Cinnamon Twists

Our family started off Saturday by enjoying freshly made cinnamon twists. These are yeast based donuts , shaped into twists, deep fried to a golden brown then dipped in a cinnamon vanilla glaze. One word: FANTASTIC!

About a month ago I headed to Syracuse, NY for a shopping excursion and found myself happily immersed in all that is Williams Sonoma. I left that store like a pack mule weighed down with several heavy bags containing baking tins, spices, bowls, and you guessed it - a few cookbooks! One of those cookbooks was Donuts by Elinor Klivans.

When I saw it on the shelf I knew it had to come home with me. The pictures are amazing. The recipes even more so. There is even one for salted caramel donuts. I mean who can resist that ?!

After I returned home from my little shopping extravaganza I promptly unpacked and then lost track of several items I "had to have". Sure enough, this lovely book got tucked away with a slew of other cookbooks and I hate to admit it but I had completely forgotten I owned it until last night. Last night a craving for donuts hit and I went to get my trusted donut cookbook Doughnuts by Lara Ferroni when I spotted this one nestled in right beside it.

As I flipped through the gorgeous glossy pages filled with pictures of enticing puffy and golden pastries my eyes fell upon the picture for cinnamon twists. They looked incredible. Challenging, yes, but incredible! So today before the sun came up there I was standing in my kitchen still in full PJ mode. Just me, my cuppa joe, Majestic (my beloved KitchenAid stand mixer) and this gorgeous cookbook.

The ingredients list for Cinnamon Twists is straight forward and the instructions crystal clear. I was a little worried during the dough making stage though as my dough didn't match up to the description in the book. It said the dough will not pull away from the sides of the bowl. Hmmm, mine sure did. In fact I found the dough rather dry versus their description of "sticky". Regardless I maintained an optimistic mindset and keep moving forward. After a 45 minutes initial rise phase I rolled out the dough, cut it into strips with my pizza cutter, twisted it up as the book instructed and let them rise again. Then once the oil was at 350F and the twists had rested another 1/2 hr I began the deep-fry stage. A minute on one side, flip, a minute on the other. Out they came, drained and then dipped in a cinnamon glaze.

I couldn't believe how great they tasted. These far surpassed any coffee-shop version but the thing I loved the most was the lack of yeast taste. I have made donuts before many times and sometimes the recipe simply calls for, at least in my opinion, too much yeast. The flavor just takes over and overpowers everything else. I am not a fan of that yeast flavor to begin with and when I took a bite of a fresh cinnamon twist my grin could not have been wider. Not a hint of yeast flavor - instead just a phenomenal soft, puffy sweetness flavored with cinnamon and vanilla. I was in heaven.

So are you ready to make some incredible twisty donuts? Then let's get to it !

*source recipe: Cinnamon Twists, Donuts by Elinor Klivans
Note: I purchased the hard-cover version which is no longer available at Amazon. The soft cover book is coming out Sept 2011 so pre-order now !


Dutch oven, deep fryer or large deep saucepan
Canola oil for frying
Oil/candy thermometer

3/4 cup whole milk (I used 2% and it worked fine)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package ( 2 1/2 teaspoons) quick-rise yeast
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 tablespoons very hot water


IN SMALL SAUCEPAN, heat butter and milk until foamy but not yet boiling. Remove from heat
WITH STAND MIXER fitted with paddle attachment, slowly combine 2 1/2 cups flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and yeast
SLOWLY pour in hot milk/butter mixture
BLEND on medium speed 2 minutes
ADD eggs and vanilla
MIX on medium speed 2 more minutes
ADD remaining 3/4 cup of flour and continue to beat on MED speed for one more minute
SCRAPE dough off paddle, leave dough in bowl and cover with a tea towel
LET rise 45 minutes

LINE 2 COOKIE SHEETS with waxed paper
SPRAY wax paper with cooking spray

ON FLOURED WORK SURFACE, roll dough into 18" x 9" rectangle
WITH PIZZA CUTTER or sharp knife, cut into 18 strips 9" long x 1" wide
FOLD strips in have and twist 3-4 time to make tight spirals
PLACE ON lined cookie sheets
COVER with tea towels and let rest 30 minutes

PLACE 2 cooling racks over paper towels to catch any drips
POUR OIL to depth of 2 inches into saucepan
HEAT oil to 350F
FRY twists 1 minute per side
WITH slotted steel spatula, transfer twists to cooling racks


IN LARGE wide mouthed bowl, sift in powdered sugar
WHISK in all remaining glaze ingredients until smooth
DIP tops of warm twists into glaze and place back on cooling rack, glaze side up, until set (about 5 minutes).

Also seen here:


Ladybird Ln

Fresh Cherry Crumble

A quick post tonight to share a fantastic recipe for fresh cherry crumble. Yesterday I was lured by fresh sweet cherries at the grocery store and my initial intention was to make Anna Olson's Cherry Clafoutis. Then I recalled a recipe I saw via Tastespotting awhile back for individual cherry crumbles that looked too good to resist. So I retracked my steps and found the recipe again. It came together in a flash thanks to my 9 yr old who loves to work the greatest gadget of all time - the cherry pitter!

Once pitted and halved, the cherries simmer a few minutes with some sugar then off to a super fast thickening phase. Scoop the cherries into little ramekins, top with an easy-peasy crumble mixture and bake for 15 minutes. DONE ! Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and you are in business.

As I ate this my mind raced to so many other fruit possibilities as well - peaches, strawberries, caramelized apples. Each bite was sheer perfection and I cannot wait to make it again with even more fruit varieties though after tonight a cherry crumble may truly be deemed my #1 choice where desserts are concerned. Yes, it was THAT good !

Rather than re-posting the recipe I will simply redirect you to Veggie Belly's lovely blog for her recipe for Fresh Cherry Crumble.


Butterscotch Bars

Super sweet, super sticky, super delish ! This is another great recipe from Anna Olson's cookbook Sugar and it lets you play with bubbling sugar . Now don't let that scare you off. Boiling sugar doesn't need to be scary. Just take your time, keep stirring, don't stick your face into the pot to get a closer look and you will be fine!

This recipe reminds me of an old-fashioned bar I used to see at church bake sales when I was a kid. It has a soft, blondie-like crust and is loaded with creamy butterscotch, nuts, coconut and chocolate chips. What's not to like?

But as already warned, these are super sweet so a little square goes a long way. The great thing is that these can stay at room temperature covered in cling wrap for a couple of weeks so no rush to eat them all in one day (even though you may be tempted to do so).

As with most bars you bake the crust first then add the filling. Back in the oven for a final bake and you are done. So if you are ready, let's get bar-baking !

*source recipe: Butterscotch Bars, Sugar by Anna Olson



1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda


1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup golden corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnut pieces
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


PREHEAT oven to 350F
GREASE and line bottom of an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.
IN A BOWL, cream butter and sugars together.
ADD eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy.
IN SEPARATE BOWL, combine flour, baking soda and salt.
ADD to butter mixture and stir until evenly blended.
SPREAD batter into a prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until an even golden brown. SET aside to cool.

IN MEDIUM SAUCEPAN, melt butter over medium heat.
STIR in sugars, corn syrup, water and salt and increase heat to medium-high.
WHEN MIXTURE BOILS, stir in walnut pieces and coconut.
SIMMER for 7 minutes, stirring often (mixture will become thick and darker in colour).
REMOVE from heat and stir in cream and vanilla (watch for steam).
POUR butterscotch over base and sprinkle chocolate chips.
BAKE for 13 to 16 minutes, until bubbling around the edges.
LET cool before cutting into squares or bars.
DO NOT refrigerate.

Butterscotch Bars will keep up to 3 weeks in an airtight container

Also seen here:


Ladybird Ln

Vanilla Jam Donut Muffins

This week I am baking from Anna Olson's cookbook Sugar. I love this cookbook and it has been part of my collection for several years now.

I have tested many recipes from this cookbook all with great success. The book is divided into sections based on ingredients which is unique because most publishers prefer to break up segments based on type of dessert (cakes, cookies, bars, etc). Anna has an entire section dedicated to vanilla and that is where I ventured today.

To start off my baking extravaganza for the week I decided to try out Anna's recipe for Vanilla Jam Muffins which in essence are donut muffins filled with a dollop of your preferred jam.

The key to success with this recipe is to choose a thick jam. Do not go with runny or you will have a "puddly" mess instead of a fluffy, sweet, jam filled breakfast treat.

This recipe makes a lot of batter. Though it states it makes 12 muffins it made 18 for me and I had the liners filled to the top. They don't overflow and make a mess either. They puff up nicely and result in perfect muffins tops.

The crowing glory is the topping. After they are baked you simply dip the tops in melted butter then in a sugar/cinnamon blend. This step really is important as it creates that donut flavor we all love.

I did alter her recipe as I went along. I wanted to use my new vanilla bean paste so went that route (along with pure extract) versus steeping beans in warm milk. I also found that the recipe called for a large quantity of nutmeg: 1 teaspoon. I added 1/2 teaspoon instead. I find nutmeg is a wonderful addition but be careful with the amount. Too much can overpower all the other flavors.

I also filled a few with Nutella instead of jam for my daughter who loves Nutella. They turned out very well too and she was one happy kid. Happy Kid = Happy Mommy!

So let's get started!

It's muffin time !

*source recipe, Vanilla Jam Muffins, Sugar by Anna Olson



1 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (optional)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cups vegetable oil (neutral flavor)
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup jam (thick variety)


1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


PREHEAT oven to 350F
LINE 12 muffin cups with paper liners

IN MEDIUM BOWL, whisk together first 6 ingredients
IN LARGE BOWL, whisk together remaining muffin ingredients except jam
FOLD wet ingredients into dry ingredients blending just til combined. Do not overmix!

FILL muffin cups 2/3 full with batter
SPOON tablespoon jam on top of each muffin
TOP with muffin batter filling to top of paper liners

BAKE 35-40 minutes (do not over bake or bottoms will be dry). Mine were perfect at 35 minutes
LET cool in pan 5 minutes
TRANSFER to cooling rack

PREPARE two bowls for toppings: one with melted butter, one with combined sugar and cinnamon
DIP warm muffin tops in melted butter then in sugar/cinnamon mix


Also seen here:


Ladybird Ln