Cinnamon-Date Sticky Buns with Vanilla Glaze

The photo of this special breakfast is on the cover of the April issue of Bon Appétit. I made it almost immediately after seeing the magazine! I really liked the idea of using dates in the filling to add a little bit of natural sweetness and fiber- and to reduce the amount of sugar. Yum.

This recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Molly Baz, Sohla El-Waylly, and Sarah Jampel. It was included in an article titled, “Butter, Sugar, Flour, Magic: A Basically Guide to Better Baking.” There are a lot of other delicious treats included in the article. 🙂 I made the dough and the date filling the day before assembling and baking.

It would be a lovely breakfast to serve on Easter morning.

Yield: 9 sticky buns

For the Dough:

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk or whole-milk plain yogurt
  • 7 T vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4-oz (2 1/4 tsp) envelope active dry yeast
  • 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

For the Filling and Assembly:

  • 1 cup (180 g) packed Medjool dates, halved, pitted
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 T vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (83 g) Confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 T buttermilk or plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract

To Make the Dough:

  1. Combine the buttermilk and 6 tablespoons of oil in a small microwave-safe bowl. (It won’t get smooth.) Heat in the microwave in three 10-second intervals until just about body temperature, or when it registers 98 degrees with an instant-read thermometer. (Alternatively, the mixture can be heated in a small saucepan on medium-low for about 1 minute.)
  2. Whisk egg, brown sugar, and yeast in a liquid measuring cup to combine, then whisk in the buttermilk mixture.
  3. Pulse the flour, baking soda, and salt in a food processor to combine.
  4. With the motor running, stream in the buttermilk mixture. Process until about 80% of the dough comes together in a ball, about 2 minutes. (The mixture will look very wet at first, then the sides will begin to pull away.)
  5. Using a bowl scraper or rubber spatula, scrape the dough onto an unclouded surface. (It will be wet and sticky.)
  6. Knead, pushing it away from you, then pulling it back toward you, until a smooth ball forms, about 3 minutes. (You can lightly oil your hands if the dough is too sticky.) The dough will grow silkier, tighter, and easier to work with as you knead.
  7. Roll out the dough into a rough 8-inch square.
  8. Fold dough over onto itself to make and 8×4-inch rectangle, then flatten it slightly and fold over once more to make a 4-inch square.
  9. Roll dough back out into an 8-inch square.
  10. Repeat the folding process (Step 8); you will have a 4-inch square.
  11. Pour remaining 1 tablespoon into a medium bowl and add dough (still folded); turn to coat.
  12. Cover bowl tightly and chill dough until doubled in volume, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. (I refrigerated my dough overnight.)

To Make the Filling and Assemble:

  1. Place dates in a small bowl and pour in 1 1/2 cups hot water to cover. Let soak until softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Drain dates and transfer to a food processor; discard soaking liquid.
  3. Add cinnamon, salt, and 2 tablespoons of oil.
  4. Purée, scraping down sides as needed, until smooth, about 4 minutes. (You should have about 1/2 cup purée.)
  5. Grease a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.
  6. Transfer dough to a clean, unfloured surface and roll out to an 8-inch square.
  7. Fold in half into an 8×4-inch rectangle, then fold rectangle over itself to form a 4-inch square. If dough feels tough and uncooperative, let it sit for about 5 minutes to relax and try again.
  8. Roll out dough into a 12-inch square, about 1/4-inch thick.
  9. Dollop date purée all over. Using a small offset spatula, spread evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border without purée along edge farthest from you.
  10. Sprinkle brown sugar over purée.
  11. Starting at the edge closest to you, roll up dough into a tight log.
  12. Using a sharp serrated knife and long sawing motions, trim about 1/2-inch of dough form both ends. (These ends can be discarded, but I baked them in a separate small ramekin.)
  13. Slice log crosswise into 3 sections, wiping knife clean between cuts.
  14. Slice each section crosswise into 3 buns. (I used a ruler.) You should have 9 buns total that are each about 1-inch thick. Transfer buns to prepared pan as you go.
  15. Cover pan tightly with plastic wrap or foil. Place in a warm, dry spot. (I used plastic wrap so that I could monitor the rising process. I also placed the pan in a warming drawer.)
  16. Let buns rise until they’re doubled in volume and spring back when poked, leaving only a small indentation, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the humidity and warmth of your kitchen.
  17. Remove plastic wrap, if using, and cover pan with foil.
  18. Place a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 350°, preferably on convection.
  19. Bake buns, still covered, until puffed, pale, and mostly set, about 20 minutes.
  20. Remove foil and continue to bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes if you prefer a soft and squishy bun and up to 25 minutes for a more toasted bun. Let cool slightly. (I baked the small ramekin with the extra end pieces at this point for about 5 minutes- uncovered.)
  21. Meanwhile, whisk powdered sugar, buttermilk, and vanilla in a medium bowl to combine.
  22. Brush glaze over warm buns and serve in skillet.

Do Ahead: Purée can be made 3 days ahead. Place in an airtight container, cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.

Skillet Shepherd’s Pie

My son and I made this dish together for our St. Patrick’s Day dinner. We’ve been keeping ourselves busy while we’re stuck at home! He is a big fan of mashed potatoes, so he made the topping himself. I loved the ridged pattern on the finished crust.

Although the recipe is streamlined to be made in one skillet, it was still a little bit time-consuming. (Thankfully, we had plenty of time!) The plus side is that it can be prepared with ingredients that are readily available in your pantry and freezer. It definitely created less dishes too. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen via The Associated Press. It was originally published in their book, Cook it in Cast Iron. I used a combination of Dutch yellow baby potatoes and red potatoes instead of russet potatoes, ground turkey instead of ground beef, increased the amount of garlic, and modified the method. Great comfort food.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 pounds potatoes, Dutch yellow baby potatoes (unpeeled), red potatoes (unpeeled), or russets (peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 T unsalted butter, divided (4 T melted)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds of ground turkey or 93% lean ground beef
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  1. Cover potatoes with water in large saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon salt, bring to simmer over medium-high heat, and cook until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes for unpeeled baby potatoes or 8 to 10 minutes for peeled and cut russet potatoes.
  2. Drain potatoes and return them to saucepan. If using unpeeled baby potatoes, remove the peels at this point.
  3. Using a potato ricer, process all of the potatoes. (Alternatively the potatoes can be mashed until smooth.)
  4. In a measuring cup, whisk milk and egg together. Stir into potatoes along with 4 tablespoons of melted butter, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; cover and set aside.
  5. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes.
  6. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in skillet.
  7. Add carrots, onion, and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add ground meat and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes.
  9. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  10. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.
  11. Slowly stir in stock and Worcestershire, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps.
  12. Bring to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
  13. Off the heat, stir in peas and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  14. Adjust oven rack 5 inches from broiler element and heat broiler.
  15. Dollop the mashed potatoes over the top of the filling. Smooth topping with a knife or the back of a spoon, then use the tines of a fork to make ridges on the surface.
  16. Place the skillet in the oven and broil until topping is golden brown and crusty, 5 to 10 minutes.
  17. Let the casserole cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Brown Irish Soda Bread with Rosemary

Happy St. Patrick’s Day-Eve! I hope that this post finds you healthy and able to use this self-quarantine time to bake.

I typically make a sweeter version of soda bread to serve for breakfast on St. Patrick’s Day. This savory version was a nice change. It was reminiscent of the rosemary biscuits that my husband and I enjoy at our annual anniversary dinner at Volt in Frederick, MD. I loved that it incorporated whole wheat flour.

This recipe is from Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland by Shauna Sever. I used coarse salt and decreased the baking time. We ate it with salted Irish butter. It was wonderful- very moist and tender.

Yield: One 8-inch loaf

  • 2 cups (256 g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for dusting
  • 2 cups (240 g) 100% whole wheat flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp coarse salt or fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 T (57 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch (1.25 cm) pieces
  • 2 cups (450 g) cold, well-shaken buttermilk, plus more for brushing
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 big pinch to 1 tsp flaky sea salt, for sprinkling, optional
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 425°F/220°C, preferably on convection.
  2. Line a 12×17-inch rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper and dust it with flour.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole wheat flour, baking soda, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
  4. Add the butter pieces to the flour mixture. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal.
  5. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk and honey.
  6. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk mixture.
  7. First use a large flexible spatula, a then your hands, to mix the dough into a sticky mass. Be careful not to over-mix.
  8. Turn out the dough onto the prepared baking sheet and shape it into 6-inch/15 cm ball.
  9. Use a large, floured sharp knife to slice a deep “X” across the top of the bread, about halfway through the ball.
  10. Lightly brush the loaf with buttermilk. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if desired. (I used a large pinch.)
  11. Bake at 425°F/220°C for 15 minutes.
  12. Rotate the pan and lower the temperature to 350°F/180°C and bake for 27 to 35 minutes more, or until the bread id deeply golden and sounds hollow when tapped.
  13. Remove the bread from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Pork Sausage Chili

We have a new favorite chili in our house! It may double as a new favorite Super Bowl meal too. 😉 I was a little concerned about using sausage as such a primary ingredient but the end result was very balanced. It was hearty, full-flavored, and a perfect compliment to our mandatory guacamole appetizer. I also loved that it could be prepared in advance.

I was initially drawn to the recipe because it was titled “BLT Chili” which sounded intriguing and delicious. After reading further, I realized that it was not related to a BLT but was created by chef Laurent Tourondel of BLT Burger in Las Vegas. Funny.

The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Laurent Tourondel. I modified the proportions, used sweet Italian sausage, and served the chili over brown rice. We also had cornbread muffins on the side. Our dessert of After-School Specials completed our festive meal. Perfect.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

  1. In a large, enameled cast-iron Dutch oven or casserole, heat the oil.
  2. Add the sausage and cook over high heat, breaking it up, until browned, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the onions, bell pepper and garlic; cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the onion is translucent, 8 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin and oregano and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Add the tomatoes, beans, corn and water and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 1 hour.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve the chili over rice, if desired, with shredded sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped red onion, pickled jalapeños, cilantro and hot sauce as optional toppings.

Swedish Spice Cookies (Muskotsnittar)

These buttery spice cookies may be the closest I’ve come to replicating my favorite Biscoff cookies. They were especially wonderful warm. Known as Muskotsnittar in Sweden, or nutmeg slices, they are also very easy to make. Freshly ground nutmeg is essential.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart, via Martha Bakes on PBS. I weighed the flour, refrigerated the dough, modified the baking time, and trimmed the edges after baking. Yum.

Yield: Makes about 48 cookies

Danish Butter Cookies

Happy New Year! I have many recipes to share- beginning with the recipes for the holiday cookies that were new to my assortment this year.

My husband could eat Danish butter cookies on a daily basis. 😉 I decided to add them to my Christmas cookie assortment this year after seeing and episode about Scandinavian cookies on Martha Bakes.

This simple and pure version from Martha Stewart is most successful when using high-quality ingredients. I used King Arthur Flour and Plugra European-style butter. I adapted the recipe by weighing the flour and by using a cookie press to make the cookies instead of piping them. Nice.

Yield: about 40 cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) best-quality salted butter, room temperature (I used Plugra)
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 300 g (2 1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add vanilla and egg, and beat to combine.
  4. Gradually add flour, 1 cup at a time, and beat until well incorporated.
  5. Transfer dough to a cookie press, I used the wreath disc, or into a pastry bag fitted with a 7/16-inch star tip (such as Ateco #825 or Wilton #4B).
  6. Spritz cookie shapes or pipe dough into 2 1/2-inch rings onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spaced 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake, rotating halfway through, until lightly golden around edges but still light on top, about 12 to 14 minutes for spritz cookies or up to 20 minutes for piped cookies.
  8. Transfer sheets to wire racks; let cool completely.

Apple-Brown Sugar Pie

One of my favorite columns in all of my food magazines is the “RSVP” section in Bon Appétit. Readers write in to request recipes for amazing restaurant dishes. This recipe is from that column. 🙂

I thought that it was incredible that the apple pie I made last Thanksgiving had over four pounds of apples in the filling. This pie also had four pounds of apples- and they were roasted before filling the crust- packing in even more flavor. Delicious!!

This recipe was adapted from Macrina Bakery in Seattle, via Bon Appétit. I used the recipe for an all-butter crust from my Perfect Apple Pie, used a combination of apples, and made a braided lattice-top crust sprinkled with turbinado sugar. I also covered the pie with a foil dome while baking to prevent over-browning.

Yield: 8 Servings

For the Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups (315 grams) flour
  • 1 T (15 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces, 225 grams tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten, optional
  • coarse or raw sugar for sprinkling, optional

For the Filling and Assembly:

  • 2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, sliced into ½-inch wedges
  • 2 pounds Jazz apples, peeled, sliced into ½-inch wedges
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 1 heaping tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus more
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
  • ½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 2 T turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

To Serve:

  • Lightly sweetened crème fraîche, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream, for serving, optional

Make the Crust:

  1. Gather your ingredients: Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside.
  2. In a large, very wide bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.
  3. Dice two sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) of very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces. (If the butter becomes slightly warm, re-refrigerate until very cold.)
  4. Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with a pastry blender, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed so all parts are worked evenly.
  5. When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas — this won’t take long — stop- even if it looks uneven.
  6. Start by drizzling 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the ice-cold water (but not the cubes, if there are any left!) over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together.
  7. Add an additional 1/4 cup (60 ml) of cold water to bring it together, one tablespoon as a time. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and use your hands to gather the damp clumps together into one mound, kneading them gently together.
  8. Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. I like to use the sides to pull in the dough and shape it into a disk.
  9. Let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, but preferably at least two, before rolling it out. (I make my dough a day in advance.)
  10. Once the dough is chilled and ready to go, roll out the first half on a well-floured counter into a 14-inch circle and transfer it to 9-inch standard (not deep-dish) pie plate.
  11. With scissors or kitchen shears, trim overhang to one inch all around. Refrigerate dish and dough until needed.
  12. For a regular pie lid, roll out the second dough half into the same sized circle, transfer it to a large parchment-lined baking sheet and chill this as well until needed. For a lattice or woven pie lid, you can use the same sized circle, or you can just roll it into a rectangle at least 14″ in one direction, and then as long or wide you can get it in the other. Transfer it to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill this as well until needed. (I made a braided lattice top.)

Do ahead: Dough will keep in the refrigerator for about a week, and in the freezer longer. If not using it that day, wrap it in additional layers of plastic wrap to protect it from fridge/freezer smells. To defrost your dough, move it to the fridge for one day before using it.

Make the Filling And Assemble:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°, preferably on convection.
  2. Toss apples, 1 cup granulated sugar, and ¼ cup flour in a large bowl. Divide between 2 rimmed baking sheets; bake, rotating baking sheets once, until apples are just tender, 25–30 minutes.
  3. Let the apples cool, then transfer apples and accumulated juices to a large bowl.
  4. Add butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and 1 heaping tablespoon of flour; toss to combine. Chill at least 1 hour.
  5. Scrape apples into prepared pie crust and place dough over top; trim, leaving 1″ overhang. (I made a lattice top.)
  6. Fold edge of top crust under bottom crust, press together to seal, and crimp. If using a full pie crust top, cut 8 slits in top to vent.
  7. Brush top crust with egg, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of turbinado sugar.
  8. Chill pie in freezer until crust is firm, about 30 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to 400°. Place pie on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, cover the edge with a pie shield and cover entire pie with a foil dome (see note); bake 30 minutes (crust should be slightly golden).
  10. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue baking until juices are bubbling and crust is deep golden brown, 50–70 minutes. (I kept the edge covered but removed the foil dome the last 15 minutes of baking.)
  11. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool at least 4 hours before slicing. Serve with crème fraîche, whipped cream or ice cream, as desired.

Note: If your pie is browning too fast, take a large square of foil, mold it over the back of a large bowl into a convex dome, then use that to cover the pie in the oven for the remaining baking time so it doesn’t brown much further.

Do Ahead: Roasted apples can be made 1 day ahead; keep chilled. Pie can be made 1 day ahead and stored at room temperature.

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