Monday, May 6, 2013

Monkey Bread Cupcakes with Maple Glaze

Whenever I hear the words Monkey Bread, I get extremely happy because who doesn't love it?!

Here's a really simple recipe to indulge yourself in.


1 1/2c Water
2 1/4 tsp Instant yeast
2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 TBSP Whole Milk
4 1/2 cup Flour

I put the water, yeast, salt and sugar in the mixer and mixed it for a few seconds then waited for a minute to get bubbly.  Added the flour and started mixing on low while streaming in the milk.  Mix on medium for 4-5 minutes to develop that wonderful gluten goodness!  Cover the bowl and let it double in size.  Once its doubled,  turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface or silpat.  Cut the dough into strips and then the strips into little bite-sized pieces, (about one inch).  

Dip each piece into some melted butter, for 24 cupcakes I used 4 TBSP.
Then toss them in a mixture of 1 cup sugar and 4 TBSP cinnamon.
Place 3-4 pieces of the dough into each spot in the cupcake tray.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise and double in size again. 

Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.

As soon as you pull them out of the oven, drizzle the glaze on top and let cool.  


3 cups Powdered Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 TBSP Milk
2 TBSP Melted Butter
1 1/2 TBSP Maple Syrup

Place all ingredients in a bowl and simply mix.  Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use!  

This is the easiest and delicious glaze! 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Soft Pretzels!

Today is the day where we tackle your favorite snack bar food, the soft pretzel!!
These have easily become my absolute favorite thing to make due to their simplicity and deliciousness.

Let's dive in!

Pretzel Dough:

1 1/2 cups Warm Water*
2  1/4 tsp Instant Yeast**
1 tbsp Sugar***
2 tsp Kosher Salt
2 oz Melted Butter (1/4 cup)
4 1/2 cups AP Flour

*110-115 degrees or just warm to the touch.  You do not want it too warm because it will kill the yeast!
**While there are many types of yeast, Instant yeast is the easiest to work with.  Not only is it the quickest working... it also is hard to kill, like Jason Bourne.  Fresh and Active Dry yeast can be killed by coming in contact with salt, as where Instant does not.  If you are using one of the other types, do not add the salt right away.  You want to create what is called a Flour Wall, which is basically where you have the water, sugar and yeast that have gotten all foamy and ready to party then add the flour as a barrier between the yeast cocktail and the salt on the top.  This will ensure your yeast doesn't die too before performing its duties!
***The sugar does not add sweetness, it is to feed the yeast its final meal before it so gracefully gives you your risen dough! 

Place water, yeast, sugar and salt in a mixer and mix with a dough hook for 5 seconds.
Add the flour and with the mixer going on low stream in the melted butter.
Mix on low until all ingredients are combined.
Then turn the speed up to medium for 4-5 minutes.  You want the dough to be completely pulled away from the bowl.
Cover the mixer with plastic wrap tightly and keep in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size.

Once the dough has double, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface or a silpat.
Cut the dough into even pieces and roll each piece and twist into whatever kind of pretzel shape that you want.
Here is a link to show you the classic way:

Once all your pretzels are shaped, boil 4 cups of water with 1/4 cup of Baking Soda.  Add one pretzel at a time into the boiling water for 5 seconds on each side. Using a slotted spoon drain excess water off the dough and place on a lined sheet pan. 

Continue this process until each pretzel has been boiled.  Brush each pretzel with melted butter and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake @ 425 for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown and delicious!!  Brush with a little more melted butter and enjoy!

This recipe is a base recipe to make any flavor you'd like.  Try sprinkling Parmesan Cheese on top before baking or mixing in Cinnamon Sugar for a sweet treat!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

And so our adventure begins...

As I sat on our couch thumbing through my ancient cookbooks and bookmarking each recipe that I was looking forward to trying out, I thought to myself how am I ever going to make the difficult decision of what to make first... and second... and third.  So here's my very scientific and foolproof method:
I shall draw from a hat!  Not just any hat but my T3's (trusty taste tester) favorite camo UNLV hat! 
And what did I choose?


This recipe is from Meta Given's Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking from 1955. 

Every morning in culinary school we would have to stand in the hall as our Chef Instructors inspected our uniforms and checked our health cards and we called this Brigade and as we were finished being examined like soldiers our Chef would yell:

"Are you guys ready to bake?!"

And all of us eager students would yell:
"Yes, Chef!!"

So I ask...


Okay here we go...

Pastry dough:

2 cups All-Purpose or AP Flour
1 tsp Salt
1/3 cup Butter, Ice Cold
1/3 + 2 tsp Water, Ice Cold

Sift flour and salt together in a bowl.
Cut the butter into cubes with as little handling as possible.
Now either you can use a food processor, a dough cutter or your hands to mix the butter into the flour.  This is called the Cut-In Method.  You want the butter to be the size of peas.  if using you hands be sure to only use your finger tips, as your palms conduct too much heat.
Then add in the ice cold water and combine just until everything is somewhat mixed.
Then dump the dough out onto a floured surface, either your clean counter top or on a silpat.
Gently knead the dough just until it comes together then immediately wrap and place in the refrigerator.
This dough works best if made a day in advance but can be made as closely as half an hour before you need it.. the idea is just to always keep the fat cold in the pastry.

Apple Filling:

2 Granny Smith Apples
1/3 cup Brown Sugar*
2 Tbsp Butter
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg (optional)
1 tsp Corn Starch

*I replace white granulated sugar with brown because I feel it gives it more of a caramel sauce flavor but use whatever you like!
**Also could add some lemon or orange zest!

Peel and dice the apples.
Place in a pan with the remaining ingredients but the corn starch and cook until apples are tender but not cooked down too much!
We don't want applesauce!!
Once you are about to pull the apples, add the corn starch and allow to cook for one minute while stirring, the sauce should thicken and won't leak out of the pies nearly as much.
Pour onto a sheet pan to allow to cool.


Take your pie crust and roll it out to 1/8 of an inch thick.
Use whatever size cutter you would like for the pies and cut out circles.
You can either make the pies round like I did or you can fold each circle in half and make empanadas! 
Take a spoon and scoop some filling with all the delicious caramelly sauce into each circle and press the edges together as much as possible.
I like to use a fork to crimp the edges but not necessary.  In school they told us never to use a fork to crimp sides because it looks amateurish but hey, this is my kitchen not a french patisserie bistro!

Once all the pies are assembled, heat 4 cups of vegetable or canola oil, whichever you prefer.. I used vegetable, to 360 degrees. Fry two or three pies for around 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow the pies to drain on a cooling rack on a sheet pan.

Now these pies are ready to be enjoyed!

Try a caramel dipping sauce or even roll them in cinnamon sugar!

Until next time!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Welcome Future Pros


My name is Courtney and I am a graduate from Le Cordon Bleu's Patisserie and Baking program.  

I live in Las Vegas, NV with my trusty taste tester, Ryan, and our 3 boston terriers.

Las Vegas is a city of glitz and eccentrics, but this blog is not based around the over the top.

My mission is to share with you my journey to bake my way through all the cookbooks that my cooking hero, my Grandma Bess, has left me.  And of course being a French pastry school grad you know I will have to add some of those decadents in every now and then.

So stay tuned and bake with me!