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Bannock

This delicious quickbread’s origin isn’t completely clear.  Also know as “Indian Fry Bread”, many believe that it was brought over by Scottish Fur traders in the 1800’s. However, there is some linguistic evidence that this bread may predate western contact. A staple of First Nations cuisine across Canada, it is also made by American Indians.

There are three main ways to make bannock. In a tin in the oven, on a stick over fire or fried in a deep pan. I’m going to share my take on my cousin’s recipe, which is fried.

I love to make bannock and use it as a hamburger bun. It makes a simple dinner taste and look gourmet. To be extra fancy (and authentic) I’ll pair the bun with a buffalo burger and juniper berry sauce. It can be served many ways though, even just with peanut butter and jelly.

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To make them add 6 cups of flour to a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.

Add in lukewarm water (not hot!), sugar, oil and instant yeast. Slowly mix the ingredients together by bringing the flour from the edges of the bowl into the center.

Add salt about 1/2 way through mixing in the ingredients.

Knead the bread until shiny and elastic. Form into a ball.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Turn the dough around to coat it with oil. Cover and place in a cold oven with the light turned on for 2 hours.

After two hours punch down the dough and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness.

Cut into the desired size and fry in 2-3 inches of canola oil at 365 degrees until golden brown on both sides.

Bannock
Ingredients
  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 cups lukewarm water (not hot!)
  • 2 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 3/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
For frying:
  • 2-3 inches canola oil
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour and make a well in the center.

  2. Into the well, add the lukewarm water, sugar, 1 tbsp. of canola oil and instant yeast.

  3. Slowly mix together by pulling the flour from the edges of the bowl into the well. Half way through mixing, add in the salt.

  4. Knead the dough until shiny, smooth and elastic.

  5. Form the dough into a ball and place in a well oiled bowl. Turn the dough around in the bowl to coat it in oil. Cover and place in a cold oven with the light on for 2 hours.

  6. Remove from the cold oven and punch down. Roll out to 1/2 inch thick. Cut to desired size.

  7. Fry in 2-3 inches of canola oil at 365 degrees until golden brown on both sides (flip them 2-3 times). Drain on paper towels.

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Sky High Buttermilk Biscuits

These biscuits taste like soft and buttery clouds. This post will explain all the tips, tricks and techniques to get that “perfectly” fluffy, sky high, buttermilk biscuit.

The first key to making biscuits is to have the right flour. Believe it or not, flour differs greatly from region to region. Ever try to follow a baking recipe and have it come out crumbly or tough? This is often the reason why. So do yourself a favor and order a flour from the south where biscuits are the main reason for buying it. It is much softer than the flour sold in the Northeast. I use “White Lily self rising flour” and I bought it for a reasonable price on amazon. (If you substitute in another flour, make sure it says “self rising”.)

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Now get a good quality buttermilk. Yes, you can add lemon juice or vinegar to your milk to make your own. Just remember that the quality of your ingredients affects the quality of the biscuit.

On that note, butter is not all the same either. Try to find a European style butter like Plugra or Kerry Gold. They are sold at most grocery stores. Trust me, you’ll never go back to baking with anything else.

Okay, now that we have discussed the ingredients, let’s talk technique.

You want your biscuit dough to remain as cold as possible. Freeze your butter and then grate it. This will prevent it from fully incorporating into your dough and give you layers.

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Now you’re ready to start. Mix together the flour and butter. Add the buttermilk in four stages and mix in with a fork being careful not to overwork the dough (you are trying to keep the butter from melting into the dough).

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Form the dough into a ball, turn out onto a floured surface and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Now you are going to fold it a few time to help create more layers.

Fold over the top 1/3 of the dough into the center.

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Fold the bottom of the dough completely over the first fold.

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Fold over 1/3 of the dough from the left.

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Fold the right side completely over the left fold.

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Roll out again and repeat the folds. Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Make sure the dough is not thinner than 1/2 inch or you won’t get “sky high” biscuits.

Using a sharp edged cookie cutter or jar lid, cut the biscuits without twisting the cutter. Twisting seals the edges of the biscuit shut, preventing rising. Alternatively, cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Place the biscuits on a non greased baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes at 475 degrees. Some experts say to have the biscuits touching each other so that each biscuit can climb up the sides of the adjacent one as they rise.  I haven’t found that this makes a significant difference, but go ahead and try it.

Now for the final tip that will have your family begging for more! Melt together 1 tbsp. of honey with 1 tbsp. of butter. Brush this mixture onto the top of the biscuits when you remove them from the oven. Your family will think you are a biscuit magician. Enjoy!

Sky high Buttermilk Biscuits
Ingredients
  • 3 cups White Lily self rising flour
  • 3/4 cup butter (European style) frozen and grated
  • 1 cup buttermilk
For brushing on top of baked biscuits:
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Freeze and grate your butter.

  3. Mix butter together with flour in a large bowl.

  4. Add buttermilk in four stages. Lightly mix in with a fork, being careful not to overwork the dough.

  5. Form into a ball and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness on a floured surface.

  6. Fold top 1/3 of dough down to center.

  7. Fold bottom of dough overtop of the first fold.

  8. Fold 1/3 of dough on the left side into the center.

  9. Fold right side of dough completely overtop of the left fold.


  10. Roll out and repeat folds.


  11. Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness - NO thinner or your biscuits will come out flat.

  12. Using a sharp cookie cutter or jar lid cut the biscuits without twisting the cutter (twisting would seal down the edges of the biscuit, preventing rising).

  13. Place on an ungreased baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes. Some say that having the biscuits touching aids rising.

  14. Melt together 1 tbsp honey with 1 tbsp. butter. Brush on top of biscuits after removing them from the oven.

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Irish Soda Bread with Raisins and Orange

This is not technically a true Irish Soda Bread. Soda bread is traditionally made with only four ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda and sour milk (buttermilk). Baking Soda was introduced to Ireland in the 1840’s as a means to make bread, but soda was actually first used to leaven bread in America by the American Indians. However, the nature of poverty in Ireland made this bread popular and cheap and it became historically associated with that country. The practice of cutting a cross into the top of the bread was believed to ward off evil.

While traditional Irish bread is flavorful and still made and eaten today, I wanted a sweet breakfast bread to eat with my morning coffee so I added a few twists.

This bread is easy and fast to make, unlike yeast breads. No expertise is required!

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Next whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

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Cut in the butter (make sure it’s cold) with a pastry cutter until crumbly. Stir in the raisins.

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In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, egg, baking soda and orange zest.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together with a fork. Mix until just moistened.

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Form a ball with the dough, using your hands and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Form an 8-10 inch dome.

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Brush egg whites on top, then generously sprinkle with sugar.

Cut a 1/4 inch deep cross into the bread.

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Bake for 75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack.

Slice or pull apart. Serve with butter and jams.

Enjoy!

Orange-Raisin Irish Soda Bread
Ingredients
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp cold butter
  • 1 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 egg white for brushing on top
  • 2 tbsp sugar for sprinkling on top
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda.

  3. Cut in the cold butter using a pastry blender until it becomes crumbly.

  4. Stir in raisins.

  5. In a separate bowl, combine the whole egg, buttermilk, baking soda and orange zest.

  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a fork until moistened.

  7. Using your hands form the dough into a ball and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.

  8. Form an 8-10 inch dome and brush the top with the egg white. Generously sprinkle sugar on top.

  9. Cut a 1/4 inch deep cross into the top of the dough.

  10. Bake for 75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the bread comes out clean.

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Pumpkin Spiced Loaf Cake

Well, it’s that time of year again when everything is pumpkin spiced. I love it, so I’m not complaining. This year I turned a typical pumpkin loaf recipe into a bundt cake with a pistachio garnish. It was incredibly moist and delicious. And, of course, it’s fast and easy to make.

First mix together the wet ingredients and sugars.

In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Add your nuts and raisins and mix. Add the dry to wet and mix until just incorporated.

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Crush or chop about 4 tbsp. of pistachio nuts. Sprinkle them into the bottom of a greased bundt pan.

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Pour the batter into the bundt pan and smooth out the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Enjoy!

Spiced Pumpkin Loaf Cake
Ingredients
  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 4 tbsp chopped pistachios
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees


  2. Mix wet ingredients and sugar together in a large bowl


  3. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients, walnuts and raisins (do not add pistachios).

  4. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until just incorporated.

  5. Grease a bundt pan and sprinkle pistachios in the bottom.

  6. Pour in batter and smooth out top.

  7. Bake for one hour or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

  8. Cool on wire rack.

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Hungarian Sour Cherry Cake

As a kid, I had a Hungarian friend. Her family always made this cake. I LOVED it. I have been thinking about it for over 20 years, but I have never seen sour cherries for sale. Until last week…when I saw canned tart red cherries for sale in my local grocery store. I was so excited. This is the best coffee type cake I have ever had. Both sweet and tart at the same time, I can eat an entire pan.

You can use fresh or frozen sour cherries if you can find them. I found the canned tart cherries at King’s Supermarket.

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This cake is pretty easy to make. First drain your cherries and then coat them in 1 tbsp. of flour. Set aside.

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

In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter, sugar, grand marnier and vanilla. Once the mixture is fluffy, beat in the egg.

Add 1/2 the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Beat well to thoroughly combine. Then add 1/2 the milk. Again, beat well to combine. Then repeat with the remaining flour and  milk. The batter will be the consistency of icing.

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Scoop the batter into a greased 9X13 pan. Sprinkle the cherries on top and bake for 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees.

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Hungarian Sour Cherry Cake
Ingredients
  • 14 oz canned tart red cherries or 2 cups fresh/frozen sour cherries
  • 2 cups flour plus 1 tbsp
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp Grand Marnier
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
Instructions
  1. Drain cherries and toss with 1 tbsp. of flour. Set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Mix well.

  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla and grand marnier. Once fluffy, beat in the egg.

  4. Add 1/2 the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Beat well to fully combine.

  5. Add 1/2 the milk and beat well to combine. Repeat with remaining flour and milk.

  6. Scoop batter (it will be thick) into a greased 9X13 pan. Sprinkle cherries overtop.

  7. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. 

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Mediterranean Scrolls – Puff Pastry with Salami, Feta Cheese, Roasted Peppers and Grilled Artichoke Hearts

I love cooking from scratch. Sometimes, though, I’m just too darn tired. When I’ve negotiated with the toddlers (aka terrorists) after a knock down fight over Minnie Mouse for the 58th time that day, I’m in NO MOOD to try and cook during the temporary cease fire agreements. When the day is peppered with constant, LOUD, and messy interruptions, easy – no fuss cooking is best.

This appetizer uses the wonderful invention of premade food while still being delicious. “Scrolls” is an Australian term for pastries rolled like a jelly roll. Scrolls can be sweet or savoury. This recipe is a Mediterranean inspired SCROLL.

It’s so easy. It takes no time and will still impress your friends. First thaw out your package of puff pastry. There should be 2 sheets in there. Either thaw overnight in the fridge or for 40 minutes on your counter.

Drain your marinated artichoke hearts and roasted peppers. After they’re WELL DRAINED, chop them. (I found these in the deli section of my grocery store).

Unfold your pastry sheets and cover with a layer of salami.

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Evenly spread your peppers, artichoke hearts and Feta cheese over top.

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Tightly roll the pastry.

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Using wet fingers, seal the seam of the roll shut.

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With a VERY SHARP knife, cut into 1 inch rounds. If your knife is not sharp enough you will squish the roll flat while cutting it.

Place rounds on a greased baking sheet.

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Combine the egg yolk and water. Beat slightly to create and egg wash and brush on top of rounds.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Drizzle Dijon mustard over top (use a squeeze bottle) or serve on the side.

Meditteranean Scrolls
Ingredients
  • 1 box sheet puff pastry thawed
  • 8 oz salami sliced
  • 4 oz feta cheese crumbled
  • 2 sweet bell peppers, roasted, in oil chopped
  • 3 marinated artichoke hearts chopped
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp water
  • dijon mustard for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

  2. Unfold thawed puff pastry sheets

  3. Cover with salami slices

  4. Evenly sprinkle over chopped sweet peppers, artichoke hearts and crumbled feta cheese.

  5. Roll tightly into a jelly roll. Using wet fingers, seal the seam shut.

  6. Slice into 1 inch rounds with a sharp knife

  7. Place on a greased baking sheet.

  8. Combine egg yolk and water and beat slightly to create an egg wash. Brush over rounds.

  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown

  10. Cool and then drizzle Dijon mustard over top or serve on side

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Filled Doughknots – Sweet, Buttery Layers of Knotted Dough Filled With Jam or Nutella

I love a good morning pastry. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and I make coffee ALL DAY LONG to prolong the experience. Coffee and sweets definitely make my toddler filled life a little bit sweeter and much more tolerable. (And a glass of wine at the end of the day helps too!)

I worked on these doughknots for weeks. I was inspired by a recipe for Cruffins, which were invented at a bakery in San Fransisco. Worked into a knot instead of folded and rolled like a croissant, they are a cross between a croissant and a muffin. But I didn’t like the dough. It wasn’t really “croissant like” to me. I also found the recipe overly complicated. So I played around with a sweet dough recipe of my own and after about 10 attempts, ended up with these scrumptious doughknots! If I ever follow my dream of opening a café, these will always adorn my counter.

Here’s how to make this simple, delicious morning pastry.

First combine your dry ingredients in a stand mixer bowl (or a large bowl if hand kneading).

In a small bowl, combine your milk, melted butter and vanilla (it’s okay if your butter clumps a little from the cold milk).

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and knead by hand or with your stand mixer dough hook until the dough is smooth and elastic. When is your dough ready? Cut off a small piece after about 8 minutes and spread it with your fingers to make it as thin as you can. If you can get it thin enough to see light through it, without it breaking apart, it’s ready.

Place your dough in a greased bowl. Turn the dough around to grease all sides. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and put it in a cold oven, with the light on, to rise. Leave until it doubles in size. This takes about two hours (it’s a slow rise due to all that milk).

Once doubled, punch the dough down and turn it out onto your counter. You don’t need to flour the counter, this is a slightly greasy dough thanks to the butter.

Cut into 8 equally sized pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.

Using a rolling pin, roll out each ball into a long rectangle, about 5 inches wide. Butter it to help keep the layers separate.

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Roll from the short end, like a jelly roll, to make a short, thick roll.

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With a sharp knife, cut the roll lengthwise.

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Roll each piece like a snail. Place in a greased muffin tin.

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Let these rise for another 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, or until golden brown and baked through.

Cool completely on a wire rack.

Cut out center with a sharp knife or cupcake corer. I cut a hole that went about 1/2 of the way through the doughknot. Make it slightly less deep if filling with Nutella. That stuff goes a long ways!

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Fill with jam or Nutella (I just put a small amount in a ziplock bag, cut a corner, and piped it it).

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Filled Doughknots
Ingredients
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pkg instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup melted butter more for spreading
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • nutella or jam for filling
  • powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. In a stand mixer or large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt and instant yeast.

  2. In a small bowl, combine the milk, melted butter and vanilla.

  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

  4. Using a dough hook in your stand mixer, knead dough for about 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic. The dough should not break when stretched thin. (alternately, hand knead for about 15 minutes.

  5. Put dough in a greased bowl, turn it around so all sides of dough are greased. 

  6. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot (I use a cold oven with the light on) until dough doubles in size (about 2 hours)

  7. Punch dough down and turn out onto your counter. Cut dough into 8 equally sized portions.

  8. Roll each portion into a ball.

  9. With a rolling pin, roll out each ball into a long rectangle, about 5 inches wide. Get it as thin as you can.

  10. Butter the rectangle. (This will help keep your layers separate.)

  11. Roll the rectangle into a jelly roll, starting at the short end, to make a short, thick roll.

  12. With a very sharp knife, cut the roll lengthwise.

  13. Roll each piece like a snail (this is called a knot)

  14. Place into a greased muffin tin and allow to rise for another 30 minutes

  15. Bake at 350 for approximately 35 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

  16. Cool on a wire rack.

  17. When completely cooled, cut center out with a cupcake corer or a sharp knife and fill with jam or Nutella (I make hole about 1/2 way through the cupcake).

  18. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

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Sticky Babka

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Did you know BABKA means “little grandma” in Russian, Ukrainian and Yiddish? This coffee cake’s origins are Eastern European, but it’s often identified as Jewish. Recently popularized, this bread is filled with rich, delicate swirls of sweet filling.  A newly Americanized version of this treat is filled with chocolate, but traditionally it was probably filled with fruit and sugar. Anyway you make it, babka is scrumptious.

I had read that Babka took all day to make and involved 14 steps. Wow….I figured I would skip this recipe since that’s not realistic for me right now. Between potty training and rides to and from summer camp, I’m fairly busy. Then I found a recipe that used instant yeast (one less tricky step), used a stand mixer (no kneading=two less tricky steps), and had a simple sticky bun filling (sticky buns are my favorite!). So I decided to give it a try and I was not disappointed. My teenage son actually cracked a smile early this morning when he saw it (and he was up really EARLY).

To make babka you first preheat your oven to 200 degrees Farenheit and then turn it off. Yep, turn it off. You want it to cool down slightly, but be warm enough for your dough to rise. While the oven is warming up, start by mixing your dry ingredients in your stand mixer bowl. Attach the dough hook to the mixing arm. Your dough hook looks like this:

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Then heat your milk on the stove to 110 degrees. Whisk in the egg yolks, egg and vanilla.

Turn the stand mixer on low speed and slowly add the milk mixture to your dry ingredients. After three minutes, turn up to medium speed and slowly add the butter in 8 divided pieces. Mix until the dough becomes smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. This will take about 10 minutes. It should look like this:

Place the dough in a large greased bowl and turn it around until all sides of the dough are greased  (this prevents a crust from forming which would interfere with rising). Cover with plastic wrap and place the bowl in the now turned off oven for one hour. After one hour, remove the bowl and place in the fridge for one hour, or until dough has doubled in size.

Mix all filling ingredients together.

Remove dough from the fridge and punch it down (literally punch it with your fist) to eliminate the large air pockets. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and roll out into a rectangle. Spread filling evenly over dough.

Roll into a long thin cylinder.IMG_2790

Cut it lengthwise with a sharp knife.IMG_2791

Now twist the two pieces together.

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Finally, roll it like a snail and place into a baking dish. (I just used a corningware dish).IMG_2796

IMG_2797Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for about an hour. It should start to look puffy.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

If desired, mix powdered sugar with water and drizzle over top.

Serve with hot coffee and friends!

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STICKY BABKA
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter softened and cut into 8 pieces
Filling:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup pecan toasted and finely chopped
Glaze:
  • 6 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees and then turn off

  2. Mix flour, sugar, yeast and salt in stand mixer bowl

  3. In a saucepan, heat milk to 110 degrees F

  4. Whisk egg yolks, egg and vanilla in with milk

  5. With dough hook on stand mixer, slowly add milk mixture to dry ingredients at low speed until dough comes together. This should take about 3 minutes

  6. Increase the speed to medium and add the butter, one piece at a time

  7. Continue to mix at medium speed until the dough is smooth and no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl. This takes about 10 minutes. If dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl add 2-4 more tbsp of flour

  8. Transfer dough to a greased bowl. Turn dough around in bowl to grease all sides of dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap

  9. Place bowl in oven for one hour. Then remove and place in fridge for at least one hour (until dough doubles in size)

  10. Mix together all filling ingredients

  11. When dough has doubled, remove from fridge and punch down to remove air pockets

  12. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and roll into a rectangle, approx. 1/4 inch thick

  13. Spread filling evenly over dough

  14. Roll into a long, thin roll and cut lengthwise

  15. Twist pieces together to form a long rope

  16. Curl rope like a snail and place in a greased baking dish

  17. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for an hour. It should start to look puffy

  18. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

  19. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean

  20. Cool on wire rack

  21. Mix together glaze ingredients and drizzle on top

Recipe Notes

To PIN this recipe, click on the thumbnail image and then the P icon