Bon Appétit’s Best Buttermilk Biscuits

May 21, 2020

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I have been all about bread recently…Skillet Cornbread and then, most recently, Buttery Potato Burger Buns. And guess what? I must be on a roll (ha! pun intended), but I’m going to stay the course today and share a recipe with you for Buttermilk Biscuits. And not any ole buttermilk biscuits, but these golden delicious darlings happen to be Bon Appétit’s Best Buttermilk Biscuits!

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Now I must admit the Husband and I do love our buttermilk biscuits and have always been on the lookout for the “best” recipe. I took a look back at my catalog of past recipes and found four different ones for the elusive best buttermilk biscuit. There were the Buttermilk Biscuits that I baked for my Spicy Pork & Chorizo Breakfast Biscuits

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The Mile High Buttermilk Biscuits

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The Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits

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And finally those Buttermilk Biscuits that I baked to go with my Nashville Hot Chicken

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That is a lot of Buttermilk Biscuits, no? So what makes these biscuits Bon Appétit’s best?  And perhaps more importantly are they our best? Well, there does not  seem to be any secret ingredient to be found in this recipe – it’s flour, butter, buttermilk, baking powder and soda, a little salt and sugar. Nope, it isn’t the ingredients. It is all about the technique. You need to use cold butter. You need to work quickly and have a very light touch. Overworking the dough will result in tough biscuits. Nobody wants that. Tender, fluffy & flaky are what we are going for!

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As you are mixing these biscuits up, you are probably going to think that the recipe is too dry. Resist the urge to add any more buttermilk. Just continue to lightly work that shaggy, craggy, crumbly dough as best you can into a square that is 1″ tall. As the dough sits it will continue to hydrate. Believe me. I was skeptical as I was doing it, but it really does work! Another trick that makes these biscuits so irresistible is the stacking of the dough. This ends up creating layers of thin sheets of butter. Kind of like that laminated dough I told you about when I made these Spinach Croissants

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It is these little butter rivers running through the dough that expand upon baking to create this lovely tall layers.

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Final tip – when you cut the dough into biscuits, use a sharp blade and push your blade straight down to cut. Do not saw back and forth. This will help to give you biscuits the tallest rise possible.

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And perhaps the best thing about this recipe for me is that you can make up a big batch of biscuits ahead of time and freeze them. Then when you get a hankering for a biscuit, be it for breakfast with some egg and sausage or even country ham, or slathered with butter and drizzled with honey or maybe to go along with your Sunday dinner, just grab however many you want out of the freezer and pop them right into a hot oven. A mere 20 -25 minutes later these exquisite golden tall flaky biscuits will be ready. Now you can’t beat that! But back to that question “Are these Buttermilk Biscuits our best?” Hmmm…these are definitely up there! They were so buttery & golden and rose so high with lots of flaky layers, but I’m not sure the quest is over. Certainly the continued pursuit will lead to even more biscuit sampling, which is always a good thing in my book!

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Bon Appétit's Best Buttermilk Biscuits

  • Servings: 9-12 depending on how big you cut them
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Bon Appétit

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces, plus more melted for brushing over the tops
  • 1 cup chilled buttermilk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425° F. Pulse baking powder, salt, sugar, baking soda, and 3½ cups flour in a food processor to combine. Add chilled butter and pulse until largest pieces of butter are the size of a pea. Transfer to a large bowl and gradually drizzle buttermilk over top, tossing with a fork as you go to incorporate. Knead mixture a few times in bowl until a shaggy dough forms (mixture will look a little dry), then turn out onto a clean surface and pat into a 1″-thick square.

Using a knife or bench scraper, cut dough into 4 pieces. Stack pieces on top of one another, sandwiching any loose dry bits of dough between layers, and press down to flatten. Lift up dough with bench scraper and dust surface with flour. Roll dough into a 1″-thick rectangle and trim a thin border around sides of dough to create clean edges. Cut into a 4×3 grid to make 12 biscuits (don’t reroll scraps). Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing 2″ apart; freeze 10 minutes.

Brush tops of biscuits with melted butter and sprinkle with flaky sea salt if you desire and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 400° and bake biscuits until deep golden brown on bottom and golden on top, 20–25 minutes.

Do Ahead: Biscuits (unbaked) can be made 1 month ahead. Freeze, uncovered, on baking sheet until solid, then transfer to a resealable plastic bag. Do not thaw before baking, but add a few minutes to baking time.

Enjoy!

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Bon Appétit’s Best Buttermilk Biscuits:

Cuisinart Pro-Classic Food Processor

Oxo Multipurpose Scraper

Dough Rolling Mat


Polish Babka

April 10, 2020

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Happy Good Friday everyone! Wait…can you say that? You hear a lot of “Happy Easter” but not really “Happy Good Friday”. Hmmm…well I’ll ask you to indulge me today because I am very happy today! My Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns that I make every year ( you have to bake them on Good Friday or they don’t have all of the special powers) are well under way!

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I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make them this year what with all of the quarantining shortages in the stores, but luckily I was able to score some flour and sugar. Hoooray! And not only am I making the traditional Hot Cross Buns today, but I am also going to share a great Easter bread recipe with you: Polish Babka!

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When you hear “Babka” you might think of the Jewish version of the bread, which is often a twisted bread filled with chocolate or cinnamon and topped with a streusel. That is definitely tasty, but not the treat I’m talking about today. Today we look to Poland.

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Polish Babka is a rich, buttery bread which is shot through with rum soaked fruit, brushed with a rum syrup and dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

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Traditionally served on Easter in Poland, there are many different versions of this recipe, with each family claiming the bread made by their “Babka” which means grandmother in Polish, is the best!

IMG_9760Folks in many countries around the world have a special bread that they bake for the Easter holidays. I have shared quite a few of these recipes with you over the years. Last year was Cozonac – Romanian Easter Bread.IMG_8091

 

And prior to that was Italian Easter Bread:

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Then there was this Tsoureki from Greece:

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Don’t forget that Slovak Paska:

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And the impressive Russian Kulich:

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That’s a lot of Easter breads huh?!! But let me get back to talking about this Polish Babka. This Babka is a cross between a bread and a cake in a way. You do start with a sponge, which boosts the rise that you get from the yeast, but you don’t have to knead it all, so it is a bit like a batter bread.

IMG_9792A loaf of Babka is often included in the swiecone basket that Polish families take to church with them on Easter Saturday to be blessed. The basket contains food such as meat, eggs, cake and breads, which will be eaten at the Easter meal after Mass. Each of the food items in the basket are symbolic. For example eggs represent new life and the yeast bread represents the risen Lord.IMG_9798

 

If you hadn’t guessed, I love bread. I love baking it and I love eating it. Guess that’s why I could not stick with the South Beach diet! This bread was pretty easy to make and will be a fantastic Easter treat.

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Now you can make a rum icing to drizzle over the Babka if you wish. I have included it in the recipe. Since the Husband really isn’t a fan of super sweet desserts, I chose to just dust our Babka lightly with confectioner’s sugar. But you should do whatever you prefer.

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With its tender crumb and rich rum soaked fruit I’m also looking forward to the French Toast I will be making soon as well.

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Polish Babka

  • Servings: 1 cake with 12 -16 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: King Arthur Flour (I have incorporated a lot of the advice from the reviews of this recipe from bakers on the KAF site.)

Ingredients:

For the Starter Sponge:

  • 60 grams (1/2 cup) All-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 113 grams (1/2 cup) lukewarm (95°F) milk

For the Babka:

  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 57 grams (4 tablespoons, 1/4 cup) softened butter
  • 181 grams All-Purpose Flour (if you do not wish to do the sponge – it is 241 grams (2 cups flour)
  • 43 grams (1/4 cup ) currants or raisins (golden raisins preferred)
  • 43 grams (1/4 cup) candied mixed fruit or candied mixed peel, or mixed dried fruit, chopped

For the Rum Syrup:

  • 99 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 57 grams (1/4 cup) water*
  • 14 grams to 28 grams (1 to 2 tablespoons) rum*

*If you prefer not to use Rum you could substitute apple juice for the water and rum mixture.

For the Icing (Optional – you can just go with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar):

  • 113 grams (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 28 grams (2 tablespoons) milk, or a combination of milk and rum or apple juice

Directions:

Begin by making a starter sponge:  In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix 60 grams of the flour and two teaspoons instant yeast with 113 grams of the lukewarm milk. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to let rise for 1 hour.

Place the raisins and candied mixed fruit in a small bowl and cover with rum. Allow to soak while the sponge is rising.

After on hour, add the rest of the remaining ingredients, except the fruit, to the mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed until cohesive. Increase your mixer’s speed to high, and beat for 2 minutes.

Add the rum soaked fruit, beating gently just to combine.

Cover the bowl, and let the dough/thick batter rest/rise for 60 minutes; it won’t appear to do too much.

Scoop the batter into a greased 10-cup Bundt Pan. (If you don’t have a Bundt pan you can also bake the bread in an 8 1/2″ X 4 1/2″ loaf pan). Cover the pan, and let the dough rest/rise for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.

Bake the babka for 35 to 40 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads at least 190°F.

While the babka is baking, prepare the rum syrup. Combine all of the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and boil, swirling the liquid in the pan, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat.

Remove the babka from the oven. Poke it all over gently with a toothpick or fork, and slowly pour the syrup over the babka’s surface.

When the syrup is fully absorbed (about 20 minutes or so), carefully loosen the Babka’s edges, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack.

If you choose to use the icing: Mix all of the ingredients together, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over completely cool Babka.

Enjoy!

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Polish Babka:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer by Thermoworks

SAF Instant Yeast

Baker’s Fruit Blend

Nordic Ware Bundt Pan


Fruit Filled Morning Buns

February 1, 2020

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Here it is…February already. And tomorrow, my favourite varmint, Punxsutawney Phil, will be stepping out of his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob and letting everyone know if there will be 6 more weeks of winter or if instead Spring is on the way. Now I think I can say with a fair amount of confidence, and much to my dismay, Spring is already here. There has really been no Winter to speak of this year. Total snow free zone! Given that, I must say I’m hoping that the little Punxsutawney critter sees his shadow!

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One extraordinary rodent!

Phil & all the folks up in Punxsutawney aren’t the only ones celebrating now. February 1st, which falls half way between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, also marks the festivals of Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day and Candlemas, all of which are associated with fertility, fire, purification and weather divination. Quite an auspicious time of year! I’m very happy to be marking an event today as well. February 1st just happens to be the 9th year anniversary of  the my cooking blog! Yup… Nine years ago today I posted my first recipe. It was for Cream Tea Scones with Currants.

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I’ve done an anniversary post nearly every year since.  One of my favorite recipes that I shared was: Model Bakery’s English Muffins:

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Some of my other anniversary edition recipes are the completely decadent  Banana Rum Muffins:

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That jaw-dropping, over the top Crack Pie:

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And who can forget that magical “caviar of the South” –  Pasture’s Pimento Cheese:

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Last year, I shared a recipe for English Muffin Toasting Bread, which is ridiculously easy to make and superb for toasting – just like a craggy English Muffin – but without all the work.

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This year’s recipe, Fruit Filled Morning Buns, wasn’t as easy a recipe to pull off, but oh my stars was it worth it!

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These delightful little devils are made with a yeasty dough, layered with butter, caramelized sugar, cinnamon and gooey chocolatey raspberry jam! And as if that weren’t enough, as soon as you pop them out of the oven you roll them in a bit more sugar. Breakfast bliss I tell you!

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I should say here that you can use whatever your favorite preserves happen to be or even leave the jam part out all together. I had just made up a batch of scrumptious chocolate raspberry jam for Christmas, so I decided to go with that. I chose to spread a thin layer of jam over the dough before rolling it up, however you can also just spread the butter/sugar mixture over the dough and add a dollop of jam on top of the bun prior to baking.

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These treats were definitely worth the effort, but there was without a doubt, effort going on. You see, these buns are made with Baker’s Croissant Dough. This type of dough is a yeasted laminated dough. Basically you mix up a yeasted dough, roll it out and place a layer of butter on top of it. You then enclose the butter within the dough and proceed to roll it out and fold it over and over again. This creates a dough which has multiple alternating layers of dough and butter. The butter evaporates when baked and that is what forms all those lovely flaky layers in a croissant or in this case – a morning bun.

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I guess this doesn’t sound terribly difficult, but there are quite a few steps involved, a lot of rolling out dough and an overnight refrigeration to complete before you can even begin to assemble the morning buns.

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Again – totally worth it. Labor of love and all that stuff. No regrets. But I do want you to know what you’re getting into and allow enough time.

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And some great news is that the recipe for the Baker’s Croissant Dough is double what you need for the Morning Buns. So you can freeze the other half and be ahead of the game next time whether you’re making more Morning Buns or trying your hand at homemade croissants! That time saver for next time is most definitely a “win”!

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But not to get ahead of myself talking about the next thing you are going to bake. Stay in the moment – which will be oh so memorable once these little gems come out of the oven and you’ve had your first nibble. Crispy on the outside, soft, tender and flaky on the inside with an enchanting caramelized chewy bottom. Just Brilliant! Happy Blog-a-versary to me!

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Fruit Filled Morning Buns

  • Servings: 2 Dozen Buns
  • Difficulty: moderate - need to make laminated yeast dough, which requires overnight rest before you can begin to assemble morning buns which require 1 - 1 1/2 hr. rise
  • Print

recipe from: King Arthur Flour – Morning Buns & Bakers Croissant Dough

Ingredients:

For the Pastry:

  • 1/2 recipe Baker’s Croissant Dough (recipe detailed below)

For the Filling:

  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar plus more for coating the pan
  • 1 tablespoon viennese cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind (zest)
  • 4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup (53g) packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (170g) fruit preserves, of your choice, optional

Directions:

Generously butter the wells of a 12-cup muffin pan. Spoon a teaspoon of granulated sugar into each of the wells, then tap the pan in all directions to coat the insides. Turn the pan over and lightly tap out any excess.

To make the filling: Combine the sugars, cinnamon, and orange zest, stirring well with a fork to distribute the zest.

To assemble: Roll the dough to an 18″ x 8″ rectangle.

Brush the rectangle with melted butter. Spread a thin layer of jam over the dough if you are using. Sprinkle the dough generously with the sugar mixture and go over it lightly with a rolling pin to press it into the butter/jam. Roll the dough up from the long edge into a tight cylinder. Cut into 1 1/2″ slices. Place the slices, cut side up, in the wells of the prepared pan.

Let the buns rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours in a room no warmer than 75°F (any warmer and the butter may begin to leak out). The buns should increase to one and a half to two times their original size. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.

If desired, just before baking, butter the back of a spoon and press down on the center of the buns. Place 2 teaspoons of the preserves in the indentation.

Place the pan on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the buns are deep golden brown.

Place a cooling rack over a piece of parchment. Remove the buns from the oven and immediately (and carefully) transfer them out of the pan onto the rack. If desired, roll the warm buns in granulated sugar and sprinkle the tops once more. Let cool slightly and eat warm or at room temperature.

Store, lightly covered, at room temperature for up to two days; freeze for longer storage.

Baker’s Croissants Dough

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 2 large eggs + enough warm water to make 2 cups (454g) of liquid
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar, divided
  • 5 1/2 to 6 cups (659g to 723g) All purpose Flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup (71g) Bakers Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk, optional
  • 1 scant tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional; for sweet pastry)

For the Butter:

  • 1 7/8 cups (425g) unsalted butter, cool to the touch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (60g) All purpose flour

Directions:

For the dough: Put the eggs and water in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 3 cups (362g) of the flour, and the yeast. Mix until well blended; set aside to let the sponge work.

For the butter: Cut the butter into 1˝ chunks and combine with the salt and flour at low speed in a stand mixer just until smooth, with no lumps. Be careful not to beat too much; you don’t want to incorporate any air.

Spread the butter on a piece of plastic wrap and shape into an 8˝ square. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Finish the dough: Add the melted butter to the sponge. Whisk together the remaining sugar, 2 1/2 cups (298g) of the flour, the dry milk, and salt and add to the sponge. Mix until the dough forms. Knead for 5 minutes; touch the dough lightly with your finger. If it’s still sticky, add the remaining flour 2 tablespoons at a time until the dough is the desired consistency. Once the dough is smooth and elastic, pat it into a 9˝ square, then wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Laminate the dough: Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and gently roll it to a 12″ square.

Unwrap the butter square and place it in the center of the dough at a 45° angle, so it looks like a diamond in a square. Pull the corners of the dough into the center of the butter diamond. Moisten the edges with a little water and pinch the seams together well to enclose the butter. Dust the top with flour and turn the packet over.

Tap the dough all over with a rolling pin, encouraging it into a rectangular shape. Once it’s pliable, roll it to a 20˝ x 10˝ rectangle, picking it up and dusting lightly with flour as needed.

When you’ve reached the proper size, use a dry brush to sweep off any excess flour and fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter. Take care to keep the edges straight and line them up directly over each other. If the dough slides around, use a little water at the corners to tack them in place. This is your first turn.

Rotate the dough out so it looks like a book about to be opened. Roll the dough out once more to 20˝ x 10˝ and fold it as before. This is the second turn. Wrap the dough and refrigerate it for 30 minutes to allow the gluten in the dough to relax.

Give the dough two more turns after its rest, then wrap the dough well and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight before using. You can also freeze the dough at this point.

Enjoy!

Fruit Filled Morning Buns brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Fruit Filled Morning Buns:

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Series 5 Qt. Stand Mixer

SAF Instant Yeast

Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer by Thermoworks

Whole Milk Powder or here from King Arthur

Dough Rolling Mat

Wilton 12 – well Cupcake/Muffin Pan

 


German Rolls

December 5, 2019

IMG_0569Today I’d like to kick off the holiday cookie season by bringing you the recipe for a very unique cookie – The German Roll. Only slightly sweet, coated with a dusting of walnuts, this little delicacy is almost more bread-like than any cookie I’ve nibbled before. I was introduced to them by one of my best friends, John Richards.

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John was my “Man of Honor” when I married.

John’s grandmother would make these every year for Christmas. It was love at first bite for me! Each year I would send some of my Christmas cookies to Ohio with John when he went home for the holidays and then he would return with some of these elusive German Rolls for me.

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These cookies, pictured with the blue linens, were actually made by John’s Gramma in 2012.

I’ve never found their like. I have googled “German Rolls, German Christmas Cookies,” you name it, to no avail. Totally mysterious! I really wanted to get the recipe, so I asked John if his family would be willing to share. He was sure that they would, though he cautioned me that he thought the recipe might be somewhat difficult to recreate. You know, it was once of those recipes that had been passed down for years. One that the family matriarch had mastered; one that they could literally nail in their sleep. But to an outsider, it was full of inaccurate measurements like “a tablespoon” which didn’t mean the standardized tablespoon, but a particular wooden spoon that their husband had carved for them when they first married. And truly subjective instructions like “just mix it up until the dough looks right”. So, although we loved these cookies, we were a bit intimidated and took no action, but kept the idea of making them on the back burner.

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It has been several years now since we lost Cecilia Batya,  John’s Gramma. Today is actually the anniversary of her passing. You might have assumed she was German, you know what with the cookies being called “German Rolls”, but no. Cecilia, born Cecelia Smocer, was from Slovakia.

Cecelia picking flowers similar to those in her wedding veil

She immigrated with her family to the United States at the age of nine and settled into a small coal mining town in Pennsylvania. There she met and married Joseph Batya.

Cecelia and Joseph just before they were married

They had six children,

The family

The Batya Clan

followed by a dozen or so grandchildren and many great and great-great grandchildren by the time she passed at the age of 98 years. Cecelia learned the recipe from her mother, Bubbha. It is thought that she may have gotten the recipe from one of the German women in their local church, St. Hedwig. From what we hear, many folks in the town requested that Cecelia and her mother bake these cookies not only for Christmas but also for weddings and other celebrations.

Cecelia and Bubbha

Cecilia brought this recipe with her as the family migrated further west into Cleveland after the coal mines closed. She taught her three daughters Marguerite, Antoinette and Kathy how to make these German Rolls along with many other of the traditional Slovak dishes like Kolache and Bobalki.

The three sisters in Cleveland

John & his sister Heather have now taken on the Christmas cookie making mantle for the Batya clan and were determined to make German Rolls this year. Their Aunt Antoinette had written the recipe down for me several years ago, so we all got together one afternoon to give it a whirl. Now what I will say is this is a strange recipe! It taught me quite a lot! First of all, we had to find cake yeast. Apparently many stores only stock it around Christmas time and we knew that this recipe might take several times to master, so our efforts had begun in early November. No cake yeast in sight. Literally a cake yeast free zone. So I got busy trying to figure out the conversion so that I could use dry yeast. Scalding the milk was the next thing that I pondered. I was under the impression that when an old time recipe contained this step that it wasn’t really necessary. I thought that it was done in the days before pasteurization to make sure there wasn’t any bacteria present. Turns out, that when making a yeast bread, scalding the milk is actually an important step. The whey protein in milk can weaken gluten and prevent the dough from rising properly. Scalding the milk deactivates the protein so this doesn’t happen. It makes the milk a better food source for the yeast, so you get a quicker rise and fluffier product. The dough is smoother and retains moisture much better.

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And then, just when you think the rest of the recipe would be straight forward, you are instructed to wrap the cookie dough in a cheese cloth, submerge it in water and wait for it to float. What! I have never come across this in any other recipe. So I looked around online to see if I could find anything about this proofing method. I was able to find this reference from a book by Andrew Whitly entitled “Bread Matters”. He states that “an original method of judging proof is given in a famous Russian Cookbook and household manual from the 1860’s called “A Gift to Young Housewives” by Elena Molohkovets.” She wrote:

“After molding the dough made with fine flour, you may put the loaves in a bucket of water (the temperature of a river in summer) where they will lie on the bottom until they are fully proofed. When they float to the surface, put them straight into the oven…..Incidentally if you are proofing bread on the table, you can put a small test piece of dough into cold water; when it rises to the surface, you can put all your loaves into the oven.”

Weird right!!! But we did it and achieved flotation! Here is the photographic proof of the proofing!

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Success! From what I understand, if the dough doesn’t float, you are done for. Mission accomplished!

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We were quite happy with these little gems. And having made them ourselves, appreciated them all the more. I’m telling you, a German Roll (or two or so…) is absolute perfection with a nice cup of tea.

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So were these cookies exactly like Cecilia’s? Well they were very close. I don’t doubt that she was smiling down on us with great amusement as we tried to fill her cookie baking shoes, which of course, can not ever be done. Cecilia was such an amazing woman. The true matriarch of the Batya clan and very much beloved, she cemented the family together. We won’t see her like again. By recording her recipe for these German Rolls we have been able to capture some sweet memories and a tradition will continue to endure for new generations to come. We think Cecilia would definitely approve!

Cecelia toasting us all (1)

Cheers!

 

***If anyone out there reading this is familiar with these cookies – I would love to hear from you! Please leave me a comment.

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German Rolls

  • Servings: full batch 68 - 72 cookies, half batch 34 -36
  • Difficulty: moderate. yeast rise involved. will teach you new techniques!
  • Print

recipe from: The Batya Clan

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Crisco
  • 1 Cup scalded milk (heated to 180° F)
  • 1 ounce of Cake yeast (10.5 grams or 3 1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp of dry yeast)
  • 6 Cups all-purpose flour ( add up to 1 additional cup as needed)
  • 1/2 Cup granulated sugar
  • 4 Eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the coating:

  • 4 Cups ground nuts (walnuts are traditional, but pecans or whatever you prefer)
  • 3/4 Cup sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with Parchment paper or lightly grease it.

Place four cups of the nuts of your choice in a food processor and pulse a few times until ground. Add 3/4 cup sugar and pulse to combine. Place in bowl and set aside.

Scald milk by heating to 180° F. Scalding deactivates the whey protein found in milk. This protein can weaken gluten and prevent the dough from rising properly. Allow milk to cool to lukewarm (between 98° – 105° F). Add yeast to milk and stir to dissolve.

Mix flour and crisco together, as you would do for pie dough. You can do this by hand, or in a food processor. Add sugar and salt to the mixture. If dough seems too rich, add up to one cup of flour to firm it up.

Add yeast mixture and beaten eggs to flour mixture. Mix well, until a smooth dough is achieved. No serious kneading is necessary. Again, this can be done by hand, or in a stand mixer.

Fill a large dough rising bucket or Dutch oven or bowl half-full of cool water.

Form dough into a large ball and place in the center of a cheesecloth (or you can use a flour sack kitchen towel). Twist the ends of the cloth loosely around the ball and place it in the water. Add more water to almost cover dough ball.

Soak the dough in water until it becomes boyant, about 1 1/2 hours but no longer.

When ready, put hand under dough ball and undo the cloth, letting the water drain a bit. Flip dough gently onto a large platter.

Drop hearty tablespoons of dough (I used a Tablespoon (size#40) cookie dough scoop – link below- so that all the cookies are uniform) onto the nut/sugar mixture. The dough will likely be sticky, but if you coat it a bit before rolling a shaping,and use a light touch, it works pretty well.

Roll into approximate 8″ strand. Tie it into a loose single loop knot, leaving enough dough (about 2″ at each end) to wrap around the strand one wore time. bring one end around and down through the center and the other end around and up through the center.

Transfer the German Rolls to a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 15- 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Enjoy!

***I’m told by the Batya clan that these cookies freeze well!

Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for German Rolls

Cuisinart Pro-Classic Food Processor

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

SAF Instant Yeast

OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop

Cheesecloth


Popovers with Boozy Orange Cranberry Butter

November 27, 2019

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Oh my gosh, Thanksgiving is nearly upon us. And that being said – the full blown holiday season is ready to step full into the spotlight on the very day following…but we won’t think about that today… Back to Thanksgiving … And like many of you, I’ve been stationed in the kitchen a whole lot . It’s weird right? Days of preparation and cooking and BAM! It is all over in about an hour. Well, the eating that is. Then there is the clean up – which is pretty substantial. And then there is the figuring out how to fit all of the leftovers into your fridge. And speaking of leftovers, I do have a great Thanksgiving feast leftover recommendation for you today… That is assuming you have some leftover cranberry sauce on hand. What I’m going to share with you is a wonderful day after Thanksgiving Treat, A Black Friday pastry if you will – Popovers with Boozy Orange Cranberry Butter.

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Hopefully you are planning to make my Boozy Orange Cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving this year. That stuff is like cranberry crack – I’m telling you! It’s so delicious, it shouldn’t just be reserved for one meal out of the year. And it is very easy to make.

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And although today is the day before the big day and the supermarkets are full of scenes from Dante’s Inferno…Seriously – if you head out to grocery shop today – you better steel your nerves because you will be wondering what fresh hell you have arrived in! But, you’ve got this. Take a deep breath. There is still have time to not only plan your feast, if you haven’t already done so, but to go out and hunt and gather your ingredients. So in attempt to inspire you, let me take a moment to give you a bit of a Thanksgiving recipe roundup of delicious recipes which I have shared with you in the past. One of my all time favorite recipes, which I am indeed making this year is Smoky Bacon Cream Biscuit Dressing. The Husband has actually declared Thanksgiving would be ruined if this dish wasn’t on the table. It is so decadent, chock full of homemade Cream Biscuits, mushrooms and one whole pound of bacon (can’t go wrong with bacon!).

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Another Thanksgiving staple at our house are Heavenly West Virginia Dinner Rolls. These moist, tender and slightly sweet yeast rolls are a must for us.

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But we really LOVE bread around here, so I’ve also made these lovely Amish Dinner Rolls. Yes – that is in addition to the West Virginia Rolls. Told you we love bread. I’ll do a few extra revs in the gym – it will be totally worth it!

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And talking about hitting the gym – how about some dessert? Like these Inside Out Pumpkin Muffins filled with Cider Cinnamon Cream Cheese.

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Or this ahhhh-mazing Thanksgiving Pie – Toffee Blonde Pie with Cinnamon Toast Crunch Crumb Crust, Pumpkin Ganache & Boozy Cranberry Sauce topping.

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And if you do have any leftovers, I shared Holiday Leftover Pies recipe with you.

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But wait! Now that I mention leftovers, I’ve realized that I’m getting completely carried away with all this food! Lets get back to the recipe at hand today, which does indeed involve leftovers – those Popovers with Boozy Orange Cranberry Butter.  So what you’ll need is some leftover Boozy Orange Cranberry Sauce. You whip up some butter and then add that cranberry sauce to it. Bake up a batch of Popovers. Popovers might seem a bit intimidating but I’m telling you they are easy peasy. The recipe I’ve included will yield up a dozen sugar dusted, absolutely divine little treats.

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Make sure to serve them hot out of the oven

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slathered with that magical Cranberry butter. Folks will lose their minds! Now you can spread this luscious Cranberry Butter over anything you want – toast, bagels, biscuits, oatmeal….but hot, crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, popovers are pretty impressive you’ve gotta admit. We have enjoyed ours in the past on Black Friday. You know, we had to make sure we’d be fueled up for the take-no-prisoners day of serious shopping. But these popovers would turn any meal into a special occasion and  they elevate that Cranberry Sauce to an even higher level. Hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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Popovers with Cranberry Butter

  • Servings: 12 popovers
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe adapted slightly from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

For the Popovers:

  • 2 teaspoons bacon grease, butter, or lard
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 241 grams All purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 454 grams whole milk, at room temperature

For the Cranberry Butter:

  • 170 grams unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 57 grams (1/4 cup) Boozy Orange Cranberry Sauce ( Or you can use whatever leftover cranberry sauce you have on hand – though I’m not sure that stuff that slides out of a can will work…)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Use the bacon grease, butter, or lard to grease a 12-cup muffin pan or a large, 6-well popover pan. Lightly sprinkle the insides of the wells with the 1 tablespoon sugar.

To make the cranberry butter: Beat the butter and salt at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the leftover boozy orange cranberry sauce and mix at low speed until well blended. Set aside.

To make the popovers: In a blender or food processor, combine the flour, salt, eggs, and milk until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, filling the cups halfway.

Bake the popovers for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tops are deep brown. Remove them from the oven and pierce the tops with a paring knife to allow steam to escape. Cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a warm serving dish. Dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired; serve warm, slathered with cranberry butter.

Enjoy!

Popovers with Boozy Orange Cranberry Butter brought to you by Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Popovers with Boozy Orange Cranberry Butter:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Cuisinart Pro-Classic Food Processor

Nordicware Grand Popover Pan

 


Reese’s Cup Werewolf Cupcakes

October 29, 2019

 

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There is absolutely no way you won’t have a howling good Halloween if you make up a batch of these terrifyingly adorable Werewolf cupcakes! And, not to toot my own horn or anything, but this year, just like last year, I am blogging about a Halloween recipe, prior to the actual date of the holiday. So yeah, I guess I’ll just say “Toot Toot!” Not only do these werewolves look irresistible, but they are also made with multiple Reese Cups – full size and minis, so they also undoubtedly taste irresistible to boot. I love Reese Cups, so I am totally psyched about these naughty little treats. Also I must say, Halloween is my favorite holiday! I mean, think about it…You get to dress weird, drink booze and eat candy for dinner. In fact, all of that fun stuff is encouraged. How could you go wrong on such a day!

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Halloween actually has Irish origins. Our modern Halloween celebrations are derived from the Celtic holiday of Samhain. Samhain was Celtic New Year. It was a harvest festival which marked the dying of the sun-god and a turning to the colder, dormant half of the year. On this night, the Celts believed the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was at its lowest point. The dead could more easily travel back over to our side, and if we weren’t careful, we could accidentally wander over in to their world and be trapped-a good reason to stay close to home and bonfires, no doubt! This belief likely gave rise to our Halloween legends of ghosts, ghouls and witches wandering about on this night in particular. I’ve posted some great Halloween recipes in past years ranging from the historically based traditional recipes such as:

Soul Cakes (Traditional Halloween/ Samhain)

 

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Yeasted Irish Barmbrack Bread (traditional Halloween/Samhain)

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Irish Tea Barmbrack with a Whiskey Honey Glaze (traditional Halloween/Samhain)

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To the more whimsical offerings such as:

White Chocolate Mummy Pretzels

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Halloween Cookies & Cream Owl Cupcakes

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Mini Mummy Brownie Bite Cupcakes

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As well as some wonderful boozy libations to kick your celebrations into high gear:

Fireball Cider Cocktail

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Roasty Toasty Cocktail

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A few year’s ago I managed to combined whimsical and boozy altogether in my Halloween treats with these adorable – I mean terribly frightening Itsy-Bitsy Tipsy Spider Cupcakes.

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And last year was all about the whimsy with these

Black Velvet Frankenstein Cupcakes.

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I guess I’m still in the whimsical mood this year because I absolutely could not resist these Reese’s Cup Werewolves when I saw them over at Hungry Happenings.

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She makes the most amazing creations there, so you should definitely take a peek. These little devil dogs were not terribly hard to make, but I will say they were a bit fiddly. You had to have a steady hand and plan ahead by piping out all the fangs ahead of time so that they would harden. But would you just look at the end result!! I don’t think I’m barking up the wrong tree when I say these werewolves are just perfection!

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So, I’ve given you enough time to gather all your supplies to make these lovely lycanthropes. What are you waiting for? I just bet that you and your friends will be howling at the moon come Thursday night! Happy Halloween ya’ll!!!

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Reese's Cup Werewolf Cupcakes

  • Servings: 24 Cupcakes
  • Print

Werewolf Cupcakes inspired by: Hungry Happenings

Chocolate Frosting Recipe from: Sally’s Baking Addition

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup black coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 1 1/4 cup (290 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups (420 grams) confectioner’s sugar
  • 3/4 cup (65 grams) dutch process cocoa powder
  • 3 – 5 Tablespoons (45 – 75 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Werewolves:

  • Full Size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  • Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  • White Cookie Icing or White Candy Melts
  • Wilton Candy Eyes
  • Chocolate Candy Melt Wafers (for ears)
  • Whoppers (malted milk balls)
  • Candy Bones (or make them using white candy melts)
  • Chocolate sprinkles (for eyebrows)
  • Valhrona Chocolate Crunchy Pearls (for nose, you could also use a mini M&M)

Directions:

For the Reese Cup Werewolves:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay the full size Reese Cups flat. Put a dollop of cookie icing on the top of a corresponding number of mini Reese cups. Attach the mini Reese cup “snout” to the full size Reese Cup. Place in fridge to harden.

Using White Cookie Icing or white chocolate melts, pipe “teeth” onto a sheet of parchment paper.  If you are making the bones from chocolate melts, pipe these out as well. Place this in the fridge to harden.

Cut unmelted chocolate melts into triangle shaped “ears”. Set aside.

For the cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line your cupcake tins with paper liners.

Sift all dry ingredients into a large bowl. In a separate medium bowl, add all the wet ingredients. With your mixer on medium speed, slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix for 2 minutes. The batter will be quite soupy – this is ok!

Pour batter into the prepared cupcake tins, filling just slightly more than halfway. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs. Cool cupcakes in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, and then remove from pan to cool completely.

While you’re waiting for the cupcakes to cool, make your frosting.

For the frosting:

Place butter in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat it on medium speed until it is light and fluffy – approximately 2 minutes. Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder. Add this sugar/cocoa mixture to the creamed butter 2 – 3 Tablespoons at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add 3 Tablespoons of the cream, the salt and vanilla. Beat on low speed initially, increasing until you reach high speed. Beat for 1 -2 minutes. Add more sugar or cocoa is frosting is too thin or add cream if it seems too thick.

Werewolf Assembly:

Frost  the cupcakes with enough frosting to hold the Reese Cup “wolves” upright.

Remove the Reese cups from the fridge. Using a piping bag fitted with a Wilton #233 tip, pipe frosting fur all over the prepared Reese cups. If you don’t have this tip, you can paint some frosting over the Reese cup and use a paint brush to give it a rough, fur-like texture.

Carefully put the eyes, nose and teeth in place.

Place the Reese cup on the frosted cupcakes. Push two malted milk balls (paws) in front of the decorated Reese cup and pipe “fur” frosting over them.

Add a bit more fur to the top edge of the Reese Cups so that you can attach the candy melt ears.

Place bone between paws.

Enjoy!

Reese’s Cup Werewolf Cupcakes brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Reese’s Werewolf Cupcakes:

Wilton Mini Candy Eyes 
King Arthur Double Dutch Process Dark Cocoa Powder
Ghirardelli White Candy Melts
Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Melts
Valhrona Crunchy Pearls
Wilton Graveyard Bones
Wilton #233 Decorating Tip
Wilton Cookie Icing

 

 

 

 


Cozonac – Romanian Easter Bread

April 19, 2019

IMG_8091Happy Good Friday everyone! Wait…can you say that? You hear a lot of “Happy Easter” but not really “Happy Good Friday”. Hmmm…well I’ll ask you to indulge me today because I am very happy today! My Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns that I make every year ( you have to bake them on Good Friday or they don’t have all of the special powers) are well under way!

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And not only does the house smell completely irresistible, what with all the baking buns, but I am also ready to share a new recipe with you for Cozonac – Romanian Easter Bread.

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This tender, sweet and citrus-y yeast bread is shot through with swirls of a chocolatey nut filling. It looks so festive and tastes Ahh-mazing! And here is the truly amazing thing, I have somehow managed to get this blog out BEFORE the actual holiday. Last year I didn’t get the recipe for my Italian Easter Bread published until Easter had come and gone. So this year is definitely an improvement in that regard.

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I tried to play my tardiness off last year by saying “Oh, you’ll be way ahead of the game for Easter 2019”. But now I guess now you’ll have to pick between the Italian Easter Bread and this Cozonac or be ahead of the game with a recipe waiting in the wings for Easter 2020!

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I love trying out Easter breads from around the world. I’ve already told you about my Italian Easter Bread last year. The year before I made Tsoureki from Greece.

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There was also the Slovak Paska:

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As well as the impressive Russian Kulich:

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But let me get back to the bread at hand today.

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Cozonac has Romanian origins. It is traditionally baked during both Easter and Christmas. Soft and tender, this bread is slightly sweet and flavored with orange & lemon zests as well as rum. Ha! Now you’re talking huh? The delicious filling has also got a bit of rum in it, so take care that you don’t get too festive over this holiday. Walnuts are typically used in the filling, though the filling ingredients do vary from region to region. I used ground almonds. I think pecans would also be quite tasty.

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Cozonac was pretty easy to make, though keep in mind it does require two rising times and a bit of finesse as you have to roll out four different sections of dough, spread the sticky filling evenly and then roll them up and twist the rolls together. That’s how you get those beautiful spirals in your finished loaves.

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And for all of your effort, you are most definitely rewarded with not one but TWO loaves of this scrumptious bread.

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It is a decadent indulgence just as it is, and I bet it will make some phenomenal French toast. I’ll have to let you know about that. So what are you waiting for? I’ve actually given you a bit of time to get this baked for Easter this year. I promise, you won’t be sorry! Happy Easter!

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Cozonac - Romanian Easter Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

recipe from: She Loves Biscotti

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 170 grams (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 720 grams (approx. 6 cups) bread flour
  • 8 grams (2¼ teaspoon) active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest, grated
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, grated
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 200 grams walnuts, almonds or pecans finely ground, about 2 cups
  • 1/4 cup rum
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup dutch processed cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons Demerara sugar

Directions:

Make the dough:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the milk and sugar.

Add the butter and stir until butter is almost melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

While the butter/milk mixture is cooling, add 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the yeast to the mixing bowl of a stand mixture, fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until combined.

Once the milk/butter mixture has cooled to luke warm (98°F/36°C) add it to the flour/yeast and combine on low speed for 2-3 minutes.

Allow the mixture to rest for a few minutes.

In the meanwhile, grate the orange and lemon zest and set aside.

With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing until the are just combined.  Scrape down bowl and mix for about 1-2 minutes.

Add the vanilla extract, rum and salt.

Switch to dough hook attachment.

Add the rest of the flour, one cup at a time, mixing until combined. Once all the flour has been added, continue to knead for a few minutes.

Add the citrus zests and continue to knead for about 6-8 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. NOTE: If you find that the dough is still sticky, add a few more tablespoons of flour.

Place the dough in a lightly buttered dough rising bucket or bowl. Make sure to turn the dough over in order to completely coat the dough with the butter.

Cover with plastic wrap.

Allow to rise for about 2 hours or until double in size.

In the meanwhile, prepare the filling.

Make the filling:

Over medium heat, in a small sauce pan, whisk together the milk and sugar.

Add the ground nuts and stir until a paste-like consistency is reached. This should take about 15 minutes. Stir often. (I used Almond Flour because it was easy – being ground and ready to go.)

Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to stir until a paste like consistency is achieved.

Set aside to cool.

To Assemble the Cozonac:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place oven rack at bottom third of oven. Butter two (9 x 5 inch) loaf pans.

Punch down the risen dough and divide into four equal parts. I use a kitchen scale just to make sure I’ve the pieces are equal.

On a rolling mat or lightly floured wooden board, roll out each section into a large rectangle (about 11 x 14). Spread out the 1/4 of the nut mixture (approx. 1/2 cup) to within 1/2″ from the edge for each rectangle.

Starting from the long end, roll the dough to form a log. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling. Pinch the ends and the seams together.

Twist two pieces of the dough log together and place in prepared loaf pan. Do the same with the last two pieces of dough logs.

Brush the top of the dough with a beaten egg. Cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap. Allow them to double in size. This can take 45 – 60 minutes.

Sprinkle a little Demerara sugar over the top and bake for about 45 minutes. Feel free to place a piece of aluminum foil loosely over the tops to prevent over browning.

Allow bread to cool completely before slicing.

Enjoy!

Cozonac brought to you by Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Cozonac:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

SAF Instant Yeast

Hand Held Zester

Oxo Good Grips 7 Piece Nesting Measuring Beaker Set

Silicone Pastry Dough Rolling Mat

King Arthur Flour Espresso Powder


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