Yes, I did it.
Yes, I did it.
I haven’t made yeasty cinnamon buns since I left cooking school. I never thought of yeast as my thing, and have avoided working with it. To be honest, I was a little afraid of its temperamental nature. But earlier this month I had the chance to interview the delightful stylist, cooking and craft maven Paul Lowe, aka, Sweet Paul, for Publisher’s Weekly.
Sweet Paul’s new cook- and craft-book debuts April 1. Its pages are filled with stunning photographs, recipes and crafts. The key to his recipes and crafts are innovation and simplicity, simplicity, simplicity. Reading through it is a happy respite from daily life, not to mention a relief from the usual books of this sort that have projects that require hours, if not days, to complete.
I got off the phone with Sweet Paul so inspired by him that I hurried to the kitchen, clutching my iPad with a pdf version of the cookbook his kindly publicist had sent me. Thanks to a bread maker I’m testing for my column in Newsweek (a new machine from Zojirushi, with gluten-free settings), I actually had yeast in the house. A recipe for skillingsboller looked so tempting, and Paul made it sound so easy, I had to make it. For those of you whose Norwegian isn’t what it used to be, skillingsboller are cinnamon buns.
Sweet Paul’s skillingsboller are a notch above, flavor-wise, thanks to the addition of grated marzipan to the cinnamon-sugar filling. Because I’m me, I added mini chocolate chips. My house smelled like the Ikea café for hours after I baked them, which is a very good thing as far as I’m concerned. So, while my children slept quietly in their beds, not knowing what they were missing, their selfish mother consumed warm cinnamon buns without waking them. On airplanes they say in case of emergency, put your oxygen mask on before you help your children. I feel the same way about cinnamon buns.
The recipe is effortless. It only requires patience while the dough quietly rises twice. The result is a not-to-sweet, sticky-on-the-bottom, soft-and-gooey at the very center bun.
The recipe is from Paul’s Auntie Gunnvor, who says she won her boyfriend’s heart and stomach with these rolls. One taste of them and he knew he needed to marry her. He was a smart man.
Excerpted from SWEET PAUL EAT & MAKE, © 2014 by Paul Lowe Einlyng. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
2 3⁄4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and rolling the dough
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup whole milk, warmed
5 tablespoons cold butter, grated
Vegetable oil for bowl
6 tablespoons (3⁄4 stick) butter, softened
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1½ cups (10 ounces) grated marzipan
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 large egg, beaten with
1 tablespoon water
1. To make the buns: In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or in a large bowl with a wooden spoon,
combine the flour, sugar, salt, egg, yeast, and milk and mix well until the dough comes together.
2. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes in the mixer or turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface
and knead for 15 minutes by hand. If it feels too sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
3. If necessary, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Add the grated butter, little by little,
kneading it into the dough until it is all incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic.
4. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and place in a warm spot. Let rise until
doubled, about 1 hour.
5. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out with a rolling pin into a 12-x-16-inch rectangle.
6. To make the filling: Spread the dough with the butter. Sprinkle the sugar, cinnamon, marzipan, and
almonds evenly over the butter.
7. Roll the dough up along the long side into a log and cut it into 12 equal pieces.
8. Place the pieces on a baking sheet about 1⁄2 inch apart, cover with parchment paper, and let rise in a
warm spot for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
9. About 20 minutes before you plan to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle
10. Brush the rolls with the egg wash and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
11. Cool on a wire rack and serve.
Although Julia Child said to never apologize…I must apologize for these photos taken in the weird, murky light of my kitchen at night. For beautiful, natural light photographs, there is no one better than Sweet Paul, which makes these all the more disappointing
This is the cover. See all the pretty photos?
In this week’s Newsweek is my review of the Waring Indoor Turkey Deep Fryer. I was only terrified of the thing for about 30 percent of the time I used it, which considering it’s a turkey deep fryer, is pretty good. I also learned what 50 Shades of Grey has to do with turkeys, and turned out a pretty delicious bird. You can find the review here.
Let me know if you have tried one yourself or have any deep-frying questions. And be sure to check back, because with this thing in my house, Nutella donuts cannot be far away.
Rainbow cupcakes make you feel like a unicorn is dancing in your head. In a good way. So when daughter wanted something surprising to bring in for her school birthday celebration, rainbow cupcakes with cream cheese frosting were her second suggestion. (Her first suggestion was a live goldfish for each kid.) Her hope was kids would see the plain white icing, yawn at the normalcy, then peel off the wrapper and say “Zowie!”
Rainbow cakes never cease to please. People are happy just to look at them, let alone eat them. The possibilities for color combinations are endless. You don’t even have to go rainbow: bake them in sports team colors or holiday colors instead. (Red and green anyone?) Son suggested we make a camouflage cake for his birthday. While not beautiful, murky greens and browns are easy to make with food coloring, as anyone whose ever tried to blend food colors together can attest. Whatever colors you choose, making a rainbow cake can be quite enjoyable, once you get over the sheer number of dishes involved.
You can use this recipe to make a half-sheet cake, or layers for a cake, but I think my daughter was right when she said that the cupcakes were, and I quote: “Waaaaaaaaaay cuter.” So they are. The cake recipe is my go-to-super-easy-all-in-one-bowl-you-will-never-use-a-cake-mix-again vanilla cake recipe. It is delicious on its own. It is also delicious and darn it, waaaaaaaaaaay cuter with loads of food coloring. By loads of food coloring, I mean you do need to be liberal in your squeezings of food coloring. You can buy yourself intense dyes in a wide-range of colors from Wilton, but good old gel food coloring tubes from the grocery store will also add intense color and blend easily. I am partial to the neon food colors I can get at my A&P.
Makes 36 cupcakes or one half-sheet pan and 12 cupcakes. Or halve the recipe if you’re not feeding a crowd.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
1. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl. If making your own self-rising flour, don’t forget to add the additional baking powder that my cake recipe calls for.
2. Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in the eggs gradually. Blend in the vanilla extract and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Add half the flour mixture, mix until just blended; repeat with the rest of the flour. Add the milk, scrape down the sides and give the batter 20 more seconds of blending.
4. Divide the batter evenly into as many bowls as you have food coloring for. Stir in the food coloring you wish and blend well. You don’t want to end up with odd streaks of food coloring in your cake. It may look interesting, but it will taste terrible.
5. Place a cupcake wrapper in each hole of your cupcake pan. Drop teaspoonfuls of colored batter into each cup, layering them as you go. Keep dropping blobs of color into each pan until you’ve reached three-quarters of the way up each cup. Drop the pan once, from a height of about 4 inches to level the cakes.
6. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the center of each cupcake springs back when pressed.
7. Let cool. Ice with vanilla cream-cheese frosting, or your favorite icing.
1. Cut the butter into chunks and put in the mixing bowl of a stand-mixer. Of course you can use a hand mixer if that’s all you have. If you only have a large wooden spoon, that I hope you have strong arms for your sake!
2. Beat the butter for 3 to 4 minutes on medium speed, until it becomes softened and no chunks remain. You want it to look smooth.
3. Cut the cream cheese into chunks. With the mixer on medium speed, add the chunks one at a time, until perfectly blended. Scrape down the sides on occasion.
4. Add the vanilla and some of the confectioners’ sugar and mix on low speed. Continue to add the sugar, turning the machine on and off each time. If you leave the mixer running when you add the sugar, you will get clouds of sugar billowing up your nose. When all the sugar has been added, turn the mixer to medium and beat for 3-4 more minutes until the frosting is soft and fluffy.
5. If you want to make this ahead of time, leave it in a cool place, but NOT the refrigerator, or you will not enjoy spreading the icing on the cupcakes.
*To convert 16 ounces of flour into self-raising flour, mix 3 1/4 cups of all-purpose flouru with 1 Tablespoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt.
I’ve been haunted by the philosophical story my father always told about Buridan’s ass: A thirsty and hungry jackass is put between a bale of hay and a bucket of water. Unable to choose which one to have first, he starves to death. Which, simply put, inspired me to create the Browndie.
I didn’t want to be forced to choose which dessert I wanted more, a chocolatey brownie, or a chewy butterscotch-studded blondie. No no! After my success marrying brownies and banana bread, I thought I’d give a brownie-blondie wedding a try. What a happy couple!
If you can manage it, try to make both batters at the same time. I prep all the ingredients in advance and give each group of ingredients their own special part of the counter. You could also enlist the help of a loved one to make the other recipe. Both of these batters are made by hand, so as the Castro convertible ads used to say: ‘It’s so easy, even a child can do it!”
I baked half of the browndies in a mini-muffin pan, and the other half in an 8 x 8-inch pan. You can do it however you wish. The ones baked in the muffin pan had crunchier tops and make a nice alternative to cupcakes for a kid’s birthday party; the ones in the square pans were fudgier and easy to prepare. If the thought of fussing with individual muffin cups makes you insane (it sort of did me), then just use a 10 x 13-inch pan and make the whole thing at once.
I used only whole wheat flour in the blondies, plus two tablespoons of ground flax seed. Not only does it keep the blondies from being too cloyingly sweet, it also makes me feel less guilty about feeding them to my kids. If you can find whole wheat pastry flour use that. Arrowhead Mills—which I find at Whole Foods—is more finely ground than regular flour, so finicky kids (Shout out to my daughter!) won’t have any textural issues with the flour.
After a few of these in my tum, I’m beginning to think my indecisive nature has its merits. Enjoy.
1. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
2. Grease the pan/s you’ll bake the browndies in (see note above).
3. Melt the butter in a large, heat-proof bowl over simmering water.
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
5. When the butter is melted, remove from heat and stir in the brown sugar. You will need to beat the butter and sugar together with some real gusto in order to properly blend the two. For a minute or so the butter and sugar will not come together and you will think I have lied to you. Be patient but strong and keeping stirring. Soon all the butter will be absorbed and the mixture will look like slightly gritty caramel.
6. Add the eggs in, one at a time, beating until each one is absorbed. Stir in the vanilla.
7. Add the flour mixture in and stir until just blended. Add in the butterscotch chips and chocolate chips (if using–and why wouldn’t you?).
1. Melt the butter and unsweetened in a large, heatproof bowl over simmering water.
2. Remove the bowl from the heat, and stir in the sugar until thoroughly blended.
3. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating until each one is absorbed. Stir in the vanilla.
4. Add the flour mixture in three additions. When blended, add in the chocolate chips.
If you are make them in mini-muffin tins, use about a teaspoon of each batter. I put the chocolate brownie batter on the bottom and then topped it with the blondie batter. The muffin cup will be about three-quarters full. Bake for 15-20 minutes until light brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, or with moist crumbs.
If you are planning to bake them in a pan, layer the chocolate brownie on the bottom, then smooth the blondie batter over the top. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, or with moist crumbs.
Coming soon to a blog near you: The Browndie. Yes, folks, after two many days away from my beloved blog, I promise to return this week with a marriage made in dessert heaven. The union of which I speak? That of a chewy, butterscotch-y blondie and deep, dark, chocolatey brownie. Who’s with me? Check back soon!