Cinnamon Buttercream

Cinnamon ButtercreamThe official cake-count has now been brought up to sixteen since last Monday. Oy. But in keeping with this week’s theme of taking it easy, I’m not giving you a new cake recipe today—this post is all about the Cinnamon Buttercream.Cinnamon ButtercreamI did break my own step-by-step photos rule though. #sorrynotsorryCinnamon ButtercreamCinnamon ButtercreamWhen cakes #14 & #15 were picked up on Monday afternoon, my client paused before driving off to say how much he loved a vanilla cake with cinnamon buttercream that I had made last month. While he had ordered the cake, he couldn’t decide which flavors he wanted, so he let me surprise him.Cinnamon ButtercreamCinnamon ButtercreamI could have gone in many directions: chocolate, Oreo, malted, coconut, cream cheese…but instead I went for my secret favorite buttercream flavor: cinnamon.Cinnamon ButtercreamNow, I have never had someone ask for a cake with Cinnamon Buttercream. Not once. But every time I have put it on a cake, I get texts and emails like you wouldn’t believe. People love butter, sugar, cinnamon, and cream whipped until fluffy and slathered between layers of cake.Cinnamon ButtercreamDo you know why?Cinnamon ButtercreamIt’s because butter, sugar, cinnamon, and cream are freaking delicious!Cinnamon ButtercreamAlso delicious? My buttery vanilla cake. It’s a crowd favorite.Cinnamon ButtercreamIf you follow me on social media, you may have noticed I’ve been into piping recently. If you’re not, you can use more buttercream between layers and on top of the cake.Cinnamon ButtercreamOr just keep a little bowl of Cinnamon Buttercream in the fridge and eat it with graham crackers. Not that I’d know anything about that.Cinnamon ButtercreamWhile this particular combination of cake and frosting is great on its own, a little extra flourish of cinnamon-sugar never hurts.Cinnamon ButtercreamThere. Now it’s perfect.Cinnamon ButtercreamI think I’ll call this one Sweet Sixteen.Cinnamon Buttercream

Cinnamon Buttercream
makes enough for 1 fully-frosted 3-layer 9-inch round cake

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
5 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons (6 teaspoons) ground cinnamon
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
8 tablespoons heavy cream

For the cake pictured:
1 recipe Vanilla Layer Cake, cooled (3 layers, baked 26-28 minutes)
1 tablespoon coarse sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon in three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, followed by vanilla. Add heavy cream until desired consistency is reached.

For the cake pictured, frost and layer cake layers as desired. For cinnamon-sugar topping, mix together coarse sugar and cinnamon. Scatter over the top of the frosted cake.

Assembled cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Cinnamon Buttercream

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Banana Snickerdoodles

Banana SnickerdoodlesIn the last few weeks, I’ve been posting recipes I developed in my pre-blog days. It’s been way fun to revisit all the things I was making back then! And by “back then,” I mean four years ago 😛
Banana SnickerdoodlesI inadvertently started this little project when I posted some Oreo-Stuffed Peanut Butter Blondies last month. Then it was the Vanilla Malt Cookies from two weeks ago. I came home from a weekend trip to Boston (more on that soon!) to find a bunch of overripe bananas, so today is all about Banana Snickerdoodles 🙂
Banana SnickerdoodlesY’all, these cookies are as easy as they are delicious…and they’re really delicious. If you are into banana and cinnamon, you’ll love these rumpled beauties ❤
Banana SnickerdoodlesBanana SnickerdoodlesWe’re having a blizzard here in NYC, so it’s a great day to stay home and bake. You likely already have all the ingredients for this simple dough, with the exception of the overripe bananas. If you have any bananas at all though, you can give them a quick bake and they’ll be recipe-ready!
Banana SnickerdoodlesThe dough comes together in just a few minutes. You’ll notice there are no eggs in this recipe—adding them would make the cookies cakey, and I don’t go for cakey cookies. Let the dough chill for an hour; this will allow the butter to firm up and the cinnamon and banana flavors to meld.
Banana SnickerdoodlesBanana SnickerdoodlesWhen you’re ready to bake, roll the dough into balls and coat them in cinnamon-sugar. There’s already cinnamon in the dough, but they’re not snickerdoodles without the sweet, crispy coating!Banana Snickerdoodles
Banana SnickerdoodlesBanana Snickerdoodles bake up thick and chewy with big banana flavor and just enough cinnamon. You’ll dig the contrast of the soft centers and crispy edges, too. Trust me–you’re going to love these ❤ Banana Snickerdoodles

Banana Snickerdoodles
makes about 2.5 dozen cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup mashed overripe banana (about 1 1/2 large bananas)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Coating
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugars, followed by mashed banana and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing until completely combined.

Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour (or up to 3 days).

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Make the coating. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together granulated sugar and cinnamon.

Scoop the dough in 2 tablespoon increments and roll into balls. Roll each dough ball in the coating mixture. Place dough balls at least 2.5 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies 9-10 minutes, until puffy and no longer raw-looking. Let cool on pans for ten minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat scooping, rolling, and baking with any remaining dough.

Cookies will keep covered at room temperature for up to a week.

Banana Snickerdoodles

High Rise Cinnamon Rolls

High Rise Cinnamon RollsEvery once in a while, it’s fun to break the rules. Take these High Rise Cinnamon Rolls, for instance. Generally speaking, sweet rolls are usually baked close together, producing a bunch of puffy rolls in one even layer. But if you change just a few things about those traditional recipes, you wind up with tall-spired cinnamon rolls with crispy edges and soft centers.

High Rise Cinnamon RollsHigh Rise Cinnamon Rolls are my take on the rolls at The Upper Crust Bakery in Austin, Texas. Whenever I visit my sister, Emily, down there, I just have to have one. Rather than being baked together, theirs are baked in muffin tins–crispy edges and soft centers, y’all! 

High Rise Cinnamon RollsGetting these cinnamon rolls to turn out like those that inspired them wasn’t as easy as just placing the rolls in muffin cups and letting them rise. Nope! I did that for round one and ended up with flat rolls. After doing a little more research, I set out to alter my usual method.

High Rise Cinnamon RollsHigh Rise Cinnamon RollsThe simplest (but ultimately, most dramatic) change is in the rolling. Once your yeast dough is made, risen once, flattened into a rectangle, and filled, it’s time to roll it up. Traditionally, the sheet of dough is rolled starting at a long edge. Here, we roll the dough from one of the short edges. This allows for each roll to have a longer spiral.

High Rise Cinnamon RollsOnce the dough is rolled into a cylinder, slice it into a dozen pieces. Working with one at a time, pick it up and gently press the bottom center upward before placing the roll in a greased muffin cup. This small amount of pressure encourages the rolls to expand up instead of out during their second rise.

High Rise Cinnamon RollsHigh Rise Cinnamon RollsAfter the rolls have spiraled upward, bake them for twenty minutes or so–they should be deeply golden. And look at those tall spires! Some of them may start to topple over a bit, but I kind of love that no two are exactly alike.

High Rise Cinnamon RollsHigh Rise Cinnamon RollsHigh Rise Cinnamon RollsWhile you could certainly top these High Rise Cinnamon Rolls with a quick glaze or cream cheese frosting, I take another note from Upper Crust here and dip each in butter and cinnamon-sugar! The contrast between the caramelized cinnamon filling and the crunchy granules on the outside is absolute heaven.

High Rise Cinnamon RollsYep, it’s good to break the rules every once in a while. Especially when it involves cinnamon rolls.High Rise Cinnamon Rolls

High Rise Cinnamon Rolls
makes 12 rolls

Dough:
3/4 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 3/4-2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup bread flour
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, beaten

Filling:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Coating:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Make the dough. In a small saucepan, heat whole milk and butter until hot to the touch, about 115F. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Stir in sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, until the yeast is bubbly. If your yeast doesn’t bubble, it’s dead. Discard the mixture and start again with new yeast.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, bread flour, and salt. Once the yeast has bloomed, use a silicone spatula to stir in flour mixture. Stir in eggs. Add more flour in 2 tablespoon increments, just until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. I usually need 4-6 tablespoons more flour, but you may add up to 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) depending on your dough.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5-6 minutes, until smooth. Place dough ball in an oiled bowl and cover in plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free environment for 90 minutes-2 hours, until doubled in bulk.

Grease a 12-cup standard muffin tin. Set aside. 

Make the filling. In a small bowl, use a fork to mash butter, light brown sugar, and cinnamon into a paste.

Punch dough down. Turn it out onto a floured surface. Roll the dough out into an 11×17-inch rectangle. Spread the filling in an even layer over the top, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides. Starting with one of the short sides, tightly roll the dough into a cylinder. Smooth any seams with your thumbs. Slice into 12 rolls. Place the rolls in the muffin cups, lightly pushing up the middle of each roll. Loosely drape the pan with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free environment to rise for another 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Remove the plastic wrap from the pan. Bake rolls 20-25 minutes, until browned with lofty spiraled centers. Let rolls cool in the pan on a rack for 5-10 minutes. Remove rolls from the pan and let cool completely on the rack.

Prepare the coating. Melt butter in the microwave or in a pot on the stove. In a shallow dish, stir together sugar and cinnamon. Working with one roll at a time, dip each in butter and then roll or sprinkle them with cinnamon-sugar. Serve immediately.

Coated rolls will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days. Uncoated rolls may be frozen. Thaw and coat before serving.

High Rise Cinnamon Rolls

Monkey Bread

Monkey BreadHave you ever had Monkey Bread? I thought everyone had, but in the last 24 hours, I have found out that at least two of my friends have never even heard of it! That’s a real shame–I can’t imagine living my life not knowing that this sticky cinnamon-sugary masterpiece exists.

Monkey BreadUnlike those friends, I am a Monkey Bread connoisseur. I remember sneaking into the choir room at my church on Christmas Eve and Easter just to pick at their leftovers. Imagine it: me in my hideous purple plastic glasses and acolyte robes, breaking all the rules to sneak a few bites before the service began. What can I say? I’ve always been a little rebellious.

Monkey BreadI have made many Monkey Breads since my acolyte days. New York City has some incredible public parks, so picnicking is very popular up here. Let me tell you this–if you show up to a picnic with a fruit tray or sandwiches, everyone will be happy. If you show up with Monkey Bread, people will lose their freaking minds! Nobody, myself included, can resist this soft, sticky treat.

Monkey BreadIn the past, I have stuck to making Monkey Bread with cream biscuit dough (see here). It’s simple to throw together and doesn’t require the patience that working with yeast dough does. It’s super delicious, as all things coated in cinnamon-sugar ought to be. I really thought I’d be happy with that being the only Monkey Bread in my repertoire forever…but then, I went and created a yeast dough that I totally love. I used it in my Marzipan Cinnamon Rolls earlier this week, and I’m posting it again today because it’s just. that. good.

Monkey BreadMonkey BreadAs I’ve mentioned before, working with yeast is much simpler than you might think–it’s just another leavener. I like to work with instant yeast, which makes the whole process even easier. The dough comes together quickly. Once it’s nice and smooth, place it in a bowl, cover it, and let it rise for 60-90 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready to work with when you punch it down and it doesn’t spring back.

Monkey BreadMonkey BreadRoll the dough into a square and slice it into pieces. Take each one, form it into a ball, dip it in melted butter, and roll it in a mixture of dark brown sugar and cinnamon. Repeat that process 63 more times and place all of that cinnamon-sugar laden dough in a tube pan (or a bundt). Let it rise a bit at room temperature while you crank the oven to 350F, then let it bake for half an hour or so, just long enough to go totally crazy from the smell of cinnamon-sugar magic. Invert it onto a serving plate and voilà! Monkey Bread.Monkey Bread

Monkey BreadNow, you could totally eat this as is. There is no real way to improve upon this classic…but that doesn’t mean I didn’t try 😊 I put together a quick caramel sauce while I was waiting to invert this Monkey Bread, and let me tell you, it was a brilliant idea. Cinnamon, sugar, sweet dough, *and* caramel? Little 10 year old acolyte me wouldn’t be able to tear herself away.Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread
makes 1 10-12 cup tube/bundt pan

Dough:
1 3/4-2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup bread flour*
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast (I use Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise Yeast)
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, beaten, room temperature

Coating:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
4 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Caramel:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (or mild honey)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Make the dough. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, bread flour, sugar, instant yeast, and salt. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat whole milk and butter until hot to the touch, about 115F. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in milk mixture, followed by egg and yolk. Add more all-purpose flour until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Knead 5-6 minutes before forming into a ball and placing in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes. Move covered bowl to a warm, draft-free environment* for 60-90 minutes, until dough has doubled in bulk.

Heavily grease a 10-12 cup tube (or bundt) pan with butter. Make sure to get butter into all the nooks and crannies. Set aside.

Make coating. Melt butter and place in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, use a fork to mix together dark brown sugar and cinnamon.

Roll risen dough into a 10-inch square. Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut dough into 64 squares. Coat each ball in butter, then roll in cinnamon-sugar. Place in prepared pan. Repeat with all remaining squares. Cover pan with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature while the oven heats up.

Preheat oven to 350F. Bake Monkey Bread for 30-35 minutes, covering with foil at the ten minute mark. Let baked Monkey Bread sit in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the outer edge before inverting onto a serving dish.

Make the caramel. Arrange all ingredients except pecans within arm’s reach of the stove. Place sugar in a small, light-colored saucepan. Turn heat to medium-high. Whisk constantly while sugar melts and turns a deep copper color (but doesn’t burn). Whisk in butter. Remove from heat. Whisk in heavy cream–be careful, the hot caramel will expand quickly and dramatically. Whisk in corn syrup, followed by vanilla and salt. Let cool slightly. Drizzle over Monkey Bread immediately before serving.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for a day or two.

Notes:

1. If you do not have or do not wish to use bread flour, you may use an equal volume of all-purpose flour. The texture will be slightly different, but your rolls will still be delicious.

2. I preheat my oven to 200F, turn it off, and slide the covered pan inside. After 60-90 minutes, my rolls are ready to bake. Works every time.

Cinnamon Swirl Zucchini Bread

 Isn’t it funny how our tastes evolve as we age? Things that we were horrified by years ago become our favorites out of the blue, leaving us with no idea of when or why our opinions changed. Sometimes we don’t even notice that we’ve changed at all.

For instance, my mother ordered a slice of zucchini bread once on a family vacation eighteen years ago. We were in who-knows-where Pennsylvania at the crack of dawn, eating breakfast at a picnic table outside a white clapboard coffee shop. I have no memory of what I ordered, but I remember being taken aback when my mom sat down with that bread. 

It was like I didn’t even know her anymore. Who was this woman, and why was she trying to ruin breakfast with vegetables? She offered me a bite and I recoiled in horror (internally, at least). Don’t get me wrong, I liked vegetables, but in my thirteen year-old mind, there was something utterly wrong about eating bread loaded with squash. 

But times have changed. Here I am eighteen years later, writing a blog post about zucchini bread. I don’t know when I moved over to the dark green side, but I’m now a card-carrying member. I mean, what’s not to love about soft, sweet, cinnamon-scented quick bread? It’s perfect for breakfast or a snack or dessert. Sure, there’s zucchini in there, but aside from a few green flecks, it’s not even noticeable. It’s only there for moisture. And you could use buttermilk or sour cream or yogurt for that anytime of year, but when the produce aisles are exploding with ripe, reasonably-priced zucchini, why not take full advantage?!

This zucchini bread recipe is a total classic and would be great with a cup of chopped nuts stirred into the batter, but today, let’s get a little crazy and fill our quick bread with a tunnel of melted cinnamon-sugar. Yes, you read that correctly. This isn’t any old zucchini bread–this is Cinnamon Swirl Zucchini Bread! 

So how do you get all that cinnamon-sugar goodness inside your quickbread? Well, it’s surprisingly easy. Once the simple no-mixer-required batter is stirred together, half of it is poured into the bottom of a loaf pan, then blanketed in cinnamon-sugar before the rest of the batter is layered on top. As the zucchini bread bakes, the cinnamon-sugar layer melts and moves as the bread rises. Once the loaf is completely cool, you can slice it up and see a little swirl of sweet cinnamon goodness throughout 😍 

Oh yes, this Cinnamon Swirl Zucchini Bread is something that even little thirteen year-old me could get excited about. And who wouldn’t? It’s moist, sweet, lightly spiced quick bread swirled with melted cinnamon-sugar, and it comes with a small serving of vegetables that you can’t even taste. It’s the dream. 

 Cinnamon Swirl Zucchini Bread
makes one 9×5″ loaf

For the pan:
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil

Cinnamon Swirl:*
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Zucchini Bread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I use canola)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini, not packed (about 1 1/2 large zucchini)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease the pan. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together flour and oil. Use a pastry brush to paint the entire inside of a 9×5″ loaf pan. Pour out any excess. Set aside.

Prepare the cinnamon swirl. In a separate small bowl, use a fork to whisk together granulated sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

Make the zucchini bread. In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. The mixture will be clumpy, like wet sand. Add eggs one-by-one, whisking to combine after each addition. Stir in vanilla, followed by shredded zucchini. Add dry ingredients, and stir just until combined (no more than 20-25 strokes).

Transfer half the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with all of the cinnamon swirl mixture. Top with the remaining batter, spreading to cover the cinnamon-sugar layer. Lightly tap the pan on the counter to release any large air bubbles. Bake 40-50 minutes, tenting with foil at the 20 minute mark. Bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs.

Let zucchini bread cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Once the bread is cool, run a small thin knife around the edges of the pan before inverting to release. Slice and serve.

Store bread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.

Note:

If you don’t wish to use the cinnamon swirl, add an extra teaspoon of cinnamon to the zucchini bread batter.