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I’ve made it over 37 weeks with this pregnancy and all I want this holiday season is eggnog.  True, creamy, sinful Eggnog.  And a healthy baby boy, of course.  I suppose my mommy-instinct is stronger than my craving, and I’ve come to accept that there will be no egg yolk or rum filled drinks for this gal this year.

I bought a “Soy-nog” from the store, but it was absolutely terrible.  How did I think it would ever be good?  So I turned to Pinterest.  Now that’s laughable, isn’t it?  Not that Pinterest isn’t anything but amazing, but somehow I’ve pinned dozens of gorgeous and delicious-sounding vegan ‘nogs, but still just can’t seem to find the time to even purchase the ingredients needed to make my own.  Funny how that happens, right?  I suppose there is always next week….. Wait, Christmas is NEXT WEEK?  Better run off to finish my shopping and wrapping gifts instead.  In the meantime, let’s all enjoy this Eggnog Spice Cake:

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“In this cake, layers of spice cake have been smothered in creamy eggnog filling and enrobed in silky buttercream. The browned butter adds a nutty, warm element to the classic cake and the slight tang of the cream cheese in the filling balances everything out. Since fillings and frostings can become super-sugary very quickly, this Swiss meringue buttercream is the perfect way to add rich creaminess without being too sweet. Garnish with bits of toffee candy and serve with a warm mug of eggnog.”

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Find the complete recipes over on The Cake Blog.

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Clearly, I have a thing for gingerbread desserts.  I’ve made cakes, cookies, and even a gingerbread house cake!  I am not sure if it’s the spice element, deep molasses flavor, or the fact that anything ginger around the holidays reminds me of my grandmother’s Ginger Crinkles.  Regardless of why, I just keep gravitating toward ginger and gingerbread-inspired treats.

Remember this amazing 6-layer Gingerbread Latte Crunch Cake I made last year?

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Well, I decided to turn that flavor pairing into a cookie.  Yup, Gingerbread Latte Cookies.  Along with molasses and some of my favorite spices, these sandwich cookies contain almond flour and a touch of cocoa for extra depth and a bit of softness. I paired the cookies with a rich, creamy espresso buttercream filling. They’re perfect for snacking on with one of those whipped cream-topped holiday coffee beverages or just a plain cup of joe.

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I made this cookie recipe as part of the Cooking Channel’s “31 Days of Cookies” series.  A handful of us bloggers, along with their test kitchen, have created the most delicious variety of cookie recipes for you all to enjoy this holiday season.  So go ahead, be the star of your next cookies exchange, and head on over to check them all out!

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Find the recipe for these Gingerbread Latte Cookies here.  

 

 

 

 

SparklingCranberryCake1

‘Tis the season for giving, right? Please forgive me, but I’m gonna take a moment to be a bit selfish. Over the last 5 months, my life has been completely devoted to the recipes in my book, sprinkled with my freelance work and a few fun recipes here and there. Strangely enough, I am not sick of making cake, but just needed a mini break to get my creative juices revived. And by break, I just mean the past few weeks I spent writing instead styling every single day.

I could not be more thrilled with the photographs heading off to print for my book – but with a tight deadline and having to shoot 4-5 cakes a week, there was not a lot time to really play and experiment with new techniques and styles. After a couple weeks of my camera actually being put away, I stole a few hours this past Sunday to make a cake just for me. The flavors, the styling, the lighting – all were at my complete disposal. No restraints.  I was not working for a client, I did not have to make sure the final product coordinated with 59 other cakes, and my only pressure to get things done in a certain amount of time was the setting sun. Work hardly ever really feels like work to me, but I surprised myself by just how fun playing with different light and arrangements can be.

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My photography is ever evolving, as I think it should be. I try to practice all types of styles, so I am prepared to work with a variety of clients. But when it comes to my own personal expression through photography, I love to challenge and push my own boundaries. I strive to be just barely satisfied with what I capture, but continue to want to do better and expand my repertoire. A good day shooting ends with photos I am excited to share, new knowledge about something I tried, and an idea of what I want to experiment with next.

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I wanted to capture the chilly temperatures and short days we’ve been having up here (the sun sets at 4pm!). I think it was half luck, but I ended up getting the most gorgeous light bouncing off the windows of the building across the street to depict exactly what I was feeling. The overall tone is a bit darker than I normally work with, but I think it really helped set up the rustic feel that I wanted. The cake itself is festive but not too stuffy, so I tried to mimic this in the styling.

Speaking of, this cranberry cake is definitely a keeper. I made a simple buttermilk cake filled with a gorgeous cranberry curd and iced with silky buttercream. The sugared cranberries made for a beautiful edible garnish.  I love using ingredients to help style my photos and the cranberries added just the right pop of red to the image.  Pretty right?  So maybe being selfish every now and then to work on your craft isn’t a bad idea.  Hopefully this baby on the way will let me continue to steal some “me time” from time to time in order to keep playing and growing.

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Sparkling Cranberry Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup whole cranberries (preferably fresh)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Place the cranberries, water, and 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium saucepan
  2. Heat over medium-high until the berries start to burst. Reduce heat and simmer until the remaining berries are soft and can be popped with the back of a wooden spoon.
  3. Remove from heat and press through a mesh sieve with a rubber spatula. Extract all of the liquids and puree. Discard the skins and remaining solids.
  4. Add 1/4 cup of the juice/puree back to the saucepan. Whisk in 3/4 cup sugar and eggs.
  5. While stirring, heat over medium until the mixture thickens, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter until smooth.
  6. Strain again, if desired.
  7. Transfer mixture to a heat-safe container. Cover by pressing plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd. Refrigerate until cool and thick.
  8. For the cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 6-inch cake pans and set aside.
  9. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  10. Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Mix until combined.
  11. With the mixer on low, alternate adding in the flour mixture and buttermilk - starting and ending with the flour.
  12. Mix on medium-low for no more than 30 seconds after the last streaks of flour disappear or until combined.
  13. Evenly distribute the batter between the two cake pans. Bake for about 23-25 minutes or until done.
  14. Cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
  15. Once completely cool, carefully slice the cakes in half horizontally to create four even layers.
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Assembly
serves 8-10

Place the bottom layer of cake on a cake plate or serving dish.  Pipe a 1/2″ high buttercream ring around the top edge to create a dam for the cranberry curd.  Fill with curd and spread out with an off-set spatula.  Top with the next layer of cake and repeat.  Frost cake with the buttercream or give it just a rustic crumb coat, like I’ve done.  Garnish with sugared cranberries.

Vanilla Buttercream Recipe - minus the sprinkles

Sugar Cranberries by Bakers Royale

 

 

 

 

 

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MiniMochaBundts1Did you ever notice that I post a lot of cake recipes on this blog, but not many (if any) bundt cakes? This is true because of a few reasons. 1) I lost my fancy bundt pan in our move a couple years ago, 2) Half of the bundt cakes I made in the past got stuck in the pan and split in half, and 3) I never used to understand why you would pick a bundt cake or a layer cake and miss out on all that extra filling and frosting. Well, clearly bundt cakes have stuck around for a reason. I might be a little late to the party, but now I see the appeal.

First of all, a good cake recipe doesn’t need extra filling and frosting. Most of the time, I end up leaving gobs of frosting behind on my plate after trying to eat a slice of layer cake anyways. When made with fresh, real ingredients and an awesome recipe, bundt cakes can be extremely moist and flavourful all on their own. I also find then that they are perfectly suitable for breakfast or an afternoon tea. Don’t you agree?

Secondly, they can be really pretty – especially when using a fancy, fluted pan.  I snagged these mini pans and they completely changed my bundt cake game.  I made this mocha bundt cake recipe and turned them into minis for my dad’s birthday last month.  My parents were heading out of town the day after we celebrated, so I thought individual mini cakes would be the way to go to minimize leftovers.

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Lastly, you can still frost and flavor them up with different sauces, glazes, and even plain confectioner’s sugar.  I gave these mocha bundts a maple glaze bath and could not be happier with the results.  Not too sweet and perfectly portioned.  So, there you have it.  My super quick run-down on why you might be seeing more bundt cake recipes around here.  Hope you enjoy them!

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Mini Mocha Bundt Cake Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup strong coffee
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • splash milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour 6 mini budt pans and set aside.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients (minus the cocoa) and set aside.
  4. Combine the coffee and butter in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat to melt the butter.
  5. Stir in the cocoa and sugars.
  6. Removed from heat and stir in the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla.
  7. Whisk in the dry ingredients until smooth.
  8. Evenly distribute the batter between the mini pans.
  9. Bake in the pre-heated oven until done -about 18-20 minutes.
  10. Cool cakes in their pans on a wire rack until the bundt pans are cool enough to handle before inverting the cakes. Continue to cool before glazing.
  11. Whisk together the confectioner's sugar and maple syrup until smooth. Stir in milk until desired consistency is reached.
  12. Place a piece of parchment paper under the wire rack before spooning glaze over the tops of the cakes. Let dry before moving.
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Too much batter for your mini pans?  Instead of over-filling them, bake extra batter in a regular cake or cupcake pan.  I suggest placing all of the mini bunds on a large baking sheet for easier transport to/from the oven – and just in case the over-flow.

 

‘Tis the season to a time of chaos! Oh, and delicious food of course. With all the hustle and bustle these days – trying to organize family feasts, fighting the shopping crowds, and trimming the trees with holiday decor, the last thing you probably have time for is menu planning. Lucky for you all, I have already scoured the web to find the best Holiday Pies for the season. From hand-held sweets to raw, healthy treats – trust me, there is something for everyone.

Joy Pie

 

 

Check out The Baker's Dozen: 13 Best Holiday Pies

by Tessa Lindow Huff at Foodie.com

Remember to head over to Foodie.com for more recipes or to make you own collection!

Post sponsored by Foodie, but collection and opinions are my own.

 

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It is the season for giving thanks, and I know I certainly have a lot to be thankful for this year.  So much so that I can’t hardly believe it!  Our first home, an amazing publisher picking up my book, and a baby on the way.  What more could I even ask for?  In return, I will just make delicious treats to thank the universe for our good fortune.  The only think that could make life even more amazing would be if my family and friends that lived closer.

Sadly, we will not be making it back to California for the holidays this year.  It will be the first Christmas that my husband will not be spending with his family.  My parents and brother will be up here in Canada wish us, but I will certainly miss everyone else so much.  We will not be celebrating Thanksgiving next Thursday either.  In Canada, Thanksgiving was celebrated in October (which we also missed), so my family decided to create a feast right in the middle.  My mom made a beautiful turkey with all of the traditional side dishes, plus a few new modern twists.  I, of course, brought pie.

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With all the cake making and baking that I do, it is humorous how rarely I actually make a full pie.  Maybe a couple times a year, maximum?  If I could nail down a good lattice, then maybe I’d make pie more often – lol (perhaps a new goal for next year?).  Well, with this pie, you don’t have to worry about a top crust at all.  Instead, I topped this Maple Sweet Potato Pie with toasted marshmallowy meringue topping.  I created a similar topping for an amazing pie over on The Kitchn, and just had to make it again.

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Maple Sweet Potato Meringue Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 single pie crust
  • 2 cup sweet potato puree
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Roll the pie crust into a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp or trim the edges.
  2. Blind bake at 425 degrees until slightly golden.
  3. Meanwhile, place the sweet potato puree, sugars, maple, and spices in a saucepan.
  4. While stirring with a wooden spoon, heat over medium-low until mixture starts to steam and everything begins to incorporate.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream.
  6. Add in the eggs and whisk until smooth.
  7. Use a immersion blender to completely combine (highly recommended).
  8. Pour pie filling into the blind baked crust.
  9. Reduce oven to 375 and bake until the center of the pie has just set and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  10. Once cooled, top with meringue or topping of your choice.
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Hey everyone!  Is it really nearly mid-November already?  I can’t believe it.  As I start to wrap up all the photos for the book and begin final edits, I finally had a chance to create some new content for you all.  Where is said new content?  Well, it’s on the way – I promise.

In the meantime, take a look at what is coming up soon:

Homemade Holiday Marshmallows

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Toasted Sweet Potato Pie

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Also, for those of you who really can’t wait, check out these fall favorites from the archives:

Citrus Vanilla Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Pear Layer Cake

Whipped Pumpkin Butter

Cinnamon Apple Butter

Butternut Squash Hand Pies

 

Thank you all for your patience and loyalty!  And remember you can always find my regular contributions over on The Kitchn.

 

 

 

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The other day, the husband and I were having some serious cravings for iced sugar cookies.  I have no idea what brought on this craving, but it was Sunday afternoon, and we both could use a break from all the cake in our house.  While I mentally went thru the recipe and what ingredients were left in the regenerator after a marathon week of baking cakes, the idea of sugar cookies seemed a bit much.  Do I really want make dough that needs to chill?  Roll and cut it out with cute cookie cutters?  And then make icing?  No, not really.  I’ll save that for Christmas…

My husband Brett always teases me that I can’t just follow a recipe or make anything simple.  I am always trying to put a spin on anything from basic Chocolate Chip Cookies to Buttermilk Pancakes, even when the original recipes are already awesome.  Guilty as charged.

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So when he requested just “regular” cookies, I tried my best to stick to it.  We only had leftover egg yolks from making Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and no whole eggs.  With that slight handicap in mind, I stumbled on this Almond Snickerdoodle recipe.  Of course I had to make a few minor tweaks to make them my own Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles, but nobody was complaining at this house.  Extra large, soft and chewy, but not cake-like, these cookies were truly delicious.  I think it was the bit of rich, cream cheese and smooth peanut butter that did the trick – not to mention the cinnamon sugar “crust.”  Perfect for enjoying on a rainy Sunday evening at home.

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Recipe adapted from My Recipes.

Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon - divided
  • 2 tablespoon granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment or nonstick mats.
  2. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and set aside.
  3. Beat together the brown sugar, cream cheese, butter, and peanut butter with an electric mixer or wooden spoon until smooth.
  4. Add in the vanilla, almond, and egg yolks until combined.
  5. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, mixing on low until well combined.
  6. In a small bowl or plate, mix the remaining cinnamon and sugar together.
  7. Using a cookie scooper, disher, or mechanical ice cream scoop - if you have one, scoop out evenly portioned balls of dough. Roll each ball in the cinnamon/sugar mixture before placing on the baking sheet and flattening slightly.
  8. Repeat with remaining cookie dough.
  9. Bake for about 10-12 minutes (depending on the size of your cookies) or until done.
  10. Cool on a wire rack for a couple minutes before removing from baking sheet.
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Sometimes you just gotta make cupcakes.  Am I right, or am I right?  And sometimes those cupcakes just need to straight-to-the-point, without extra thrills, and just down-right good.  Like most bloggers I’m sure, I am always trying to outdo myself with the next best innovative recipe, an ultimate, over-the-top dessert, or a crazy re-interpratation of a classic.  Not today.  Today calls for Classic Chocolate Cupcakes and Caramel.

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My brain had been on over-drive working on recipes for the book.  All the holidays and seasons are starting to blend together now (bless Michael’s for stocking Christmas decorations 3 months early!).  Autumn is my most favorite season, and although I am busy baking away everyday, I didn’t want to miss out on fall baking.  While this recipe is not necessarily festive nor whimsical for Halloween, baked in some cute spidery liners makes these Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes perfectly party-approved.

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For these cupcakes, I used my go-to caramel sauce.  Trust me – it is waaaaay better than anything you can find at a grocery store, is not too difficult to make, and any leftovers can be stored in your refrigerator for all of your caramel drizzling needs.  This recipe contains some salt, so adjust buttercream accordingly.  If your caramel does not contain salt, feel free to add in some fine sea salt to your liking, or sprinkle the tops of the cupcakes with flake salt. Yummm… salted caramel cupcakes…. You can find the recipes here:

Salted Caramel Sauce

Classic Chocolate Cupcakes

Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup caramel sauce, or to taste
  • pinch sea salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an stand mixer. Whisk to combine.
  2. Place a few inches of water in a saucepan and heat over medium.
  3. Place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler. Heat until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot to the touch - about 150 - 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
  4. Once hot, return the mixing bowl back to the stand.
  5. Whisk on high until the outside of the bowl returns to room temperature.
  6. Stop mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
  7. With the mixer on medium-low, add in the butter, a few tablespoons at a time.
  8. Add in the remaining ingredients and turn mixer up to medium-high until buttercream is smooth and fluffy.
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My dear husband, bless him, has come along way with his eating habits.  When we met, he had more condiments in his fridge than real food and truly believed that frozen Jalapeño Poppers made for an entire meal.  Although he has always been open to trying new things like sushi andThai (even before I was around), now he might even be more of an adventurous eater than me.  His cooking skills have gone from only being able to cook chicken breast (still sort of impressive for a bachelor – in his defence) to making homemade gyoza with me and coming up different dishes and sauces that are quite creative and actually taste really good.

So while I am the one who mainly cooks for us, I do turn to him for certain tips.  Prior to his frozen food days, he worked at a pizza place as a teen.  One of his tasks was to make fresh dough.  I’ve mentioned it on here before that breads are not my specialty, but I have been making an effort to try more and more bread and pastry recipes when I have the time.  So when it comes to kneading and forming a decent dough, I call on my dear Brett.  The same guy that I teased for trying to cut a tomato with a butter knife.  The same guy that could once stomach a corndog from 7-11.

Yes, not all breads and pastries have the same dough or kneading process.  However, this recipe does seem to start just like the others: some warm milk, yeast, a bit of sugar, and flour.  I tend to have pretty cold hands (not to mention it has been pretty chilly these days), so my dough never quite looks right to me.  Since most of my baking requires very accurate measurements, I am always a bit stressed when my dough looks a little rough or ragged.  Have no fear!  With a bit of advice for my ex-pizza slinging main squeeze and the addition of a bit more liquids or flour until it looks just “right,” we are back on track to the goodness of this amazing bread twist.

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Now you might be looking at the twisted-ness of this dish and think its too complicated.  Believe me, it’s not that bad.  If you can get past the dough-kneading, you can surely pull this off.  Ever make cinnamon rolls?  Well it is kind of the same idea, but instead of slicing into rolls, you give the whole things a big ol’ twist.  After the resting time, you will only be about 30 minutes away from warm, gooey Chocolate Pomegranate Bread Twist heaven.  The dough is spread with a cinnamon-butter mixture and topped of with chopped pecans and dark chocolate chunks.  As it bakes, the dough rises and the cinnamon-butter and chocolate melt in between all the awesome layers.  Out of the oven, give a generous snow-fall of powdered sugar and a handful of pomegranate seeds.  Best eaten warm – but I probably don’t have to tell you that.  Your nose will guide you!

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One of the best parts about this bread twist is that you can change up the flavours to whatever your heart desires.  Try mixed berries in the summer, swap out the nuts, or even spread with chocolate-hazelnut butter.  I think I might have to try that combo next….. The pomegranates here make it look super festive, don’t you think?

ChocoPomBraidBread5The recipe and method were adapted by Joy the Baker.  Follow her amazing step-by-step tutorial here!

Chocolate Pomegranate Bread Twist

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 t dry active yeast
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c lukewarm milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 T butter, melted
  • 2 1/4 c all purpose flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1/3 c chopped pecans
  • 1/3 c chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • pomegranate seeds
  • confectioner's sugar for dusting

Instructions

  1. Stir together the sugar and yeast in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Whisk the egg yolk and melted butter into the warm milk.
  3. Pour in the yeast mixing and stir to combine. Let rest 5 minutes as the yeast froths and activates.
  4. Meanwhile, mix together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  5. While stirring with a wooden spoon, pour in the milk mixture.
  6. Stir together as much as possible before turning out on a flour-dusted work surface.
  7. Knead the dough together for about 5-10 minutes, until fairly smooth but not sticky.
  8. Place dough in a greased mixing bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen cloth and let rest for about an hour, or until dough doubles in size.
  9. Once the dough has rested, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  10. Grease a cast iron skillet (about 9-10 inches wide) and set aside.
  11. Stir together the softened butter, sugar, and cinnamon.
  12. Turn out the dough and give it a few good kneads.
  13. Roll out the dough to about a 12" by 18" rectangle.
  14. Spread the cinnamon mixture over the dough, leaving a 1" boarder around the edges.
  15. Spinkle on the chopped pecans and chocolate, pressing well into the cinnamon mixture.
  16. Starting with the long edge of the rectangle facing you, roll up the dough.
  17. Leave the dough seam-side down and tuck under the ends.
  18. Carefully slice the dough log lengthwise down the center, leaving about 1" on one end still intact.
  19. Flip the two strands of dough so the insides face up - with all the pecans and chocolate bits facing up towards you.
  20. Carefully overlap the strands of dough to create a braid.
  21. Take the braid and connect the two ends create a circle of twisted dough.
  22. In one swift, confident motion, transfer the twisted bread to the skillet.
  23. Brush the beaten egg onto the doughy parts of the bread.
  24. Press in any pecans and chocolate chunks that may have gotten loose.
  25. Bake for about 20-22 minutes, or until the edges are golden.
  26. Dust with confectioner's sugar and top with pomegranate seeds.
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