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    Photo Journal: Spring So Far

    Hello, friends! I’m sharing a few personal updates this spring, along with some fun food projects I’ve been working on elsewhere. I hope you enjoy reading what I’ve been up to lately.

    It’s been forever and a day since I’ve done a personal update post. So, hello! I’m typing on my laptop from my couch in the den, thinking about our spring so far.
    Camellia season is winding down, and our sizeable tree is dropping a carpet of flower heads and petals for us to walk upon. It feels special and sacred somehow. Everything has a season.

    Now that the danger of a frost is past (we think) here in east Tennessee, I’m starting to plan my little workshop garden. Each year I plant herbs, peppers, tomatoes, and generally whatever strikes my fancy when I’m shopping. But cherry tomatoes are always a MUST.

    For the past three years I’ve ordered a Sweet Million plant (from Grow Joy). Because it produces the most beautiful and plentiful grape-like clusters. The tomatoes are super sweet. You may remember I mention them in my Tomato Jam recipe post. I can’t wait to make another batch this year!

    My work elsewhere.
    Sometimes when there’s a recipe that’s SO good, and SO popular, my friends at will ask me to create a how-to video for it. Such was the case with World’s Best Cinnamon Raisin Bread. It was everything I hoped it would be, and fun to make! Just click the ‘Watch’ button on the lead image to see it come together. The recipe makes three loaves, which seems like a lot but it’s so nice to gift! I gave a loaf to my mom and one to my bestie. We ate slices of the last loaf at breakfast every day for a week!

    In February, I was also asked by Food Network to create a colorful treat to help promote the Kid’s Baking Championship show. How fun, right? These confetti cupcakes were just the thing, with a tall swirl of rainbow buttercream. You can view the video here on Facebook. There should be a recipe coming soon on I’ll update here when it’s live.
    In remembrance.

    Those of you that follow my baking news on Facebook or Instagram likely heard the sad news that our little pug Churro passed away. He’s been such a fixture on the blog over the years, it seems appropriate to announce it here as well. He lived a long time and we completely adored him. We feel the loss daily, but are committed to rescue other dogs like Churro. You can read about his first days with us right here (scroll to the bottom of the post).
    Coming soon!
    On a happier note, I’ve been working with my friends at to bring you some amazing spring brunch foods! I can’t wait to share all the wonderful recipes that we’ve tirelessly tested, and happily tasted. It’s going to be a real treat!

    Spring is fully here, which feels like an endless garden of possibilities. Although we’ve had a tearful goodbye, I still feel the promise of renewal that this season brings. Green sprouts and blossoms, in this springtime rhythm. And perhaps a few pink desserts on the way, too.
    Here’s hoping this finds everyone well!

    You may also enjoy: LEGGI TUTTO

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    Easy Banana Bread

    This recipe for Easy Banana Bread doesn’t even require an electric mixer! Make it with overripe bananas for the best flavor and texture.

    This delicious bread stirs together with a whisk and bakes up snack cake-style in an 8×8 inch square pan. I’ve always baked my banana bread in loaf pans, but after trying it this way I’ve changed my decorum. Perhaps permanently! There’s more soft and tender middle to enjoy this way, which is my favorite part.

    This classic banana bread begins with brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and melted butter. Stir the mixture together with a whisk or a wooden spoon until well combined.

    Mash up four large ripe bananas in a bowl until fine. A fork works well for this. A few remaining lumps of banana are okay. Whisk the mashed banana into the brown sugar mixture.
    I prefer and recommend using overripe bananas, which will give this bread bold banana flavor and supreme moistness.

    Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, which is flour, baking soda, salt. Easy enough, right? Again, a whisk is perfectly fine for this step. Slowly stir until just combined, you’re not looking to incorporate any air, which is usually a whisk’s job. But its balloon shape works really well at pulling all the ingredients together as you stir.

    Add some crunchy nuts! This can be an optional addition, but not for me. I love slightly sweet pecans added to the batter. English walnuts are also quite good. But if you’re looking to really indulge, then add in 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips – yum!

    Bake the batter it for 45-50 minutes, then let the bread cool 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack. You could also let it cool completely in the pan and serve slices directly from there.

    This simple banana bread is delicious served warm, and slices can be reheated in the microwave for about 20 seconds. But we enjoy it at room temperature, too. A slice makes an excellent breakfast on a busy morning. If you have more time for embellishment, add a pat of salted butter and a drizzle of honey.
    (If you only have three large bananas on hand, you might consider making my favorite Banana Nut Muffins instead!)

    Easy Banana Bread

    Heather Baird

    This recipe for Easy Banana Bread doesn’t even require an electric mixer! Use a whisk or a wooden spoon to stir the batter together. Make it with overripe bananas for the best flavor and texture. If you must make this on an electric mixer, use the paddle attachment if possible, and mix on lowest speed setting.This recipe doesn’t use a loaf pan, and instead uses an 8×8 inch baking pan. This makes the banana bread soft and tender, almost like a snack cake. Serve slices warm with salted butter or a drizzle of honey.

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    Prep Time 10 minsCook Time 45 minsTotal Time 55 mins

    Course Bread, Breakfast, DessertCuisine American

    Servings 12

    Equipment8×8 inch square baking panparchment paper
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric 1 cup light brown sugar packed2 large eggs2 teaspoons vanilla extract1/2 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly4 large overripe bananas1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour1 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt3/4 cups chopped pecans optional
    Instructions Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat an 8×8 inch pan with flour-based baking spray, cooking spray, or line it with parchment paper.In a large mixing bowl, place the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and butter. Stir together with a whisk or wooden spoon until combined. Peel the bananas and place them in a separate mixing bowl. Mash well with a fork until fine. A few lumps of banana are okay. Add the bananas to the brown sugar mixture. Stir to combine.In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the wet banana mixture. Stir together until just combined. Add the pecans, if using, and fold them in using a rubber spatula.Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick tester inserted near the center comes out clean.Allow the bread to cool in the pan 10 minutes before turning it out, or serve slices of the bread warm directly from the pan.Serve squares of banana bread split and stuffed with pats of salted butter.Banana bread will keep well at room temperature for two days. Cover with plastic wrap or foil. Or, store it in the refrigerator for up to four days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
    NotesWhat to expect: This is so easy to make! I think it’s the best banana bread I’ve tried. The 8×8 pan really maximizes the tenderness of the bread, making it almost like a snack cake. It is moist and flavorful. The crust isn’t hard or crumbly, rather, it’s more soft like a cake’s crust. 
    Mix-ins: In place of the pecans, use your favorite nut. English walnuts are delicious. Or try an equal amount of semisweet chocolate chips.
    Another layer of flavor: In fall and winter months, I like to add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the dry ingredients. It adds and extra ounce of cozy. But most of the time I make this as written, without cinnamon.

    Keyword brown sugar, chopped pecans, fresh bananas

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    Chocolate Cherry Hot Cross Buns

    This recipe supports the claim that  does, in fact, make everything better. Add in tangy dried , apple juice, and a finishing touch of our just-tart-enough apricot glaze, and this  twist on the    gives a whole new meaning to the word “irresistible.” 1½ cups (192 grams) dried sour cherries ⅔ cup (160 grams) apple juice Hot Cross Buns Dough […] LEGGI TUTTO

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    Tagalong Cupcakes

    This recipe for Tagalong Cupcakes is inspired by the classic Girl Scout cookie. Chocolate cake is topped with creamy peanut butter frosting with a Tagalong cookie as an edible topper.

    It’s Girl Scout cookie time! Do you have a favorite? I’m a Tagalongs and Samoas girl, through-and-through.
    Last week when I was leaving my local home improvement store, I was suddenly surrounded by some uniformed, and very official-looking cookie sellers.
    “Do you want to buy some cookies?” Never one to pass up Girl Scout cookies, of course I did! When I said, “YES!” the girls did fist bumps and an end zone-style dance in the parking lot that kind of made my whole week. I smile just thinking about it.
    So, I left with two boxes each of Tagalongs and Samoas, with the idea that one of them would inspire another sweet treat. The new giant jar of peanut butter in my cupboard sealed the deal for Tagalongs-inspired cupcakes.

    Creaming the mixture
    Begin the cake portion by creaming the butter with brown sugar. Then adding the eggs one at a time. The batter is easy enough to manage using a hand mixer. (Although I wish I had used a deeper bowl – I had a few splatters!)

    Add dark unsweetened cocoa powder, and be sure to sift it first! It tends to clump. Pour in a splash of vanilla extract, also, then mix it all up.

    Alternate mixing the flour and sour cream into the butter mixture. Begin and end with the flour. Mix each in until just combined.

    Beat the batter until light and fluffy, then pour in the brewed coffee. Mix until well combined.

    These cakes won’t crown much either, so don’t get worried if they look flat on top. This is normal. The cakes are ultra soft and tender, so it’s important to let them cool completely before unwrapping them. Otherwise they’ll stick to the liners. However, they peel away from the liners perfectly when cool.
    You may recognize the cake part of this recipe. It’s from these Triple Chocolate Devil’s Food Cake Cupcakes I made back in 2017. They are equally delicious topped with peanut butter buttercream!

    Creamy peanut butter buttercream.
    Pipe the peanut butter frosting on top of each cake. Essentially you’ll need just three ingredients: creamy peanut butter, salted butter, and confectioners’ sugar. I recommend frosting these cake with just 2-3 tablespoons of frosting. This is rich stuff!

    Unbox the Tagalongs while resisting the urge to eat 1 or 6, and top each frosted cupcake with a cookie.

    Chocolate sprinkles are optional (or are they?). But I think they look even more delicious with them. Use real chocolate sprinkles such as DeRuijter brand and you won’t be sorry.

    Tagalong cookies make a perfectly delicious little hat for these cupcakes. This is a must-make for chocolate-peanut butter lovers!

    Talk about rich and decadent! These, without a doubt, will satisfy any chocolate-peanut butter craving. Be sure to check out the video I made if you have questions about the batter mixing technique. It’s easy and creates the most velvety textured chocolate cake.

    Tagalong Cupcakes (Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookie Cupcakes)

    Heather Baird

    This recipe for Tagalong Cupcakes is inspired by the classic Girl Scout cookie. Chocolate cake is topped with creamy peanut butter frosting with a Tagalong cookie as an edible topper.These cakes won’t crown much, so don’t worry if they look flat on top. This is normal. The cakes are ultra-soft and tender, so it’s important to let them cool completely before unwrapping them (otherwise they’ll stick to the liners). However, they peel away from the liners perfectly when cool.

    #wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-full svg * { fill: #5A822B; }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-33 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-33); }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-50 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-50); }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-66 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-66); }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-33 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-50 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-66 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }5 from 1 vote

    Prep Time 15 minsCook Time 22 mins1 hour cooling time 1 hrTotal Time 1 hr 37 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 24

    EquipmentCupcake pans (2)disposable pastry bagLarge 1” round open piping tip, optional
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Chocolate cupcakes1 cup unsalted butter softened1 1/2 cups light brown sugar packed2 eggs at room temperature6 tablespoons unsweet dark cocoa powder sifted1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda1 teaspoon vanilla extract1/4 teaspoon salt1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour2/3 cup sour cream room temperature3/4 cup hot coffeePeanut butter buttercream1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter at room temperature1 1/2 cups salted butter (or unsalted, see notes) at room temperature2 cups confectioners’ sugar24 Tagalongs Girl Scouts cookies1/3 cup chocolate sprinkles such as DeRuijeter real dark chocolate sprinkles
    Instructions Chocolate cupcakesPreheat oven to 350°F. Line two cupcake tins with paper liners.In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until creamy. Add the sugar; mix well. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix until lightened in color. Add the cocoa, baking soda, vanilla extract and salt; beat well to combine.Beat in the flour in 3 additions alternately with the sour cream, begin and end with flour.Add the hot coffee at the end and mix until a smooth batter forms. Using a trigger ice cream scoop, portion the batter into the prepared pans. Bake the cupcakes for 17-22 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out clean, or with a few damp crumbs clinging to it. These cupcakes do not bake with a crown; they should be flat on top. These cakes are very tender when warm, so let them cool in the pans 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.Peanut butter frostingIn the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the peanut butter and butter. Beat until creamy and well incorporated. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until thick and slightly lightened in color. If your frosting seems thick, you can add milk or cream 1 tablespoon at a time until it loosens. (I did not have to do this, but powdered sugar brands vary in cornstarch content, which can make a difference.)Transfer the frosting to a large disposable piping bag fitted with a 1” round piping tip (alternatively just snip 1” hole in the end of a pastry bag). Pipe about 2 tablespoons worth of frosting in a mound on top of each cupcake. Top each cake with a Tagalong cookie. Pour chocolate sprinkles into a shallow dish and gently roll the edges of the cupcake in the sprinkles. You could also just sprinkle them over the cakes, if you prefer.Enjoy one right away, then make people happy by sharing!
    NotesNo salted butter on hand? You can use unsalted in the frosting along with 1/4 teaspoon of fine grain salt.
    It’s important to make every effort to support the Girl Scouts, But if you don’t have a Girl Scouts cookie seller in your area, or if it’s off-season, you can find a close approximation of Tagalongs at Aldi stores. They are simply packaged as Benton’s “Peanut Butter Filled Cookies”.  

    Keyword chocolate sprinkles, devil’s food cake, peanut butter buttercream, Tagalongs cookies

    You may also enjoy: LEGGI TUTTO

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    Baking School In-Depth: Sourdough Boule

    There’s more than just wild yeast in sourdough—there’s wild spirit. Unsurprisingly, this particular loaf has been intrinsic to the American pioneer identity. California gold prospectors carried their starters in their backpacks, traveling from camp to camp with their magical “sponge,” as they called it, the base for biscuits, flapjacks, and, yes, bread. Distinguished by a […] LEGGI TUTTO

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    Lemon Lavender Layer Cake

    This Lemon Lavender Layer Cake is a sweet teatime treat. It’s easy to make, yet pretty enough to serve for a special occasion.

    Happy Spring! It seems that the season has finally settled in to stay for a while here in East Tennessee. Winter’s chill is gone and the venerable camellia bush tree in our yard is heavy with pink blooms. However, spring has always been unpredictable here. We may yet have a Dogwood Winter (snow in April!). But for now the warm weather and colors of spring have inspired my mood and appetite.

    Lemon Lavender Layer Cake is – yes – inspired by spring’s new blooms, but also by a set of thrifted china my mother gifted to me. I’m so grateful for her generosity, and happy to add new (old!) china to my collection. But I wasn’t sure about the colors. Pink and purple together is something my 10 year old self would have adored. And I’m pretty sure this china is from the big ’80s. Maybe I felt I’d outgrown those hues a little? Ultimately (as you can see) I decided to embrace them, and to create a cake to match the sweetness and color palette. Now, I just love those dishes! The pattern is retired, but has a few pieces if you’re looking to add to your granny-chic collection.

    A light touch of lavender.
    The lavender flavor in this cake is so lovely and mild. It’s quick-steeped in the wet ingredients, and some buds are added to the dry mixture. Combined with the lemony-citrus notes, the end result leans more toward Earl Grey tea flavor than anything. When using lavender, the last thing you want is for your baked goods to taste like granny’s soap. I think even those with some lavender ambivalence, may find this a delicious flavor combination.

    3 abundant layers.
    The batter bakes up in three 8-inch cake pans. I developed the batter to make three hearty rounds that don’t puff up much in the oven. No leveling means less cake waste (and I’m all for that!). If your cakes puff a little in their centers, lay a paper towel on top of them while they are still warm in the pans. Press the puffed center down gently before turning the cakes out to cool completely.

    Billowy, light, buttercream.
    Swiss meringue buttercream also lends lightness, as it is less sweet than American buttercream. If you’ve never made it before, it can seem intimidating. Just know, before you start, that during mixing the frosting goes through several ugly stages before it becomes beautiful, billowy buttercream. (See my how-to video in this post.)

    Lavender flavors and hues.
    Flavor the buttercream with a little lemon extract and a touch of lavender extract. This creates an extra layer of flavor that matches the cake’s interior. Fill and coat the cake with a crumb coat of the frosting. I almost liked this as a ‘naked cake’ (sidebar: here’s an article I wrote for Food Network on the subject). I love the cake layers peeking through, but ultimately decided for a more substantial coat.
    Tint the remaining frosting a rosy color. Because of the inherent pale yellow that lives in buttercream, mixing colors can be a challenge! So add a little gel color at a time as you go. I managed to create this color using red, purple, and fuchsia gel food colors. See the recipe notes to simplify mixing hues.

    I used gum paste flowers that were already made up, and leftover, from a wedding cake I made last year. I don’t have a tutorial for them today (maybe soon!) but you could simplify things by using organic rose petals as a garnish. Or, consider supporting a wonderful Etsy maker and purchase some ready-made.
    To one side, pipe leftover frosting mounds in a half-moon shape. Add some berries, flowers, petals – whatever inspires you! I added a sprinkle of culinary lavender buds on top.

    I’m already planning to make this cake a second time, perhaps for Mother’s Day. It fits so many occasions! It would even make an appropriate Easter cake. The flavors are spot-on to convey the lightness of spring.

    If you’re like me, and have the opinion that no tea party is complete with out madeleines, you can whip up a batch using this batter recipe. Omit the orange peel and add a little lemon extract, and 1/2 teaspoon of lavender buds to the batter. They are so lovely alongside this cake.

    Lemon Lavender Layer Cake

    Heather Baird

    This Lemon Lavender Layer Cake is a sweet teatime treat. It’s easy to make, yet pretty enough to serve for a special occasion.The flavors of this cake are light and delicious, not tart and overpowering. Using lavender in baking takes a judicious hand, so don’t be tempted to add more. The cake’s lavender and citrus flavors together bring to mind Earl Grey tea. It’s not soapy, it’s more floral and fruity.

    #wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-full svg * { fill: #5A822B; }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-33 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-33); }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-50 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-50); }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-66 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-66); }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-33 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-50 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-66 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }No ratings yet

    Prep Time 25 minsCook Time 40 minsTotal Time 1 hr 5 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 12

    EquipmentFine mesh sievemicroplane or citrus zester8 inch cake pans, 3disposable piping bag
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Lemon lavender cake layers1 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk1 tablespoon plus 1 1/4 teaspoons dried culinary lavender buds divided3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder1 teaspoon baking soda1 1/4 teaspoons fine grain sea salt1 1/4 cups unsalted butter at room temperature2 1/2 cups granulated sugar5 large eggs at room temperature1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juiceZest of 1 lemon fine, use a microplane1 teaspoon lemon extractSwiss meringue buttercream8 large egg whites about 1 cup or 8 oz.2 cups granulated sugar3 cups unsalted butter at room temperature1 teaspoon lemon extract1/2 teaspoon lavender extract1/4 teaspoon fine grain saltGel food colors in red purple, and fuchsia (see recipe notes)DecorsGum paste flowers optional, see blog post for sourcesOrganic purple rose petals washed and patted dry1 teaspoon lavender buds2/3 cup fresh whole raspberries
    Instructions Lemon lavender cake layersPreheat the oven to 350°F. Coat three 8-inch cake pans with flour-based baking spray.In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the milk for 1 minute on 100% power. Add in 1 tablespoon of the lavender buds and let steep about 10 minutes. Sieve the milk mixture over a large glass measuring cup with a pour spout (4 cup or larger) so that you have 1 cup of lavender milk. (The buds will soak up some of the milk.) Discard the lavender buds. Allow the milk to cool slightly before using.In a large mixing bowl, sift the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and fine grain sea salt. Stir in the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons dried culinary lavender buds.In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition. Scrape down the bowl and beat again until consistent.To the cooled lavender milk, add the lemon juice. Stir to combine. The mixture will curdle; this is normal and supposed to happen. Add the zest and lemon extract. Mix well.Add the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture alternately with the wet ingredients; begin and end with flour.Divide the batter between the prepared pans. This will be about 2 3/4 cup of batter per pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. The cakes shouldn’t crown (puff up) much, but if they do, lay a paper towel on top of the cakes in the pans and press gently while they are still warm. This will knock down the puff slightly and you won’t have to level the cakes with a serrated knife or cake leveler. Turn the cakes out to cool completely on a wire rack.Swiss meringue buttercreamPlace a saucepan filled 1/3 full of water over medium heat. Bring to a simmer.In a large stainless-steel bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over the simmering water and cook while whisking intermittently. Cook until the mixture is hot (110°F) and you can no longer feel sugar granules when the mixture is rubbed between your finger and thumb. Transfer the hot mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed for 10 minutes or until a thick, shiny meringue forms that holds stiff peaks. The bowl should feel cool to the touch. If it doesn’t, refrigerate the meringue in the bowl for 10 minutes. Return the bowl to the mixer and swap the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment.Beat the room temperature butter into the meringue one cube at a time on medium-low speed, waiting to add the next cube when the previous cube disappears. The batter will deflate with the butter addition, and may even look curdled (if the butter was the slightest bit cold this happens), but this is normal. When all of the butter is added, beat the mixture on high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the lemon and lavender extracts and salt.AssemblyPlace a cake layer on a cake plate or cake board. Top with 1 cup of the buttercream; spread evenly. Top with a second cake layer. Add another cup of buttercream and spread evenly. Top with the remaining cake layer. Cover the entire cake with a crumb coat of frosting, and chill until firm, about 15 to 20 minutes.Meanwhile, tint the remaining frosting with the food colors, adding a little of each at a time until a purplish rosy-mauve color is achieved. Spread a thick layer of buttercream over the chilled cake and smooth the top and edges using a cake smoother or bench scraper.Place the remaining buttercream in a disposable piping bag and pipe mounds of frosting over one side of the cake in a half moon shape. Pipe mounds on top of mounds in the center of the half moon to give that area some height. Add gum paste flowers, if using, rose petals, raspberries and sprinkle on lavender buds.
    NotesFreshly squeezed: The juice from 2 1/2 large lemons should give you about 1/2 cup of juice. So, add 3 lemons to your shopping list for this cake.
    Buttercream: You may have a little buttercream left over. It is my preference to always have more than needed in case accidents happen, or if inspiration strikes and I decide to pipe big swirls of frosting on top of the cake. If you’re more conservative with your ingredients, you could reduce the buttercream recipe by 1/4. Or, if you make the madeleines pictured, you could split them and sandwich with the leftover buttercream.
    Mixing hues: To simplify getting the right color for the cake’s exterior, there are many ready-made rosy-lavender colors that will give you the result without having to be a buttercream mixologist. Shop the colors at your local craft store in the baking aisle. Ready-made mauve by Wilton is close to the finished color of this cake. Or you could simply use lavender or violet gel food color and opt for a more purple icing to match the lavender flavor. 
    For convenience: The gum paste flowers I used were already made up from a wedding cake I made last year. They were a last minute addition to this cake, so I don’t have a tutorial for them. If you’re not experienced with gum paste, don’t have the time or the equipment to make them, consider purchasing some flowers ready-made. I’ve linked an Etsy seller in the blog post, or you can search ‘gum paste flowers’ on Etsy and find a wide variety of beautiful gum paste flowers. 

    Keyword dried culinary lavender, lemon zest, swiss meringue buttercream

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    Chocolate Babka

    We take on the traditional Chocolate Babka, brushed with Simple Syrup for sweet shine. When your nostalgic heart calls for , this is the recipe to turn to. 2½ cups (313 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (16 grams) all-purpose flour, divided 3 tablespoons (36 grams) granulated sugar 1½ teaspoons (4.5 grams) instant yeast 1¼ teaspoons (3.75 […] LEGGI TUTTO

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    Giant Strawberry Pop Tart

    What’s better than a Pop Tart? A Giant Strawberry Pop Tart made completely from scratch! Two all-butter crusts hold homemade strawberry jam inside.

    As a Pop Tart eater and enthusiast, I have to say this was a fun little baking project. I think most people are familiar with Pop Tarts, but for the uninitiated, here’s the gist. Pop Tarts are rectangular pastries with biscuit-like crust, sweet filling, and a thin coat of icing on top. Kellogg’s released them all the way back in 1963 and changed the pace of breakfast from leisurely, to grab-and-go.
    This scratch-made version is super-sized! It’s made of an all-butter pie crust, homemade strawberry jam, and sweet confectioners’ glaze. Add some sprinkles and you’ve got a homemade version of an American classic!

    First, make the all-butter pie crusts. I usually make my pie crusts in a food processor because it’s super quick and easy. All of the ingredients for a double crust will easily fit in a medium-sized food processor bowl.
    Roll out each crust with a rolling pin and trim to 13×9 inches. If you have a 13×9-inch sheet pan you can lay it on top of a crust and use it as a cutting guide. I used a 13×9 inch pre-cut parchment sheet. I keep these on hand because I use this size sheet pan constantly. And having those parchment sheets ready to hand is a real time-saver. Layer the crusts between parchment and place on a baking sheet. Transfer them to the refrigerator to chill while you work on the homemade strawberry jam.

    Simple is best.
    This strawberry jam recipe is little more than quartered strawberries, sugar, a touch of corn starch to thicken, and a squeeze of lemon. Cook all this down to a jam-like consistency, which may take up to 10-15 minutes, depending on how juicy your berries are.

    Look for a thickened, syrupy consistency with some larger pieces of berries that have cooked down and lost their shape. When you see this, you’ll know the jam is properly cooked.

    Transfer the jam to a shallow dish to speed cooling. The jam will be screaming hot just off the stove top, so let it cool about 10 minutes in the saucepan. Then transfer it to the dish, spread evenly and refrigerate until completely cooled. When the jam is cooled, you should be thick enough to hold in a spoon.

    Spread the jam all over one of the chilled pie crusts to about 1.5″ inches from the crust’s edge.

    Seal it up!
    Apply egg wash to the 1.5 inch border and top with a second crust. This is like adhesive to keep your Pop Tart together as it bakes. Now, you can crimp the edges with a fork to seal in all that lovely jammy goodness.

    Here is another important step. Dock the top crust with a fork, all over. This helps steam escape during baking. The tart will puff up in the center while baking, and if there’s no outlet for the steam to escape, then it will burst open.

    Finishing touches.
    The crust will form little fault lines during baking – this is normal. The pop tart puffs up like a pillow, and naturally stretches a little. When you take it out of the oven, it will deflate to a more flattened, pop tart shape.
    A simple confectioners’ glaze adds that extra bit of sweetness, and the finishing touch – the most important garnish of all…

    Sprinkles! This Giant Strawberry Pop Tart definitely puts child-like happiness in my heart and a big smile on my face. And boy, is it ever tasty! It didn’t even last a day. The slices are like hand pies. Because they are easy to pick up, you can easily snag a slice on a paper towel and eat it on the go.

    Even though I will always hold a deep love for store-bought, ready-made Pop Tarts, I must say this is an improvement. I would describe the original Pop Tart crust as – a little tough. (But of course it is! It has to hold up to worldwide shipping and handling!)
    This homemade is sturdy enough to hold in your hand, yet tender and so buttery. The homemade strawberry jam tastes of summer to me. The glaze is creamy and soft, not at all like the original’s hard royal icing coating. One Giant Strawberry Pop Tart will feed a crowd, or you can simply have breakfast made ahead for the week.

    Giant Strawberry Pop Tart

    Heather Baird

    What’s better than a Pop Tart? A Giant Strawberry Pop Tart made completely from scratch! Two all-butter crusts hold homemade strawberry jam inside. It’s a slab pie that you can share with a crowd!The pie crusts are rolled out and trimmed to 13×9 inches. If you have a 13×9 baking pan, you can use it as a template. Lay it on top of the pie crusts and trim around it.

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    Prep Time 25 minsCook Time 40 mins1 hour cooling time 1 hrTotal Time 2 hrs 5 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 12

    EquipmentPastry brushparchment paper
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Pie crusts2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt1 cup unsalted butter cold6-8 tablespoons ice cold waterStrawberry filling2 cups quartered fresh strawberries or frozen berries, thawed1/2 cup granulated sugar1 teaspoon lemon juice squeezed from fresh lemon quarter2 teaspoons cornstarch1 tablespoon cold water1/2 teaspoon vanilla extractPinch of fine grain sea saltEgg wash1 large egg1 tablespoon waterGlaze and garnish1 cup confectioners’ sugar1 tablespoon milk plus more to thin if needed1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract3 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
    Instructions Pie crustsIn the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt. Cut the butter into tablespoon pieces and add half on top of the flour mixture. Pulse 5-6 times and add the remaining butter. Pulse in short bursts until pea-sized pieces are scattered throughout the flour. Add ice cold water 1 tablespoon at a time through the feed tube while processing in short bursts. Keep pulsing until a shaggy ball is formed to one side of the bowl.Turn out the dough and shape into a ball. Cut in half. Roll each piece of dough on a piece of floured parchment paper to about 14×10 inches. Trim each piece to 13×9 inches using a large chef’s knife. Stack the dough between parchment paper and transfer on a baking sheet to the refrigerator. Chill while you make the strawberry filling.Strawberry fillingPlace the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium high heat until the berries give off their juices and start to lose their shape. Keep stirring until some of the liquid is cooked off and the mixture is slightly syrupy, about 10 minutes (the time depends on how juicy your berries are). The berries should be almost translucent.In a small cup, stir the cornstarch into the water. Immediately add the mixture to the berries while whisking constantly. Cook an addition 1-2 minutes, or until mixture further thickness. Stir in the salt. Remove from the stove top and let cool 10 minutes. Pour into a shallow dish and transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely, about 30 minutes.Egg washBeat the egg and the water together in a small bowl.AssemblyPreheat the oven to 375F.Remove the pie crusts from the refrigerator. Place one on a large parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the crust with the cooled strawberry jam within 1 1/2 inches of the edge. Brush the edge of the pastry with the egg wash. Top with the second pie crust, lining up the edges evenly.Use a fork to crimp the edges of the pastry. Use the fork tines to poke holes all over the top crust. Lightly brush the entire surface of the pastry with the egg wash.Bake the pastry for 20 minutes. The pop tart will puff up like a pillow as it bakes. Remove the pastry from the oven and allow it to deflate. Preheat the broiler. Place the pop tart under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until the surface is golden brown. The pastry may puff up a little while under the broiler.Allow the pastry to cool on the pan 5 minutes, then slide it onto a wire rack to cool completely. If you’re serving the pop tart on the pan you can let it cool completely on the pan.Glaze and garnishWhisk together the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Add additional milk, if needed thin the mixture. It should be thick and opaque yet still pourable. Pour the mixture on top of the cooled pop tart. Top with rainbow sprinkles. Allow the glaze to crust, about 5 minutes.To serve, cut into 12 squares (more or less to suit your appetite!).
    NotesIf you’re short on time you can substitute your favorite ready-made strawberry jam. I like Bonne Maman strawberry preserves.

    Keyword all butter pie crust, confectioners’ glaze, rainbow sprinkles, strawberry filling

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