Family Favorite Cinnamon Rolls

I’ve been making these rolls for many, many years every Thanksgiving.

You may be wondering why I am sharing a cinnamon roll recipe right before the week of Thanksgiving. I should be sharing my favorite pie or telling you about this roll recipe that is perfect for your turkey leftovers. But instead, I am waxing poetic about cinnamon rolls. The best cinnamon rolls. Cinnamon rolls that I have been making and perfecting for many, many years. These rolls are tender, fluffy and filled with an ooey gooey cinnamon mixture then topped with a delicious “light on the cream cheese” frosting that is absolutely amazing. These cinnamon rolls are our family favorite and I have been sharing them with family and extended family every year over our Thanksgiving holiday.

Jump to Our Family’s Favorite Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
Missing this view this year! We’ll be back next year 🙂

My extended family has been going to the coast of Oregon for Thanksgiving every year for the past 50 plus years. We enjoy pot-luck style feasting for many days, lots of family time, long walks on the beach and I especially love making new and favorite recipes fit for a crowd. These cinnamon rolls are a part of our family Thanksgiving week every year. I sometimes make these rolls twice during the week…we love them so much. The dough is substantial, yet soft. The middles are gooey but baked through. The icing takes these rolls to a whole new level of glorious cinnamon rolls. Basically, our whole family loves these cinnamon rolls. 

Because of Covid this year, Thanksgiving looks a little different and my little family isn’t going to the Oregon Coast. It’s been a tough year for so many and I’ll be honest and say, writing out this cinnamon roll recipe has been hard but good if that makes sense. It’s hard to know we won’t be there to carry on this tradition this year but also good because I love looking back on the many memories I have of cinnamon rolls shared and consumed for so many years. 

Enough of the walk down memory lane…Let’s get to the details. Here are some of my pro tips for my family’s favorite cinnamon rolls.

The Dough

This dough is a dream to work with. I like to use a stand mixer (affiliate link…but check your local Costco for a good deal if you’re looking for one) or Bosch mixer but you could also make this dough kneading by hand. Just knead for about 10 minutes…until your arms are screaming at you to be done. All the butter and eggs in the dough enrich it, which can make it take longer for this dough to rise. To help combat this issue, I use instant yeast in the dough. This is my favorite yeast (affiliate link). It doesn’t need to be proofed and it helps an enriched dough rise a little more quickly.

Filling Cinnamon Rolls: Cinnamon-Sugar Paste

Throughout the many years of making this recipe, I’ve learned a few tips that have upped my cinnamon roll game. Many cinnamon roll recipes will have you spread butter over the dough and then add the cinnamon sugar mixture on top. Instead, I like to mix together softened or melted butter in a bowl and mix cinnamon, brown sugar and a little bit of flour into the butter. Then I spread the cinnamon-sugar paste over the roll dough. I think this gives a more even flavor and that little extra flour helps keeps the rolls from gaping open when baked. If you want to add nuts or raisins into your rolls, you can add them right on top of the cinnamon-sugar paste and roll them right up. I sometimes top some of the cinnamon rolls with toasted pecans. Yum!

Shaping Our Family Favorite Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe makes 12 large cinnamon rolls. I roll out my dough on the counter, spread on the filling and then roll up, pinching the seam together. To cut out the cinnamon rolls, you can use a sharp knife, bench cutter or even dental floss. If you have any wispy cinnamon roll ends, go ahead and tuck them under the roll so they don’t come loose during the bake. I also prefer baking these rolls six or eight to a pan because they rise a lot on the pan and in the oven while baking. I do know that’s not always possible or ideal (especially when I’m doubling this recipe to feed a crowd), so you can cram 12 to a pan if you want, though they may not rise quite as much.

Add A Little Heavy Cream

One other tip that ups the ooey, gooey factor in a cinnamon roll is the addition of warmed heavy cream. I like to take ¼ cup of lightly warmed heavy cream and pour it over the tops of the cinnamon rolls right before baking. You want the cream a little bit warm so it doesn’t impede the rise of the rolls. This little addition keeps the rolls extra tender and gooey, while still being baked through.

Just drizzle the warm cream right over the top of the risen rolls. Yum!

Baking the Cinnamon Rolls

A word of caution on baking the rolls. Ovens all bake differently. Some ovens bake hotter in the back and cooler in the front. If you want an even bake on your rolls, rotate your pan 180 degrees after the first ten minutes of baking. This will keep half of your rolls from getting too dark and the other half being too light. Check the center of one of the cinnamon rolls once the pan is baked to make sure that the middle isn’t raw. Sometimes you need to let them go a minute or two longer just so they are completely baked through.

The Best Cinnamon Roll Frosting

The frosting on these rolls is amazing. There’s no other way to describe it. I’m not a huge fan of overly “cream cheesey” tasting frosting, and the ratios on this icing are just perfection. More butter than cream cheese, all whipped together take these rolls to an ethereal level. I also highly recommend adding in the maple flavoring that really give a unique flavor to the entire cinnamon roll. It is just divine! Whip the frosting until it is thick and creamy. Let the cinnamon rolls cool about 5 minutes before spreading a large dollop on each roll.

How to Make Cinnamon Rolls Ahead of Time: A Few Options

  1. Mix up the dough, fillings and frosting the night before. Stick the dough in the fridge for the first rise and let it rise overnight. The next morning, shape the cinnamon rolls, let rise and bake. This would probably be my first choice if I wanted the freshest cinnamon rolls for a special morning breakfast.
  2. Make and shape the cinnamon rolls. Place them on a sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge. Pull the rolls out the morning of and let them come to room temperature and puff up a bit before baking and frosting. You may have a little bit of leakage from the cinnamon sugar mixture, but they should bake up well and taste delicious.
  3. Make the cinnamon rolls completely without adding the icing on top. Freeze them in ziplock bags. Warm them up and add icing on top when serving.
  4. Make the dough and increase the amount of yeast to 1.5 Tablespoons of yeast. Shape the cinnamon rolls and freeze them immediately. When ready to use, pull them out of the freezer, let them warm up to room temperature and puff up a bit and bake. The freezer can kill off a small amount of yeast in un-baked dough, so you add more to counterbalance this.

Have I convinced you yet? You need these cinnamon rolls in your life. And your family does too. I usually double this recipe to feed a large crowd at our Thanksgiving celebrations. This year I wasn’t planning to make these cinnamon rolls but my kids looked at me with those sad eyes of “too much has been cancelled in the name of COVID” and this mama has a hard time saying no right now, so I made them. And guess what? I am grateful I did. For the memories. For the traditions. For the look on their faces. And for the amazing gooey deliciousness that is sitting in my kitchen right now. I hope you love them too! Enjoy!

Family Favorite Cinnamon Rolls

All the cinnamon-sugar goodness rolled up in a tender, light & fluffy roll and covered in practically perfect icing. These cinnamon rolls are ooey-gooey perfection and our family's favorite treat.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 3 hrs
Course Bread, Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 rolls

Ingredients
  

Cinnamon Roll Dough

  • 2 cups milk warmed (2% or whole milk works best)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 1/2 – 6 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Cinnamon Roll Filling

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter very soft or melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon all purpose flour

Cinnamon Roll Frosting

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2 oz cream cheese softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream or half and half can also substitute milk in a pinch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple extract
  • a pinch of salt

Instructions
 

Cinnamon Roll Dough

  • Warm the milk in the microwave (about 1 1/2 minutes full power) or on the stove. To the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, add the warmed milk and melted butter. Feel the mixture with your finger (make sure you feel in the center of the milk/butter mixture) and make sure it is not too hot. You want the temperature to feel like a baby's bathwater. If it is too hot, let it cool a bit before proceeding.
  • Add the sugar and instant yeast to the milk/butter mixture. Stir. Look for the yeasty smell that tells you the yeast is activating (should happen within 10-20 seconds) and then proceed with the recipe.
  • Add the eggs, salt and a cup of flour. Turn on the dough hook on in your stand mixer and continue adding the flour a cup at a time until you have added 5 cups of flour. Knead for 1 minute until all the flour is fully incorporated. Check the dough by rolling it into a ball in your fingers to see if you need more flour. If the dough is too sticky to roll into a ball, continue adding flour 1/4 cup at a time, kneading for 1 minute after each addition. This process will make sure you don't over-flour the dough. Once you can pinch off a piece of dough and roll it into a ball with just a little sticky residue on your fingers, you can stop adding flour. Knead for a total of 5-7 minutes.
  • Lightly oil (or spray with cooking spray) a large container and dump the dough in the container. Cover lightly with a kitchen towel and set in a warm place to rise. I like to turn my oven into a "proofing box" with the oven light turned on. This is a nice warm spot for my dough to rise and speeds ups the process a bit. Make sure the oven is NOT turned on during this process.

Cinnamon Filling

  • While the dough rises, make the cinnamon filling.
  • To a small bowl, add the softened or melted butter. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and flour. Mix together until fully combined and set aside.

Cinnamon Roll Frosting

  • While the dough rises, whip together the butter and cream cheese until fully mixed and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, heavy cream, vanilla extract, maple extract and salt. Whip together using a mixer until light and fluffy. Set aside.

Assembling the Cinnamon Rolls

  • Prepare two half sheet pans (18 by 13 inches) and cover with parchment paper.
  • Once the dough has doubled in size, move it from the bowl to a clean space on the counter. The dough will be soft and not overly sticky. Pat the dough out into an approximate 18 by 12 rectangle.
  • Spread the cinnamon filling all over the dough with your fingers, making sure to cover up to the edges of the cinnamon roll.
  • Starting with the dough closest to you, roll up the cinnamon roll and pinch together the seam. Flip the cinnamon roll over, seam side down.
  • Cut the long log of cinnamon roll dough into 12 equal pieces.
  • Place the cinnamon rolls on the parchment paper, six or eight to a pan, leaving plenty of space to rise. Full disclosure, I often cram twelve to one pan, but I think they bake up better and have a better rise if they are placed six or eight to a pan.
  • Cover the rolls again and let rise for thirty minutes to an hour (depending on how warm your kitchen is).

Bake and Enjoy

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Once the rolls have puffed up and almost doubled in size, they are ready for the oven. If you want an extra gooey cinnamon roll, warm up some heavy cream and drizzle it over the top of the cinnamon roll before sticking in the oven. Bake the cinnamon rolls for 10 minutes. Then rotate the pan and bake for another 8-10 minutes until just starting to brown.
  • Check the middle of one of the cinnamon rolls by using a butter knife to pry up a bit of the roll and make sure it is baked to your liking (the center will tell you if it needs more time or is perfectly baked).
  • Let the rolls cool for 5 minutes before covering with frosting.
  • Freeze any extra frosted cinnamon rolls in a ziplock bag. To re-heat, place on a plate and warm in the microwave for 30 seconds (time will vary depending on microwave) and enjoy!
Keyword cinnamon roll

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Mummy Dogs

Growing up, one of my favorite Halloween festivities was the fun spread of food my mom would throw together on Halloween night. Whatever it was we were eating was always turned into some “spooky” name: “witches brew” (soup), “blood and guts” (spaghetti and meatballs), “skeleton fingers” (carrots); and we always, always had a delicious “cat bread” that my mom would make. This was a basic bread recipe that my mom turned into the shape and face of a cat. She would bake it up and then add whiskers out of dry pasta noodles and a cute face. One day, I will recreate that cat bread. Today I’m sharing my own family’s tradition, one my kids love and look forward to every year: Mummy Dogs. They are delicious, easy and a crowd pleaser.

Jump Directly to Mummy Dogs Recipe

Our Halloween Dinner Now

We don’t always have our Halloween dinner on Halloween night. In recent years we almost never eat it on Halloween night because we enjoy having a friend party before trick-or-treating on Halloween. Instead, we pick one night leading up to Halloween and enjoy a spooky dinner. This almost always includes Mummy Dogs (along with other frightfully fun foods). Mummy Dogs are basically hot dogs wrapped up in a delicious breadstick dough with ketchup or mustard for eyes. They are fun for kids to make and super, super simple. I mean, you could technically buy some dough at the store, but you won’t need to with how quick and easy this breadstick dough is…perfect for wrapping up those hot dogs and turning them into “Mummy Dogs!”

Instant Yeast

These mummy dogs will take you less than an hour to make. Yes! Less than an hour! With just a few simple ingredients, you can have a super simple and super festive fun dinner on your table for your family to enjoy. The key to this quick rise time is in the instant yeast (my favorite linked here, affiliate link). One of the beautiful things about instant yeast is that it technically doesn’t need two rises. You can throw the yeast in, shape the dough and let it rise once before baking. This is a huge time saver! These breadsticks benefit from the use of instant yeast because you mix up the dough, give it a short ten minute rest and then wrap up your hot dogs, mummy-dog style. After a quick 20-minute rise, they are ready to bake. Easy peasy!

A Little Extra Butter

Liberally butter your pan for a delicious buttery crust

Preparing the pan with a little extra butter gives these mummy dogs a crispy and delicious breadstick texture. You will be asking yourself when you can make them again…the bread is so good. Light and fluffy with a buttery crust. Soften or melt about 4 Tablespoons of butter and coat the two pans with the melted butter before wrapping each mummy dog and placing on the pan to rise.

Mummy Dogs for a Crowd

I love this recipe because it is great for a crowd if you’re having people over for Halloween dinner. Sometimes I make half the hot dogs (8) and turn the rest of the dough into “breadsticks,” just twisting them up and laying them on the baking sheet instead of making 16 total hot dogs – the dough is so good for making breadsticks.

If you’re looking for a last-minute, delicious dinner with basic ingredients that you most likely have in your pantry, look no further than these mummy-dogs. They are delicious and perfect for a special dinner or to snarf down before trick-or treating.

Mummy Dogs

A light and fluffy breadstick dough wrapped around hot dogs make the perfect Halloween dinner!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Rising Time 30 mins
Course Bread, Main Course
Cuisine American, Halloween
Servings 16 mummy dogs

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups warm water (as warm as baby's bath water)
  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil or any neutral-flavored oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 5-6 cups all purpose flour
  • 16 packaged hot dogs
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened or melted for the baking sheet

Instructions
 

  • To a stand mixer with a dough hook, add the warm water (as warm as a baby’s bathwater so as not to kill the yeast).
  • Add the instant yeast, granulated sugar, oil, salt, garlic powder, basil and oregano.
  • Using the dough hook, add the flour a cup at a time until the dough comes together in a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Take a pinch of dough and roll it into a ball. It should leave a little residue on your fingers but roll it into a ball. If it doesn’t roll into a ball, continue adding flour a Tablespoon or so at a time until it does. If you over flour the dough, you can add a little bit of water back in and mix it, though this should be a last resort. Check out this post for readiness of the dough if you have more questions.
  • Let the dough rest in the bowl for 10 minutes.
  • After resting for 10 minutes, separate the dough into 16 equal pieces and open a package of hot dogs (you need 16 total).
  • Butter two large baking sheets (my favorite here, affiliate link) with 2 Tablespoons of softened butter per sheet. I just plop it down on the sheet and use my hands to coat the pan in butter.
  • Roll each piece of dough into a long rope. Take a hot dog and starting at the end of the hot dog, wrap the dough around the hot dog, leaving a small gap for the eyes. Pinch the dough together at the end of the hot dog and place on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining 15 hot dogs.
  • Cover the mummy dogs and let rest in a warm place for about 20 minutes for a quick rise. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • After twenty minutes, bake the mummy dogs in the oven for about 15 minutes until lightly golden on top.
  • Add two dots of ketchup or mustard for the eyes and enjoy immediately.

Notes

I often halve the number of hot dogs used in this recipe and make 8 mummy dogs and 8 breadsticks. Twist the breadstick dough, place on a baking sheet and bake for the same amount of time. Sprinkle with cheese or extra melted butter when they come out of the oven.
Keyword Breadsticks, Halloween, Hot Dogs

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Puff Oven Pancake AKA: Quick Breakfast

This Puff Oven Pancake is a tried and true family favorite. It may not be a new recipe to you, but I had to post it because we love it and eat it so often. A friend in college introduced me to this “quick breakfast” as her family had called it and it has become one of my go-to breakfasts ever since. I love that it has a whole bunch of eggs in the batter which means lots of protein. It is so versatile with all the different toppings you can put on it. I especially love how easy it is for a busy morning.

Jump to Recipe for Puff Oven Pancake AKA: Quick Breakfast

Set it and Forget It: A Quick Breakfast is Served

If you haven’t gone back to school yet (like us, my kids start virtually tomorrow), this quick breakfast is the perfect back to school breakfast. It feels fancy with all the toppings but it whips up super fast. Cut up some fruit the night before, wake up a few minutes early and melt the butter in the preheating oven. Whisk up the batter (it’s only 5 ingredients), pour it on top of the melted (or even partially melted) stick of butter to bake for about twenty minutes and viola…a hot and filling breakfast is ready in no-time at all. I love how simple this is and how much my kids devour it. Win. Win.

Eggs = Protein

One of my children was a self-selected vegetarian for a long time. I think meat was a texture issue but I was always trying to figure out ways to sneak protein into our diets. I love how this breakfast is filled with eggs. Normally my kids are crying for more food an hour or two after eating a bowl of cereal but not with this quick breakfast. They are nice and full for the morning and not constantly craving snacks by 10 AM. I need them to eat hearty breakfasts this year so they aren’t snacking their way through the virtual school day.

Mountains of Pancake

This is a fun pancake to turn your oven light on for. It forms “mountains” while in the oven and puffs up really tall. You may want to double check your oven rack and move it out of the way to let this pancake expand. I’ve had best results using a 9 by 13 metal pan to get the highest “mountains.” A few minutes out of the oven and the puffiness comes back down a bit, which makes it easy to top with your favorite toppings.

Favorite Toppings

Our family’s favorite topping on this pancake is probably powdered sugar. We love topping the pancake directly out of the oven with a light coating of powdered sugar because it melts in with the butter and gets all into the nooks and crannies of the pancake. I also love dicing up some strawberries or peaches to put on top and truthfully I choose whatever fruit needs to be used up from the fridge. A small dollop of whipped cream takes this pancake over the top for special occasions too.

More Quick Breakfast Recipes

School mornings can be quick and crazy. I love my kids to eat a hot breakfast in the morning (we save cold cereal for special occasions). Some of my other favorite breakfasts are muffins (I freeze them and reheat in the morning), eggs, oatmeal, toast with cinnamon sugar on top, pancakes, waffles and french toast, all served with some type of fresh fruit or protein. I love making double batches of these recipes, freezing them and re-heating for a quick morning breakfast. All are delicious, but if you’re looking for a hot, quick, delicious, rock-star-status breakfast, give this Puff Oven Pancake a try. I hope you love it as much as we do!

Puff Oven Pancake or Quick Breakfast

This quick puff oven pancake breakfast is filled with protein and perfect for kids heading back to school.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour 50/50 whole wheat and all purpose flour works well here too (may have less "mountains")
  • powdered sugar for topping
  • fresh fruit for topping

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put the butter into a 9 by 13 pan (affiliate link to my favorite pan) and place pan in the oven. Let the butter melt while you combine the other ingredients.
  • Whisk together the milk and eggs. Add the flour, salt and vanilla. Whisk until fully incorporated and a little bubbly.
  • Pour the pancake mixture directly on top of the butter in the hot pan. 
  • Bake for about 20 minutes until it has risen and forms "mountains." You may want to make sure no oven racks are above this pancake because the mounds can get large. 
  • Once the pancake is lightly brown and has risen, take it out of the oven, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately with your favorite toppings. 
Keyword Puff Oven Pancake

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White Texas Sheet Cake

As a kid, the 4th of July was one of my favorite holidays. We would caravan out to visit grandparents and extended family for a week or two of summer fun. The week was filled with playing with cousins, snacking on pretzels from my grandma’s kitchen, backyard BBQs with homemade ice cream and sleeping outside on the street the night before the big 4th of July parade to save our big family a place to watch along the parade route. Evenings were capped off with sparklers and a fireworks show…nostalgic Independence Day at its finest. 

We don’t have those exact same traditions with my little family now, but we do celebrate as best we can wherever we are. This year we are hoping to catch a fireworks show and spend the day with family. I’m also hoping it will include my favorite White Texas Sheet Cake for a festive dessert. This white version of a Texas Sheet Cake can be gussied up with blue and red fruit for a festive treat, or topped with toasted coconut for a delicious coconut version.

Simple and Delicious Sheet Cake

White Texas Sheet cake is the perfect cake to take to a large gathering or family party because it is baked on an 18 by 13 size half sheet pan (affiliate link to my favorite pan). It takes 5 minutes to mix the cake batter together, twenty minutes to bake and five minutes to decorate. The almond extract adds a delicious “wedding-cake-esque” flavor that is so delicious, especially paired with fresh raspberries. If you aren’t a fan of almond flavor, no worries…you can leave it out or substitute some vanilla extract. Easy peasy and oh so delicious. 

My kids especially love being able to decorate a giant sheet cake. I like to set out all the berries or other toppings and let them make whatever decoration they want. I love the combination of fresh raspberries and blueberries, but I’m sure any fresh berry would work. 

White Texas Sheet cake: Coconut Version

I’ve often made this sheet cake for baby showers or other events and top it with toasted coconut. Did you know you can toast your coconut in the microwave? Place 1 cup of sweetened, shredded coconut on a plate. Microwave in 15-30 second increments, stirring between sessions. The coconut will brown right up after a minute or two and you will have the perfect, simple toasted coconut. You could also use the oven to get your coconut nice and toasty if you don’t want to use a microwave. The recipe for the coconut version of this cake is in the recipe notes below.

Recipe Notes: For a coconut version, add 1 teaspoon of coconut extract to the batter and ½ teaspoon of coconut extract to the icing. Top cake with 1 cup of toasted coconut.

Happy Independence Day

However you celebrate Independence Day or whatever your traditions are, I hope this White Texas Sheet Cake will make it to your family’s table. Have a wonderful holiday weekend and don’t forget to tag me if you make it! I’d love to see what you create. Yum!

White Texas Sheet Cake

Yield: One, 18 by 13 sheet cake

Time: 10 minute mix, 20 minute bake

Ingredients:

Cake Batter

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract 

Icing

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup milk 
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Topping

  • Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Toasted Coconut, Chopped pecans, etc…

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a large half sheet pan (about 18 X 13 in size) with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir together and set aside. In a separate, microwave safe bowl (or in a saucepan on the stove), melt the butter. Mix in the water, sour cream, eggs and almond extract. Stir until combined.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined and the batter is lump-free. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, insert a toothpick in the center of the cake. If it comes out clean with no batter left on it, it is ready to go. If not, let it bake a little bit longer, checking frequently so as not to overbake the cake.
  5. While the cake bakes, make the icing. In a microwave safe bowl (or a saucepan on the stove), melt the butter. Add the milk, salt, almond extract and powdered sugar. Whisk together to form a smooth, liquid icing.
  6. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, pour the icing on top of the cake and spread evenly to all the edges of the cake. 
  7. Top the cake with fruit, toasted coconut or pecans. We like making it into the shape of a flag for a 4th of July BBQ or to top with toasted coconut for a party. Check the recipe notes for a coconut version of this delicious cake. 
  8. Let the cake cool completely and serve. Enjoy!

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Birthday Memories & Whipped Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

The end of April thru the month of May is birthday month in our family (check out the Rainbow ABC Cake I made at the end of April). All the boys have birthdays within a month of each other, and today my twin boys have their 9th birthday. Usually I spend the night before their birthday making a fun, themed cake for them. This year, however, I passed the torch. I am done making crazy themed cakes for my twin boys and instead I am letting them have the option of making a cake with me or whatever other dessert they choose. 

Musings of a “Twin MOm”

Having and parenting twins has been a crazy journey since day one. It has tested me like nothing else could have (except more multiples) and has made my hyper-aware of encouraging their own individuality and recognizing that they are always best-friend buddies. I have always felt it was important to celebrate each of my boys on their birthday with their own birthday cakes and singing to each one individually (not one song together…might seem weird to some but to this twin mom it’s important). 

This year, one of my boys chose an ice cream cake for his birthday. This was as simple as ordering and pulling through a drive thru to pick it up. He went with me and we enjoyed some one-on-one time in the car. My other boy wanted to make an elaborate cake with me. He started with visions of dragons and Pokemon characters and settled on a giant Neapolitan birthday cake with layers of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry cake, strawberry icing in between the layers and covered in chocolate frosting with Oreos. He enjoyed piping green icing all over the top and was really proud of his first homemade birthday cake.

As a mom, I am loving the extra quality time I get with my kids by involving them in the birthday cake process, but I am also mourning a little bit of the creativity that I so enjoyed making their cakes for them. So I apologize in advance for this walk down memory lane, but I’ve enjoyed looking back on all the cakes I made for my twin boys over the years. Maybe they will inspire some fun cakes for you too.

Year ONE:

We survived the first year! I am so grateful for pictures to look back on this crazy, crazy time.

Year Two:

They were obsessed with Spot, the dog, so Spot cakes it was!

Year Three:

We had a jungle themed party for our animal-loving boys, so the cakes had to match!

Year Four:

This was one of the years we lived in Japan. I had to figure out where to buy things like powdered sugar (or make my own) and these cakes were definitely a labor of love for my dinosaur loving boys.

Year Five:

X marks the spot cake. Seriously one of my favorite cakes and birthday themes. The boys went on a big treasure hunt around the neighborhood and ended up back to their cakes where they cut them open to find the “treasure” inside.

Year Six:

These Lego cakes were so much fun to create. I bought molds to make the Lego figures out of candy melts.

Year Seven:

Candy cakes were so much fun for their 7th birthday. They were also pretty easy to make…circular cake and lots of candy!

Year Eight:

Probably my favorite cakes to date were the Harry Potter ones from last year. We spent the year reading Harry Potter together and when they requested Harry Potter cakes for a Harry Potter themed birthday, I couldn’t say no!

This year:

And that brings us to this year. A store bought ice cream cake and a homemade Neopolitan birthday cake: created, baked and frosted by my boy.

And because I don’t want to leave this post without a really delicious recipe, here’s a great one for some really delicious strawberry frosting. We put this as the filling sandwiched between the layers of the Neapolitan cake but you can frost it on cupcakes, graham crackers or sandwich it between cookies…yum! 

Whipped Strawberry Buttercream in between the layers of cake

What makes this strawberry buttercream unique is the fresh strawberries used to flavor it. You create a beautiful strawberry puree, then reduce it on the stove so the flavor is nicely concentrated. This puree is then used in the icing to give it a beautiful strawberry flavor. Right now is the perfect time to make strawberry buttercream with fresh strawberries in season.

Whipped Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

Yield: 1-2 cups of strawberry frosting

Time: 15 minute puree, 1-2 hour cool, 10 minute whip

Ingredients:

  • ½ lb fresh strawberries 
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Splash of cream or milk if needed

Directions:

Prepping strawberries for the blender
  1. Wash and cut the tops off of ½ pound of strawberries and put into a blender. Puree until a smooth liquid is formed. You should have about a ½ cup of puree.
  2. Pour the strawberry puree in a saucepan. Heat over medium low heat until puree is reduced by about half (you will end up with about ¼ cup reduced puree). This should take 10-15 minutes. Cool strawberry puree in the refrigerator or until it reaches room temperature.
  3. Once the strawberry puree has cooled, whip the butter until it is creamy. Add the powdered sugar and cream together. Mix in the ¼ cup strawberry puree and whip together. Add a teaspoon of vanilla. Whip together for about 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add a splash of cream or milk if needed for a spreadable consistency.

Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂

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Candy Jar Cookies

Most recent candy is from Easter

Do you keep a candy jar in your kitchen? I fill small bottles for every season and holiday with colorful candies. For me it is a decoration and an experiment in self control. My kids look at it as rewards for those special times I’ll let them pick something “from my jar” and my husband just likes that I’ve actually bought some candy and not just a bunch of ingredients to make things. I actually think he’s the one who gets into the jars the most frequently, especially when I put the gummy candy in…those are his favorites.

How do I use the leftover candy?

We really don’t eat a lot of the candy throughout the season and when it is time to change my jars, I end up with a lot of leftover candy. Instead of throwing the candy away, we like to make our favorite Candy Jar Cookies with the leftovers. These cookies can be made using any candy but I think they are best with a chocolate, caramel or peanut butter type candy. Do you still have Easter candy lying around? What about Valentines or even Christmas or dare I say Halloween? Any candy will work. You could also substitute chocolate chips or any of your favorite “chips” that you have lying around. That is one of the big perks of these cookies–use what you have so you don’t have to make an extra trip to the store.

These cookies are chewy, soft on the inside and have crispy edges. The addition of oatmeal gives them a yummy texture and the base of the cookie is so good that you can customize these to be whatever flavor you like. They are also quick and easy to make. You can double the recipe easily if you have a lot of candy to use up or neighbor kids to feed. One of my other tips in making these is whatever candy you choose, give them a quick whirl in the blender or chop them up a bit so they are about the size of chocolate chips. This will help the candy be more uniform and you get a delicious bite in every cookie.

These Cookies are so simple to make

One of the best parts of these cookies, is how simple they are to make. My eight year old son made these for us the other day and they were delicious. They check all the boxes: using up food from my pantry–check! Quick and easy–check! Have your kids make them for you–check, check, check! I hope you will be enjoying one of these cookies ASAP, whether you make them or give the recipe to one of your kids to make as a homework assignment…you’ll want to check for quality control purposes of course 🙂

Candy Jar Cookies

Yield: About 1 1/2 – 2 dozen cookies

Time: 15 minute mix, 10 minute bake

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½  teaspoon vanilla
  • ½  teaspoon baking soda
  • ½  teaspoon baking powder
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (about 5 oz) all purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup candy (chocolate, caramel, peanut butter candies work the best, you can also use chocolate chips or a combination of favorite “chips”)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, regular bake or 325 degrees convection bake. If your oven has a convection setting, do yourself and your cookies a favor and use it (I’ll explain why below)!
  2. Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, mix the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar into the butter and mix again until creamy.
  3. Add the eggs and mix again. Add the vanilla.
  4. In a separate bowl combine the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add this dry mixture to the butter mixture and mix together. Alternatively, if you don’t want to dirty another bowl (I almost always do it this with a large family and lots of dishes to wash), add the baking soda, baking powder and salt to the wet mixture and then add the oats and flour. Mix to combine.
  5. Crush up your candy of choice until it’s about the size of chocolate chips. I throw the candy in my blender and give it a couple of pulses for the larger pieces of candy. If you are using chocolate chips, you don’t need to do this step. 
  6. Pour the candy into the cookie dough and mix to combine.
  7. Scoop the cookie dough into balls (about 2 Tablespoons per ball) and place a couple inches apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. 12 cookies should fit on a half sheet cookie sheet.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. If you are using the convection setting, bake at 325 degrees for 7 ½ minutes. Let cookies cool on the pan about 5 minutes before cooling. 

Recipe Notes: If your oven has convection bake, do yourself a favor and use it when baking cookies. It will give you a crispier crust, chewier middle and better overall cookie. Typically when you bake using convection you will decrease the oven temperature by 25 degrees what most typical recipes recommend. You will also decrease the baking time a bit. However, be careful, because some ovens try to “help” you by subtracting the 25 degrees for you. For example, when I bake these cookies I have to type in 350 degrees to my convection setting and my oven will set it at 325 degrees convection. If I set my oven at 325 convection setting, my oven will set itself at 300 degrees. Double check your settings when you are first learning about convection baking.

Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂

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Rainbow Alphabet Birthday Cake

This is not a cake blog. I am not a cake baker, though I have learned a few things over the years. I make cakes for special occasions and specifically for my kids birthdays. I grew up with a mom who always made special homemade cake for our birthday. By special I mean, “cut-out” animals, Barbie dolls coming out of cake and lots of theming. This was our favorite part of our birthday; dreaming up what our cake would be and then the big surprise when it was revealed that day. I have carried on this tradition with my own kids. I enjoy thinking up a fun cake for them, usually with their input, and then surprising them on their special day. 

My little four-year-old has been dreaming up the cake he’s wanted for his birthday for months. All of these dreams don’t seem to have a common theme “A bird cake! A “house” cake! A “chair” cake!” Basically anything he sees can be turned into a cake in his mind. Knowing this I realized that I could make any cake I wanted and he would be a happy camper. I have always been intrigued with the rainbow cakes I’ve seen online and decided that this was the year to give it a go. My little guy also loves learning his letters and sounds right now, so I figured that we could combine those two things into a perfect four-year-old birthday cake.

This cake definitely takes some time. It is not a quick recipe. You will have a lot of dishes at the end. The awe and surprise of rainbow colors in the cake is worth the extra time and effort. A few tips before you get started: use GEL food coloring (affiliate link). The liquid food coloring does not give the bright, bright colors you are looking for in this cake.

This cake is delicious with and without food coloring. It is a really good homemade white cake. You could modify it a bit if you don’t want to add the food coloring and just want a yummy white cake…but you won’t get that “shock and awe” factor when you cut into it. You could also use a box mix for the cake recipe if you don’t want to try your hand at homemade. I’m guessing you would need 2-3 box mixes of white cake, about 1 1/2 cups of batter per layer in a 9 inch pan.

Another tip: the icing on this cake is sweet. My kids love it that way. If I was making this for an all-adult party I may choose a Swiss Buttercream that isn’t quite so sweet (you will still need about 6 cups worth). If you love sweet icing, this is the cake for you (or your kids). My little guy was in awe when he came down the stairs, ran to the table and just stared at this awesome birthday cake. He loved it and that made the whole process worth it. I hope you will love it too.

If you want to watch a short 3 minute video of how I made this cake, click here.

Yield: 1 large, 6 layer-rainbow cake with about 6 cups of icing

Time: 30 minute mix, 17-20 minute bake, 1 ½ hours make icing/decorate/assemble

Ingredients:

Cake 

  • 12 oz (1 ½ cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 21 oz (about 3 cups) white sugar
  • 9 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 21 oz (a scant 5 cups) all purpose flour 
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 15 oz (1 ¾ cups plus 2 Tablespoons) milk, room temperature
  • 3 oz (⅓ cup plus 2 Tablespoons) vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract, optional
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Gel food coloring: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple

Icing

  • 3 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons heavy cream 
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract optional

Directions:

  1. In a stand mixer using a paddle attachment, mix the butter until creamy and smooth. Add the sugar and whip on high until light and white in color (about 5 minutes).
  2. Crack the eggs and keep the egg whites together in a measuring cup. If your eggs are cold, you can briefly warm the egg whites in the microwave for a few seconds. Be careful doing this so you don’t end up with scrambled egg whites! Cold egg whites will mess up this batter, so make sure they are room temperature before using.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large measuring cup combine the milk, vegetable oil and extracts and set aside.
  5. To the butter mixture and with the mixer running, add the egg whites a little at a time and let them fully incorporate before adding the next.
  6. Add in ⅓ of the dry ingredients and combine. Then add in ½ of the milk mixture. Combine. Add another ⅓ of the dry ingredients, then the rest of the milk mixture and then the last of the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
  7. Preheat the oven to 335 degrees. 
  8. Get out six small bowls and scoop about 13.5 ounces (about 1 ½ cups) of batter into each bowl.  
  9. Add a different gel color to each bowl of batter and mix it up.
  10. Prepare 9 inch cake pans. Trace the bottom of the pan on parchment paper and cut out the parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the cake pan. Repeat for the remaining 5 layers. Grease the sides of the pan with butter and flour to prevent sticking. If you only have two pans you can bake the cakes two at a time. It will take a little more time, but it is doable. You can also use an 8 inch cake pan but will need to add a few more minutes to the bake time.
  11. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake the cakes for 17-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. If you’ve used a smaller-sized pan, let the cake bake a little bit longer.
  12. Let the cakes cool about 10 minutes before turning them out on a cooling rack. Once cakes are cooled they can be wrapped in foil and frozen until you are ready to frost the cake.

Assembly

  1. Using the whipping attachment on a stand mixer, whip the butter until it is creamy. Turn the mixer off and add 6 cups of the powdered sugar and heavy cream. Carefully turn the mixer back on (low speed) so the powdered sugar doesn’t fly up in your face. Whip together. Add the vanilla and almond (if using) extracts and whip some more. Gradually add in the rest of the powdered sugar a cup at a time and continue whipping until light, white, fluffy and everything is incorporated. The key to this buttercream is to whip it for longer than you think you should–at least 5-7 minutes. If the icing seems too thick, add a little more cream, a Tablespoon at a time.
  2. Take your cakes out of the freezer. Using a cake turntable (affiliate link) put a little bit of icing on the bottom of the turntable. Layer your cakes in the order of the rainbow with purple on the bottom, then blue, green, yellow, orange and red. In between each layer of cake add about ½ cup of icing and spread to the edges. Add about 1 ½ cups of icing on the top of the red layer of cake and slowly bring the icing down the sides of the cake using an offset spatula. Continue icing around the sides of the cake and smoothing them down. It is okay if you can see the layers through the icing right now. You actually want to see them a little bit. This is called the crumb coat. Once the entire cake is covered in icing and you have smoothed the sides down, put it in the fridge for the icing to harden for about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Pull your cake back out to work with. Using another 1 ½ cups of icing, cover the entire cake again, making sure to fill in any gaps where color could be seen. Smooth the icing using a bench scraper or other tool as you spin the cake around. Transfer the cake to the plate/cake board it will be served on. Decorate the cake as you wish. I decorated my cake with ABCs, and a simple dot border around the edges.
  4. Place the cake back in the fridge and pull out a few hours before serving to come to room temperature. I like to ice my cakes the night before I am serving them. If you have any fondant decorations, put them on after taking your cake out of the fridge so they don’t wilt. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes: I bought red fondant at the grocery store and formed the letters to my son’s name using small cake pop/caramel apple sticks. If you are planning to do this, create any fondant decorations a few days ahead of time so they will thoroughly dry out. Pop those decorations on the cake last-minute because you don’t want them sitting in the fridge, receiving moisture and making them bendable again.

The “Great Family Bake Off”

My family absolutely loves watching “The Great British Baking Show” together. It’s the one thing I can “bribe” my kids with as we fold laundry and I will do almost anything to get out of folding laundry for six people by myself. We enjoy watching the creative bakes, salivating over the treats, love learning about the British culture and seeing the lighthearted competition between competitors turned friends. After watching a few seasons together over the past few months my kids started talking about creating our own baking competition to mimic the show. 

Free printable at the end of this post

Bake Off Challenges

The “Great British Bake Off” as it is called in Great Britain, takes place over the course of many weekends. One episode covers a Saturday and Sunday of competition. Participants compete in three challenges:

  1. Signature Bake
  2. Technical Challenge 
  3. Show-Stopper Challenge

Because we have so much time on our hands right now with kids home from school, we have been looking for some creative ways to have fun, so I decided to acquiesce to the request and make our very own “Great Family Bake Off” competition. This would also make for a very fun birthday party, extended family reunion challenge or just something to do on a Saturday afternoon or summer weekday. In the spirit of fun and to give you something to make a long “Covid-19” day not so long…I give you everything you need to create your own “Great Family Bake Off!”

My four kids “competed.” I had to help my youngest through some of the challenges but I was surprised with the amount he could do. This would be perfect if he was paired up with a buddy…we just don’t have anyone extra around us right now with our “quarantine” situation

In creating this competition, I wanted to keep the three original challenges but tone some of them down a little to meet the abilities of my grade-school kids. I needed bakes that we could accomplish in a few hours and not a few days. After thinking it over, I came up with our version of “The Great Family Bake Off.”

Judging

You will need to find a moderator/judge(s) to be in charge of the event. This will preferably be a couple of adults. They will make sure to have all of the ingredients needed, prepare the secret technical challenge and judge the competition. You can print this printable for a rundown of the moderator/judge’s responsibilities.

The Bakes

Signature Bake: Finger Sandwiches

  • The signature bake is finger sandwiches. You need four identical finger sandwiches with tasty fillings. Judging will be based on presentation, taste and meeting the time requirement. You have 20 minutes for this challenge and the bread will be provided for you.
Finger Sandwiches

Technical Challenge: Personal Pan Brownies

  • In this challenge we take one basic recipe with the same ingredients and instructions and ask you to produce a perfect finished product. The moderator/judge will prepare the ingredients and kitchen tools beforehand. Then they will hand out the recipe (with no instructions or bake time!) and start the timer for 45 minutes. The brownies will be judged blind with no clues as to who made what.
Four entries for the technical bake

Show-Stopper Challenge: Cupcake Art

  • This is the final challenge to showcase your skill and talent. Judging will be on the professional appearance of your signature bakes. Judges will be looking for the most impressive and elaborate creations. The challenge is cupcake art. Use 4 cupcakes, icing and decorations. The cupcakes, icing and decorations will be provided for you. You have 30 minutes to perfect your show-stopper creations.
Such creative Cupcake Art

The challenges give enough hands-on creativity to be fun but don’t take hours to complete. Only one of the bakes requires an oven. You can change these up to fit your own family dynamic as you wish. Plan for a total time of 3-4 hours to complete this entire Great Family Bake Off! It will take some time but is so much fun and you will make awesome family memories. My kids are still talking about it!

So what are you waiting for? 

Download the moderator/judges guide here:

Download the planning worksheet (so the kids can plan their signature and show-stopper bakes ahead of time) here:

Download the technical challenge recipe here

Check out our family’s “Bake Off” on youtube here or watch below:

Ready, Set…BAKE!

Please share this post if you enjoyed it. If you plan to host your own “Great Family Bake Off” we’d love to see it! Tag me @amybakesbread on Instagram or share your video clip in the comments section.

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Easter Series: Hot Cross Buns

“One a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross buns!” is the rhyme that was sung on Good Friday in England where these buns were sold, which are thought to date back to the 12th century. I remember singing this nursery rhyme as a child and having no idea what the rhyme was talking about. Now that I’ve made and enjoyed some delicious buns, I’ve enjoyed sharing them with family and friends. I love the symbolism behind these Easter buns and the flavor. 

For those unfamiliar with this delicious Easter bun, it is a yeasted sweet bun studded with currants and iced with a cross that is piped across the top. When I first made Hot Cross buns, I was hesitant about using currants in the recipe. I’m not a huge fan of raisins in baked goods and I was afraid it would “ruin” the bun. But I decided to stay true to the recipe and used currants which are much smaller than a raisin. They were absolutely delicious. If you are able to buy currants, definitely include them in this recipe. It has become my new go-to dried fruit to put in baked goods because of the smaller size and flavor. If you have never tried them before, pick up some currants from your local grocery store and give them a try. 

These buns make a wonderful Easter gift or are perfect to eat on Easter morning or anytime on Easter weekend. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. “Get them while they’re hot. Eat them by the ton. One a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross buns!”

Yield: 12 buns

Time: 15 minute mix, 2 hours rise, 15 minute bake

Ingredients:

Dough

  • 1 cup warm whole milk
  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • ¼ cup melted butter, cooled
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3- 3 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup currants (or raisins)
  • 1 egg for egg wash (optional)

Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cream or milk (more or less for consistency)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

  1. Warm the milk in the microwave. Stir the milk so the heat disperses. The milk should be warm to the touch (like baby’s bathwater). Add the milk to a stand mixer and add the yeast, cooled melted butter, egg, sugar, salt and cinnamon.
  2. Begin adding flour a cup at a time until a dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides. Continue adding flour little by little until the dough is just a tiny bit sticky. Add the currants and continue kneading (for a total of about 5 minutes).
  3. Oil a bowl and put the dough mixture into the oiled bowl. Cover and let rise for an hour in a warm place.
  4. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Once the dough has risen, turn out on your counter and cut into 12 equal pieces. Roll each ball of dough into a bun shape and place on the baking sheet, four rows of three.
  5. Cover and let rise again in a warm place about 45 minutes.
  6. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. If you are using an egg wash, mix a lightly beaten egg with a teaspoon of water. Lightly brush the egg wash over the rolls. This will give the buns a shiny appearance. 
  7. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes until rolls are baked through and golden on top.
  8. While the rolls are baking, mix together the icing and prepare a piping bag (or ziplock bag works well too). I like to put my bag into a cup with the edges of the bag hanging over the cup so it’s easier to scoop my icing into the bag. Scoop the icing into the corner of the bag and snip off a small corner of the bag where the icing is located.
  9. Once your rolls have baked, let them cool about 10 minutes before topping with the icing. Make a cross on the top of each bun. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂

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Irish Soda Bread

I am a “tradition” kind of mom. I don’t think it needs to take a lot of work or brain power to make holidays fun for our family. Just putting out a few decorative plates or making a unique recipe from ingredients I already have on hand is enough. It’s amazing how the little things can form into new family traditions! 

St. Patrick’s Day has always been a day of fun in our house. The weekend before my kids create “houses” for the leprechaun to visit when he comes to our house. I know some families make leprechaun traps which are also a fun idea. We use recycled boxes (thank you amazon prime), all the green construction paper from our craft closet and our imaginations. The night before St. Patrick’s Day they pull out their little houses and set them up around our house. The leprechaun “magically” pays a visit that night leaving little green footprints and a trail to follow which leads to a pot of gold (coins) at the end of the trail. 

Other ways we make this somewhat ordinary day special are by wearing green, checking out books from the library on leprechauns and Ireland and eating something green or Irish for dinner. This varies from year to year but we always try to make our dinner something special. This year I think we will this Irish Soda Bread. Paired with a hearty stew, corned beef and cabbage or even some baked potatoes and roasted veggies this would make a great addition to your St. Patrick’s Day meal.

Irish Soda Bread was adopted in the 1800s after the potato famine. It was inexpensive, with only a few ingredients and easy to make. Originally the bread contained nothing more than flour, buttermilk, baking soda and salt. Over the years, recipes have been changed to increase the flavor and taste but the leavening agent remains the same: baking soda. Some areas of Ireland would cut a cross in the top of the bread to ward off evil and protect their families. The texture and flavor of Irish Soda Bread reminds me of a giant biscuit with a hard crust. It is a crowd-pleaser, quick to make and fun to eat. I hope you’ll give it a try!

Yield: 1 loaf Irish Soda Bread

Time: 10 minute mix, 45-50 minutes bake

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 4 – 4 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup currants/raisins (optional)
  • Orange zest (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the buttermilk and egg and set aside.
  3. Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together in a bowl and lightly mix together. Add the currants and orange zest if using and lightly coat with the flour mixture. Grate the cold butter directly into the mixture or cut the butter into small chunks and use a pastry cutter until the butter is finely incorporated. There should be no big lumps of butter. 
  4. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and lightly incorporate. As you incorporate all the flour, knead lightly into a round loaf as best you can. This is a quickbread, so you don’t want to activate the gluten in the flour with a lot of kneading. 
  5. Transfer the loaf to the baking pan and score a large X on the top. Bake for 20 minutes and then check the top of your bread. If it is browning quickly, cover the top with a sheet of aluminium foil to prevent burning. Bake until the bread is cooked through, 45-50 minutes. 
  6. Allow bread to cool 15 minutes and then serve warm. It can also be eaten at room temperature or toasted for a snack.

Recipe Notes:

  • I like grating cold butter into recipes instead of using a pastry cutter if possible. This gives me the small flakes I’m looking for without a lot of hassle. 
  • Buttermilk: I always pick up buttermilk at the store to use in my baking. I think it is superior to most substitutions. With that said, the best substitutions I have found for one cup of buttermilk are:
    • a mixture of ½ cup plain yogurt (or sour cream) and ½ cup milk mixed together 
    • 1 Tablespoon vinegar replaces 1 Tablespoon whole milk in a cup, let it sit for 5 minutes before using
    • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice replaces 1 Tablespoon whole milk in a cup, let it sit for 5 minutes before using
Enjoy!

Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂

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