Saturday, November 29, 2008

November Daring Baker Challenge

My first challenge completed! :)

This month we made a delicious Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater ( You can find the recipe at … he-recipe/.

I really enjoyed making this cake because I was "challenged" to do some things I had never done before - make caramel syrup and browned butter. My first batch of caramel syrup burned, so I had to start over and the second batch was much better. I was pleasantly surprised by the caramel flavor (I was curious as to how much it would shine through in the cake). The cupcakes turned out moist but dense, and the frosting was very sweet but delicious!

Hosting this month was Dolores (, along with Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo:, Jenny of Foray into Food (, and Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go (

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pineapple Carrot Cake

My husband and I have been on a cupcake kick lately. We went to a local bakery and tried out 6 of their cupcakes - but they were out of carrot cake when I went. So, of course, I have been craving a carrot cupcake ever since. I got an awesome new muffin pan from my sister for my birthday from Williams Sonoma, and I needed to break it in so these were the perfect excuse. This cake is very moist (I think the crushed pineapple helps) and dense and tastes fabulous.

Pineapple Carrot Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups finely shredded carrots
1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
½ cup coconut
1 cup cooking oil
4 eggs

1. Grease and lightly flour two round baking pans (or use cupcakes pans like I did)
2. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add carrots, pineapple, coconut, oil, and eggs. Beat with an electric mixer till combined. Pour batter into the pans.
3. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool layer cakes on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool thoroughly on wire racks. Frost with cream cheese frosting. Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 3 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
2 tsp vanilla
2 ½ to 2 ¾ cups powdered sugar

1. Beat together two 3 oz. packages cream cheese, softened; ½ cup butter or margarine, softened; and 2 tsp vanilla till light and fluffy. Gradually beat in 2 ½ to 2 ¾ cups additional sifted powdered sugar to reach spreading consistency. Then frost tops and sides of two 8 or 9 inch layers. Cover and store cake in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Berry Bread Pudding

The other day when I was at Costco I bought a container of raspberries. Simply because they looked good. I had no idea at the time how I was going to use them, but I came across this recipe for Berry Bread Pudding. It calls for mixed berries, but I decided to go for only raspberries. I was a little skeptical about the lemon fondant after I made it because it was extremely lemony and tart. After tasting it I have to say that the raspberries and lemon were perfect complements to the sweetness of the bread pudding. I will definitely be making this again.

Berry Bread Pudding

Butter, room temperature
4 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for dusting and topping
4 large slices brioche bread (I used challah because I couldn't find brioche)
2 cups mixed berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries), plus more for garnish

Lemon Fondant
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 lemon, zested and juiced


Butter and sugar 6 (6-ounce) ramekins.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and sugar. Combine well with a whisk - then let it settle so there are no air bubbles on the surface otherwise these will cause lumps in your anglaise.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Tear the brioche up into large pieces using your hands, add to the custard mixture and toss to combine. Equally divide the berries among the ramekins and top with the bread mixture. Gently press down so they are packed evenly. Sprinkle with more sugar, then refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes to let soak.

Bake for 25 minutes in the center of the oven. The pudding is ready when it has puffed up and the custard is set. The top should be a nice golden color. Remove and allow to cool slightly.

Make the fondant. In a mixing bowl combine sifted powdered sugar, water, lemon zest and juice.

Once the pudding has cooled slightly, invert onto an individual serving plate. Drizzle the lemon fondant over warm bread pudding and serve with extra fresh berries.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fondue Party

We had some friends over on Halloween for our very own fancy fondue party. We have had a tradition of going to our local cities Restaurant Week, but because two of us had babies recently, we decided to do our own dinner at home.

Everything was fabulous - we had cheese fondue with bread, cauliflower, carrots, and apples. The second course was Coq Au Vin with chicken, steak, shrimp, and veggies galore. I was in charge of the chocolate fondue and decided to go with a peanut butter chocolate fondue. I was pleased with the result - it was not too sweet, had a bit of excitement with the peanut butter, and it was delicious!

For dippers we had strawberries, bananas, marshmallows, cheesecake, and pound cake. I made the cheesecake using my trusted recipe that has never failed me. Not even once. And the pound cake was a new experience for me. The taste was good, but it was a bit dry for me - I think it was mostly because I made it in two loaf pans instead of a tube pan and was unsure of how long to cook it.

The recipes I used are posted below. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Fondue

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate disks (I used Dilettante)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter

Combine all ingredients and put into a double broiler. Stir until melted and smooth.


4 8 oz. packages Philadelphia cream cheese at room temp
1 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs at room temp


2 c graham cracker crumbs (12 whole graham crackers) – set 2 tbsp aside for topping
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c butter melted

In processor blend 3 ingredients for crust until they become a clumpy ball. Dump them into the spring-form pan (10 inch - preferred, or 9 inch) and press them to about 2 inches up the side. Set the crust aside.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wipe out processor bowl, add cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Blend together until creamy. Pour over crust.

Bake in middle of oven for 60-70 minutes. Wrap bottom of spring-form pan with foil, so if the butter leaks, it won’t drip and make smoke in the oven.

Test for doneness by jiggling the pan – done when center jiggles, but doesn’t wobble (across the whole cheesecake).

Remove from oven, and cool for at least 1 hour.

Tip: To avoid the crack down the middle of the cheesecake, cool slowly by turning off oven, leave the cheesecake in the oven until it all comes to room temperature (about 4-5 hours).

Pound Cake

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
3 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups all-purpose flour
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the sour cream and mix until incorporated. Sift the baking soda and flour together. Add to the creamed mixture alternating with eggs, beating each egg 1 at a time. Add the vanilla and pour the mixture into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Girl Scout Cookies

When girl scout cookie season rolls around, my husband and I become a bit obsessive. I want to stock the pantry with enough thin mints and samoas to last us the whole year. This year when we went to the local grocery store to buy our supply, we made the girl scouts' day by buying about 10 boxes. I remember them saying, "That's the most we've ever sold to one person!" What a proud moment.

I came across this recipe from Baking Bites for homemade samoas. I had to try them out to decide whether or not they were as good as the real thing.

The conclusion? No, they're not. But they're pretty good if you've got that craving. My husband liked that the shortbread cookies in this recipe were crisper then in the real samoas. They were a bit of work but they were fun to try out. Oh, and I had to search high and low for the Werther's chewy caramels - either the stores didn't carry them or they were out of stock.

Peach Cobbler

I've been on a bit of a hiatus, but I'm back. And I've still been baking away, just haven't been posting.

My favorite time of year has to be the fall - I love the crisp fall air, the beautiful red, orange, and yellow leaves, and most of all I LOVE PEACHES! So here's a peach cobbler I made a while back. It's called Brigham City Peach Cobbler, and it's oh so good! I like to make the cobber in ramekins so that everyone gets their own individual serving. Here's the recipe!

Brigham City Peach Cobbler

3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 tsp almond extract
4 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp butter
1 cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
Ice cream or whipped topping (optional)

For filling, in a large saucepan combine brown sugar and cornstarch. Stir in water. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add almond extract. Stir in peaches, lemon juice, and the 1 tbsp butter; heat through and keep warm while preparing topping.

For topping, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the 1/4 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a separate bowl combine egg and milk; add all at once to flour mixture, stirring just to moisten. Turn hot filling into a greased 1 1/2 or 2 quart casserole dish, or 6 ramekins. Bake at 400 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes. Makes 6 servings. This recipe also works well with 4 cups fresh raspberries or blackberries, or a combination of raspberries and peaches.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Buttermilk Doughnuts

Last night I decided to make some buttermilk doughnuts. My husband helped me, and he really enjoyed it because it reminded him of being a kid. In terms of texture, this recipe tastes like a mix between a cake doughnut and a regular doughnut. We used powdered sugar and cinnamon sugar as our two toppings.

Here's a tip - wait until the doughnuts are completely cool before coating with powdered sugar, otherwise the sugar will melt when the doughnut is hot. Oh, and another tip - serve these doughnuts the same day as they always taste best the day they're made!

Buttermilk Doughnuts

2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs beaten
1 cup sugar
5 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup melted butter

Combine buttermilk, eggs, and sugar and mix well. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg together into a large mixing bowl. Stir in buttermilk mixture, then melted butter. Roll dough out about 1/4 inch thick on floured board; cut with doughnut cutter. Fry in hot oil (about 375 degrees) till golden brown on both sides. Drain on a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet. Sprinkle or roll in sugar. Makes 4 dozen doughnuts.

Homemade Gelato and Ice Cream

When my husband and I went to Ireland last year, we fell in love with gelato. There was a place near my sister's apartment where you could get the biggest serving of gelato for hardly any money. We made a bad habit of going there a few times a week (we were there for 5 weeks) and trying out the different flavors. Absolutely delicious!

I still dream about the gelato, particularly the hazelnut and chocolate flavors (the two I finally settled on as the best). I decided to make my own the other day, and it turned out so well I didn't even get a picture of it (my husband and I devoured it)!

A few days later I made some mint cookies 'n cream ice cream (my favorite ice cream flavor). The ice cream was good, but it did not compare to the gelato I made. The gelato was so much more creamy and smooth. The key ingredient for the gelato - egg yolks. I will definitely use the gelato recipe below as my base and experiment from there.


2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan combine the milk, cream, and 1/2 cup sugar over medium heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whip the egg yolks with the remaining sugar using an electric mixer until the eggs have become thick and pale yellow, about 4 minutes. Pour 1/2 cup of the warm milk and cream mixture into the egg mixture and stir. Add this mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Place a strainer over a medium bowl and pour the warm custard mixture through the strainer. Stir in the vanilla. Chill mixture completely before pouring into an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions to freeze. To serve, scoop gelato into serving bowls.

For chocolate hazelnut gelato, add 1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (I used Nutella) when adding the vanilla and stir until completely dissolved. Follow the directions accordingly.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Snickerdoodle Heaven

There's just something about a soft, chewy snickerdoodle that brings a smile to my face. My husband told me the other night that snickerdoodles are his favorite cookie - and I've been baking him chocolate chip cookies all this time!

I made a batch the other night after my mom asked about the cinnamon we bought from Penzey's Spices. I was trying to think of other ways to use my cinnamon and snickerdoodles came to mind. What I've found is that the trick to a snickerdoodle is to underbake them. These cookies turned out fabulous and if you're looking for a quick cookie, try these out!


1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cream together butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, the eggs and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.

Mix the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Enjoy!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The best cake I've ever had

I hosted a dinner party last night and at the end of the evening announced that I had made Chocolate Zucchini Cake for dessert. I asked if anybody wanted some, and the responses were varied. "Oooh, yeah, I love zucchini," and "not if it tastes like it sounds."

The cake went over very well, even with one dinner guest announcing that it was the best cake he'd ever had. The zucchini makes the cake very moist, and you can even justify eating it because there are vegetables in it (wink, wink).

Try it out and enjoy! Oh, and I'd recommend serving it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream - it's the perfect complement to this chocolatey treat!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

2 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini (about 2 1/2 medium)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Beat sugar, butter and oil in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract. Mix in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions each. Mix in grated zucchini. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan.

Top each piece of cake with a spoonful of chocolate ganache. To make the ganache, heat 1 cup of heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat. Poor the cream over 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips and stir until melted completely.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Baking up a storm

I started the day with the goal of making three different things - chocolate chip cookies, blueberry muffins, and zucchini bread. 9:00 pm rolled around and I went to start on the last of my three baked goods when I realized I didn't have enough brown sugar to make zucchini bread. I guess it will have to wait until another day.

I was on the quest today to make bakery quality chocolate chip cookies - the thick, chewy kind. I used a recipe from Cook's Illustrated, but sadly my cookies did not turn out as I wanted them to and they definitely did not look like the picture on the recipe. The taste was good, with somewhat of a toffee flavor, and they were chewy. But they were pretty flat. I think the search is still on.

After I made my cookies, I found an article in the New York Times entitled, "Quest for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie." Huh, go figure. It gave some great tips, particularly that you should let your dough rest for 36 hours before baking. This allows the dough to fully soak up the liquid, resulting in a drier firmer dough, which bakes to a better consistency. Translation - no more flat cookies! This article even gives a recipe (found here), so I'm excited to try it out!

I also made blueberry muffins. This recipe is by far the best I've tried - they always turn out moist and delicious. Try them out and enjoy!

Blueberry Muffins

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus more for preparing the muffin tin
2/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for the top of the muffins
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup frozen blueberries (or you can use 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly brush a 12-muffin tin with butter and set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

Using a hand mixer, cream the butter and 2/3 cup of sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour in 3 parts into the butter mixture, alternating with the milk in 2 parts, until just combined. Fold in the blueberries. Take care not to over mix the batter. Divide the batter evenly into the muffin tin and sprinkle the tops with sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Chocolatey goodness!

I decided to try out a recipe from Picky Palate. I was scrolling through the dessert recipes and when I saw the Crispy Caramel Brownie Treats, I just had to have them! They were a cinch to make and are a brownie lovers/rice crispy treat lovers/chocolate lovers delight! I must warn you - they are VERY rich!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Summer bliss

There is nothing I love more than the variety of fresh produce available during the summer. Even better is when you've grown it in your own backyard. I'm lucky because my husband is the gardener in the family. He does all of the hard work and I get to enjoy the results!

This year we have two zucchini plants and as you can imagine we are eating zucchini just about every meal. Something I can't resist making is yummy zucchini bread. I decided to try out Paula Deen's recipe, as found here. It calls for about a cup more sugar than my other recipes making it sweet, but producing a wonderful crunchy crust. It's also probably the moistest zucchini bread I've had. I followed the recipe as directed but I made one large loaf and three small loaves. Next time I make it I'll substitute half whole wheat flour and add a little more zucchini. Bon appetite!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

National Cheesecake Day

Yesterday was National Cheesecake Day - my new favorite day of the year. I love cheesecake. I love the thick and creamy texture. I love the sweetness. I love the richness of the taste. I love that you can make any kind of cheesecake your heart desires and it will taste good. Oh so good.

When I was younger my dad was in New York on a business trip over my birthday. Lucky for me he brought back a cheesecake from Carnegie Deli. For my mom the Carnegie Deli cheesecake is the epitome of what a cheesecake should be. We found the recipe online a few years ago and I tried my hand at making it. Don't get me wrong - it was good - but there's something about getting the cheesecake from the actual Deli. Go figure.

In honor of National Cheesecake Day, I decided to make a White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake, like the one at The Cheesecake Factory. I found a copycat recipe online and felt confident about it after reading the reviews. All in all the cheesecake tastes delicious, but I made one mistake - I didn't use the jumbo size aluminum foil to wrap the cheesecake pan but used 2 smaller sheets instead. Big mistake. The water bath that the cheesecake was cooking in leaked into the pan and what resulted is the crust of the cheesecake is gooey. Not the way the crust should be. I'm a little disappointed, but I have learned and can't wait to try again.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cinnamon Rolls

I've been inspired by this group called The Daring Bakers to start a food blog. I'm not actually a member of the Daring Bakers, but hopefully I will be soon. I love to bake, and thought I may as well start taking pictures of my creations and sharing recipes! My first post is about an old Daring Bakers challenge - the cinnamon roll. I followed Peter Reinhart's recipe verbatim, and you'll find it below.

My secret to killer cinnamon rolls? Korintje Cassia Cinnamon from Penzey's Spices. Well, that and patience. I'm usually a quick bread kind of girl, but working with yeast really requires time. When you do take the time to let the yeast do its' thing, the results are so worth it! What did I learn from making these rolls? If something comes up and you can't roll the dough out after two hours (which will often happen with a baby...), just stick the dough in the fridge to slow the raising process. Also, an easy way to cut beautiful rolls is to use waxed dental floss. If you don't have any unflavored kind in your house, use some thread!

Cinnamon Buns and Sticky Buns
(from Peter Reinhart´s The Bread Baker´s Apprentice)

Days to Make: 1

15 minutes mixing; 3 1/2 hours fermentation, shaping and proofing; 20 to 40 minutes baking.

Yield: Makes 8 to 12 large or 12 to 16 smaller cinnamon or sticky buns

6 1/2 tablespoons (3.25 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 1/2 tablespoons (2.75 ounces) shortening or unsalted butter or margarine
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon lemon extract OR 1 teaspoon grated zest of 1 lemon
3 1/2 cups (16 ounces) unbleached bread or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast*
1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk, at room temperature OR 3 tablespoons powdered milk (DMS) and 1 cup water

1/2 cup cinnamon sugar (6 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar plus 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, or any other spices you want to use, cardamom, ginger, allspice, etc.)

White fondant glaze for cinnamon buns or caramel glaze for sticky buns (at the end of the recipe.)

Walnuts, pecans, or other nuts (for sticky buns.)
Raisins or other dried fruit, such as dried cranberries or dried cherries (for sticky buns, optional.)

*Instant yeast contains about 25% more living cells per spoonful than active dry yeast, regardless of the brand. Instant yeast is also called rapid-rise or fast-rising.

1. Cream together the sugar, salt, and shortening or butter on medium-high speed in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a large metal spoon and mixing bowl and do it by hand); if you are using powdered milk, cream the milk with the sugar, and add the water with the flour and yeast. Whip in the egg and lemon extract/zest until smooth. Then add the flour, yeast, and milk. Mix on low speed (or stir by hand) until the dough forms a ball. Switch to the dough hook and increase the speed to medium, mixing for approximately 10 minutes (or knead by hand for 12 to 15 minutes), or until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky. You may have to add a little flour or water while mixing to achieve this texture. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

2. Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

3. Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Proceed as shown in the photo on the left for shaping the buns.
(Transcription: (A) Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the top with flour to keep it from sticking to the pin. Roll it into a rectangle about 2/3 inch thick and 14 inches wide by 12 inches long for larger buns, or 18 inches wide by 9 inches long for smaller buns. Don´t roll out the dough too thin, or the finished buns will be tough and chewy rather than soft and plump. (B)Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the surface of the dough and (C) roll the dough up into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon-sugar spiral as you roll. With the seam side down, cut the dough into 8 to 12 pieces each about 1 3/4 inches thick for larger buns, or 12 to 16 pieces each 1 1/4 inch thick for smaller buns.)

4. For cinnamon buns, line 1 or more sheet pans with baking parchment. Place the buns approximately 1/2 inch apart so that they aren´t touching but are close to one another.

For sticky buns, coat the bottom of 1 or more baking dishes or baking pans with sides at least 1 1/2 inches high with a 1/4 inch layer of the caramel glaze. Sprinkle on the nuts and raisins (if you are using raisins or dried fruit.) You do not need a lot of nuts and raisins, only a sprinkling. Lay the pieces of dough on top of the caramel glaze, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a food-grade plastic bag.

5. Proof at room temperature for 75 to 90 minutes, or until the pieces have grown into one another and have nearly doubled in size. You may also retard the shaped buns in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, pulling the pans out of the refrigerator 3 to 4 hours before baking to allow the dough to proof.

6. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with the oven rack in the middle shelf for cinnamon buns but on the lowest shelf for sticky buns.

7. Bake the cinnamon buns for 20 to 30 minutes or the sticky buns 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. If you are baking sticky buns, remember that they are really upside down (regular cinnamon buns are baked right side up), so the heat has to penetrate through the pan and into the glaze to caramelize it. The tops will become the bottoms, so they may appear dark and done, but the real key is whether the underside is fully baked. It takes practice to know just when to pull the buns out of the oven.

8. For cinnamon buns, cool the buns in the pan for about 10 minutes and then streak white fondant glaze across the tops, while the buns are warm but not too hot. Remove the buns from the pans and place them on a cooling rack. Wait for at least 20 minutes before serving. For the sticky buns, cool the buns in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes and then remove them by flipping them over into another pan. Carefully scoop any run-off glaze back over the buns with a spatula. Wait at least 20 minutes before serving.

White fondant glaze for cinnamon buns

Cinnamon buns are usually topped with a thick white glaze called fondant. There are many ways to make fondant glaze, but here is a delicious and simple version, enlivened by the addition of citrus flavor, either lemon or orange. You can also substitute vanilla extract or rum extract, or simply make the glaze without any flavorings.

Sift 4 cups of powdered sugar into a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon or orange extract and 6 tablespoons to 1/2 cup of warm milk, briskly whisking until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the milk slowly and only as much as is needed to make a thick, smooth paste.

When the buns have cooled but are still warm, streak the glaze over them by dipping the tines of a fork or a whisk into the glaze and waving the fork or whisk over the tops. Or, form the streaks by dipping your fingers in the glaze and letting it drip off as you wave them over the tops of the buns. (Remember to wear latex gloves.)

Caramel glaze for sticky buns

Caramel glaze is essentially some combination of sugar and fat, cooked until it caramelizes. The trick is catching it just when the sugar melts and lightly caramelizes to a golden amber. Then it will cool to a soft, creamy caramel. If you wait too long and the glaze turns dark brown, it will cool to a hard, crack-your-teeth consistency. Most sticky bun glazes contain other ingredients to influence flavor and texture, such as corn syrup to keep the sugar from crystallizing and flavor extracts or oils, such as vanilla or lemon. This version makes the best sticky bun glaze of any I´ve tried. It was developed by my wife, Susan, for Brother Juniper´s Cafe in Forestville, California.
NOTE: you can substitute the corn syrup for any neutral flavor syrup, like cane syrup or gold syrup.

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature.

2. Cream together for 2 minutes on high speed with the paddle attachment. Add 1/2 cup corn syrup and 1 teaspoon lemon, orange or vanilla extract. Continue to cream for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.

3. Use as much of this as you need to cover the bottom of the pan with a 1/4-inch layer. Refrigerate and save any excess for future use; it will keep for months in a sealed container.