Happy Mother’s Day! I worked all day Saturday, raced to the grocery store when I got  home, made and ate diner, and then finally started making the brioche dough for the sticky buns. I love to make brioche dough because I love the slapping sound the dough makes against the side of the mixing bowl when it comes together. I love the silkiness of the dough. I love gently deflating the dough.

But I should have started this project the day before the day before Mother’s Day. I figured I’d have to get up at  5:00 a.m. to finish making the buns by 9:00–the time I’d invited my mother for breakfast. However, either I slept through my alarm or it didn’t go off, and I didn’t get up until 6:15. There was nothing too tricky about all of steps, but there was a lot of resting/rising time. Rolling, laminating, resting, rolling again, filling, rolling in a roll, chilling, slicing, rising, finally baking.

And then the turning out of the pan.

Note the layers of dough. So buttery. Not too sweet.  Good from the edge to the middle. We had sticky buns for our breakfast dessert, but it was worth the wait. Perfection! My favorite recipe so far. I will make this for special occasions again and again. Next time I’ll start prepping a day sooner.

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My family thought this looked like a cheesy casserole as I was putting it in the oven. I have to admit that the unusual method of grating the very cold dough into the pan did make it look more savory than sweet. We all changed our minds after the first bite. What a tender, buttery morsel. The tartness of the rhubarb jam worked perfectly with the rich shortbread. I’ll keep this cookie in my repertoire!

The only change I made to the recipe was baking the first layer of the shortbread for 15 minutes before adding the rhubarb jam and second layer of shortbread. Love the rhubarb jam. I’d make the jam just to have around to spread on scones or spoon over ice cream.

This cake goes together in a flash! I used lemon, lime and orange zest, so I guess I should call my version a Citrus Loaf Cake.

No mixer necessary-just a bowl and a whisk.

Folding the melted butter and zest in at the end-I didn’t want the zest to get tangled in the whisk.

Lovely crumb. Moist and not overly sweet tea cake. Great to have on hand when friends pop in for a cup of coffee or tea. Could be dressed up for dessert by adding a scoop of lemon sorbet, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and berries or lemon curd.

Usually I like to follow the recipes for this group exactly, but we have recently become a vegetarian household so I decided to change the recipe. Instead of prosciutto, I used cubed, roasted butternut squash, peas, and sun dried tomatoes. What a combo! So good. I can’t imagine that the original recipe was better than what we had. We loved the way the sweet of the crust played against the salty intensity of the tomatoes,  and the squash and peas added visual appeal as well as perfect flavor accompaniments to the three cheeses.

A lunch to remember!

Who knew Irish Soda Bread was so delicious! I would never have made this recipe had I not been part of this baking group. It just seemed too plain, and the warning about it turning rock hard in a couple of hours did not make it seem appealing. However, I am a complete convert. It was moist and tender with a fine crust, and three days later it still tastes good–better toasted at this point, but still good. The other great thing about this recipe is that it goes together in a flash.

I did add currants and lemon zest to my dough, but I think it would be quite good plain as well. Slathered with butter it makes a fine start to any morning.


Rugelach, my idea of the perfect breakfast! Though they are also just right for afternoon tea, or a midnight snack. I love apricots–both freash and dried, so I made the apricot lekvar to fill my rolls of goodness. For the nuts I chose almonds, and for the fruit I chose currants.

I have always thought that cream cheese dough is the most forgiving of all doughs. If properly chilled it rolls out beautifully. I was almost able to get it rolled out to a 14″ x 10″ rectangle without any patching–almost.

The lekvar was exactly the right amount for my two rectangles, and the one large round (that I used to make crescent shaped rugelach). The rolling went well for both the rectangles and the crescents, although more filling came out than I hoped.

The rectangles.

The round for the crescents.

Rolling the rectangles.

Rolling the cut round into crescents.

Everything was going along perfectly until I realized a major blunder. I was interrupted at a critical moment when I was assembling my ingredients. I had carefully measured out the sugars and cinnamon to set aside for later, but accidentally tossed them into the food processor with the nuts that were to be used to coat the cookies at the end. Not only that, but I used that mixture to fill the cookies–in addition to the other chopped nuts. I knew this meant that the cookies would not be as sweet as they should be, so I added quite a bit of cinnamon sugar to the leftover nut and sugar mixture and used that to roll the cookies in before baking. A few stray currants found there way in to the mix. The result was quite good, I thought, a not cloyingly sweet cookie with a nice caramelized bottom. The caramelized bits that ooze out make a lovely nibble for the baker!

If you’d like the recipe, please visit the host blogs below. Happy Baking!

http://www.theurban-hiker.com/

http://mybakingheart.com/

Since the recipe called for biscotti, it felt like cheating not to make my own. So I did. I made the Cantuccini on page 313 in Baking with Julia. I used pecans instead of almonds because that is what I had on hand. They were super easy to make, and tasty.


With all of my ingredients gathered, I began making the tartlet–the chocolate dough first.

I had never made a dough using the fraisage method.

This was the perfect opportunity to take the time to make a dough completely by hand. It was messy, took much longer than in the processor, but what joy! It was pure magic to watch the cocoa and butter slowly come together into a beautiful dough.


It may have been because of the fraisage, but I found the dough to be easy to roll and not at all crumbly.


There is nothing more comforting than the scent of chocolate and butter melting together,


and the miracle of eggs and sugar beaten into billowy ribbons.


It was all folding, scooping, and baking after that.

Oh, and, of course, the eating.
Creamy deliciousness! Definitely best the day it was baked, but good the next day too.

I started baking the white loaves on Sunday morning without taking into consideration that I had a lunch date. At eleven o’clock my loaves were tucked into their pans,

but I realized that I’d have to either take the loaves with me and bake them at my cousin’s house, or put them in the refrigerator to rise slowly while I was away. I decided to refrigerate them.

When I got home I let them continue rising in my warm kitchen, but they didn’t rise as high as I thought they would. I baked them anyway, and while they were not a complete disappointment, they were not mountainous! Today I bought fresh yeast and tried again. Immediately I saw that the problem yesterday wasn’t so much the refrigeration as it was a problem with old yeast! The yeast I used the day before had not reached it’s expiration date, but I had had it a LONG time. The fresh yeast was super active! The picture below is just the 1/2 cup water, yeast and sugar.

While the first batch of dough rose pretty well,

the second dough rose very well!

So…make sure your yeast is fresh, if you want mountainous loaves.

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And if you want your bread to look  English, put them in a toast rack.