Monday, May 30, 2016

Jan Hagels (Dutch spice cookies)

My mother loved these cookies, but she never made them!  The ones she had were "store-bought" and shaped like a windmill.  I think they're still available, but I'm ever more conscious of baking without preservatives and came up with a recipe that I know she'd love just as much.

Jan Hagels have a long history for the Dutch and most will tell you their "Oma" (grandma) baked them at Christmas.  The name Jan Hagel isn't actually a person the cookie was named after, but rather the word, janhagel which translates to unruly mob, swarm, or "ragtag."  In the 17th century, janhagel was a name give to sailors, riffraft,  common people, and people on the fringes of society and these cookies appealed to them!  Even though they were baked at Christmas, particularly, the feast of St. Nicholas, these cookies are enjoyed throughout the year.

Jan Hagels (Dutch spice cookie)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon (I chose to use Speculaas spices)

2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Sliced almonds
Sparkling sugar
Egg wash (1 large egg beaten with 1 tsp. water)

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together.  Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and add the egg. Beat until combined.  Add the dry ingredients, all at once and mix on low speed, just until combined.
The dough will be soft.  Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic film and wrap.  Chill 1 to 2 hours to set the butter.
After the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350F-degrees.  Roll the dough between parchment paper, making sure you keep the sides "squared" up.  I used my bench scrapper to do this.
I brushed the top of the dough with the egg wash, then sprinkled the sliced almonds all over and finally, the sparkling sugar.  

Recipes I have seen said to bake this dough for 15 minutes and I did, but in retrospect, I would suggest chilling the rolled dough once more on the cookie sheet.  Then, remove the dough on the parchment to a cutting board and cut into rectangles.  Bake the cookies on another pan that has parchment on it for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.  When I baked the large rectangle of dough for 15 minutes, the sides were done, but the middle was still too light.  Changing to the second method of baking worked much better!

These cookie are flaky and so flavorful...not to mention, my kitchen smelled heavenly.  That brings me back to another story of Jan Hagels--it was said that everyone entering the gates of heaven were given these cookies, especially children and orphans.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Peachy Keen Cookies with Streusel Topping

I love turning one dessert into another; this is an example of one of my favorites--Peach Pie and now it's a cookie!  I think this would be perfect for all the picnics coming up this summer.

I had Peach Jam that I preserved from last year from South Carolina peaches and it's soooo good, but I can imagine this with Strawberry, Raspberry or Blueberry.

Peachy Keen Cookies
3/4 cup (12 T) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 cup Almond Flour
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup Peach jam (preferably homemade:-D)

Streusel Topping
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 T King Arthur all-purpose flour
2 T unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt

Mix the sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon together.  Use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter to form the streusel.

Egg wash: 1 large egg + 1T water

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the egg and beat to combine.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add the extracts and beat to combine.  Add the flours and salt and mix just until the dough comes together.

I use a plastic pie crust bag and put the dough in there.  I rolled it to 1/4-inch thick.
If you don't have this, form the dough into a disc and chill at least 1 hour.  Then, you will have to roll out the dough on a lightly flour board.

Preheat oven 375F-degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment.  Use a 3-inch round cutter and cut out the cookies.  Place the cookie rounds on the parchment-lined sheet, leaving about 2 inches in between.
Place about 1 tablespoon jam in the center of the cookie round.
With the scrape dough, roll out and use a crimping wheel to cut strips.  Create a "lattice" across the rounds.
Brush the top with the egg wash and sprinkle with the streusel topping.

Bake in the preheated for 13 minutes...until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.  As a final touch, dust with confectioners' sugar.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Caramel Apple Pie Bars

We've had three straight days of rain and clouds and I would love to be outside picking strawberries for pies and jam, but instead, I'm stuck inside to work:-(

I baked this morning before heading downstairs to the studio and came up with these bars that may remind you more of Fall rather than Spring, but I only had apples or oranges on hand.  Anything apple and spice at our house is always welcomed.  The moistness the cooked apples provide make these "hand-held" pies worth baking for snacks, lunch, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Caramel Apple Pie Bars
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup butter-flavored shortening
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. Apple Pie Spice
2 cups + 2T  King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups peeled, cored, and chopped Granny Smith Apples

Caramel Glaze:
6 T unsalted butter, melted
4 T milk
3-3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 T caramel sauce
1 T Light Karo Syrup

Preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  Lightly grease a "jelly roll pan" and set aside.

Peel, core and chop the apples.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter and shortening together.  Add the sugar and beat on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated.  Scrape down sides once more.  Add the vanilla extract and Apple Pie Spice and mix again on medium speed.

Measure the flour, baking soda and salt and add to the mixture alternating with the buttermilk.  Make sure the dry ingredients are incorporated, but don't over mix.  Stir in the chopped apples and spread mixture onto the prepared pan.

Bake 20 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes while you make the glaze.
Melt the butter for the glaze in a medium sauce pan.  Remove from the heat and stir in the milk and vanilla.  Add the confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time until you get a thick glaze.  Add the caramel sauce and stir to combine.  Pour over the apple bars, then, spread with an off-set spatula.

The recipe makes 24 bars and I can honestly say on a rainy day and a cup a tea, these are perfect. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Comfort of Bread--Cinnamon Swirl Bread

James Beard wrote..."Good Bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, is the greatest of feasts."  I concur!

Yesterday marked the sixth anniversary of our daughter, Kelly's passing; a day that is etched into my heart.  Today, feeling rather drained, I decided to go into the kitchen and bake (yesterday I worked in the garden thinking of all the times I worked with Kelly in hers.)  Baking, for me, relieves stress because I am transformed back into my mother's kitchen helping her.  I needed to bake.  Going through some recipes, I came up with a Cinnamon Swirl Bread that sounded wonderful and it brought back the memory of peanut butter sandwiches on that bread that were special treats my mother would make for us.

This bread, a recipe by King Arthur Flour, has an unique streusel topping that I was intrigued to try.  Most of the Cinnamon Breads I've made have had raisins in them, however, I used the smaller currant. You could easily substitute dried cranberries and make it more festive if you don't like either raisins or currants.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/4 cup potato flour
1/4 cup Baker's Special Dry Milk
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 T granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
4 T unsalted butter, at room temperature (+additional butter for the bowl and loaf pan)
1 cup lukewarm water

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup raisins or currants
2 tsp. King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 large egg beaten with 1 T water

Streusel Topping
2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 T sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour

I "proofed" the yeast in 1/2 cup of lukewarm water, adding about 1/4 tsp. granulated sugar.  I like to make sure my yeast is active and becomes foamy.  In a stand mixer, using the dough hook, add the remaining ingredients (except the remaining 1/2 cup of water).  Mix a few minutes to combine the ingredients.  Add the foamy yeast and start the mixer on Setting2.  Slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup of lukewarm water; the dough should come together in a ball.  If you need to add more water, do 1 tablespoon at a time.

Turn the dough out onto a bread board,
Knead 5 to 7 minutes until you have a smooth dough--"like a baby's bottom" my mother would say!
Place the smooth ball into a bowl that has been brushed with melted butter.  Place dough, right side down in the bowl, then turn it over.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Make the filling and streusel while the dough is rising.
When the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto the bread board once more and roll to a 16" x 8" rectangle.
Brush the rolled dough with the beaten egg wash, then sprinkle the filling over the center.

Starting from the short edge, roll the dough into a log.  I could have gotten more "swirling" if I had rolled tighter!  Pinch the seam and ends closed and place into a buttered 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan.
Brush a piece plastic wrap with some melted butter and place over the dough for the second rising--about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
During the last 15 minutes of rising, preheat your oven to 350F-degrees.  Remove the plastic wrap and brush the top of the loaf with the same beaten egg.  I placed the loaf pan on a parchment-lined baking sheet to catch any spills of streusel!
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, tenting the loaf lightly with aluminum foil for the last 15 minutes if it appears to be browning too quickly.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes.  Gently remove the loaf from the pan as to not knock off the streusel topping.
Now, here's the hard part--LET IT COOL COMPLETELY BEFORE SLICING INTO THE LOAF!  I know it's going to be hard to resist--your kitchen smells wonderful and the thought of fresh butter on a hot slice is enticing, but don't do it:-D

I will say it made a lovely peanut butter sandwich to go along with my yogurt for dinner.  I had dental surgery this past week and I'm still taking it easy.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Lemon~Pecan Thumbprint Cookies & May's Give-Away Apron

Next to chocolate, lemon was my mother's favorite flavor.  She made the best, by far, Lemon Meringue Pie and Lemon Cheesecake.  Every year, when Mother's Day rolls around, I can't help but miss my mother the most and I envy all of you who still have their moms in their lives. However, creating these cookies in her honor and knowing she would love them, brings me peace and joy that, even for a short time (she passed away at age 67), I was blessed to have such a remarkable woman to guide me.

Thumbprint cookies are one of my favorites to bake because you get that surprise "middle" that enhances it.  I've used King Arthur Flour "Lemon Wafers" for the center, however these could have been replaced with a jam--Raspberry would go lovely because I've used lemon zest in the actual cookie too.

Rolling the cookies in finely chopped pecans is also a tribute to Mom--she loved Butter Pecan and here in the South, pecans are usually the nut of choice.  Again, there's room for substitution with walnuts, macadamia, or maybe pistachio.

Lemon~Pecan Thumbprint Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Zest and juice of 1 medium lemon
2 3/4 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1 - 1/2 cups finely chopped pecan
36 Lemon wafers or jam

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter, then gradually add the granulated sugar.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and add the brown sugar.  Mix again to combine and scraping down the sides of the bow.

Add the egg and vanilla and beat on medium speed.  Add the zest and juice of one lemon and mix again.  The mixture may look a bit curdled, but not to worry.

Add the dry ingredients and mix on medium just to combine...don't over mix.  Measure out "walnut size" balls of dough and roll in the chopped pecans.
Place balls on the prepared baking sheets and lightly press a "thumbprint" in the middle.
Repeat to fill the pan with 12 cookies.
Bake in preheat oven for 12 minutes or until golden brown.  If you're using the Lemon Wafers, immediately place one wafer in the center of cookie after the baking time.  If you're using jam, fill the center of each cookie with about 1/2 tsp. jam before baking.
Cool slightly on the pan (about 5 minutes) then transfer cookies to a rack to cool completely.  Once the cookies have cooled, the centers should be firm enough to pack in a cookie jar, or send along to my favorite sister who is still recuperating from surgery at home:-D  Recipe makes 3 dozen cookies.

The apron this month is also in memory of my mom who loved the color pink.  I helped her wallpaper (one wall) and paint her master bedroom pink and you know Dad didn't even mind sleeping in a pink bedroom because it made her happy!  The fabric is filled with beautiful Cosmos and if you would like to be wearing this lovely apron, just comment on any of the posts this month and I could be sending it out to you in June.  Good Luck~

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Apple Cider Melt-Aways & April's Apron Winner

I prepared a "Care" package for my sister last week for her homecoming from the hospital and one of the treats were these shortbread cookies.  Shortbread is always a good traveler even though I can send a package via FedEx in one day to her.  These were simple to make and with my hectic schedule last week, they did the trick.

I wanted to get them posted before I left to teach at the Great Yosemite Stamp Get Away hosted each year by The Cats Meow, but time ran out:-)  It's held at Bass Lake with a beautiful serene setting, but my friend and fellow-teacher, Els van de Burgt and I arrived early so we could go to Yosemite, just about 30 minutes from where we were staying.  Yosemite is the first National Park and if you've ever been there, one of the most amazing.  However, the last four years, a draught took it's toll until this past winter when, thanks to El Nino, the rains and snow came.  The scenes were breathtaking and I wanted to share them...

El Capitan in the distance
Half Dome in Glacier Point


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and browned
1 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
2-3 T sparkling water

1 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 T Karo light syrup
1 T Boiled Cider
2 T hot water

Brown the butter first.  In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, then bring it to a boil.  Once it starts boiling, swirl the pan until it passes the "foamy" stage and becomes a deep amber color.  Remove from the heat and transfer the browned butter to a bowl.  Refrigerate at least one hour until the butter becomes solid again.

Remove the butter from the refrigerator and allow it to come back to room temperature.   In a medium bowl, which together all of the dry ingredients.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the browned butter until smooth.   Turn the mixer on low and add the dry ingredients.  Add the Boiled Cider and Sparkling water and mix just until the dough comes together.  Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a log, about 1 1/2-inches wide by 10 inches long.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Remove one log at a time and use a serrated knife to slice dough into 1/4-inch thick rounds.
Bake cookies for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly golden.

Allow the cookies to cool, then make the glaze.  Spread the glaze on the top of each cookie.  Allow the glaze to set completely before packing them up to send or put into the cookie jar.  Enjoy!

Now, I'd like to announce the winner of April's Give-Away Apron is Barbara Woods!  Please contact me and I will happily send this to you right away!  I hope to have May's beautiful apron up tomorrow with a new recipe:-D