Za’atar Honey Butter Rolls

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There are countless ways I use za’atar while snacking or cooking, and if you love it as much as I do then you would totally understand why I want use it in almost everything including these soft honey bread rolls.

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I’ve baked these bread rolls a couple of times especially at dinner gatherings because not only are they easy to make but also every person who tastes them says that they’re light, fluffy, and airy. I just love a good home made bread recipe that always gives consistent and reliable results. So after mastering the basic recipe I decided to add za’atar in the dough (that always seems to be a great idea to me). The result is incredibly delicious – the combination of the sweet honey and earthy thyme flavor makes it so hard to eat just one roll!

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Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

240ml (1 cup) whole milk, 110°F
21g (2¼ tsp) instant dry yeast
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
85g (¼ cup) honey
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
60g (¼ cup) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
½ teaspoon salt
450g (3½ cups) bread flour
45g (½ cup) za’atar

30g (2 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature very soft
15g (1 Tablespoon) honey
Extra za’atar for sprinkling

1. Pour warm milk into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Sprinkle yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar on top of the milk. Give it a light stir with a spoon and allow to sit for 5 minutes. The mixture will be frothy.

2. Turn on the stand mixer running on low speed, gradually add the honey, egg, egg yolk, melted butter, salt, and 3 cups of flour. Beat for 1 min and add remaining ½ cup of flour. Beat for another minute on low speed. The dough should be thick, slightly sticky and pulling away from the sides of the bowl as it mixes. If the dough is too sticky add more flour 1 Tablespoon at a time.

3. Form dough into a ball and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 2 minutes, then place into a large bowl greased with olive oil and coat all sides of the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a slightly warm oven to rise until doubled, about 2 hours. For this, I turn on the oven to 200°F (93°C) for a minute only then turn it off. I also place a bowl for boiling water to increase the level of humidity and keep the oven lights on (helps create a warm environment),

4. Once doubled in size, punch down the dough to release any air bubbles. Remove dough from the bowl and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a dough scraper, cut the dough in half. Cut each half into 8 evenly sized pieces for a total of 16 pieces (the balls have to be equal in size to bake uniformly). Shape into balls and arrange in a greased 9×13 baking pan. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size and puffy, about 1 hour.

5. 30min before baking, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Bake the rolls for 20min until the tops are golden brown and the edges of each roll look cooked. While the rolls bake, mix the topping ingredients. Remove the rolls from the oven when they are done and brush a generous amount of honey butter onto each warm roll and sprinkle with za’atar.

6. Cover leftovers and keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months, then thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Warm up in a 300°F (149°C) oven for 10 minutes.

Make ahead tip/overnight: After dough has risen two hours in step 3, punch down the dough inside the mixing bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days, then remove from the refrigerator and continue with step 4.

Braided Easter Bread

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Each year for the Easter holiday, my mom bakes small raisin bread rolls that are usually braided in 2 or 3 strands. It’s a family tradition that’s been around for many years, so I wanted to post a similar recipe that’s bit less sweet and dense but just as good. I came across a very similar breaded raisin bread recipe in Kamran Siddiqi’s book Hand Made Baking that uses honey as a sweeter instead of refined sugar. What also caught my attention is that the whole dough is braided into one big circular loaf instead of several small loaves. So I decided to give my mom’s classic recipe a twist and the result is spectacular! It’s a slightly sweet and fluffy bread with a brioche-like texture that’s dotted with juicy raisins soaked in apple juice.

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We traditionally serve this bread for the Greek Orthodox Easter (which is a different day than western Easter). It is actually based on the Julian calendar–introduced by Julian Caesar–instead of the Gregorian calendar, and it’s always the first Sunday after the first full moon AFTER the spring equinox which will be April 4th this year. That’s an easier way to remember it. I actually had to look up this information, because my friends always ask me why we celebrate Easter on a different date… Well there you have it.

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The steps in this recipe might seem daunting at first, but believe me it’s not as hard as it seems. It just needs a little bit of patience – and that is the hardest part for me. You basically mix some warm water, yeast, oil, eggs, honey, flour, and raisins together and wait for the dough to double in size then put it in the fridge overnight. The next day you’re going to punch the dough down, braid it into a beautiful round loaf, wait for it to double in size again, and then bake until it’s golden. The loaf will be slightly flaky on the outside and delightfully tender in the middle. You can even use some leftovers stale pieces for French Toast!

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Braided Easter Bread (recipe adapted from Hand Made Baking)

Ingredients:
¾ cup (180ml) warm water (100°F/38°C)
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp granulated sugar
5 Tbsp (75ml) vegetable oil
1/3 cup (80ml) honey
3 large eggs, room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp sea salt
3¾ cups (470g) all purpose flour
1 cup (160g) raisins, soaked in simmered apple juice for 5 minutes then patted dry

Egg wash:
1 small egg
1 tsp water

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, pour the warm water and then add the yeast and sugar. Let it sit for 5 minutes without stirring until a foamy surface forms. Then stir until the yeast dissolves in the water.
2. Add the vegetable oil, honey, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt into the yeast mixture and whisk until homogeneous.
3. Stir in the flour and raisins with a wooden spoon.
4. Tip the mixture on a floured surface and knead with your hands for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour until it just comes together.
5. Shape the dough into a round and put it in a lightly oiled large bowl, turning it a few times to coat it with the oil.
6. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place for 2 hours. (I like to preheat the oven for a minute or two to place the bowl in it). The dough will double in size.
7. Remove the damp towel and cover the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
8. The next day, take out the dough from the fridge and let it sit on the counter for an hour to come to room temperature.
9. Meanwhile, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
10. Punch down the dough and divide it into three equal portions.
11. Roll out each portion into 20″ (50 cm) ropes. Lay them parallel to each other, pinch one end together and braid the pieces, then pinch the other end. Roll the long braid into a circle to form a round loaf.
12. Transfer the loaf to the lined baking sheet.
13. Whisk the small egg with 1 tsp of water and brush it all over the loaf. Wait for the egg wash to dry for 5 minutes then brush it again.
14. Place the loaf in a warm place and let it rise for one hour until it doubles in size.
15. After 45 minutes, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and adjust the rack to the center of the oven.
16. Bake for 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway, until the braided loaf is a deep golden color and sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom.
17. Let cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet then transfer on a wire rack to cool completely.
18. Store in a plastic bag or tupperware for 3 days (this bread can be frozen too).

Blueberry Oat Muffins

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While Autumn’s here and the weather is getting colder, I couldn’t help but reach for the last bag of organic blueberries from the freezer to bake an end of summer treat. I wasn’t planning on posting a blueberry muffin recipe on the blog because I never found one that’s good enough to share with you. Whenever I bake with blueberries I end up with muffins that are either too moist or too dry. However these babies… these are exceptional. I was surprised with how much I enjoyed them.

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I purchased the One Girl Cookies book on a whim last week while visiting one my favorite bookstores in Soho. The charming photography and collection of recipes caught my attention although I was concerned that no weight measurements are given in any of the recipes. Ever since I started using a scale to measure ingredients I noticed better results in the kitchen and never looked back to using cups. Eventually, I got over my skepticism and bought the book anyway. Let’s just say that these muffins did not disappoint!

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Nearly every blog claims that their blueberry muffins are the best or the tastiest but when it comes down to it, the idea of a perfect muffin is relative to each person’s taste and this recipe comes exceptionally close to mine. They’re crispy around the edges, yet fluffy and soft in the center dotted with juicy blueberries. I did a few minor changes to the ingredients list, like adding more blueberries and lemon zest, using low-fat sour cream, and omitting the crumb topping to make them slightly healthier. They’re great for breakfast with a spoonful of jam or simply left plain!

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Recipe adapted from One Girl Cookies – Makes 16 regular sized muffins

Ingredients:
2/3 rolled oats
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp table salt
6 tablespoons (¾ stick, 85 grams) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup low-fat sour cream
¼ cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest
2 ¼ cups frozen blueberries

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC). Line muffin pan with 16 paper liners.
2. Process the oats in a food processor until they are powdery. In a medium bowl, whisk together the ground oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), beat together the softened butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix for 1 minute.
5. Add the low-fat sour cream, honey, vanilla, and lemon zest then mix for 30 seconds.
6. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and mix for 10 seconds.
7. Take the bowl off the mixer and fold in the blueberries with a rubber spatula.
8. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups, filling them to the rim. Sprinkle with rolled oats.
9. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, for 35 minutes or until the top of a muffin is golden and springs back when lightly pressed.
10. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Orange Chocolate Cookies

A lot of people ask me about my favorite basic cookie recipe, and these orange chocolate cookies is one of them.

First of all, the combination of chocolate and orange is my weak point; I absolutely love using these two ingredients in almost everything. Second, the cookies are so soft, buttery, and delicious that they are just… happiness in its pure form.

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In this post, I really want to stress on the importance of weighing your ingredients on a kitchen scale. After baking these cookies twice – once using a scale, and the second time using cups- I noticed that a slight difference in the amount of ingredients you add to your mixture changes the texture of the dough dramatically. I had a harder time shaping and flattening the dough when I measured my ingredients in volume and because of that it took me twice the amount of time to finish making them. At the end I was so frustrated because I could’ve easily used a scale for accurate and consistent results.

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Think about it, when you fill a cup with let’s say chocolate chips the amount in volume depends on several factors: the style of the cup, the size of the morsels, and how tightly you’ve packed it in. But you don’t have to worry about these inconsistencies when you start weighing your ingredients.

Despite all of that, I included in this recipe measurements in cups and spoons because I know that a lot of readers don’t own scales. However, if you are serious about baking regularly and trying out different recipes then I really recommend that you invest in a kitchen scale, no matter how basic.

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Ingredients: Makes about 24 biscuits
• 100 g (1 stick, ½ cup) soft unsalted butter, room temperature
• 40 g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
• Zest of ½ medium orange, finely grated
• 125 g (1 cup) flour, sifted
• 2 g (½ tsp) baking powder, sifted
• 100 g (½ cup) dark chocolate

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375 °F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Beat the soft unsalted butter with a hand mixer until creamy.
3. Slowly add the sugar and grated orange zest, beating until the mixture is light. Blend in the sifted flour and baking powder.
4. Using two teaspoons form the dough into balls about the size of a whole walnut and place on the baking sheet. Flatten dough with the palm of your hand.
5. Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the biscuits are golden. Remove from the oven and cool on rack. (Don’t overbake!)
6. Melt the dark chocolate chips in the microwave or over a bain-marie.
7. Dip each biscuit halfway into the melted chocolate and place on a new parchment paper. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until the chocolate hardens.

Blackberry Muffins

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Blackberry muffins are great for breakfast or as a mid-day snack. They are healthy because they do not contain a lot of butter and sugar, and blackberries are low in calories, carbohydrates, and fat, making them one of the best fruits for a balanced diet – and these muffins are loaded with them!blackberry muffins 5 blackberry muffins 4I also omitted the crumble that the original William Sonoma recipe called for because I didn’t want them to turn out too sweet. By the way did I mention how much I adore their recipes? They are just foolproof! The results are always picture perfect.blackberry muffins 3

These muffins taste reaaally good, and what’s amazing about them is the center that is slightly dry, contrasting with the bursting, juicy blackberries. This actually prevents super soggy muffins. You don’t want that.

You can always substitute the blackberries with blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries. Remember to treat soft berries very gently because they will break and bleed in the batter. If the berries that you bought are too soft, follow this technique: Wash the berries, pat them dry, then place them on a baking sheet in the freezer for ≈ 15 minutes. This will firm up the berries before mixing them in the batter.

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Ingredients: (Recipe from William Sonoma) – Makes 16 muffins.
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1⁄2 tsp. baking soda
1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Grated zest of 1⁄2 lemon
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1 egg room temperature, beaten
5 Tbs.(70 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk (check substitute)
2 cups fresh blackberries or 2 1⁄2 cups frozen unsweetened blackberries, unthawed

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 °F (190 °C)
2. Grease 12 standard muffin cups with butter, or line with paper liners.
3. In a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, lemon zest and salt.
4. Make a well in the center and add the egg, melted butter, and buttermilk.
5. Stir just until evenly moistened. The batter will be slightly lumpy.
6. Sprinkle with the blackberries and gently fold in with a large rubber spatula just until evenly distributed, no more than a few strokes. Take care not to break up the fruit. Do not overmix.
7. Fill the prepared muffin cups with the batter, filling each to the rim of the cup.
8. Bake until the muffins are golden, dry and springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (25 to 30 minutes).
9. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Unmold the muffins. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Chocolate Cookies Stuffed with Nutella

Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Cookies | Bronie Box11
I grew up in a very health conscious household and I always preferred healthy food over junk food or packaged snacks. It’s no wonder why I never tasted Nutella during my childhood. I bought a Nutella jar the other day, but I wasn’t going to eat the whole jar all by myself! So I decided to bake these cookies.
Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Cookies | Bronie Box13
First I looked up the history of this yummy chocolate spread (typical me). It was first manufactured in 1946 by Pietro Ferrero in Italy, under the name “Pasta Gianduja”, but it wasn’t until 1963 that “Nutella” was introduced to the market. It is so popular today to the point that the number of jars sold annually (if lined up) would wrap around the moon four times! … Impressive huh?!
Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Cookies | Bronie Box10
The cookies turned out delicious, especially when they are warm and oozing with pure Nutella filling. It’s the texture that truly won me over: slightly crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.
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Don’t these look ridiculously irresistible?
Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Cookies | Bronie Box6
Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Cookies | Bronie Box8

Assembling the cookies take more time than making the dough itself. I also found it much easier to show you a step-by-step tutorial on how to stuff the dough with Nutella:
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First, roll out a teaspoon of dough into a ball.

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Then form an indentation with your index finger

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Spoon Nutella on the dough – as much as it can hold 😉

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Take another teaspoon of dough and flatten it with the palm of your hands to seal the cookie. Then bake for 10 minutes! These rich cookies should be soft when you take them out of the oven. They will firm up as they cool, so be careful not to over-bake them.

Did you try baking these? Do you have another favorite recipe for Nutella cookies? I’d love to hear your comments!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (110g) butter
1+1/2 cups (350g) packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (55g) cocoa powder, sifted
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups (260g) all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup Nutella (more or less)

Directions:
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan then take off the heat (you could microwave the butter instead).
3. Stir in the brown sugar, cocoa powder, eggs and salt until well combined.
4. Add the baking soda and flour and stir until just combined.
5. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes at least (it becomes easier to work with)
6. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (350 F)
7. Roll 1 teaspoon of dough into a ball, use your finger make an indentation in the center.
8. Fill the indentation with Nutella (approx. 1/2 tsp), top with a flattened teaspoon of dough, and pinch the edges.
9. Bake for 10 minutes. (Do not over-bake, the cookies will firm up as they cool). Let cool for 2 minutes on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack.

Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Cookies | Bronie Box1

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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This chocolate chip cookie recipe is way better than the Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip bag recipe. Believe me.

I adore making chocolate chip cookies, it’s a classic household favorite – eat it warm or cold, with milk or icecream, for breakfast or a midnight snack – I don’t think anyone can resist chewy bakery style cookies. I’m so glad I tried this recipe because these cookies right here are big, beautiful, rich, buttery, chewy, fluffy…Need I say more?!
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After reading several recipes online, I collected a few tips to end up with thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies, just the way I like it. (I know you do too). The secret is to increase the ratio of dark brown sugar to white sugar for a richer flavor of molasses, add cornflour/cornstarch for a fluffy texture, and under-bake the cookies (yes, have faith please!). So why cornflour? Both cornflour and flour are cereal starches but flour contains gluten which reduces the thickening power. That’s why cornflour is often used with flour to add a lighter structure to baked goods and increase tenderness (such as cake flour).
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Like I said earlier, underbaking the cookies is a must. As soon as the outsides are set and the centers are still puffy, remove them immediately! The cookies will continue to bake on the hot cookie sheet even after being taken out of the oven. If your cookie sheets are too small, refrigerate the batter in between batches. I assure you, the cookies will retain their chewy texture even the next day – that’s IF there are any cookies left 😉

I also tried a new way of forming cookie dough balls instead of just dropping tablespoons on the cookie sheet. If you want to create jagged cookies don’t roll the dough into a perfect round shape. Just pull the dough apart with your fingertips to create an uneven surface then jam the pieces together to form a ball. You can see the difference here:

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LOOK at the oozing chocolate! Oh my.
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Just a closer look.
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It’s official – this is chocolate chip heaven! Every bite melts in your mouth and the chocolate chips literally explode on your taste buds especially when the cookies are hot from the oven.

Ingredients: (makes around 25 cookies)

  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
3. Cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until fluffy and light in color.
4. Mix in egg and vanilla.
5. On low speed, mix in flour mixture.
6. Stir in chocolate chips.
7. Preheat oven to 350 F/175 C.
8. Drop 1 tablespoon of dough onto cookie sheet.
9. Bake for 8-9 minutes, until slightly golden around the bottom edges. (Do not exceed 10 minutes).
10. Let cool for 3 minutes on the cookie sheet.
11. Transfer to cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.