Category Archives: Baked Goods

Steak and Blue Cheese Hand Pies


A hand pie, I will have you know, is when you put fillings in little circles of pie crust, fold it over, and then bake it like a turnover.  In Michigan, we call these pasties (that’s pronounced PAHS-ties, as opposed to PAYS-ties, and you are all filthy if you thought the other thing).

Oh wait. First I want to address the fact that neither Sue nor I have written a blog post since July.  Well, we have the following to say for ourselves: we were busy, and apologize for the long delay. I CAN say that we cooked many interesting things while we’ve been away, including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with potato chips on it, a Christmas yule log, crab jambalaya WITH CRABS THAT I MYSELF CAUGHT FROM THE OCEAN, KILLED* AND CLEANED, a turducken and a devil’s food cake, but we didn’t blog about any of it. (Hint on the PB&J: you put the chips right on the sandwich!!!)

*I didn’t kill them, my boyfriend did. Crabs are a lot harder to kill than you’d think, and also if, say, you try to kill one and just piss it off instead, it gets verrrrry fighty.

So, hand pies/pasties, which are basically the same thing. Pasties originated in Cornwall, and arrived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with Cornish immigrants who came for the UP copper mining.  They can be filled with savory or sweet things, though traditionally it would be beef and root vegetables.  The crust is a traditional shortcrust pastry, a basic pie crust with a 1:2 fat to flour ratio. We filled ours with some leftover jerk chicken, and made some with steak, blue cheese and caramelized onion. That’s the recipe I’ll post, because it’s going to make you cry, it’s so good. This recipe makes about 7 hand pies.


2 cups flour

1 cup cold butter, diced

3/4 cup very cold vodka

1 tsp salt

Egg wash (whisk together one egg with 2 tsp of cold water and set aside)


1 lb or so of sirloin steak, salted and peppered on both sides

1 yellow onion, diced

2 tbsp butter

1/4 cup wine, any kind will do

salt and pepper

blue cheese

Method:  In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt and butter until the mixture is grainy like sand. Drop in the cold vodka about a teaspoon at a time until the mixture JUST holds together. DO NOT OVERMIX. Remove the dough from the food processor, shape it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This resting process is extremely important and I think has something to do with gluten but I forget, so just do it, or else watch this video.  Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.

While the dough is resting in the fridge and the oven is pre-heating, make the filling.  In a cast iron pan on medium-high heat, melt 1 tbsp of butter and sear the steak for 2-3 minutes per side, then remove to a plate and let rest. In the same pan but heat reduced to medium, melt the remaining tbsp of butter and cook the onions until browned and even lightly charred, scraping up all the delicious beef bits.


After maybe 6 or 7 minutes, deglaze the pan with whatever wine you have and cook until the liquid is absorbed, then turn off the heat. Dice the steak into cute little bite sized pieces.


good luck not eating this before you put it in the hand pies.

After resting and preparing the filling, unwrap the dough, separate it into as many balls as you want to have hand pies (we  made 7 with this amount of dough), and on a lightly floured work surface, roll each dough ball out into a  little circle.


my boyfriend ends up doing most of the gnarly jobs. rolling out dough, killing crabs, etc.

Pile a little steak, a little onions and some blue cheese bits onto the circles, fold them over into a half moon shape, pinch the ends together with your fingers (or use the tines of a fork to crimp them) and lay them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush them with egg wash and bake them for 20-25 minutes or until browned.


egg wash SEEMS stupid and pointless, but it gets the crust all brown and delicious. a good idea would be to feed the leftover egg wash to your dog. i bet he would like it.

You can reheat these in the oven as long as they last, which will be zero days. I took these to work for lunch and I didn’t heat them up, I just kept it on my desk so when I ate it it was room temperature and the crust was crisp and fantastic and I wish I still had some of these but I don’t because we ate them all. Also, MAY I SUGGEST eating the steak ones with a little dollop of raspberry jam. Good GOD they’re delicious.

– Cat



Filed under Appetizers, Baked Goods, Meat, Recipes

Strawberry & Balsamic Galette

You  know when you were a kid, and every day at dinner your mom would be trying to feed you meatloaf or tuna casserole* or some other real horror, and you’d say “when I’m an adult I’m going to eat candy for dinner and stay up all night playing Sonic the Hedgehog, and instead of going to school I’m going to found a pirate colony in the backyard”?  It’s a shame that now, as an adult, I have evenings where I eat a sensible dinner made up of vegetables and lean protein followed by a piece of dark chocolate (Antioxidants! Moderation! PHOOEY!), then fold laundry and go to bed early.  My child-self would be appalled, not to mention seriously bored.

*I would like to issue an apology to my mother because she was right about meatloaf being good, but also demand one from her because she was NOT RIGHT about tuna casserole being good.  When is hot mayonnaise a good idea?  Oh!  Maybe when you put peas in it.  Blech.

*Note from Sue-I love tuna noodle casserole AND hot mayo, I think it’s fair to say we all just hate the cream of whatever soup. Mmmm hot mayo dips.

So, I made a strawberry galette for dinner.  BECAUSE I CAN.

For the crust:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tbsp powdered sugar

pinch of salt

1/2 cup cold butter, diced

1-3 tbsp ice cold water

Method: Pulse the dry ingredients in a food processor until combined.  Add the butter and pulse until the dough forms a thick crumbly mess.

any recipe where the butter can be cold is a recipe i can get behind.

this was much sandier and finer than the recipe led me to believe.

Add the water a tablespoon at a time, pulsing very briefly between, until the dough JUST holds together.  Smush the dough into a big disc, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for an hour.

don’t smush it too much, though, because it’ll get chewy instead of flaky.

For the filling:

2 cups  fresh strawberries, quartered

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp corn starch

Method: Mix strawberries with vinegar and honey and let sit for an hour or so.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick circle.

someday maybe i’ll get a rolling pin. until then, there’s metal waterbottles!

Lay the dough on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.  Sprinkle the brown sugar/cornstarch mixture around the whole circle, about 1/2 inch from the edges.  Strain the strawberries, reserving the liquid. Arrange the strawberries, artfully, this isn’t a hoedown, and fold over the edges of the galette.


Bake the galette until golden brown and bubbly, about 40-45 minutes.  Let it REALLY cool until you cut it, or the strawberries won’t have had a chance to solidify and you’ll have a runny, sad mess.   In the meantime, pop the reserved strawberry liquid into a small saucepan and reduce it by half or so, until it’s thick.  To serve the galette, cut it into pretty slices and drizzle it with the sauce. I didn’t photograph the sauce, because I took this picture at 7am.  But I did eat it for dinner and it was fantastic.  The strawberries cook down into concentrated strawberry perfection.  You know when you eat a strawberry, and it’s sublime and transcends the way that normal strawberries taste to become a sort of strawberry archetype, informing your opinion forever on what a strawberry SHOULD taste like?  This is like that.  Also, the crust baked perfectly- crispy on the bottom and flaky and buttery. Plus, look how attractive it is.  This is the kind of thing that people who live in Italian villas whip up when they have visitors and then eat while drinking chilled wine from the estate on a stone patio at sunset.

And let me say: DO NOT SKIP the sauce.  You want the sauce.  Really.  Trust me.

– Cat

pretty, huh.

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Filed under Baked Goods, Dessert, Recipes

Gluten Free Blueberry Pie Bars

Last weekend, I went berry picking with some friends.  I have never done so in Oregon, which is idiotic, because everyone knows Oregon has the best berries anywhere.  It is strawberry season in Oregon, and is starting to be blueberry and raspberry season.  Blueberries are easy to pick, because they are on trees at a normal, human height.  Strawberries, however, are low to the ground and apparently enjoy hiding in thickets of thorny nonsense.  You kind of squat down and scuttle along the rows looking for berries.  Collecting a big bucket of berries made me feel satisfied to have come from a long line of peasants on both sides of my family, which is contrary to my childhood feelings about the same subject, during which time I was sure I was descended from royalty.  Not so, I’m told.

In any case, I picked a shitload of berries.  Far more than one person can consume.  So, I froze a bunch of them, in that Martha Stewart-y method where you lay out the berries on a cookie sheet and freeze them, then gather them up into ziploc bags individually when they’re frozen, so you have pretty, individually frozen berries instead of a frozen gloppy mess.  It worked perfectly.

In the interest of using up some of my berries AND of making a gluten free dessert for a buddy, I landed on Gluten Free Blueberry Pie Bars.  (I wanted to make a blueberry tart, but I don’t have a tart pan and seeing as I DO have a bundt pan AND a springform pan, that seems like enough pans I use once per decade.)  If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know anything about celiac disease, wheat allergies or the general gluten free food thing, I’d like to introduce you to the internet.

I’ve never made anything gluten free on purpose.  You know, like roasted asparagus.  That is gluten free.  But something normally made with wheat not made with wheat?  No.  Turns out, though, that there is a plethora of gluten free choices.  Almond flour, amaranth flour (?  This seems like what lembas bread is probably made from, and if you get that reference, you’re a dork and we would get along famously), rice flour, oat flour, arrowroot flour, fava bean flour, chickpea flour, etc.  I opted for rice flour, because a dessert made out of fava beans is weird, and oat flour, because that is something I could make myself.

These bars were so easy.  So so easy and so very delicious.  I think with nuts in them, these bars would be easily good enough for you to have for breakfast, or you could have them for dessert with ice cream and they’d still be wonderful.

Gluten Free Blueberry Pie Bars


1 cup rice flour

1 1/4 cups oat flour (you can make your own by pulsing oats in a food processor until more or less fine, but they make a nice base when they’re a little rough)

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup (1/2 a stick)  butter, softened

1 egg

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Blueberry compote:

2 cups fresh blueberries

1/4 cup sugar

3 tbsp corn starch

juice of half a lemon

Method:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a small saucepan, cook the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch on medium heat for 15-20 minutes, then let it cool until you can touch it.  It should be relatively thick, like jam.

For the crust, mix together all the dry ingredients, then smush in the butter, egg and oil with your fingers until the crust is sandy but mostly holds together.  Into a greased square baking pan, press 3/4 of the dough into the bottom, pretty firmly and be sure to cover the pan completely, not leaving any holes.

tamara doing the actual work.

Pour the blueberry compote onto the dough, then drop the remaining 1/4 of dough onto the top of the berries.

notice in this picture that i have some extra Thai chiles from when i made stir fry last week.  they’ll just sit there.  forever, probably.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top dough is lightly browned.  Let cool completely before cutting.

These turned out perfectly. Taking the extra step of cooking the blueberries was my way of ensuring that they didn’t get too runny and create a cobbler instead of bars.  They turned out beautifully.  I even took them to the beach.  And!  No gluten!

– Cat


Filed under Baked Goods, Breakfast, Dessert, Recipes

Pecan Blondies

do they look like they have butter in them? because they do. lots.

You know that thing where you start doing a task a really stupid way, for instance deciding to break up whole toasted pecans with your fingers because you don’t feel like washing the cutting board and knife it would take to chop them properly, and you realize like 4 pecans in that you’ve made a serious error, but you think to yourself “there aren’t THAT many, this isn’t THAT stupid” so you go ahead and break up the rest of them with your fingers and then realize that it took you 15 minutes of your life because you were too stubborn to admit defeat EVEN TO YOURSELF?


You know that thing where you cook something really lovely at home, such as caramel made out of butter and brown sugar and it makes your hair smell like sugar for once instead of the steak you cooked in a pan that made your hair smell like charred meat,  or channa masala because you were standing over the pan while you made it and now your hair smells like leftovers, especially when you first step into the shower, but this time you like it because it’s nice and sugary instead of totally gross?


You know that thing where you take a bite of something and know immediately that you have absolutely no control over how much of that thing you are about to eat and will also be totally consumed by thoughts of said thing during any of the times you manage NOT to eat it in the time it is still in your house, and then lament immediately when you do eat all of the thing and realize it’s out of your life forever?

All of those things happened to me while making these blondies.  These are dense, chewy, caramely, nutty morsels of buttery, fatty perfection.  They are what you want chocolate chip cookies to taste like.  They are what you hope shortbread will be.  They are absolutely what they serve during snack time before recess in Heaven.  Also, they take place in one pot and are really, really easy.  Hallelujah.

Pecan Blondies, from Fine Cooking

2 sticks (1 cup) of butter

3 cups packed dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 egg yolks

3 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/4 cup all purpose flour

healthy pinch of salt, plus more for sprinkling on top

1 1/2 cups of chopped, toasted pecans

Method:  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, and butter or Pam a 9×13 baking dish.  In a pot on medium heat, melt the butter and brown sugar until the sugar has dissolved.

the sugar has mostly dissolved, and i let mine boil for probably 5 minutes.

Then, let it boil gently for a couple minutes.  Take the caramel mixture off the heat and let it cool until you can touch the pot.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla, and mix it into the cooled caramel, taking care not to cook your eggs*, because that is gross.  Then, mix in the flour, salt and pecans until JUST combined, pouring it into the pan.  Sprinkle some kosher salt on top.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Enjoy complete adulation from everyone you feed these to.

* A note on tempering eggs:  the official recipe wants you to make sure your eggs are room temperature before mixing them into the warm caramel mixture.  The reason is that if the caramel is too hot, it will cook the eggs instead of incorporate them into the batter, and that means your blondies will have scrambled eggs in them.  Foul.  To avoid this, try to make your eggs as close to the temperature of the caramel as possible.  If you, like me, never ever have room temperature eggs because you never plan anything food-related that far in advance, you can break your eggs and yolks into a bowl, and whisk them together over another bowl of hot water to warm them up a bit, though the process of whisking the eggs together in a warmer bowl will do that as well.  Then,  whisk the egg mixture into the caramel a little at a time, whisking the whole thing constantly until the eggs are fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth.

– Cat


Filed under Baked Goods, Candy, Dessert, Recipes

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie is a bit of a production, but it’s worth every ounce of effort. You have to make a pie crust, roast chicken, make the filling, and then assemble the pie. It’s quite an ordeal, but it’s fantastic. Of course, there are a lot of cheater methods for chicken pot pie including buying pre-made pie crust, or even puff pastry. You can substitute cream of chicken soup instead of making the filling from scratch. You can even use biscuits as a topping…but I’m telling you right now, if you make it my way, you won’t regret it. In fact, if you have someone you want to impress (a boyfriend or girlfriend by chance) you might want to consider making this for them. This was one of the first meals I made for my boyfriend, and I’m fairly confident it sealed the deal for me.

Classically, chicken pot pie is a cream based filling with chicken, carrots, onions, celery, peas, and potatoes; which is exactly how I make mine. Many recipes add things like mushrooms (which I do love, but my boyfriend doesn’t), bell peppers, and even green beans. Bells peppers and my stomach don’t get along, and I think there is no worse crime than an overcooked mushy green bean, but you can add whatever you like. If you want to add or omit any vegetables in this recipe, you can do it without making any adjustment.

Now, there are a few things I should tell you about this recipe:

–          This is a recipe for a full double pie crust. Depending on how you make your final product you might have left over. If you have left over you can roll out an extra pie crust and freeze it in a disposable pie tin for use later.

–          This recipe makes more than enough filling. My boyfriend calls it “chicken stew” and he loves to eat it alone as much as he loves it in pie form.

–          This can be made in various ways: In a pie plate with both a top and a bottom crust, in a pie plate with just a top crust, or in ramekins or small crocks topped with crust.

–          I made the original in the traditional way with a top and a bottom crust in a pie plate. With the leftovers for picture (and round two eating) purposes I made a small one in a ramekin. One was prettier, but they were both equally delicious.

The filling for this recipe is my own, but the pie crust recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen.  I have a number of different pie crust recipes under my belt (including the secret family recipe), but this one was excellent for this dish.

Pie Crust Ingredients:

2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar (I left this out since I was doing a savory preparation and this dough is quite sweet)
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka  (Don’t skip this, see the note at the bottom of the post)
1/4 cup cold water

1 egg, for egg wash

Pie crust method:

Process 1½ cups flour, salt and sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening, and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds, and there should be no un-coated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Filling (a.k.a. Chicken stew) ingredients:

1 ½ to 2 lbs of chicken, roasted  and diced (or shredded) *See notes at bottom*

1 onion, diced

1 Tbs olive oil

4 Tbs butter

¾ cup flour

4 cups (1 box) chicken stock

2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼” rounds

2 large stalks celery, slice into ¼” pieces

1 medium to large russet potato, diced and par boiled

1/3 cup frozen peas

1 Tbs Better Than Bouillon chicken flavor, or 1 bouillon cube

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

¼ cup heavy cream or ½ and ½

Filling method:

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large pot or sauce pan heat olive oil and sauté onions over medium heat until translucent. Add butter and let it melt. Add flour and whisk into butter and onions, cook over medium heat until a thick paste has formed and has started to lightly brown, about 2 minutes.

Whisk in chicken stock and bullion, bring to a boil. The sauce should be significantly thickened, turn heat back down to medium and add the carrots and celery, and chicken. Cook for about 10 minutes until the carrots and celery have begun to soften. Add peas and potatoes and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper, about a tsp. each, or more to taste. Whisk in heavy cream and remove from heat.

Chicken Pot Pie assembly:

For full crust: Assemble the bottom crust of the pie and rub with butter (yes, more butter, but this will help the crust from becoming soggy).  Add the filling and top with an additional crust. Crimp edges.  And cut 3-4 vents in the top. Whisk one egg and brush lightly over the entire crust. Sprinkle lightly with coarse salt and ground pepper.  Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes or until top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling

For individual pot pies: Spoon filling into 4-6 ovenproof bowls (depending on their size). Roll out dough and cut into strips to create a lattice top, or cut into rounds large enough to drape over the edge of each bowl.  Brush the edge of the bowls with egg wash and top with crust. If you are using rounds, cut 2 vents in each. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle lightly with coarse salt and ground pepper. Bake at 350 for 18-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

A few notes:

You can buy roasted chicken, or roast your own. I used two large bone-in chicken breasts with skin on. I like to buy skin on because it keeps the breasts moist. My method is to rub each breast with olive oil, place them in a roasting pan skin side up and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast at 375 for about 35 minutes until they are cooked through and have an internal temperature of at least 170 degrees. Let the chicken cool , then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin, cut into a large dice.

Vodka in pie crust?! No, I’m not crazy. There is some science behind this.  Essentially the alcohol adds moisture without aiding in gluten formation, because gluten does not form in alcohol. For good flaky pie crust you want layers of fat and layers of gluten, and much of this is achieved by using cold ingredients and not allowing too much gluten to form too quickly. One other note- don’t skip that step about folding in the water/vodka, it makes a HUGE difference, trust me. There are a LOT of things I have learned about dough making over the past few years, but that’s a whole different post.



Filed under Baked Goods, Meat, Poultry, Recipes

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

I have a love/hate relationship with fall. Fall colors are beautiful; I love the smell of a crisp fall day (which is really not the same in Colorado as it is in Michigan), I love fall foods like roasted vegetables and chicken. What I do not love is the end of the summer; which marks the end of camping, biking, and patio eating and drinking.  I love eating outside, and drinking outside, and everything that you can’t do in the winter. Fine- winter in Colorado is still pretty badass, but I’m going to miss the summer.

Here is one thing I love about fall, fall flavored treats, specifically pumpkin.  I love everything from pumpkin pie to pumpkin cheesecake and everything in between. I love the savory side of pumpkin too, but my true love comes from the spices you normally associate with pumpkin: cinnamon and nutmeg.

My love for cinnamon is almost as deep as my love for soup. I keep two different kinds of cinnamon in my kitchen. That’s right, I have two kinds- don’t act surprised.

My favorite place to shop for spices is Savory Spice here in Denver. Their spices are freshly ground in the shop on a weekly basis and they have a fantastic selection. My absolute favorite kind of cinnamon (the kind I used in this recipe) comes from this shop.  It is Vietnamese Saigon cassia cinnamon.  If you imagine walking into a room where someone has just baked cinnamon rolls- this is exactly what this cinnamon smells like. I still remember the first time I smelled it, it was so pungent and intoxicating; my mind was reeling with recipes I could make with this delicious spice.

“True” cinnamon comes from bark, which comes from the cinnamon tree. True cinnamon is called Ceylon cinnamon (because it’s native of Ceylon, Sri Lanka).  In the United States what we known as cinnamon is actually the bark of the Cassia tree, which is native to both China and Saigon and a few other select regions.  The cinnamon that is in Chinese five spice is Cassia cinnamon, whereas the cinnamon that is commonly used in Mexican hot cocoa (and many Mexican dishes) is Ceylon.  For me, the main distinction is the pungency and the sweetness. I find Ceylon to taste more muted and with a slightly spicy undertone; whereas cassia has an intense “cinnamon” flavor and is spicy and almost sweet.  They both have their place in my kitchen, but Vietnamese Saigon Cassia Cinnamon is my go to baking cinnamon (and also one of my go to housewarming gifts).

About the nutmeg- for the love of all that is delicious just use fresh ground. Whole nutmeg isn’t expensive and the flavor is far superior to pre-ground.

On to the recipe (finally), pumpkin bread pudding.  This bread pudding is FANTASTIC. It has a bit of crunch, a lot of fall flavor, and a little sweetness from the caramel topping.


2 packages of Kings Hawiian rolls*, cut into cubes and toasted

2 cups ½ and ½

1 cup dark brown sugar

2 cups pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling)

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

2 eggs

1 yolk

Pinch of salt

Caramel topping:

½ cup butter

1 ½ cups dark brown sugar

½ cup heavy cream

Heavy pinch of salt (to taste)


Preheat oven to 350.

Cut the rolls into 1 inch cubes and toast for 10 minutes in the oven.  Put the cubes into a 9X13 baking dish and let cool slightly while you make the custard.

Whisk together ½ and ½, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, eggs and salt. Pour the mixture carefully over the bread cubes, trying to cover all area evenly. Cover and let rest for at least 15-20 minutes but up to overnight.  Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until the top is brown and crusty.

For the Caramel sauce:

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan combine the butter and brown sugar. Whisk together over medium high heat until the butter is melted and the sugar begins to bubble. It will go from looking a little like wet sand to starting to look like a smooth sauce; this will take about 2-3 minutes.

At this point whisk in the cream and cook for another minute until the caramel is smooth. Add the pinch of salt and whisk, serve warm, or re-warm before serving.

A few notes:

* I adore Kings Hawaiian rolls, they are delicious, and they used to be a favorite of my grandmother’s. However, you can use any kind of bread you want in bread pudding. I like the sweetness of these rolls in this recipe, but it is not required. I would recommend an egg bread of some type (such as challah). However, you can use leftover French baguette or sourdough, or really anything. The important things are that the bread is cubed (which means you need to use thick bread) and that it is slightly crusty(which you can either do by toasting it, or using day old bread). For this recipe you will need about 10 loosely packed cups of bread cubes.

I always buy dark brown sugar. More often than not, when I’m using brown sugar I am using it for the flavor. Dark brown sugar has a more rich molasses flavor to it, so for sake of flavor (and cupboard space) I just buy one type- and it’s always dark.



Filed under Baked Goods, Bread, Dessert, Recipes, Thanksgiving Sides

Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

This recipe has been a long time coming. I have had a crush on all things lemon, and all things poppy seed for most of my adult life.  I have enjoyed lemon poppy seed cakes and muffins at more places than I care to admit. I have also made many a box mix and I wasn’t even ashamed because they were good. Then…I made this, and I swear I will never go back. While zesting lemons is a bit tedious, that’s the only even remotely hard part about this recipe. This recipe comes from Joy the Baker, one of my go to sources for delicious baking related recipes. I have made many things from her blog and they have all been absolutely fantastic. I did make a few modifications to this; the most major was adding the poppy seeds. The other thing I omitted was the lemon syrup brushed over the cake at the end. When I made these, I made 8 loaves at once, I tried the lemon syrup on the first round of 2 and I just didn’t love it. The syrup is made with lemon juice, water, and sugar that is cooked down- when lemon juice is cooked down I think it has a tendency to taste a little bit too much like minute-made lemonade from concentrate and a little bit less like fresh bright delicious lemon. I opted to not include brush the remaining loaves with the syrup and I still think they were fantastic and amazingly moist and lemony. If you decide you want to use the syrup, check out joy’s site for instructions.

I should also divulge that this is not actually a pound cake at all. A pound cake is literally made from a pound of butter, a pound of flour, and a pound of sugar. This doesn’t have anywhere near that much butter in it, but don’t worry there are still plenty of other fatty delicious things. In my mind I define a pound cake as a loaf of dense, super moist, cake; which is exactly what this is. Low fat? No. Delicious? Yes!

Modified from Joy the Baker’s Lemon Cake


2 2/3 cups flour

2 ½ tsp. baking powder

Pinch of salt

2 1/3 cups sugar

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract (*see note)

6 large eggs (*see note)

2/3 cup heavy cream

Zest of two lemons, finely grated

1 stick plus 7 Tbs (15 Tbs) of unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 Tbs plus 2 tsp. Poppy Seeds


Preheat oven to 350. Butter two 8 ½- 4 ½ inch loaf pans, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess.

Sift together, flour, baking powder, and salt.

Zest the lemons. Combine the lemon zest with the sugar in a large bowl and working with your fingers, rub them together until the sugar is moist and full of lemon fragrance.

Add the eggs and whisk them into the sugar, beating until they are thoroughly incorporated. Whisk in vanilla extract. Then whisk in the cream. Continue with the whisk and gently stir in the dry ingredients in 3 or four additions. Fold in the melted butter in 3 or 4 additions until it is completely combined. Last but not least, fold in the poppy seeds.

Fill two buttered and floured loaf pans 2/3 full.

Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. You can tent them lightly with foil if the tops are becoming too browned; I did this at about 35 minutes.

A few notes:

Note on the vanilla- I know I have mentioned it before, but my absolutely favorite vanilla extract is Sonoma syrup companies’ vanilla bean crush extract. It has amazing flavor and lovely little specks of vanilla bean in it. The only thing better would be actual vanilla bean, which if you do choose to use, use ½ of a bean and add the caviar from the bean into the recipe along with the lemon zest to infuse the sugar.

Note on the eggs- You should always use large eggs when you are following a recipe.  Eggs are graded and weighed before they are distributed. Large eggs weigh 2 to 2.25 oz, extra large are 2.25 to 2.5, and jumbo are  2.5 oz. and above. Almost all test kitchens and restaurants will be using large eggs, not jumbo or extra large. While it may or may not make a major difference, baking is very scientific and little things like this can alter the outcome.

I had a thought after completing this recipe. While I didn’t like the syrup with the cooked lemon juice, If you do decide to try the syrup method I would recommend making the simple syrup and THEN adding the lemon juice, to preserve the true lemon flavor.

Another note, even if you have nonstick loaf pans, you still should butter and flour them. This may seem excessive, but I swear once you do it, you will be amazed at how easily those loaves pop out. This is also my preferred method with cake making as well.

Are you wondering why I made 8 loaves at a time? I offered to make these for my parent’s upcoming church coffee hour. One of the main reasons I chose this recipe is because it freezes easily. Carefully wrap each loaf and freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, just place on a counter at room temperature.



Filed under Baked Goods, Breakfast, Dessert, Recipes