Cinnamon Roll Cake and Eid Eats 2015! (and some life updates)

Knock, knock… Anyone there?

I disappeared, didn’t I? I’m sorry, life just happened and I got caught up in it. To give you an idea of what has kept me, here’s just a short breakdown of everything that’s happened since we last spoke:

  • Some of my closest friends, whom I have met through blogging, threw me a surprise virtual baby shower! I am so humbled by their love and kindness :) Here is a roundup of what everyone shared: Faaiza, Sarah, Asiya, and Amira.
  • We celebrated my son’s birthday with a handful of family, close friends, and classmates. My due date was 10 days from his actual birthday, so we celebrated early because I couldn’t see myself dealing with a room full of energizer bunnies, otherwise known as preschoolers, so close to my due date.
  • My mom flew in from California! She’s still in town, but only until this Saturday.
  • My brother also flew in from California, although his trip was much shorter (he stayed for a little less than one week).
  • And most importantly, we welcomed our newest addition, Ms. Zunaira, on May 28th, at 2:55 p.m. She is 3 weeks old, and she’s already got her older brother and daddy wrapped around her tiny fingers!

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After her birth, days blended into nights, and it’s only now that I am slowly starting to emerge from the fog that is nightly feedings, constant diaper changes, cleaning spit-up, and piles of folded laundry that need to be put away. Alhumdullilah, praise be to God, I wouldn’t have it any other way :)

Speaking of updates, Ramadan Mubarak/Happy Ramadan! We’ve been blessed with the return of this Holy month, and I pray that we all find the peace and rewards that come along with it.

In the spirit of Ramadan, I am joining Asiya (of Chocolate and Chillies) and Sarah (of Flour and Spice) in hosting the very special Eid Eats 2015! What is Eid Eats, you might be wondering? Consider it a virtual potluck in which you “bring” (ie., blog about) a food item which is reminiscent of Eid (the holiday marking the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan). What you decide to share can be something traditional that’s made in your home/family, or you can get creative and share something completely out of the ordinary. The choice is yours, as long as it screams Eid festivities to you :)

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Here are a few guidelines in order to participate:

  • Prepare and blog about your food item on July 15th, 2015.   You can prepare your blog post beforehand, just be sure to have it go live on the above-mentioned date.
  • Link your post to the party hosts blogs (Flour and Spice, Chocolate and Chillies, and My Ninja Naan) and be sure to include the party button/graphic (the one you see above) in your post.
  • Visit the aforementioned blogs on July 15th and be sure to submit your post via the link party (will be set up that day).
  • Check out what our fellow bloggers have submitted, and be sure to head on over to their space and leave them some love in their comments section!

To help usher in some Ramadan festiveness, I decided to whip up a delicious Cinnamon Roll Cake. When Sarah initially shared this, I knew it was something that I just had to make! I finally got the chance this week, as my brother was leaving to go back home to California, and I figured that I needed to make this when someone else was around because otherwise I would be eating the whole thing myself (and we all know that that wouldn’t be very wise). Although it may seem daunting, preparing the cake was very simple, and the only downside to the whole process was waiting for it to come out of the oven to be devoured :)

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Cinnamon Roll Cake

Yield: One 9-inch Cake

Ingredients:

For Cake:

  • 2 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 egg

For Filling:

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon

For Frosting:

  • ¼ pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Prepare Dough:

In a large bowl, combine all-purpose flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Mix and set aside.

In a separate dish, heat water, milk, and butter together until the butter has melted and the mixture is warm to touch. Combine liquid mixture with the flour mixture. Add egg and knead on medium-low speed until a cohesive and pliable dough is formed. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, knead by hand for a few minutes, then place in a lightly greased bowl and set aside for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine filling ingredients. Mix until thoroughly combined and set aside.

Set aside a greased 9-inch pie plate, cake pan, or springform pan.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the prepared dough out into a15”x12” rectangle. Spread prepared filling evenly over the surface.

Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into six 2-inch strips. Loosely roll up one strip and place it at the center of the prepared pan. Coil the remaining strips of dough around the center roll, starting each strip at the end of the previous strip. Be sure to leave some space in between the coils, as the dough needs room to rise. Cover the cake and set aside to rise for 60 to 90 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned.

Make Frosting:

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar, making sure to scrape down the sides, and beat until thoroughly combined. Add milk and vanilla, and mix until combined.

Generously spread frosting over warm cake.

Jalapeno and Cheese Artisan Bread (Overnight)

Friendy McFriends! So sorry for being out of the loop for so long! Everything has been running smoothly, I’ve just been wrapped up in a few commitments. I know, that’s no excuse, and I’m sorry for totally disappearing. I’m feeling a surge of motivation, and I’ve got a slew of fun things to share with you :)

About today’s recipe- I saw Asiya post this fabulous Cheesy Jalapeno Bread recipe some time back and haven’t been able to get it out of my head! I’m a total carby, and can survive on just cheese and bread (although that probably wouldn’t help in my odds of “surviving” for very long LOL). The dough can be thrown together in no time, and is delicious on its own, but even better when it’s sliced, toasted, and slathered with cream cheese :)

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Jalapeno and Cheese Artisan Bread

(Overnight)

Yield: 1 Loaf

Ingredients:

For Bread:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces cheese (Monterey jack, Cheddar, or Colby), diced small
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced small
  • 1 ½ cups water, lukewarm

For Topping:

  • 1 ounce cheese, shredded (¼ cup)
  • ½ jalapeno, seeded and sliced thin

Directions:

The night prior to baking the bread, in a large bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, yeast, and salt.   Add cheese and jalapeno and stir to coat. Add water and stir until evenly combined (dough will be very wet and sticky), cover with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise overnight, 12 to 18 hours. Do not refrigerate.

The following morning, preheat oven to 450°F. Place a dutch oven or oven-safe casserole dish, with the lid on, into the oven for 30 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, shape into a ball, and transfer to a piece of parchment paper. Once the dish has been heated, pick up the dough using the parchment paper and place it directly into the baking dish (with the paper). Cover with lid and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and sprinkle the cheese and jalapeno (that were set aside for topping) over the top of the loaf. Return to oven, uncovered, and bake until golden brown and the cheese has melted, 10 to 15 minutes.

Buttermilk Pancakes

There are certain recipes that everyone needs a go-to recipe for. Pancakes are one of those. I’ve tried plenty of recipes, eventually settling on one that I wasn’t necessarily excited about. It just did the job.

About a month ago, I stumbled upon a pancake recipe in my ATK Family Cookbook (which, by the way, my friend picked up for me after seeing it on sale at Barnes and Noble! That’s what friends do y’all, they look out for each other :D ), and now I can truly and honestly say that I have to look no further. This recipe is IT! The resulting pancakes are soft and fluffy like clouds, and they rise to beautiful heights! I know this all sounds very dramatic, but you can actually see the pancakes rising while they’re cooking (probably has something to do with the leaveners, but still)! It truly is magic before your eyes, and a party in your mouth :)

 

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Buttermilk Pancakes

Yield: 10 to 14 (4-inch) Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons oil, for cooking

Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, melted butter, and egg.

Make a well in the center on the dry ingredients, and slowly add the buttermilk mixture. Gently whisk until just incorporated, with a few lumps remaining. Do not overmix the batter.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium to medium-low heat. Brush the pan with oil, just enough to ensure that the pancakes do not stick to the bottom. Using ¼-cup of batter per pancake, add the batter to the skillet and cook until large bubbles appear, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the pancake and cook until browned on the second side. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing the pan with oil as needed.

Note: To freeze pancakes, cool completely to room temperature and store in a freezer-safe container. To consume, lightly sprinkle with water, place on a baking sheet, and warm in a 300°F oven until warmed, about 10 minutes.

Chocolate Cake (and a little update)

It is common in the South Asian culture to celebrate good news with something sweet. Today’s post was the first time that I baked something specifically to blog about. I’ve been trying to think of ways to share this news with you, and I finally settled on just baking a good old-fashioned chocolate cake. You see, we are awaiting a second addition to our family, due at the end of May, God willing. My Zuni is about to become a big brother, and has decided that he would like to called Zuni Bhai (Bhai in Urdu, literally means brother, and is used as a respectful means to address an older brother or older male) as opposed to Zuni Bhaiya (Bhaiya is just another way of saying Bhai).

I ask that you, my dear friends, remember our family in your thoughts and prayers, and that you send your positive vibes our way :)

 

Now, with that, I present to you this delicious chocolate cake. The recipe is courtesy of Smitten Kitchen, and has officially made the cut for the go-to chocolate cake. This recipe yields a very friendly 8-inch cake, and can easily be doubled to fit a 9”x13” pan (although the baking time may need to be adjusted). The crumb of the cake is moist yet holds together well, and it isn’t cloyingly sweet. I frosted the cake with my go-to chocolate buttercream, although this cake pairs well with any type of frosting.

 

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Chocolate Cake

Yield: One 8-inch Square Cake

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

 Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F and set aside a greased 8-inch square baking pan.

In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and beat until combined. Add buttermilk and mix until just combined (batter may look uneven), and scrape down bowl. Place a sifter over the bowl and shake in flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking salt. Mix on low speed until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan, smooth out, and bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 18 to 30 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Biscotti

It’s so funny how similar we are to our parents, be it in beliefs, values, manners, or preferences. Growing up (even now), while snacking on potato chips, I would actively seek out the chips that were folded. My brother would snack on them inconspicuously, while I would look into the bag and deliberately reach for the extra-crunchy folded chips.

Pizza preferences are similar- given a choice between a crunchy crust and a softer crust, I will always choose crunchy. The same goes for toast.

My father was the same way. Whenever I baked cookies, he would ask that I bake them longer so that they would be extra crunchy. Growing up, I never realized that I shared the same affinity for all things crunchy that he had; but now that I look back, I’ve realized that I too was his partner in the crunchy camp. It’s not like my parents purposefully fed me crunchy things, so that I would grow to prefer them; it’s just one of those things that happened naturally.

I see similar shared traits between my son and husband too- they both love snacking on popcorn and nuts (especially pistachios and pine nuts). Don’t even get me started on chocolate. Although we feed our son a vast variety of foods, I see him enjoying certain things that his father enjoys.

 

That’s where these Biscotti come in. I wanted to bake something to keep on hand to snack on, and when I stumbled upon them in my ATK Family Cookbook, I just knew that they would be something I would enjoy. The day after I made them, I remembered that my father too was someone who enjoyed biscotti. A few weeks before he passed, he specifically asked that I pick up a package of them for him to enjoy with his tea. He loved to eat them as is, enjoying the crunch along the way.

Oh my Papa, may Allah bless you with the gardens of Heaven, and may you be blessed with all of those things that you enjoyed and savored!

 

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Biscotti

Yield: 2 to 3 Dozen Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup desired add-in (chocolate chips, toasted chopped nuts, etc.)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F and set aside a parchment lined baking sheet.

In a small bowl, combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla, until completely incorporated. Reduce speed to low and slowly add in flour mixture. Add desired add-in, and mix until combined.

Divide dough in half, and using floured hands, shape each portion into a 2-inch by 13-inch log. Transfer to baking sheet, placed at least 3 inches apart. Bake 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until the loaves are golden and begin to form cracks on top. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Reduce oven heat to 325°F.

Transfer the loaves to a cutting board, and cut diagonally into ½-inch to 1-inch slices. Lay the slices cut-side up on the baking sheet, leaving a bit of room between each piece. Bake 15 minutes, flipping halfway through baking, until golden brown and crisp. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.