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Peaches and Cream Bars

When a neighbor extends an offer to you to grab some fruit off of their tree before they start pruning it back, you do not hesitate and say “Thank you!” I don’t eat peaches (or any kind of baked fruit) myself, but how could I say no to an offering of fresh free goodness and a new challenge?

What was the new challenge? Learning how to prep and peel peaches. I had no idea there was a processes due to the fruit being so soft.

Peaches and Cream Bars - crust and filling prep
Peaches and Cream Bars – crust and filling prep

Seeing as only one of us in the house was going to be eating whatever I made with these fresh peaches, I opted for bars instead of a cobbler or pie. They’re more versatile for snacks and desserts instead of just a large dessert. I was not surprised to find myself leaning toward a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction, as her recipes have turned out great in my experiments before. This time was no different.

Let’s dive in.

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Preparing Peaches
Score a small X at the bottom of each peach. Don’t cut too deep.
Prepare a pot of boiling water and a separate bowl with an ice bath (ice cubes and water).
Once the water is boiling, lower each peach into the water using a slotted spoon. Turn the peaches occasionally. Let sit in the water for 30 secs – 1 min until skin loosens (time will vary by ripeness).
Using the slotted spoon, move each peach into the ice water bath and let sit for 1 min to stop the cooking process.
Take a peach out of the path one at a time. Starting at the X, begin peeling the skin off in strips, pulling up toward the top of the peach.
Toss out skin strips. Cut or slice peach as desired.

Peaches and Cream Bars from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Crust/Topping
1 cup (125 g) All purpose flour
1/2 cup (42 g) Old Fashion or quick cook oats
1/3 cup (67 g) packed brown sugar (light or brown, your choice)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1/2 cup (70 g) chopped pecans (optional)

Prepare an 8″ or 9″ square pan by lining it with parchment paper with overhangs on all sides (for easy pull out after baking). Spray parchment paper with non-stick spray.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon together. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender or two forks, until coarse, pea-sized crumbs form (see Sally’s Baking Addiction post for reference photo).
Remove 3/4 cup of the mixture and put it into a small bowl. Add the pecans. Set aside as the topping.
Evenly press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 15 mins.

Filling
1 large egg
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 Tbsp (8g) All purpose flour
2 medium peaches, pealed and chopped (about 1.5 cups)

Whisk the egg and the sugar together until smooth and creamy. Add flour. Whisk until combined.
Fold in the peaches.
Remove the crust from the oven after 15 mins and pour filling over the hot crust. Sprinkle the topping mixture on top.
Bake for 30-32 mins or until golden brown on top. Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 mins. Move to fridge and chill for 2 hrs. Once chilled, life out of the pan and cut into squares.

Icing
1/2 cup (60 g) confectioner’s sugar
1 Tbsp (15 mL) milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk ingredients together. Add more milk to thin it if needed. Drizzle over each square.

Squares can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days if tightly wrapped or in a sealed container.

Peaches and Cream Bars
Peaches and Cream Bars
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Maple Pecan Sticky Buns

The ooey gooey topping of a sticky bun along with the crunch of the pecans is a combination of flavors and textures that is difficult to beat. I decided to try my hand at making my own version this holiday season. As baking goes when you have family around, distractions happen which lead to mistakes, which lead to lessons learned.

This go-round, my misstep was not separating out the butter I needed for the different steps of the buns. Instead, I had all of the butter sitting out to reach room temperature and didn’t section the amounts off as I typically do. Can you see where this is going? When everything was ready, I excitedly started making the dough. When it came time to knead, it was a silky texture but seemed a bit wetter than expected. I was still excited thinking about the soft flaky texture of the rolls. The moment I put the dough into the oven for its first rise, it hit me. I had added all of the butter – the butter for the filling and for the topping as well as that for the dough. Nothing left to do at that point other than see what happens, right?

Since the dough was so buttery, some separation occurred during the rise but folded back in fine during the kneading. Adding more butter for the filling onto the already over-buttered dough had my laughing pretty hard. I love butter, especially on white breads, but this seemed excessive. After rolling and cutting the rolls, I noticed they didn’t fill out the pan as nicely as I’ve seen in photos. Maybe it will change when they go in for their second rise… They kind of did, but there was still room for the topping to rise up instead of it being trapped beneath the dough. That meant that while baking the rolls, much of the topping boiled over the sides and onto the oven. This resulted in quite the mix of amazing smells and burnt smells in the kitchen. In hindsight, I should have tried to bake the rolls longer since they were so moist. I also waited too long to turn the rolls out as the topping mostly stuck to the pan and not the rolls. Nothing some scooping out and plopping on top couldn’t fix.

Stuck toppings for pecan sticky rolls
Most of the maple pecan sticky roll topping stayed in the pan. Time to scoop!

All said and done, the rolls turned out ok, a bit dense but ok. Now my first attempt at them is done and I learned a lot of what to do and what not to do for next time. These rolls are actually super easy to make (when you pay attention) and I’m really excited to add these to my repertoire.

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Maple Pecan Sticky Buns via Sally’s Baking Addiction

Dough
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into 4 pieces
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more to flour work surface

Heat milk to about 95ºF. Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a mixer with the dough hook attached. Whisk in the sugar and yeast. Cover with a towel and let rest for 5-10 minutes, until foamy.

On low speed, beat in the softened butter until it is slightly broken up. Then add the eggs one at a time. The butter won’t really mix into the mixtures, so don’t be alarmed.

On low, gradually add the flour. Once it’s all added, beat the mixture on medium high until dough is soft and supple, about 6 mins.

Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead with hands for 1 min. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly greased bowl. Cover the dough loosely and let sit in a warm place* for 1-2 hrs, or until doubled in size. (*can heat oven to 200ºF, turn oven off, then place bowl into warm oven)

Pecans
Pecans to top some maple pecan sticky rolls

Topping
2 cups chopped pecans
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup pure maple syrup

Grease the bottom and sides of a 9″x13″ baking dish. Spread pecans in an even layer in the pan. Set aside. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter has melted, then bring to a boil for 3 mins. Remove from heat and pour on top of the pecans. Set aside.

(back to dough) Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly flour surface and roll it out into a 12″x18″ rectangle. Make sure dough is smooth and even.

Filling
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Spread softened butter all over the dough (since the dough is still generating heat, the butter will further soften once placed on the dough, so bits that are harder to spread will spread more easily if they’re let to sit for a minute). Top evenly with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Tightly roll up the dough to form an 18″-long log. Cut the log into 12 even rolls. Arrange them in baking pan. Cover tightly with foil and let rise in a warm environment (could be the same oven) for 30-40 mins.

(remove rising dough from oven but leave it covered) Preheat oven to 375°F. Place uncovered rolls in oven and bake for 25 mins or until golden brown. If some parts are browning more quickly than others, cover the rolls loosely with foil to slow down the browning.

MaplePecanRolls
Very buttery maple pecan rolls