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Posted on Jan 28, 2014 | 0 comments

Favorite Lemon Cake

Favorite Lemon Cake

The weather lately looks awful…

Every time a friend sends a photo of their car beneath a mound of snow, or my yiayia calls to say it’s so cold out the pipes are frozen, or I see all the (gorgeous) heavy winter coats for sale online, I cringe a little.

I love Los Angeles for many reasons, but the weather is near the top of that list.


Truth is, I’ve never really lived anywhere else, aside from a 2 year stint in boarding school. In Utah. That was 2 summers and 2 winters of extreme temperature changes, and I hated it.

Not being accustomed to snow, I even wore my Ugg boots throughout what was apparently one of the worst snow/cold seasons Utah had ever seen. I would NOT recommend it.

I’m one of those West Coast So Cal natives people love to laugh at… I wear a coat when it dips below 55 degrees. Even in the 60s, I’ve got on layers and leggings and I won’t hang around outside for too long.

In my own defense, I’m tiny and don’t retain heat well. I am almost always cold. Even in the house with the heat going.


So, today when I woke up and it was overcast, I wanted something light and lemony. The smell of fresh lemon is one of my favorite scents, along with real vanilla and all sorts of florals.

Whenever I want lemon, this is my go-to recipe. I’ve made this cake so many times I can’t count. It’s everything I want in a snack cake: a moist, soft crumb. Lots of lemon flavor. And it keeps for days. Of course, it would also be perfect for dessert, maybe with some whipped cream and berries. But I like to eat it throughout the day. Just a sliver here and a sliver there. It’s truly one of my favorite things to bake.

This cake can be baked in a Bundt pan, loaf pan, or as muffins. I’ve never tried it in a traditional cake pan, but I’m sure it would work that way too.

It whips up in no time and everyone I’ve served it to adored it. It’s even been requested as a birthday cake:



I came up with this recipe on my own, after looking through countless others for “Lemon Bundt Cakes.” I’ve tweaked it several times and love it as it is. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do, and if you’re somewhere cold tonight, maybe it will brighten up your day!


Here’s how to make it…

First, cream some butter and sugar, then add in your eggs (I’m making a half-batch of mini loaves today):


Now add some lemon and vanilla extracts:


Add the dry ingredients and the milk in 3 additions, stirring gently between each one:


Now, finely grate a lemon:


And stir it into the batter:


It will smell amazing!!!

Spoon your batter into greased pan/s:


And after they’ve cooled a bit, turn them out onto a cooling rack:


Top with a nice, thick, powdered sugar glaze:


And enjoy a little sunshiiiiiiiine:






Makes a 10-cup Bundt

This cake is easily halved to make a 6-cup Bundt, or about 5 mini loaves or 12 muffins. Baking time will vary; check the 6-cup Bundt around 30-35 minutes, mini loaves around 20-25, and muffins around 10-15.


For the cake:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour (use cake flour for the most tender crumb, but all-purpose works well too)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1  1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (1 large lemon or 2 smaller ones)

For the lemon glaze:

  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a Bundt pan (I use Baking Pam and have never had a cake stick).

2. Make the cake: In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat well. Add lemon and vanilla extracts and stir to combine.

3. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt and measure out milk. Add about 1/3 of flour mixture, then 1/3 of milk (just eyeball it), and stir gently to combine. Continue alternating flour and milk until all is added. Batter should be light colored, smooth, and somewhat fluffy. Stir in lemon zest.

4. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake around 50-55 minutes, checking often with a skewer towards the end of baking so as not to overbake; remove the cake as soon as it is set in the center. Remove cake to a cooling rack and cool in pan for at least 20 minutes.

**To remove cake from a Bundt pan: Tap the pan on the counter several times to loosen the edges. If you prepared your pan adequately, it should sort of flop around in there when you tap it. Place a large plate over the top of the pan and using both hands, quickly and carefully turn it over, then allow cake to cool completely before slicing.**

5. Make the glaze: In a medium bowl, beat together powdered sugar, lemon juice, and water until smooth. Adjust with more powdered sugar, lemon juice, or water to achieve a thick white glaze. Drizzle liberally over cake.


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Posted on Jan 26, 2014 | 0 comments

Delicious No-Bake Low Carb Cheesecake (With No Artificial Sweeteners!)

Delicious No-Bake Low Carb Cheesecake (With No Artificial Sweeteners!)

Low Carb Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache

Howdy, and happy Sunday!

I mentioned last week that I had an amazing low-carb cookie recipe for you all. I was going to post it today, but after the smashing success of this low-carb cheesecake last night, I knew I had to post this one first.

I’m so excited about it! I had no idea it would go over so well–not only with the dieter, but with everyone else at the party.

See, I have a lovely beautiful girl friend who has embarked on a very low-carb diet recently. Yesterday was her birthday, and she had been worrying all week about the cake. So far, she’s had terrible tummy aches from every artificial sweetener she’s tried.

She had sent me a recipe to try out for her birthday cake, but it called for loads of artificial sweeteners. She said to just make it and she’d “deal with the consequences.” I didn’t like the prospect of her going home with a belly ache (or worse), and furthermore I was worried about upsetting the stomachs of everyone else at the party.

Enter the cheesecake.

Low Carb Cheesecake

I sat down with paper and a pencil, determined to figure out a low-carb alternative with no artificial sweeteners. I wanted it to be something delicious, something beautiful, and something she could eat without worry. I ended up with this beautiful no-bake cheesecake made with an almond flour crust. To make it “birthday-worthy,” I also added a delicious fudgy layer of chocolate ganache in the middle.

The ultimate compliment when baking something with dietary modifications is when the non-dieters scarf it down and tell you they had NO idea there was anything “restrictive” about it.

According to my calculations, this cheesecake comes in at around 9 grams of carbs per slice.

With the chocolate ganache layer I added for the party, it comes in at 12.5 grams of carbs per slice. If that’s allowed in your diet, I say spring for it, because the chocolate was delicious and added a nice contrast in both taste and texture.

For comparison, one slice of low-carb cheesecake made with a boatload of Splenda from the Cheesecake Factory has 37 grams of carbs, and a traditional slice of cheesecake has many, many more (nutritional breakdown included below recipe).

Low Carb No Bake Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache

What I do know is the birthday girl LOVED her cheesecake.

And I came home with an empty cake dish.

In fact, it was gobbled up before I could even get a photo of it sliced (sorry! It looked beautiful though!).

The cheesecake was sitting on a table in the corner, next to several varieties of full-carb cupcakes and a lovely smelling carrot cake, and it was the only dessert to get eaten in its entirety. I even saw two different men come over and put slices in THEIR BARE HANDS because there was a shortage of plates and forks. I scrambled to get more utensils (the party was at a public venue), but by the time I’d returned, both men were licking their fingers clean.

Despite me being totally into carbs (duh), I’ve really been enjoying trying to lighten up the carb load in my favorite sweets for my wonderful friend! I can’t wait to keep experimenting for her.

Chocolate Ganache and Almond Flour Crust

On ice packs to cool quickly!


Makes one 10″ cake — 16 servings

Notes: Nutritional information includes the 2 teaspoons brown sugar in the crust, but feel free to omit it to further reduce sugar/carb intake. The chocolate ganache layer adds about 3.25 grams of carbs per slice, so even though it’s delicious, you can also serve the cake plain.

I’ve been using this almond flour, labeled as almond “pastry flour,” and I love it! It tastes great, and is a superfine texture, making substituting for all-purpose flour a breeze.

For the Crust:

  • 1  3/4 cups fine almond flour
  • 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Cheesecake:

  • 2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese (you could probably substitute low-fat)
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste)

For the Chocolate Ganache (optional):

  • 2 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a 10″ springform pan with baking spray (I use Baking Pam).

2. Make crust: In a small bowl, stir together almond flour, brown sugar, and salt. Pour in melted butter and mix thoroughly; the crust should resemble damp sand. Press evenly across bottom of pan with your fingers, making sure to press firmly all the way to the sides of the pan.

3. Bake crust for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown and set. Let cool on a cooling rack.

4. Meanwhile, prepare your ganache (if using). Place chopped chocolates in a small heatproof bowl. Heat heavy cream to a boil in the microwave or on the stovetop, then immediately remove from heat and add vanilla and a pinch of salt. Pour over chocolate and let sit 30 seconds, then stir constantly until chocolate is melted. If your chocolate doesn’t melt completely, it’s okay, just pop it in the microwave in 15 second increments, stirring between, until you have a gorgeously smooth ganache. Let ganache cool slightly.

5. Pour ganache evenly over baked crust and spread all the way to the edges with a spatula. Place pan in refrigerator while you prepare the cheesecake.

6. Make the cheesecake: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with the vanilla until smooth, 1-2 minutes.

7. In a separate bowl, add the whipping cream and 1/4 cup sugar. Beat on high until you have whipped cream–make sure to beat it stiff. Pour whipped cream over cream cheese, and fold in gently but thoroughly with a spatula.

8. Pour cheesecake filling over crust, spreading evenly with spatula. Place cake in refrigerator and chill until set. Unmold just before serving.

**I found the cake was still slightly wobbly after several hours in the fridge, so I placed it in the freezer for 2 hours before bringing it to the party and the texture was PERFECT. I was able to unmold it perfectly and it kept its shape for the hour or so before it was served.**




(These are according to my calculations using the nutritional information included on my ingredients)

Per Serving (1/16th of the cheesecake)

  • 281 calories per slice
  • 9.4 grams of carbohydrates
  • 1.3 grams of fiber
  • 4.4 grams of sugar
  • 6.4 grams of protein

With chocolate ganache:

  • 12.6 grams of carbs per slice


Compare to The Cheesecake Factory’s Low Carb Cheesecake with Splenda:

  • 570 calories per slice
  • 37 grams of carbohydrates



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Posted on Jan 25, 2014 | 0 comments

Braised Green Beans with Tomatoes and Garlic

Braised Green Beans with Tomatoes and Garlic

Tonight I had a really great, satisfying dinner.

Satisfying to me, anyway.

I love potatoes (obvi) and I love green beans and I love rice. Too starch-laden for some, but for me it was a great vegetarian combo that rocked my socks. It’s relatively healthy, low calorie, and full of flavors and textures.


I’d had this recipe from the New York Times and this recipe from Saveur bookmarked for ages.

So today when I found myself with a huge bag of green beans, a few surprisingly fragrant tomatoes, and a head of garlic, but sans an onion and yogurt, I knew what was for dinner. I combined the two recipes to make this, and boy did it hit the spot!

The smells wafting from my kitchen as these green beans cooked were phenomenal. I was starving by the time they were done.

This recipe is perfect for those older, larger green beans which are often too tough for a quick sauté or steaming. The 45 minute cooking time might seem insane, but it was perfect. Kind of like this one from the lovely Elise at Simply Recipes, courtesy of the Pioneer Woman’s cookbook. Much debate in the comments regarding the cooking time!

I found these beans to be perfectly done. They’re not crispy by any means, but they’re not mush either. They still have some chew.


Here’s how to make them…
Sautee some garlic in olive oil until fragrant, taking care not to burn it, 3 minutes or so. Add in all your remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper:

 photo 2

Bring that all to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, until you have this:

photo 3

The NY Times recipe recommends letting the beans cool to room temp before serving. I went ahead and prepared my rice and finished up the dessert I was making. By the time I plated the green beans, they were still slightly warm. I think the brief rest lets these simple flavors meld even more.

photo 4

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
  • 1 lb. green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • pinch of onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large sauté pan or heavy bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes; do not let it burn.

2. Add green beans, tomatoes, water, sugar, onion, salt, and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a light simmer. Cook, covered, until green beans are tender and tomatoes are broken down.

3. Let come to room temperature before serving, if desired.



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Posted on Jan 24, 2014 | 1 comment

DIY Microwave Soy Candles

DIY Microwave Soy Candles

I’ve got a quick and easy DIY project for you today!

But first: I realized recently that I had an entire DIY section on this blog. Oops! I’ve certainly been neglecting it.

For all the things I do around the house, I guess I forget to photograph and post about them. But the truth is, ’round these parts, the man-friend and I do most minor home repairs and tons of crafty type things. From building our own furniture to sewing our own cushions to printing greeting cards and painting art for the walls (or painting the walls themselves). And our most fruitful endeavor (ha, ha) was building a raised vegetable garden last year, and growing many varieties of veggies and herbs from seeds which we sprouted indoors.

So, for 2014, I’m vowing to contribute to this DIY section on the regular. I’m super excited about it, okay?!


Now, onto these super easy and quick soy wax candles!!!



I’ve been wanting to do this for ages, but didn’t have all the supplies. When I saw this post over at Bev Cooks, I squealed with joy and did a little Amazon Prime ordering immediately.

Two days later, my supplies arrived, and I had these gorgeous little candles done in probably 10 minutes. They are really easy. And fun to make.

This would be a great project to do with teenagers I think.

You might even hold their interest for… 10 minutes.

It starts with microwavable soy wax flakes, which take all of 2 minutes to melt and were super easy to work with. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil/s, and a night for your wax to harden, and you’ve got homemade candles!

Here’s how it’s done…


Wrap your wick around a chopstick and center it in the bottom of your candle holder:



Melt your wax in the microwave (I used disposable everything for easy cleanup), add a few drops of essential oil and stir it up! Pour into your containers:




Now, just let everything set up before removing the chopsticks:



I tried to wait the recommended 12+ hours, but this guy got removed after 8 hours or so:



Trim your wicks with your freakishly-hued and apparently wrinkly hands (I swear they don’t normally look like this):




Now you are free to light these babies up:



The glow in my house this morning looks pretty magical:



All in all, this was a super fun project. Big payoff for the time you put in! You’re 10 minutes (and an overnight rest) away from your own delicious-smelling homemade candles. These would make great gifts, and I’m excited to share them with friends.


DIY Microwavable Soy Candles

I vaguely followed Bev’s instructions (scaling down to just 3 “trial” votive candles). Thanks for the inspiration Bev!

1. Stick a wick in each votive holder, centering it on the bottom. Lay one chopstick across the top of each votive and wrap the wick around it. You want to make sure the wick is laying flat on the bottom of the glass. Repeat with each votive.

2. Microwave the wax for approximately 2 minutes, or until the flakes are melted. Add a few drops of your essential oil/s and stir everything around with a chopstick. You can give the wax a sniff and add more or less oil to your liking.

3. Carefully pour the wax into each votive, leaving 1/2″ of room from the top of the container. Be careful not to get wax all over the sides of the votive.

4. Let sit, undisturbed, overnight until hardened. Remove chopsticks and trim wicks to 1/4″ or so. Enjoy!






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Posted on Jan 21, 2014 | 0 comments

Simple Roasted Baby Potatoes

Simple Roasted Baby Potatoes

Time for a simple potato recipe.

As with the other one, it’s more a technique than an actual recipe. It can be adapted to any mix of seasonings, spices, or herbs.



In all my years of fanatical potato cooking (and eating), I’ve found the best approach is to cook low and slow in a moderate oven. It’s easy, fuss-free, and lets the inside of the potato cook like a proper baked potato (moist and fluffy), while the skin slowly crisps up to a snappy golden brown.

So often, I see recipes which instruct you to roast potatoes upwards of 400 or 450 degrees. This results in nice crispy skins, but the insides are dry or (worse) underdone. Or you see recipes with multi-step approaches (soaking, rinsing, microwaving, parboiling, etc.) and most people won’t take that kind of time on a weeknight.

Baking at 350 or 375 will give you all the perfection of a French fry.

These ‘taters need no adornments aside from salt and pepper, but of course you can add spices, seasonings, or herbs to your liking.



So, just plan ahead for dinner and give your potatoes an hour or so to cook. They take literally 2 minutes to get into the oven, so you can throw them in there and forget about them while you take a shower, round up the kids, or check your e-mail. In the end, you’ll have perfectly roasted potatoes as a great side to any meal.


Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Wash your spuds in a colander and dry. Lay some aluminum foil or parchment on a baking sheet for easy cleanup (hey, why not?) and dump your ‘taters in it. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, season with salt and pepper (or any herbs and seasonings), then shake the whole thing up so the potatoes are evenly coated. Now just slide the pan into the oven and walk away.




Step 2: After 20 minutes, go shake your pan around. You just want the golden bottoms to flip around so your ‘taters get toasty on all sides. Now walk away again for 20 minutes.


Step 3: Repeat step 2.


Step 4: Done! Sprinkle with a bit of coarse salt just before serving and enjoy.




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Posted on Jan 21, 2014 | 7 comments

My Favorite Recipe of All Time // Yeasted Coffee Cake

My Favorite Recipe of All Time // Yeasted Coffee Cake




Today I’m giving you my favorite recipe of all time. It makes me happy, proud, and kind of nervous. This recipe has been mine and mine alone for a few years now, and even though I have gladly shared it with friends and family, as far as I know nobody’s made it due to all the steps and time it takes to make. I guess they figure “Why bother,” when they know I’ll make it for them if they just ask.
But don’t be intimidated! It’s a very straight forward enriched yeast dough. If you’ve ever made a yeast bread (like cinnamon rolls or a sandwich loaf), you will have no trouble at all. And if you’ve never used yeast before, I urge you to give it a go anyway. There’s no better way to learn than to jump right in!


This coffee cake is single-handedly the reason I began baking with yeast. It was done out of necessity, to satisfy a craving I’d had for years (I’ll get to that in a minute).

But as I dove into the intimidating world of yeasted dough, I learned so much. The first version of this cake I attempted wasn’t an utter failure, but was not what I was hoping for. It was kind of dense, not flavored as I’d wished it would be, and was seriously lacking a streusel. So I tried again. And again. And again.

I learned slowly about mixing, kneading, and “feeling” the dough through trial and error, watching YouTube videos, and reading cookbooks.

You see, what I was after was something very specific: a coffee cake my Greek yiayia always served to me when I visited her house in the suburbs of Chicago as a child. This wasn’t a fancy pretentious cake, and it wasn’t a homemade cake made from a recipe passed down generation after generation. It was a grocery store coffee cake that came in a white cardboard box. I believe it cost $3.99.


To be fair, it was a grocery store coffee cake that was baked by a specialty bakery (Heinemann’s) and brought in daily. It was moist, fluffy, soft, buttery, and amazing. It didn’t need some strawberry or raspberry or cream cheese filling to make it shine. The dough and topping were perfect on their own.

Yiayia would buy 2 or 3 cakes at a time and store them in her microwave (which nobody ever used). They’d sit there, hidden from my greedy siblings, and yiayia would pull them out when we were alone. She’d slice the cake into thin slivers and we’d share it together, chatting, laughing, with glasses of milk.

This is my favorite, most nostalgic food memory of all. Right up there with Oreo blizzards in the scalding humidity of Chicago summers, and my mother’s cinnamon-scented Greek stuffed peppers (yemista) for my birthday. Finally nailing this coffee cake recipe lets me relive these wonderful memories over and over, from the comfort of my own home.


The base of this dough comes from a Peter Reinhart recipe for an enriched sweet dough used to make cinnamon rolls. It was a mighty tasty dough! But not what I was after.

So through many more tries, several months, and a whole lot of butter and yeast, this recipe was born.

This coffee cake is light, fluffy, moist, tender, and airy. It is flavored with vanilla and a light hint of lemon, with a buttery crunch from the streusel which coats the finished loaves. It is all topped with a simple white glaze of powdered sugar and water.

This is the coffee cake of my dreams. So much love and effort was put into this recipe, and it’s a favorite of friends and family. I get orders for it randomly throughout the year, but especially for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and peoples’ birthdays. It has brought joy to many–even just for the duration of breakfast–and there are several people in my life who greet me with “So….. do you have any coffee cake?” with a big hopeful grin. The way they’ll say “coffee cake” is different when they are referring to this one, versus the others I make. I just know what they are referring to.



It is perfect for any time of day. Not too sweet or heavy for breakfast, and great with a cup of coffee. A slice with some tea in the afternoon is a welcome treat to tide you over ’til supper. And, of course, you can have it for dessert. It needs no accompaniments like ice cream or whipped cream.

So I hope someone out there tries their hand at my favorite recipe and I hope it warms you the way it warms me. I hope sharing it with your family and friends brings you many smiles. And I hope at least one of you who’s never tried working with yeast takes the leap with this amazing coffee cake. It will open a whole new world of baking for you.


Please do let me know how you like it!


Let’s get baking!

In a stand mixer, combine butter, sugar, and salt. Add egg, vanilla, and lemon:


Add in the flour, yeast, and milk:


And mix just until it comes together, then switch to the dough hook:


Knead for about 10 minutes:


Your dough is done when it’s cohesive, smooth, and shiny. Form it into a ball and place in a greased bowl:


Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled:


When you return, dough should be doubled in size. This can take anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes:


Dump dough onto an oiled work surface and cut into 4 equal pieces:


Shape your loaf by lightly stretching each piece of dough into 4 logs. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, then twist each rope several times. Attach 2 of the ropes together by pinching ends; repeat with other 2 ropes:


Lay one set of ropes in your oiled pan, then top with the other set of ropes. Cover with plastic and set aside until doubled:


Meanwhile, let’s make the streusel topping! Combine brown sugar, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Yep, that’s a Dixie paper bowl. Like mother, like daughter:


Add in some cold, cubed butter:


And smoosh it up into pea-sized bits. You could do this in the food processor, but today I wanted to get my hands in there:


After an hour or so, your cake should look like this:


Now we get crazy… You will probably want to line your baking sheet to avoid a mess with the topping. LAYER THAT SH*T ON! Seriously, just keep pushing it (gently) onto your cake until you’ve used it all up. You won’t regret it:


Now bake. The house will smell divine, if it doesn’t already. After about 20 minutes, you’ll be rewarded with this:


Let it cool for a bit, then unmold this beauty:


Oh, how I love you:


You are perfect in every way.


Look at your tender, fluffy crumb!!!

OH CRAP. Forgot to ice it. I was just so damn excited to take a peek inside.

Forgive me.

Now, beat together some powdered sugar and water into a thick white glaze, and practice your drizzling skills:


Now, pretend you didn’t already slice into that thing and cut yourself a sliver:


And there you have it, the coffee cake of my dreams.





Makes 2 loaves (8″ x 4″ or 9″ x 5″), or about 20 individual pastries

Notes: The photos above are of a half batch of dough. The recipe as written below will yield 2 full loaves, and all instructions are written accordingly.

This dough can also be made by hand–simply add ingredients in a bowl as per instructions, and knead until dough is smooth and elastic.

To form individual pastries, you can either follow traditional Danish-shaping techniques, or roll the dough out into a large rectangle, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and then slice into rolls (like cinnamon buns). Lay on a baking sheet or in a pan, top with the crumble, and proceed with the recipe. Baking time will vary; start checking Danishes on a baking sheet after 8-10 minutes. Rolls squished together in a pan will take longer, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Store baked cakes in airtight containers or Ziploc bags. It will stay soft and moist for 2 days; by day 3, it may need a 10 second stint in the microwave to get all soft and fluffy again.


For the Dough:

  • 1 (.25 oz) package active-dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1  1/4 cups warm milk, divided (warm milk in saucepan or microwave until lukewarm, about 110 F)
  • 6  1/2 tablespoons white sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5  1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For the Crumb Topping:

  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2″ cubes

For the Filling:

  • Cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling

For the Icing:

  • 1  1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • Water

1. Make the dough: In a small bowl, whisk together yeast, 1/2 tablespoon of the sugar, and 1/4 cup warm milk. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes (if yeast doesn’t foam up, discard and start over again with a fresh pack).

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat remaining 6 tablespoons sugar, the salt, and butter until creamed. Add in the egg, vanilla, and lemon, and beat until incorporated. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. Add in 3 cups of the flour, yeast mixture, and remaining 1 cup of warm milk, and mix 30 seconds to 1 minute until dough begins to form. Scrape down sides of bowl and then switch to dough hook.

4. Knead dough with dough hook for about 10 minutes. You may need to add slightly more flour if dough is sticking to sides or bottom of bowl. Dough should be tacky but not sticky. After 10 minutes, dough should feel warm, look smooth, and stretch easily when tugged. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl (I use Baking Pam) and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside to rise until doubled, 60 to 90 minutes.

5. Make Crumble Topping: Add sugars, flour, salt, and cinnamon to a small bowl, or the food processor, and either stir or pulse a few times to mix. Add in cubed cold butter. Using fingers or a pastry blender, cut butter into sugar until it’s the size of small peas. If using food processor, pulse butter several times for 1 second each time. Cover topping and refrigerate until using.

6. Once dough is risen, dump out onto a lightly oiled work surface (do not add more flour if possible–this will make dough dry and tough). Cut dough in half; return one half to bowl and cover while you work with the other half.

7. To Shape: Cut dough half into 4 pieces. Lightly stretch each piece into a rope, roughly the length of your baking pan (9″). Sprinkle ropes with cinnamon sugar, then twist from both ends several times. Lay 2 of the twisted ropes side by side and pinch the ends together to attach. Repeat with the other 2 ropes. Grease your loaf pan, and lay one set of ropes in the bottom. Top with other set of ropes. Repeat with remaining dough to form 2 loaves total. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 60 minutes.

8. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment for easy cleanup. Place loaves on top of sheet.

9. Remove plastic from loaves and sprinkle liberally with streusel topping. You will probably have to press it on to get it to adhere; be gentle so as not to deflate the dough. Use all of the topping!

10. Bake rolls at 350 for 20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Decrease oven temperature to 325 F and continue baking until golden brown and just set, 5-10 minutes more. Cakes are done when filling is golden brown and bubbly. They should be fragrant. If you press gently on the top of the loaves, they should spring back lightly; if the loaf deflates under your finger, or your finger sinks into it, return to oven and check again in 5 minutes.

11. Let loaves cool in pans for 10-15 minutes before inverting and placing on a cooling rack. Let cool 30 minutes more before slicing.

12. To Make Glaze: Using a fork or a whisk, beat powdered sugar with small amounts of water (1/4 teaspoon at a time) until a very thick glaze forms. Drizzle liberally over cakes.




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