Hamburger Buns

Summer means barbecue season, barbecue season means burgers, and burgers means an excuse to make homemade burger buns! See what I did there? Chain of thinking. It’s a beautiful thing.

Despite the fact that I don’t really need a reason to bake anything, because Paul just accepts it and loves me anyways, one of his specialties is burgers. I’ve been playing around with recipes for hamburger buns for years, but none of them have ever been great. I’ve turned my soft pretzel recipe into buns, but as good as they are, they never seem to rise enough for me. I’ve used other recipes, but they also seem to fall flat. (Hah! I’m on fire today! My pun game is strong! Sorry…)

I came across this recipe, and I had to check it out. It’s originally from Allrecipes, but when a recipe says that almost a thousand people have tried it, and the review counter is a few hundred in the positives, AND every picture included from people who have also made these buns look incredible, I figured I was on to something.

Sure enough, I was. These buns are awesome, and can hold up well to a homemade hamburger. Give these buns a shot!

Ingredients

Yield: 8 buns

2¼ tsp. active dry yeast
3½ c. flour, divided
1 c. water, at 105°F
1 egg
3 tbsp. butter, melted
3 tbsp. sugar
1¼ tsp. salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. milk, for garnish
Sesame seed, for garnish (optional)

In the bowl of a mixer, place the yeast. Whisk in ½ c. flour and the water, and let sit 10-15 minutes until foamy.

Whisk in the egg, butter, sugar, and salt until evenly incorporated. Switch to a dough hook, and add the remaining flour. Knead the dough on low speed 5-6 minutes, until soft, sticky, and cohesive.

The dough should be sticky and elastic, but not stick to your fingers. Once the dough has reached this consistency, take the dough out of the mixer bowl, oil the bowl, and form the dough into a smooth, round ball, kneading a bit more if necessary. Place the dough back into the oiled bowl, and turn to coat evenly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to double in size, about 2 hours.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and pat out to deflate. Cut dough into 8 equal pieces, then form into a round ball, tucking the ends underneath.

Pat the dough balls into rounds about a ½ inch thick. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Place the dough balls a ½ inch apart on the baking tray. Dust buns very lightly with flour, and cover lightly with plastic wrap (this does not need to be a tight seal). Let buns rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Beat the egg and milk together. Very gently, brush the egg wash over the buns, being careful not to deflate them. Sprinkle each bun with sesame seeds, if using.

Bake in the preheated oven until light golden brown on top, about 15-17 minutes. Buns will have stuck together if they were touching. This is fine. Let the buns cool completely, then tear apart and cut in half to serve.

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Chocolate Raspberry Charlotte Cake

Hello again!

I have had an extended absence from the blogging world, and for that, I am sorry! It has been a crazy last month and a half. Since my last post (almost a month ago! Agghh!) classes have ended, final exams are over, graduation is done, and I have been to, and am back from, Edmonton, where I marked diploma exams for a week.

After I got back from Edmonton, I got sick with a cold for a week, got better, went to Lethbridge, and began to clean out and move my classroom.

With all that insanity behind me, I decided to make something a little fancy before the insanity starts again. I have a friend’s wedding coming up, and I am making centerpieces and the cupcakes.

A charlotte cake is French in origin, usually with a sponge cake of some kind at the base, and ladyfinger cookies surrounding a fluffy smooth mousse filling.

I decided to make my own version of a charlotte. I did use recipes I found for all components, but put all the recipes together for my own version. I used the sponge cake and raspberry mousse filling from this site, and the chocolate mousse from here. Honestly, I should have halved the chocolate mousse recipe, because it made so much. I have reflected the proper measurements below, but if you want just a chocolate charlotte, double the recipe and use just the chocolate mousse as a filling.

The recipe I used consists of the following: a ladyfinger cookie outline surrounding the pan, a sponge cake base, a raspberry mousse, a chocolate mousse, and a middle layer of ladyfinger and sponge cake trimmings.

Here is a fancy dessert that (other than the sponge cake), requires no turning on of your oven. In fact, some versions of a charlotte use more ladyfingers as a base instead of a spongecake. This is a perfectly fine, and the only reason I didn’t use ladyfingers was because I ran out, so I made a sponge cake base. Them’s the breaks.

I will warn you: this dessert is not for the faint of heart! It’s a time and labour intensive dessert, but SO worth the effort.

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9 inch cake

For the sponge cake:

4 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
3-4 tbsp. raspberry preserves, jam, or liqeur

For the raspberry mousse:

2½ c. frozen raspberries
½ c. sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. unflavoured gelatin
2 c. heavy cream
6 tbsp. icing sugar

For the chocolate mousse:

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. heavy cream
¼ c. milk
¼ c. plus 2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
3 eggs, separated
¼ c. sugar

For the lining and garnish:

2-3 dozen ladyfinger cookies (more if you use ladyfingers as a base as well as the lining)
1 c. heavy cream
Fresh raspberries (if desired)
Chocolate shavings (if desired)

To prepare, line the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper, and the sides of the springform pan with plastic wrap. Trim ladyfinger cookies ½ inch, so there is one flat edge. Place upright in the springform pan, sitting on the flat edge. If desired, line the bottom of the pan with more ladyfinger cookies, and use the cut pieces to fill in gaps.

If not lining the cake pan with ladyfinger cookies, begin preparation by making the sponge cake. In a 7 inch cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350°F.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs for 1 minute. Add the sugar, and beat again on high speed approximately 7 minutes, until light, fluffy, and 3-4 times the volume.

Sift together the flour and baking powder. Sift the flour mixture into the egg mixture in two additions, folding after each addition. Be thorough, and catch any hidden flour pockets, but keep the air in and do not over-mix.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 23-25 minutes, until top is golden and springs back when poked lightly.

Let cool completely, then slice cake in half. My cake did not slice evenly, so I had one even layer, and I turned the remainder into a secondary “crumb” layer with my ladyfinger pieces in the middle.

For the raspberry mousse, combine the frozen raspberries and sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the raspberries reach a jam-like consistency. Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve into a bowl, pressing on the fruit to extract as much liquid as possible.

Into the strained raspberry juice, stir in the lemon juice and gelatin. Transfer back to the saucepan, and over the warm burner whisk together until gelatin dissolves, then take back off the heat and let cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and the icing sugar together until thick and spreadable. Once the raspberry syrup is at room temperature, fold into the whipped cream a ¼ at a time, until all of the raspberry syrup is incorporated. Set aside, at room temperature.

For the chocolate mousse, in a heat-proof bowl add the chocolate, and melt over a double boiler or in the microwave for 30 second blasts, stirring constantly.

Add the milk, and whisk completely. Add the butter, and the egg yolks, whisking again until fully incorporated.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cream until fluffy and thick. Fold in the chocolate mixture.

In a clean mixer bowl (with no grease whatsoever!), whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, and whip egg whites into stiff peaks.

Fold egg whites into the chocolate mixture until cohesive.

To assemble the charlotte, in the prepared springform pan lined with ladyfingers, place the sponge cake in the base of the pan. Brush with the raspberry preserves, jam, or liqueur if using.

Spread half of the raspberry mousse in an even layer, and place in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes to set up. Top with half of the chocolate mousse, and refrigerate again to begin setting up. Be careful not to knock the ladyfingers out of place.

If desired, use another layer of ladyfingers and cake crumbs on top of the chocolate mousse layer.

Top with remaining raspberry mousse, set for 10-20 minutes again, the remaining chocolate mousse, and refrigerate 3-4 hours until set.

To garnish, whip the cream into soft, thick peaks. Fill a piping bag with a star tip, and the whipped cream. Pipe onto charlotte, and garnish as desired with raspberries or chocolate shavings.

Sourdough Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

It’s no secret I love sourdough! I am always trying to find new ways to use my sourdough starter in baking. Sure, I have my favourites, like these crackers, or these soft pretzels, but I’m always on the lookout for new uses.

When I realized that I needed to make some more sourdough bread, I was immediately looking for a new recipe to use with my discard starter. I hate throwing any sourdough starter away, so I think it’s a good plan to have some kind of recipe rotation of discard recipes that I can whip up when I need them.

This recipe was just what I needed. I had Paul peruse my Pinterest board (and I just minorly geeked out at my own alliteration… yay for being an English teacher!), and he said that these were the first things that sounded good. Perfect!

You can make these muffins with pantry staples. Also, if you are not a regular yogurt buyer, like me, just swap the yogurt out with more milk, or sour cream. I used sour cream, and added just a touch more sugar to offset the sour cream in the sourdough recipe.

These muffins take no time at all to make, and you can have fresh muffins on the table in less than an hour. Win-win!

Ingredients

Yield: 12-14 muffins

1 c. rolled oats
½ c. milk
½ c. plain yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
½ c. sourdough starter
1/3 c. sugar
1½ c. flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1/3 c. oil (I used canola)
1 egg, beaten
¾ c. chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup muffin tin. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, milk, yogurt, and vanilla. Make sure oats are thoroughly combined. Set aside to soften while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. (You can also do this step before preheating the oven, if desired.)

Stir the sourdough starter and the sugar into the oat mixture.

In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon, and salt. Whisk until combined.

Stir oil and egg into the oat mixture, and combine well.

Fold in dry ingredients until just mixed, then add the chocolate chips, and fold in again.

Spoon batter into the prepared muffin tin. For huge muffins, evenly divide all batter into muffin cups. I wanted normal-sized muffins, so I spooned about ¼ cup of batter into all cups. I had batter left over, (about 2 muffins worth), so I just greased a large ramekin, and made 1 jumbo muffin.

Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from muffin tin and cool on a wire rack.

Sugar Cookie Bars

This came about from a craving for sugar cookies, but without the desire to make the dough, cool, roll, cut, and bake. I wanted something plain and simple, easy to make, with delicious results.

These cookie bars are just that. The dough takes about five minutes to whip up, you press it all into a pan, then bake, cool, and top with the frosting that also comes together in a flash.

I got the recipe here, and I am so glad I finally gave these a go! They have been on my Pinterest boards forever, and were desperately crying out for me to make them. They are soft, chewy, and just everything you want in a simple sugar cookie. Not going to lie, I cut the bars into 16 pieces, so slightly smaller than the recipe calls for, but I feel like 16 is the perfect number. Paul was also watching, and he was very excited for a big piece of a cookie bar. (He also basically licked the bowl clean when I finished spreading the frosting… What can I say? The man loves his sweets!)

Go make these! Please, you need them in your life!

Ingredients

Yield: About 12-16 bars, depending on cut size

For the cookie dough:

½ c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 tbsp. sour cream
1 egg
½ tsp. vanilla
2½ c. flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher or sea salt

For the frosting:

½ c. butter, softened
4 c. icing sugar
4-6 tbsp. whipping cream (milk works as well, just use less)
½ tsp. vanilla
Pinch kosher or sea salt
Food colouring (if desired)
Sprinkles (if desired)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper, set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until pale and well-combined.

Add in the sour cream, egg, and vanilla, and mix again. Add in the flour, salt, and baking powder, and mix on low speed until completely incorporated and a cohesive dough forms.

Press into the prepared baking pan in an even layer. Bake in the preheated oven for 16-17 minutes. If the edges start to turn brown, take out of the oven immediately.

Let cool completely before frosting.

While the cookie bars are cooling, make the frosting.

In the bowl of a mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the butter until creamy. Add in the icing sugar, a half cup at a time, adding in the vanilla and a little bit of milk or cream at a time to get to the right consistency (it should be spreadable, but not too thin). Add in the food colouring, and whip until cohesive.

Spread onto the cooled cookie bars, then remove from pan (the parchment paper is helpful here…. handles!) and slice into bars. Store in the refrigerator for firmer icing, or at room temperature for softer icing.

Sourdough Biscuits

Who doesn’t love a biscuit warm from the oven slathered in butter? This girl right here has a huge soft spot for warm biscuits and butter. Because I’m not from the South, I love just butter, not gravy on my biscuits.

My faithful readers also know that I’m always on the hunt for a new sourdough recipe, and especially ones that use the discard starter, instead of fed, active starter. I’m a busy lady! I can’t always remember to take out my starter the night before and feed it!

I found this recipe, and it looked perfect. It was extremely easy to whip together, and took me less than 10 minutes until I had biscuits in the oven. All in all, a biscuit recipe that takes less than half an hour to come out of the oven? Yes, please!

Now, you can taste the sourdough flavour in this recipe, so if you like a little bit of sweetness in your biscuits, I recommend drizzling on some honey or covering your biscuits in jam. Still, they are tall, fluffy and light, and a perfect way to welcome the day!

Ingredients

Yield: 8 biscuits, approx. 3 inches wide

1 c. flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
6 tbsp. butter, cold and sliced into cubes
1 c. unfed sourdough starter, straight from the fridge
2 tbsp. butter, melted, for finishing

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Cut in the cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add the sourdough starter, and mix using a wooden spoon until mixture comes together. Knead in the bowl a few times until cohesive, then turn out onto a work surface and pat down, until the dough is in an even layer.

Using a biscuit cutter, or a glass with the rim dipped in flour, cut out biscuits, as many as you can, from the dough. Don’t turn the cutter, as that seals off the edges and your biscuits may not rise as much.

Reform the dough, working with it as little as possible, and re-cut the dough, placing the cut biscuits on the prepared baking tray. With the last scraps, hand form the last biscuit.

Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until biscuits begin to brown on the edges. When the biscuits come out of the oven, brush the tops with the reserved melted butter, and sprinkle kosher salt on top, if desired.

Serve warm.