Single Layer Chocolate Cake

This is recipe #2 of kingarthurflour.com Best Basic Recipe Collection. So easy to stir it together, bake, frost and serve right from the pan. Simple, simple! The one thing I would change next time I make this, is to make half the amount of icing. As you can tell from the photo there is plenty of frosting!

Single Layer Chocolate Cake

Cake
1½ cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp espresso powder, optional
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbl vinegar
1/3 cup oil
1 cup cold water

Icing
1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup half-and-half

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8″ square or 9″ round pan that’s at least 2″ deep. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk the vanilla, vinegar, vegetable oil, and water in a separate bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients, stirring until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it.

Serve the cake right from the pan; warm from the oven, it’s wonderful with a big glass of milk. Or, once cool, frost the cake with this simple chocolate frosting: Heat the chocolate chips with the half-and-half until the chips melt. Stir until smooth, and pour/spread over the cake. For a non-dairy icing, substitute 1/3 cup cold brewed coffee (or water) for the half-and-half.

Soft Cinnamon Rolls

This last week I saw a post on Instagram by kingarthurflour.com, it is a collection of their 16 Best Basic Recipes. I have decided to make all 16 of these recipes from beginning to end. It’s a great way to pass the time while quarantined. I see some people on Instagram challenging others to organize drawers or closets, that’s a lovely idea, but I prefer to BAKE! Maybe if we are in this long enough I will have to give in and organize. But, for now, let’s begin with the first of the 16 Best Basic Recipes.

Soft Cinnamon Rolls 1

Soft Cinnamon Rolls 2 Soft Cinnamon Rolls 3 Soft Cinnamon Rolls 5

Ingredients

Tangzhong (starter):
5 Tbl water
5 Tbl milk
3 Tbl + 1 tsp bread flour

Dough:
All of the Tangzhong (above)
4 cups + 2 Tbl bread flour
3 Tbl nonfat dry milk
1¾ tsp salt
1 Tbl instant yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm whole milk
2 large eggs, beaten
6 Tbl butter, melted

Filling:
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 tsp cinnamon

Icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
2 Tbl melted butter
2-3 Tbl whole milk, to make a thick spreadable frosting

To make the tangzhong: Combine all of the starter ingredients in a small saucepan, and whisk until no lumps remain. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until thick and the whisk leaves lines on the bottom of the pan. This will probably take only a minute or so. Remove from the heat, and set it aside for several minutes.

To make the dough: Mix the tangzhong with the remaining dough ingredients until everything comes together. Let the dough rest, covered, for 20 minutes; this will give the flour a chance to absorb the liquid, making it easier to knead. After 20 minutes, knead the dough — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to make a smooth, elastic, somewhat sticky dough. Shape the dough into a ball, and let it rest in a lightly greased covered bowl for 60 to 90 minutes, until puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk.

To make the filling: Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon, mixing until the cinnamon is thoroughly distributed.

To put it all together: Gently deflate the risen dough, divide it in half, and shape each piece into a rough rectangle. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough into an 18″ x 8″ rectangle. Sprinkle half the filling onto the rolled-out dough. Starting with a long edge, roll the dough into a log. With the seam underneath, cut the log into 12 slices, 1 1/2″ each. Repeat with the second piece of dough and the remaining filling. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan. Space the rolls in the pan.

Cover the pan and let the rolls rise for 45 to 60 minutes, until they’re crowding one another and are quite puffy. While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the bottom third. Uncover the rolls, and bake them for 22 to 25 minutes, until they feel set. They might be just barely browned; that’s OK. It’s better to under-bake these rolls than bake them too long. Their interior temperature at the center should be about 188°F.

While the rolls are baking, stir together the icing ingredients, adding enough of the milk to make a thick spreadable icing. The icing should be quite stiff, about the consistency of softened cream cheese. Remove the rolls from the oven, and turn them out of the pan onto a rack. Spread them with the icing; it’ll partially melt into the rolls. Serve the rolls warm. Store completely cool rolls for a couple of days at room temperature, or freeze for up to 1 month.

Pane Bianco

This is an award winning recipe found over at kingarthurflour.com, filled with basil, tomatoes, and cheese. It is so flavorful with a beautiful presentation that is easy to do.

Pane Bianco

Dough
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1/3 cup lukewarm water
2 tsp instant yeast
1 large egg, beaten
3 Tbl olive oil
3 cups flour
1¼ tsp salt

Filling
3-4 Tbl basil paste*
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
3/4 cup shredded Italian-blend cheese

In bowl of mixer, mix milk, water, and yeast; let sit until foamy. Mix in egg and olive oil. Add flour and salt, knead dough for approx. 5-7 minutes, until it’s smooth and just barely sticking to bottom and/or sides of bowl. Place dough in lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until dough doubles, about 1 hour. While dough rises, thoroughly drain tomatoes, patting them dry, and cut into small pieces.

Deflate dough and pat or roll it into a 22″ x 9″ rectangle. Spread with basil paste, sprinkle with cheese and tomato pieces. Start with long edge and roll dough into a log. Pinch edges to seal. Place log seam-side down on lightly greased or lined (parchment or silpat) baking sheet. Start 1/2″ from one end and cut log lengthwise down center about 1″ deep, to within 1/2″ of the other end. Keeping cut side up, form an “S” shape. Tuck both ends under center of “S” to form a “figure 8;” pinch ends together to seal. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, 45 to 60 minutes.

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Preheat oven to 350°. Bake bread 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it with foil after 20 to 25 minutes to prevent over-browning. Remove bread from oven, and transfer to rack to cool.

*I used basil paste, the original recipe calls for fresh basil. There is garlic in the original recipe, I omitted it because I just wanted the flavor of the tomatoes, basil and cheese. If you would like to add garlic to the filling, it calls for 3-6 cloves peeled and minced.

Cinnamon Babka

Melt in your mouth, buttery, cinnamon goodness!

Cinnamon Babka!

Ingredients
Babka Dough:
1 Tbl dry active yeast
1/3 cup (+ 1 tsp to activate yeast) sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup whole or 2% milk, warmed in microwave
3/4 cup butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla
4¼ – 4½ cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten

Sugar Syrup:
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Cinnamon Filling:
3/4 cup butter, melted
1½ cups sugar
2 Tbl cinnamon
pinch salt

Instructions
Pour warm water in bowl of mixer (with dough hook), sprinkle yeast over water and sprinkle 1 tsp sugar over yeast. Let sit until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Add warm milk, melted butter, and vanilla; mix. Add 2 cups of the flour and salt, mix until smooth. Mix in beaten eggs. Add remaining flour and mix until dough comes together. Raise mixer speed and knead for 5-8 minutes until dough is shiny, elastic and smooth. Turn dough out into a greased bowl, cover and let rise 1-2 hours.

Make sugar syrup while the dough is rising. Combine water, sugar, and vanilla in a small saucepan. Bring to a low boil until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside and cool.

Make the cinnamon filling, combine melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Grease three 8½”x4½” loaf pans. Divide dough into three equal parts. Roll out one part into a rectangle (approx. 9″x12″). Spread with 1/3 of the filling and roll up into a log from long side, cut in half straight down the center of log. Twist pieces together and fit into prepared pan. Repeat with remaining two pieces of dough. Cover pans lightly and let rise 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°. Bake for 20 minutes. Brush each babka with generous amount of syrup. Bake for another 15-30 minutes. When babkas come from the oven, brush again with a liberal amount of syrup. Allow to cool in pans 5-10 minutes. Run a knife around outside of babka to loosen from sides of pan, place babkas on wire rack and cool completely. Original recipe found at family-friends-food.com.

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Favorite Pies!

Here is what I am making to take for our family’s Thanksgiving dinner. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with delicious PIES!

Lemon Truffle Pie

Lemon Truffle Pie is a tart, sweet, creamy addition for any occasion. This has become a favorite to make whenever we get together as a family.

Cherry Apple Pie

Cherry Apple Pie is a three-generation family favorite. In fact, when it is my oldest son’s birthday, this is his request instead of cake.

Triple Chocolate Hazelnut Pie

Triple Chocolate Hazelnut Pie is a chocolate lover’s delight! Totally worth the work and the calories.

Pumpkin Eggnog Pie

My Pumpkin Eggnog Pie has one simple change to the old favorite, substitute eggnog for the milk in the good ol’ pumpkin pie recipe. For another flavorful twist, this year I think I will put the filling in a ginger snap crumb crust.

Old Fashioned Raisin Pie

This recipe for Old Fashioned Raisin Pie is my dad’s favorite, it is also one of the most viewed recipes on my website.

Peanut Butter Pie

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Fudge Cream Pie is a recipe I made up back in 2012. If you love peanut butter, chocolate and pie, your tastebuds will be very happy!

My Favorite Brownies

If I had to name my favorite chocolate dessert, the words that would come racing out of my mouth would be Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownies. I usually make them only when I am giving them away, otherwise I am in big trouble! I Love Love Love Brownies!

My Favorite Brownies

Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownies

1 cup butter, melted
3 cups sugar
1 Tbl vanilla
4 eggs
1½ cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa
1 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 13″x9″ baking pan with foil and spray foil with non-stick spray. In large bowl, stirring by hand, mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, dark cocoa, and salt. Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread in prepared pan. Bake 40-45 minutes (ovens vary but I alway bake them 45 min), until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely for easiest and cleanest cutting. Oh, and use these brownies for a brownie sundae…amazing!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal M&M Cookies

One of my all time favorite cookies. Make a double batch and wrap some up to give to somebunny. ;o)

Peanut Butter Oatmeal M&M Cookies

Peanut Butter Oatmeal M&M Cookies 2

3/4 cup oats
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
M&Ms

Preheat oven to 350°. Stir together oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, cream butter, peanut butter, sugar, and brown sugar with electric mixer. Add egg and vanilla, mix thoroughly. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture, and mix just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips and about 1/2 cup M&Ms (save some for top of cookies). Drop large scoop of batter onto cookie sheet and press a couple M&Ms into each cookie mound. Bake for 9-10 minutes, do not overbake.

Braided Sweet Bread

Happy Easter! Here is an easy bread that can be an impressive addition to your Sunday dinner.

Braided Sweet Bread

1¼ cups warm water
1 Tbl dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
4 Tbl butter, melted
1 tsp salt
4-5 cups flour

In large bowl of mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. When yeast is bubbly, add egg, melted butter, salt and enough of the flour until soft ball forms. Knead. Turn dough out into a greased bowl, cover and let rise for one hour or until doubled. Punch down dough and divide in half. Divide each half into three equal pieces, roll each piece into a 16″ rope and braid. Repeat with other half of dough. Place each braided loaf on greased or lined baking sheet and let rise 30-45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk an egg with a little water and brush loaves. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown (interior temp of 180°). Recipe found at thebakerupstairs.com.

Pizza Rolls

Born from my love of bread and pizza. This is a pretty yummy snack or dinner.

Pizza rolls.jpg

Roll Dough:
1 cup warm milk
1 Tbl yeast
2 Tbl sugar
3 Tbl butter, softened
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp salt
3 cups flour

Pizza Fillings:
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
dry seasonings (oregano, basil, Italian Seasoning, garlic)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup sharp cheddar
1 cup cooked sausage crumbles
1 cup mini pepperoni
1 (3.8oz) can sliced olives

In mixer bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm milk, sprinkle sugar over yeast, let sit until bubbly. Add butter, egg, salt and flour. Mix until well combined. Knead. Turn out into oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled. In small bowl, mix tomato paste and seasonings to taste.

Punch down dough, turn out onto floured surface and roll out to 12″x20″ rectangle. Spread tomato paste mixture evenly over dough. Sprinkle cheeses, sausage crumbles, mini pepperoni, and olives. Roll up gently to keep filling in place and seal edge. Cut (I use a thread to neatly cut through) into 12 rolls. Place rolls in sprayed 9″x13″ pan (or can use a 10″x15″ pan). Let rise about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until browned on top and bread looks well baked. You can sprinkle a little cheese on top and put back in the oven for a couple minutes to melt. Eat just as is or you can dip in marinara sauce.

P.S. These Pizza Rolls warmed up the next day are just as delicious! I put the leftover rolls on a piece of foil in the oven preheated to 300° and baked until warmed through. Serve with green salad, yum!

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookie Bars

It’s been a while since I’ve been here and it’s good to be back! Since my last post, I have become a grandmother of four, yes four! We also moved, we now live up in the mountains in California and we are loving it. It’s a whole new chapter of our lives. I am enjoying my new kitchen and it’s gotten me really excited about baking new recipes. I have made chocolate chip cookies a few times lately, tweaking the recipe each time. Then, I started thinking about cheesecake and how I would really like to combine chocolate chip cookies and cheesecake. So, here you have it, my crazy thoughts coming at you as Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookie Bars!

chocolate chip cheesecake cookie bars

Cheesecake Layer:
2 (8oz) cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Chocolate Chip Layers:
2½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350°. Line 9X13 baking pan with foil and spray with nonstick spray. Make cheesecake layer by creaming together cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla, set aside. Make the chocolate chip layer; mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl, set aside. In large bowl, cream butter, sugar, brown sugar. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients, mix just until combine and stir in mini chocolate chips.

Spread 2/3 of chocolate chip mixture in bottom of prepared pan (I drop spoonfuls in, spray fingers with nonstick spray and gently spread). Pour cream cheese mixture over chocolate chip layer and gently spread to make even layer. Using your hands (this is another messy part) add remaining chocolate chip mixture to pan by putting small pieces evenly all over the top of cheesecake layer. There will be enough to almost cover but you do want to see cheesecake layer peeking through. Bake for 38 to 40 minutes or until just golden brown. Cool completely. Remove from pan to cutting board, lifting with foil. Remove foil and cut into bars. Store in refrigerator.

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