Tag Archives: easy baking

Just Two Cinnamon Rolls {No Yeast!}

Gone are the days of cinnamon rolls being a prep-ahead/only for a holiday/enough to feed a crowd/“what am I going to to with all these leftovers?” treat. Or they are in my house anyway, now that I can make just two cinnamon rolls at the drop of a hat.

Just Two Cinnamon Rolls {No Yeast!}​

To that end, if I can whip up two muffin-sized cinnamon rolls in forty minutes, what’s stopping me from taking over the world?! Well, aside from a general distaste for telling people what to do, lack of ambition to do so, and keeping up with Oscar season…not a whole lot. It’s a feeling of power that is unmatched.

Truly, the fact that I can slap together a dough from the most basic kitchen ingredients in tiny amounts, roll it up with sweet cinnamon filling and have two fully-formed rolls to show for it in less than an hour is…well, it should be a special skill on my résumé. And maybe soon, yours.

Just Two Cinnamon Rolls {No Yeast!}​

Now, with a forty minute turn-around time, you’ve probably guessed that these breakfast buns don’t have yeast in them, but that doesn’t mean we’re sacrificing flavor or texture. Ohhh no, we will not be doing that. This dough is leavened with a combination of baking powder and baking soda, and made tender and flavorful thanks to a little DIY buttermilk and a pat of butter. Oh, and it’s egg-free, which seems like a perk at the moment.

Everything is mixed up in just a couple of minutes before getting rolled out, filled with a paste of cinnamon-sugar and butter, sliced lengthwise, and rolled back up into two portions. Since these cinnamon rolls don’t have a rise time or other rolls in the pan to help them maintain their shape, I like to bake them in a buttered muffin tin. This works for shaping and aesthetics, and frankly, muffin-shaped foods are just cuter than other foods. Period, end of story.

Add the cut rolls to the muffin tin cut-side-up for the best swirl, and give them a gentle smush to adhere to the bottom—this will encourage them to rise up instead of trying to tip over. I always have one that is a little wonky, but a tilted cinnamon roll is still a cinnamon roll.

Just Two Cinnamon Rolls {No Yeast!}​

These buns bake up in about 16 minutes, which is just enough time to wash the dishes and the counter top and stir together a cream cheese icing. It takes me all weekend to convince myself to pick up a pile of clothes off my floor, but when there are cinnamon rolls at stake, it’s all “executive dysfunction who?” As with all cinnamon rolls, you may eat these at whatever temperature you like, but I think they’re always best warm with two layers of icing—one to melt into the swirl, one to sit on top. Rarely have my weekend mornings known such luxury.

Just Two Cinnamon Rolls {No Yeast!}​

This recipe makes enough to share if you’d like, but I personally like to have one roll now and another later. Somewhere in between, I might figure out what’s stopping me from taking over the world. It’s probably all the time I spend thinking about, making, and eating cinnamon rolls. That’s fine by me.

Just Two Cinnamon Rolls {No Yeast!}​
Just Two Cinnamon Rolls
makes just 2 cinnamon rolls

Dough:
1/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons milk of choice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into cubes
7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Filling:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
small pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Icing:
2 ounces (1/4 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon milk of choice
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional, but recommended)

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease 2 cups in a standard muffin tin well with butter. Fill the remaining unused cups halfway with water to keep the pan from warping.

Make the dough. Combine vinegar, milk and butter a small microwave-safe bowl or liquid measuring cup. Microwave for 30 seconds, or until butter has melted. Stir and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add milk mixture and stir until a dough forms. Let rest 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling. In a small bowl, use a fork to mix together melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough onto the surface and roll into an 8x4-inch rectangle. Use the back of a spoon to spread filling over the top.

Use a bench scraper or large, sharp chef’s knife to slice rectangle in half lengthwise so that you have 2 8x2-inch rectangles. Starting at a narrow end, roll each up tightly into a cinnamon roll shape.

Place both rolls cut-sides-up in the prepared muffin cups. Press down on the tops to help the bottoms adhere to the pans. Don’t worry if they look a little smushed, as they will rise up while baking. Bake rolls 15-16 minutes.

While the rolls are baking, make the icing. In a small mixing bowl, use a spoon to help loosen up cream cheese. Mix in confectioner’s sugar, followed by milk and vanilla.

Once baked, let rolls cool in the pan for a couple of minutes before removing to a plate. Top each with 1/4 of the frosting. Let sit for 3-5 minutes so that the icing melts into the spiral. Top with remaining frosting as desired.

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

Peppermint Mocha Brownies

It’s a little late for a Christmas recipe, but frankly I can do whatever I want on this website. And what I want is a pan of Peppermint Mocha Brownies.

Peppermint Mocha Brownies

Made with my tried and true Cocoa Brownie base, these holiday treats come together super easily. Their already-deep chocolate flavor is punched up with semisweet chocolate chips, then accented with just enough peppermint extract and granulated espresso to evoke everyone’s holiday coffee shop fave.

Peppermint Mocha Brownies

But flavor’s only half of the equation here—Peppermint Mocha Brownies have to look the part, too! These are drizzled with a melted mix of chocolate chips and butter, and sprinkled with as much crushed candy cane as your heart desires. (My heart desires a lot.)

Peppermint Mocha Brownies

Peppermint Mocha Brownies are rich and satisfying; a little square goes a long way. I, however, have no self control and cut these on the larger side. I regret nothing.

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Whatever and wherever you’re celebrating, I hope you’re safe, warm, and with people you love.

Peppermint Mocha Brownies
Peppermint Mocha Brownies
adapted from Alice Medrich's Cocoa Brownies
makes one 8- or 9-inch square pan

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)
2 large eggs, cold
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (not mint extract)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons granulated espresso or coffee
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For Garnish:
3 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
crushed candy canes or starlight peppermints

Preheat oven to 325F. Butter the inside of an 8- or 9-inch square pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter again. Set aside.

In a small pot over medium-low heat, melt butter, granulated and brown sugars, and cocoa powder together, stirring frequently, until a thick, grainy mixture forms. Remove from heat and let mixture cool 5-7 minutes.

Add vanilla, peppermint extract, and eggs to the pot, and stir/whisk to combine. Add flour, granulated espresso, and salt, and stir/whisk to combine. Fold in semisweet chocolate chips. Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread to the edges. Tap the full pan on the counter a couple of times to release any air bubbles. Top with pecans, if desired.

Bake brownies 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs (not wet batter). Let cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Garnish the brownies. Combine chocolate chips and butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Use a fork to drizzle over brownies. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes.

Refrigerate brownies for 15-20 minutes, until chocolate sets.

Slide a knife around the edges of the pan before using parchment overhang to lift brownies onto a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice brownies into 16 or 25 pieces. Serve.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges​

Hi there! I am sorry I left you hanging for a few weeks there—COVID finally got me—but I am very happy to be back with a new recipe in time for the Sweetest Season Cookie Exchange. This event, which I am participating in for the fifth year, is a food blogger-lead fundraiser and awareness campaign for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. This organization is a 501(c)3 non-profit with the express mission to raise funds for innovative pediatric cancer treatments and research through bake sales and cookie swaps. Supporters (“Good Cookies”) can do this throughout the year, but I am delighted to lend support as part of my holiday giving especially right now when OXO is matching donations up to $100,000! If you’d like to learn more and/or make a charitable donation to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, click here. For White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges, keep scrolling!

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges​

I would like to give a high five to whichever person decided white chocolate, dried cranberries, and pistachios is a Christmas combination. I don’t believe it was a part of any holiday parties or cookie exchanges I took part in while growing up, but I am all for it now. Aside from just being festive—love that red, green and white—it’s delicious, and a welcome departure from the chocolate, peppermint, and spice-heavy fare that seems to be available 24/7 in December. Not that I’m complaining.

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges​

Today’s White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges are the perfect vehicle for showcasing this new holiday classic combination. They’re simple to make, require just a few ingredients, and are incredibly cute—things cut in wedges automatically have Christmas tree vibes, you know?

These buttery shortbread treats come together just as simply as the classic cookies. The dough is mixed in one bowl in just a few minutes. It’s got all the usual shortbread suspects (granulated sugar, softened butter, all-purpose flour), plus confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and salt for smooth texture, flavor and balance. Oh, and white chocolate chips, chopped dried cranberries and pistachios for pizzazz!

Once mixed, the dough is spread into a cake pan lined with an extra-large piece of parchment. It’s docked (vented) with a fork all over before baking for about 40 minutes, until just turning golden at the edges. Fifteen minutes later, that extra-large parchment is used to lift the whole disk of shortbread onto a cutting board and slice it into wedges while it’s still warm. I love those clean edges.

These shortbread wedges are thick and substantial, with a slight softness to their crunch, and plenty of color and flavor from the mix-ins. My favorite bites are the ones with white chocolate—it caramelizes in the oven and is outrageously good. I like to dot a few extra white chocolate chips on top after baking for diversity of flavor (and obvious cuteness). And the chewy cranberries and crunchy pistachios? So good!

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges​

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges are perfect for any upcoming party or cookie giving (eating?) occasion. They’re as satisfying to make as they are to eat, and the dough is a perfect blank slate for any festive mix-in your holiday heart desires. What would you put in shortbread wedges? Let me know in the comments!

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges​
White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Wedges
makes 12-16 wedges

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/3 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1/3 cup pistachio meats, finely chopped
1/3 cup white chocolate chips, plus more for garnish

Preheat oven to 325F. Cut a large (12-14 inch) circle of parchment paper. Grease a 9-inch cake pan with butter. Line the pan with parchment circle, leaving the overhang for ease of removal. Grease again. Set aside.

Place softened butter in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add granulated and confectioners sugars and vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Beat in half of flour and salt, followed by remaining flour. Add chopped dried cranberries, pistachio meats, and white chocolate chips.

Transfer dough to prepared pan and press into an even layer. Use the tines of a fork to dock the entire surface of the dough. If you hit a big piece of pistachio (or whatever), simply pull it off the fork and press it back into place.

Bake shortbread 38-40 minutes, until golden at the edges and set on top. Dot with additional white chocolate chips, if desired.

Let shortbread cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Then use the overhang to remove the still-warm shortbread to a cutting board. Use a large sharp chef’s knife to cut into 12 large or 16 smaller wedges. Gently transfer wedges back to the rack and let cool completely. Serve.

Leftover shortbread will keep covered at room temperature for a few days.

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake {Seven Year Anniversary}

In years past, I might have gone with a flashier recipe to celebrate seven years of this blog, but this year I’m keeping it low key and doing what comes naturally. I’m just glad to be here.

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake​

I’ve been open about needing a break this past summer. Though the baking never stopped, I’m very much getting back into the swing of posting. I am currently writing to you on a Friday afternoon from the New York City subway—it’s not the first time and certainly not the last. E2 Bakes has always been a little bit of a patchwork. A little time here, a little time there. Late nights, early mornings, set baking hours with a little wiggle room, writing content on public transit between appointments—it all makes this place function.

Of all of that, the baking and recipe testing is obviously the most important. I need to spend time making the things that I want to make not just because it’s enjoyable for me, but because those things are just better. See exhibits A, B & C of many (many, many). I am not one of those who thinks being “made with love” is crucial for success (I have made plenty of delicious things while absolutely furious), but it sure doesn’t hurt.

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake​

This Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake was made with joy, on the fly, in pajamas, on a Monday morning in my kitchen. I didn’t shop for any specific ingredients or make a plan; I just saw what I had (a fridge drawer full of apples) and went from there. It was, to be frank, my ideal baking situation.

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake​

The cake itself is the slightest variation on the summery Peach Upside-Down Cake I made in 2020, but updated for fall with a little more comforting spice. It’s a simple torte batter poured over a mix of brown sugar, butter, and sliced apples that bakes up to tender butterscotch-edged perfection.

There are certainly prettier ways to arrange your apples for this cake, and I know that the finished product could benefit from a drizzle of caramel and a scoop of ice cream, but I like it like this. Thrown together for the fun of it, photographed without a plan, eaten warm before noon on a weekday. It feels authentic, which is exactly how I hope this space comes across.

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake​

Thank you for being here and for supporting this little project of mine for so long. It means the world. I hope we bake together for many years to come.

Happy birthday, E2 Bakes.

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake​
Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake
makes 1 9-inch round cake

For the apples:
2 large baking apples (I used Granny Smith & Pink Lady)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Batter:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For serving (optional):
vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Heavily grease a 9-inch round cake pan. Set aside.

Slice apples in 1/4-inch slices. No need to peel. Discard cores.

In a small saucepan, combine butter and dark brown sugar. Place over medium-low heat and stir constantly until butter and sugar are melted and fully homogeneous, 3-5 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Pour mixture into a 9-inch round cake pan, using a silicone spatula to spread it over the entire bottom of the pan.

Top the brown sugar mixture with single layer of sliced apples, slightly overlapping them for the prettiest effect, in any design you like. Set aside.

In a small-medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter until very light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in granulated sugar and light brown sugars. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla extract. With the mixer on low, mix in dry ingredients. Batter will be thick.

Drop batter in spoonfuls over the peaches. Use an offset icing knife or the back of a spoon to spread it in an even layer. Tap the pan on the counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs (not wet batter).

Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge a couple of times. Place a cake stand or large serving plate upside down over the top of the pan. Holding on to the plate and pan with oven mitts, quickly invert them so that the plate is right-side-up and the pan is now upside-down. Tap the top of the pan a time or two to help the cake release. Lift off the empty pan. If any fruit sticks to the pan, just nudge it back onto the cake with your fingers or a spoon.

Serve cake warm, room temperature, or cold, with ice cream, if desired.

Cake is best the day it's baked, but will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Crispy, Crunchy Sprinkle Sugar Cookies

How has it been more than six months since I posted a rainbow sprinkle recipe?! I hardly know who I am anymore!

Just kidding. I know exactly who I am: a woman with a drawer in her kitchen that is only for sprinkles. I’ve got my priorities in order.

Crispy, Crunchy Sprinkle Sugar Cookies​

Today’s sprinkly recipe? Crispy, Crunchy Sprinkle Sugar Cookies! They’re a take on my go-to crunchy cookie formula, this time scented with vanilla and bursting with colorful sprinkles inside and out. Though I was once a soft-cookie-only person, I can’t help but love these crispy, colorful cookies!

Crispy, Crunchy Sprinkle Sugar Cookies are super easy to make, but the method is a little different from most drop cookie recipes. Instead of being creamed with the sugar, the butter is added to all the dry ingredients—a method called reverse creaming—and the dough is bound with a spoonful of light corn syrup rather than an egg. Together, these things keep the gluten from developing and the moisture level low, resulting in crunchy cookies. The lack of chill and longer bake time help too, and they also mean that these cookies can be made in under an hour start-to-finish. Score!

Crispy, Crunchy Sprinkle Sugar Cookies

Crispy, Crunchy Sprinkle Sugar Cookies are just what they sound like: crispy, crunchy, and chock full of sprinkles! In addition to providing tons of color, the sprinkle coating adds even more crunch—so good. That said, if you’re not ready to come over to the crispy side just yet, I’ve got your back. You can never have too many sprinkle cookie recipes, you know?

Crispy, Crunchy Sprinkle Sugar Cookies
Crispy, Crunchy Sprinkle Sugar Cookies
makes 22 cookies

1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 tablespoon light corn syrup (or golden syrup or mild honey)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles (jimmies, not nonpareils)

For coating:
1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles (jimmies or nonpareils)

Arrange oven racks in central positions. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Cut softened butter into 8 pieces and add them to the mixing bowl. Starting at low speed and increasing as ingredients become incorporated, use an electric mixer to mix the butter into the flour/sugar mixture until powdery and wet-sandy. You may need to stop a time or two to break up larger pieces of butter.

Add corn syrup and vanilla and mix to combine. Dough will look crumbly, but should hold together well when pinched.

Add the sprinkles to the dough and mix them in with a silicone spatula (or wooden spoon) until evenly distributed and the dough is a cohesive unit.

Pour sprinkles for coating into a shallow bowl.

Scoop the dough by the tablespoon and roll into balls. Roll each ball around in the bowl of sprinkles until completely coated. Place dough balls 2-3 inches apart on prepared pans (I fit 12 on each half-sheet pan). Bake for 9 minutes, then rotate the pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back. Bake another 7-8 minutes, until a bit puffy and turning golden at the edges.

Let cookies cool for 7 minutes on the pans. Remove to a rack to cool completely. Serve.

Leftover cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Depending on your area’s weather, they may soften a bit over time.