Challah Cinnamon Rolls with Doughnut Glaze


July 2015 115

Cinnamon is absolutely, hands down, one of my favorite smells, and tastes, in the entire world.  You probably already know that I’m gluten free (it’s a health thing), but even though I can’t taste these, I love the smell of them baking.

Challah (pronounced holla), is a light, sweet, fluffy egg dough and it is amazing as a cinnamon roll.  I love cream cheese frosting on my cinnamon rolls, but then they require refrigeration, and when I send them to work with my husband (you guessed it!) they never refrigerate them!  Ugh.

So I decided to glaze these beauties with my favorite doughnut glaze.  Oh my – they are awesome!  In case you don’t believe me, here’s a photo of the luscious interior. .

July 12 2015 059

Oh yum – these are so soft and fluffy!!

You can also freeze them on parchment not touching and reheat on defrost for 1 – 2 minutes (depending on your microwave).  I plan on making a bunch of these before school starts so my kids have some options in the morning.

Speaking of early mornings and school, I also like to cook my bacon in the oven.  Here’s that info so you don’t have to track it down on my site:

*I prefer to cook my bacon in the oven on a half sheet pan (with a rim) lined with foil for easy cleaning.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place bacon strips next to each other in an even layer (don’t stack them) and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes.  Place the cooked bacon on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess grease.  Eat immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 days wrapped in foil.

I know this recipe is super long, but I wanted to give clear instructions so that you will have success.  Also, unlike your typical filling recipes out there, I created a spreadable filling so that all that yummy goodness doesn’t fall out on the counter while rolling.  I hope you love them as much as my family does!!!

Challah Cinnamon Rolls Adapted from Baking with Julia

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Melt in a large microwave safe bowl, swirl butter around to coat the bowl and set aside.

1 1/2 Tablespoons active dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup warm water

In a large bowl, whisk together the yeast, sugar, and warm water until combined.  Let sit for about 5 minutes.

1/3 cup sugar

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup whole milk

2 Tablespoons honey

2 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

In a medium pot, whisk together the sugar, butter, milk, honey, and salt until very warm.  Continuing to whisk so the mixture does not burn.  Take the mixture off the heat as soon as the butter is melted.

I like to touch the milk mixture to make sure it’s not too hot before adding it to the yeast mixture.  If you are not comfortable doing this, you may let it sit for 5-10 minutes so you are sure it has cooled down a little.  You do not want the mixture to be too hot and kill the yeast.

When you are ready, pour the milk mixture into the yeast and whisk until combined.

4 large eggs

Add the eggs one at a time, whisking completely in between.

6 1/2 cups bread flour (approximately)

With a wooden spoon, stir in a few cups of flour at a time.  When the dough starts to thicken into a stiffer dough, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead it for about 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed.

This is a good time for me to tell you that the finished dough is still quite tacky, smooth, and soft, which lends itself to a soft, light, and tender roll.  Do not add too much flour!

Place the finished dough into the reserved buttered bowl and turn it over to coat both sides with the butter.  Place a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the bowl to seal in the air and cover the plastic wrap with a clean dishtowel.

Let the dough rise until doubled 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  I never time my dough, I just check on it, releasing the air out of the plastic wrap now and again and resealing it.  When the dough has reached the top of my bowl, I deflate it, and cover it again.

Prepare two 9 x 13 inch pans, and an eight inch pan, by spraying them with nonstick spray and lining the bottom with parchment.  Then pour 1/4 cup of melted salted butter into the bottom of each pan.  Set aside.

Then once the dough has risen to the top (another hour or so), turn it out onto a lightly floured counter and gently knead it a few times.  Then pat the dough into a rectangle and roll it out about 1/3 of an inch thick and cover it with cinnamon sugar spread (recipe below), sprinkle with  1 – 1 1/2 cups roasted pecans if using, then roll it from the long end up and gently move the finished roll closer to you and cut about every 2 inches.

Place cut side down into prepared baking pans.  Make sure to leave room in between the rolls for the dough to spread.  I was able to fit 6 rolls in each 9 x 13 pan, and 4 rolls into the 8 inch pan.

Cover each pan with plastic wrap and let rise for an hour or until doubled.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

When the rolls have risen, remove the plastic wrap and place them in the oven for 17-20 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned.  I turn my halfway through baking so there is even browning.

When the rolls are done.  Let them set in the pan for about 10 minutes.  Then carefully invert them onto a wire rack, and then flip them again onto another wire rack so that they’re right side up again.

Set the wire rack onto a large half sheet pan (to catch excess glaze) and pour the doughnut glaze over each cinnamon roll, making sure to cover the entire roll.

Serve immediately, store at room temperature for 3 days, or freeze and store for a few months!  Reheat slightly before eating for a fresh from the oven taste.

Cinnamon Spread

2 cups salted butter, softened

1 cup packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons light corn syrup

3 Tablespoons cinnamon

In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugars, and cinnamon until nice and creamy.  Add in the corn syrup and beat until combined.  Run a nylon scraper through the mixture to see if it’s easily spreadable.  If so you’re done, if not, add another Tablespoon of corn syrup and beat until combined.

Doughnut Glaze Adapted from Glazed, Filled, Sugared, & Dipped

4 sticks of unsalted butter

1/2 cup water

4 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

In a large pot, combine the butter, water, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt, whisking until smooth and combined.  Let the mixture heat long enough to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar, whisking occasionally to prevent burning.  Then when it’s semi-clear, strain it through a sieve into a pour spout pitcher for glazing.  It’s now ready to use.  While still warm, glaze the cinnamon rolls.




Petite Moist Lemon Bundt Cake


June 2015 038

Whenever anyone finds out that I have a food blog, the first question they ask me is “do you create your own recipes?”  I never really have a straight answer.  My husband says tell them yes!  But to me, it’s more complicated than that.

So, here’s the long answer.  No one really creates their own recipes (gasp!), I mean think about it.  There are only so many ingredients that go into a cake to make it a cake.  That’s why ingredients are not copyright protected (at least at the time of this entry).  So odds are the recipe you’ve just made up without looking at a cookbook has already been printed.  Sorry!  Not to mention the fact that you might have already read so many cookbooks that you’re plagiarizing unintentionally.

I know that sounds crazy, but have you ever seen a movie, forgot you’ve seen the movie, but then once watching it again, can predict what’s going to happen next?  Yep, mhm, you’ve just filled in from memory without initially realizing.

And then there’s my mother-in-law, she likes to look up recipes at allrecipes.com.  She also peruses the reviews, but is annoyed when people change the recipe posted and then say the posted recipe was fabulous.  To her it was not the same recipe, so from that perspective, I create my own recipes!

Sigh.  Where are you all in the whole debate?

So let’s talk about cake.  Not just any cake, but a moist lemon bundt cake.  I love lemon, I think it goes back to my Grandma’s kitchen where she served the most amazing ladyfingers – soft, cakelike, and lemony.

Finding a moist lemon bundt cake sounds easy, but there were a lot of recipes, and a lot of changes before I landed on this one.  I mention that it’s petite because it makes about 1/2 of a bundt pan.  I have tried doubling this recipe without success – so I don’t recommend it!

Petite Moist Lemon Bundt Cake Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1 cup sour cream

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)

1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract

1/2 cup canola oil

1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (approximately 2 lemons)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a fluted bundt pan with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon extract, canola oil, and lemon juice until combined.  Whisk in the flour mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, of until a toothpick tested in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Once the cake comes out of the oven, immediately pour all of the sugar syrup mixture onto the cake.  I like to gently tilt the cake around to help the syrup get evenly distributed.

It will look like a lot of syrup, but don’t worry the cake with soak all of it in.  Let the cake set for 10 minutes.  Then turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool.

Once cool, place a sheet of parchment or wax paper underneath the cooling rack, and then pour glaze over the top of the cake.

Then once the glaze has settled, transfer the cake onto a cake round or serving platter.

Moistening Syrup

1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

2/3 cup sugar

Stir together gently in a small pot.  Heat on the stove just until no longer cloudy.  It should come to a boil and then about a minute later, turn off the heat.  The bubbling should settle and the liquid should be clear.


1 cup powdered sugar

2 – 3 Tablespoons water or 7-up

Whisk together ingredients until smooth.  I like the glaze on the thin side so that it dries completely.




Oatmeal Snickerdoodle Cookies

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July 2015 069

The other day my husband called me and told me that he and some co-workers wanted to know if I could replicate some oatmeal snickerdoodle cookie they’d had at lunch.  I’ll be honest, it’s hard to recreate something that I’ve never tasted, let alone seen, but since I didn’t have a baseline to adhere to I felt pretty good about giving it a shot!

So, without further ado, here is my replication of some cookie with unknown origins!  My daughter says it’s “amazing that you can taste the oatmeal inside the cookie, but not see it.”  Perfect for kids lunchboxes everywhere!

Oatmeal Snickerdoodle Cookies Adapted from my mom

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 3/4 cups flour

1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal (ground in a food processor)

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Sugar Cinnamon Topping:

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons cinnamon

2 Tablespoons old-fashioned oatmeal (ground in a food processor)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line baking sheets with parchment.  Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until creamed together.  About two minutes.  Add in the eggs and beat until combined.

Add in the salt, cream of tartar, baking soda, and vanilla.  Beat just until combined.  Add in the ground oatmeal and the flour beating until a thick dough comes together.

Using a 2 teaspoon scoop, scoop dough and roll into balls with your hands.  Roll each ball into the cinnamon sugar topping until well coated.

Set the dough ball on the parchment and continue – making sure there is enough space between each cookie for spreading.

Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes.*  Slide the parchment off the hot cookie sheet onto a clean counter and let cool completely before removing cookies.

Store in a covered container for up to 4 days.

*My cookies are done in 8 minutes.  It’s really hard to estimate doneness since the cookie is covered in brown coating.  So I look to see that all the cookies have risen in the middle.  If some look a little sunken in right in the center, I bake them for another minute or two.  Also once they are off the cookie sheet they are incredibly soft until they haven completely cooled.


Garlic Bread Twists

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February 2015 011

My oldest is a pizza fanatic, I swear she asks for anything pizza every other day when she comes home during the school year.  And she has pretty strong opinions about how she likes her pizza – lots of crust, barely any sauce (homemade only), and cheese, but it has to be freshly grated whole milk mozzarella.  She’s got great taste.

I usually have sauce frozen to reheat at a moment’s notice, due to her obsession.  And this breadstick recipe is a breeze to put together, although you have to plan about two hours for rising time.  Did I mention that these breadsticks freeze beautifully?!

The seasoning mix is completely optional, but it definitely takes the breadsticks from basic to special.  You can make the seasoning mix in advance and store it in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

These breadsticks are so soft and delicious – I just know you are going to love them!

Fresh Soft Breadsticks Adapted from Our Best Bites

1 1/2 cups warm water

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 Tablespoon active dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

3 1/2 cups bread flour

4 Tablespoons salted butter

1 recipe of garlic bread seasoning

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the water, sugar, and yeast.  Gently mix with the dough hook attachment for 1 minute, then let stand for 10 minutes.

Add the salt and stir with the dough hook to combine.  Add the flour slowly, mixing with the dough hook.  Continue to mix with the dough hook until the dough pulls away from the bowl and isn’t sticky.

Place the dough into a bowl (or dough bucket) to rise covered with a damp towel.  Allow the dough to rise until it’s doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently roll the dough into a rectangle.  Move the dough to a sheet of parchment and (using a pizza cutter) cut the dough into strips.

Spread melted butter on the dough, and dust the dough with garlic bread seasoning (recipe below) and then holding the ends of a dough strip in your hands twist in opposite directions.

Place the dough twist back on the parchment and continue making twists with the remaining dough.  I place them right next to each other so that they don’t unravel.

Cover with a damp towel and let rise for about 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Bake the breadsticks for 10-12 minutes, or until light brown.

Garlic Bread Seasoning Adapted from Our Best Bites

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning

1 teaspoon parsley

1 Tablespoon garlic powder

Mix together and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks in a covered container.



Double Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake


July 2014 100When we were vacationing in Florida last summer, I spotted Young’s Double Chocolate Stout and immediately knew that I needed to make a double chocolate stout bundt cake.

July 2014 115

Would you believe that I made this cake in the summer, AND it’s taken me so long to get this one posted?!  Yikes!  Better late than never, I suppose.

Double Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake Adapted from Kiss My Bundt

1 3/4 cup sugar

2 cups flour

3/4 cup Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder

1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 baking powder

1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

2 eggs, room temperature

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup canola oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup water, boiling

1/2 cup Double Chocolate Stout

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray mini bundt pan (4 cavity) with PAM spray.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla with an electric mixer.  Pour the dry ingredients into the wet in thirds, beating on low.  Set aside.  If you add the dry mixture too fast, your batter can get lumpy.

In a medium saucepan, boil the water and stout.  Pour the boiling liquid into the cake batter beating on low, just until combined.  The cake batter will be thin.

Pour batter into greased mini (4 cavities), 3/4 full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cakes cool for 5 minutes in the pan; then invert onto a wire rack, gently flipping them right side up when they are cool enough to handle.

Serve plain, dusted with powdered sugar, or (my personal favorite) top with chocolate ganache.

Ganache Adapted from The Pastry Queen

8 ounces semisweet chocolate (I used Baker’s), chopped

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup light Karo syrup

1/8 teaspoon vanilla

pinch of salt

Heat the heavy cream in a medium bowl in the microwave 1-2 minutes, until cream is very hot.  Then add the chopped chocolate and let set for about 2 minutes.  Then slowly whisk in the syrup, vanilla, and salt.  Continue whisking until combined.  Don’t over do it, because it will cause air bubbles!

Pour on top of your cakes!


My Favorite Chocolate Fudge Cake (Gluten Free)

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February 2015 150

I love chocolate cake, but being gluten intolerant for the last 13 years – well, I don’t always go to the trouble of making myself dessert for holidays and special occasions.  But that may have to change since I’ve discovered this recipe!

February 2015 170

This cake is dense, moist, fudgy, and I love the texture of the chocolate chips.  No need for frosting!  You could serve it as a muffin, but it just screams dessert to me!

My Favorite Chocolate Fudge Cake Adapted from Half Baked Harvest

1 1/2 cups gluten free flour (I used Cup 4 Cup)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Natural Hershey’s)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

2 eggs

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 heaping cup sour cream

1/2 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup hot coffee

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin pan with 18 liners, and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Next, measure the buttermilk, canola oil, vanilla, eggs, and sour cream and whisk together in the measuring cup or in another bowl.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry and, using an electric mixer, beat until combined.  Slowly beat in the hot coffee.  Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips.

Using a 2.07 ounce disher, scoop the batter into the muffin liners (I prefer to use large liners – 2 x 1 1/2 inch, I bought mine here).  Top each muffin with chocolate chips (this takes the remaining 1/2 cup).

Bake in the oven for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  If there is melted chocolate on the toothpick, instead of batter, get a clean toothpick and insert it into a new spot.

These keep well for 3-4 days, partially covered at room temperature.  You may also freeze them for up to a month and reheat them in the microwave.

*Just a note: I’ve tried making this recipe with regular wheat flour for my family and it turned out dry and unappealing.  Believe me, it’s best made with Cup 4 Cup flour for your favorite gluten free people!


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January 2015 055I have always wanted to make tiramisu.  Always.  When my husband invited his co-workers over for an Italian lunch, I knew this had to make the cut.

January 2015 021

I piped the mascarpone filling on the top for decoration and dusted it with Dutch processed cocoa powder.  Don’t try and substitute with regular cocoa powder – it’s bitter.

January 2015 035

The only special equipment you need for this particular cake is an 11 x 17 pan, acetate rings, and a square cake ring.  Let’s get started!!


Sponge Cake Adapted from The Sono Baking Company Cookbook

3/4 cup cake flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

4 large eggs, room temperature

4 large egg yolks, room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1 Tablespoon vanilla

1 cup canola oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray an 11 x 17 inch pan with nonstick spray, line with parchment, and spray again.  Set aside.

In small bowl, sift together the flour and cornstarch – set aside.

In the bowl of a Kitchenaid mixer, beat the whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla (with the whisk attachment) on high speed for 8 minutes.  The mixture should be thick, pale yellow, and fluffy.

Remove the bowl and fold in the flour mixture until it has been completely incorporated.  Continue to fold – even if you think you’ve combined all of it because the cornstarch has a tendency to stick to the bowl, and your cake will be ruined if all of the flour isn’t incorporated.

Once you’re sure all the flour has been folded in, slowly add in the oil while continuing to fold.  It is helpful to have another person slowly drizzle the oil for you while you fold the batter, if possible.

Gently pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 10-15 minutes.  To test the cake, stick the center of the cake with a toothpick and make sure that there is no batter on it.  Remove the cake from the oven and let set for 2 minutes.

Then carefully turn the cake over onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Don’t wait too long to do this because the hot pan it’s resting in may make the cake collapse.  Let it cool for 30 minutes to an hour on the wire rack.  When it feels cool to the touch it’s ready for the next step.

Mascarpone Custard Adapted from Everyday Occasions

4 cups heavy cream

1 2/3 cups granulated sugar

pinch salt

10 large egg yolks

6 Tablespoons cornstarch

8 Tablespoons of cold unsalted butter, cut into Tablespoons

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 (8 ounce) tubs of mascarpone cheese

Crack the egg yolks into a large glass (heat-proof) bowl and set aside.  In a medium bowl, place the chunks of butter and vanilla and set a fine mesh sieve on top (I have some similar to these); set aside.

In a medium pot, whisk together the sugar with the cornstarch to break up any lumps.  Then add the heavy cream and salt and whisk constantly over medium heat (about 5 on a gas burner) until thick and bubbly.  Continue whisking for 1 minute.

Slowly, whisk about 1/2 of the hot cream into the egg yolks whisking vigorously to prevent the egg yolks from scrambling.  Then slowly whisk in another 1/2 cup of hot cream.

Then place the remaining pot of hot cream back on the stove and vigorously whisk the egg yolk mixture back into the hot cream and bring it to a boil.  Cook for 1 minute.

Take the cream/egg mixture off the heat and pour it through the sieve.  When all of the custard has been pushed through the sieve, whisk constantly to incorporate the butter and vanilla into the hot cream mixture.

Pour the hot custard into a heat-proof bowl and let it set at room temperature for about 30 minutes to cool.  Once it has cooled enough to move, place a paper towel on top of the bowl and place in the refrigerator to continue to cool.

Once the custard is cool, about 30-45 minutes, beat in the tubs of mascarpone cheese.  The custard is ready to be spread and piped onto the tiramisu.

*This custard will be shiny, thick, and spreadable the first day.  However, on the second day it will thickened so much that you can scoop it.  Don’t worry, it’s crazy delicious and great on cream puffs because it’ll stay in place!

**If the custard “breaks” and separates on you, try processing it in a food processor or using an immersion blender if you have one.  It should come together completely.

Now you’ll need 1 cup of espresso.

To Assemble:

Use the square cake mold to cut the cake into two pieces.  Then wash the mold.  Line the mold with an acetate ring.  Then place in layer of the sponge cake.

Brush the top of the sponge cake with espresso.  Spoon on about 1/4 to 1/2 inch layer of custard cream.  Top with the next layer of sponge cake, brush the cake with espresso, top with a layer of custard cream.  Then fill a piping bag with the remaining custard and pipe the top.  Dust with Dutch processed cocoa powder.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Remove the mold and acetate before serving.  Keep covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.


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