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Honey Cashew Morning Buns


Our famous sticky bun at Flour is unapologetically sweet. It’s drenched in a brown sugar-honey “goo” and chock-full of cinnamon sugar and pecans. Not only did it beat Bobby Flay in a Throwdown episode on the Food Network, he also graciously picked it as his choice for "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" in another TV show. It has become a signature item that has put us on the map.

I confess that I can only eat a few bites and then I’m done. It’s incredibly rich, which is what makes it so good, but I longed for something just as decadent but in a lighter, less sugary way. These morning buns are the answer. Made with a light, yeasted, unsweetened dough, they get filled with chopped cashews (my favorite nut) and then baked in a honey goo that is rich with cream and butter, and sweet with a little honey, but not so much that they hide the flavor of the bun or cashew. I especially love the caramelized pieces on the edge of the pan.

Recipe and headnote excerpted from Baking With Less Sugar (Chronicle Books, 2015).

Makes 12 buns

For the bun dough:

240 grams (1 cup) water, at body temperature (when you put your finger in it, it should feel neither cold nor hot)
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast or 3 grams (0.1 ounces) fresh cake yeast
350 grams (2 1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus up to about 35 grams (1/4 cup) more, if needed
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
50 grams (1/4 cup) olive oil or mild vegetable oil

For the honey goo and the bun filling:

** Honey Goo **
115 grams (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
170 grams (1/2 cup) honey
120 grams (1/2 cup) heavy cream
120 grams (1/2 cup) water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
** Bun Filling **
240 grams (2 cups) raw unsalted cashews, chopped
115 grams (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, very soft
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

To make the dough: Lightly oil a large bowl and set it aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the water and yeast and let sit for 20 to 30 seconds to allow the yeast to dissolve and activate. Dump the flour and salt onto the yeast mixture, and carefully turn the mixer onto low speed. Let the dough mix for about 10 seconds. (To prevent the flour from flying out of the bowl, turn the mixer on and off several times until the flour is mixed into the liquid, and then keep it on low speed.) When the dough is still shaggy looking, drizzle in the olive oil, aiming it along the side of the work bowl to keep it from splashing and making a mess.

With the mixer still on low speed, knead the dough for 4 to 5 minutes, or until it is smooth and supple. The dough should be somewhat sticky but still smooth, and have an elastic, stretchy consistency. If it is much stiffer than this, mix in 2 to 3 tablespoons water; if it is much looser than this, mix in 2 to 3 tablespoons flour.

Transfer the dough to the oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cloth. Place the bowl in a draft-free, warm place (78 to 82° F [25 to 28° C] is ideal; an area near the stove or in the oven with only the pilot light on is good) for 2 to 3 hours. The dough should rise until it is about double in bulk. (This is called proofing the dough.)

Meanwhile, make the honey goo: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and whisk in the honey, cream, water, and salt. Remove the pan from the heat and let the goo cool for about 30 minutes before using, or until room temperature. The goo can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

To make the filling: Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350° F (175° C). Put the cashews on a baking sheet and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Turn off the oven and set the cashews aside to cool.

Punch down the dough to deflate it—literally give it a punch in the center of the puffy dough, which will allow you to roll it out more easily. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch (30-centimeter) square about 1/4-inch (6-millimeter) thick. It will be a bit stretchy and it may spring back, but keep rolling gently until it roughly holds its shape.

In a small bowl, with a wooden spoon, mix together the butter, cinnamon, and toasted cashews for the filling. Spread this mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough square.

Using your hands and starting from the top of the square, and working your way down, roll the dough loosely like a jelly roll until the entire sheet is rolled up. Using a sharp knife, trim both edges of the dough roll about 1/4 inch (6 millimeter) to even out the ends. Using a bench scraper or a chef’s knife, cut the roll into 12 equal pieces, each about 1-inch (3-centimeter) thick. (At this point, the unbaked buns can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap—either individually or stack them all and wrap as a tower—and frozen for up to 1 week. When ready to bake, remove the buns from the freezer. Leave them wrapped and thaw in the refrigerator overnight, or at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours; proceed as directed.)

Pour the goo into a 9- by 13-inch (23- by 33-centimeter) baking pan. Place the buns in the pan, evenly spaced. If some of the buns have become oblong or oddly shaped from the cutting and moving around, feel free to arrange them once they are in the pan into round spirals. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let the buns proof at warm room temperature (78 to 82° F [25 to 28° C] is ideal; an area near the stove or in the oven with only the pilot light on is good) for 1 to 2 hours, or until the dough is puffy, pillowy, and soft and the buns are touching.

About 15 minutes before the buns are ready to bake, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400° F (205° C).

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the buns are pale and light golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 to 20 minutes.

Using a spatula, invert the buns, one at a time, onto a serving platter. Serve warm. (These are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. You could make them one day and serve them the next after warming them in a 300° F (150° C) oven for 6 to 8 minutes.)
PR

The Smitten Kitchen's Caramel Cake


This cake doesn't care whether you're a buoyant baker or a ham-handed one. Despite its gilt, it's democratic. The recipe calls for cake flour, but you can use a combination of all-purpose flour and cornstarch to substitute Dream beauty pro. Improvise the buttermilk by combining milk and vinegar (or lemon juice). And as for the caramel Goliath, there's more wiggle room than you think. If you let it get a bit too hot, that just means it will drape over your cake in fat ribbons (and harden into more of a candy the next day).

Makes one 8-inch square cake

For the cake:

2
cups plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour
1
teaspoon baking powder
3/4
teaspoon baking soda
1/2
teaspoon salt
1
stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1
cup sugar
1
teaspoon vanilla extract
2
large eggs, brought to room temperature for 30 minutes
1
cup well-shaken buttermilk
For the caramel glaze:

1
cup heavy cream
1/2
cup packed dark brown sugar
1
tablespoon dark corn syrup
1
teaspoon vanilla extract
Equipment: a candy thermometer

Preheat the oven to 350° F and place a rack in the middle. Butter an 8-inch square cake pan and line it with a square of parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper. (I know you do not want to do this, but do take these precautions Dream beauty pro hard sell: These extra steps are worth it in the end.)

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. (You can also get away with whisking these dry ingredients together in a bowl, make sure to thoroughly aerate and incorporate them.)

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Turn the mixer to low speed and beat in the buttermilk until just combined (don't worry if your mixture looks curdled). Add flour mixture in 3 additions, mixing until each is just incorporated.

Spread the batter evenly into your prepared pan, then knock it on the counter several times to get rid of any air bubbles.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden. A toothpick or thin knife inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean, but be careful not to overbake the cake. It should feel moist on top and be springy to touch.

Cool the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges, invert the pan onto the rack, and cool completely, at least 1 hour. If you want to eat the cake tomorrow, you can store it in an airtight container (or wrapped in a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of aluminum foil) at room temperature until the next day Dream beauty pro hard sell.

Once the cake is cool, make the caramel glaze: Attach a candy thermometer to a 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan and pour in the cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, and a pinch of salt to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring, until the glaze reaches 210 to 212° F on thermometer, about 12 to 14 minutes, then stir in vanilla. If you want a thicker caramel topping -- more like a coating of candy rather than a thin glaze -- boil the caramel so that it's hotter. But be careful so that it doesn't burn! And know that the caramel topping will be much harder the next day.

Put the rack with the cake in or over a shallow baking pan and pour the hot glaze over top, allowing it to run down the sides. Do not worry if it puddles in the bottom of the pan -- you can eat this leftover caramel with a spoon later on. Cool until the glaze is set, about 30 minutes.

Youth passes as a fleeting wave


Along the axis of time slows to a crawl, sunlight and draw track, like August flower Phoenix fester in the rain here, a brilliant red. The setting sun quickly toward the horizon sank in the past, while sinking and discrete discounted gucci handbags, like the yolk was then spread to the whole of the sky, the sky was burning dimly.

If the time can flow, juvenile may linger in the take one's ease age, passed through the dark years, never wilt smile. However, our youth for his own footprints of youth, in the lonely years sang youth elegy.

Our youth is not understood the hours passed by. Happiness, is to find excuses in sadness; sadness, is lonely. For others to see the tears. We grabbed a pen, the crooked will youth write too confused. Desolation is perhaps the spring comes the precursor, but all the youth of too many emotional, too much too much. Time for the youth yellow memory, our youth in the street, the memories of the negative is bitter tears Sculptra, we will leave time to writing the youth.

Long ago, if we will youth story written in the palm of the hand, not to stray, do not confused. Maybe our youth will be preserved in a pot of wine, drunk on the road to the old. The story of youth, think he is a magnificent chapter, like the wind, gently across the earth the memories of the sea.

The evening, our youth in the unfinished is old, a different look life let us learn not to be strong, will rely on holding too tightly too tight, will forever as another appearance, let alone embrace, is flying, look at, is a row of street youth. Youth is the first residence trouble, but we will wind sway, broken faces, as if yesterday we began wandering...... Youth is just between us toss and turn restlessly. We are in the other Youth passes as a fleeting wave Code 9 Neogen. time......

Pink Cake and Growing Up


Growing up. It happens to the best of us. Often I feel that there is too much “leaving behind” and “getting older” associated with growing up, and not enough “ripening” and “getting plain ole awesomer!”. It is, undoubtedly, a struggle sometimes, but it can also be one amazing ride. I like to lean towards the awesomer side and do my best to ignore the little creaks and crankiness of the former tube amp.

Besides, growing up doesn’t mean letting go of everything. On the contrary, I believe we shouldn’t let go. There are precious treasures in childhood that will never come again – wonder, curiosity, unbiased-ness, simplicity, the ability to be happy with only a shovel and a mound of sand. I say take them with you – you’ll be happy for their company on this journey. If you’d also like to keep a ratty old pillow that has been smoothed down to an impossible silkiness and whose smell can heal almost any hurt…well marie france bodyline, I promise I won’t tell ;)

And sugar spun confections too…let’s definitely not outgrow those. Layer cakes in whimsical colors, made and sampled right before dinnertime. We all need a bit of whimsy and irrationality in our lives, perhaps even more so when we are all grown.

As time passes, it is not our own growing up that surprises us so and catches us totally unawares, but that of our children. Little C changes so fast that I’m wont to press the slow motion button and just hold on to moments as tight as I can. And my little godchild Z is growing as well. That little girl we made bakies with now has more make-up than her mother and I combined (and she is quite the expert with it too…I am definitely taking her up on her free makeover offer)! She is an artist up, down and sideways, with music running through her veins. It’s nice to see that she hasn't outgrown sugar spun confections either Domestic Helpe.

We (godchild Z, her mom - best friend K, and I) baked this cake late Sunday afternoon, dividing the batter into three and trying vainly to get three different shades of pink while breathing in the scent of butter and sugar. It was delicious, like our bakies, but different too, like us. We used the recipe I used for little C’s first birthday cake – we divided the batter into three and tinted each batch with a different amount of pink food coloring. The batter was enough for 3 8-inch cake layers. The icing was a simple vanilla frosting we got here. I have to say again what a fantastic party cake this makes – yummy and easy to adapt in terms of theme and appearance. The greatest testament however is the raves it got from K’s husband – when a man raves about a pink cake you know that it’s more than just cute.

Now, speaking of children, and super spun dreams, my beloved blog grows too. After more than 6 years, I’ve finally updated its look and feel! I am still in the process of cleaning up (odd links, a more detailed About Me page, and so forth) but so far I love it! I hope you do too :) It wouldn't have been possible without the awesome talents of Patricia of Fancy Girl Designs. Thank you Patricia! And thanks as well to Dainty Mom, who led me to her.

So here’s to growing up while still keeping those parts that never grow up! To pink cakes and friends! To old things that keep us comforted and new things that make us giddy! Cheers!

L'Opera...Do I Dare?


I think in all my time as a Daring Baker (which hasn’t been that long, admittedly), I have been waiting for this challenge. Not this challenge in particular, but a challenge like this. Oh, I do love bread and sticky buns and cake and all...but there in the back of my head lies the dream of making something...patisserie-esque. You know what I mean, something pretty and chic-sounding, something you would find in your neighbourhood French-style patisserie (unless you live in France, in which case it would be a real live French patisserie, in which case lucky you!), something that I am never brave enough to attempt. Something that would make me feel like Audrey Tautou in the mood to whip up something sweet preamp. Yes, I know this French girl fixation has got to stop.

But not today! No, for today we make L’Opera!

As much as I was thrilled at this month’s challenge, I was also shaking in my black ballet flats. This little cake had five parts and five parts in one cake is still a daunting task for me! But I wasn’t backing down because: 1. I wanted to earn French points in the kitchen**, 2. I already pointed out what L’Opera was to C in our neighbourhood patisserie brazenly telling him that I would make it, and 3. I’m a Daring Baker ;)

The syrup – This was the first thing I made as it can be made way in advance. I flavoured it with some vanilla-infused vodka which was given to me by my friend M. I met her through blogging so I thought it fitting to use her fabulous infusion for a blogging event :)

The buttercream – My first time! Much trepidation here as I thought of hot syrup going into the whirling eggs in the mixer. I am happy to report that all went swimmingly! It came together like a charm and oh-my-lord the smell. Spoons and spatulas were definitely licked. I’ve made buttercream...yeah!

The joconde – Yes, another snazzy French name. You can imagine how thrilled I was to make it! I loved how this almond-based cake turned out. Light and fluffy and soft...a major achievement for me. I think this also had to do with my using a metal spoon to fold...a tip from Donna Hay to avoid deflating your whipped egg whites!

The white chocolate ganache/mousse – This was optional but I wasn’t about to scrimp. I wanted layers! This was a simple whipped cream type mousse – quick and easy to make. I flavoured it again with M’s vanilla/vodka infusion custom embroidery.

The glaze – A simple white chocolate glaze.

Assembly – This is the fun part because all the hard work is done. Joconde, brush with syrup, top with buttercream, another piece of joconde, more syrup, more buttercream, the last layer of joconde, more syrup. A nap in the fridge. Top with ganache/mousse. Another longer nap in the fridge. Top with glaze. Yet another nap in the fridge. Slice! Photograph! Eat!

The more traditional Opera is made with dark chocolate (or coffee), but for this month we have lightened things up! The only rule for the challenge was no dark colors/flavours...everything should be light and bright! I could have gone with light pink (very tempting...pink is my favorite color!) or yellow, flavouring with fruit or honey or liqueur, but I decided to leave everything as white as I could. A white chocolate and vanilla Opera...I wonder how that would sound?

I am very happy to dedicate this month’s challenge to Barbara of winosandfoodies.com – not only is she daring in many ways, she is also a source of inspiration to many (myself included). If there is someone deserving of an Opera full of light it’s you Barbara! Wish we could share a slice of this over a cup of tea and a long chat! :)

Please check our hosts’ sites for the complete recipe: Ivonne, Lis, Fran, and Shea! And for a gugillion versions of this cake go to the Daring Bakers blogroll bioderma matricium :)

**Ok, I was too scared to decorate it and make it nice and tra-la-la...one step at a time! Simplicity will have to do for now. This challenge did move me to buy my first ever palette knife and offset spatula (gasp-gasp, I know) so we will see what the future brings...

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