Smoked Paprika and Cheddar Gougeres

gougeres on plate

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.

With the holidays fast approaching, we all need a few back-pocket recipes that are good for crowds, easy to prepare, and — most importantly — delightfully delicious. This is one of those recipes for me. Gougeres, or French cheese puffs, are made with the classic pate a choux dough. But instead of filling the puffs with cream or custard, you mix some herbs, cheese, and spices into the dough to make savory little appetizers that go down just right with a glass of wine or a cup of mulled cider. I dare you to eat just one!

gougeres close up

gougeres top down

A couple of notes:

  • If you’ve made pate a choux before — perhaps for eclairs or cream puffs — this recipe should feel very familiar to you. I prefer using bread flour and a mixture of milk and water when making pate a choux. The bread flour gives strength to the dough and helps the gougeres keep their shape better. The mixture of milk and water gives the puffs a more tender chew and flavor, but you can also use all water.
  • You can substitute other sharp, hard cheeses (or use a mixture) for the cheddar. Part of the fun of this recipe is making it your own: add some cayenne if you like a little heat, or switch out the scallions for other fresh, chopped herbs of your choice.
  • You can make smaller, bite-size gougeres if you prefer (this recipe will probably yield 30 or so). Just keep an eye on them in the oven as they’ll likely be done sooner than these large ones.

Smoked Paprika and Cheddar Gougeres

Makes about 15 large gougeres

Ingredients

  • 75g water
  • 75g milk
  • 75g butter
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder
  • A few turns of freshly ground black pepper
  • 100g bread flour, sifted
  • 150g eggs (about 3 large), room temperature and lightly beaten to combine
  • 100g grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/4 c finely chopped scallions

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F with a rack in the middle and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (I used a 13×18 sheet pan; if yours are smaller you may need two. Bake on the top and bottom racks in the oven).
  2. Combine the water, milk, butter, sugar, salt, paprika, mustard, and pepper in a medium saucepan. Bring to a strong simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. As soon as the mixture is simmering, remove the pot from the heat and dump the flour in all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon or spatula until the flour is completely incorporated.
  3. Return the pot to low heat and continue stirring until the mixture forms a ball and a thin film forms on the bottom of the pot, 1-2 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should read 170F. Immediately transfer dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  4. Mix the dough on low speed for a couple of minutes to release the steam. An instant-read thermometer should read no warmer than 140F (any hotter and you’ll cook the eggs when adding them!). When the dough has cooled sufficiently and with the mixer still on low, add about half of the eggs. Mix until the egg has been completely absorbed, then add more egg about a tablespoon at a time, mixing completely before adding more. When you’ve added most of the egg, check the dough consistency — a finger dragged through it should leave a trough and a peak of dough should form where the finger is lifted. Once the dough passes this test, it’s ready. (You may not need all the egg.)
  5. Set aside about a quarter of the cheese. Add the remaining 3/4 of the cheese and the scallions to the dough and use a silicone spatula to combine.
  6. Using a cookie scoop (I used an OXO #40), scoop golf-ball size portions of dough onto the prepared sheet, leaving a couple inches between each. (You can also transfer the mixture to a piping bag pipe out mounds, or use a couple of spoons.) Sprinkle the tops of the gougeres with the reserved cheese.
  7. Bake the gougeres for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375F and continue baking for another 20-30 minutes, or until the gougeres are browned and feel hollow when you pick one up. Avoid opening the oven for the first 20 minutes of baking or the gougeres may collapse. Cool in a slightly ajar oven for about 10 minutes.
  8. Gougeres are best served still slightly warm from the oven, though I’ve heard you can recrisp them in the oven for a few minutes. Mine have never lasted long enough to test, though…

Double Pumpkin Sourdough Milk Bread

double pumpkin sourdough milk bread
It’s that magical time of the year — the Virtual Pumpkin Party! Since 2015, Sara at Cake Over Steak has been organizing a huge pumpkin recipe explosion and I’m excited to participate again this year with this Double Pumpkin Sourdough Milk Bread. I always amazed at seeing the unique ways bloggers use this ubiquitous squash, and I hope you’ll take some time to browse this year’s recipe list.

This is a fall version that mashes up a couple of my favorite recipes on this site: the sourdough pumpkin hokkaido milk bread and the sourdough milk bread twists. Since today is all about the pumpkin, I’ve opted to fill this bread with a pumpkin butter-esque filling (you could totally sub in actual pumpkin butter, if you have some on hand).

crumb shot double pumpkin sourdough milk bread

One note about this bread: the pumpkin puree can be a bit of a wildcard, as the moisture content can vary from brand to brand. I’ve tried both canned and homemade purees; and they both work — but you’ll want to make sure your puree isn’t too watery. (If it is on the watery side, blot it with some paper towels before measuring it out.) If you’ve made my regular sourdough milk bread recipes, you may notice that the dough seems a bit stickier than usual. That’s totally normal. I usually crank the speed up a little higher (say 5 on a KitchenAid mixer) and mix for a few minutes longer to get the dough to come together, but you may have to add a couple extra tablespoons of flour as well.

Previous CTD Virtual Pumpkin Party recipes: Fall Cliche Cake and Pumpkin Apple Butter Pie.

double pumpkin sourdough milk bread with gourds

Double Pumpkin Sourdough Milk Bread

Makes one loaf (I love using a 9x4x4 Pullman Pan, but a 9×5 will work too)

Ingredients

Levain:

  • 18g ripe sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 31g milk
  • 57g bread flour
  • Mix and ferment at room temperature until ripe, about 6-12 hours depending on temperature and strength of your starter.

Final dough:

  • 284g bread/AP flour
  • 46g sugar
  • 52g butter, at cool room temperature
  • 21g milk powder
  • 53g egg (about 1 large)
  • 7g salt
  • 104g milk
  • 100g pumpkin or butternut squash puree
  • All of the levain

Filling:

  • 170g pumpkin or butternut squash puree
  • 55g dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt

To Finish:

  • Egg wash (1 egg whisked with a little water or milk)
  • 30g honey
  • 40g water
  • Pearl sugar (optional, for garnish)

Method:

  1. Mix together all final dough ingredients except the salt and butter until just combined. Cover and autolyse (rest) for 45-60 minutes.
  2. Add salt, and knead dough until gluten is moderately developed. The dough will start out sticky and rough but should gradually come together and feel quite smooth and stretchy. Add butter a tablespoon at a time, mixing the first completely before adding the second. Continue kneading until the gluten is very well developed and the dough passes the windowpane test as demonstrated here. The dough should be smooth and supple (and quite lovely to handle!). This will take quite some time, especially if done by hand. Consider it your arm workout for the day!
  3. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover, and bulk rise at room temp (73F) for 2 hours. The dough will be noticeably expanded, but not doubled. Fold, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight (or at least 8 hours).
  4. Grease and line a Pullman Pan or 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang of at least 2 inches on the long sides (for easy removal later). Whisk together all filling ingredients.
  5. On a lightly floured surface (I prefer a Silpat), roll out the dough (straight from the fridge) into a square roughly 10 x 15 in. Spread your filling evenly over the surface, leaving a 1/2 inch border along one short edge. Turn the dough so the short end without the border is facing you. Brush the opposite end with water, and gently but tightly roll dough up like a jelly roll. Once rolled up, roll gently back and forth a few times to seal. Transfer the log to the fridge or freezer for about 10 minutes to firm up (optional).
  6. Using a bench scraper or sharp knife, cut the dough in half lengthwise. Place the two sides next to each other, cut side up. Gently pinch the tops together and twist the two together, keeping the cut sides up. Transfer twist to the prepared pan. (See here for a some helpful pictures.)
  7. Cover with plastic and proof for about 6 hours at room temperature. When ready, the dough should look very puffy and have risen to the top of the pan.
  8. When the loaf is nearly finished rising, preheat the oven to 400F and prepare the egg wash. Just before baking, brush the surface lightly with egg wash.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes at 400F, then turn the oven down to 375F, rotate the pan, and bake for about 15 more minutes or until the loaf is well browned and registers at least 195F in the center. If the loaf is browning quickly, tent with foil. (I cover mine for the last 10 minutes or so.)
  10. Immediately after taking the loaf out, brush all over with honey simple syrup and top with pearl sugar, if desired. Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Cider Baked Apples

cider baked apples

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.

Apple season is in full swing here. We’ve gone picking once already, and I suspect we’ll find our way to the orchards at least once more in the next couple of weeks to get our fill of Northern Spy, Ambrosia, Honeycrisp, Mutsu…you name it! Pulling a wagon through rows of trees and searching for perfectly crisp apples is truly one of my favorite annual activities.

While there’s always room for apple pies, galettes, cakes, and butters after these orchard runs, sometimes I crave something a little simpler but no less cozy. Enter these cider-baked apples. They make a lovely light dessert, but are healthful enough for breakfast — perhaps with a bit of yogurt and honey. You can also make them ahead of time, refrigerate, and gently rewarm in the microwave or low oven before serving.

hannah with apples

cider baked apples before bake

cider baked apples on plate

Cider Baked Apples

Serves 6-8 as a side

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs baking apples, washed (about 8 small apples)
  • 2 c apple cider
  • 1 cinnamon stick (feel free to add other favorite mulling spices!)

For the filling:

  • 60g raisins, finely chopped
  • 60g pecans, finely chopped
  • 60g unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature
  • 45g brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Juice of half a lemon

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375F with a rack in the middle.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the cider and cinnamon stick to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat, cover, and allow to steep while you prepare the apples.
  3. Combine the raisins, pecans, brown sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Add the cubed butter and rub it into the mixture to incorporate.
  4. Juice the lemon into a small bowl.
  5. Cut the tops off the apples and place the top into the lemon juice to keep from browning (keep track of which top goes with which apple for best presentation). Using a small spoon or knife, scoop out the core of the apples, leaving the bottoms intact so the filling won’t seep out. Stuff the apples with the filling mixture and place the tops back on.
  6. Place the stuffed apples into a baking pan just large enough to fit them snugly — an 8×8 pan worked for me, but will depend on the number and size of your apples. Pour the cider and cinnamon stick into the bottom of the pan.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven until apples are tender but not falling apart. The time can vary wildly depending on the size of your apples, but I’d start checking around the 30 minute mark (my smallish ones took about 40). If you’d like, baste the apples with the cider a couple of times during baking.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature. You can also make these ahead and refrigerate them, and reheat before serving.