Quarantine Bake Along: Chewy Sugar Cookies

For those who have known or followed me for a while, they know that I love brown butter and try to use it in everything ever. I love the nutty, toasty flavor it brings and the aroma is one of my favorites in the world. My brown butter chocolate chunk cookies are a staple on my menu offering. So when it comes to making sugar cookies, why not use brown butter as well?

For these cookies in particular, I had some brown butter that was fat-washed with bourbon. J had done this to make some brown butter old fashioneds and we had the leftover butter just sitting in the fridge for probably over two months. I figured this was the chance to use it. While the cookies were good, I think I definitely would’ve preferred just regular old brown butter. They were really boozy and the bourbon flavor was very prominent. I’m somewhat allergic to alcohol so my palette is not really keen on the flavor.

The recipe is for classic sugar cookies but I added the brown butter variation at the end for those who would like to try!

Chewy Sugar Cookies Recipe

  • 2 sticks of butter, softened but cool and firm
  • 200g (1 cup) sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, cold
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 320g (2 1/2 cups, spooned) all purpose flour
  • Assorted sugars, nonpareils, and sprinkles for finishing, optional
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position, preheat to 350°F (170°C), and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine butter, sugar, baking powder, salt, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low to moisten, increase to medium and beat until fluffy, pale ivory, and soft, about 5 minutes. Add egg and continue beating until smooth, about 2 minutes more, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Resume mixing on low, sprinkle in flour, and continue mixing until a thick dough is formed.
  3. Divide into 1-ounce portions with a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop. Roll each ball of dough between your hands until smooth and round. If desired, tumble in a dish with sanding sugar, nonpareils, sprinkles, granulated, or vanilla sugar until coated on all sides. Arrange cookies on prepared half sheet pan, leaving 2 1/2 inches of space in between cookies. Do not flatten; cookies will spread on their own.
  4. Bake until puffed and pale gold around the edges, but still steamy in the middle, about 15 minutes. Cool directly on sheet pan until firm, about 10 minutes. Enjoy warm, or allow to cool completely, then store in an airtight container for up to 2 days at room temperature.

Brown Butter Variation

Use 2 1/2 sticks of butter, add a dash of milk to the butter mixture in the beginning to compensate for liquid loss. To brown butter, place the butter in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat. Once the butter melts and begins to foam, continue to cook, stirring frequently until brown specks begin to appear beneath the foam. You’ll hear it hiss and pop initially and then go silent. The butter will have a nutty aroma. Remove from the heat and transfer a bowl and allow to cool until it solidifies before using.

Adapted from Serious Eats.

Quarantine Make Along: Buttermilk Waffles

Having a sourdough starter makes me want to bake a lot, mainly because I hate wasting food any don’t want to throw away the discard. I’ve been eyeing this sourdough waffle recipe on The Perfect Loaf for a while now and decided to make it for our Easter breakfast. They were probably one of the best waffles I’ve ever had–incredibly light, crisp, and wonderful flavor. I know there’s a varying range of waffle textures that are all tasty, these are definitely in the light-as-air category.

For those who don’t have starter, this recipe by BraveTart is my favorite quick buttermilk waffle recipe. It comes together in minutes and is a wonderfully flavored waffle.

Overnight Sourdough Waffle Recipe

  • 230g (1 cup) buttermilk
  • 57g (1/4 cup) butter, melted and cooled
  • 50g (1/4 cup, stirred down) sourdough starter
  • 125g (1 cup) all-purpose, einkorn, or a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour
  • 3g (1/2 teaspoon) sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2.5g (1/2 teaspoon) sea salt
  • 1.5g (1/4 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  1. The night before, add buttermilk and the melted and cooled butter to a large mixing bowl. Then add your ripe sourdough starter and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle the sugar on top and whisk in your flour, a little at a time, until incorporated.
  2. If necessary, use some water to break up the batter until it resembles a traditional pancake batter. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature overnight.
  3. In the morning, warm you egg to room temperature by letting them sit for a few minutes in a bowl of warm water. Sift the baking soda and salt onto the top of the batter. Crack the egg and place the whites in one clean bowl and the yolk in your batter along with the vanilla. Whisk the egg white until it forms stiff peaks. Gently stir the batter to mix everything together. Then, using a spatula, fold the eggs white into the mixture until just incorporated.
  4. Cook in your waffle iron until done to your liking.

Adapted from The Perfect Loaf.

Quarantine Make Along: Salad + Dressing

The one thing I crave the most often is a really delicious salad. I often get weird looks when I tell people that, but it’s true. I’ve always loved vegetables and a really good salad always hits the spot for me. My favorites are ones loaded with fresh and dried fruit, some nuts for texture, and a puckery but balanced vinaigrette.

Vinaigrettes are really easy to make at home in a mason jar. We haven’t purchased that kind of dressing in years, and it’s nice because you can customize it based on what you’re feeling.

Dressing Recipe

  • 1:1 ratio of citrus juice (lemon, orange, grapefruit, lime) and extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • If you like extra flavor:
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • Your favorite vinegar of choice, to taste

Shake up everything in a mason jar until well emulsified, taste, and add to your favorite salad! Keep in mind that your greens and vegetables are not seasoned so you’ll want to compensate for that by salting your dressing a bit more than you think.

Quarantine Bake Along: Banana Bread

I cannot remember the last time J and I have purchased bananas for ourselves–I don’t think in the almost 3 years of us being married we’ve had bananas sitting on the counters. It’s because neither of us really care for them. Banana bread, however, is a different story, but because we never have bananas around, banana bread is never an option.

Our housemate has bananas often, however, and had a few that were past their prime. The perfect opportunity to make banana bread! I’ve been eyeing a sourdough banana bread recipe on The Perfect Loaf for about a month and was finally able to try it out.

This loaf is beautifully balanced, light but wholesome and with just a hint of sweetness. My perfect kind of banana bread. It’s always disappointing to me when I bite into a loaf that tastes like mush or is as sweet as cake.

Sourdough Banana Bread Recipe

  • 240g (2 cups) spelt, whole wheat, einkorn, all-purpose flour, or a mix
  • 3g (1/2 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 3g (1/2 teaspoon) sea salt
  • 125g (1 cup) chopped nuts and/or chocolate chips
  • 126g(1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 80g (1/3 cup lightly packed) brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g (3/4 cup, stirred down) sourdough starter*
  • 42g (2 tablespoons) raw honey
  • 3 super ripe medium mashed bananas
  • 28g (2 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
  • 4g (1 teaspoon) vanilla
  • zest of 1 lemon (optional)

*If you don’t have sourdough starter, my favorite regular banana bread recipe is here.

  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In another bowl (or a stand mixer) cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. While mixing, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in sourdough starter, honey, mashed bananas, and olive oil. Add in the vanilla. Then, add in the flour mixture slowly, pausing to scrape down the sides if necessary. By hand, fold in the nuts/chocolate chips and lemon zest. Pour the batter into the 9” x 5” baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  4. Bake for 55-65 minutes. It’s better to undercook this than overcook: you want it moist. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then gently remove onto a wire rack to thoroughly cool.

Adapted from The Perfect Loaf.

Quarantine Bake Along: Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls instantly convey comfort and warmth. There are few aromas better than the buttery, yeasty cinnamon-y goodness wafting from them while they bake. Although we rarely had “American” desserts around growing up, my mom would occasionally bake cinnamon rolls as a treat. It’s one of the rare desserts shes enjoys, and she’d make this caramel-like butterscotch pecan topping for the rolls instead of icing. I’m a huge fan of cream cheese icing, but I have a place in my heart for the butterscotch pecans as well.

One thing my mom would always do is lessen the sugar in the dough and in the cinnamon sugar filling (it’s obvious who I get it from lol).

Spelt Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

Dough

  • 1 cup (227g) ripe sourdough starter
  • 3/4 cup (170g) lukewarm milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 2 3/4 cups (326g) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (57g) spelt flour
  • 1/8 cup (25g) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast, optional*

Filling

  • 1/2 cup (159g) brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup (28g) flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) melted butter

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 4 ounces softened cream cheese
  • Pinch of salt
  • Powdered sugar, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk to thin, optional

*This is my favorite yeast-based cinnamon roll recipe for those who don’t have sourdough starter. You can also adapt this recipe by adding 2 teaspoons of yeast and adapting the rise times.

  1. Mix together all the dough ingredients except the salt (and optional yeast) until the flour is evenly moistened and the dough has formed a cohesive, sticky mass, 2 to 3 minutes on low speed of a stand mixer.
  2. Add the salt (and yeast) on top of the dough (without mixing it in), then cover and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. This rest is period is known as an autolyse.
  3. After the autolyse, mix in the salt (and yeast) until fully incorporated, about 1 minute on low speed. Turn the mixer up one speed and knead the dough until it’s smooth and supple though still somewhat soft and tacky, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Cover the dough and let it rest in a warm (75°F) place for 2-2 1/2 hours. To develop strength in the dough, stretch and fold it in the bowl three to four times during the rest. You can be fairly flexible in your timing of these. One stretch and fold per half hour initially is ideal.
  5. Meanwhile, combine all the filling ingredients in a medium bowl. The texture will be somewhat like wet sand.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased or floured work surface and gently deflate it, patting or rolling it into a 14” x 20” rectangle.
  7. Spread the filling evenly over the surface of the dough, leaving 1/2” of exposed dough along one short edge.
  8. Starting with the filling-coated short edge, roll the dough into a log. As you roll, the log will lengthen to around 18″.
  9. Cut the log into twelve 1 1/2” slices and place them in a lightly greased 9” x 13” pan. Cover the pan and let the buns rise until they’re puffy, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  10. At this point, you can let the buns rise for another hour or so and then bake them; or you can place the pan in the refrigerator overnight, covered, and bake the buns the next day (up to 24 hours later).
  11. To bake the same day: Bake the buns in a preheated 400°F oven for 18 to 22 minutes, until golden. A digital thermometer inserted into the center of a middle bun should read 190°F.
  12. To make the icing: While the buns are baking, stir together all the ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth.
  13. Remove the buns from the oven and cool for 5 to 10 minutes before icing. Alternatively, allow the buns to cool to room temperature. Cover the buns and leave them at room temperature overnight, then reheat in a 325°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes before icing and serving.
  14. To bake the buns after being refrigerated overnight: Remove the pan from the refrigerator and leave the buns covered at room temperature while you preheat the oven to 400°F.
  15. Bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden. A digital thermometer inserted into the center of a middle bun should read 190°F. Remove the buns from the oven and cool for 5 to 10 minutes before icing.
  16. Wrap the buns in plastic and store at room temperature for a day or so; freeze unfrosted buns for longer storage.

Adapted from King Arthur Flour.