Homemade Pop Tarts

Happy holidays everybody! I hope everyone has had a wonderful time at their seders or will have a great time at their upcoming Easter brunches. Now is a wonderful time to spend some time with family and friends, and of course, prepare and enjoy lots of food. Some of my highlights included the 7 different types of charoset that my mom and I prepared, ranging from American Ashkenazi to Moroccan Charoset Balls, to Persian. All of them were incredibly delicious and there’s more than enough to last me until next Tuesday!

Some exciting news about gymnastics is that I made regionals! I had the state championships this past weekend and not only did I win floor, bars, and the all around for my age group, but I qualified to the Super Team! That is above the regular 15+ team, and the scores are the top 7 all-around scores for the entire meet, regardless of age. To say the least, I’m incredibly excited to compete and to have qualified to regionals for the second year in a row.

But that’s enough about me. The starts of this post should really be these pop tarts. These delights from King Arthur Flour have been in my recipes-to-make list for awhile, but I was always intimidated by making my own crust, mostly because of the giant butter v. vegetable shortening debate. Like yeast, I was able to get over it, and I’m so glad I did. These were almost like hand pies, because of the crispy buttery-ness of the crust and the sweet fruit filling. They were basically the most gourmet pop-tarts I’ve ever had!

Homemade Pop Tarts

Ingredients:

Pastry

  • 2 cups (8 ½ ounces) All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 quarter-pound sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pats
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk

Cinnamon Filling

  • 1/2 cup (3 ¾ ounces) brown sugar
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, to taste
  • 4 teaspoons All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 large egg, to brush on pastry before filling

Fruit Filling

  • 3/4 cup jam (I used strawberry)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

  1. Make the dough: Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter until the mixture holds together when you squeeze it, with pecan-sized lumps of butter still visible. Mix the egg and milk, and add it to the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive.
  2. Divide the dough in half; each half will weigh about 10 ounces (about 280g). Shape each half into a rough 3″ x 5″ rectangle, smoothing the edges. Roll out immediately; or wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
  3. Make the filling: Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour. If using the fruit filling, mix the jam with the cornstarch/water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool.
  4. Assemble the tarts: If the dough has been chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to soften and become workable, about 15 to 30 minutes. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick, large enough that you can trim it to an even 9″ x 12″. Laying a 9″ x 13″ pan atop the dough will give you an idea if you’ve rolled it large enough. Trim off the edges; place the scraps on a baking sheet, and set them aside, along with the 9″ x 12″ rectangle of dough.
  5. Roll the second piece of dough just as you did the first. Press the edge of a ruler into the dough you’ve just rolled, to gently score it in thirds lengthwise and widthwise; you’ll see nine 3″ x 4″ rectangles.
  6. Beat the egg, and brush it over the entire surface of the dough. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each marked rectangle. Place the second sheet of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around each pocket of jam, sealing the dough well on all sides. Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Cut the dough evenly in between the filling mounds to make nine tarts. Press the cut edges with your fingers to seal, then press with a fork, to seal again.
  7. Gently place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork; you want to make sure steam can escape, or the tarts will become billowy pillows rather than flat toaster pastries. Refrigerate the tarts (they don’t need to be covered) for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.
  8. Sprinkle the dough trimmings with cinnamon-sugar; these have nothing to do with your toaster pastries, but it’s a shame to discard them, and they make a wonderful snack. While the tarts are chilling, bake these trimmings for 13 to 15 minutes, till they’re golden brown.
  9. Remove the tarts form the fridge, and bake them for 25 to 35 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool on the pan.

Yield: 9 tarts.

What’s not to love?

-Rayna

Carl’s Cinnamon Rolls

Happy March! These past few weeks have been incredibly busy with everything from the final gymnastics meets before states (only 9 days to go!) and various orchestra performances and even beginning to talk about college with my guidance counselor! It’s crazy, but I’m glad that I finally have some time to take a moment to update you on what’s been going on around my kitchen.

I guess my blog has inspired my chef mom to create her own cooking blog/ web-zine, which I will be featured on once a month! The website is www.theweiserkitchen.com and my posts will be underneath The Weiser Baker. While I hope that you all will check out her website to see my original recipes, you should really explore the whole thing. Seeing that I’m the person who got to try all of the recipes posted, I can tell you first hand that everything is absolutely delicious and not something to miss. But for now, back into the world of swirly cinnamon goodness.

My adventure into the world of yeast begins again after taking a brief hiatus to tell you about one of the most wonderful banana bread’s I’ve ever made. Obviously, after making some savory bread, I needed to venture back into sweets, and this recipe from King Arthur Flour was just perfect. I love a good loaf, but a warm cinnamon roll that is oozing with cream cheese icing sounds just incredible. Does anyone want to bring me one now?

Carl’s Cinnamon Rolls
(To make 20 rolls)

Dough

  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) water
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) milk
  • 4 3/4 cups (20 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (4 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter, melted

Filling

  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk
  • 3/4 cup (5 5/8 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons (5/8 ounce) ground cinnamon

Frosting

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (3 1/2 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Manual Method: Dissolve the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar in the lukewarm water. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer, and mix until fairly smooth. Knead the dough, by hand for 10 minutes, or with your mixer equipped with the dough hook for 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth and supple. Turn the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise until puffy, 1 to 2 hours.

Bread Machine Method: Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your bread machine, program the machine for Dough or Manual, and press Start. Check the dough during the final 10 minutes of the kneading cycle, adding additional flour or water as needed to produce a smooth, supple dough. Allow the machine to complete its cycle.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface; divide it in half. Working with one piece at a time, pat and then roll the dough into an 18 x 24-inch rectangle.

Filling: Brush the dough with the butter, leaving a 1-inch bare edge along one long side. Combine the remaining filling ingredients — sugar, salt and cinnamon — and sprinkle them evenly over the dough.

Assembly: Starting with a long edge, roll the dough into a long log (not too tightly, or the centers of the rolls will pop up during baking). Make sure to finish up at the edge that isn’t brushed with milk or butter. Brush that edge with water and pull it up over the log, pinching to seal. Roll the log so it’s seam-side-down on your work surface.

Use a ruler to mark off 1 1/2-inch intervals, then use a serrated knife to gently cut 20 rolls; you may also loop dental floss around the log at each interval and pull, which gives you a nice, clean cut. Transfer the rolls to lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about 1-inch between each roll. These will fit on a full-sheet pan or two half-sheet pans.

Brush the sides of each roll with melted butter or vegetable oil, if desired; this makes the rolls easier to pull apart after they’re baked. Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap, and set them aside to rise until puffy but perhaps not doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Bake the rolls in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, reversing the pans midway through. They should be golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool slightly, as you prepare the frosting.

Frosting: Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Beat until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. The mixture should be of spreading consistency, like a soft butter cream frosting.

Using a metal spatula, frost the rolls while they’re warm. Remove them from the pan, and allow them to cool on a wire rack. Eat them soon, or freeze them, well wrapped, for later use. (If you’re going to freeze the rolls, it’s better not to frost them before freezing.)

To Reheat Rolls: Remove the rolls from the freezer, and allow them to thaw, in their wrapping, at room temperature. This will take 1 to 1 1/2 hours, more or less. Remove the wrapping, and bake the rolls in a preheated 350°F oven for about 7 minutes, or until they’re very hot. Remove them from the oven, and frost them. To reheat in the microwave, remove the rolls from their wrapping and microwave for no more than 30 seconds. Better still, heat them in a microwave set on defrost until they’re warm. Serve rolls immediately. Yield: 40 rolls.

Take your expectations for these, and double that by 20. Yeah, they’re that good.

Enjoy!

-Rayna

 

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

Good morning everyone! I hope you all had a nice day off for presidents day that was filled with lots of delicious food. I spent my weekend out in the Show-Me State, or St. Louis, Missouri for a gymnastics meet. Even though I was only gone for a few days, it was an awesome trip. I got to spend lots of time with my teammates and it was just an awesome bonding experience.

While we had a few days off due to Nemo, I used my time wisely. That is, I baked lots and lots of loaves of bread. I already explained to you my fear of yeast and how I stood up to it a few days ago, but before I get to more yeast breads I have to tell you about this banana bread.

You know you’ve made a good bread when you have 5+ loaves and baked goods in the house and this is the only one that got completely eaten in less than 2 days. Yeah, it’s that good. What makes this banana bread different is the layer of cinnamon sugar between the 2 layers of sweet banana goodness, and when baked, it turned into a caramel-y counterpart that completed this wonderfully moist bread.

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread- from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2  tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 cups mashed very ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
  • 1/3 cup vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)

Filling

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.  In a separate large bowl, beat the brown sugar and butter with a stand or handheld mixer on medium speed until well blended – about 1 minute. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With a wooden spoon, stir in the mashed banana, yogurt, and vanilla.  Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Do NOT overmix.  Batter will be thick.
  3. Spoon half of the batter into prepared loaf pan.  Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar swirl ingredients.  Top with remaining batter. Bake for 40-45  minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely on the wire rack.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip and Pecan Granola Bars

First off, Happy (Belated) Thanksgiving! I hope you had a wonderful holiday full of delicious foods 🙂

Once in a blue moon, having tons of cookies and brownies and other sugar-filled treats around the house can get very monotonous. Sometimes, my family isn’t as willing to have cake for breakfast (and every other meal of the day) as I am, which leaves me with a great big plate of delicious calorie-laden treats. However, being smack in the heart of pumpkin season and with Thanksgiving close enough to touch, these granola bars will be a great way to get into that Thanksgiving spirit without overdosing on pumpkin before you eat the entire pie.

Typically before school in the mornings, I don’t have enough time to have a “real” breakfast, so granola bars tend to be my breakfast of choice. Once I made these, school mornings got so much easier! The crunch of the pecans is a great contrast to the sweetness of the cinnamon chips, and the pumpkin granola with the aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg are like a party in my mouth. Not only do these smell and taste amazing, but they’re a nice way to get into the Thanksgiving spirit without eating turkey every day this week. 🙂

Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip and Pecan Granola Bars- From Brown Eyed Baker

Makes 10-12 Bars

Ingredients

  • 3 1/4 cups rolled oats (Regular, not instant or quick-cooking)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (Fresh grated is better!)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 8×8 baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a medium bowl, mix together the brown sugar, pumpkin, honey, applesauce, and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until the oats are fully coated. Add in the cinnamon chips and pecans.
  3. Scoop into the prepared baking dish and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool and cut into bars and serve!

Don’t be surprised the morning after when only crumbs are left!

– Rayna 🙂

(Sorry for the not-so-fantastic pictures, it was dark when I took photos :/)

Baked Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes

Gymnastics is the best sport, to me. How could you not want to flip upside down and twist and turn and tumble? As much as I love gymnastics, it’s by no means an easy sport. My hands are made of steel from all of the rubbing on the uneven bars, and I’ve landed on every body part possible. When I get back from gymnastics, I’m ready to lay down on my bed and be a blob and never move again. But then, I remember these donut holes. I’ve tried making donuts in the past, and they didn’t work (they were more like a muffin that someone put a hole in at the bottom) and I wanted to give donuts a shot again. Sadly, by the time I finished my homework that night at midnight, it was a little too late to start baking, but the next day, the aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg and pumpkin was filling the house before 9:30 at night!

I think we can all agree that donuts make everything better, even if they’re not “real” donuts. But anything coated in butter and cinnamon sugar has to be good, right? Like most people in the food blogger world, the pumpkin craze has taken me over and I bring you these little bites of heaven. They’re made in a mini-muffin pan, and are some of the best cake donuts I’ve had in awhile. 🙂

Baked Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes: From The Craving Chronicles

Makes 30 mini-muffins

Ingredients for the Donuts

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup milk

Ingredients for the Coating

  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a mini-muffin tin.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the vegetable oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla extract, pumpkin and milk.
  4. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Only mix until just combined, be careful not to over mix!
  5. Divide the batter evenly and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. While they bake, melt the butter and combine the granulated sugar and the cinnamon in a small dish.
  7. Remove the muffins from the pan once cool enough to handle, and then roll them in the melted butter and then coat them with the cinnamon sugar.

Go make some for yourself, I already ate all of mine 😉

-Rayna 🙂

 

Fat Fluffy Snickerdoodles

I have never been a snickerdoodle fan. It just wasn’t special to me. When there were cookies with chocolate and nuts and M&M’s, a plain cookie with some cinnamon and sugar just didn’t ring a bell for my tastebuds.

However, when your sister is as picky as my sister, once you find a recipe she’s even willing to try is amazing. So between my brother having a friend over, my sister willing to try it, added with my curious mind= snickerdoodles. And boy was I right choosing this recipe.

Thanks to How Sweet It Is for this delectable recipe 🙂

Snickerdoodles

Makes 16-20 cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon for dipping

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray 2 cookie trays
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar with and electric (or hand) mixer, about 3 minutes. Add in the egg and the vanilla extract and combine.
  4. Add in the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 2 parts, fully incorporating before adding in the second part. Add in the milk to help mix.
  5. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and the cinnamon.
  6. Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and coat the cookies. Press them down ever so slightly and bake them for 10-12 minutes ( I did 11 and came out perfectly)
  7. Inhale. 🙂

So there you go, a cookie that can put a smile on anyone’s face. 🙂

-Rayna 🙂