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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sticky Buns for a Sweet Morning Treat


I have been looking forward to making sticky buns for a long time. I love sticky buns but I haven't had any for some time since they are a bit of a rarity in LA. Doing a quick google search revealed that sticky buns seem to be another Philadelphia/Pennsylvania Dutch specialty...I had no idea!

For those that have never had sticky buns, they are most definitely NOT the same thing as cinnamon rolls. A cinnamon roll is pastry, rolled up with cinnamon and sugar and covered with confectioner sugar icing. A sticky bun is actually a bread base, drenched in a butter and brown sugar (some recipes also use molasses) with either raisins, nuts or both. Sure, both are delicious but they are very different.

The best sticky buns I have ever had came from Mallon's in Avalon, NJ. These buns were so fresh and doughy, that they actually made the top of my mouth ache....but they were also so mouth watering delicious, I couldn't stop eating them. I haven't been back to Avalon in a few years but I dream about those buns! Sure, Mallon's will ship anywhere in the country, but fresh out of the oven is the way to go...so I had to make my own. Below is the simple, tried and true recipe my mom has used over the years. This recipe is actually more of a monkey bread style than rolled up buns, but it's the buttery, sugary topping that matters!

NOTE: these taste best the day you make them...the next day, they will still be sweet and gooey, but the dough won't melt in your mouth the way it does when they are fresh out of the oven.

Sticky Buns
1 bag of Rich's Frozen dough balls
1 box butterscotch pudding (not instant)
1 cup of brown sugar
2 sticks of butter
Raisins (optional)
Nuts (optional...I used pecans)

Grease bundt pn. On bottom of greased pan, sprinkle raisins and nuts to cover pan.

Arrange frozen balls on bottom of pan. Arranging one on top of each other until you finish all of the dough balls.

Sprinkle the box of Butterscotch pudding to cover balls.

Cover pan with towel overnight. Next morning, melt butter with brown sugar. Pour mixture over buns.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Let the buns rest in the pan for a minute or 2 and then invert onto a large plate.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Surviving the move!

As I stated in a previous post, we recently moved. Moving was so much easier as a college student with just a bed and clothes...I love being an adult with nice furniture, but it sure does make moving a bigger (and more expensive) chore.

One of the hardest things for me to deal with was not being able to cook at home since everything was in an upheaval. But in temporary situations like getting the kitchen remodeled or moving, you do the best you can. One of the restaurants that helped get us through our move week was All About the Bread, a sandwich shop located on Melrose. The angle they are promoting is that the basis of any great sandwich is the bread. Their "artisan, handcrafted" bread is a nice chewy sour dough, hearty enough to support all the good stuff they pile on top...

The first time we tried their sandwiches was back in the summer when we were headed to the Hollywood Bowl. For this outing, I opted for the Caprese (heirloom tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella and sun dried tomato dressing). After parking and schlepping up the hill to our seats, we were plenty hungry. Eating in darkness is a bit of a leap of faith, relying only on your sense of smell and taste. The first bite of the Caprese was an explosion of fresh tomato and mozzarella on a slightly (appropriately) chewy roll. A tomato and mozz sandwich can be pretty wet, but the bread staunchly supported the sandwich contents to the end.

On one of our move nights (and there were a few), we got a large Godfather sandwich and split it. The Godfather is an Italian meat and cheese sub (Spicy Capocollo, Mortadella, Prosciutto di Parma, Ham, Genoa Salami and Provolone) loaded up with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and hot peppers. The default condiments are mustard, vegan mayo and Italian dressing; we passed on the mayo. In the future, I would pass on the mustard as well...it's just not necessary with all of the flavors that are currently going on. The artisan bread easily held this masterpiece together as it had the Caprese months earlier. I am looking forward to trying a meatball sandwich next time....

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dutch Baby Disappointment


For the uninitiated, Dutch Baby is a type of German pancake. Although individual sized pancakes can be made, the term Dutch Baby generally refers to one big puff pancake made in the oven. The "Dutch" part is a nod to it's Pennsylvania Dutch roots...which, or course, refers to immigrants from Germany and Switzerland who settled in Pennsylvania in the 18th century. "Dutch", when used in the Pennsylvania Dutch context, is actually a bastardization of the word "deutsch"....hence, the German connection explained.

Growing up in PA, I have been privy to Pennsylvania Dutch treats for some time...Shoofly Pie? Homemade jams? Check and check...but the Dutch Baby slipped by my radar somehow. According to legend, the idea of making one single big pancake started at a cafe in Seattle called Manca's Cafe. The Dutch Baby entered my universe via an email I received from America's Test Kitchen. In classic Kristen style, I followed the recipe directions very loosely...and of course, ended up with questionable results. My main beef with this recipe is that I expected something like a huge light and fluffy pancake...and my end result was eggy, dense and doughy. It puffed up in the oven while baking but then fell as soon as I took it out. I think my big mistake was using an electric mixer to mix the ingredients...I think I over mixed. My husband said he liked it....but I think he was being polite. If anyone is interested in giving the recipe a whirl, it can be found here at Cook's Country. I think I need to order a Dutch Baby at a restaurant to get a proper sense on how it's supposed to turn out before I attempt to make one again.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Getting into the Halloween spirit








Unfortunately, it's been a while since I have posted...but I have good excuse: we moved! So, pretty much the entire month of October flew by with out much baking, creative cooking, etc. It's really hard to cook at home while you are in such a major transition. In the upcoming days, I am going to post a list of favorite restaurants that helped us survive the whole moving experience. For now, however, I wanted to share some of the great Halloween decorations we found walking around discovering our new neighborhood.