Fluffy Pancakes

I heart pancakes more than any breakfast treat out there. I love them so much that I make them at least twice a week. I used to make this recipe, which always turns out nice, but I had a consistency issue. Sometimes, they’d be fluffy and sometimes a little flat. So I decided to change things up this morning and use a new recipe I found on Pinterest. As usual, I tweaked it – I took out the sugar which is unnecessary since I ladle maple syrup on top of mine, and I cut out half of the salt. And now, it’s pretty much the perfect-est recipe of pancakes you will ever come across!

 

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1 cup bread flour (not self-rising)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp vinegar
1 egg
2 tbsp butter, melted

 

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1. In one bowl, mix the milk and the vinegar and let sit at least 5 minutes for it to sour.
2. In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. Add the egg and the butter to the soured milk. Beat well.
4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk until just homogenous. Don’t over mix!
5. Let batter rest 10 minutes.
6. Heat a griddle on medium-high heat and coat the pan with cooking spray. Once hot, turn the heat one notch lower.
7. Using a soup ladle, drop a ladle-full of batter in the middle of your pan. When little bubbles cover the surface (anywhere from 30 seconds-1 minute), flip your pancake around and cook for another 30 seconds or until nicely golden.
8. Top with maple syrup or jam and devour while they’re still warm!

 

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Mini English Muffins

Last night—while browsing Pinterest—I came upon a recipe for English Muffins. I haven’t had them in a long time, which is a shame because they’re so yummy. They go so well with butter and jam or with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce.

 

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I’m sorry I didn’t photograph the entire process, but they were so easy to make that you really aren’t missing out. I let my dough rise overnight, covered by a dishtowel, and rolled them out on a whole-wheat dusted board first thing in the morning. My English Muffins turned out to be minis because I cut them out with a standard-sized drinking glass. (I need to invest in a proper round cutter.) Last but not least, unlike most breads, these are cooked in a frying pan on your stove top, and not in the oven.

 

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Makes 15 minis

 

¾ tsp instant yeast

150 g warm water

100 grams warm milk

2 cups bread flour (the type of flour really makes a difference)

½ tsp salt

 

Whole wheat flour or semolina for dusting

Cooking oil for coating the pan

 

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  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix the yeast with the warm water and the warm milk.
  2. Add the bread flour and salt and whisk on medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until the dough comes together in a slightly sticky ball.
  3. Place in an oiled (I coated mine with non-stick spray) bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise overnight or until doubled in size (2-3 hours).
  4. On a floured surface (I used whole wheat flour but you can use semolina), roll out the dough into a ½ inch thick rectangle. Cut with a round cutter (I used a standard glass).
  5. Deposit on a floured cookie sheet and let rest for 15-30 minutes. It’s OK if they don’t double in size. They will in the frying pan!
  6. Preheat a frying pan coated with a little plain oil over medium-high heat. Once pan is warm, carefully place your raw English Muffins in it. I managed to cook batches of 7 at a time.
  7. After about 3 minutes or when golden brown, flip onto other side and pursue cooking another 3 minutes.
  8. You’ll need to re-oil your pan between each batch. If they’re browning to quickly lower heat a tiny bit.
  9. Enjoy still warm.

 

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Whole Wheat Berry Scones

I haven’t had scones in months—maybe years. One of the reasons for that is that in Switzerland, they’re not offered in bakeries. And when they are, they’re usually dense and way too sweet. This morning, I decided to whip some up. They take 10 minutes to make and 12 minutes to bake. So quick!

For this recipe, I based myself on the blueberry & cream scones I’d eaten in Martha’s Vineyard, but added some whole wheat flour and wheat germ. They were as delicious as I remembered them to be. And at least, you get a little fiber.

 

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You can play around with these and substitute diced bananas and chocolate chips for the mixed berries. Or raisins. Or cubed, ripe peaches and brown sugar… The possibilities are endless.

 

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Makes 10 scones

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

¼ cup white sugar

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

2 tbsp melted butter

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup mixed berries

 

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  1. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper and preheat your over to 190 C or 375 F.
  2. Mix the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Pour in the butter and the cream, and mix carefully (i.e. just with a spatula or wooden spoon).
  4. Fold in the mixed berries.
  5. With an ice-cream scooper, scoop out the dough in 2-inch balls onto your baking sheet. Make sure to keep a little space between each scone.
  6. Bake for 12 minutes or until puffed up and firm to the touch.

 

raw:

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cooked:

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Slow-Cooker Chocolate-Coconut Steel Cut Oats

Slow-Cooker Chocolate-Coconut Steel Cut Oats | sisterbakers.com

I’m about to change your life. You can have your cake and eat it too. Yes, you can now enjoy a big bowl full of creamy chocolate oatmeal, completely guilt free. And it’s super fast and easy. Just put all of the ingredients in your slow-cooker before you go to bed and enjoy a nice warm breakfast when you wake up in the morning. Now go make this for your significant other, friends and/or kids, and watch their faces light up when they dig into this chocolate breakfast nirvana.

Slow-Cooker Chocolate-Coconut Steel Cut Oats | sisterbakers.com

Slow-Cooker Chocolate-Coconut Steel Cut Oats
Serves 4-6 – can easily be doubled

1 cup steel cut oats

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup sweetener of choice (I used cane sugar but you could try honey or maple)

1 can full-fat coconut milk

3 cups plus 2 tbsp (745ml) water

  1. Place oatmeal, cocoa powder and sweetener in the bowl of your slow-cooker and whisk to combine. (Note: If your cocoa powder seems clumpy you may need to sift it)
  2. Add coconut milk and water. Whisk to thoroughly mix all the ingredients.
  3. Place the lid on your slow-cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. That’s it! When you wake up, you’ll have a warm bowl of chocolate oatmeal ready to eat. Top it however you like, but I highly recommend bananas and strawberries! Also, feel free to add extra honey or maple on top if you find it’s lacking a bit of sweetness.

 

 

Berry Crumb Muffin

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I had a craving for blueberry muffins yesterday morning. So I made blueberry muffins.

They were absolutely scrumptious, moist and full of flavor. The crumble topping added a nice crunch to them, but I have to admit, I might forgo making it next time because the muffin underneath was absolutely amazing in itself.

 

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makes 8 large muffins

Muffin Batter
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup white sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups fresh mixed berries (I used a mix of blueberries and raspberries)
Crumb Topping
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp butter, cubed
1 tsp ground cinnamon

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 C or 375 F.  Grease a muffin tin or line with muffin wrappers.
  2. Whisk the sugar, the salt, the baking powder, baking soda, and egg until light and creamy.
  3. Pour in the vegetable oil and milk, then add the flour. Mix until combined.
  4. Fold in the berries.
  5. Fill the muffin cups 2/3rds full.
  6. In a small bowl, mix the flour, sugars and cinnamon.
  7. With a fork, cut the butter into the mixture until crumbly.
  8. Sprinkle mixture onto the unbaked
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and a knife blade inserted in a muffin comes out clean.

 

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The Baker’s Almond Torte

I love almonds and almond powder and almond butter and almond milk and almond paste. So when I stumbled on this recipe a while back, I added it to my Pinterest board, For the Sweetest Life.

And then, one Saturday morning, I baked it. And oh, wow! It was entirely gone by the afternoon. Not a crumb was left. We were many sweet-toothed culprits, but interestingly enough, one didn’t even like almond paste.

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It is a one bowl sort-of-cake, i.e. supereasy to make. Just be sure to have your almond paste handy.

FYI: Almond paste is not marzipan – although if you can’t find almond paste, marzipan works fine. The cake will just be a bit sweeter.

 

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¾ cups sugar
1 log of (approx 200g) soft almond paste
1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5 eggs
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF or 165ºC. Line a round baking mold with parchment paper.
  2. Beat the sugar with the almond paste until the almond paste is in fine pieces. Add the butter and the vanilla, and cream the mixture until it is light and fluffy.
  3. Whisk in the whole eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly mixed in.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix until smooth.
  5. Bake for 1 to 1¼ hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the center feels springy when you push it gently.

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Adam’s Marble Cake

My son came to me one morning saying, “Mom, I love vanilla cakes and I love chocolate cakes. Can we mix them?” I said, “Yes!” So we browsed the internet for recipes—or rather he did that part—and selected one inspired by Buttercake Bakery’s Chocolate Chip Marble Cake. We tweaked it (as always), reducing the sugar by 1 whole cup and taking out the corn syrup and chocolate chips. It was the moistest marble cake I’ve ever had, where both the vanilla layer and the chocolate layer were equally amazing.

 

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PS: The kids swirled it so I didn’t quite get the true marbled effect. Maybe I should rename the Bicolor Cake.

 

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Makes 1 large or 2 small

 

1 ½ cups sugar, divided
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ cup hot water
2 tsp vanilla extract, divided
2 2/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
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  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F or 180 C and grease a large bundt pan or 2 small ones.
  2. In a small saucepan, on medium-high heat, whisk together ½ cup sugar, the cocoa powder and the hot water. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in 1 tsp of vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standmixer, cream the butter with the remaining cup of sugar until light in color and fluffy (1-2 minutes).
  4. Add the eggs one at a time until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Beat in the remaining vanilla.
  5. Reduce the mixer to low and pour in the baking powder and salt. Add half the flour, then half the milk. Whisk until incorporated. Beat in the rest of the flour and the rest of the milk.
  6. Place one third of the batter in a clean bowl and whisk in the cooled chocolate mixture to create the chocolate batter.
  7. Now ladle ½ the vanilla mixture in your bundt pan. Spoon the entire chocolate mixture over it. Fold the remaining vanilla mixture over that.
  8. With a clean knife, swirl the two batters in a continuous figure 8 motion all around the baking tin.

 

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My little helper and…

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... my little tester. I had to put the cake up on the counter.

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It did not deter my little tester.

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Yep… it was that yummy.

 

Croissants

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I have been attempting (key word, attempting) to make puff pastry for the past three months now. Each time, it has been a huge failure. Either the butter melted out of the pastry while baking or the dough failed to rise or the butter snuck out of the raw flour mixture while rolling. Once, I got so fed up that I stuck balls of ruined dough into a muffin pan and baked them. They turned out tasting like croissants, but looking like muffins. Muffants, anyone?

Okay. Muffants aside, I was on a mission. Make and bake real croissants. Being stubborn came in handy because at my fourth attempt, I made it.

 

The 2 keys to achieving puff pastry:

  • Keep all ingredients very cold.
  • When you incorporate the butter disc into the dough, pinch the sides to lock the butter in and don’t over-roll.

 

 

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Ingredients

1 ½ tsp granulated yeast

2 tbsp sugar

1 + 2 tbsp cup warm water

 

1 ½ tsp salt

2 tbsp salted butter, melted

3 cups flour, plus more for working

1 cup cold unsalted butter

 

1 large egg, beaten

 

 

 

Instructions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, dissolve the yeast and the sugar in the warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the salt and the melted butter to the yeast mixture and 1/2 cup of the flour, and mix until blended. Gradually add the remaining flour and beat until the dough comes together in a sticky ball.
  • On a clean, floured surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 40 minutes.

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  • While the dough is chilling, put the remaining cup of cold butter in a Ziploc and pound with a rolling pin until flat and rectangular (1/3 of the size of the rectangular dough). Place the butter in the fridge to harden (about 40 minutes).

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  • Take your dough out and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Put butter disc in the middle of the dough. Fold one side over the butter, then the other and pinch the sides so that the butter is locked in.
  • Roll it out into another rectangle and place in the fridge 30 minutes to harden.
  • Take out of fridge. On a lightly floured surface, fold the sides up like a letter again and, with the short side facing you, roll out into another 16 x 10 inch rectangle. Fold the ends up like a letter.

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  • Turn dough again so the short side is facing you, and use the rolling pin to press down into a third 16 x 10 inch rectangle. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

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  • To form the croissants, cut the dough in half and place one half in the fridge while working with the other half. Roll out into a long but not wide strip. Using a sharp knife, cut into triangles.

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  • Using both hands, roll starting at the wider side and tuck the ends together to form the crescent shape. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the croissants on the baking sheet about 2-3 inches apart, cover with a kitchen towel and set to rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

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  • Preheat to 425 degrees F or 200 C. Whisk the egg and with a pastry brush, brush the shaped dough. Bake 18 minutes or until golden brown.

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Optional: To freeze the croissants, after shaping them and placing them on the lined baking sheet, cover and freeze for 2 hours. Remove the pan and place the croissants in a freezer safe bag and seal. Immediately place back in the freezer. To bake, allow the croissants to thaw overnight in the fridge and then bake as directed.

The Perfect Gingerbread

The last time, I made this cake was a year ago. It’s the funny thing about spice cakes—they really taste better when snow blankets the ground and the temperatures drop. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s some ingrained human habit. Whatever the reason, this cake is wonderful and I’m sure it would taste as yummy with poached peaches in the summer as it does with mulled wine in the winter.

I adapted it from the Williams Sonoma Dessert cookbook, substituting the butter for oil, for no other reason that I was out of butter (it tasted delicious with oil). It is moist and springy and absolutely delicious. If you asked me what winter tasted like, I would say gingerbread.

Happy, happy holidays to all!

 

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Makes 1 loaf

1 2/3 cups (235 g) all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

1 ½ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp grated nutmeg

1 tsp finely grated orange zest

¼ tsp salt

¼ cup + 2 tbsp vegetable oil

½ cup (125 g) dark brown sugar

½ cup (160 g) molasses

½ cup warm water

2 eggs

 

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C or 350 F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or grease it with non-stick baking spray.
  2. In a bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients (flour and spices).
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the oil, water, and molasses and whisk again.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients with the egg mixture. Beat until smooth.
  6. Pour in the loaf pan and bake until puffed and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, approximately 30-35 minutes.

 

The Overnight Bread

I haven’t made bread in a long, long time. On Friday, I went to my son’s school to cook with his class and I thought the kids would get a kick out of kneading dough and choosing flavorings to throw in. I brought raisins, sesame seeds and chocolate chips. Unsurprisingly, they all chose chocolate chips. Apparently their bread was delicious. I became nostalgic for homemade bread, so last night, I rolled up my sleeves, dusted my kitchen with flour, and whipped up an incredibly easy, hearty bread.

 

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My husband likes light and fluffy breads. This is neither light, nor fluffy, because I didn’t use white flour. But if you substitute the grain flour for white flour, you will get cloud-like bread. Experiment. Throw in the flavorings you like or keep it simple.

I coined it the overnight bread because I let it rise all night on the counter top and threw it in my heated, lidded Dutch oven first thing in the morning.

 

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For 1 loaf:

 

½ tsp active dry yeast

1 ½ cups warm water

2 tsp salt

3 cups of whole-grain flour

¼ cup flax seeds

¼ cup sesame seeds

¼ cup of chia seeds

 

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, mix the yeast and the water and let it froth (this takes 3-4 minutes). It will bubble.
  2. Add all the seeds and the salt and mix on low speed.
  3. Add the flour and mix again until your dough comes together. This is a slightly sticky dough.
  4. Spray a large with cooking spray and place your ball of dough in it. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise on your counter top all night. If your kitchen is cold, place the bowl on your radiator. This is not a bread that triples in volume, but it will puff up when baked.
  5. The following morning, place your empty Dutch oven in the oven and turn it on to 220 C or 450 F.
  6. Once your oven is on the right temperature, with oven mitts, carefully take the Dutch oven out of the oven. Remove the lid. Throw in some oat flakes so that your dough doesn’t stick then drop the raw bread into the Dutch oven. Slash the top of the dough with a sharp knife. Replace the lid with your oven mitt. Then put the Dutch oven back in the oven.
  7. Cook for 30 minutes with lid on. Remove the lid and cook another 20 minutes.
  8. Slide your hot bread onto a cutting board and let it cool for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.

 

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