Baked Apple Cinnamon Donuts

I am one of those people that has all of the kitchen things. Between my personal love for cooking (and therefore all things kitchen!) our wedding in the last year and the move to Chicago (with a much bigger, beautiful kitchen than we had in NYC), it is a mecca.

Perhaps the one thing I didn’t have – that is, until our office Secret Santa – was a donut pan. Donuts aren’t something that typically call to me. Don’t get me wrong, they’re awesome, but realistically I probably eat donuts once or twice a year, at best. If you know me or you’ve been following along long enough, you’ll know that I also don’t like to fry things. 1) It’s messy and it really stinks up your house. I have a hard enough time cleaning olive oil / miscellaneous kitchen oil splatter off of our modern cabinets and shiny floors (all beautiful, but wow they hide nothing) and 2) it’s just not good for you, so it’s not something I’ve ever felt the need to get into.

It would be cliché for me to say donuts are having a moment because you could argue that they have always been in that moment, but certainly in the last two years, I would say they’ve come back as a more beautiful, healthier, more complex version of their original selves (apparently the donuts in my version of this story have quite a personality). Maybe they’ve always been baked rather than fried, but baked donuts started to catch my eye, and in particular, a recipe from Last Ingredient for Baked Apple Cinnamon Donuts with a Maple Bourbon Glaze. So when Secret Santa came along, I knew this was exactly what I wanted, and he (she) delivered 🙂

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When I set out to make a day of a recipe (going to the store, prepping the ingredients, cooking / baking, photographing, and of course eating), I’m really aiming for a certain level of complexity. Essentially, I would be disappointed if I could do the whole thing in an hour. I don’t necessarily want to sign up for 6-hour escapade, but I do want to make an afternoon of it.

I started out with this recipe thinking it was shockingly simple. The donut base is easy, there is no way around it. You pop them in the oven and it’s really like making cookies – that amount of mess, time, etc. so I found it a little underwhelming. Where it gets fun, though, is when you bring them out of the oven and they’re these adorable little donuts (geez, I’m really drinking the Kool Aid with the whole food blog, right??) and they get dusted with cinnamon sugar, then they cool, and then there is frosting, and more setting. It’s almost the anticipation that gets you more than anything!

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And they are gorgeous the whole time (nothing more disappointing than making something that is really unappealing aesthetically). Really, the recipe is super simple, overall the whole process is very easy, and the time comes in as you’re waiting between the various steps. At the end of it, you have these beautifully glazed donuts, topped with dried apple slices (not to be forgotten!) and they are delicious.

My husband actually made the comment that in his opinion, these donuts might be his favorite thing I’ve ever made. Just let that sink in for a moment. Of all the food that passes through our kitchen, he chooses this one. I suggest you make the donuts 🙂

You can find the full recipe here. The only thing I changed was to use almond milk instead of regular milk, but I think you could use this with any milk you prefer and they would still be great.

When you store them, keep them out on the counter / out in the open rather than putting them in a bag or sealed container. They will maintain their hard icing exterior if they can breathe (whereas in a bag, they soak up additional moisture and get a bit sloppy).

Happy baking and let me know how it goes!

xx Jess

 

Russian Tea Cakes

I had a lot of ambition to make so many different Christmas cookies this year, but it just didn’t happen and time completely snuck away from me! Luckily, I got to make a few of my favs (maybe I’ll just have to start calling them New Year cookies or something so I can make the rest :)) and one of the must-haves were my favorite Russian Tea Cakes.

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They’re super simple (you can find versions of this recipe that literally have 4 ingredients) while also really elegant and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. These honestly are one of my favorites and hopefully you love them just as much as I do!

A quick tip: make sure to do the first powdered sugar layer while the cookies are still slightly warm (let them rest for less than 10 minutes) and then the second layer of powdered sugar once they are completely cooled.

You can find the full recipe here.

Enjoy! Leave a note below and let me know what holiday (or New Year’s :)) cookies you  are still making this year!

xx Jess

 

Holiday Star Bread

The holidays are not over yet (or at least, I’m certainly still eating and baking like they’re not!) and I knew I had to fit in this Holiday Star Bread! I had seen images of it and bookmarked them (let’s be serious, I have a Google doc of recipes I want to make….) several times.

The bread tasted and looked amazing, but a few things I would have liked someone to tell me before I had started, so here it is for you:

  • This bread really gave me a run for my money. All in all, it probably took about 4 hours to make with several breaks to let the dough rise (again and again).
  • It is a bread. It says it in the name. For some reason I had gotten it into my head that this would be a small bread / more like a large cookie as far as size and consistency. I really have no idea where I got that from, but to be clear, this is a full on bread.
  • Re: taste (and per the above note), it’s not what I expected. It’s more like a loaf of cinnamon rolls (although I did mine with jam). Not a bad thing at all, but just trying to give a sense of what this will look like / taste like as I was so far off base!
  • It is huge. I likely let mine rise longer than needed, which didn’t help my cause here, but my final Holiday Star Bread was the size of a full pizza, and I just couldn’t believe it!

I winged my recipe a little bit, but mostly followed this recipe by Bread in Five. Here they call for a cinnamon sugar layer in between the dough layers, but on Instagram the same baker had shared an image with raspberry jam in between the layers, which was gorgeous and gave it more of a holiday feel, so I went that route. I used Bonne Maman raspberry jam, and used the whole jar (in hindsight, probably a little much, but I wouldn’t do too much less as it does cook down a bit and you want to have that flavor last after the baking).

I also used the White Bread Master Recipe as the base. As she notes in her recipe, it would likely be best with a “crustier” recipe (and she shares a few others!), but nonetheless, the white bread worked well. This may have also contributed to the “cinnamon roll” feeling that I was getting from mine.

At the end of the day, it’s a gorgeous piece and a complete showstopper, just be ready as making this is no light task and will take considerable time!

You can find the full recipe here.

Happy baking and happy holidays! If you try it out, let me know how it goes!

xx Jess

Molasses Cookies

Molasses is a flavor that just makes me feel like the holidays. A little bit gingerbread-esque, it’s a perfect warm, homey-ness (and it makes me lose all self control when it comes to cookies!).

These Molasses Cookies are seriously so good (can I say crack? They taste like crack). I will say that when I was looking up recipes, the first I came upon used 1 1/2 cups of butter as the first ingredient. I love butter probably more than most, but geez that’s aggressive. The recipe I ended up going with has half the calories of the first recipe I looked at, and they still taste absolutely amazing.

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Perhaps it’s just me getting used to our oven since the move, but putting two cookies sheets into the oven did not work for this one. Those on the top rack were perfect, cracked just like they were supposed to, and still very soft on the inside. Those on the bottom never cracked and frankly burned a little bit on the bottom as I left them in for some extra time to see if they were going to get there. So for these, it’s a one-sheet-per-oven situation (or at least for me!).

Let me know how these turn out for you! Do you have other favorite molasses cookie recipes you swear by? I’d love to hear them!

You can find the full recipe here.

xx Jess

Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake

I came across this recipe on Epicurious and immediately thought that someone named Marie-Hélène obviously must make an amazing apple cake. To fill you in a bit on the back story (I had to do some digging) Marie-Hélène Brunet-Lhoste is a friend of Dorie Greenspan (enough said, right?) as well as a top editor of the Louis Vuitton City Guides, and one of the restaurant critics for the Paris edition. And she’s French. And bakes. Basically, I would eat anything that Marie-Hélène wants to make.

As the story goes, this recipe is Dorie Greenspan’s interpretation of Marie-Hélène’s cake, as she naturally doesn’t use a recipe and makes it by feel (and a little different) every time. The recipe is pretty fantastic, if I may say so myself (huge Dorie fan here!), although halfway through, I was convinced that this was going to be a flop.

A few things to watch out for:

  1. This is more apple than cake. As you’re mixing the apples intoDSC_0454 the batter, you’ll have a moment of near-panic when you’re looking at a bowl of apples with some batter on them, and thinking that there is no way this will ever set up / make anything. Hold true to the recipe – it does work. I’ve included a few photos just so you get a sense of just how much apple I’m talking about.
    • A side note on the apples: I cut mine in chunks, as the recipe calls for. Looking at the pictures in the Epicurious recipe, my guess would be that they cut their apples in thinner slices, more like you would for an apple pie (maybe cut in half, though). All will taste great, just a slightly different aesthetic!
  2. My cake had to cook about 30 minutes longer than the recipe recommends. It just stayed sooooo moist from all the juice of the apples that it just needed a lot more time. In the end, I took it out before burning, but never really got to a point where a knife inserted in the middle was coming out clean. Luckily, as the cake cooled, it did look as if it was cooked enough, but I was pretty deflated as I was taking it out of the oven, and was almost certain that I would be chalking this up to a loss.
  3. Use the springform pan. I didn’t have one (literally since making this, I have gone out and bought one), but it will make your life so much easier. The cake is so moist that inverting it / trying to get it out of a regular cake pan nearly destroys it. I got lucky, honestly, as I was convinced that it would completely fall apart.

Other than that, the recipe is super simple and clean. Do use the rum (it tastes amazing) and do use the four different types of apples. Don’t be shy putting them in — it’ll be a ton of apples and it will 100% taste amazing.

There are just two of us, and we ate the whole cake in 2 days. Just saying. Guess there will be a lot of gym time in my future this week!

Let me know how it works for you! If you’re in doubt, just cook it a little longer, but be patient. It will turn out!

You can find the full recipe here.

xx Jess

Salted Chocolate Chunk & Pretzel Cookies

It’s our first cold and truly windy day in Chicago. I’m not too intimidated by the cold, but I’ve been bracing for the wind, and I must say, it is not messing around! Today was high 40s / low 50s, but crazy windy and let me tell you, that makes it seriously cold. When we’re looking at zero degrees (or worse) and this much wind…. I can only imagine (I foresee a lot of cooking in my future when we get there!).

DSC_0386Anyhow, I of course spent the afternoon in the kitchen whipping up some vegan Salted Chocolate Chunk & Pretzel Cookies with a recipe from Evergreen Kitchen. In my book, you can’t go wrong with chocolate and pretzels (salty sweet is the best!) so I knew these would be phenomenal. The original recipe is vegan, but also gluten free. I used regular flour, so my version wasn’t, but it was nice to make truly vegan cookies. I also used peanut butter rather than almond butter, but I’m sure both are great.

I will say, my husband walked in the door (arriving home straight from the airport) this afternoon and said “it smells SOOOO good in here!” so I know I’m doing something right! The combination of peanut butter + chocolate was heavenly.

I did have to cook these a few minutes longer than the recipe recommends, but be cautious of cooking them too long. The bottom will burn before you notice it on top, so it’s ok to pull them out of the oven even if you think they’re still a little under (better than burning!).

Whip up a batch — or two or three — of your own and let me know what you think!

You can find the full recipe here.

Happy baking!

xx Jess

Mixed Berry Galette

It’s not over ’til it’s over! At least, that’s my mantra with this Mixed Berry Galette from this past week! As long as I see those amazing berries in the store, I will be buying them and hanging on as long as I can (in the same breath, I’ll fully admit that I bought a pumpkin a few days ago….. eek!).

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Stephen is catching on quickly, but galettes are one of my favorite things to make. I love how “messy” they are and you really just can’t go wrong. Even if they break (mine fully did as I was taking it off the baking sheet!), they still look and taste amazing.

This recipe had cornmeal in the crust which I thought was an amazing addition, adding a little extra texture. They called for blueberries and blackberries, but I threw some raspberries in there as well, just for some additional color – and they’re Stephen’s favorite!

Anyone that makes galettes often, teach me your ways when it comes to taking the finished product off of the baking sheet! I manage to break mine every time, but perhaps there is another way to get them off that is a little easier. Is anyone else having this same problem?? Regardless, they’re amazing every time!

You can find the full recipe here.

xx Jess