Brioche Buns


Baking these buns has been a long-time dream of mine. I’m a huge bread lover, and I actually do dream of baking bread. I have many crazy and vivid dreams, but that’s a topic for another day or blog. Well, it took me a while to set aside enough time to get these buns baking, but it has finally became a reality.

Ta-da! A picture of me with my buns. Oh, and yes, I also want to share some wonderful news with you all. Tim and I are expecting. Twin baby girls. Yes, I said TWINS. And girls! Not one, but two. Two delicious buns, I mean babies.

The buns and the babies have both been a dream of mine, so I thought I would celebrate them together in this little post. We are beyond excited (and nervous) about what our future life will look like, but we will embrace all things God chooses for us.

So far, my journey into motherhood has been pretty nice. I mean, there was a lot of planning, waiting, then more planning, and more waiting, so in a way, it parallels this brioche recipe. I’m half-kidding, as I know the rest of the pregnancy will be a lot harder than just turning on an oven, but it has been a joy preparing for this radical change in our family’s lives.

Now that we know we are expecting two little girls, I’m dreaming about the day I will have two little kitchen helpers kneading breads and preparing dinners together. Though I would want to do this with all my children regardless of their gender, I know it will be extra special to have that mother/daughters time in our little kitchen.

One day, I will introduce this recipe to them and share their birth story over our brioche and milk. What a time to look forward to. I cannot wait. :D

Brioche Buns

1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup warm milk
2-1/4 oz packets active dry yeast
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (if cold, cut into tablespoon pats)
1 egg, beaten with water (for glaze when ready to bake)

1. In a stand mixer bowl, combine warm water and milk. Sprinkle active dry yeast over milk mixture. Let sit for about 8 minutes, until mixture becomes foamy.
2. In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt. Add flour mixture into milk/yeast mixture and using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed for about 1 minute.
3. Slowly add in eggs to the flour/yeast mixture. Keep mixer on low and make sure to incorporate eggs one at a time.
4. Add room temperature butter, one tablespoon at a time, and mix together on low for about 5 minutes.
5. Grease a large bowl and place dough in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm and draft-free place for about one hour, or until dough has doubled in size.
6. Deflate the dough (use a rubber spatula to avoid sticky hands), and cover and let rise again for 30 minutes.
7. Keep in fridge overnight, or at least 8 hours. This will help the flavor and bring the dough to a workable dough.
8. On the next day, after dough has been properly chilled, butter a 12-muffin tin. Remove dough from fridge. Prepare egg glaze by beating one egg and combining with 1 tablespoon water.
9. Using a pastry cutter and a floured workspace, divide into two equal portions. Divide again. And again. Keep doing this until you have 36 small pieces of dough.
10. Drop 3 pieces of dough into each section of the muffin tin.
11. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
12. Cover muffin tin with wax paper and let rise in a warm, draft-free area for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.
13. Brush the tops of each bun with the egg/water glaze.
14. Bake for about 20 minutes, until tops are golden brown.
15. Serve warm. Enjoy with your choice of spread!

Categories: Recipes

Condensed Milk Blueberry Muffins

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I adore summer. Being a gal from the south, I love the heat, the humidity (yes, I even love the humidity) and pretty much everything about summer. Summers in New York are also great because of the lack of bugs, all the great city activities, and the abundance of sweet summer fruits!

As much fruit as we eat, I wish I could say we’re part of an awesome fruit share from a quaint farm that I personally know and love, but this year we’re not. I realized I’m not the best fit for joining a CSA due to irregular schedules and my need for choice in produce. In fact, I purchase a significant amount of our fruit from Costco. Yes, I know they don’t always have organic options, but right now my family’s priority is saving a buck or two, and Costco helps us do that.

So what does one do when left with an extra pound or so of blueberries that you can no longer force your husband to eat more of? I suppose I could have made a pie, but I chose to make muffins since I also needed breakfast options for the week.

I changed up a Paula Deen recipe for these muffins, and I made her recipe even more decadent. How is that even possible? Ha, I made a way. Really, it was out of necessity considering I drank all the milk because I was on a recent Oreos kick. If you don’t know me in person, I’m actually healthier than this post is making me out to be. But I shouldn’t feel the need to justify myself, I embrace my food choices, as should you. In any case, instead of going out and buying overpriced milk in the paltry neighborhood grocery options, I looked for substitutes within my kitchen. And sure enough, I had just one can of sweetened condensed milk left! Perfect.

Since the condensed milk is already sweetened, I omitted the sugar that the original recipe called for. So much for the ultra-decadence I claimed. ;)

These muffins turned out quite perfect, I must say. They had a fluffy texture, were perfectly sweet, and not too dense. They tasted like previous muffins I’ve made with yogurt or sour cream, so I may just continue to use this recipe not out of necessity but by choice for my blueberry muffin needs.

May it be a welcome addition to your recipe box as well.

Condensed Milk Blueberry Muffins
adapted from Paula Deen

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
2 teaspoons turbinado sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
2. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy and pale in color. Add in can of condensed milk and continue to beat for about a minute.
4. Add in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. In a separate mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
6. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternating with the milk until well incorporated and being careful not to over mix.
7. Gently fold in the fresh blueberries.
8. Scoop batter into the paper lined muffin tin and sprinkle the tops with the 2 teaspoons sugar.
9. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until puffy and golden brown.
10. Makes about 12 generously sized muffins.

Categories: Recipes

Soft Pretzels

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Now I have been baking a bit this year, but I have been in comfort baking mode. What’s that mean? It means I’ve been spending time on classic favorites of mine. Oatmeal raisin cookies. Chocolate chip cookies. Banana bread. Matcha mochi. Pretty much just those — things I’ve made plenty of times before, so I haven’t had new recipes to share. Hence my excuse for not posting.

But with these pretzels here, well, it was my first time baking pretzels, and I’m so happy that I have something new to bake and share about.

The idea sparked when I ran into an old coworker not too long ago, someone I get along well with because of our mutual love for baking. So naturally, our conversation led to baking, and she mentioned how every now and then she’ll treat her family to homemade fresh baked pretzels. Wow, a treat indeed. My mouth instantly salivated at the sound of that, so I had to try it myself.

And despite my amateur pretzel rolling skills, I have to say, they turned out pretty darn well. They weren’t too fussy of a recipe, and I can see this making its way into my list of comfort baked goods.

This has rekindled my desire to continue baking new things! Now I’m brainstorming all the wonderful things I can do with yeast. For a huge bread lover like me, this journey of bread making is gonna be fun.

Soft Pretzels

2 packets (4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (about 100 degrees F)
5 cups flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping

1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in the warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes.
2. Prepare stand mixer with dough hook attachment. In the mixer bowl, mix together dry ingredients — flour, rest of sugar, and salt.
3. Add the oil and yeast mixture, then turn on mixer to low speed (2/4) and let the mixer do the work for you. Make sure the mixture isn’t too dry. You can add in tablespoons of water if it is. Let mixer knead for about 7 minutes until dough is smooth.
4. Lightly oil a large bowl, and place the dough in the oiled bowl, turning to coat with oil. Cover this with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size. When in a warm place, this should take about an hour.
5. After dough has risen, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line baking sheets with Silpat.
6. In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in 4 cups hot water.
7. Take risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. (See this video for pointers! I made mine without the middle twist, but I’m also a pretzel newb.) After all the dough is shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda-hot water solution and place pretzels on baking sheets. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
8. Bake in preheated oven until browned, about 7 minutes.

Categories: Recipes

Lemon Curd Matcha Cake


Y’all must know by now how I can’t resist helping with parties, especially showers. Last month Cheryl and I threw a joint baby shower for two of our friends expecting within a month of each other, and it turned out to be simple get-together sharing small bites among good company. Cheryl’s DIY decorations were a lovely touch for the relaxed event, and she’s posted tips on making floral arrangements like the ones seen here.

Originally I planned on purchasing all the food for the shower, but my hands itched to make something, and I gave in. I based this cake off a recipe I found on the back of a box of cake flour my mother-in-law gave me to try, and the lemon and matcha pairing was inspired by the mothers-to-be. Both May and Tina love matcha flavored desserts, and Tina is a huge fan of the color yellow. Remember her sunny bridal shower? Can’t believe that was already two years ago!

So how did the cake turn out? I’m typically extremely critical of my own baked goods, but this cake I loved. Between its fluffy texture and the marriage of flavors, it’s a definite keeper of a recipe. Well, except for the chunky frosting (notes on the frosting below say that it will appear curdled if there’s not enough butter), the cake still tasted great.

Congratulations to all our friends having babies! Among our friends, it feels like we’ve been averaging a birth a week! It’s such an exciting time, and it’s so much fun seeing your families grow.

p.s. And Happy Anniversary to my dear husband Tim. Four years ago, we shared a matcha cake similar to this one, and to this date, that day is still the best day of my life. I love you!

[continue for Lemon Curd Matcha Cake recipe]

Categories: Recipes



Being March 2.. y’all must be excited for today! Why? Well, it’s Texas Independence Day! It’s been a tradition of mine to celebrate the day, which really just means proclaiming it to the world. And occasionally I’ll bake some Texas-themed things too.

This year I’m proud to share with you this kolache recipe. Kolaches are pillowy pastries of dough wrapped or filled with fruits or some kind of sausage. The ones I’ve had growing up in Houston are almost always savory, but since then my view of kolaches has expanded to include the traditionally sweet Czech version. I’m accepting of the sweet kind, but I’m still quite partial to the savory version.

Just like beignets, I can’t seem to find kolaches readily available in the north outside of the south. And also like the beignets, I decided to take matters into my own hands and make them myself. After reading through several recipes, I chose one that was featured in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times back in 2001. With an article named “Perfect Kolaches” and a recipe called “Grandma Rosie’s Kolaches,” how could I not? Turns out they’re mighty close to the kolaches I’m used to eating back home, and I’m ever grateful for Grandma Rosie for sharing her secret recipe with us. This recipe worked out wonderfully as a savory pastry, and I’m sure it’d be just as great for a sweet kolache too.

[continue for kolache recipe]

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Categories: Recipes