Granola babka with brown sugar and walnut butter

Granola babka with brown sugar and walnut butter

I don’t eat a lot of bread, but when I do, it tends to be the focus of the meal. Enter this granola babka, the perfect breakfast treat. I was lucky to be gifted some Oatbox granola over the holidays. Inspired by their recipe for cinnamon rolls, I decided to use the granola in a same-same-but-different form, babka. Who can’t get on board with sweet, swirled bread dough?

Now the kicker here is that this dough isn’t swirled with just anything. Babka is typically filled with chocolate, but this one rather has layers of walnut butter, brown sugar, and granola. The granola is key because it adds a much-needed element of crispy, crunchy texture. As I mentioned, said granola comes from a Montreal-based company called Oatbox. They are basically a “granola of the month” club. Monthly subscriptions cost $20 and get you two bags of granola. Flavours change from month to month. I used their banana molasses variety in this granola babka. The two flavours for January are buckwheat, almond, and honey, and matcha, coconut, and mulberries. An Oatbox subscription is a great idea for the New Year to help ensure you always have some healthy breakfast (and baking!) options on hand.

As for this granola babka, it’s surprisingly good for you despite its apparent decadence. Walnut butter replaces the butter you’d find in traditional cinnamon rolls. Given the sweetness in the nut butter and the granola, there’s not a ton of extra brown sugar. Otherwise, it’s just a basic white bread dough. You could totally use whole wheat flour instead or throw some bran in if you’re looking for the extra fibre. Pureed dates would also make a great substitution for the brown sugar in the filling.

Whether you need to feed a crowd of people for a holiday gathering, or just want to treat yourself on a cold winter morning, this granola babka will warm you up from the inside out!

*Oatbox supplied the granola for this post but the words and recipe here are my own.

Granola babka with brown sugar and walnut butter
 
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It's easiest to prep this recipe the night before you want to eat the babka. It's a great breakfast treat for the holidays!
Author:
Serves: 1 loaf
Ingredients
  • ½ package dry active yeast (just over 1 tsp. or about 4 grams)
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. fine salt
  • 2 tbsp. oil (neutral-flavoured)
  • ⅓ cup walnut butter (or other nut butter of your choice)
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup banana molasses Oatbox granola
Instructions
  1. Bloom the yeast with ¼ cup of warm water and 1 tbsp. of brown sugar.
  2. Once it has activated, add in the remaining ¼ cup of water, flour, salt, and oil.
  3. Mix in a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment or by hand, kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes depending on what method you use.
  4. Let the dough rest for about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Roll it out into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick.
  6. Smear the walnut butter evenly over the rolled dough and sprinkle on layers of both brown sugar and granola.
  7. Roll the dough up tightly into a log, as if you were making cinnamon buns.
  8. Slice the roll longitudinally right down the middle, dividing it into two even halves.
  9. Twist these halves together, forming a spiralled loaf.
  10. Place the babka into a well-oiled loaf pan, cover, and rest it in the fridge overnight. Alternately, if you want to move ahead with baking it right away, leave it at room temperature and let it rise until doubled.
  11. Once the loaf has risen (whether that was in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for about an hour) bake at 350F for about 30 minutes. It should be golden and slightly crusty.
  12. Cool slightly and enjoy. Fresh bread is always best eaten warm!

Chocolate Banana Bread

Chocolate Banana Bread

Chocolate Banana Bread

By now you have probably seen this chocolate banana bread. It has made it’s rounds throughout the blogosphere, starting with Smitten Kitchen, before others like Poires au Chocolat jumped on board. In my defence, I think I made this sometime back in March but am finally getting around to posting it now (so despite how it looks, I am not the last one to get on the bandwagon). Let me tell you, it is definitely worth spreading the word about. It’s not often that I claim something to be the best thing I have ever made. But this is the BEST banana bread I have ever made. Seriously. Well if you hate chocolate (weirdo) then you might dislike it. However if you are even remotely normal/sane/chocolate-appreciating, you are going to fall in love. I even healthified (my new word of the day, a neologism as my GRE word lists have taught me) it with yogurt and olive oil. You cannot tell a difference. I hope you have some bananas on hand because you are going to need some, stat! I cannot think of a better way to kick off the long weekend, can you? Plus apparently it is Chocolate Chip Day (that even exists?) so this fits the bill perfectly. Make it NOW. I promise, you will have no regrets. Do it.

Chocolate Banana BreadChocolate Banana Bread

5.0 from 1 reviews
Chocolate Banana Bread
 
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Author:
Recipe type: dessert, breakfast, snack
Serves: 1 loaf
Ingredients
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • ¼ cup vanilla yogurt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Heat your oven to 350F and grease a loaf tin.
  2. Combine the mashed banana, yogurt, oil, brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Stir until smooth. There may still be some lumps of banana but there should be no visible pieces of brown sugar remaining.
  3. To the wet ingredients, add the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and chocolate chips. Stir until just combined. Do not over mix.
  4. Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan and bake at 350F for 55-65 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool and enjoy.

Chocolate Banana BreadChocolate Banana BreadChocolate Banana Bread

Cheese and Corn Scones

Cheese and Corn Scones

Crazy as it is, I have never shared a recipe for scones with you guys. In the 2 and a half years I have had this blog, there have been no scones, biscuits, cobblers, nothing.  How did that happen? I won’t dwell, what’s done is done, but as of today, we are going to rectify the situation. We are going to make up for it with the cheesiest, meltiest scones you have ever tasted in your life. For the inaugural recipe, we are bringing out the big guns. I’m not kidding, these little babies are 3 parts flour, 2 parts cheese, when you account for what is both inside the dough and melted on top.

Cheese and Corn Scones Cheese and Corn Scones

What type of cheese, you ask? Typically I like to buy a block and grate it fresh but let’s face it, grating cheese is not the most entertaining task in the world. For that reason, I always keep a bag of Kraft Shredded Cheese in the fridge, just in case I am feeling lazy. Plus one of my family members has a thing for eating it straight out of the bag, but I won’t name names or anything. They just came out with their new Kraft Shredded Cheese with a Touch of Philadelphia, which delivers a soft and creamy melt to make your favourite recipes even better! When it comes to shredded cheese, the meltier the better, I would say. It comes in 3 flavours; Creamy Mozza, Creamy Herb and Garlic and Creamy Mexicana. I chose the latter to go along with the “south of the border” theme I started by adding corn to the scones. A blend of mozzarella, Monterey Jack and cheddar, it melts into the scones, lending to their buttery, flaky texture. That being said, you could use the Creamy Mozza and stir in sun-dried tomatoes instead of corn. Or you could amplify the Creamy Herb and Garlic by putting additional roasted garlic in the dough. Regardless, with Kraft Shredded Cheese with a Touch of Philadelphia, the melt is all you will remember.

*Kraft Canada is hosting the “What’s Cooking” Twitter Party on Wednesday, April 16 at 9pm EST. Get involved by tweeting @KraftCanada, #TouchofPhillyCheese.

Cheese and Corn Scones

Cheese and Corn Scones
Makes 16

Ingredients

3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup bran
2 tbsp. white sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
3/4 cup butter, cold and cubed
1/2 cup heavy cream, half and half or milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup Kraft Creamy Mexicana Shredded Cheese with a Touch of Philadelphia
1 cup frozen corn
¼ cup cold water, or as needed

1 egg, beaten (to form an egg wash)
3/4 – 1 cup Kraft Creamy Mexicana Shredded Cheese with a Touch of Philadelphia

Instructions

To make the scones, start by combining the flour, bran, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and black pepper. Once mixed, add in the butter. Use your hands to blend the butter into the dough, still leaving pea-sized pieces visible. This is what contributes to the flakiness of the scones.

Next add the cream, sour cream, Kraft Creamy Mexicana Shredded Cheese with a Touch of Philadelphia and frozen corn. If the dough is too dry and will not come together to form a ball, add ¼ cup of cold water or more as needed. Do not over mix. Knead the dough slightly to bring it together but not so much as to over-develop the gluten and make the scones tough.

Roll out the dough about ¾” thick, using flour to prevent it from sticking. Cut it into rounds and place the scones on parchment-lined sheet trays, 8 scones per tray. Brush them with egg wash and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes. Right before you take them out of the oven, add the additional Kraft Creamy Mexicana Shredded Cheese with a Touch of Philadelphia and allow it to melt over the top of the scones, without browning. Cool and enjoy!

Disclosure: Although this post has been generously sponsored by Kraft Canada, the opinions and language are all my own, and in no way do they reflect Kraft Canada. 

Pizza Dough

pizza dough

Here we have it, my inaugural post for The Secret Recipe Club. Basically how it works is that each month you are assigned a fellow blogger whose site you have to create a recipe from. The catch is that they do not know you are doing it, hence the “secret” part. I thought it would be a fun way to connect with other bloggers around the world, which held true in my first assignment as Manuela from Manu’s Menu lives in Australia!

However, she was raised in Milan and is all about making authentic Italian eats. I had a really hard time deciding what recipe to make (as the cliche goes, there were too many to choose from!), but knew I wanted to stick to the Italian theme. We had enough dessert in the house, otherwise I definitely would have made cookies (these or these). Since we were having pizza for dinner anyways the other night, I figured I would try out Manuela’s recipe for pizza dough. I rarely document what I do when I make bread of any kind so I even decided to take pictures at every step along the way – other than actually making the pizza that is, that adventure will come later this week. Let’s just say there were raspberries involved. Stay tuned and in the meantime, let’s make some pizza dough!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Pizza Dough
 
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Author:
Serves: 3 or 4 pizzas
Ingredients
  • 3½ cups bread flour
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • 400-450mL warm water
  • 2¼ tsp. dry active yeast or 2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 tsp. sugar
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast with 250mL warm water and sugar to activate it.
  2. When the yeast looks foamy, add the remaining ingredients into the bowl, starting with 150mL of water and adding the additional 50mL if it looks too dry.
  3. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together. Turn the mixer up to medium and let it go for about 7 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
  4. The dough will still be fairly sticky but it should pass the window pane test (meaning that you can stretch it thin enough to see through it without it ripping - see picture).
  5. Place the dough in a well oiled bowl, cover it and allow it to rise for 45-60 minutes or until double in size. At this point you can proceed with making your pizza or refrigerate the dough until you are ready to use it. The dough can even be made the day before and allowed to rest in the fridge to develop some flavour.

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Yeast and sugar.

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In goes the water, then the oil.

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Now for the flour and salt.

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Add more water and it’s time to mix.

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Turn up the speed until it becomes smooth and elastic.

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Beautiful dough.

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The windowpane test -> sticky fingers.

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Cheddar Cheese Buns

Cheddar Cheese Buns

cheddar cheese buns
cheddar cheese buns
It’s time for some savoury baking I would say, wouldn’t you? I am not one for New Year’s resolutions and don’t plan to cut out sugar now that it is January, but we have to make sure salt does not feel left out. Don’t worry, I have been putting my new ice cream maker to good use so it will be back to sugar before you know it. I have contemplated making a savoury ice cream though. I think it would be a fun juxtaposition to serve it on a hot dish and have it melt into everything to create a sauce. Just a thought. It’s one of those ideas that would either turn out amazingly or horribly.
If you are looking for something a bit safer, how about cheddar cheese buns? There are two critical aspects to these buns. First of all, don’t skimp on the cheese. It looks like a lot, but when it melts into the bread it really is not that much. More importantly, buy good cheese! I don’t think this one needs an explanation but super cheesy cheddar cheese buns don’t magically taste good just because you use a lot of crappy cheese. Actually when is crappy cheese good? Never, exactly. Sound logic, no? A sharp cheddar or aged gruyere would work swell. Just not any pre-shredded plastic.
Now that I have gotten that out of my system, let’s talk about making bread for a quick sec. If you are even the slightest bit intimidated, read over my 12 steps for making bread. I won’t re-hash too much because it is all there but I will emphasize that once you know the basic procedure, you are set to make any bread, recipe or not. Take these cheese buns. Without cheese, the dough easily could be made into cinnamon buns. Or if you stick with the cheese, you could shape it into a cheese loaf. Bread is super versatile and isn’t like other baking in that you have to be super precise with your measurements. All you need is a couple cups of flour, a spoonful of yeast, some salt, water, fat (in the form of oil, butter, etc.) and you are ready to get started. Making bread is all about technique so once you have got it down, you can make anything. Although cheddar cheese buns are always a good place to start…
cheddar cheese buns
cheddar cheese buns
cheddar cheese buns

Cheddar Cheese Buns
Makes 12-15 buns

Ingredients

Dough

1 tbsp. instant yeast
2 tbsp. honey
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
3 cups bread flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
warm water, as needed (about 1 cup)

Toppings

2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup butter, melted

Instructions

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast and honey with a splash of warm water. When the yeast starts to foam, add in the remaining ingredients. Turn the mixer on low and begin adding more water as necessary to bring the dough together. Depending on the humidity of your environment this will vary. It is extremely dry where I live so it took at least 1 cup of water to keep the dough soft and slightly sticky.
2. Once the dough comes together, turn the mixer up to medium. Knead for 5-7 minutes or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
3. Place the kneaded dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover and allow it to rise until double (30-60 minutes depending on how warm your kitchen is).
4. When the dough has doubled, punch it down. Stretch it into a rectangle on an oiled or floured countertop. Drizzle the melted butter over top and sprinkle on the 2 cups of grated cheese. Start at the edge closest to you and begin to roll the dough into a log, keeping it nice and tight.
5. Slice the dough into about 1″ thick pieces. Place them in a greased pan or on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Unless you have a gigantic pan, you will probably have to use 2 of them to fit all of the buns.
6. Cover and allow the buns to rise again until doubled, about 30-40 minutes.
7. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Cool slightly and enjoy. They are best served warm while the cheese is still melty. If there are any leftovers, be sure to wrap them as air-tight as possible as fresh bread dries out rapidly!

* If you don’t have a mixer, feel free to knead the dough by hand. You are essentially doing the same thing except on your countertop. Once it is smooth and elastic you are good to go!