Apple and Honey and Marzipan Rolls

My concept of time right now is all thrown off, I’ve just gotten home from celebrating Hanukkah* (and I have the dreidels on my nails to show it), summer has decided to come back for a weird unwelcome encore (get away!!), and I spent all last week testing Christmas cookie recipes. And the tomatoes have finally decided to turn red. Have you ever had a tomato and mayonnaise sandwich for lunch followed by a piece of stollen for dessert? It’s so weird. I mean, ok, I can’t complain, it’s all good things except for the gross 80 degree heat but I am ready to truly immerse myself in the upcoming high holidays because I think Rosh Hashanah is my preferred new year out of the three new years that we do. I just feel like the fact that it happens at the beginning of the school year and the start of sweater weather makes it feel way more like the dawn of something exciting than the Gregorian New Year (which hasn’t really been fun since I was 22 and could drink a Red Bull and vodka together) and the Chinese New Year (which is delicious and great but January as a month is kinda a drag. And I’m too old to get envelopes of money now 🤷🏻‍♀️). 

*We just filmed the Hanukkah Cooking Championship for Food Network! It was a dream. I even got kinda emotional over the fact that there is actually going to be a Hanukkah show on Food Network!! The food was so delicious and the other people on it were the bee’s knees. Whether or not you celebrate Hanukkah, you guys are going to lurrrv this show. 

Speaking of celebrating Jewish holidays on the TV (!), this weekend is the Rosh Hashanah brunch episode of Girl Meets Farm! Both Stoopie and my silly Aunt Cathy came to town to film this episode and it was a blast. I cooked brisket with my mom, made a celery cocktail with Aunt Cathy, and introduced Bernie to her crazy family. The recipe I’m most excited about is these apple butter rolls, which look just like cinnamon rolls, but they’re better because they’re topped with honey marzipan frosting. If you’ve ever thought omg challah baking in the oven is the best smell evarrr, try filling little swirly rolls of challah with a very cinnamony apple butter and grated almond paste and, wow, your pumpkin spice candle didn’t stand a chance. And then they get topped with a frosting made of marzipan butter and honey which is thick, glossy, luxurious, parve, and perfect. So you’re checking all of the Rosh Hashanah boxes with these rolls: Round challah? Check. Apples? Check. Honey? Check. A make-ahead situation? Check check. And marzipan, because a few years back I started including marzipan with the apples and honey tradition since almonds go so well with both apples and honey, and it just decided to stick around. They are so soft and fluffy and decadent and good. Exactly the ticket for a sweet New Year!


Apple and Honey and Marzipan Rolls

Makes 12 rolls

ingredients

1 c (236ml) almond milk, warm (105-110ºf)

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1 tsp + 1/4 c (50g) sugar

4 1/2 c (585g) all-purpose flour

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp cinnamon

a pinch of cardamom

2 large eggs

1/2 c (100g) flavorless oil

1/4 c (84g) honey

1 tsp vanilla

 

filling

3/4 c (204g) apple butter, store-bought or homemade

1 tsp cinnamon

6 oz (170g) almond paste, grated on the big holes of a box grater or finely chopped

Eggwash: 1 large egg beaten with a splash of water

 

frosting

1 1/2 c (192g) blanched almonds

1/4 c (84g) honey

Zest from 1/2 a lemon

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp almond extract

6 tb (89ml) almond milk

Toasted sliced almonds, for topping

clues

Combine the milk, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sugar and swirl together. Let sit for 5 minutes, or until foamy on top.

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, honey, and vanilla. Stir the yeast mixture and the oil mixture into the dry mixture and then knead, either on a work surface or with the dough hook, adding more flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky, 7-10 minutes. Place in an oil bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until doubled in size. 

Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and roll it out into a large 18” x 12” rectangle. Spread it with the apple butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon and almond paste. Roll it up tightly the long way, and pinch the edges to seal. Cut into 12 rolls and place evenly spaced in a 9” x 13” baking dish (3 rows of 4). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or let rise at room temperature for another hour and then go directly to the baking step.

When ready to bake, remove the rolls from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours, until puffy. Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Remove the plastic wrap and brush with the egg wash. Bake until the rolls are lightly browned; begin checking for doneness at 35 minutes. 

To make the frosting: Blend the almonds in a food processor, scraping the sides occasionally, until creamy and spreadable, about 5-10 minutes. Add the honey, lemon zest, salt, and almond extract and continue to blend (it may clump together at this point up that’s ok) as you drizzle in the milk. Blend until creamy. This can be made the day before and stored in the fridge.

When the rolls come out of the oven, spread them with the frosting, sprinkle with the almonds and serve.


halva magic bars

Hello from my first week back to blogging life after seven weeks of filming and three months of maternity leave! Season 4 is officially in the bag (and scheduled to premiere on September 8th!), and after a one-day trip to New York earlier this week to make turkey on the Today Show, I am home and ready to figure out this whole test-noodle-kugel-recipes-while-Bernie-is-singing-Baby-Beluga-with-Grandma-in-the-living-room thing. It’s gonna be great! I’m gonna squish her cheeks anytime I want!

The Season 4 shoot was so much fun. It really was like summer camp: we had movie night under the stars, a wiener-fueled bonfire, bourekas in a wheat field, and a dance party with backstreet boys and a disco ball and everything. On the weekends we sat on the beach and invented new uses for the word gourmet. (“Are you wearing a Juicy velour robe? That is so gourmet!” “Did you just get very extravagant nail art? How gourmet!” Basically: fancy but not trendy, and nothing at all to do with food.) On the last day, I got Iced and that was that. I miss the crew so much already.

One of my faaaaavorite recipes from this season were the Halva magic bars that I made for an episode that’s an ode to Midwestern potlucks. Every potluck around here has to have a bar- a brownie, blondie, lemon square, cookie bar, etc. I grew up calling these desserts by their specific names but here they’re all just lumped into one big geometrically pleasing category that is the centerpiece for my go-to sample of a Midwest accent (“Are you going to bring the bars, Marge?” where the “ar” sounds a little pirate-y… aim for the back of your mouth and you’ll see what I mean.)

Magic bars, or 7-layer bars (tomato/tomahto), are one of the top three bars of all time. They are dangerously delicious and they’re magic because you make them by just piling everything into a pan. You don’t have to mix anything in a bowl or soften butter or commit any real effort, they’re so easy and the return is so great that it honestly feels like you’re cheating the world. 

The classic magic bar has butter, graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, pecans, sweetened condensed milk and shredded coconut, but in a painfully predictable move, I’ve subbed out the butterscotch for crumbled halva and the pecans for pistachios. And of course the condensed milk was just begging for some rosewater (it gets topped with coconut, can you blame me?!). Listen, one day I’ll make something that doesn’t feature the holy combination of coconut + rosewater + pistachio + halvah but, like, today’s not that day. And neither is tomorrow. 

The result is a bar that’s just as chewy and gooey and amazing as the original, but with a little more color: nuttiness and flakiness from the halvah, greenery and saltiness from the pistachios, floral notes from the rosewater, and pretty pops of pink from the optional rose petals on top. It’s a Midwestern/Middle Eastern mashup that was bound to happen at some point because all of these flavors work so darn well together. Proceed with caution because you will want to eat the whole batch immediately. Luckily storing them in the fridge makes them even better because it makes them chewier, so hide them in the back behind the carrots and just eat a carrot every time you go in for a bar. They’ll cancel each other out.


Halva Magic Bars

makes 20

ingredients

1/2 c (113g) unsalted butter

9 graham cracker rectangles (1 package)

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 c (175g) chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips

1 1/2 c (226g) crumbled halva

1 c (120g) roasted pistachios

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk or sweetened condensed coconut milk

1 tsp rosewater

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/3 c (160g) sweetened shredded coconut

2 tb dried rose petals, optional

clues

Preheat oven to 350ºf. Grease a 9 x 13 pan and line the bottom with parchment. Add the butter and stick it in the oven for a few minutes so the butter melts. Meanwhile, crush the graham crackers by putting them in a large ziploc bag and smashing with a rolling pin or blending in a food processor. When the butter’s melted, swirl it around the bottom of the pan and scatter the graham cracker crumbs evenly all over (you’re not actually making a full on graham cracker crust, don’t worry about packing it down or anything).  Sprinkle with salt, then sprinkle the chocolate chips, halva, and pistachios all over. Pour a little of the condensed milk on top and then add the rosewater and vanilla to the remaining condensed milk and mix it in. Pour it evenly all over the pan. Sprinkle the coconut on top and rose petals, if using. Bake until edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool fully (ideally overnight or for a few hours in the fridge) before cutting into bars. Enjoy!

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for a good few days.


Rainbow Cake with Strawberry Buttercream + My Blog is Ten!

10 years ago this week, this blog was born! I feel like I should make a speech?? I’m terrible at speeches (see: the time I officiated Stoop’s wedding and made the speech about farts), but I’ll give it a try anyway because I’ve been getting a little emotional reflecting on these past 10 years and thinking about how much fun and fulfilling it’s been to keep this blog. She’s been with me through so much! My bangs and eyeliner phase, my schnitzel eating phase, my lunch packing bike riding phase! The first layer cake I ever made is buried in these archives, as is the first recipe I ever wrote. I blogged about my first date with Eggboy, our move to the farm, our wedding, our Bernie... I’ve made so many of my closest friends through my blog and documented adventure after adventure after weeeeeeird adventure. And seriously now that I think of it, I really would have no friends here if I didn’t meet them through my blog haha. 

This blog has led to my book and my show and helped me cobble together a job that I wake up every day excited to go to and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. I am also so extremely grateful for the connections I’ve made to you. I feel like I have pen pals all over the world! The internet and social media world has changed so much in the past 10 years (can you believe that this constituted a blog post back in the day?!) and it’ll continue to change but this blog is like a roach, it’ll never die because it’s my diary and since I was 7, I haven’t been able to *not* keep a diary. I just have always had this wild urge to document, no matter how normal my week was.

Thank you for being here and reading and following along and sending over your sweet comments. You really do make the world feel like a smaller warmer cozier place. 

Ok that’s the end of my speech, I’m done being mushy, let’s celebrate with cake!!!

This is my first layer cake postpartum! Making it was a journey. it took like three days! I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to, with all of my time now spent singing Baby Beluga and changing diapers, but finally I put Bernie in the sling and committed. We walked around the house collecting ingredients and remembering where I put the measuring spoons, and the stand mixer white noise sound was like music to her ears. I stuck some cake scraps under her nose so she could smell them and I think she liked it! I also tried to make the colors good and bright so that she could appreciate them. 

I am so happy with the end result, both aesthetically and texturally. I was admittedly nervous about the texture since adding food coloring to batter requires so much extra stirring (and an over-stirred batter can lead to a gummy weird cake) but I ended up basically saving the last stir until I divided the batter between the six bowls and added the food coloring, and that kept the texture just how I like it: fluffy, dense, and moist! This cake is sooo rich, delicious, buttery, and sweet. I like adding coconut oil in addition to butter to up the richness. I typically use refined coconut oil, which doesn’t have any coconutty flavor, but this time I went with unrefined and the tiny hint of coconut flavor was so good, almost almondy. The frosting is flavored with a plop of strawberry preserves which adds a hint of sourness that balances the sweetness quite nicely. I loved eating this cake! I would have eaten way too much of it if I didn’t have the Girl Meets Farm crew here to share it with. 

The colors that I used were all Americolor and in ROYGBV order, they are: chili pepper, pumpkin, dijon, moss, wedgewood, and eggplant. In another world I would have maybe tried to go the all-natural coloring route with matcha and freeze dried berries and turmeric but there was only so much Baby Beluga singing time that I was able to give up so I figured this was an OK compromise!

Obvi you can forego the food coloring all together and just make a hella good vanilla cake with strawberry frosting and maybe even add a layer of strawberry preserves between the cake layers, ooh that’d be good. 

Happy baking!


Rainbow Cake with Strawberry Buttercream

makes one 6-layer 6” cake

ingredients

3 1/2 c (450g) all-purpose flour

1 tb baking powder

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/4 c (300g) heavy cream, room temperature

1/2 c (120g) sour cream, room temperature

1 c (225g) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 c (100g) refined or unrefined coconut oil, soft but not melted

2 1/4 c (450g) sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 tb vanilla bean paste or extract

1/2 tsp almond extract, optional

food coloring (see notes above for specific colors that I used)

 

strawberry buttercream:

1 c (225g) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 c (80g) strawberry preserves

5 c (600g) powdered sugar

1/8 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract

6 tb (90g) heavy cream

a drop of pink food coloring, optional

clues

to make the cake:

preheat the oven to 350ºf. grease and line the bottoms of six 6” cake pans with parchment and set aside (if you don’t have six pans, you can bake in batches).

in a large bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder, and then lightly stir in the salt and set aside. in a large measuring cup, whisk together the heavy cream and sour cream and set aside. 

in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, coconut oil, and sugar on medium high for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. add the vanilla and almond extract, if using. reduce the mixer to medium low and add the dry mixture and cream mixture in 3 alternating additions, stopping right after you add the last of the dry mixture and cream mixture- don’t mix them in completely because when you mix in the food coloring you’ll continue to mix and that’s when everything will get combined. (the reason for this is that you want to prevent over-mixing at all costs!) divide the batter between 6 medium bowls (using a scale is the most efficient way to do this) and stir in good big plops of food coloring until the batter is bright. distribute the batter evenly between the cake pans and spread it out evenly.

bake until the tops of the cakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs on it; begin checking for doneness at 22 minutes and try your darnedest not to let it overbake. let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

to make the buttercream: 

in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and preserves until creamy. gradually add the powdered sugar, and then mix in the salt, vanilla, and heavy cream. mix until creamy.

to frost the cake, level the tops of the layers and then stack them up with a thin layer of frosting in between. frost all over and decorate as desired! enjoy!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Muffins

One of the number one things that I was told to prep before Bernie’s arrival was oatmeal muffins! Oatmeal to help with lactation and muffins because they’re quick and easy to thaw from frozen and you can eat them with one hand. I do love oatmeal in the morning, and I usually have it with peanut butter or almond butter, cinnamon, berries, a little dark chocolate, and Trader Joe’s crunchy super seed mix for some Omega-3s, so I made a muffin version of this! They’re super good and filling, they’ve got pockets of melty chocolate, and they’re topped with just a few sprinkles that I thought would add a little humor to times that were destined to be insane, filled with Bernie wails, and true muffin emergencies. This is a pretty versatile recipe— you can add different spices, use butter or coconut oil, and change up the nut butters and mix-ins (don’t skimp on the chocolate though!). I would definitely recommend topping them with something, whether it’s sprinkles or turbinado sugar and/or seed mix, the added crunch on top is the loveliest.

Side note: I can’t really eat these muffins without thinking about the Bojack muffin episode when Neal McBeal the Navy Seal calls dibs on muffins at the store and Bojack eats them all. I wonder how Bojack is doing these days. I’m afraid to watch it with Bernie in ear shot and all. 


Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Muffins

Makes 8 Jumbo Muffins

Ingredients

1 1/2 c (120g) rolled oats

1 c (240g) milk (2%, whole, or almond)

1/2 c (65g) all-purpose flour

1/2 c (65g) whole wheat flour or more all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon 

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 c (113g) unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled

1/2 c (128g) creamy unsweetened peanut butter (almond butter works too!)

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/2 c (150g) maple syrup

3/4 c (90g) dried cherries, blueberries, or raisins

3/4 c (4 oz) chopped dark chocolate

3/4 c (45g) unsweetened coconut flakes

Super seed mix, optional, for topping

Coarse sanding sugar or sprinkles, for topping

Clues

Preheat the oven to 400ºf. Line 8 jumbo muffin tins with liners and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats and milk and let soak for 20 minutes.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the butter or coconut oil, peanut butter, vanilla, eggs, and maple syrup until smooth. Add the oats and flour mixture and stir to combine and then fold in the dried fruit, chocolate, and coconut. Scoop into muffin tins and sprinkle with seeds, if using, and sanding sugar or sprinkles. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean; begin checking for doneness at 22 minutes. Let cool in the pans for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely or enjoy warm! 

Cooled muffins can be stored in a ziploc bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave for about a minute.


-yeh!