    • 10g honey
    • 2g salt
    • Assorted seeds (poppy, sesame), spices, and/or flaky salt for topping, if desired

    Method:

    1. Stir together the starter, oil, and honey until combined. Add the flour and salt and mix with a spatula until a rough dough forms. Knead for 3-5 minutes, or until the ingredients are well combined and the dough is smooth. It should be a medium-firm consistency and not sticky. (If it is sticky, add flour a tsp at a time until smooth, If it is dry, add water a tsp at a time until hydrated.) Transfer to an oiled container.
    2. Ferment the dough at room temperature until it is doubled in size, about 3-4 hours. (Note: you can also refrigerate the dough for a few hours at this point if you aren’t ready to bake yet. Not sure how long it will hold, but I’ve held mine for about 8 hours and it probably could last longer. No need to bring to room temp before proceeding.)

    For lavash crackers:

    1. When the dough is nearly ready, preheat the oven to 400F (with a baking stone if you have one). Turn the dough onto a Silpat or piece of parchment paper cut to fit a baking sheet.
    2. Roll the dough into a rectangle as thinly and evenly as possible. It should be almost paper thin. (Alternatively, you can divide the dough into portions and use a pasta machine to roll them out. I like to get them down to the 2nd-thinnest setting.)
    3. Transfer the dough, still on the Silpat or parchment, to a baking sheet. Dock the surface all over with a fork to keep it from puffing in the oven. Mist with water and sprinkle seeds / spices / flaky salt if desired.
    4. Bake for 10-15 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through baking, until browned and crisp. Cool on a wire rack, then break into shards and serve. Keeps well in an airtight container or ziplock bag.

    For grissini:

    1. When the dough is nearly ready, preheat the oven to 325F and line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper. If you’d like to coat your grissini with seeds, place the seeds on a plate or small baking sheet.
    2. On a nonstick mat or lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle between 1/8″ – 1/4″ thick. Cut dough into even strips into desired thickness (I like 1/8″ – 1/4″ inch). Roll them one by one in the bed of seeds, if desired, then transfer to the prepared sheet. If you like, you can hold one end of dough while twisting the other to get a corkscrew effect.
    3. Bake until dry and crisp, about 30-40 minutes (but can vary wildly depending on the size of your grissini). Cool on a wire rack, then store in an airtight container or jar.

    Cranberry Cream Cheese Turnovers

    cranberry cream cheese turnovers

    If it were up to me, every weekend would start with homemade pastries. Taking a little extra time in the morning to make something beautiful, buttery, and delicious is a special form of indulgence. Now that the weather is a bit cooler, I’ve been trying to get in a little lamination practice. It’s actually quite difficult for me to find all-butter puff pastry around here, so I’ve been making this rough puff recipe (with two extra folds) as practice for making the real thing later on this winter.

    If you can make pie dough, you can make rough puff. It’s a great thing to have on hand for weekend pastry cravings or quick appetizers. But if you’ve got easy access to all-butter puff pastry, certainly go that route if you prefer.

    I’ll be honest: when making morning pastries I often don’t measure my filling ingredients. Usually I use a bit of whatever I have lying around: in this case, it was some leftover liquid cheesecake from Christina Tosi’s All About Cake, and the dregs of a bag of fresh cranberries. I think leftover cranberry sauce would be great here (as long as it’s not too runny), or even another thick jam. I do think a tart fruit works really well in these turnovers — it’s a perfect foil to the rich pastry and tangy cream cheese. At any rate, two tablespoons of filling for each pastry is about right. And since I assume most of you don’t have liquid cheesecake lying around, I’ve provided some classic cream cheese filling measurements.

    One final thing — I’ve finally put together an Amazon page with some of my favorite baking supplies! I hope you’ll take a look if you’re looking for some gifts for the bakers in your life (or for yourself ;)). These are the tools and books I use most often in my own kitchen and am happy to recommend. Please check it out!

    Cranberry Cream Cheese Turnovers

    Makes 8 large turnovers

    Ingredients:

    • 2 sheets of puff pastry, thawed if frozen (homemade or storebought)

    For the cream cheese filling:

    • 113g cream cheese, softened (about half a block)
    • 2 Tbsp sugar
    • Dash of vanilla extract
    • Pinch of kosher salt
    • Squeeze of lemon juice

    For the cranberry filling:

    • 1 c cranberries
    • 30g granulated sugar
    • 30g dark brown sugar
    • Juice of half a lemon
    • Pinch of salt

    To finish:

    • 1 egg, whisked with a splash of milk or water
    • Turbinado or sanding sugar

    Method:

    1. Preheat oven to 400F with racks in the upper and lower third, and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
    2. Roll each sheet of pastry into a large square about 1/8 – 1/4″ thick (10-12 inches). Trim the edges to neaten and cut each square in quarters for a total of eight squares. Refrigerate pastry while you prepare the fillings.
    3. For the cream cheese filling, combine the cream cheese, sugar, salt, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low until smooth. Scrape down the sides and add lemon juice a tsp at a time to taste.
    4. For the cranberry filling, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix to combine.
    5. Place about 1 Tbsp cream cheese filling and 1 Tbsp cranberries on each square. Brush the edges lightly with the egg wash. Fold each square diagonally to form a triangle. Use a fork to crimp the edges to seal. Refrigerate turnovers for 15 minutes, or until pastry is firm.
    6. Brush the tops lightly with egg wash and sprinkle generously with sugar. Bake for 20-30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, or until pastry is well browned. Cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.

    Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

    chewy ginger molasses cookies on marble
    When it comes to cookies, I am very much a creature of habit. When we need a batch of something sweet, I’ll usually whip up our house chocolate chunk cookies or maybe some snickerdoodles. And every fall, I have to make at least a couple of batches of chewy ginger molasses cookies.

    ginger molasses cookies closeup

    For the past several years, this Bon Appetit recipe has been my go to. Soft and chewy centers, sugared exteriors, a vibrant amount of spice, and dead easy to make — can’t ask for much more!

    This year, though, I’ve been tinkering with this recipe and made a couple of tweaks to pack even more of a punch into each bite. Swapping in some rye and bread flour adds even more chew and richness of flavor. A little fresh ginger and black pepper add a spicy kick. I like to roll my cookies in a mixture of turbinado and sanding sugar for a nice balance of shine and crunch and top each cookie with a small piece of candied ginger. These are hands down my favorite fall/winter cookies — I hope you’ll love them too!

    Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

    Makes about 15 cookies | Adapted from Bon Appetit

    Ingredients:

    • 125g AP flour
    • 75g bread flour
    • 50g rye flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp ground ginger
    • 3/4 tsp freshly ground cardamom
    • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
    • 1 large egg, at room temperature
    • 113g unsalted butter, melted
    • 65g granulated sugar
    • 113g fancy molasses
    • 50g dark brown sugar

    To finish:

    • 40g turbinado sugar
    • 40g sanding sugar
    • Candied ginger

    Method:

    1. Preheat the oven to 375F with a rack in the center, and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
    2. In a small bowl, whisk the flours, baking soda, spices (except for the fresh ginger), and salt together.
    3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar and dark brown sugar. Add the grated ginger and rub it into the sugar with your fingers to distribute.
    4. Whisk in the melted butter, molasses, and egg to combine.
    5. Add the dry ingredients and mix just to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm the batter up slightly to make it easier roll. (If refrigerated longer than an hour, let stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes to soften slightly.) Meanwhile combine the turbinado and sanding sugar in a small bowl.
    6. Using a cookie scoop or your hands, form golf-ball sized rounds (about 40-45g each). Roll in sugar and place on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Press a piece of crystallized ginger on top of each cookie.
    7. Bake sheets one at a time for 8-10 minutes, rotating halfway through, until cookies are puffed and starting to crack and the edges are set. Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

    chewy ginger molasses cookies

    Apple and Ginger Loaf

    sliced apple ginger loaf

    This post is sponsored by Weight Watchers Canada. Find out more about the WW Freestyle program, which encourages the freedom to eat the foods you love while nudging you towards healthier choices using the SmartPoints system. As always, all ideas and opinions expressed here are my own.

    Around this time of year I tend to have a few extra apples / apple butter lying around, the products of slightly-over-enthusiastic orchard trips. Not that I mind at all — I really enjoy baking with apple butter (in addition to spreading it on toast). Like applesauce, apple butter adds moisture and flavor to baked goods. I actually think the flavor you get with apple butter is better than applesauce, because the fruit is much more concentrated!

    This time around I wanted to use apple butter to make a hearty breakfast quick bread, full of spice and whole grains. Enter this Apple and Ginger Loaf! I’ve been crushing on ginger lately, so it’s a major player here. I ground some fresh ginger up with the sugar to see what would happen, and I love the fragrance and spice it adds (and that grinding it with the sugar avoids those gingery strings)! If ginger isn’t your thing feel free to cut back or substitute with your favorite fall spice (I think cardamom would be lovely here). Conversely if you’re really into ginger, you could go wild and toss in a handful of chopped candied ginger, or sprinkle some on top.

    apple ginger loaf from top

    apple ginger loaf grab slice

    Apple and Ginger Loaf

    Makes one loaf, about 16 servings

    Ingredients

    • 60g dark brown sugar
    • 60g granulated sugar
    • 50g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
    • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
    • 30g molasses
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
    • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 99g neutral vegetable oil (I prefer grapeseed)
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 170g apple butter
    • 177g white whole wheat flour or sifted whole wheat flour
    • 50g rolled oats (not instant)
    • 57g chopped, toasted pecans (optional)

    For the topping:

    • 1 Tbsp rolled oats
    • 1 Tbsp coarse sugar

    Method

    1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease and line a loaf or Pullman pan with a parchment paper sling.
    2. Place the sugars and ginger in a food processor. Pulse until ginger is completely broken down. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
    3. To the sugar-ginger mixture, add the eggs, molasses, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. Mix on low to combine, then turn up the speed to medium and whip until the mixture is thick and expanded, about 5 minutes.
    4. Turn the speed down to low and slowly stream in the oil and vanilla. Mix until homogeneous. Add the apple butter and whisk on low until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour and oats. Mix on low just until combined. Add the nuts if using and use a silicone spatula to mix just until the batter is smooth and combined. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure the batter is evenly mixed.
    5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the rolled oats and coarse sugar evenly over the top.
    6. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
    7. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Using the parchment sling, lift the loaf out of the pan to finish cooling completely on the rack.

    Cranberry Lime Shortbread Tart + Cookbook Giveaway!

    cranberry lime shortbread tart
    Every year around this time, I start thinking about edible gifts to make for the holiday season. I remember a few people who would annually gift us an assortment of homemade treats. We would look forward to receiving those gifts every year, and it’s a goal of mine to come up with my own traditional holiday treat box. I’m still a little ways off, but hopefully this year I’ll get a little closer with the help of my friend Fanny Lam’s new cookbook Oh Sweet Day!: A Celebration Cookbook of Edible Gifts, Party Treats, and Festive Desserts!

    Fanny and I have been internet foodie friends for a couple years now (she runs a lovely blog and posts delicious treats on her Instagram page); so when I received a copy of her cookbook, I knew it would packed with delightful yet approachable recipes perfect for sharing with loved ones. As Fanny writes in her introduction, “A lovely dessert doesn’t require a demanding recipe. It needs love! It needs personality! I hope this book will inspire you to go beyond your comfort zone, try something new, play with abandon, share with your loved one, make it a tradition, and let it be a memory.”

    Trying out Fanny’s famous shortbread cookies and cheesecakes are high on my to-bake list, but the first thing I knew I had to make was this gorgeous cranberry lime shortbread tart — a lovely press-in shortbread crust filled with a velvety, vibrant curd. And let’s not forget that showstopping natural color! This dessert would be perfect for Thanksgiving dinner — it’s tangy, creamy, and bright, the perfect foil for a rich meal. Plus, it can be made ahead of time — always a bonus on busy cooking days!

    cranberry lime shortbread tart 2

    Update: Winner of the giveaway is Quyen Weng. Congrats!I’m happy to be giving away one copy of Oh Sweet Day!: A Celebration Cookbook of Edible Gifts, Party Treats, and Festive Desserts to one of my readers! To enter, comment below with your favorite edible gift to give or receive. For more entries, you can also follow me on Instagram and enter on the related photo. Deadline to enter is Sunday, October 28, 2018, at 5pm EST. Winner will be announced here and on Instagram. Open to residents of USA and Canada.
    oh sweet day cookbook cover

    cranberry lime shortbread tart from side

    A few notes:

    • I decorated the cranberry lime shortbread tart with a bit of melted white chocolate (about 25 grams), tinted the faintest of pink with a bit of cranberry powder. I transferred the melted chocolate to a ziplock bag and cut a tiny hole in one of the corners, then quickly piped it on. In her recipe, Fanny suggests topping the tart with whipped cream and lime zest (instructions included below).
    • I didn’t have quite enough lime juice, so I used about half lime and half orange juice (both freshly squeezed). The orange juice gave the curd a beautiful deep pink color; if you use all lime juice as the recipe states the color will be just as vibrant and beautiful but probably a little lighter.
    • The curd can be made up to 5 days ahead and refrigerated with a piece of plastic pressed against the surface to keep a skin from forming. The tart shell can also be made a couple of days ahead and kept covered at room temperature. Assemble the tart the day you’ll be serving — just make sure to allow a full 4 hours for it to chill so you can get nice clean slices.
    • For clean slices, use a sharp knife cleaned with hot water after each cut.

    Cranberry Lime Shortbread Tart

    Makes one 9-inch tart

    Ingredients

    For the Vanilla Shortbread Crust

    • 113g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
    • 40g (1/4 cup) powdered sugar
    • 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
    • 125g (1 cup) AP flour
    • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

    For the Cranberry Lime Curd

    • 454g (4 cups) cranberries, fresh or frozen
    • 200g (1 cup) granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup lime juice
    • 2 tsp. lime zest

    • 1/2 cup water
    • 4 large egg yolks
    • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
    • 28g (2 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened

    For the Whipped Cream Topping

    • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
    • 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
    • 1/4 cup fresh cranberries

    • 1 tsp. lime zest

    Method:

    For the Vanilla Shortbread Crust

    1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
    2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and powdered sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
    3. Mix in the vanilla until combined.
    4. Sift in the flour and salt. Mix on low speed until just incorporated.
    5. Press the mixture onto the bottom and sides of the prepared pan.
    6. Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.
    7. Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

    For the Cranberry Lime Curd:

    1. Cook the cranberries, 1/2 cup sugar, lime juice, lime zest, and water on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries are popped and release their juice.
    2. Pulse the mixture in a food processor.
    3. Blend in the egg yolks, remaining sugar, and cornstarch until combined.
    4. Cook the mixture again on low heat while whisking for 10 minutes until thickened.
    5. Remove from heat. Whisk in the butter until combined.
    6. Strain the mixture to make it smooth.
    7. Let cool to room temperature.
    8. Fill the cooled crust with the cranberry lime curd.
    9. Refrigerate the tart until set, at least 4 hours.

    For the Whipped Cream Topping:

    1. Whisk the cream and sugar until firm peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag with a star tip.
    2. Remove the tart from the pan.
    3. Pipe the whipped cream along the edges of the tart.
    4. Top with cranberries and lime zest.

    Recipe from Oh Sweet Day!: A Celebration Cookbook of Edible Gifts, Party Treats, and Festive Desserts, reprinted by permission of Front Table Book, an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc.