Copycat Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf

A few years ago I used to work around the corner from a Starbucks. Yes, seriously right around the corner. It was a dangerous thing- and yes, I became a little addicted to gingerbread loaf. Okay, a lot addicted. That was in the past and I’ve moved on. Sort of. Okay-I’m still craving that darn bread, but I decided to make my own and it’s pretty smack close. Matter of fact, I don’t think they sell it anymore-but don’t quote me. The bread- I’m satisfied with it. Really satisfied-so much so that I now need to get it out of my house and give some away to friends. Tis the season to get your gingerbread on.

starbucks copycat gingerbread loaf

gingerbread loaf

Copycat Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf

1/2 Cup melted unsalted butter

1/4 Cup vegetable oil

1/2 Cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 Cup sugar

1 large egg

finely grated zest of one tangerine “cutie” (or 1 tsp. orange zest)

1 Cup vanilla Greek yogurt

1 tsp. baking soda

1  1/2 Cup all purpose flour

2 tsp. cinnamon

2  1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/4  tsp. ground mace

Cream Cheese Icing: recipe below

Candied orange peel

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare a 9×5 inch loaf pan by spraying with baking spray and lining with a parchment paper to cover bottom and long sides of loaf pan with at least a 2 inch overhang. Spray lightly one more time all sides and bottom of loaf pan.

2. In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment combine the melted butter, oil, and sugars. Add in the egg and mix for one minute at medium speed. Combine the yogurt and baking soda well in a small bowl. In a separate bowl whisk the flour and next 5 ingredients. Add the yogurt mixture to the mixer bowl and beat well for about 2 minutes; making sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined. Spread the batter into prepared loaf pan and bake at 350° F for about 45-50 minutes until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Allow gingerbread to cool in pan over a wire rack. Frost with cream cheese icing and sprinkle with finely diced candied orange peel.

Cream Cheese Icing:

4 oz. cream cheese, room temp

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temp

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 Cups confectioners sugar

Combine the first three ingredients until smooth. Slowly add in the confectioners sugar and beat until smooth.


Apple Turnovers

I know you want something easy. Nothing too fussy. Nothing too hard to pull together on a weekend. Sure, I get it. A good low maintenance recipe. A good reason , err- excuse to eat pie (sort of) for breakfast. I gotcha. More grown up than a pop tart. Something to throw into the hand of a 13 year old zooming out the door who doesn’t eat breakfast but complains he’s hungry. A grumpy husband perhaps who “doesn’t do breakfast”. Uh huh- you know the type. Enter stage left…duh duh duh the turnover. Your answer to something you can hold in your hand and shove (yep, conveniently it has a starter corner) into your–dare I say it–“Pie hole”. Sorry…I had to go there. Your welcome.

apple turnover filling

turnovers assembled

apple currant turnovers 2

apple currant turnovers

apple currant turnover

Apple Turnovers

yield: 4 turnovers

1/2 package of ready made puff pastry; thawed in the refrigerator

2 Golden Delicious apples

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 1/2 Tbsp. dried currants (optional)

1/3 Cup sugar + 2 Tbsp.

1/2 tsp. apple pie spice

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 1/2 tsp. cornstarch

2 1/2 tsp. water

egg wash: 1 egg mixed with 1 tsp. water

coarse white sugar or sugar in the raw (Demerara sugar)

1. Peel and chop the apples into about 1/2 inch pieces. Immediately toss the apples with the lemon juice to coat evenly. Stir in the (optional) currants. Add the sugar and spice and combine well. Mix together  the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and set aside.

2. In a skillet melt the butter and add the apple mixture. Cook over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes until apples soften. Stir in the vanilla and then add the cornstarch mixture and heat until filling bubbles and thickens, cooking for about 1-2 minutes. Remove the filling to a bowl and chill to allow the mixture to cool.

3. Unfold the puff pastry and sprinkle both sides lightly with flour. Using a rolling pill smooth out the fold lines and roll the pastry lightly into about an 11 inch square. Cut the puff pastry into 4 equal squares. Looking at each individual square of pastry brush the left inside and lower edges of each of the squares lightly with egg wash; being careful not to get the edges too wet.  Place about 3-4 tablespoons of the apple filling to the middle of each square. Fold down the top left corner edge of pastry to meet the opposite lower right corner to meet the corners together to form a triangle, and press lightly with your finger to seal. Take a fork dipped in flour and press/seal the edges of the triangle together. Place the turnovers onto a parchment lined baking sheet and brush each turnover with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Pierce the top of each turnover with a fork twice. Chill the turnovers directly on the tray for 30-40 minutes.

Note: you may fill & assemble each turnover and freeze unbaked. To bake off in a 425° F oven from frozen state; just bake a bit longer.

Note: you most likely will have about 3 Tbsp. of the filling leftover; you can save it and use to stir into oatmeal or yogurt later in the week.

4. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

5. Bake turnovers for 20-25 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Cool the sheet over a wire rack until turnovers are cool enough to handle. Best served warm.


A Trip to the Apple Orchard…

Fall is for apples, pumpkins, corn mazes, spiced cider and picking. Picking (literally) up any harvest you can get your hands on. In this case- we’re talking apples. I’m a Midwest girl. A Michigander. Apple cider probably runs in my veins. I know this sounds biased, but you just can’t get good apple cider outside Michigan. #SorryNotSorry. It’s the truth. I never met an apple I didn’t like.

Seth grew up in the city of San Francisco, so it’s not like he had tripped or stumbled upon an apple orchard before. I wanted Seth to experience visiting an apple orchard- so we took a little trip to Cranes Apple Orchard which is in Fennville Michigan; not too far from where I grew up. The smell of ripe apples, the crisp Fall air, the slightly soggy ground as you trudge along row after endless row of delicious sweet (or tart) apples. Every variety of apple you can imagine. Cortland, Empire, Golden Delicious, Macintosh, Gala…as well as some names I’ve never even heard of…the list was endless.

Yes, there is the ubiquitous sweet elderly lady-(probably there volunteering and not getting paid a dime- (but she doesn’t mind) serving up fresh apple slices. She’s donned in her striped woolen hat, and appropriate cold weather jacket as she lovingly grips a dark ruby red apple in her rough -(years on the farm)- worn calloused hand. She carves off a little chunk and hands you the little morsel as she awaits your reaction as you bite into the sweet juicy nugget. You nod, you chew, you pause just long enough, and politely without food in your mouth. “It’s sooo good!” you exclaim, as you make eye contact with her, and she smiles back in approval.  You can try a slice of each variety (she seriously doesn’t mind) before you dodge deep into the orchard abyss of appleness to begin picking.  This is not the Piggly Wiggly or Safeway. This is nature. Looking around you see apple trees as far as the eye will take you- with apples of all different hues. Your nose dripping from the cool air as you search each tree for the perfect apple to place in your bag. Apples that have NOT been shined, waxed or stacked up in a perfect tower of pyramid fashion. Children need to see where their food comes from once in a while. It’s a good thing. Beautiful ripe apples with leaves still attached. To top off the day, we stumbled and sometimes even fumbled- our way through the large corn maze on the property.

I hope you enjoy the pictures~

 

Seth holding apple

orchard landscape

The picture below; these may not be apple trees, but pretty none the less…orchard apple trees

barn at orchard

apple orchard

grounded apples 2

grounded apples

Even on the ground they are still beauties

Something tells me in this picture below; a little one must have dropped a Golden Delicious amongst the Cortland apple trees…

grounded apples 3

cranes orchard

apple tree 2

apples 1

crane orchard truck

apple tree 3

golden delicious apple treegolden apple trees

 

And just when we thought we had no energy left- we hit the corn maze; just a one hour detour…no biggy.

corn maze 2

corn maze entrance

deep inside the maze

a look at the maze from above

Seth in the corn maze

For some reason, I’m thinking of popcorn…

corn cob

maybe I should have turned left

Seth is thinking, Hmmm, maybe we should have turned left back there…

but I’m happy to report we made it out safe and sound.

corn maze


Cinnamon Swirl Scones

If a cinnamon roll and a scone had a baby it would be a cinnamon swirl scone, yes?  I know-stay with me (yes-it’s absurd-but just go with it). It’s what you make when your kid, husband or clan wants a cinnamon roll but you don’t want to futz with all the work of making rolls and quite frankly you don’t have the time…and DON’T you DARE whack a can of store bought something or other on the side of the counter. No, just no.

 

Cinnamon Swirl Scones 1

Cinnamon Swirl Scones 2

 

cinnamon swirl scones 3

 

Cinnamon Swirl Scones 4

Cinnamon Swirl Scones

yield: one dozen scones

Cinnamon filling:

1/2 Cup light brown sugar

1 Tbsp. Saigon cinnamon

3/4 tsp. vanilla powder

1/8 tsp. mace

6 Tbsp. softened unsalted butter

In a small bowl with a silicone spatula mash together all the filling ingredients until well combined, set aside.

Scone dough:

2  2/3 Cup self-rising flour

3 Tbsp. granulated sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla powder

6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes; kept cold

3/4 Cup cold buttermilk (or if you don’t have buttermilk mix together 3/4 Cup milk with 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice or 1/2 tsp. white vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes)

Egg wash:

1 large egg

2 tsp. milk

1. With a fork whisk together the egg and milk and set aside.

Make Dough:

1. In a stand mixer bowl place the dry ingredients and using a hand whisk or fork- mix well. Add the cubed cold butter and blend by hand with a pastry blender until mixture has pieces of butter the size of peas.

2. With the paddle attachment and mixer on low; pour in the buttermilk and mix until mixture just comes together. Remove dough and turn out onto floured surface, fold and knead together gently about 6 times until dough is no longer sticky. Pat and shape the dough gently into a rectangle and with a rolling pin, finish rolling dough into a 12×9 inch rectangle. If you don’t have a ruler- use a 1/4 sheet pan as a rough guide for size. Make sure you have ample flour underneath the dough so when you go to roll up the dough it does not stick to the counter. Lift up all 4 edges of dough and place any extra flour to ensure it is not sticking.

3. Smear the cinnamon filling onto the dough and leave about 1/2 inch space at both edges of long sides, and about 1/4 inch of space on borders of short sides. Take the long side of the rectangle that is furthest away from you and gently roll towards you taking about 1/2 inch at a time, rolling into a log as tight as you can. Once the log is completely rolled together- pinch the dough seam with your first two fingers to ensure it is sealed as tight as possible. With a bench scraper, cut log into 12 equal pieces. Place cut side of scones onto prepared pans- (6 scones onto each pan), reshaping into circles gently as needed and place at least 2 inches apart.

4. Preheat the oven to 450° F. Place pans in refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes. After chilling, brush top and sides of scones with egg wash; checking again to make sure the seams on each roll are sealed. Bake in preheated 450° F oven for 14-15 minutes until light golden brown. Note: some of the filling may ooze and seep out (don’t worry-it happens even if you are careful). Let scones cool on sheet pan placed over wire rack until almost completely cooled, then drizzle with icing per recipe below.

Icing:

1 Cup + 3 Tbsp. confectioners sugar

2 Tbsp. milk

In a small bowl whisk together sugar and milk until smooth. Add additional sugar if needed to adjust consistency. You want a thickness that when pulling a table knife through the mixture; the icing does not hold the line of the knife.

 

 


Blackberry Pie

Who doesn’t love pie? There is something comforting and soothing about making pie. The methodical rolling out of the pie crust, the frustrations of daily life easing every time you put your weight into the rolling pin as you turn and re arrange your pie crust is very comforting to me- and of course the ultimate reward is sitting down and savoring a warm slice with a glass of cold milk. The rain was falling the morning I made this pie, and I had the window screens open letting in the morning breeze. The simple pleasures and joys of life are so important, so if that means making pie for your loved ones or maybe just lazing around a rainy Sunday morning sipping coffee- remember to take the time and find your joy.

I always make extra pie crusts and store them in the freezer. I highly encourage this practice of squirreling away pie crusts in your freezer to save time. Every time I make crust- I make a double batch and save the extra crust. Another tip I like to give is write the measurements down for pie crust on a little card or sticky note and secure it to the inside of your cupboard. Once you’ve made the pie crust and you have the technique down you will memorize the ingredients and method. See my recipe for fearless pie crust.

 

blackberry pie

blackberry pie 2

blackberry pie 3

 

Blackberry Pie

yield: one standard 9 inch pie

one recipe of my fearless pie crust

5-6 cups fresh berries or (24 oz. defrosted and drained frozen berries)

1 Cup sugar

3 Tbsp. instant (also known as quick-cooking) tapioca

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. lemon zest

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1/4 tsp. pure almond extract

 

1. Note: before rolling out pie crusts allow pie crust to rest for at least 30 minutes before rolling; this ensures that the crust does not shrink and is also easier to roll out. If making a standard pie top and not lattice make sure to pierce the top of pie crust a few times to allow steam to escape. Prepare one half pie crust in a 9 inch pie plate and set aside.

2. To prepare filling: In a bowl toss all ingredients gently until well coated and pour evenly in prepared pie crust. Dot with filling with about 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter. Top filling with second pie crust and crimp as desired.  Brush pie crust with milk, heavy cream, or half and half (whatever you have on hand), and sprinkle granulated sugar, raw sugar or coarse sugar over top of pie. Chill prepared pie for 30-40 minutes before baking.

3. Bake pie at 400° F for 30 minutes, then decrease oven to 350° F and cover edges of pie with a pie shield or tinfoil until crust has browned and filling is bubbly. Remove pie and allow to cool over a wire rack.


Sweet Potato Biscuits with Peach Butter

I cannot deny a biscuit. A good biscuit, that is. A soft fluffy buttery biscuit. Anytime a choice is given for biscuit or toast; it’s biscuit hands down.  How about a biscuit slathered with peach butter. Uhh yeah! These biscuits are moist and tender. The secret is the frozen butter you grate into the flour-it’s a bit time consuming to grate the butter, but worth it. This recipe evokes a definite southern flare. Visions of “Driving Miss Daisy” might dance in your head as you toss back one of these biscuits. All you need is nice weather, a porch, some friends, some sweet tea and perhaps a nice porch swing. They would be amazing if you have some Virginia ham laying around to layer onto a biscuit with a little cheese. Make the peach butter ahead of time or on a rainy day or when you have some extra time as it takes a while to become thickened.

 

peach butter with sweet potato biscuits

biscuit sweet potato

peaches

I used Autumn Red variety peaches for my peach butter; but use any variety you like

Peach Butter

yield: makes a generous 2 Cups

3 1/4 pounds fresh ripe peaches (about 8 -9 large) peeled and pitted, cut into 1 inch pieces

3/4 Cup water

1 1/2 Cups sugar

juice of one lemon

optional: scant 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Note: to avoid peach chunks turning brown while cutting; work fast, toss with fruit fresh powder, or add some lemon juice to the ice water that you use to shock the peaches in. To remove peels quickly from peaches-score a one centimeter x on the bottom of each peach, drop peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds then shock in ice water, peel off skins.

1. Place peach chunks and water in a stock pot or dutch oven. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until they are soft. Place softened peaches in a Vitamix or food processor and process until smooth.

2. Return peach puree into stock pot and add in rest of ingredients. Simmer puree for about 2-3 hours; stirring frequently until thick and when drawing a wooden spoon through mixture it takes about 10 seconds for the peach mixture to cover bottom of pot. Place in a clean jar or jars. Note: I did NOT sterilize and process as canned-since it is a small batch, but rather stored in the refrigerator; you may choose to sterilize and can if you want to store on the shelf. Recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

recipe: from chow.com

yield: 16 small biscuits or 8 large

2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 Cup whole or 2 % milk
1 Cup baked, mashed sweet potato (about 1 medium potato) [see note]
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
heavy cream, for brushing tops

[to bake sweet potato in microwave- pierce with a fork a washed and dried potato on a microwave safe plate and heat on full power for 5 minutes, turn over then heat for 5 minutes more. Wrap potato in tinfoil and let sit for a few minutes].

1. Heat the oven to 400° F and arrange rack in middle of oven. Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and mix with a fork. In a glass measuring cup combine the milk and potato and whisk well with a fork. Grate the frozen butter using a box grater with large holes and combine with the dry ingredients. Add milk mixture to the dry and mix with fork until it forms a shaggy mass.

2. Turn out mixture onto a floured board and knead just until it comes together. Pat dough into 3/4 inch thickness. Cut into rounds or squares. I used a 2 inch square cutter and got 16 squares. Place biscuits onto a baking sheet lined with either a Silpat or parchment paper. Bake for about 12-15 minutes.


Raspberry Streusel Bars

You’ve probably figured that raspberries are one of my favorite fruit; since I have many recipes on the blog using them. I had to squeak in one more recipe before summer ends. I’ve been hanging onto this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for a while now, but I tweaked the recipe slightly by using seedless jam instead as I can’t stand a ton of seeds in my filling. I also added a bit of cinnamon-I also do that when I make raspberry linzer tart as I find it adds a nice back note of warmth to the flavor. The third change I made is by using walnuts instead of pecans; so use pecans if you like. The bars are best served the day they are made as the crust and topping remain crunchy. They will soften the following day; but they are still delicious. Store in an airtight container.

raspberry streusel bars

raspberry streusel bars 2

Raspberry Streusel Bars

recipe: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

yield: 24 (2 inch squares) more if cutting into smaller bar shape.
2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
2/3 C sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks (1 Cup) + 2 Tbsp. unsalted softened butter, divided
1/4 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C rolled “old-fashioned” oats
1/2 C finely chopped walnuts
3/4 C seedless raspberry preserves
3/4 C fresh raspberries
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375° F with rack in middle position. Line a 9×13 inch pan with aluminum foil; both sides allowing about 2 inches overhand on all sides. Spray foil with baking spray.

2. In stand mixer mix flour, sugar, and salt a few seconds to combine. With machine running add the 16 tablespoons of butter; one piece at a time on low speed until mixture resembles damp sand. Measure 1 1/4 Cups of the flour mixture into a medium bowl and set aside; distribute remaining flour mixture into bottom of prepared pan and press evenly into bottom of pan. Bake until edges begin to brown; about 14-16 minutes.

3. To make streusel; while crust is baking, add brown sugar, oats, and nuts to reserved flour mixture; toss to combine. Work in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter with a fork and set aside.

4. Combine preserves, raspberries, lemon juice and cinnamon in a small bowl; mash with fork until combined but some berry pieces remain.

5. Spread filling over hot crust and spread evenly using a small offset spatula. Sprinkle the streusel over topping; DO NOT press streusel into filling. Return pan to the oven and bake for about 22-23 minutes until filling is bubbling and topping is golden brown. Cool to room temp on a wire rack; about 1-2 hours.

6. Remove foil sling from pan by lifting with extensions. Use serrated knife to cut into squares or bars.


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