Basically: Sticky-Buns

Basically’s last week of baking projects ends with a multi-step complicated recipe that rivals Cinnabon. I kid you not. Just don’t over bake it and you can recreate Cinnabon’s huge confectionary. This week was Cinnamon-Date Sticky Buns and I learned a couple of things that I will recreate next time, because the more you know…

The final recipe landed in my inbox on Saturday morning, because it is a two-day time investment. However, I think it could be done in a day, but more on that later. 

The first task was to soften the yeast at a temperature 98F. This was the first time I ever used a thermometer and actually test the liquid temperature. I microwaved the buttermilk to take the chill off, and it took about a minute in my microwave. I added the egg and yeast, let it sit for a bit, and I was ready to roll.

Problem number 1, I don’t have a food processor, but I do have a stand mixer and have made bread dough endlessly in it over the past few months. So into the mixer went the ingredients. I used the dough hook, but I didn’t knead the dough with the ook this time. Reading the recipe, it seemed important to get a feel for the dough, and after I went through this process, I 100% agree. 

There were strict instructions not to add flour as you knead it on the counter. This was counter-intuitive, but I followed the rules. I invested in a bench scraper finally, and all I can say is WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG?? I was too cheap to spend $20, and I find a use for things every damn day. It is my new favourite kitchen tool. Anyway… I pushed and pulled the dough back and forth until it was soft and silky and a little bit tacky – not sticky. It was a beautiful feeling dough. 


Into the fridge, it went to sit overnight. Here is problem number 2, I assumed it would double in volume, it didn’t apparently it doesn’t or isn’t supposed to. I put it into my biggest bowl and popped a plate over the top. There was a bit of a skin on it the next morning. I watched the Instagram story about this and Sohlea puts it into a ziplock bag overnight. So I recommend a smaller bowl or container with a tight-fitting lid. 

Rolling out the dough and shaping it with the bench scraper made this task infinitely easier (WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG?) It also has a hand ruler on it so I could measure and mark out the 8” I needed. It was so pretty it brought a tear to my eye. 

Problem number 3:

  1. I don’t have a food processor. 
  2. I also don’t have dates in my pantry. 
  3. I don’t have a cast iron pan

I know I promised to follow the recipe exactly but winging it has become second nature to me. Be flexible and resourceful. 

I melted butter and spread it on the dough, and then I spread(?) sprinkled(?) brown sugar over the top. I shook liberal amounts of cinnamon over the sugar.

Rolling these into a tight spiral was so easy with the bench scraper, I know you are tired of hearing me talk about it but seriously, THIS IS IS THE BEST THING EVER!

I divided the log into three and the three again so I ended up with nine equal-ish roles. 

I solved the pan part by using one of my saucepans with a tight-fitting lid. This was excellent for proving and baking but terrible for storage. 

I let it rise for one and a half hours until the poke test didn’t bounce back and everyone was snuggly fit together. 

Into the oven it went for 20 minutes, then I removed the lid and baked another 15 because I like a softer texture like Cinnabon and a light brown colour.

I made a glaze using buttermilk – as directed. This was the perfect balance of cream cheese tang without the heaviness.  I normally don’t glaze, but I was glad I did. I only used half – I wish I used all of it.

The texture was light and airy, soft and spongy all at the same time. We stored them in the pan, and the seal wasn’t very tight, so they began to dry out by day three. Happily, the glaze kept them moist. 

Next time I would transfer them to an airtight container or my cake dome. 

Would I make these again? Heck yeah! But I would do it in one day and let rise until double in size or put into a ziplock bag overnight. I would also use this dough for dinner rolls or add different fillings like pumpkin and cinnamon, or lemon poppy seed. The possibilities are endless with this dough. 

This series taught me so much about baking that I thought I already knew. 

  1. Tools are important.
  2. Room temperature eggs are a game-changer
  3. Following directions exactly makes things taste better
  4. Not all recipes are created equal (I have tried different websites and not everyone tests or explains things well, so experiment!)

So…. How did I do? This is theirs:

This is mine:

I nailed it. Thanks Basically, I will miss your weekly challenges and feel a little lost about what to try next. I have a green onion cake I will share because that was insanely reminiscent of the Fringe Festival Green Onion Cake Man and Disney has dropped some of their theme park favs so maybe you will see Dole Whips and Churros in my future. Meanwhile, drop me a note and tell me what you’d like to see me try. 

Stay healthy friends!

Basically: Carrot Cake

Everyone loves carrot cake but me. To me it is oily and I hate cream cheese frosting. Some how people think I love it and it ends up being my birthday cake more often than not. Thinking about it, I don’t really like cake. It tends not to be flavourful and fake frosting is the worst. Then this challenge happened and I found a cake that it delicious.

This week’s Basically recipe is Cardamom Pistachio Carrot Cake. I could eat this every day and it would STILL be my favourite. The recipe was not complicated but it was specific, so no winging it. When I saw the ingredients I was a little bit worried because things are not always easy to get during this time of isolation. I have all the ingredients except cardamom, pistachios, and carrot juice. I watched Sohla El_Waylly‘s instagram story and she didn’t have all the ingredients either because working from home is tricky. I knew I could make my own carrot juice if I couldn’t find any. But you know what? Sobey’s had it. Who knew you could buy carrot juice?? I bought cardamom and raw pistachios at Bulk Barn, $13!!!!! My first thought was, one cup of pistachios better be worth it. (Spoilers* it was!)

I weigh everything now. The results have made everything better. Not just a little bit better but next level “I should get my own show” better.

This is what $13 looks like. It wasn’t even a full cup!!! But… and I mean BUT… Tasting these beauties in brown butter was next level. It infused the butter and made the flavour next level.

I am a pro at brown butter now, just as the foam goes golden, remove it. The milk solids will toast up off the heat.

Pistachio browned butter has a green hue to it.

I whisked the dry ingredients together, forgot to add the spices. Why? I don’t know. I added them at then end and it turned out fine. In went the eggs, then the butter. This was the important part. Slowly drizzle the butter into the sugar mixture. It made it fluffy like marshmallow fluff. This is the key to a non-greasy carrot cake. Who knew? (Apparently Sohla and Basically did).

This took a few long minutes but it was a lovely result!

Then I folded in the carrots and nuts and put it into a 8” pan. I didn’t have a 9” so I needed to adjust the time. More on that later.

I was skeptical. Then I tasted that batter. I would have been fine just eating it like pudding or ice cream… omg turn this into ICE CREAM!!!!

I baked it for 55 minutes and looked at it. The centre was not rising. Sohla said that means it isn’t done, so I baked it for another 10 minutes. Still not done, so I baked it for another 5 and athoner 5. Then I was worried it would burn so I took it out even with the centre indented, but the tester came out clean so at least it was cooked.

I needed a cooled cake to put the glaze on so I left it overnight and made the glaze the next day. The glaze was an ordeal but now that I know what I am doing, the next time will be a snap.

First off, my pot was too big. So I dumped it into a smaller pot. This was my first mistake. She said to use a small pot and dump your ingredients in, don’t stir and watch it boil. She promised it wouldn’t boil over. Sohla was a liar pants. It boiled over in a small-ish pan.

It was a mess and the smell of burnt sugar on my stove was terrible. I then waited – as instructed- for the bubbles to subside. I was skeptical but it did happen.

I reduced it for a few minutes, tested it on a cold plate and then set aside to cool. Here was disaster number two. When I stuck my finger in it I burned myself because this is molten candy. I let it cool too long then it became solid candy. I now know 5 minutes is the sweet spot. You are welcome.

I poured it over the cake. it is kind of like those mirror glazes. It sorts itself out when you have the temperature right.

The end result? The best fricken cake I have ever eaten. I am making this for my birthday because I am worth it. I am making it for desserts when I go to a dinner party and I am going to make it just to snack on.

So, how did I do? This is theirs.

Mine – I need better food lighting.

I’d say close but not perfect. I have 48 birthdays to practice so I will have nailed by then.

Are you stress baking too? Let me know what you are making and drop a few pictures! Stay healthy friends!

Basically: Bars

I made it through another recipe with almost all the ingredients! I am enjoying this project so much, I can’t even!! Every Sunday morning another recipe pops up in my inbox and I read the entire recipe first. Then I read it again thinking about the ingredients. This week was Tahini Billionaire Bars. First off, Tahini is a weird ingredient for me. I have used it in hummus but that is about it. It isn’t sweet so using it would tone down the sweetness in the butterscotch. Apparently, you can use any nut butter as long as it is unsweetened. Fair enough. After tasting this, I would substitute peanut butter but this is really good as is, just super sweet. Cut the bars smaller than they call for because it was just too much sugar. It tastes like you can eat the whole piece but then it gets to be too much and you lose interest about halfway. Maybe that’s just me, maybe not. I will let you decide.

The first step was making the shortbread. I didn’t have sesame seeds so I made it without. I have to confess, this layer was an ORDEAL. The dough kept sticking to my hands as I pressed it into the sides, it became too soft. I suppose I could have stuck it into the freezer to chill it but it was a Tuesday night and I didn’t want to be at this for hours. So I swore and smooshed. The recommendation was for a 9 x 9 pan but spreading was thin, the corner was overdone. You can’t tell with the other layers tho and my family eats anything.

The second layer was problematic too. I started it WAY BEFORE the bottom layer was cool and out of the oven. HA, so much for reading the instructions twice. I have made butterscotch before so I dived in with a lot of arrogance. (The difference between butterscotch and caramel is brown versus white sugar – the more you know!)

The butterscotch was perfect, I could have added all the cream from the one cup container, it could have taken it. Now I have a 1/4 cup of cream in my fridge and keep forgetting to use it in my coffee. I let the caramel cool slightly while I waited for the shortbread to come out of the over, reversed I know but too bad, so sad.

I added the butterscotch and put the two layers in the fridge for an hour. Too hot, I know but whatEVER, stop judging.

After an hour, everything was firm and cool to the touch. I kept it in the fridge while I melted the chocolate. I didn’t have the fancy bittersweet 60% blablabla… WE ARE IN ISOLATION PEOPLE! So I used my standard chocolate chip use in cookies chocolate. It was fine. Good enough for snacks, good enough for this. Back into the fridge for 30 minutes and then I cut into them. That was the hard part (Other than the crust layer) These suckers need a firm hand and a sharp knife. Use a serrated knife and saw. I didn’t. I cut, I didn’t crush it like they said it would happen, but I didn’t use boujee chocolate so maybe that was the difference. I cut this into 16 squares, then after tasting, I cut into 32 rectangles. Trust me. I also didn’t sprinkle sesame seeds all over the top because WE ARE IN ISOLATION PEOPLE! And I didn’t want to go to the bulk barn for just that. Hopefully, I have the stuff for the next recipe, I heard a rumour it has carrots and carrot juice. Where the heck will I find carrot juice??? Wish me luck. Meanwhile, I nailed it this week in spite of the problems. Judge for yourself and imagine tiny little sesame seeds all over the top.

Theirs vs Mine

They taste as good as they look. What are you making this week?

Basically: Biscuits

I think this may be my last week to bake something new from a recipe for a while. I couldn’t get all the ingredients for this week’s Sour Cream and Onion Biscuits. I had a 3/4 of a cup of greek yogurt. I needed 1 and 1/4 cups of sour cream. There wasn’t any at the store, nor was there plain yogurt. I did have milk and vinegar, so my plan was to supplement fake buttermilk. Molly Baz, the recipe creator did a few instagram stories talking about substitutions. Past experience told me I could use milk or yogurt, but there was a tang to sour cream that seemed important to this recipe, so I added a tablespoon of vinegar to 3/4 cup of milk. I ended up with slightly more dairy than the recipe called for but I did that because milk is obviously looser than yogurt.

I followed the rest of the recipe except I didn’t have 8 scallions, only 5. Life in the time of rations. This was fine, and maybe the next time I make this I will still use 5 scallions because it was more than enough. The batter came together very nicely. Using a light hand to not over beat makes a massive difference.

Everything came together quickly and I turned it out onto a cutting board for easy clean up. The next step was to fold or laminate into thirds using a bench scraper. I don’t have one. I thought about buy one because I have want one for a very long time. All things considering, it didn’t seem to be the time to spend needlessly on tools that could be substituted. So I used the back of my chefs knife. It works fine. The dough is sticky so flour up your hands and work quickly.

I also don’t have a kitchen ruler, but back in my quilting days, I measured different parts of my hand so I could do quick measurements in a store when buying fabric. I know from my thumb knuckle to the tip is one inch. The span of my hand from pinky to thumb when fully stretched is 8 inches. This recipe needed the dough to be 8″ x 4″ I was all over that. I folded three times. Then I cut it into eight pieces.

By leaving them squarish and not round, there are no scraps to rework and the less you work the dough, the less gluten you create therefore leaving everything tender. I used the knife to cut them away from the board, I should have lightly floured the surface but didn’t and it was still fine. You were supposed to use parchment because it prevents spreading but in the instagram story, Molly Baz used a silpat liner, so I used mine. I don’t like using single use things very often.

I basted them with melted butter and sprinkle a bit of sea salt over the top. I would skip the salt. It isn’t a secret that Molly Baz likes salt. These don’t need the extra. Plus Who can get flaky salt in Edmonton? Seriously – if you can, tell me where.

I put them in the oven for 22 minutes, I could smell them at 20 minutes and took them out. It was on the cusp of over browning. They were perfect at 20 minutes. Watch your closely. The recipe said between 18 – 22 minutes.

You can tell where I dripped butter. These things are the flakiest most tender biscuits I have ever had. The flavour reminds me of sour cream and onion chips. Happily I love those. The flavour is strong and fantastic. I will always make these agin once the stores get back to normal stock levels.

This is what Basically’s look like versus mine. In spite of the substitutions, I think I nailed it.

Basically: Brownies

Brownies are, without a doubt, my dad’s favourite chocolate treat. I didn’t share these with him. I will likely make him his own pan for Father’s Day or his birthday because these didn’t last long in my house.

The half-way recipe for Basically is Camouflage Chocolate Fudge Brownies. These are rich and fudgy and cheese cakey and easy. They are rated as a level two Basically recipe but that is because of the number of steps. More doesn’t mean hard.

I needed a win this week because the shortbread from last week was a fail. It tasted good, but the method and ugliness made it a flop.

I have entered into a habit of opening my email Sunday morning in bed to read Basically. I read through the recipe twice because squinty sleepy eyes miss stuff. I had everything but the cream cheese. I miss those carefree days of having everything I need in the pantry. I went to the store early and bought cream cheese, some bread, things for lunches…because as soon as you say “I am going to Sobeys”, the entire house wakes up as yells, “CAN YOU PICK UP SOME….” So much for a quick trip.

I got home, made lunch, cleaned the kitchen THEN I began at about 3:00 p.m. Sheesh…

I prepped the pan, then added cream cheese to the double boiler to soften. It didn’t soften well. I have better luck in the microwave, but the rule was to follow the instructions EXACTLY to see what new insights I learn. I learned that cream cheese softens better in the microwave about 25 seconds at a time.

I whisked together all the ingredients and divided it into two bowls, one plain and one with cocoa powder. This tasted just like cheesecake. That is a win! I love cheesecake but never have it.

The next part was weird. 10 Tablespoons of butter. Why can’t we just do grams or one half cup + (whatever the measurement is?). The other tricky part is butter comes in 454 gram bricks here, not sticks. WTF(udge) is a stick? Glad you asked, I asked Google.

Butter Measurements When looking at a standard stick of butter1 stick or 1/2 cup butter is equal to 4 ounces, or 113 grams.

Basically (see what I did there?) one pound of butter is 454 grams. How do you measure out 10 tablespoons? I also asked Google.

5/8 cup butter141.8 gram10 tbsp
Crimeny crickets. That is not easy so I pulled out my scale and weighed out 141.8 grams of butter. Into the double boiler that went.

The strange part was all the ingredients went in. I didn’t melt the butter first. I think it would have been easier to do it that way. But I followed the instructions and poured the sugar, cocoa, coffee and salt into the double boiler, stirred it up and it became awful then glossy, just like it said it would. Then I stuck my (CLEAN) finger in it to see if it would scaled it – still part of the directions. (Honestly, I learned this step from my mom. Stick you pinky in there to see if it’s hot enough, especially for tomato soup – weird tangent but here we are) Second time the charm and it was too hot, just like the recipe called for.

I added the chilled eggs and flour – this was stiff but came together lovely. I scooped out 1/2 of batter, forgot to leave it in a warm spot by the stove… Poured the rest into the prepared pan.

It was thick. I smoothed it out into the corners with my offset spatula. Then I dollopped the other two cream cheese mixtures on top in a random pattern. Finally adding the reserve brownie mixture which was stiff and cold by this time making the process laborious. But it worked out.

I baked it or 25 minutes in a preheated 325F oven. It was floppy but set. Do not expect it to be like cake, its not. It is more like fudge. The chocolate filled the house and it smelled so good! I let it set and cut it into 16 pieces. After tasting one later when it cooled I realised my error and should have cut it into one piece. One is all you need. But I shared it out and it lasted until Wednesday. Damn….it was really good.

This is Basically’s and the other is mine. I think it was a complete success!

Next week is Sour cream and onion biscuits. Oh…yeah….