Double Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread

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Summer is finally and officially here! The 4th of July has come and gone which means summer is here to stay and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Last week I moved (again) into a house that is going to be really great after a year of less-than-ideal living situations.

The sun is finally out and it’s been hot. The kind of hot that’s almost but not quite uncomfortable. Until you get a sunburn, in which case the heat is painful the next day.

Sunburns and sweat and moving aside, I can’t wait for the rest of this summer. It’s going to be great. If you’re looking for a good way to kick off your summer, this bread is a good one. Yes, you’ll have to turn on your oven, but this bread is pretty much a giant cinnamon roll studded with fresh summer berries.

This bread starts off with a yeast dough. We’ll mix the yeast with some butter and a couple other things to activate it, and then form a dough and let it rise.

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While the dough rises, we’ll get the berries ready and make the buttery, cinnamon-y spread that will go on the inside of the bread.

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The dough will be nice and puffy after it rises.

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We’ll roll it out, spread the filling over it, and sprinkle the berries on top.

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This is where things get a little tricky. We’ll roll up the dough into a log, rolling tightly so the berries don’t all end up at the far edge of the dough.

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Then the log gets sliced in half and each half get turned up towards you to face you.

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Then, the two halves will get twisted together.

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Finally, the twisted dough will get shaped into a circle, and you’ll press the ends together so it doesn’t all fall apart.

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Then, quickly but gently so the dough wreath doesn’t unravel, pick the wreath up and place it into a cast iron skillet, springform pan, or cake pan. Bake, and enjoy all the hark work you just did!

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This bread is rich and dense without being too sweet. The butter-cinnamon filling adds a good amount of indulgence and the berries add little bursts of juice with every bite. This one does take a bit of work, but it’s more than well worth it.

 

Double Berry Cinnamon Bread

From Joy the Baker

Makes 1 loaf

 

For the dough:

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

3/4 cup whole milk, warmed to a warm lukewarm

1 large egg yolk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

olive oil

 

For the filling:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 cups fresh berries (sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries…feel free to use 3 or even more – I couldn’t find any raspberries)

1 large egg, beaten

 

Make the dough:

Combine the yeast and sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in the warmed milk, and then stir in the egg yolk and melted butter. Whisk the mixture until thoroughly combined. Let the yeast mixture sit for 5 minutes. It should foam and froth, which means the yeast is activated properly. If it doesn’t, start over with new yeast.

Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Pour the milk/yeast mixture over the flour and knead the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl and starts to form a ball. Place the dough on a lightly floured, clean counter, and knead by hand for about 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and a little damp, but not too sticky. Form the dough into a ball. Place it in a large bowl greased with olive oil, and cover. I like to cover it lightly with plastic wrap and then put a clean kitchen towel on top. Allow the dough to rest in a warm spot until it’s doubled in size, about an hour.

While the dough rises, mix the butter, sugar, and cinnamon together for the filling and set aside until later.

When the dough is almost done rising, preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a 10-inch springform pan, cast iron skillet, or a normal 9-inch cake pan and set it aside, too.

When the dough has doubled in size, place it on a lightly floured counter and knead it twice. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12×18-inch rectangle. It doesn’t have to be precise — get it as close as you can and make sure the two longs sides are the same length and the two short ones are the same length.

Put the filling on the dough in a few blobs, and spread it over the dough evenly, leaving about 1 inch of dough on all sides. Place the berries over the cinnamon spread, and press them into the dough a little bit.

Now, beginning from one of the long sides of the dough, roll it into a log. Be sure to tuck it under as best you can, and force the berries into the roll if you need to. The berries will make the log a little lumpy. Use a sharp knife or bench scraper to cut the log in half lengthwise, leaving about an inch of dough uncut at the top. If there is excess dough at the bottom with no filling in it, trim this dough (I didn’t do this but wish I had). To braid the dough, carefully lift the left strand over the right strand. Repeat this until you have used all the dough, straightening and adjusting the braid as necessary. Press the ends of the two strands together. Bring the two ends of the braid together, and press together.

Quickly and carefully transfer the dough ring to the prepared pan. Brush the beaten egg over the dough. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the bread is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

 

 

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Dark Chocolate and Orange Tart with Toasted Almonds

ImageLast week was one gigantic sugar-coated, caramel-filled, chocolate-dipped Christmas treat extravaganza at my office. We had a potluck one day, and the 40+ people who work there couldn’t even finish all the desserts. I definitely had a little more WAY more than my fair share, just at the potluck. There were countless cookies, rice krispie treats, chocolates, Hershey kiss and m&m topped pretzels….

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The day of the potluck, I ended up at work until almost midnight. The plus side was that while I was working, I got to snack on the leftovers. A couple cookies at 8:00, leftover salad at 9:30, and at 11:00 another sliver of this tart, which was my potluck contribution. Don’t ask me how it didn’t all get eaten during the day. Who picks too-sweet but still tasteless store-bought cookies over something rich, chocolatey, homemade, and a little boozy? Beats me. I’d pick this tart over something from a grocery store bakery any day, but I was glad to have some late at night.

This tart is rich and very chocolatey, with a nice citrus flavor, a hint of booze, and a little spicy kick from the cinnamon. We start by candying some orange peel.

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Then we’re mixing butter and cocoa powder and sugar and cinnamon and a little flour and salt.

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Crust gets rolled out and baked.

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Then, the orange peel gets chopped up and some chocolate gets melted.

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Orange peel and almonds go in the crust.

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Melted chocolate gets poured in, and the tart chills for a bit in the fridge. And then we get to feel really fancy while we eat it.

ImageThis tart is a little labor-intensive, but completely worth it. It’s worth your weekend afternoon, both for the taste and for the oohs and ahs you’ll get from your family when you show up at Christmas dinner with it. Have a wonderful holiday!

Dark Chocolate and Orange Tart with Toasted Almonds

From Bon Appétit, March 2003

Serves 12-16

Candied Orange Peel:

1 orange

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons water

Crust:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Filling:

1 cup slivered almost, toasted, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup heavy whipping cream

8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange liquor

For the candied orange peel:

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel (orange part only) from the orange in strips. Cut strips into pieces the size of matchsticks and place in a small saucepan. Cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Cook for 30 seconds and drain. Rise the pan, add 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons water, and peel. Over medium-low heat, stir until sugar dissolves. Simmer until the peel is translucent and the syrup thick, about 20 minutes. With the tines of a fork, transfer peel to a plate to cool. Peel can be made 1 day ahead. Cover it and store at room temperature.)

For the crust:

With an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in the cocoa powder. Add in the four and beat until dough comes together in moist clumps. Form the dough into a ball; flatten the ball into a disk. Wrap dough in plastic and chill until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Roll the crust out between sheets of waxed paper to an 11-inch round. Remove the top sheet of paper and invert the dough over a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Peel off second sheet of paper. Gently press the dough into the pan, pressing the overhang in to form double-thick sides. Pierce dough all over with a fork and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Bake crust until the sides look dry and the bottom looks bubbly, about 14 minutes. Transfer crust to rack. If the sides of the dough are falling, use the back of a spoon to press them up. Cool crust completely.

For the filling:

Toss the almonds, sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Chop all but 2 strips of the orange peel. Sprinkle the chopped orange peel over the bottom of the prepared crust, and then sprinkle the almond mixture over. Place the cream in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Add the chocolate and whisk until chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the Grand Marnier. Pour the chocolate mixture into the crust. Refrigerate tart until filling is firm, at least 3 hours. Garnish with the remaining 2 orange peel strips. Tart can be make 1 day ahead. Keep covered loosely with foil in the fridge.

To serve, gently loosen the crust from the sides of the pan with a sharp knife. Cut tart into wedges and serve cold.


Snickerdoodles

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I’d tell you where I work but company policy explicitly forbids us from sharing the name of the company on any kind of social media whatsoever. Including LinkedIn. Which if you ask me, is quite the counter-productive rule, but according to the 60-page handbook I got on my first day, even just sharing the name of the company is risking giving away “trade secrets.” It’s not like I’m working for Coca-Cola here, folks (though they are one of our clients – don’t tell!). We don’t have any secret recipes or formulas whose identities are intrinsically valuable to our success. We don’t have any exclusive software, or clients, or vendors. If we have trade secrets, they’re so secret I don’t even know they’re secret.

Let me tell you a few secrets about these cookies. I didn’t have any brown sugar. So I made some using this simple recipe from Joy the Baker. Except I definitely mixed it with a fork, because I’m not even fancy enough for beaters.

In this picture, the pan is sitting on my washing machine – which totally lives in my kitchen.

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This is one of my all-time favorite cookie recipes. It always works. The cookies are always soft in the middle, crunchy on the outside. Plus, you know, they’re rolled in cinnamon sugar. And just that is almost enough to make you call it a day and start rolling everything in cinnamon sugar.

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(You’ll have a little leftover cinnamon sugar, which you should totally put on your toast.)

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Snickerdoodles

From Lovin’ From the Oven

Makes 12-16 cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For rolling:

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars with an electric mixer on high speed. Or use a wooden spoon, just make sure your butter is extra soft. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.

Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and mix well.

Cover dough and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two cookie sheets with parchment.

Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll about 2 1/2 tablespoons of dough into a ball. Roll the ball in the cinnamon sugar mixture, coating thoroughly. Place on a cookie sheet and repeat for remaining dough.

Bake cookies 12-14 minutes, but no more. They might seem undercooked, but will continue baking after being removed from the oven, and will end up soft in the middle.