kolaches4a
I’m addicted to kolaches. Any and all kinds, but especially these pictured here. Kolaches were brought to Texas by Czech immigrants and now have a cult-like following, for good reason. Almost a Danish pastry, they are made with a brioche-like bread dough instead of laminated layers; their centers filled with creamy sweet cheese and the slightest hint of lemon. When I first came across them in Bread Illustrated (America’s Test Kitchen’s new bread book) I instantly walked to my kitchen cupboards and took out all the ingredients needed: flour, yeast, butter, cream cheese, milk, sugar, lemon. While I worked the dough on my counter top, my mind jumped to purchasing a nearby corner bakery for the sole purpose of filling with kolaches. There would be trays lined with rows and rows of beautiful circles, all topped differently: cream cheese, chocolate and white chocolate, jam and fresh fruit, extracts, vanilla bean, meringue, whipped cream, ice cream. They would compete with local doughnuts shops for breakfast, boasting both simplicity and extravagance in every dozen sold.

Of course, such day dreams are not able to become reality at this point, but each bite I take convinces me otherwise. Maybe one day, Minneapolis. Maybe one day.
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cake
‘Commonplace objects are constantly changing… The pies, for example, we now see, are not going to be around forever. We are merely used to the idea that things do not change.’ – Wayne Thiebaud

I mentioned in a previous post that Zoe Francois and I were getting together to bake the cakes from Wayne Thiebaud‘s painting, Cakes. Both of us have a print of Cakes hanging in our kitchen, and have spent time pondering what flavors and textures were represented. It only seemed natural that we should try to recreate them. We started with the pretty pink one in the first row on the bottom right-hand corner; the princess cake of the bunch. Chocolate cake was decided on. Because, chocolate.
cake

cake

cake

cake

cake

cake
‘Art is not delivered like the morning paper; it has to be stolen from Mount Olympus.’ – Wayne Thiebaud

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cherry poppyseed bunt
Somehow summer is sneaking out the back door. Once again, I’m not ready for the seasons to change, and I’m hanging on to every last berry and stone fruit, every ray of warm sunlight with all my might. I’m just not ready to stop baking with seasonal summer fruit. I’ve also rediscovered my love of the Bundt – buttery cake made in a pretty pan works for me. Plus, they are acceptable at all times, as they can be used for breakfast, brunch, snacking, or dessert. I’ve made these particular Bundts with cherries and poppy seeds, a combination I fell in love with after reading Yossy’s beautiful cookbook. These mini cakes are moist, with faint lemon flavor and plenty of sweet cherries.
cherry poppyseed bunt

cherry poppyseed bunt
These Bundt cakes are also another baking recipe I’ve created as a Pulses Ambassador this year. The United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of the Pulse, and I’ve taken the Pulse Pledge, committing to eat pulses once a week for the next year. Pulses are beans, chickpeas, lentils and dry peas; leguminous crops that are good for your health and good for the environment. I’ll be posting recipes involving them periodically this year, incorporating pulses not only in my savory cooking, but baking recipes as well. I’d love for you to join me! If the Pulse Pledge sounds interesting to you, you can read more about it here. It’s a 10 week commitment, and it doesn’t require elaborate baking: a serving of hummus and a bowl of soup are good ways to take them in, too. Also check out my Vanilla Lavender Cupcakes.

This post was sponsored by USA Pulses & Pulse Canada. All opinions are my own.
toasting yellow pea flour

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smores cake

First of all, I want to say thank you, oh my goodness thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I had so many kind emails and comments and tweets yesterday;  your support of my upcoming book is overwhelming. I wouldn’t have this book without that support, and I am forever grateful to you, dear readers. Thank you for following along here, and for being so wonderful.

And, here’s a recipe from the book! Today happens to be my birthday, one that I am slightly freaking out about, as I seem to be getting close to large numbers I didn’t think were possible. I will be celebrating today, however, with this S’mores Ice Cream Cake. It’s fairly simple to put together (especially if you go the store bought ice cream route), with a layer of toasted graham cracker crumbs, vanilla ice cream, more graham crackers, chocolate ice cream, and then a pile of meringue that is lightly toasted. An indulgent way to enjoy the fading of a near perfect summer vacation.

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The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

It’s finally time: The Vanilla Bean Baking Book is available for pre-order!

This cookbook is brimming with over 100 baking recipes and nearly 200 photos; everything from Mixed Berry Muffins and Creme Fraiche Scones to Ganache Cupcakes with Basil Buttercream and Cherry-Strawberry Slab Pie. It can be purchased early now, and will be sent out or available on bookstore shelves November 8th. This also happens to be Election Day, so depending on whether your candidate wins or loses, you could find it useful for either comfort baking or celebrating. I’m hoping to celebrate, with my Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream (found in the Party Cakes chapter).
vanilla bean baking book
I spent almost two years working on this book. When Avery approached me, I had never taken on a project this big before, or one with multiple deadlines. It required figuring out how to balance both work and home life, which was quite a challenge initially. My work space, the kitchen, is the center of our home, and a place that is needed for more than just recipe testing. My family came to find the sink and dishwasher were forever overflowing with bowls, whisks, knives, measuring cups, and spatulas. The noise of the mixer was a consistent background hum, the refrigerator always packed full, and the oven made our kitchen a constant blazing furnace. I would frantically text my husband at work with grocery lists: butter, chocolate, sugar, flour, eggs, and more butter! It was a struggle at times for all four of us to flow well with evidence of the cookbook piled everywhere, but eventually I managed to find a rhythm to testing recipes and writing. I baked all day while the kids were at school, and then wrote each night, after they were tucked into bed. It helped to have a supportive family during these months; my husband and kids encouraging and helping me.

I must admit I am feeling many different emotions presenting you with this sneak peak; excitement and nervousness, mixed with joy and fear. I worked so many hours on these recipes: testing and retesting, then retesting again. I don’t know how many times I made my All-Butter pie crust, or Easy Danish Dough. So many I can’t count them. My husband told me the brownies were perfect after months of testing, but I made them six more times anyway, trying to get them just right. I finally did. My father-in-law came over every day to pick up cookies and pies and cakes and bars, my husband brought the same into work each morning. If there hadn’t been a deadline in place, I might still be in my kitchen, making that Orange Cranberry Bundt Cake ‘just one more time.’ But now I’m here, on the other side of the work, with a collection of recipes and photographs on printed paper. I’m so excited, and (dare I say) proud, to share this book with you. My hope is for this book to become a trusted, go-to reference in your kitchen, well-worn and used; pages earmarked, smudged with chocolate and cake batter, and filled with your pencil marks and notes.
The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

The Vanilla Bean Baking Book
The Vanilla Bean Baking Book is divided into seven chapters: Morning Baking; Quick Breads, Muffins, and Everyday Cakes; Party Cakes, Pies, and Tarts; Cookies and Bars; No-Churn Ice Cream; and Homemade Staples. Recipes range from simple to complex, but there are visual guides to help with recipes that are a bit more work. Some of my favorites from the book are: Pumpkin Scones, Apricot Danish, Ginger Chocolate Bread, Honey Cake, Blackberry White Chocolate Cake, Peach Caramel Pie, my new and improved Chocolate Chip Cookies, and S’mores Ice Cream Cake (which I am bringing to you tomorrow, so stay tuned!).

The Vanilla Bean Baking Book is available for pre-order! You can order from the links below, as well as from major retail stores:
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / BAM / IndieBound /Amazon.ca / Indigo.ca /
The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

You can also follow along on Instagram! My hashtag for the book is #vanillabeanbakingbook

The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

Portland
Part two of our Oregon trip in picture form: our adventures in Portland. We had a great time eating so much good food, checking out parks and gardens and downtown and quaint neighborhoods and hanging out with family and friends.

Highlights included getting lost in the amazingness of Powell’s City of Books, eating the best cream cheese Danish I ever had at Grand Central Bakery, quite a few ice cream stops at Salt & Straw, dinner at Pok Pok, day trip to Multnomah Falls, impromptu picnic lunch at the Rose Gardens, meeting up with old friends, and Uncle Buddy playing saxophone for us.
Blue Star Doughnuts

Revival Drum Shop

Ken Forkish Artisan Bread

Waterfall, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

portland CollageA

Portland, Oregon

Grand Central Bakery

Buddy Jay Jamican Jazz Band

PicMonkey Image

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roasted peach and caramel pops
I missed Billy’s Popsicle Week back in June. I stuck my popsicle molds somewhere last winter ‘so I knew where they were’ and then of course, couldn’t find them when warm weather hit. Last week my husband gently guided me down to the basement to clean out our storage room filled with (mostly my) boxes and piles and whatnot, and lo and behold, there they were, tucked in a box marked ‘random kitchen things.’ So, much later, I am finally making popsicles.

But not just any popsicles. These little pretties took a bit of time to put together, but dang, they are worth it. Roasted peaches, salted caramel, simple syrup, and some bourbon make these quite the late summer evening treat. Get yourself cozy in on a pool floaty (this one would be perfect) and enjoy.
roasted peach and salted caramel pops

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roasted peach and salted caramel pops

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oregon coast

“It is said by the Eldar that in water there lives yet the echo of the Music of the Ainur more than in any substance that is in this Earth; and many of the Children of Ilúvatar hearken still unsated to the voices of the Sea, and yet know not for what they listen.” – Tolkien, The Silmarillion

I just got back from the West Coast (where I had this song in my head all week). We spent 8 days traveling up and down the coast on our first family airplane trip (thank you, frequent flyer miles!). It was a beautiful adventure, filled with high highs (my first time visiting Oregon, my littles first experience with the ocean) and low lows (homesickness, long car rides, same room sleeping), as all family vacations are.
Cannon Beach, OR

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Canoon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach, OR

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach, OR

oregon 2

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farmette4A
Last week Stephanie Meyer had a little get-together to celebrate Imen McDonnell being in town. Imen’s cookbook, Farmette, came out recently, and it is beautiful, filled with recipes and stories from her life on an Irish farm. Imen was just as lovely and kind in person as I imagined. I made the Wild Hazelnut and Vanilla Slice from her book – a perfect rectangle consisting of puff pastry, thick vanilla custard, and hazelnuts.

You can check out Imen’s blog here, and her book here. I highly recommend both.
farmette cookbook

hazelnut and vanilla slice

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

farmette cookbook

hazelnut and vanilla slice

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