Coffee Cake Donuts

I’m on a mission to recreate Entenmann’s crumb-topped donuts. Someday, I’ll find a recipe that mimics them as well as any home baker can. But this morning, I tried out a coffee cake-style donut that I found over at Baker By Nature. I suspect that cutting the butter into my topping wasn’t the way to go; it wasn’t very crumb-like, so next time I’ll just rub the butter in with my fingers to distribute it a bit better and yield larger crumbs.

I adapted the original recipe by adding cinnamon and nutmeg to the batter, and also adding nutmeg to the crumb topping. I omitted the drizzle icing, but you could certainly add a drizzle if you like. The end result was less flavorful that I’d hoped for, so if I make these again I’ll add more spices to the batter. That’s the beauty of baking – you learn something every time and can always adapt.

Ingredients

For the topping

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 and 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 1/4 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into tiny cubes

For the donuts

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 6-well donut pan.

Make the topping by combining the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg; rub in the butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Refrigerate while making the donut batter.

For the batter, whisk together flour, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, melted butter, and egg; add to dry mixture and fold to combine. Batter will be very thick; be careful not to over-mix it.

Place batter in a piping bag and pipe into donut wells, distributing batter evenly. Top with crumb mixture.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for about 3 minutes, then remove and place on a wire rack and let cool another 2-3 minutes before serving. If you like, you can make a drizzle icing for the tops as well.

Homemade baked donuts are best eaten the day they’re made, but can be stored for about a day at a cool room temperature in an airtight container.

Makes 6.

Hazelnut Brownies

You’ve had Nutella, right? Was your life ever the same afterward? No, it was not. Because you’ve probably put that delicious chocolate hazelnut spread on everything from pretzels to graham crackers to toast. And why wouldn’t you? It’s delicious. I miss it very much in migraine life.

While these aren’t Nutella brownies, they are a wonderful combination of chocolate and hazelnut. I adapted King Arthur Flour’s “On the Fence” brownie recipe, which yields a somewhat cakey, somewhat fudgy treat, by adding a tablespoon of hazelnut liqueur and some chopped toasted hazelnuts to the batter, then topping the baked treats with a hazelnut buttercream and more toasted hazelnuts.

Ingredients

For the brownies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups Dutch process cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon hazelnut liqueur
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

For the frosting

  • 12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons hazelnut liqueur
  • Chopped toasted hazelnuts

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking tin.

In a large microwave-save bowl, melt butter. Stir in sugar and microwave for another 45-60 seconds, until the mixture is just hot. Stir in cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder, then whisk in eggs, vanilla extract, and hazelnut liqueur. Stir in flour, then chopped hazelnuts. Spread evenly in prepared pan.

Bake for 28-30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat butter on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Add powdered sugar and allow the mixture to incorporate fully; this will take a few minutes. Add vanilla extract and hazelnut liqueur and beat until combined.

Frost brownies and sprinkle with chopped toasted hazelnuts. Cut into two-inch squares; store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Orange Blossoms

Last week I bought some Cara Cara oranges for Mike’s favorite orange almond cake, a sweeter, seedless variety of the navel orange. I’d really wanted Valencia oranges but couldn’t find them, and figured the Cara Cara would make a good substitute. The leftover oranges (well, their juice and zest) went into these orange blossom cookies, a wonderful recipe from King Arthur Flour.

You’ve likely had cookies like this before, perhaps from the cookie table at a Pittsburgh-area wedding. They’re soft and cakey, with just enough icing on top to enhance the flavor. I chose to bake smaller cookies than the recipe originally called for and used a one-inch cookie scoop, and also increased my icing quantity just a bit to make sure I had enough to cover them all. The end result is absolutely delicious, and one that could be easily adapted for other citrus flavors, like lemon or lime.

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 11 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • zest from 2 oranges*
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia
  • 2 cups flour

For the icing

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • zest from 1 orange*
  • 4-5 tablespoons orange juice

*Cara Cara oranges are smaller than regular navel oranges; you can get about 1 tablespoon of zest from each one. If you’re using regular navel oranges in this recipe, you’ll have a bit more zest than you need. Zest yields a stronger flavor, so you can adjust how much you use based on your own tastes. 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, then orange juice and zest, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and fiori di Sicilia. The dough will look clumpy and kind of curdled, but that’s okay – add the flour and beat to combine, and the dough will smooth out. The end result will be kind of fluffy dough.

Using a one-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating the cookie sheet about halfway through baking, until the edges are just golden. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets for 1-2 minutes, then place on wire racks to cool completely.

Once cookies are cool, make the icing: beat butter, powdered sugar, and orange zest on low, then medium speed, for 1-2 minutes. Add orange juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, to reach a spreadable consistency. Frost cookies and allow them to set before serving. Store between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes about 40 cookies.

Sparkling Easter Sugar Cookies

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor coronavirus will keep a baker from sending her favorite Maryland girls treats for Easter. These sparkling cut-out cookies, made simply from sugar cookie dough and colored sugar, are on their way to Mo and Margo as I write this along with a few other Easter favorites.

Colored sugar is a great alternative for sugar cookie decoration, especially when you’ll be sending such cookies through the mail. In addition to the pink and purple eggs in the photo at left, I also made some yellow and blue eggs, along with these adorable ducklings. You’ll need some miniature chocolate chips and very thick powdered sugar icing for the beaks, or you could use royal icing for the beaks if you prefer. Because I needed such a tiny amount, I just mixed a tablespoon of powdered sugar with enough water – about a drop at a time – to get the consistency I wanted.

Ingredients

  • 1 batch sugar cut-outs made with 2 extra teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • Pink, purple, yellow, and blue decorating sugar
  • Miniature chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • Water
  • Orange food coloring

Preparation

Prepare cookie dough and allow to chill for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line three baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness and cut with egg and duckling cutters. Place cookies onto prepared sheets and decorate with colored sugar; for the ducklings, I placed a miniature chocolate chip for the eye after covering the cookie with yellow sugar.

Bake for 9-10 minutes, until edges are very light golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks for about 3 minutes, then place on wire racks to cool completely.

When cookies are cool, combine powdered sugar with enough water – about 1 drop at a time – and orange food coloring to make a very thick icing. Use a small spatula to frost the duckling beaks and allow to set completely before storing. Store cookies in an airtight container between layers of waxed paper.

My batch made about 24 eggs and 9 ducklings, so just shy of three dozen cookies.

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

Mike is now working from 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., meaning that he gets up ridiculously early. Last night, after he went to bed (at about 8 p.m., not that I blame him) I baked him these cinnamon sugar donuts to take to work. I left them next to our stove, along with his travel mug, a bag of extra bold Earl Gray tea, and a kettle full of water waiting to be boiled. I figure since he’s leaving before the crack of dawn, I can help make his mornings a bit easier.

Truth be told, baked donuts are much better eaten immediately, but I doubt the early morning crew at Pittsburgh’s VA hospital cared about that. Adapted from a recipe at Sally’s Baking Addiction, these treats are quite tasty, and I can imagine making them in the future with different spice combinations. I chose to make about three dozen mini donuts and three regular-sized donuts, but you could do all regular or all mini depending on what you choose.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour (use the spoon and sweep method for this)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • About 1/2 cup cinnamon sugar, for topping*

*Mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray donut pans with baking spray.

Place cinnamon sugar in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a large glass measuring cup, combine eggs, brown sugar, milk, yogurt, melted butter, and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth. Pour into flour mixture and stir together until just moistened and no dry streaks remain; be careful not to over-mix. Your batter should be lumpy and kind of fluffy.

Transfer batter to a large piping bag and pipe batter into the donut wells, filling about 2/3 full. Bake full-sized donuts for 9-10 minutes and mini donuts for 7-8 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool in the pan for 1-2 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool for another minute. Toss in cinnamon sugar while still warm; this will coat the tops of the donuts. Alternatively, you can dip the donuts into melted butter, then coat them in the cinnamon sugar, but I skipped this step since I didn’t want them to be too gooey by the morning.

Baked donuts are best served immediately, but they can be kept for about a day in an airtight container at room temperature. The cinnamon sugar will start to soften the donuts, but they’re still delicious.

Makes about 4 dozen mini donuts or 16-18 full-sized donuts.

Bourbon Pecan Brownie Bites

I could literally bake every day. Granted, flour is a bit scarcer right now as we’re Baking in the Time of Coronavirus, but fortunately these bourbon pecan brownies, which I adapted slightly from the Better Homes & Gardens Baking book, only uses 3/4 cup of flour.

Truth be told, I have a few extra bags of flour tucked away in my cupboards at any given time and no, I am not one of those people buying out all the flour at my local grocery store as if I’m going to have to make homemade bread for the rest of my life. But it’s been interesting to think about recipes that use less flour, or just different types of flour, as I’ve seen empty shelves at the grocery store, and I’m taking it as a challenge to become a more creative baker. We’ll see how it goes.

Ingredients

For the brownies

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 1/3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks*
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon

For the frosting

  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled just slightly
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans

*You could substitute semisweet chocolate chips for this, and that’s how the original recipe is written, but I only had chunks for some reason and decided this would be a great way to use them up.

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 x 8 baking tin with foil, extending the foil over the sides, and spray lightly with baking spray.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large saucepan, combine sugar, butter, and water; cook over medium heat until the mixture just boils. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chunks until melted. Allow to cool for just a moment before stirring in the eggs and vanilla, then stir in flour mixture until completely combined. Stir in pecans.

Pour batter into prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack; brush top of brownies with bourbon. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make frosting, beat butter on medium speed for about 1 minute, then add powdered sugar all at once and continue to beat until all the sugar is incorporated into the butter. Add bourbon and vanilla and beat for 2-3 minutes, until fluffy.

Spread frosting on cooled brownies, then drizzle on melted chocolate. Sprinkle with pecans.

Cut into 1 1/2 inch squares for bite-sized treats (or larger for regular-sized brownies). Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. Makes 25.

 

Orange Crush Cupcakes

Now and then my Facebook feed lights up with recipes people want me to bake. This week my dear friend Stefanie tagged me in a post for orange creamsicle cupcakes with Orange Crush buttercream; Mike jumped on the bandwagon, and there I was yesterday, whipping up said cupcakes in my kitchen.

Granted, my recipe is different than the one in the post that Stef shared, which used a box mix and orange Jell-O for the cupcakes. I adapted a tried-and-true cupcake recipe to include fiori di Sicilia, a wonderful extract that tastes like vanilla and citrus, then whipped up a buttercream using – you guessed it – Orange Crush pop. The end result is a delicious orange cream cupcake, more intense in flavor than the orange cream cupcakes I’ve made in the past. Thanks for the idea, Stef!

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
  • 1/2 plus 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon fiori di Sicilia, to taste (this is powerful extract!)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

For the frosting

  • 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Orange Crush
  • 1/4 teaspoon fiori di Sicilia
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange extract
  • Orange food coloring

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners; my recipe made 7 cupcakes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Place egg in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and continue to beat for another 30 seconds. Add vanilla and canola oil and beat on medium speed for 1 minute.

Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternatively in three batches, beginning and ending with the flour, scraping the sides of the bowl frequently. Batter will be very thin.

Using a quarter-cup measuring cup, scoop batter into prepared regular-sized cupcake liners, filling half full.

Bake for 13-16 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before frosting.

To make the frosting, in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed for 1 minute. Add powdered sugar all at once and beat on low speed until all the sugar is incorporated into the butter. Add Orange Crush, fiori di Sicilia, and orange extract and beat for 2-3 minutes, until frosting is very light and fluffy. Add enough orange food coloring to reach your desired shade.

Fit a piping bag with a large star tip and pipe generous swirls of frosting onto each cupcake.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Makes 7.