Pistachio Bundt Cake

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Perfect Pistachio Bundt Cake

This year was Jakey Boy’s 37th birthday, and his 4th baby was to be born close to that date.  The family decided to bring his birthday to HIM, so I made a cake!  Jake is not a dessert lover at all.  He doesn’t like really sweet things, and each year I try to find something to bake for him that is different, a little tart and fun.

This recipe had been in several newspapers recently and it intrigued me.  It looks like a lot of work, but actually it wasn’t too bad.  There are three components: the cake, the glaze and a ricotta mix to serve on the side.  Honestly a dollop of fresh whipping cream in lieu of the ricotta cream would have been fine but the glaze kind of dresses it up. And for me, I’ll make the ricotta topping just because I liked the texture.

I was worried about the cake.  My 11-year-old grandson was with me and he separated the nine eggs; I cannot say for sure that they did not have any yolk in them.  I demonstrated and he did the work, but when I whipped them they were a little…less than marshmallow-like and they did not really hold their peaks.

I needn’t have worried. The end result was sensational!  The cake was lovely and green and moist.  Jake and the rest of the family were all impressed.  All is well that ends well!

(PS – don’t tell Jake there was instant pudding in there or he would not be as enamored with the cake.)

(PPS – I use weight measurements for baking and recommend this always if they are available!)

Pistachio Bundt Cake

Yield: at least 12 pretty big servings.  We fed over 20 and no one left hungry. 



Cake Ingredients
  • Nonstick cooking spray or neutral oil (my paste or Bakers Joy)
  • 2¾ cups/351 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1(3.4-ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon/195 milliliters whole milk
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons/205 grams full-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract (I don’t have vanilla bean paste)
  • 9 large egg whites
  • A little less than 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons/528 grams granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups/300 milliliters avocado oil(or grapeseed or canola)
  • ⅔ cup/85 grams shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped: mine were salted but raw pistachios  would work too.
Whipped Ricotta Ingredients (see NOTE)
  • 1⅓ cup/328 grams whole-milk ricotta
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Confectioners’ sugar to taste (personally I prefer less sweetness and didn’t add any so my ricotta whip  was thick)
  • Pinch of sea salt

NOTE: I would  add very little confectioners’ sugar.  For me, I like it thicker and not too sweet. Cooks choice.

Glaze Ingredients
  • 2¼ cups/230 grams sifted confectioners’ sugar, plus more as needed
  • SEE NOTE: ¼ cup/60 milliliters fresh lime juice (from about 2 medium limes), plus more as needed
  • ½ cup/64 grams unsalted roasted shelled pistachios, sliced or coarsely chopped
  • Flaky sea salt, for garnish
  • 2 tsp grated lime zest for garnish

NOTE: I just sifted what appeared to be 1 ½  cups of powdered sugar to my eye, then added enough lime juice until it was able to be put into a plastic bag to pipe on the cake. I needed less than 1 lime


Heat oven to 350 degrees with the shelf in the middle of the oven,  and coat the inside of a 12-cup (or larger) Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray or my baking mix for coating pans. The cake will come to the very top of the pan while baking then shrink back a little.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, pistachio pudding mix and baking powder (I sifted all 3 together too). In a second medium bowl whisk together the milk, yogurt and vanilla until smooth.

Combine the egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or in a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer). Beat on medium speed until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sugar, increase the mixer speed to high, and beat until the egg whites are marshmallowy with firm peaks that form when the beater is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, add the flour mixture and canola oil, and gently mix them into the egg whites using a rubber spatula until smooth and no pockets of unincorporated flour remain. Gently mix in the milk mixture until completely smooth, and then stir in the chopped pistachios until evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared Bundt pan, smooth into an even layer and tap the pan on the counter several times to remove any large air pockets. Bake until the top of the cake is lightly browned and a skewer or cake tester inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 60 to 75 minutes: NOTE: mine took less than 60 min, about 55 min.  Let cool for 10 minutes, then flip the cake out onto a wire rack and let cool completely before glazing. I DID THIS THE DAY BEFORE and wrapped the cake well so it wouldn’t dry out.

While the cake is cooling, make the whipped ricotta: transfer the ricotta to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and add the olive oil, vanilla, and salt. Add a little powdered sugar if you wish.  (SEE MY NOTES ON INGREDIENTS) Process until the mixture is completely smooth, stopping and scraping down the sides of the food processor as needed, 40 to 60 seconds total. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes about 1⅔ cups. Note: my plain ricotta was very smooth and I could have done this with a food processory, using just a whisk. Also – the whipped ricotta can be made up to a week in advance and stored in the fridge tightly covered with plastic wrap.

Once the cake is completely cooled, and the day you plan to serve it, make the glaze: In a large mixing bowl whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lime juice until the sugar is completely dissolved. I used a lot less sugar and less lime juice too, so go slowly. The glaze should be very thick yet pourable. If the glaze is too thin, whisk in additional powdered sugar one tablespoon at a time. If it’s too thick, whisk in additional lime juice one teaspoon at a time. Transfer the glaze into a piping big or a large zip-top bag with the corner cut off and drizzle the glaze over the top of the cooled cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Immediately garnish the top with the sliced pistachios and sprinkle with just a touch of flaky sea salt and/or  grated lime zest. Let stand until the glaze has set, about 20 minutes, and serve with the whipped ricotta.

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Egg Bites

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Perfect Egg Bites

We always seem to hit the ground running these mornings!  I am not a morning eater but when I start to get hungry a bit later on, I don’t have the patience nor the time to figure out a healthful breakfast.  Toast just doesn’t cut it.  Fruit is great but not quite enough.  And then I discovered how easy and satisfying  it is to quickly make these Egg Bites.  Now I grab a couple with a napkin and a wet wipe in case they make my hands greasy.  

This is my new favorite breakfast and I have now tried them with varied vegetables and fillings.  Mediterranean style (feta cheese, sliced kalamatas and dried tomatoes) and  Spanish style (black beans, cheese and pickled jalapenos) are my faves to date.  Make it yours!

Egg Bites

Makes 12 cupcake sized servings



  • ½ cup grated sharp cheese (I use extra sharp white cheddar but feta is good too)
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 8 ounces broccoli flowerettes, chopped fine 
  • 12 small cherry tomatoes
  • Handful of chopped herbs-dill or basil or whatever you have
  • 8 large eggs
  • ¼ cup milk

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Grease or spray a nonstick cupcake tin with Pam or oil.

Toss onion and broccoli with oil, ⅛ teaspoon salt, and pepper and herbs and saute in a fry pan until the broccoli is softened a bit. about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes

Divide sauteed vegetables between the 12 cupcake holders, stick in two halves of cherry tomato and top with the grated cheese.

Whisk eggs and milk in a large bowl until well combined and a uniform yellow color; do not overbeat. evenly distribute egg mixture over filling over the  muffin cups.

Bake until the egg bites are slightly puffed and just set in center, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges of the little cups  to loosen, then gently remove from the muffin tin. Eat or cool and store for up to four days in the fridge.

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Simple Cornbread

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Simple Cornbread

Because I recently made my amazing Turkey Chili, of course I had to make some homemade cornbread. This particular recipe is adapted from Mollie Katzen’s “Still Life With Menu” and it’s perfect. Simple, easy, delicious.

Simple Cornbread

Makes 6 to 8 servings



  • A little butter to coat the baking pan
  • 1 cup cornmeal-medium grind
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk or plain kefir (I always have kefir in my fridge)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine all dry ingredients. It’s not necessary to sift, but make sure that the sugar and the baking soda are well distributed.

Beat together buttermilk or kefir, egg, and melted butter. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients, and mix thoroughly with a few quick strokes.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a knife probing the center comes out clean.

PS: If you have any fresh corn, it is always nice to stir about ¾ cup into the raw batter.  Honey and butter are great accompaniments, but I prefer pure maple syrup all the way!

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Amazing Turkey Chili

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Comforting Turkey Chili

I am a chili lover, especially when the weather is cold and dreary.  To me chili is comforting, and I  love its warming spices and heartiness. I often make a boatload to share with family and friends (plus it freezes well).  Even with this single recipe, we have enough for a few dinners or lunches plus I serve the extra chili on top of giant, split opened baked potatoes or on top of leftover brown rice. 

My Chili Meander is fantastic for a beef-based chili, but for some reason I have been in the mood for turkey.  This recipe was mentioned in the ropily New York Times food section and I recalled filing it in my “save for later” folder.  I did embellish and change quite a few things, and this is what I ended up making. 

Chili is pretty forgiving so you can make it your own.  It takes very little time to cook and I guarantee it will hit the spot for you and your loved ones.  As they say in Guatemala, Buen Provecho!

Amazing Turkey Chili

Yield: About 6 large servings




(I usually make one and a half times this recipe, a HUGE pot full so I have some to gift. Just sayin’…) 

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground turkey, combo white and dark meat if you can find it although just ground breast works too
  • 1 large coarsely chopped brown skinned onion (½-inch pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 large sweet red or yellow pepper, cored, deveined and coarsely chopped the same size as the onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery (I also chop some of the celery leaves)
  • 1 cup cubed peeled butternut squash, ½ inch
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 2 carrots peeled and thinly sliced 1/2 inch
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, cored, deveined and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp dried cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth (I use Chicken Better Than Bouillon to make the broth unless I have some homemade chicken stock)
  • Salt and fresh black pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • To garnish (pass separately) – shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plain Greek yogurt, pickled jalapeños and sliced avocado

Heat the oil over high in a large heavy soup pot and add onions, garlic, sweet pepper, celery, cinnamon, cocoa, brown sugar, squash, corn, carrots, jalapeño, oregano, bay leaves, chili powder and cumin. Stir to blend well and  cook for 5 minutes.  Add the turkey meat. Cook until lightly browned, about 5-10 minutes, chopping down and stirring with the side of a heavy kitchen spoon to break up any lumps.

Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves.

Add the drained beans and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes longer. Serve in bowls with Cheddar, and sour cream or Greek Yogurt on the side, if desired. Accompany with corn bread and honey.The chili is pretty thick so add more broth if you want it more “soupy”. 

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Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate and Coconut

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Banana Loaf with Chocolate and Coconut

I am well aware that I have posted other banana bread quickbread recipes (like this one and this one), but I had to try one more.  I love breakfast/dessert/anytime sweet bread that I can whip up quickly then slice and have for a few days.  This combo caught my eye, and I adjusted my recipe to use dark chopped chocolate and decreased the sugar to make it not so sweet. 

We have had this for breakfast, for dessert  and as an afternoon snack.  A slice is plenty because it isn’t cloyingly sweet or rich.  For me, it checks many boxes.  If you are coconut averse, substitute an equal amount of chopped toasted pecans or walnuts.

Ready to eat!

Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate and Coconut

Makes One Loaf (can be easily doubled for 2 loaves of bread)



  • ½ cup + 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • ½ stick soft butter
  • 1 egg
  • ¾  cup mashed ripe bananas (one very large banana or enough to equal close to ¾ cup
  • ¼ cup buttermilk or kefir, room temperature
  • ½  tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼  cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼  tsp. Sea salt
  • ⅛ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ cup chopped bittersweet chocolate (I started with Guittard dark chips but cut them smaller)
  • ⅓ cup shredded unsweetened coconut 

Preheat the oven to 350, put the rack in the middle and grease the bottom only of a 9 x 5 loaf pan.  

Cream sugar with butter for three minutes or until well combined.  Add in egg. Add banana, Kefir or buttermilk and vanilla.Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, and soda until just combined. Add flaked coconut and chocolate chips.

Pour into the prepared loaf pan (I use my Pam substitute) and even out the top.  Bake mid oven for 45 minutes until top and edges are browned and the center is cooked when tested with a toothpick

Cool for five minutes in the bread pan.  Jiggle to loosen the sides and remove the bread from the pan, cool it on a wire rack.  Leftover bread can be tightly sealed and kept at room temperature for a couple of days. I even froze a half loaf for a month because I got into a baking frenzy for a while this spring.


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Flour Tortillas or Flatbreads

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Flour Tortilla!

I make soft flour tortillas or flatbread when I have limited time and want some type of homemade wrap or base for small pizza or melted cheese.  This recipe requires no yeast and just five ingredients – most of which you will likely have on hand if you are a cook.  It takes literally five minutes to mix together, a half hour to let the dough rest and another 20-25 minutes to cook the tortillas.  No machinery is involved and nothing goes in the oven. Easy Peasy!  However, you do need a cast iron skillet…

Grandson Cooking Away

One weekend, I made these with my now 11-year old grandson.  It was a terrific math and science lesson.  He learned to “tare” and use a kitchen scale, he figured out the size of each tortilla using long division, and he learned why it is important to rest the dough for 30 minutes before rolling it out.  Also – how many tablespoons equal a cup and how many ounces in a cup.  Making these takes little time and a lot of focus so it is a perfect cooking project if you have little people in your life.

Math Skills

Flour Flatbread / Tortillas

Makes 7 or 8 nice sized tortillas



  • 10 ½ ounces flour  (300 grams) of flour (use your scale) 
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 Tbsp oil-I use avocado oil
  • 3/4 c room temperature water

Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, mix together oil and water. Right after mixing oil and water together – pour into dry ingredients and incorporate.  Sometimes you have to add a few more drops of water or a bit more flour to have the consistency soft and pliable – it should not be dried out, it is more on the sticky side.  

Knead the dough for 15 seconds. Form into eight equal sized balls – I do weigh the mass of dough then keep each dough ball equal size.  Let the smooth balls of dough sit on the counter for 30 minutes, covered with a dish towel 

Very lightly flour  the counter or pastry mat and pat each dough ball into a 4-inch circle. Let the discs of dough rest again, and one by one roll them out to seven inches in diameter.  My silicone mat works well for this.  Meanwhile, preheat a 12” cast iron fry pan on medium low.  To tell if it is ready, spritz a few drops of water into the pan and the water should sizzle. 

Love a silicone mat!

I prick the dough with a fork about seven times around the border and inside.  Carefully place the rolled out dough inside the seasoned skillet for one minute, turn with tongs and prick the second side.  I place the cooked tortillas on a plate, and top each with a small square of foil or parchment so I can stack the tortillas.  I then cover the plate with a couple of dish towels and a towel to keep them warmish for a while. And I have a paper towel with some oil ready to smear on the pan if it starts to look dry where the tortillas are cooking.

Leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated briefly for up to three days.  I use mine for wrapping dressed salads, or I stuff them with egg or tuna salad or use them flat to melt cheese then top with tomato.  They are great with refried beans and cheese as well.  Some use these for nutella and sliced bananas, much like a crepe.  

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Morning Bundt Cake With Poppy Seeds

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Piece of Cake!


My friend Ginny lives in Montana and we tend to like many of the same foods – Cuban food, roasted veggies with Tahini, roasted garlic, etc. When she mentioned she had a recipe for a great poppyseed cake my ears perked up.

She sent the recipe to me, which was from the Saint Paul Pioneer Press in 1994. Being a Midwest girl, it is no secret that the center of the country has some mighty fine cooks. I asked her what she changed… because instinctively I thought about adding some lemon zest and lemon juice and eliminating the almond extract, replacing it with lemon extract. BUT Ginny said no, make this the way it is written.

I gulped and followed her directions to a “T”. And you know what? It is a perfect coffee cake to have as dessert or with coffee or tea. It turned out beautifully, partly due to the fancy bundt pan my brother Kal gifted me several years ago. Presentation is key. I also like that this uses oil (mine was avocado oil) rather than butter so it is not too rich.

Isn’t she a beauty?

I was underwhelmed reading the ingredients and directions, but I stand corrected. MAKE THIS. You don’t need to dirty your electric mixer, and it is satisfying to create something beautiful with your own two hands.

Poppyseed Cake
Makes 16 thin slices



Cake Ingredients
  • 2 ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup neutral oil (I had avocado oil on hand)
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp poppy seeds (OK, I heaped the tablespoons a little)
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups milk
Glaze Ingredients
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • ¼ tsp almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack mid oven. Grease and flour a 12 cup bundt pan. NOTE: I only had this fancy 10 cup bundt pan and I used my handy dandy homemade “Pam”. I brushed this on liberally with a pastry brush, getting into the nooks and crannies. It paid off, the cake looked amazing. Cakes with lots of sugar like this stick to the pan so be careful to prep yours!

In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, poppy seeds, baking powder and salt. In a larger bowl, whisk the sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts.

Pour ⅓ of the flour mix alternating with ⅓ of the milk into the large bowl containing the sugar/oil mix. Mix well with a spatula so everything is combined.

Pour into the prepared cake pan evenly-the batter is fairly liquidy. Bake for 45-50 minutes (Mine took 55 minutes but my 10 cup cake pan was really full) until a cake tester indicates the batter is thoroughly done. Let the pan rest on a rack for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the glaze ingredients together. When the 10 minutes are up, carefully invert the cake onto the rack, place some parchment or foil under the rack and brush every nook and cranny (use a pastry brush) with the glaze while the cake is still warm. Allow the cake to cool before slicing.

I cut half the cake when it cooked and carefully wrapped and froze it.  2 weeks later, it is still superb.

PS: I have made this more times than I care to tell you , and the last time I caved and put in the grated zest of 1 lemon.  I loved this addition and will do it going forward.`I also put a little lemon juice with the orange juice to have a total of 1/4 cup since my orange was small.


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Oatmeal Apple Breakfast Muffins

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I love all things oatmeal, and I also am big on breakfast to go when I am on the go.  I accidentally arrived on this healthful baked individual oatmeal cups formula after trying other recipes with banana, with pumpkin and such.  However, my apple trees are loaded with tart apples so I devised this combination myself.  I happened to have all these ingredients in my pantry and in my refrigerator so I test drove the recipe a few times to get it right.

I think it is gluten free but I am not an expert there at all.  I eat everything with grains, with lactose, with sugar…I am easy to feed.

I make just six muffin cups at a time since our household has only two adults, but it would be easy to double the recipe for 12 muffins  if you wish.  If I have an early morning airplane ride or car trip, these are usually packed in my carry-with-me bag for a quick, filling breakfast.

Here you are, straight from my imagination to your stomach!

Oatmeal Apple Breakfast Muffins

Makes 6 Muffins



  • 1 ½ cups old fashioned oats (not quick cooking)
  • ½ teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup coconut milk or almond milk or buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup applesauce (prepared is fine but I used my homemade sugar free applesauce)
  • 1 cup peeled, diced apple (mine was green but any tart apple type is good)
  • 2 Tbsp dried tart cherries

Preheat the oven (I actually use my toaster oven) to 350 and spray or grease a 6-cup nonstick muffin tin.  If you only have a 12 cup muffin tin and are only making 6 muffins, just put some water in the empty spaces so it bakes evenly.

In a medium bowl combine the oats, baking powder, pinch of salt, dried cherries, apples, cinnamon and salt and set aside.

In a large measuring cup (4 cups) combine milk or buttermilk, egg,maple syrup, and applesauce, and whisk well.  Add this to the dry ingredients and stir well to combine.  I usually let the mixture sit on the counter for a few minutes so the oatmeal soaks up more liquid.  Stir again.

Using a large ice cream scoop, divide the raw mixture between the six cupcake holders.  Place into the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the muffins cool for five minutes then carefully transfer to a rack and cool completely.  I often keep a few of these in the fridge for five days but they also keep well, once cooled, for up to a month in an airtight freezer container.

PS: You can substitute fresh apricots, peaches, or pears for the apples if you like.


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Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

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Cinnamon Rolls – Fresh From the Oven

Around the time I started baking challah, I decided to use the challah dough to create cinnamon rolls.  That is kind of laughable because I am really not a fan of sweet breads for breakfast, but everyone else seems to be in the other corner. And I must say, having a pan of rolls to bake early in the morning then to eat with my morning homemade latte is a real treat.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls



Here is how it is done folks:  This makes six nice sized rolls.  If you want 12 rolls, make the challah dough but use the entire recipe of challah dough for rolls in a 9 x 12 pan.

  1.  Make challah dough according to my new, revised recipe and continue up until the first 90 minute rise is complete.
  2.  Then remove about half the raw dough for the rolls and knead it a bit, cover and use the remaining dough and proceed with the challah braiding.  After the challah is braided, covered and rising for the second time, I proceed with the rolls.
  3. Spray with Pam a 9-inch x 2 ½ inch cake pan, bottom and sides  Then make the caramel topping.
Ingredients for the bottom of the pan:
  • 2 Tbsp salted butter 
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ Tbsp kefir or buttermilk
  • ½ cup toasted pecans coarsely chopped
Ingredients for the filling of the rolls:
  • Additional ½ cup dark brown sugar 
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp of salted butter

In a small saucepan, make the bottom pecan sauce by melting  butter and ¾ cup dark brown sugar. Remove from heat and add kefir and pecans.

(For the filling) In a separate bowl, combine ½ cup dark brown sugar and cinnamon.                 

In a cup, melt  2 tsp of salted butter to brush on the dough before filling. 

Knead this dough you reserved for the rolls until it is nice and smooth.  With your fingers, press into a rectangular shape then use a rolling pin to evenly roll this rectangle into an 8 inch long x 6 inch wide rectangle.  Brush with melted butter but leave the top inch (along the 8 inch width) free of butter.  

Glaze and Dough

Spread the brown sugar/cinnamon filling mix with your hands to cover the buttered part of the dough.  Press down slightly.  With clean hands, roll up, starting on the bottom jelly roll style into a tight tube. Pinch the seam with your fingers.  Put the seam side down and be sure the roll is even in size.  

Filling Slathered On

I cut my rolls using kitchen string. 

Roll Tied with String

I cut  a piece of string 10 inches or so and slice it under the roll in the middle, bring the two ends to the top and cut.  Cut each half into 3 more pieces, and place each roll cut side down in the pan (see my photo and/or this nifty YouTube video).

And Voila!

Cover gently with a piece of oiled or pammed saran and a tea towel and let the rolls rise in the refrigerator for at least eight hours or overnight.

In the morning, remove the pan  from the fridge and let the pan of rolls rest on the counter while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack mid oven.  When the temperature reaches 350, uncover the rolls and place them in the oven, bake for 22-25 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees.  Let the pan cool on a rack for five minutes then invert on a cooling rack so the caramel sauce is on top.  (I place a piece of parchment or waxed paper under the pan to catch any drips!). Let the rolls continue to cool until you can’t stand it any more, then pull apart and enjoy.  

My husband makes something called “sop”.  It is not something I would eat but he loves this as do my kids.  Basically he tears the cinnamon rolls into – inch pieces, jams them in a tall glass then pours milk over the torn up rolls and eats the soggy milk-soaked pieces with a spoon. To each his own.  

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Revised Challah

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Challah – New & Improved!

I have been making my own challah for over half a century – for 55 years to be precise.  I previously posted MY version of challah eleven years ago (!) that was at the time, the best IMHO. My sisters disagree – but that is not unusual.  (Their recipe has more salt and they make it in a Cuisinart or mixer)

Fast forward over the last decade … I have been tweaking and changing the yeast amount, the sugar, the salt, but mostly the amount of time I rise the dough, let it “relax” and even the cooking temperature and oven position.  Now I have it exactly like I want it. 

I love making dough using a stainless steel bowl and my own two hands.  For me it is highly therapeutic and very very satisfying.  In this age of supply chain issues, I enjoy even more using ingredients I always keep on hand that cost me so little compared to $8 and up for a bakery challah that isn’t as big or nearly as good.  I taught my daughter-in-law and her Peruvian nanny to make challah, and Maria (the nanny) has since taught at least five other nannies to do the same.  Now I have a pyramid scheme but her breads come out even more beautiful than mine!

The issue for me is always this:  do I make a 3 ½ cup of bread flour recipe into a giant loaf of challah, or do I make two smaller challahs, one to gift and one to eat, or do I make some cinnamon rolls for Saturday morning, or small challah rolls.  It is a  good problem to have…

As of late, I have become obsessed with having the braids remain perfect and not “pulled” apart or melted together.  I have tried many tweaks: adding more yeast, more salt, lower oven temperature, longer rising….and after at least 20 attempts I came up with the recipe below.  Credit goes to Hayley, my kind of daughter (really my daughter’s best friend since preschool).  Hayley became crazed with making challah, subscribed to baking sites and told me to rise the dough a lot longer for both steps and to add more yeast.  OK, I did her method and still had a bit of an issue with the braids “splitting” – so I looked at many internet sites and now bake my bread on a lower shelf at a lower temperature.

Ready for the oven

The following is my idea of perfection and hopefully my legacy to my family, my friends and my readers.  

Revised Challah

Makes two loaves a little over a pound each or one large 2-lb loaf (or a loaf and cinnamon rolls)



  • 1 ¼ cup warmish water (not more than 110 degrees F)
  • 1 Tbsp regular yeast, red star or Fleishmans (not instant yeast)
  • ½ tsp granulated sugar to proof the yeast
  • 1 room temperature large egg
  • A dash of pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp very soft butter, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 3 cups of bread flour (I love King Arthur unbleached bread flour) plus 1 cup to add as needed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ tsp of granulated sugar
  • Sesame seeds, or black sesame seeds or black poppy seeds or a combination of anything.  

In a 2-cup measuring cup, whisk together the warm water, yeast and sugar. Once the yeast bubbles, whisk in the egg, vanilla and soft butter.  In a large stainless steel bowl, whisk the dry ingredients to combine, then add the liquid ingredients from the 2-cup measuring cup and mix to combine. 

I use a large Danish dough whisk and eventually I start kneading the bread by hand, adding ½ to 1 more cups of bread flour so it holds together well.  I then knead the bread for eight minutes, remove it from the bowl to the counter.  After eight minutes, I cover the bread on the counter with a tea towel.  While it rests I wash the mixing bowl, dry it, lightly butter it and then plop the kneaded bread inside.  I cover the bread with a tea towel and let it proof for 90 minutes.  (Either put it in a warm place or in the oven if you have a proofing feature on your oven, use that at 85 degrees).  

After 90 minutes, remove the bread dough from the oven and punch it down, knead it for a minute or so.  Divide the dough in half  if you want to make two loaves.  Divide each half into three or four pieces depending on whether you want a three braid or a four braid challah.  If you are making a large challah, just divide the entire dough into three or four balls.  Let the balls sit on the counter for two minutes.  Confession: I get a little compulsive with having the bread look perfect so I weigh my balls of dough so they are pretty close to equal amounts.

After two minutes, start to roll out the balls into ropes. When the ropes are six inches long, stop again, cover and let the dough rest for five minutes. Then proceed to roll the ropes as long as you like. The ropes should not shrink back when you stop rolling since the dough has had a chance to rest.  There are lots of youtube videos on how to braid challah!

Transfer the braided loaf onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, cover with an oiled or pammed piece of saran and let it rise for 50 minutes.  At that time, remove from the oven and leave covered but turn the empty oven to 325 with the shelf a little lower than mid-oven.

When the oven reaches 325 (mine takes close to 12 minutes), brush the top of the challah with egg wash (the beaten egg and ½ tsp sugar mixed together) and then sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds if desired. Brush seeds again with egg wash so they don’t come off.

Bake at 325 for 28-30 minutes for a huge loaf. If you’re making smaller loaves they cook in 23-25 minutes.  The internal temperature should be 190 degrees if you have a thermometer to test the center of the loaf.

Remove from the baking sheet onto a rack to cool. Wait at least ½ hour to cut. Do not wrap in a plastic bag or freeze for at least five hours so the core is completely cool.

Please report back to me when you try these tweaks.  A lot of you made my recipe during the pandemic, and I want you to try these changes.  Please!

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