Granola is a bit like banana bread: there are a zillion different recipes out there, and many of them are good. But over time, you find that one recipe that checks all the boxes for you, and it becomes your house standard. This is mine. It’s my favorite because it’s crunchy, has clusters, and isn’t overly sweet. Paired with fresh berries and Greek yogurt, it’s one of my go-to quick breakfasts. But I’ve also been known to eat it by the handful for a mid-afternoon snack and sprinkle it on frozen yogurt for dessert.
The method and base recipe are from Tara O’Brady’s cookbook Seven Spoons. The original recipe calls for candied ginger and cacao nibs, which I omit (they sound delightful but aren’t normally stocked in my pantry). I’ve played around with different nuts and seeds, and the version below is what I typically use. But like most good granola recipes, this one is easily adaptable. Swap the sesame seeds out for flax or chia; use whatever nuts you have in stock; switch up the spices to suit your palate; omit the coconut if it’s not your thing.
Basic Granola Recipe
Adapted from Seven Spoons by Tara O’Brady | Makes about 8 1/2 cups
- 60g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 100g (1/2 cup) packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 455g (5 cups) old-fashioned rolled oats
- 140g (1 1/2 cups) nuts, chopped if large (I like a mix of almonds, cashews, and walnuts)
- 65g (3/4 cup) unsweetened flaked coconut
- 35g (1/4 cup) sesame seeds
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 150g (1 cup) dried fruit, chopped if large (I usually use figs and/or raisins)
- 35g (1/4 cup) raw, hulled sunflower seeds
- 70g (1/2 cup) finely chopped candied ginger
- 70g (1/2 cup) raw pepitas
- Raw cacao nibs
- Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) with racks in the upper and lower thirds.
- In a saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter into the olive oil and maple syrup. Add the brown sugar, water, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring often, until the brown sugar dissolves. Remove the saucepan from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract, and set aside to cool.
- In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, grind 2 cups (180 g) of the oats into flour. Transfer this oat flour to a large bowl. Stir in the remaining 3 cups (275 g) whole oats, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the nuts, coconut, seeds, and cinnamon. Pour the butter and sugar mixture over everything and stir to coat. Let stand for about 10 minutes, to give the oats the opportunity to lap up the sugar syrup.
- Line two half sheet pans or standard baking sheets with parchment paper. Using your hands, drop the oat mixture in clumps onto the pans, then bake in the preheated oven until dry, light golden, and evenly toasted, 40 to 50 minutes, gently stirring and turning the granola with a large spatula every 15 minutes or so and rotating the pans once from top to bottom and front to back.
- Remove from the oven and leave the granola on the pans. The granola will continue to crisp as it stands. After 5 minutes, stir in the candied ginger and pepitas (if using). Once the granola has cooled completely, stir in the dried fruit and the cacao nibs (if using).
- Transfer the granola to an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Scones are one of those coffeeshop items that I love to order but often find disappointing. Either they’re too cakey or over-the-top heavy. My ideal scone is crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, slightly sweet but able to withhold a generous amount of jam/curd/clotted cream. After yet another recent disappointing scone purchase, I decided it was time to scour the interwebs and find a go-to scone recipe for myself.
It’s not too often I succeed on the very first try, but, boy, were these good scones. I based them off the very well-reviewed Royal Wedding Scones on Food52. Lemon and raspberry is a favorite combination in this household, but you could easily change up the fruit and spices based on season and preference.
Scones are definitely best the day you make them (preferably while still a little warm from the oven), but you can freeze these unbaked and bake straight from frozen (you may need to add a few minutes of baking time). I’ve also had success freezing baked scones and reheating them in a 350F oven for 12-15 minutes or so.
Meyer Lemon and Raspberry Scones
Adapted from Food 52 | Makes 8
- 2 1/2 cups / 313g AP flour (I’ve successfully replaced about 1/3 of this with spelt flour)
- 1/4 cup / 50g granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons / 86g chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 3/4 cup frozen raspberries
- Zest of 1 meyer lemon
- 1/2 cup cold heavy cream, plus more for brushing on tops of scones
- 1/2 cup cold buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Coarse sugar, for sprinkling
- Line a 6-inch round cake pan with plastic wrap. Set aside.
- Put sugar and lemon zest in the bottom of a large bowl. Rub the zest into the sugar to release the oils.
- Add the remaining dry ingredients to the sugar-zest mixture and whisk to combine.
- Add the cold butter to the dry ingredients and cut it in using a pastry cutter or your fingers. You should have varying sizes of butter pieces, ranging from pea to nickel shaped.
- Gently fold in the frozen raspberries.
- Combine the wet ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, gently folding in with a fork. Do not overmix.
- When a shaggy dough begins to form, dump the contents onto a lightly floured surface. Gently fold the dough onto itself just enough so it becomes a cohesive mass. Transfer to the prepared cake pan, cover, and freeze for about 30 minutes or until slightly hardened.
- While scones are chilling, preheat oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. When scones are chilled, invert round onto a lightly floured surface and cut like a pie into eight wedges. Transfer to prepared sheet pan. Lightly brush the tops with cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Scones are done when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
A few years ago, I got into a bread baking kick where I wanted to bake ALL THE BREADS. There’s something therapeutic about kneading dough and watching very basic ingredients transform into loaves of deliciousness. (Needless to say, I could never be gluten-free.) Although most bread recipes take quite a bit of time (this one included), a lot of that is simply waiting. And waiting is probably the hardest part!
I love making individual-sized breads and rolls, so bagels have been on my to-bake list for awhile. I’m happy to report they were a resounding success — my husband says they were the best bagels he’s ever tasted! Crisp exterior with just the right amount of salt and a wonderful chew — perfect with a schmear of cream cheese. The original recipe for these New York style bagels is from one of my favorite bread experts: Peter Reinhart. His Bread Baker’s Apprentice is one of my favorite cookbooks and showed me it was possible to good bread in a home oven. While there is a recipe for bagels in BBA, I chose to use a version from Epicurious because it made a smaller batch and the process was a little streamlined.
As with all Peter Reinhart recipes, there are a lot of detailed instructions; and you’ll definitely want to read the recipe through to the end a couple times to get a feel for the process. However, it really isn’t too difficult — if you’ve made soft pretzels before, you’ll find bagel-making very similar.
- I’ve edited the recipe to reflect the methods and timeline I used. Consult the original for other options.
The original recipe in BBA suggests high gluten flour as ideal for bagels. I couldn’t find it easily so I just used bread flour. The bagels were satisfyingly chewy, though I do want to try high gluten sometime.
- The original recipe says the yield is 6-8 bagels. I like mine smaller so I made 12, and they were still pretty good-sized.
- The original doesn’t call for an egg wash, but after reading comments online I decided to use one to ensure the toppings would stick well.
New York Style Bagels
Adapted from Peter Reinhart via Epicurious | Makes 6 large or 12 small bagels
- 1 tablespoon (0.75 oz / 21 g) barley malt syrup, honey, or rice syrup, or 1 teaspoon (0.25 oz / 7 g) diastatic malt powder
- 1 teaspoon (0.11 oz / 3 g) instant yeast (Note: I used a heaping tsp of active dry, and it worked fine)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (0.37 oz / 10.5 g) salt, or 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 oz / 255 g) lukewarm water (about 95°F or 35°C)
- 3 1/2 cups (16 oz / 454 g) unbleached bread flour
- 2 to 3 quarts (64 to 96 oz / 181 to 272 g) water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (1 oz / 28.5 g) barley malt syrup or honey (optional)
- 1 tablespoon (0.5 oz / 14 g) baking soda
- 1 teaspoon (0.25 oz / 7 g) salt, or 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- Any mixture of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried onion flakes, dried garlic flakes, and coarse salt
- To make the dough, stir the malt syrup, yeast, and salt into the lukewarm water. Place the flour into a mixing bowl and pour in the malt syrup mixture. If using a mixer, use the dough hook and mix on the lowest speed for 3 minutes. If mixing by hand, use a large, sturdy spoon and stir for about 3 minutes, until well blended. The dough should form a stiff, coarse ball, and the flour should be fully hydrated; if it isn’t, stir in a little more water. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
- Resume mixing with the dough hook on the lowest speed for another 3 minutes or transfer to a very lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for about 3 minutes to smooth out the dough and develop the gluten. The dough should be stiff yet supple, with a satiny, barely tacky feel. If the dough seems too soft or overly tacky, mix or knead in a little more flour.
- Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator 60 to 90 minutes before you plan to bake the bagels. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper or a silicone mat, then misting it with spray oil. Divide the dough into 6 to 12 equal pieces. (A typical bagel is about 4 ounces or 113 grams before baking, but you can make them smaller [I made 12]. If you make more than 6 bagels, you may need to prepare 2 sheet pans.) Form each piece into a loose ball by rolling it on a clean, dry work surface with a cupped hand. (Don’t use any flour on the work surface. If the dough slides around and won’t ball up, wipe the surface with a damp paper towel and try again; the slight bit of moisture will provide enough traction for the dough to form into a ball.)
- Use both hands (and a fair amount of pressure) to roll the ball into a rope about 8 inches long on a clean, dry work surface. (Again, wipe the surface with a damp towel, if necessary, to create sufficient friction on the work surface.) Taper the rope slightly at each end and moisten the last inch or so of the ends. Place one end of the dough in the palm of your hand and wrap the rope around your hand to complete the circle, going between your thumb and forefinger and then all the way around. The ends should overlap by about 2 inches. Squeeze the overlapping ends together by closing your hand, then press the seam into the work surface, rolling it back and forth a few times to seal. Remove the dough from your hand, squeezing it to even out the thickness if need be and creating a hole of about 2 inches in diameter.
- After 1 hour, check whether the bagels are ready for baking using the “float test”: Place one of the bagels in a small bowl of cold water. If it sinks and doesn’t float back to the surface, shake it off, return it to the pan, and wait for another 15 to 20 minutes, then test it again. When one bagel passes the float test, they’re all ready to be boiled. If they pass the float test before you are ready to boil and bake them, return them to the refrigerator so they don’t overproof. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C) and gather and prepare your garnishes (egg wash, seeds, onions, garlic, and so on).
- To make the poaching liquid, fill a pot with 2 to 3 quarts of water, making sure the water is at least 4 inches deep. Cover, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain at a simmer. Stir in the malt syrup, baking soda, and salt.
- Gently lower each bagel into the simmering poaching liquid, adding as many as will comfortably fit in the pot. They should all float to the surface within 15 seconds. After 1 minute, use a slotted spoon to turn each bagel over. Poach for another 30 to 60 seconds, then use the slotted spoon to transfer it back to the pan, domed side up. (It’s important that the parchment paper be lightly oiled, or the paper will glue itself to the dough as the bagels bake.) Brush the top with the egg wash and sprinkle on a generous amount of whatever toppings you like as soon as the bagels come out of the water.
- Transfer the pan of bagels to the oven, then lower the oven heat to 450°F (232°C).
- Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan and check the underside of the bagels. If they’re getting too dark, place another pan under the baking sheet. (Doubling the pan will insulate the first baking sheet.) Bake for another 8 to 12 minutes, until the bagels are a golden brown.
- Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing or serving.
Happy New Year! We had a great time spending the holidays with my family in Seattle. Now that my brothers and I are scattered around North America, it’s rare for us to all be in the same place at once. So it was a treat to have everyone “home” again, joking and eating and enjoying each others’ company. Of course, it was particularly special this year because it was Marcus’ first Christmas. Naturally, he got the most presents (even though he slept through us opening them for him…).
It’s become customary for David and me to cook a couple meals when we’re back in Seattle, with one of them being breakfast / brunch. This year, we scored a couple donut pans during some after-Christmas shopping; so we decided to try our hand at baked sour cream donuts. We tested a couple recipes, and this one was the clear winner. I know some people will pooh-pooh thought of baked donuts; and I won’t pretend these are like the deep-fried delights we all enjoy. But they are pretty darn tasty — the double rising power of yeast and baking powder give these babies a nice light texture. Plus, they are super easy and quick to whip up — you can mix, bake, and glaze a batch in under an hour.
I’ve included a two glaze ideas here — zesty lemon and classic chocolate. Each recipe will make enough for a dozen donuts; I’ve halved the glaze recipes to do a mixed batch and had plenty of each left over. Or feel free to dress your donuts up with another flavor of your choice — this list is a good place to start. I’m definitely looking forward to playing around with some different flavors!
Recipe adapted from The Kitchn | Makes 12
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons warm water or milk
- 200 g / 2 cups cake flour
- 215 g / 1 cup caster sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 228 g / 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
- 56 g / 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two (6-count) doughnut pans with a flour-based baking spray, Arrange a wire cooling rack over a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk or water and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt.
- In another bowl, whisk the eggs, sour cream, melted butter, vanilla, and yeast mixture until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until completely incorporated. Transfer the batter to a disposable piping bag (or zip-top bag, snipping off one corner for piping) and pipe into the prepared pans.
- Bake the doughnuts until puffed and golden, about 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool the doughnuts in the pan for 5 minutes. Transfer the doughnuts from the pan to the wire rack.
For the lemon glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- Zest of half a lemon
1-2 tbsp lemon juice (about half a lemon)
- 1-2 tbsp milk, plus more to thin if needed
- Pinch of salt
- Poppy seeds, optional
- Combine the powdered sugar, lemon zest, and salt in a small bowl and stir to combine. Whisk in the lemon juice. Whisk in the milk, adding gradually until the glaze reaches desired consistency.
- Dip the top side of a doughnut into the glaze and twist to coat. Return to the wire rack and immediately cover with poppy seeds. Continue with remaining doughnuts. Allow glaze to dry for a few minutes before serving. (Note: You can glaze both sides if you prefer a sweeter donut.)
For the chocolate glaze:
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons milk, plus more to thin if needed
- Rainbow sprinkles, optional
- Cook the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until ingredients are melted (or melt in the microwave in 15-second increments). Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk, and whisk vigorously to combine. If it seems too thick, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Remove the pan from heat.
- Dip the top side of a doughnut into the glaze and twist to coat. Return to the wire rack and immediately cover with sprinkles. Continue with remaining doughnuts. Allow glaze to dry for a few minutes before serving.
Lately I’ve been working a lot of early morning shifts, so I wanted to make something I could easily pack for breakfast. Bonus points for something that could be created from the contents of our fridge (and pantry). My default is our House Banana Bread, but I didn’t have any bananas and thought it would be fun to make something seasonal. BTW, I’m so excited for berry season! (One of the best parts of summer, IMO.)
The result was this Strawberry Yogurt Bread. Since this was envisioned as a breakfast bread, my goal was for something not too sweet and reasonably healthy (minimal oil/butter, some whole grains). I’m quite happy with how this turned out, and three days later it’s almost finished…so that’s that! Next time, I might try walnuts or pecans in place of the nuts, or swapping out the strawberries for blueberries or whatever berry is lurking in the fridge. We had a partial tub of sour cream in the fridge, so that got added in — but if you don’t have that lying around, I think you could easily add another 1/4 cup of oil or replace with more yogurt. Yay flexible recipes!
Strawberry Yogurt Bread
Makes 1 9×5 loaf
- 1/2 c plain Greek yogurt (I used fat free)
- 1/4 c sour cream
- 1/4 c vegetable oil
- 1/4 c granulated sugar
- 1/4 c dark brown sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 c all purpose flour
- 2/3 c whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 c strawberries, chopped
- 1 handful sliced almonds
- 1 Tbsp. Turbinado Sugar
- 1 strawberry, sliced
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In a medium bowl, mix yogurt, sour cream, oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract until blended.
- In a separate bowl add flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix together.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and slowly incorporate the yogurt mixture, being careful not to overmix.
- Fold in strawberries and almonds.
- Spoon batter into a greased and floured 9×5-inch loaf pan. The batter will be thick.
- Arrange sliced strawberry on top, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
- Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack.
Confession: I don’t like plain bananas. I don’t like the mealy texture in my mouth, especially when they’re overripe. But I don’t mind the taste of bananas, so I’m happy to indulge in smoothies containing bananas, banana “ice cream” (basically, a frozen banana pureed til it tastes like ice cream), and — of course — banana bread.
My mom’s banana bread was a family favorite, and I thought her recipe would be the one I would end up using in my own home. While I still intend on making her version someday, I’ve found a new House Banana Bread that has quickly become a favorite for our little family. I like that it’s reasonably healthy (no trans-fats and some whole grains), not overly sweet, and adaptable depending on what you’ve got available in your kitchen. Examples of previous adaptations:
- Dropped the oil to 1/4 c and added a couple spoonfuls of sour cream
- Added a splash of bourbon
- Made one batch vegan by simply replacing the egg with another ripe banana. (It worked beautifully — even non-vegan friends gobbled it up!)
An added bonus: everything is mixed in one bowl, and there’s no hand mixer (i.e. extra dishes to clean) needed!
House Banana Bread
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen | Makes one 9×5″ loaf
- 3 large ripe-to-over-ripe bananas
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
- 1/3 cup (65 grams) light or dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Pinch of ground cloves or all spice
- 1 1/2 cups (180 grams) white whole-wheat flour (I usually use half all purpose, half whole wheat)
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) uncooked millet
Preheat your oven to 350°F and butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan. In the bottom of a large bowl, mash bananas with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon until virtually smooth but a few tiny lumps remain. Whisk in egg, then oil, brown sugar, syrup and vanilla extract. Sprinkle baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves over mixture and stir until combined. Sift in flour and stir until just combined, then stir in millet.
Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool loaf in pan on rack.
Once upon a time, I had a breakfast routine: coffee and oatmeal, 85% of the time. It was great: healthy, filling, and fast.
Then I got pregnant, and suddenly I couldn’t stand the taste/smell of my breakfast standbys. It threw me for a loop because suddenly I had to think about what to eat for breakfast. Not exactly fun when you stop drinking (caffeinated) coffee.
Thankfully, there are still plenty of foods I find palatable. I’d be happy to enjoy eggs and toast every morning. The problem is that some days I have to rush out of the house early in the morning and don’t have time to cook. These breakfast cookies are a great grab-and-go option for those days. I tweaked a recipe I found online based on the ingredients on hand, and I think it’s one of those recipes that could be doctored according to your tastes and pantry. I plan to vary the fruits/nuts (cranberry and pistachios! cherries and walnuts!) for variety and perhaps tinker with the flour types. I’d imagine you could also substitute banana, pumpkin, or zucchini for the carrot as well. Also, I don’t care for overly sweet things (especially in the morning), so I did cut down the granulated sugar. But if you have more of a sweet tooth, you could add an extra couple tablespoons back in.
Healthy Breakfast Cookies
Makes 1 dozen cookies | Adapted from The Food Network
- 3/4 cup (98 g) whole-wheat flour
- 1/2 cup (50 g) cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup (50 g) dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon (18 g) granulated sugar
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 1 large carrot, finely grated
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (90 g) rolled oats (not instant)
- 1/3 cup raisins, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes and drained
- Place rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Whisk together flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
- Combine butter, oil and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on high speed, scraping down sides if necessary, until sugars have dissolved and mixture is light in color, about 1 minute.
- Add egg, carrot and vanilla and beat an additional 30 seconds.
Add flour mixture and beat an additional 30 seconds.
- Add oats, raisins and walnuts and mix over low speed just until incorporated. Dough will be slightly sticky and less cohesive than traditional cookie dough.
- Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a 1/4 cup to measure, place balls of batter on a cookie sheet, leaving about 3 inches between cookies. Wet hands and use palm of hand to flatten cookies until about 1/4-inch thick.
- Bake for 12 minutes, until cookies are fragrant but still soft. Let cookies cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
I have always been a breakfast person. I could eat eggs any time of the day; and toast and jam is one of my go-to snacks. But for a long time, I didn’t care much for pancakes, usually finding them too sweet and dense.
But for some reason, last year I decided it was time to find a pancake recipe I liked. My criteria: they had to be fluffy and simple.
This recipe is both those things, and has now become part of our recipe repertoire at home. There are only 5 ingredients, there’s no buttermilk involved, and you don’t have to let the batter sit before using. Most times we’ll whip these up on the weekend, but these pancakes also show up occasionally for dinner. Usually I like them plain with maple syrup, but we added bacon once and can’t say I wouldn’t do that again.
Favorite Fluffy Pancakes
Makes ~6 large / 12 small pancakes | Adapted from Jamie Oliver
- 3 large free-range eggs
- 115 g plain flour
- 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
- 140 ml (scant 2/3 c) milk
- 1 pinch salt
- Separate the eggs, putting the whites into one bowl and the yolks into another.
- Add the flour, baking powder and milk to the yolks and mix to a smooth thick batter. Whisk the whites with the salt until they form stiff peaks. Fold into the batter – it is now ready to use.
- Heat a good non-stick pan on medium heat and add a bit of butter or cooking spray. Pour some of your batter into the pan and fry for a couple of minutes until it starts to look golden and firm. If desired, sprinkle your chosen flavoring (blueberries, bacon, bananas…whatever you like!) on to the uncooked side before loosening with a spatula and flipping the pancake over. Continue frying until both sides are golden. Continue with remaining batter, regreasing pan before each pancake.
My dad works in Chinatown in Seattle, and when my brothers and I were young he’d occasionally bring home a bright pink box filled with Asian bakery treats. These coconut buns (or gai mei bao) were always a family favorite. I’ve been searching for a recipe for awhile, and when I bit into one of these I knew I’d found it. The best part of gai mei bao is the buttery coconut filling, and this recipe doesn’t just nail the flavor — it allows for a generous amount in each bun. These buns are a great introduction to Asian baked goods; and even the non-coconut fans in my life gladly scarf these down.
There are a lot of steps to this recipe; don’t be intimidated! It all comes together quite easily in an afternoon. If you want to split up the work, make the dough on the first day and proof overnight in the fridge. Take out the dough about an hour before you want to wrap the buns so it can get to room temperature. During that time, make the filling and topping.
This recipe calls for a couple unusual ingredients (caster sugar and whole milk powder). I found everything I needed at Bulk Barn, though your local Asian market should also carry them. If you have difficulty locating caster sugar (which is basically superfine sugar — NOT powdered), you can whiz regular granulated sugar in the food processor for 10 seconds or so. This recipe also incorporates the tangzhong method, which involves cooking a portion of the flour with liquid in order to give the bread a longer-lasting soft texture. These buns keep well for a few days (I recommend microwaving a few seconds after the first day), and make a delicious breakfast alongside bacon and a cup of coffee.
(Note: I weigh my ingredients — highly recommended! — when making these buns, but have included approximate US equivalents below.)
Chinese Coconut Cocktail Buns (Gai Mei Bao)
Adapted from Christine’s Recipes
Makes 16 buns
Tangzhong Ingredients (will make a little more than needed for this recipe):
- 50gm / 1/3 c bread flour
- 250ml / 1 c water (could be replaced by milk, or 50/50 water and milk)
- In a small saucepan, slowly add liquid to flour and mix until smooth. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, whisk or spatula to prevent burning and sticking while you cook along the way.
- The mixture will gradually thicken. Once you notice some “lines” appearing in the mixture for every stir you make with the spoon, it’s done. Remove from heat.
- Transfer tangzhong to a clean bowl. Cover with a cling wrap sticking onto the surface of tangzhong to prevent from drying up. Let cool. The tangzhong can be used immediately once it cools down to room temperature. Leftover tangzhong can be stored in fridge for a few days. (Note: The chilled tangzhong should return to room temperature before adding into other ingredients.)
- 160 ml / 2/3 c milk, warmed (any kind will do)
- 1 egg, whisked
- 160 gm / 2/3 c tangzhong (for method, please see above)
- 6 gm / heaping 1 tsp salt
- 70 gm / 1/3 c caster sugar
- 10 gm / 2 tsp whole milk powder
- 360 gm / 3 c bread flour, plus more if needed
- 10 gm / 3 tsp active dry yeast
- 40 gm / 1.5 tbsp butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- 180 gm / 13 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
- 80 gm / 2/3 c caster sugar
- 50 gm / 1/2 c cake flour
- 60 gm / 4 tbsp milk powder
- 90 gm / 1 c unsweetened desiccated coconut
- 35 gm / 1/3 c cake flour
- 40 gm / 3 tbsp butter
- 20 gm / scant 1/8 c caster sugar
- 1 egg, whisked (with a splash of milk, optional)
- Sesame seeds for sprinkling on top, to taste
Sugar glaze (optional):
- 1 tbsp sugar + 1 tbsp water
- In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk to activate. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and milk powder.
- Once the yeast is active and bubbly, add egg and tangzhong and stir to combine.
- Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients. Slowly add the wet to the dry ingredients, incorporating with a spatula or wooden spoon. Dough will be sticky at first. Once in a cohesive ball, add melted butter. Knead until dough becomes smooth and soft, yet pliable (~8 – 10 minutes). If the dough is too sticky and will not come together, add additional flour a couple teaspoons at a time until it does.
- Cover dough with cling wrap or a linen towel and set aside in a warm area until doubled in size (or proof in the refrigerator overnight).
- While dough is proofing, make filling and topping (see below).
- Transfer proofed dough to a clean floured surface. Gently deflate and divide the dough into 16 equal portions. Form into ball shapes. Cover with cling wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Roll or press out each portion of the dough into an oval shape. Place a portion of filling in the middle of the oval lengthwise. Fold the bottom third up over the filling, then fold the top third down over the other layers (like a letter). Pinch seam closed. Turn bun over and tuck the ends underneath, pinching to seal.
- Transfer bun to a parchement lined baking tray with seam facing down. Repeat this step with the remaining dough portions and fillings. Cover with a plastic wrap and let them proof for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Lightly brush whisked egg on the surface of each dough. Pipe two lines of toppings and sprinkle some sesame seeds. Baked for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. About 5 minutes before finished, remove from oven and brush tops carefully with sugar glaze, if desired. Return to oven. Remove from the oven and brush on a second coat of sugar glaze. Let cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!
- Combine the butter and sugar well. Sift in in milk powder, cake flour, and coconut. Mix to combine.
- Form filling mixture into a long tube. Divide into 16 equal portions. Set aside. (I like to put in the fridge while dough is proofing to make it easier to handle.)
- Mix the softened butter with sugar well. Sift in the cake flour and combine well.
- Transfer into a ziplock bag and snip off a corner. Pipe over the tops of buns after egg wash.