It’s Hamantaschen Season

Hamantaschen season is the best season. Purim is right around the corner and although I’m not Jewish, I know a good pastry when I eat one. When I was looking into a hamantaschen recipe to try, the most popular comment I read was that these just don’t work. It was either the dough, the filling, or the triangles fell apart while baking. Many said that these weren’t worth trying, and that it’s easier to just go buy them from a bakery.

I’m here to say that there’s hope! I adapted this recipe from Bon Appetit, and Anne can attest to their swoon-worthy quality. I wouldn’t call the recipe too intensive, although there are a few steps involved. Baking with a friend or significant other definitely wouldn’t hurt! We ended up baking one disc of dough (see recipe below) and freezing the other to bake a week later. The second batch turned out just as delicious as the first.

Hamantaschen (adapted from Bon Appetit)

Active time: 35 minutes | Bake time: 16 minutes | Yields: 36 hamantaschen

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • jams or preserves

Whisk baking powder, salt, and flour in a bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat butter and sugar on medium-high until pale and fluffy, five minutes. Add two eggs one at a time, beating to combine after each addition. Scrape down bowl when needed.

Reduce speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix until the dough has come together. Divide dough in half. Form two discs about 3/4-inch thick, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2+ hours.

Place oven racks in upper and lower thirds. Preheat to 350°F. Take out one disc from the refrigerator, and let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes. Place disc between two sheets of wax paper. Roll out dough until 1/4-inch thick. Peel back upper wax paper and use a 3-inch cookie cutter to cut out rounds. Use a spatula to transfer rounds to parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Gather scraps and repeat.

Place 1 teaspoon of jam in the center of each round. Brush a beaten egg generously around the edges of the rounds. Fold up and pinch the sides to create triangles. Brush all exposed dough and seams with egg again. Take out second disc as you put the first batch into the oven.

Bake for 16 minutes or until light golden brown, switching racks halfway through. Let cool in pan for five minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container for 3-5 days.

From Scissors & Sage

Happy Purim, and happy daylight savings!

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Mini Chocolate and Berry Bundt Cakes With: Tala Ginsberg

I realize that I’ve been heavy on the guest blog posts these days, but I just can’t help myself! It’s so fun hearing from other passionate crafters and bakers and the like. The first guest blog post of 2015 came from Elaine Burns, who taught us how to arrange a beautiful bouquet of flowers. The second guest post was from Jayme Henderson of Holly & Flora. She shared a delicious blood orange whiskey cocktail recipe with us. Next up: Tala Ginsberg. She is a Speech and Language Pathology student by day, creative baker by night. We went to college together, and we were both music majors.

Tala runs her own baking business called Eats and the City (@eatsandthecity on Instagram), and comes up with all kinds of mouth-watering recipes. When we spoke about her guest posting on Scissors & Sage, she asked what type of dessert I had in mind. I told her I like the combination of chocolate and berries, and she took it from there. Below you will find her story and recipe!

From Tala: I have always been a passionate baker. I started baking around the age of six or seven on my own, though when I was that young it was basically boxed cakes and Pillsbury cookie dough tubs! When I spent time at home with my nanny, I remember going to the basement to get a box of brownie or cake mix to make on my own. I would always have to ask my nanny to hold the bowl while I scraped the batter into the cake pan because my little hands couldn’t do it all!

I essentially started Eats and the City because I was constantly baking and putting the end results on my personal Instagram. One day, my roommates encouraged me to consider making an Instagram just for my food. Originally, I was against it because it seemed like too much work but, after giving in, I became addicted to it! My favorite part of @eatsandthecity is seeing peoples’ reactions. That’s the best part of baking in general.

For the past couple of years or so, I’ve tried not to make the same thing twice (except classic chocolate chip cookies, which you can never make too many of). I always try to switch it up, even if it’s the same base recipe (for example, brownies) but with a new twist. A few years back, I started asking my friends to pick one ingredient on their birthdays. From there, I decided on what dessert to make for them. It has ranged from ice cream cake with toasted marshmallows to cinnamon sugar brownies. I also find a lot of inspiration from Pinterest.

This year, I am focusing on gaining @eatsandthecity followers. I want people to become interested in the desserts that I make. The more people see what I’m making, the more helpful feedback I get. Everything I make for EatC is homemade, so the feedback is important to me. I’d love to one day open a bakery, and I see this as my own mini-start to that dream.

Mini Berry Surprise Bundt Cakes (adapted from Hip Foodie Mom)

Bake time: 20-25 minutes | Yields: Makes four 6” Bundt Cakes

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 1 ½ cups room-temperature brewed coffee
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla

Ingredients for the ganache:

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • ½ tsp vanilla

Ingredients for the extras:

  • Mixed berries (I used blackberries, raspberries and strawberries.)
  • Powdered sugar

For the cake: Preheat oven to 375°F and coat bundt pans with cooking spray to ensure that the cakes will pop right out. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, cream softened butter and granulated sugar. Beat eggs into the large bowl one at a time until light and fluffy. Add cocoa powder and mix thoroughly. Stir in coffee until well-mixed. Next, add the flour mixture to the large bowl. Once the mixture is well-combined, pour the mixture into the bundt pans. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cakes cool before adding the extras.

For the ganache: Pour the chocolate chips into a medium bowl and set aside. Combine the heavy cream and vanilla extract in a saucepan on the stove. Heat on low until little bubbles form around the edges. Leave on for approximately 30 seconds. Pour this hot mixture over the chocolate chips in the bowl. Use a whisk to mix and thoroughly combine until chocolate chips are melted. Pour over bundt cakes and serve with extras.

From Scissors & Sage

All photos taken by Tala Ginsberg

Blackberry-Apple Hand Pies

One of the things I am most grateful for in my life is the fact that I was raised around food.  It’s not that I ate like a 5-year-old queen (which I did), but that the memories I have of spending time with my family in the kitchen are remarkably strong.  Whether we were cooking, baking, eating, or talking (we were always talking), the kitchen was our gathering spot.  Three of my four Italian grandparents were incredible cooks and bakers.  The fourth was known more for his eager appetite — the way to his heart was through his stomach!  Recently, I have been adapting the skills and values that I learned from my grandparents as I begin to find my way around my own kitchen.

In today’s recipe, I have used my grandpa’s beloved cookie cutter, my mom’s dough-rolling technique, and Anne’s grandma’s flakey dough recipe.  While I had never in my life eaten a hand pie until the very moment they came out of my oven, these are something that I am sure my grandparents would have enjoyed eating.  Who wouldn’t like a mini pie?

In The Flavor Thesaurus, Niki Segnit writes about the pairing of blackberry and apple as follows: “Like Simon and Garfunkel: perfectly respectable solo careers, can go octuple platinum together.  Apple is Simon, by the way, the dominant partner.  Blackberry does the high notes.”

Blackberry-Apple Hand Pies

Prep time: 45 minutes | Bake time: 30-35 minutes | Yields: 10 pies

Compote ingredients (Adapted from epicurious):

  • 2 cups blackberries
  • 1 large golden delicious apple, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 1/2 tbs all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbs demerara sugar

Virginia’s Flakey Dough ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 4 tbs cold water

In the morning, whip up a batch of Virginia’s flakey dough.  Combine flour, salt, and 1/2 cup of shortening in a medium-sized bowl.  Use two butter knives to make criss-cross motions with your hands/arms.  The dry ingredients should begin mixing slightly with the shortening.  Add the remaining 1/4 cup of shortening, leaving it slightly chunkier in pea-sized pieces.  Then, add 1 tbs of water at a time, sprinkling it over the dough and mixing it in with your forefinger.  (I used 6 tbs of water to reach a consistency that I liked.)  Gather the dough in a flattened ball, plastic wrap it, and stick it in the refrigerator for 45+ minutes.  Go relax!

When you’re ready to start the compote filling, put oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 375°F.  In a nonstick saucepan or wok, cook the blackberries, apple, flour, cinnamon, and white sugar on medium heat.  It’s important to stand nearby and stir almost continuously with a spatula.  The mixture will begin to thicken and turn a beautiful deep purple.  After 5 minutes, or when the mixture begins to bubble, set aside in a shallow bowl to cool.  Next, take a whiff.  You’ll get a sneak preview of what heaven smells like.

Enter my mom’s dough-rolling technique: Take the chilled dough out of the refrigerator.  Cut it in half and put half back in the refrigerator, wrapped.  Cut two generously-sized pieces of waxed paper and place the half-ball of dough in between them.  Using a rolling pin, start to shape the dough into a flattened circle.  Turn the waxed-paper setup often to create a circle when rolling.  Roll until the dough has reached 1/4-inch thick.  Peel back the top layer of waxed paper and use a cookie cutter to punch the dough out.  Reserve scraps.

Using a spring-loaded ice cream scooper, place a tsp-sized amount of compote on half of the cutouts.  Brush milk around the edges of these cutouts.  Then, press a second cutout over the compote and into the bottom layer’s edges.  Brush the top of the pie with milk and sprinkle demerara sugar over it.  Use a sharp knife to carefully cut a small “x” shape into the top of the pie.  Transfer completed hand pies to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Take the other half of dough out of the refrigerator and repeat this process.  Repeat a third time using all of the remaining dough scraps.  (I am a firm believer in No Scrap Left Behind.)

Place the baking sheets in the oven, and set a timer for 15 minutes.  When the timer goes off, switch the baking sheet positions and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  Transfer baked hand pies to a cooling rack when they have reached a golden brown color.

I ended up having about half of my compote mixture left over in the end.  I placed mine in the freezer to make more hand pies in the near future!  These little pies pair nicely with the tartness of Greek frozen yogurt.  They are also easy to pack into any bagged lunch because they are self-contained.

From Scissors & Sage

Some more tips: Note that because this is a lengthy process, I found it helpful to clean as I go.  That way, I don’t have an overload of dishes to wash at the end of my baking.  Make the dough ahead of time.  Take a rest as the compote cools.  These are all suggestions that might help make your baking experience more fun and enjoyable.  Happy baking!

Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Cake

This cake is a miracle cake.  It simultaneously satisfies many cravings: citrus, berry, and creamy-rich-moist goodness.  It can be served for breakfast with coffee or tea, as a mid-afternoon snack, or as an after dinner dessert when paired with vanilla ice cream.  Brilliant!  This recipe comes from good old Smitten Kitchen (who adapted it from Ina Garten).  This cake can be whipped up for yourself, a loved one, or may act as a nice contribution for a dinner party or potluck.  And the best part?  The blueberries can easily be replaced with any other small fruit like cut strawberries or raspberries.

Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Cake (via Smitten Kitchen)

Prep time: 15 minutes | Bake time: 50 minutes | Yields: 1 cake

Cake ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups and 1 tbs flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries

Glaze ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbs sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour a loaf pan.  In a medium bowl, sift 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a large bowl, whisk yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla, and oil.  Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Toss the blueberries and 1 tbs of flour in a small bowl.  Mix those into the batter carefully.  Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

While the cake is in the oven, combine the lemon juice and 1 tbs sugar in a saucepan over low heat.  Set the mixture aside once the sugar dissolves and appears clear.

When the cake is done, let it cool for 10 minutes.  Then transfer it to a cooling rack.  Place the cooling rack inside a cookie sheet pan.  Gently drizzle the glaze over the cake while the cake is still warm.  (Making tiny toothpick holes in the top of the cake first will allow the glaze to seep into the cake slightly.)  Let the cake cool and enjoy!

From Scissors & Sage

Note: Photos by Anne Kenealy.