Perfect Peach Cobbler

We are at the tail end of peach season, but this recipe is one I’ve been working on perfecting over the summer – and I’ve got it just where I wanted it. This perfect peach cobbler is a combination of biscuit/cake topping, perfectly spiced peaches and absolutely divine with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream. Even thought I may be a bit late to the game posting it for this season, I want it somewhere I can come back to again and again, because it tastes like summer in a pan. While I love fall and have many pounds of apples sitting on my kitchen counter, I’m still holding on to the tail end of our warm days while I can.

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Cake or Biscuit?

Peach cobbler is often made with a biscuit topping or a cake topping. Both are delicious in their own right. This peach cobbler combines the flavor of a biscuit topping with the spreadability of the cake topping. It is not overly sweet like cake toppings sometimes are, allowing the fresh peaches to really shine through. The cake topping benefits from baking powder and buttermilk which give it a beautiful rise and the combination of a crispy crust with tender cake and mixed with fresh peach…it can’t be beat!

Fresh, Frozen or Canned Peaches

This perfect peach cobbler is definitely best with in-season, fresh peaches. Can this be made in the “off season” with frozen or canned peaches? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is, make sure to drain the canned peaches or for frozen, bring them to room temperature, then drain off the juice and excess water. You may also want to increase a Tablespoon or two of flour in the peach mixture to help thicken the peach mixture. This will help your peach cobbler from turning into peach soup!

Use a Glass Baking Dish

I love USA bakeware metal pans (affiliate link) that I use daily for almost all my baking. Originally I baked this peach cobbler in a metal baking dish but when I switched over to a glass dish (affiliate link), my results were consistently better. Cobbler is baked for a long time and the slow heating of the glass pan helps the cobbler bake evenly and retains the heat when the cobbler is finished baking in the oven. If you can use a glass dish, it will improve your finished cobbler.

One Bowl, One Baking Dish

If you’ve been around here for awhile, you know that I love using one bowl when I can. My favorite one bowl pumpkin spice muffins here. Applesauce bread using one bowl is here. This favorite sourdough discard zucchini bread here. Perfect peach cobbler is no different! The less dishes, the better. I mix together the peaches with the sugar, flour and spices right into the baking dish. Then I’ll mix up the cobbler topping in a bowl and spread it on top. I love how simple this recipe is and how you really only need to wash one bowl.

If you’re looking for a way to use up the last of those summer peaches, give this perfect peach cobbler a try. I’m hoping to make this cobbler or my favorite sweet peach bread at least once more this season. Either would be the perfect end-of-summer dessert, and I won’t tell if you happen to have a bowl or two for breakfast!

Perfect Peach Cobbler

Perfect Peach Cobbler

Perfect peach cobbler with fresh peaches, spices and the perfect topping that tastes a little bit biscuit and a little bit cake.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 1 8 by 8 pan

Ingredients
  

Peaches

  • 5-6 cups peaches sliced
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Peach Cobbler Topping

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour about 6 oz
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Cut and slice 5-6 cups of fresh, soft peaches. Add them to the bottom of an 8 by 8 glass pan (affiliate link). Add the brown sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon and vanilla to the peaches and stir to combine.
  • To a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and whisk together until no dry streaks remain.
  • Spread the batter over the top of the peaches.
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick is inserted into the center of the cobbler and no batter streaks remain.
  • Serve the cobbler warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Notes

For canned or frozen peaches: Bring frozen peaches to room temperature and drain the excess liquid before using. Drain canned peaches before using. Add a Tablespoon or two of extra flour to the peach mixture before topping with cake topping.
Buttermilk substitution: If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, substitute 3 Tablespoons sour cream with 2.5 Tablespoons milk, mixed together.
Peeled or unpeeled: Peaches can be peeled or unpeeled depending on your preference.
Keyword peach, peach cobbler

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Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls

St. Patrick’s Day is one of those holidays that makes a normal day just a little extra special. We love to celebrate with a visit from the leprechaun and a festive meal. Often we’ll serve this Irish Soda Bread to accompany our dinner and some years we choose to make these cloverleaf dinner rolls. We love them for any special meal, though they are especially fun on St. Patrick’s Day. Shaped like a clover, three little bread balls are set in a muffin tin to rise and create the perfect, fluffy, pull-apart dinner roll. Cloverleaf rolls are tender and would be a tasty addition to your March 17th. 

Honey and Oil

One of my favorite tips whenever I’m using a recipe that calls for both honey and some kind of oil or melted butter is this: Pour the oil (or butter in this case) in first, then use the same measuring cup for the honey. In the case of this recipe I melt the butter in a liquid measuring cup and then add the honey to the same measuring cup. The honey slides right out and doesn’t stick to the measuring cup.

Bread Flour or All Purpose Flour?

Bread flour really gives these rolls a nice texture. The exterior is chewy and the rolls bake up nice and tall. I recommend getting your hands on a bag of bread flour if you can. If you only have all purpose flour, go ahead and use it, but the rolls might not rise quite as much. Adding about a Tablespoon of vital wheat gluten to the all purpose flour is a good substitute for bread flour in this recipe. And if you don’t have vital wheat gluten, check out this post that tells you all about why you need it in your kitchen.

Eight Minutes of Kneading

One of the keys to good bread and dinner rolls is in the long kneading time. You can knead this dough by hand, but it will be an arm workout. I like to use a Bosch Mixer (affiliate link) or a Kitchen Aid (affiliate link) stand mixer. Any mixer that is fitted with a dough hook should work. When I mix bread dough, I add flour just until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Pinch a piece of dough off, roll it into a ball and notice if you have just a bit of sticky residue left. These are clues that you can stop adding flour. After I’ve determined that the amount of flour is correct, I’ll set a timer and let my mixer go for about 8 minutes. Doing this develops the gluten strands in the dough. These gluten strands are what will trap the gases from the yeast and give your rolls a beautiful shape. If you want to improve your bread skills, start with kneading the dough for a good eight minutes (ten to twelve minutes if you are doing it by hand).

Shaping Dough into Large Rolls

After the dough has risen, it is ready to be shaped. This recipe makes twelve large rolls. If you’d like to make them a little smaller or even four-leaf-clover shaped, cut the dough into more pieces. Separate the dough into twelve (or more) equal-sized pieces. Taking a piece at a time, cut it into three equal-sized balls. Place each ball into the cup of a lightly greased, non-stick muffin tin (affiliate link). Let the dough rise until puffy and just over the top of the muffin tin before baking.

Festive St. Patrick’s Day

If you really want to get festive with these, you could brush the top with a little bit of green-dyed egg wash, like I did with these pumpkin-shaped rolls in October. They would be a lot of fun for a green-themed meal. With or without the green dye, I hope the leprechaun shows up at your house so you can create a little St. Patrick’s Day magic with these cloverleaf dinner rolls.

Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls

Light, fluffy and tender, these cloverleaf dinner rolls are a fun take on a traditional roll. Easy to pull apart and delicious for any dinner or fun to make for St. Patrick's Day.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 22 mins
Rise Time 2 hrs
Course Bread, rolls
Cuisine American
Servings 12 rolls

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup 2% or whole milk, warmed temperature of baby's bathwater, see note
  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 1/2-4 cups bread flour see note
  • melted butter for topping

Instructions
 

  • To the bowl of a stand mixer, add the warm milk, instant yeast and honey. Drizzle in the melted butter and add the salt.
  • Turn on the mixer and add three cups of bread flour, a cup at a time. Knead together and continue adding flour 1/4 cup at a time until the dough moves away from the sides of the bowl and you can pinch off a piece, roll it up in your fingers and have just a little bit of sticky residue left on your fingers. More tips for checking the readiness of your dough here.
  • Knead the dough for 8 minutes. I like to set a timer to make sure my dough gets the full eight minutes. This helps develop the gluten strands in the dough which gives a better crumb, rise and texture to your bread.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and let rise about an hour or until doubled in size. The warmth of your kitchen will impact how long it takes for the dough to rise.
  • Lightly grease a muffin tin (affiliate link) with cooking spray.
  • Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a countertop and cut into twelve (for large rolls) or sixteen (smaller rolls) pieces. Take each dough piece and cut it into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place the three balls into one cup of the muffin tin to create a cloverleaf shape. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough until all of the muffin cups are filled with dough.
  • Cover and let rise 45 minutes to an hour until puffy and about doubled in size.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake rolls for 20-22 minutes.
  • Top with melted butter as they come out of the oven. Enjoy!

Notes

Milk: 2% or whole milk is best in this recipe. If microwaving milk, warm it in 20-30 second increments, stir the milk and check the temperature in the middle of the milk (it can sometimes be hotter than the edges). The temperature of the milk should be warm, not hot. Milk that is too hot will kill the yeast. 
Bread Flour: These rolls are best made using bread flour. If you don’t have bread flour you can use all purpose flour and add 1 Tablespoon of vital wheat gluten to help increase the protein content and texture of your bread.
Amount: This recipe makes 12 large rolls. If you want the rolls a little smaller, make 16 rolls and bake for a minute or two less.
Keyword Clover, Dinner Rolls, St. Patrick’s Day

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Chocolate Puff Oven Pancake

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and I’m the kind of mom who loves sweet, simple and easy traditions. We like eating this puff oven pancake on special mornings (ie: back to school) and we look forward to this chocolate version every Valentine morning. It is simple enough to throw together on a school morning. It’s sweet enough to be a “Valentine-kid-approved” breakfast and also has enough protein to be “mom-approved.” This chocolate puff oven pancake is the perfect breakfast to start your Valentine’s Day off right.

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Valentine Traditions

In my home while growing up, the tradition was to eat a sugar cookie for breakfast on Valentines Day. Yes. It’s the day I looked forward to every year as a kid because I got to eat a frosted Valentine cookie with my name on it! Sometimes I would save it for when I got home from school, but more often than not I would eat it for breakfast…and savor every bite. You can find the recipe for these best ever sugar cookies here. As I became a mom myself, I still give my kids a cookie with their breakfast (some traditions are hard to break!), but I also like having something that has a little more protein, some fruit and not quite as much sugar as my kids will be consuming throughout the school day. This chocolate puff oven pancake hits all the right spots. It is breakfast decadence at its finest, but also filling and just delicious. It could also be a delicious Valentine dessert, or a fun anytime breakfast for the chocolate lover in your life.

Use a Blender or Whisk by Hand

I love puff oven pancakes because they are so simple. Throw ingredients in a blender, pulse for 20 seconds, pour the batter into a preheated pan and stick it in the oven. We love this recipe for an original puff oven pancake and make it frequently. This chocolate version, made chocolatey with the addition of cocoa powder, really puts a special spin on an old favorite recipe for a special occasion. If you don’t have a blender, you can always whisk the ingredients together in a bowl and it will turn out just fine.

Cocoa Powder in Chocolate Puff Oven Pancake

The cocoa powder is what gives the chocolate puff oven pancake its rich, chocolatey flavor. I’ve made it with dark/rich cocoa powder and regular cocoa powder from the grocery store. My family preferred the puff oven pancake made with the dark cocoa powder. The flavor is more intense with a dark cocoa powder and not as subtle. My favorite cocoa powder is this one from Costco, but I also like using the Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder (affiliate link) that you can find in most grocery stores. You can use a dutch-processed cocoa powder in this recipe with no issues.

Make-Ahead Instructions

This year, Valentine’s Day happens to fall on Sunday. We won’t worry about rushing off to school and can enjoy a leisurely Valentine breakfast. On a typical school-day, I like to have all the ingredients set out the night before. I’ll chop the strawberries, whip the cream and get a little bowl of sprinkles all set out. I even set my pan in the oven with a little bit of butter in it so it is ready to be preheated as soon as I get downstairs. Turn on the oven, blend up the ingredients, pop it in the oven. The chocolate puff oven pancake takes 5 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to bake. Then I’m free to wake my kids and help them get ready for the school day. We only have to double and triple check that they still have their bag of Valentines. After twenty minutes of hands-off time, breakfast is ready. I love sending my kids off to school with some protein in their bellies from a filling breakfast.

ALL the Toppings

We top our chocolate puff oven pancake with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, followed by a healthy scoop of freshly whipped cream. Strawberries are up next with some sprinkles for good measure. You can use any type of fresh fruit and whipped cream. I’ve used whipped cream out of a can many times, even though freshly whipped cream makes this breakfast extra special. Chocolate puff oven pancake is so versatile and fun to make. Your kids will thank you for getting to eat chocolate for breakfast!

What are your Valentine traditions? Do you make a special breakfast? Cookies? We love celebrating traditions, and it seems that food often plays a role in them. You can find a few more of my family’s traditional foods on the blog.

Chocolate Puff Oven Pancake

Amy
Rich, chocolatey and full of protein? Chocolate puff oven pancake is the perfect Valentine or any special occasion breakfast.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 1 8 by 8 pan

Ingredients
  

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder see recipe note
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • powdered sugar for topping
  • sliced strawberries for topping
  • freshly whipped cream for topping

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place the 2 Tablespoons of butter in an 8 by 8 pan and set it in the oven to melt while you whip up the ingredients. Once the butter has melted, be careful not to let it sit too long in the oven by itself or it can burn. This usually isn't an issue if you quickly whip up the other ingredients.
  • To a blender add the eggs, milk, vanilla, flour, cocoa powder, sugar and salt. Blend together about 20 seconds until fully combined.
  • Pour the blended mixture into the hot pan with melted butter and place in the oven.
  • Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.
  • Prepare toppings: slice strawberries, whip cream, sprinkles, etc…
  • Dust with powdered sugar and Enjoy!

Notes

Cocoa Powder: This recipe tastes best and has a more intense chocolate flavor with a rich dark cocoa powder like Hershey’s special dark chocolate cocoa powder (affiliate link). You can substitute regular cocoa powder and it will still taste delicious, just not quite as “chocolatey” in flavor.
Keyword chocolate, Puff Oven Pancake, Valentines

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Best Ever Sugar Cookies

Valentine’s Day is the quintessential sugar cookie holiday. It’s the day that I equate with sugar cookies. As long as I can remember, every Valentine’s Day I would wake up to a beautiful, pink sugar cookie with white icing piped around the outside and my name written in the middle. This was no fancy bakery-style cookie. This was a home-made, made-with-love cookie by my mom. My childhood Valentine mornings were more about cookies than any Valentine card I received. That cookie, flavored with almond, topped with a whole lot of buttercream and oh-so-sweet will always be my top Valentine memory.

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That childhood Valentine memory has stuck with me so much that even though we are not a “cookies for breakfast” family, I give my kids a homemade Valentine sugar cookie on Valentine’s morning…and they look forward to it all year long. Isn’t it funny how traditions are like that? To think that one simple cookie could evoke so many memories for generations. I love that about food and family and how little simple things repeated every year can mean so much.

Over the years I’ve played around with my mom’s amazing sugar cookie recipe. I love her recipe, but it calls for a lot of Crisco and truthfully, I’m not the biggest fan of baking with shortening and don’t usually keep it in my pantry. Butter on the other hand…I keep many pounds of butter on hand. This best ever sugar cookie recipe has all the nostalgia of Mom’s but with 100% butter. This is the one that my kids will be eating for years to come…and maybe my grandkids too (you know, unless they also decide to change it up 🙂 ).

Thin and Crispy or Thick and Chewy

Which is your favorite? A thin and crispy cookie or a thick and chewy cookie? Whatever way you answer, you are going to love this cookie. My personal preference is thick and chewy. I love a cookie that is ¼ inch or more in thickness and slathered with some buttercream. This cookie fits the bill for a chewy sugar cookie. BUT, if you love a thin and crispy cookie, the recipe works just as well. My kids always seem to roll the dough out paper thin and the cookies come out crispy on the outside with just a little give in the center. They almost have me converted to thin and crispy. Basically, no matter how you roll these, you can get your preference. If you want them crispy, roll them thinner. If you want them chewy, roll them thick.

Tips for Baking with Kids

One of the reasons I love this best ever sugar cookie dough is because it is so simple to make with kids. I have four kids, so I almost always double the recipe. My kids all enjoy cutting out shapes and making their own set of sugar cookies. I find it easiest to portion a section of dough for each child. I set them up with a piece of parchment paper, a little bit of flour and a rolling pin to roll out their own dough while I make my own cookies. This way, I don’t care whatever shapes they cut or how thick or thin their cookies are. They get full autonomy over their cookies and I get to make mine exactly how I like them (especially if I’m planning to gift some to friends and neighbors)

No Chilling Required and Rolling the Dough

A lot of sugar cookie recipes require you to chill the dough. One of the things I love about these best ever sugar cookies is that no chilling is required. If you need to chill the dough for planning purposes, you can, but there is no need. You can go straight from mixing up the dough to having beautiful cookies cooling in just a few minutes. I like to use a pastry mat to roll out my sugar cookie dough. Lightly flour the bottom of your pastry mat (or countertop works too). Set the ball of dough on top of the lightly floured surface. Sprinkle a little more flour on top of the dough or on the rolling pin and gently roll the dough until it is your desired thickness. Cut out your shapes. You may need to use a spatula to lift the cookie dough onto the baking sheet. If you notice your dough sticking a lot, add a little bit more flour. The scraps of the dough can be re-rolled a few times to use up as much dough as possible.

Almond Extract in Cookie Dough

One of my favorite flavors to add to a sugar cookie is almond extract. I love a hint of almond in these cookies, but you could substitute any other favorite flavor. Some like lemon, or a blend of coconut and almond extracts is also very good. If you want to stick with vanilla extract, they will taste delicious. It’s all about your personal preference. 

Baking with or without Convection

I am a big believer in baking cookies using the convection setting on your oven if possible (read more about that in this cookie recipe here). However, I have baked these cookies for years using a regular bake. Just recently I tried them out on convection and the main difference is that convection bake saves you a couple minutes of bake time if you want a thick, chewy sugar cookie. If you are going for a crispier cookie, using convection would be the way to go to get a crispy edge. You may want to add a minute or two onto the bake time for a crispier cookie. If you choose to use convection, bake at 325 for about 8 minutes or bake on regular heat at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Buttercream Frosting

Sugar cookies taste delicious with any type of icing. I love how pretty royal icing looks, but buttercream always will be my favorite way to top sugar cookies. Growing up, my mom always used Crisco in her buttercream. I loved it as a kid, but now I prefer to use 100% real butter. If you want good piping/hardening consistency you can substitute half Crisco for part of the butter in the buttercream. It is important to whip the butter for a few minutes before adding in the sugar. This helps to lighten the color of the buttercream and give the desired light and fluffy consistency. I like adding heavy cream to the frosting for the extra creamy flavor. You can substitute milk if in a pinch, but it won’t be as creamy. If you are planning to color the buttercream with food coloring, it is best to use a gel color so the buttercream doesn’t change consistency, though drop colors will work in a pinch. The key to good buttercream: whip it, whip it, whip it.

Freezing Best Ever Sugar Cookies

One of my biggest tips for home bakers is: use your freezer. Sometimes I don’t have time to make sugar cookies from start to finish. I often will make the sugar cookie base, freeze the bases and then frost them later. Sometimes I will make and frost the sugar cookies and then freeze the whole cookie. I can pull the frosted cookies out the morning I want to gift them, let them come to room temperature and then give them away. This is a huge time saver for a busy mom and it makes the “project” of sugar cookies less overwhelming. Break the process down into a couple of days. The sugar cookie bases themselves freeze easier than a whole assembled cookie. Stack them, cover in plastic wrap or tin foil or place them in an airtight container to freeze. When you are ready to frost them, pull the cookie bases out of the freezer and frost. No need to let the cookies come to room temperature. They are actually easier to frost frozen and will come to room temperature quickly and taste delicious. If you want to store cookies that have been frosted, lay them out on a cookie sheet after frosting/piping. Freeze in a single layer. Once hardened, add a few more cookies on top of them and freeze. Cover with saran wrap and tin foil to store.

So what are you waiting for? Make a big batch of these amazing best ever sugar cookies and give a few to your Valentine, family, teachers or friends. We make the cookies ahead of time and enjoy frosting them closer to Valentines Day. Who knows, maybe you will even luck out with a cookie for breakfast this year!

Best Ever Sugar Cookies

These best ever sugar cookies are tender, chewy (or crispy…your choice), melt in your mouth and smothered in light, whippy buttercream. No chilling required!
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Course cookies, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 40 3 inch cookies

Ingredients
  

Best Ever Sugar Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter 3 sticks or 24 Tablespoons, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract optional, but we LOVE it
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar see recipe notes
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract see recipe notes
  • 2-4 Tablespoons heavy cream see recipe notes

Instructions
 

Best Ever Sugar Cookies

  • To the bowl of stand mixer, mix the butter until light and fluffy. Add the granulated sugar and cream together.
  • Add the eggs an egg at a time and mix. Continue mixing until fully incorporated.
  • Add the vanilla extract and almond extract. Mix together.
  • To a medium-sized bowl, add the dry ingredients: all purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and cream of tartar. Whisk together with a fork.
  • Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until completely combined. Don't be too zealous with the mixing, but make sure you have a cohesive mass of dough.
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees regular bake or 325 degrees convection. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper (my favorite cookie sheet here, affiliate link)
  • Lightly flour a countertop or pastry mat.
  • Turn the dough out onto the counter and split into a few pieces.
  • Working with a piece at a time, roll the dough to about 1/4 of an inch thick, flouring a little as needed, though be careful to not over-flour the dough. If you want a crispier cookie, roll the dough a little thinner to 1/8 of an inch.
  • Using a cookie cutter (affiliate link), cut shapes out of the dough. Try to place your shapes as close together as possible to use up as much dough without needing to re-roll. Place cut cookie dough on a cookie sheet with a little space in between each cookie.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes (or 325 convection for 8 minutes). For a crispier cookie, bake an extra minute or two. Let cookies cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan to cool.
  • Continue this process, re-rolling scraps together once or twice until all your cookie dough is used up.
  • Let cookies cool completely before frosting or freezing.
  • To Freeze: Stack cooled cookies. Place cookies in an airtight container and freeze. Pull out when ready to frost, and frost from frozen.

Buttercream Frosting

  • To the bowl of a stand mixer, or to a bowl with a handheld mixer, add the room temperature butter. Whip together with the whisk attachment or beaters. Whip for a few minutes until the butter is light and airy looking.
  • Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and almond extract if desired. Whip together.
  • Add heavy cream as you are whipping the frosting, beginning with 2 Tablespoons and increasing up to 4 Tablespoons depending on how you prefer the consistency of the frosting. Add food coloring if desired.
  • Continue whipping until light, creamy and whiter in color (the buttercream loses its yellow, buttery color and turns more white the longer you whip it for).
  • Frost cooled cookies or frozen cookies with buttercream. Pipe around edges if desired. Enjoy!

Notes

Cream of Tartar: This can be left out of the recipe, but I like the flavor it lends to the cookie. If you don’t have it on hand, leave it out.
Buttercream: This buttercream recipe makes enough to lightly frost a two layer cake or lightly frost all of your sugar cookies. If you want to pipe extra decorations or borders, you will want to make 1.5 times the recipe or double it.
Almond Extract: I love the added flavor almond extract gives to the buttercream and the cookies. It’s one of the “secret” ingredients that take these cookies to “best-ever” status. If you don’t like the flavor, you can leave it out.
Heavy Cream: Heavy cream gives the buttercream its creamy and luscious texture. If you don’t have it on hand you can substitute milk. Be careful not to pour too much milk because it will thin the frosting quicker than heavy cream.
 
Keyword Sugar Cookie, Valentine’s Day

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Fondue Two Ways: Classic Swiss and Rich Chocolate

We were babies!

Many years ago (almost fifteen if I’m being exact), I ate my most memorable fondue dinner. My husband and I were honeymooning in Europe. We had a small wedding and spent the money we would have spent on a fancy party traveling around Europe for five weeks. This was definitely one of our better decisions. One evening we found ourselves in the tiny mountain village of Gimmelwald, Switzerland surrounded by the Swiss Alps. We were traveling on a budget trying to eke out the most of our trip but when we saw fondue on the menu, we threw caution (and a whole lot of Swiss Francs) to the wind and enjoyed one of the most memorable meals we’ve eaten together. Melty cheese, gorgeous mountains and two kids in love. Definitely a moment to remember.

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Alcohol Free Fondue

Ever since that evening, I’ve been trying to recreate our fondue experience…sans beautiful mountains and overlooking the bluegrass fields of Kentucky instead. This recipe lives up to the hype in our minds of the perfect Swiss Fondue. It uses equal parts Gruyere and Emmentaler cheese which are pricey but totally worth it. We are not the biggest fans of alcohol in fondue and find it a bit overpowering, so we like to use chicken stock in place of the traditional white wine. If you prefer the flavor of white wine, by all means, substitute that for the chicken stock. You can add a few Tablespoons of Kirschwasser for a more traditional flavor too. I think this Classic Swiss Fondue recipe is pretty perfect without the alcohol and our kids love it too.

Cheese, Cheese and More Cheese

Can you substitute other types of cheese in this recipe? You can, but it may not give you the traditional sharp Swiss flavor that we love so much. That doesn’t mean it won’t be good. If you are looking to substitute cheese, I would look for a good melting cheese. Jarlsburg, French Comte or a generic Swiss cheese can be used. A pro tip: If you are looking for one of the easiest fondue recipes ever, just pick up a block of brie cheese. Cut off the casing and melt it in a fondue pot. Not quite as flavorful as our favorite recipe but delicious just the same. We love the creaminess of the classic Swiss fondue recipe and the sharpness of the Swiss flavors with some crusty bread or apples. 

Rich Chocolate Fondue

In our family it’s not a fondue night without chocolate fondue. Our kids love dipping fresh fruit, marshmallows, muffins or angel food cake in the chocolate mixture and it makes for a very fun and memorable evening. This chocolate fondue recipe I’m sharing below does not make a whole lot of chocolate fondue. You may want to double it if you are just making it on its own. For our family, after eating the cheese fondue we don’t need a huge pot of chocolate fondue because our bellies are so full of cheese!  I love this chocolate fondue because it is downright delicious and so easy to whip up.

What to Dip

A good crusty bread cut into chunks is a must for cheese fondue. We also like cutting up apple slices to dip in the cheese. I will often set out bowls of nuts, cold cuts, boiled potatoes or other easy-to-eat foods with the cheese fondue. For the chocolate fondue I scour my fridge and pantry for fresh fruit and marshmallows. If I can’t find angel food cake or pound cake I will cut up muffins into small pieces to dip in the fondue. I love how adaptable fondue is to what I have on hand. It’s not hard for anything to taste good covered in cheese or chocolate.

Fondue Tradition

In our family, fondue has become a tradition. We like to have fondue for our New Years Eve dinner, setting goals and toasting around the table to the new year. We also eat this traditional fondue (cheese and chocolate) for Valentines Day. It’s a dinner my kids look forward to all year long. Every so often we’ll pull out the fondue set for a back-to-school dinner or some other special occasion. We love eating fondue together because it slows down the meal and lets us enjoy and create family memories together. We’ve had so many good times gathered around the fondue pot as a family; laughing and enjoying delicious cheese and chocolate fondue.

Fondue Pot

Do you need a fondue pot to make fondue? Technically, no. If you are planning to have a one-off fondue dinner, then maybe you don’t need to invest in a fondue pot. If you want to make it a yearly family tradition, I think it’s worth it! We started off with this fondue pot (affiliate link) and after using it a couple of years, upgraded to this one. We definitely prefer the Swissmar pot (affiliate link) because it heats so evenly, but the Cuisinart is a good value too. It can burn easier on the bottom, so make sure you stir your fondue every so often.

Fondue is fun and has become a wonderful tradition for our family. Our kids look forward to it every New Years and Valentines Day (and sometimes on other special occasions). We love these recipes because they are simple, special and delicious. I hope you love them too! Happy New Year!

Fondue Two Ways: Classic Swiss Fondue and Rich Chocolate Fondue

The perfect creamy and classic Swiss cheese fondue and a rich chocolate fondue for dessert. Use these two recipes for a perfect special occasion dinner!
Prep Time 20 mins
Course Dessert, Main Course
Cuisine American, Swiss
Servings 6 people

Ingredients
  

Classic Swiss Fondue

  • 2 cups high quality Gruyere cheese, freshly grated see recipe note
  • 2 cups high quality Emmentaler, freshly grated see recipe note
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock *substitute white wine if desired
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of ground pepper
  • 1 loaf soft or crusty french bread cubed

Rich Chocolate Fondue

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips can substitute for your favorite chocolate
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2-3 Tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • an assortment of items to dip ie: fresh fruit, marshmallows, angel food cake, etc…

Instructions
 

Classic Swiss Fondue

  • Grate the cheese. I sometimes use a food processor for the harder cheese and it makes the process very fast.
  • To a medium-sized bowl, add the cheese and 4 teaspoons of cornstarch. Coat the cheese in the cornstarch and mix until completely combined. Set aside.
  • To a liquid measuring cup, add the chicken stock and milk. Whisk together.
  • Heat the fondue pot, (affiliate link) and add the chicken stock and milk to the pot. Warm to a weak simmer. Then add the lemon juice and continue to simmer (weak simmer).
  • Taking a handful at a time, add the cheese to the pot, stirring constantly. Wait for the cheese to melt before adding in another handful. Continue this process until all the cheese has been added to the fondue pot.
  • Add a pinch of nutmeg and pepper to taste.
  • Eat immediately by dipping the crusty bread into the fondue. Enjoy!

Rich Chocolate Fondue

  • To a fondue pot (affiliate link) or small saucepan, add the chocolate chips, heavy cream and a Tablespoon of milk.
  • Stir the mixture until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Add a Tablespoon of milk as needed to thin the chocolate fondue. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  • Keep the chocolate warm as you dip fresh fruit, marshmallows, muffins or angel food cake into the chocolate fondue. Enjoy!

Notes

Recipe Notes:
Pre-Shredded Cheese: This recipe works best when you use block cheese that is freshly grated. Pre-shredded cheese often is coated with preservatives which means they don’t melt together as well during cooking. 
Classic Swiss Cheese Fondue: Traditional cheese fondue is made with alcohol. We prefer the flavor of the fondue made with chicken stock (and our kids do too). If you prefer, add 1/2 cup of your favorite white wine (or other alcohol) in place of the chicken stock for a deeper flavor.
Rich Chocolate Fondue: This recipe makes the perfect amount for dessert after eating cheese fondue. If you are making this recipe without eating a meal beforehand, you may want to double it.
Keyword fondue

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Chocolate Caramel Pecan Christmas Cookies

In our house, it is not Christmas until we have made our traditional Christmas cookies. My family has been making them ever since I can remember (and long before that). These Chocolate Caramel Pecan Christmas cookies are the ultimate holiday cookie. Buttery shortbread-style crust with a luscious caramel, chocolate and pecan topping. What isn’t there to love about these? The festive star-shape makes them a Christmas cookie you will want to make on repeat at your house every year. 

Jump to Chocolate Caramel Pecan Christmas Cookies Recipe

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Christmas Cookies: The History

When my mom was little, she would make Christmas cookies with my grandma. I don’t know if she just liked these cookies the best or if they won out over all the cookies my grandma made but for whatever reason (and good reason in my opinion) this was THE cookie. Originally many cookie cutters were used to cut out the dough for these cookies but the star-shape always turned out the best. From then on, my family made hundreds of these cookies every Christmas. Truth be told, I didn’t even know people made many different kinds of cookies. This chocolate caramel pecan cookie is the one cookie you will want this Christmas too!

Buttery Shortbread-Style Cookie Dough

This dough is a dream to work with. It rolls out beautifully (just add a tiny touch of flour to the rolling pin if needed) and is so easy for little fingers to cut and help shape. I always make a little extra dough (double the recipe) and pull out my cookie cutter collection so they can make whatever shapes they want. We bake them up and the kids love eating them plain or decorated. While they are occupied, I go to town rolling the dough and cutting the star-shaped ones to give away to friends and neighbors. I’ve found rolling the dough to about ¼ inch thickness and using a 3-3.5 inch star-shaped cookie cutter (affiliate link) works best for these cookies. This recipe will give you 24 beautiful star cookies.

Baking Time

The cookie bases bake for about 10-12 minutes depending if you use convection or regular on your oven. I’ve waxed poetic about convection ovens before, so you know my preference but I’ve made them for years before having a convection oven and in many different countries with different ovens and they always turn out amazing. Be careful on the time as you bake these because these cookies are really divine if you don’t over bake them. They will puff up just a little bit but keep their star-shape. If you let them go too long or have rolled them out too thin, the edges will start to brown just a bit and you will know they went a little too long in the oven. Still delicious, but much better without the browned edges.

Caramel, Chocolate and Pecans

The toppings are what really set this cookie apart. Caramels are melted down (I use the microwave but you could also do this on the stove if you watch very carefully) with butter and evaporated milk and then stirred with sifted powdered sugar and chopped pecans to give the most amazing caramel topping. The pecans help the caramel to set up to a little ball on top of the cookie which makes the perfect base for the thick chocolate topping. I love the richness the semi-sweet chocolate chips bring to this cookie and any extra topping we have from these cookies we save to eat on ice cream or…by the spoonful. It is so good. A whole pecan tops the cookie for a finished look.

Sift. Sift. Sift that Powdered Sugar

One note about sifting. Please, please, please sift your powdered sugar. One year when I was a college student, I was making these Christmas cookies (yes, I made these every year…even while I was in the midst of college finals, they are that nostalgic for me). I decided to forgo the sifting and it was a BIG MISTAKE. I had chunks of powdered sugar all throughout my caramel sauce. Even though I did everything I could to get those chunks combined, they just wouldn’t combine well. My caramel still tasted okay but it didn’t look very good with little white chunks throughout what should have been a smooth caramel. So learn from my mistake and get yourself a sifter if you don’t have one. 

Gluten-Free Option

If you need to make these cookies gluten-free, good news. They are absolutely amazing gluten-free. My sister eats gluten-free and makes them every year with Cup4Cup flour (affiliate link). It is really hard to tell the difference between the gluten-free version and the regular version. Just sub the flour in the cookies for the Cup 4 Cup flour and they should turn out amazing.

A Cookie Job For Everyone

I make over 200 of these cookies every year for Christmas. This is our family tradition. We spend a few days doing the entire process. One day baking the cookies. One day making the toppings. One day assembling everything. When we finally get to the assembly portion, everyone has a job to do. My kids have now graduated to being able to help put on the caramel and chocolate toppings. The youngest in our crew is usually relegated to “pecan sorting” and putting nuts on top of the cookies. I love that these cookies have a job for everyone. We have such fun every year blasting Christmas carols, making cookies and sneaking a cookie or two.

Caroling and Cookies

The cookie bases freeze well (actually the whole cookie does) and it makes it easy for us to make plates of cookies to deliver to friends and neighbors. We love caroling, bringing along our Christmas card and a plate of these cookies. It’s a tradition that began when I was a kid and has continued on with my family and the families of my siblings. And after all the deliveries…we get to enjoy eating our star-shaped cookies. The funny part is that if you ask each of us, we all have a different way to eat the cookie. Some of us eat off all the star points first leaving the gooey middle. Others pull off the pecan and eat off all the topping first. I love having these fun traditions to look back on every year 

I love all cookies. Chocolate chip, candy jar, gluten-free oat cookies, but these chocolate caramel pecan Christmas cookies are a standout favorite. Full of nostalgia, lots of butter, chocolate and caramel, they are the ultimate holiday dessert. Whether you are looking for cookies to give, cookies to eat or cookies to leave out for Santa, these chocolate caramel pecan cookies are the perfect indulgent holiday cookie. I wish I could bring you a plate! From my family to yours…Merry Christmas!

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Christmas Cookies

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Christmas cookies are the ultimate holiday cookie. A star-shaped buttery crust with a luscious caramel, chocolate and pecan topping. They will be on repeat at your house every Christmas.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24 cookies

Ingredients
  

Cookie Base

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Caramel Topping

  • 8 oz caramel candy Kraft caramels are the ones we traditionally use
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar sifted
  • 1 cup pecans finely chopped

Chocolate Topping

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar sifted

24 whole pecans

    Instructions
     

    Cookie Base

    • Using a stand mixer or a handheld mixer and large bowl, cream together the softened butter and powdered sugar until thick and creamy.
    • Add vanilla extract, evaporated milk and salt. Mix well until completely incorporated and creamy.
    • Add the flour and mix gently until combined. Be careful not to over-mix the dough, but you do want it to be fully incorporated.
    • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees convection or 325 regular and place parchment paper on two large baking sheets.
    • Separate the dough into two portions and roll the first ball of dough out on a lightly floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick.
    • Use a star-shaped cookie cutter about 3-3.5 inches to cut out the stars from the dough. Transfer the cutouts to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
    • Bake for 10 minutes convection or 12 minutes regular until just baked. Watch the cookies so they don't brown. The bottoms of the cookies should still be light.
    • Cool the cookies completely. At this point you can move forward with topping the cookies or freeze them to top later.

    Caramel Pecan Topping

    • Combine unwrapped caramels (or kraft caramel bits), evaporated milk and unsalted butter in a microwave-safe bowl.
    • Microwave in 1 minute increments, stirring with a spoon. Alternate stirring and microwaving until the caramels are completely melted and mixed together. This can take upwards of 10 minutes.
    • Sift in the powdered sugar and stir until completely incorporated.
    • Finely chop the pecans (I pulse them a few times in the blender) and add them to the caramel topping. Mix.
    • Set the caramel aside while you make the chocolate topping. At this point you can also refrigerate the caramel for up to a week before using.

    Chocolate Topping

    • To a microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate, butter and evaporated milk. Microwave in 30 second increments. Alternate stirring and microwaving until the chocolate, butter and evaporated milk are melted and combined.
    • Stir in the vanilla extract. Sift the powdered sugar into the bowl and mix until completely combined. Set aside the chocolate topping to assemble the cookies. You can also refrigerate the topping for up to a week before using.

    Assembly

    • Lay out all the cookies on a flat counter space.
    • Place a dollop of lightly warmed caramel topping on the center of each cookie (about 1 Tablespoon).
    • Place a smaller dollop of lightly warmed chocolate topping on top of the caramel (about 1 teaspoon).
    • Add a whole pecan on top of the chocolate quickly before the chocolate hardens.
    • Let the cookies cool completely before moving to a cookie tray, sharing with friends and neighbors, freezing or setting out for Santa on Christmas Eve. Enjoy!

    Notes

    Freezing Tips: These cookies freeze very well. The fully assembled cookies can be frozen after the toppings have cooled and pulled out to thaw when needed. The process can also be split into multiple days; making the bases one day (then freeze them) and the caramel and chocolate topping a different day. 
    Sifting: It is really important to sift the powdered sugar into the caramel and chocolate. If you don’t, the caramel and chocolate will have tiny lumps of powdered sugar in them that won’t fully incorporated. They will taste okay but not look as good.
     
    Keyword caramel, chocolate chip cookie, Christmas cookies, cookies, pecan

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    The Great Family Bake Off: Reunion-Style

    One of my guilty pleasures that I enjoy sharing with my kids is the show, “The Great British Bake Off.” You can check it out on Netflix if you haven’t watched it yet. My kids absolutely love it and we often spend evenings folding laundry and watching the latest episode of “Bake Off” (or the Great British Baking Show as they call it here in the U.S.). It is equal parts funny, challenging and just endearing. We love it. During March and April of this past year, I surprised my kids with their own “Great Family Bake Off” where they completed three challenges and were judged on what they made. You can check it out here. My kids loved it so much that they begged to do it again. And again. And again. Until I finally agreed and decided to make it a larger “reunion-style” family affair.

    Reunion-Style Bake Off

    That’s how “The Great Family Bake Off–Reunion Style” was born. This past summer we drove cross country to be with my parents and siblings for about a month of our Covid-style summer. I planned out a “Reunion-style” bake off and paired the kids up with adults who wanted to participate (those who chose not to participate in the cooking still participated as judges). This entire day was such a hit and so much fun that my family has asked to do it every year.

    Three Rounds

    An episode of Bake Off takes you through three rounds. A signature challenge, a technical challenge and a show stopper challenge. Our Reunion-style Bake Off took us through these three challenges: Cookies for the Signature, Rice Krispy Treats for the technical and Pie for the show stopper. We drew names for teams a few days before the competition and gave the teams time to brainstorm for their signature and show stopper challenges. Ingredients were purchased and imaginations ran wild. This was almost as much fun as baking everything!

    Choosing Teams

    We chose teams about a week in advance to give them time to brainstorm and collaborate. You can print the planning worksheet below to help you out. Teams were selected somewhat randomly (drawing names out of a hat) but we did pair up the younger bakers with an adult because this bake off called for more intricate recipes.

    Signature Round: Cookies, 1 hour

    We gave each team one hour to make and bake their best cookie recipe. Cookies were judged on presentation, uniformity and taste. One of our teams was dairy free and gluten free and had no trouble coming up with delicious recipes. We tasted super creative cookies this round: gluten free sandwich cookies, salted caramel cookies, “lolipop” cookies and mint oreo cookies. All were stellar and hard to choose a winner!

    Technical Challenge: Rice Krispie Treats, 30 minutes

    One of my sisters is gluten free (and she was dairy free at the time due to a nursing baby) so I picked rice krispie treats for the technical challenge as it is easily gluten and dairy free. Portion out the butter, marshmallows, rice krispies, salt and vanilla into the number of teams you have. Give everyone their own ingredients and this “recipe.” The “contestants” have to follow the recipe and figure it out without any help from you. This challenge is also judged “blind,” so the judges can rank them in order from best to worst. 

    Show Stopper Round: Pie, 2 hours

    The pie challenge requires a bit more time. The pies should be properly baked (or chilled) and mostly cooled within the 2 hour time period. We had four very different pies: a candy pie, a charcuterie board of mini pies, a pizookie pie and a potato pie. All of the pies were amazing, but the potato pie was gobbled up (probably because we had been taste-testing sugar all day). Contestants can make any kind of pie they want: sweet, savory, mini pies…the sky is the limit! 

    Judging

    After each round of baking, bring the judges in to judge the round. This is a lot of fun for the other family members who are not participating in the competition. Make sure to have some small plates, forks and napkins for the judges as needed. At the end of the entire competition judges can award “Star Baker” to one team or judges could come up with different awards to give to each team who participated. Depends on how “competitive” you want this experience to be.

    Our Experience

    This was such a fun day for a family reunion. The groups were so creative. Everyone shined in the show stopper round and they are still talking about this fun experience…six months later. No one in our group ended up winning (you can watch the video and see the shoutouts given to each group) but I think we all came out winners with extra treats to eat throughout our reunion and memories to last a lifetime. 

    You can Watch our Bake Off Here

    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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    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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