Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pumpkin-Cinnamon Streusel Buns

I have to admit, yeast is something I've only recently starting using. I've been baking pretty seriously now for about 7 years and only in the past year have I really been using yeast.  I had a few mishaps before then that kind of scared me off.  But, brave soul that I am, I tried again and have decided that I love using it.  Sure, I've killed off my fair share of the little critters but hey, it was for a good cause.  I've learned a few things along the way as well.  Because I'm the nice person that I am I'll share.  

#1) Yeast loves sweet things too! In particular, honey.  They just love going to town in their warm water with a teaspoon or so of honey stirred in.  Not once since I've started adding honey to the water have I had a no-bloom batch.  

#2) I'm pretty sure someone (lots of someones, actually) are lying about that whole "warm water" thing with yeast.  I use hot water.  And no-joke hot water at that.  It's not boiling but it hurts to touch.  I'm sure if it was boiling the little yeasties would be none too happy, but they seem fine in my scalding kitchen sink water.  So I wouldn't worry too much about that perfect just-above-body temperature water that seems to be recommended in most books.  Just make it hot-ish.

These are an excellent cinnamon roll-type breakfast.  They're not super sweet since there's not a massive amount of filling or frosting but you don't miss it.  I think the pumpkin gives them a nice flavor and definitely helps keep them moist.  I would definitely recommend eating them warm but I wouldn't shun a room temperature one if it was offered.  


Pumpkin-Cinnamon Streusel Buns

2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (1 package)
1/4 cup hot-ish water
2 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup 1% milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons chilled butter, cubed

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

For buns:
  • Wake up those yeast in warm water with a teaspoon or so of honey.  Let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Put 2 cups flour, pumpkin, milk, butter, sugar, salt, and nutmeg into mixer bowl with dough hook and mix until smooth.  Gradually add remaining dough, leaving about 1/4 cup.  Once incorporated remove dough to counter and hand knead in last 1/4 cup flour.  Dough will be tacky.
  • Place dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray.  Cover with a damp towel and place in a warm spot (inside your oven is a great place if your kitchen isn't warm.  Just turn it on at 200 degrees for a few minutes just to get it toasty, then shut if off before putting dough in to rise).  Let rise 45 minutes.
For filling:
  • Combine all ingredients with a pastry cutter or throw them in the food processor.
  • Punch dough down, let rest 5 minutes.  Roll to a 12x10 inch rectangle and sprinkle with filling.  Roll up the rectangle, starting with the long edge, pressing as you go.  Pinch seams to seal.  Cut into 9 slices. Place in a 9-inch square pan (my springform is great for this) coated with cooking spray.  Cover and let rise again for 25 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees while rising.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. 
For glaze:
  1. Combine all ingredients and drizzle over warm buns.

Cookie Dough Cupcakes

How could these be bad?  I mean, a nice vanilla cupcake filled with a cookie dough ball, then topped with vanilla frosting. Really, what's not to love?

A few notes. 
1) This recipe makes close to 30 cupcakes, so you may want to consider halving (or lower).  If you haven't seen this site, it's great for doing just that.
2) I keep this cookie dough on hand at all times.  It's fantastic.  It is by far my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.  It's chewy, it's chocolatey, it's perfection.  I make a batch and freeze what I don't use.  Ok, well, what I don't bake or don't eat raw, which typically leaves about 2 cookies worth... Anyway, the recipe makes about 2.5 dozen full size cookies which is WAY more than you need for the cupcake centers, since they're pretty little.  But hey, you can always use the rest to make actual cookies.  
3) There are eggs in the cookie dough.  I assume that they are getting baked a little bit, but not much since they're still pretty doughy once the cupcake is done baking.  If this makes you uncomfortable then 1) you can't be my friend anymore because what kind of person doesn't like raw cookie dough? and 2) you can find your own egg free recipe.  I have no interest in such a cookie dough.  I live on the wild side and salmonella can be damned!


Cookie dough cupcakes

1 3/4 cup cake flour, not self rising
1 1/4 cup flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cubed
4 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cookie dough
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

2 sticks butter, soft
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla
pinch of salt
1/4 cup heavy cream

For cookie dough
  • Melt butter.  
  • Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda.  
  • Pour butter and sugars into mixer bowl and beat on medium speed.  Add egg, yolk, milk, and vanilla.  Mix until combined.  Slowly add flour until thoroughly combined.  Stir in chocolate chips. 
  • Scoop dough with a small scoop (about an inch in diameter).
  • If you're planning on making actual cookies, scoop with a larger scoop and bake at 375 for about 14 minutes.  Cook on sheet for a few minutes.
For cupcakes:
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • With electric mixer and paddle, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.
  • In a large measuring cup whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla.  With mixer on medium speed add wet ingredients in 3 parts.  Do not overbeat.
  • Divide batter among liners, filling about 2/3 full.  Drop a cookie dough ball into the middle.  Don't push it down, just leave it.
  • Bake about 17 minutes.
For frosting:
  • Cream butter and sugar on low.  Once incorporated add other ingredients and beat for 5 minutes.

I copied the idea from Ice Cream Before Dinner.  I used the same cupcake and icing that she uses.  Cookie dough is Alton Brown's Chewy.

Sugar Cookies

I'm still trying to catch up on all my old baking adventures.  My darling husband is currently occupying himself with a rousing game of Halo on XBox so now is as good a time as any! 

I made these for cookie baskets for Christmas this year.  Yes, I'm THAT far behind!  Anyway, this is the best rolled sugar cookie recipe EVER.  Yes, ever.  It's such an easy dough to work with, doesn't puff up and it holds it's shape while baking.  


Rolled Sugar Cookies

2 sticks butter
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
2 1/2 cups flour
pinch of salt

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Whisk flour and salt in medium bowl.
  • Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and milk.  Beat until combined. Add flour and beat until just combined.
  • Roll out thick between two sheets of parchment.  Use cookie cutters.  Transfer to a parchment lined sheet.  Collect and re-roll scraps.  (For cookies with skinny parts, like these snowflakes, the dough is too soft to pick up off the parchment and transfer so I just peeled up the scrapes and transferred the parchment sheet I used to roll out straight onto the cookies sheet.  You can't cram as many in this way but it works).
  • Bake until edges are pale golden, about 10 minutes.  Let cool.
Royal Icing

2 egg whites
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla or lemon juice
milk to thin

  • Beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Add sugar and vanilla/lemon.  Beat one minute.  Thin if necessary.  
  • Use immediately and cover any that you're not using.  This stuff dries to crunchy pretty quickly but will need a few hours to dry fully.  For these, I outlined in thick icing, then flooded with the thinned out version.