When Life Gives You Blood Oranges…

When Life Gives you Blood Oranges...When trying to decide what to write about today, my mind went a million different directions… honestly, a lot of them were bleak.  It took a few minutes of stillness to refocus, remove the negativity, and replace it with something uplifting.  Let’s be real, this world is broken and dark; it’s what we choose to do in the moments of darkness that define us.

I have been watching a TV show called “This is Us” recently… it is such a beautiful mess of a family that has their fair share of struggles.  Early on in the series, [and heads up, spoiler alert!] a young couple finds out they lost one of their triplets during childbirth.  In a sweet moment overlooking his two newborns, the doctor says to the father:

“I like to think that one day you’ll be an old man like me talkin’ a young man’s ear off explainin’ to him how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade. If you can do that, then maybe you will still be taking three babies home from this hospital, just maybe not the way you planned.”

The couple does in fact end up taking home three babies instead of two, by adopting a baby boy abandoned at a fire station that morning.  You see, they were always meant to have three children, they were destined to be “the Big Three”…  it’s amazing how a change in perspective can turn a situation around.

When Life Gives you Blood Oranges...What are the lemons life has given you and how can you take steps to turn them into something resembling lemonade? Personally, I love lemons and don’t see why they are always depicted so negatively… they are so yummy, sour, and the zest is superb for baking… but for the sake of the metaphor, I’ll allow the connotation.  One of the “lemons” in my life is this season of “middle” I am in… a season of transition, knowing I am headed in the right direction yet eager to JUST BE THERE ALREADY!  It takes everything in me to slow my role and be content with the fact that life is a journey.

Now, I know we’ve been talking a lot about lemons, but I just HAD to share some exciting news with y’all… that BLOOD ORANGES ARE IN SEASON!!! I was at the grocery store the other day and saw them sitting there, smiling back at me, just waiting to be included in an awesome recipe.  How could I resist? I promptly scoured through the Pinterest world for some inspiration and came up with this beautiful collaboration of a blood orange upside-down poppy seed cake with an earl grey glaze… the tartness of the blood oranges pairs lovely with the hint of earl grey, almost neutralizing it, and the poppy seeds add another dimension altogether!

When Life Gives you Blood Oranges...
Blood Orange Upside-Down Poppy Seed Cake with an Earl Grey Glaze

I wish my reaction toward the lemons of life was the same as my reaction to seeing blood oranges in the produce section… I can’t wait to bring them home and transform them into something beautiful and unique.  In that spirit, when faced with “lemons” in the future, I will see them in a different light, and instead, think to myself…

… when life gives you blood oranges, what will you make out of it?

“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.  This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:13-16

Blood Orange upside down Poppy Seed cake with an Early Grey glazeWhen Life Gives You Blood Oranges...Makes 9″ Round

Ingredients

1 cup (230 g) Brown Sugar

¾ cup Oil

4 Eggs

1 ¾ cups (230 g) Flour

2 ¼ tsp Baking Powder

¾ tsp Salt

1 tsp Vanilla

2 Tbsp Poppy Seeds

Juice and Zest of 1 Blood Orange (plus more for slicing)

¾ cup Greek Yogurt (I use 0% Fage)

Butter and brown sugar for pan

Earl Grey Glaze

Earl Grey Teabag

1 cup Milk

2 cups Powdered Sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and prep your 9″ round pan by greasing it with melted butter, sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar over the butter and add slices of blood oranges in whatever design you prefer. OR if the whole “upside-down” concept is just a little too overwhelming for you, just grease your baking pan with crisco and dust with flour to make a normal cake.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar and oil till combined. Add eggs, blood orange juice, zest, and vanilla; stir till combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  4. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour. Mix till smooth, then add poppy seeds and stir till combined.
  5. Pour mixture over sliced blood oranges in 9″ round pan. Bake at 350° for about 45 minutes or till cake tester comes out clean.
  6. Let cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Trim the top of the cake if needed (to ensure the cake will be level once it is flipped over) and swiftly turn the cake upside-down onto a cooling rack.
  7. While cake is cooling, steep earl grey teabag in hot milk for about 5 minutes. Combine tea, one tablespoon at a time with powdered sugar in a small bowl. Note: you’ll want to mix till a glaze is created that is not too thick yet not too runny.
  8. Once cake has cooled, transfer to desired plate, cake stand etc. and spread glaze on top, letting it spill over edges slightly.  Use an offset spatula to spread the glaze (a spoon will work just fine too).
  9. Enjoy!

Happy Baking!!

The Secret to Scones

Just a quick note on scones, my friends…

First off, scones are delightful.  They are a staple in brunch menu items, don’t require outrageous prep work, and taste great fresh out of the oven or cooled (but let’s be real… warm scones are the beez kneez)!  If you want to know the secret to scones, or any baking trick for that matter, chances are it involves the use of butter; in the case of scones, the secret is COLD butter.

Perhaps my FAVORITE thing about scones isn’t that they go well with homemade lemon curd or blackberry jam, no, it is that the ingredients call for COLD butter. I know, I know… that may not sound all that spectacular, but when you bake as often as I do you learn to pay attention to prep work and ingredients that require special attention.  Throughout my baking career, I’ve noticed most recipes require softened butter; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to make a simple batch of cookies, only to be faced with the inevitable “butter-thawing dilemma”…  do I wait and let the butter thaw naturally? That could take HOURS… a cookie craving waits for no man!! OR, do I use the microwave and risk partial melting of said butter…  possibly compromising the structural integrity of the ENTIRE batch of cookies!  You think you had it bad?  Baker dilemmas are the WORST, amIright?!

Cut that Butter

I digress… where was I? Oh, yes… cold butter!  My point is that scones get their unique texture by cutting this COLD butter into the dry ingredients.

There are different techniques in cutting butter, some prefer a pastry cutter or fork; when it comes to making scones, I prefer to use my hands. The goal is to work the ingredients between your fingers till they resemble a corn meal-like texture.  If you’re a little lost on the action step of cutting butter using your fingers, pretend like you are rubbing sand between your fingers, this is also the universal sign for money.  See the difference in the pictures below… some large clumps are fine (this will add to the flakiness of the scones).

Before Cutting the Butter
After Cutting the Butter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Home Stretch

Once you’ve cut the butter (not to be confused with cutting the cheese), you’re pretty much done with all the difficult steps; all that’s left is to add your wet ingredients, then fold in the fruit.

Roll out your scones on a lightly floured surface to a generous ½ inch thickness and use a pizza slicer to cut your scones to whatever size/shape you’d like. (Note that smaller scones will inevitably cook faster.)

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baking and Frosting

Don’t over bake your scones! Remember that each oven is different, so what works well in my oven does not necessarily mean it will work wonders in yours.  The key here is to bake these till they have a golden brown coloring. (I always check for this color on the bottom of the scones; I think it is most accurate.)  Once your scones are out of the oven, let them sit on the cookie sheet for a minute or so, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Drizzle frosting once the scones are slightly cooled. (If the scones are too hot, the frosting will melt too much… you don’t want that!)  Now, for the most challenging step – using self restraint as you try to eat only one while the aroma of these delicious peach scones fills your household.

Happy Brunching… and Happy Baking!

 

Cinnamon Rollers

#BAKEITBETH

If you are just now discovering #BAKEITBETH, let me fill you in on what it is and how it led to these amazing cinnamon rollers this past week.  #BAKEITBETH is a challenge that brings free and delicious baked goods into your life; even better, they are sweets that YOU choose!  Sounds too good to be true? It’s not.

Have you ever seen a picture on Pinterest and thought, “That looks easy! I could TOTALLY make that!”  Then, halfway through the recipe, you realize… this is not going well; only to have your fears confirmed in the end, joining many a Pinterest fails.  This is where I come in to help.  #BAKEITBETH has been created to walk you through a recipe and steer you away from common mistakes with tutorials and helpful tips & tricks.  Each week on Friday morning, Sweet Creations by Beth randomly selects a winner for the week, who will be the recipient of these delicious treats.

img_4430So, how do you enter? Great question!  Simply find a picture on Instagram and send a direct message to @sweetcreations_bybeth with the hashtag #bakeitbeth.  If you don’t know how to direct message on Instagram, see the helpful diagram I’ve created above! ☺️ This will enter you in for that week’s drawing.  You may enter as many times as you like.  Didn’t win this week? Don’t be disheartened, hold your head up high and enter again for next week… you’re bound to win eventually!

Interested in a particular recipe? Keep an eye out for tutorials and tips & tricks on the blog! More often than not, I will combine multiple recipes together, provide links to those recipes, and give you ways to succeed before starting the recipe.


Now, for the main event this week… Cinnamon Rollers!

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetFor this recipe, I stuck with the classic Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls recipe and another gem I quickly found on Pinterest for the cream cheese filling.  Here are some quick tips on mastering this somewhat daunting task:

1. Don’t Triple This!

First off, I will say that I made TWO triple batches of cinnamon rolls… looking back, I think, or rather KNOW this was a mistake. The original recipe yields 8 cinnamon rolls, so, I figured 24 seemed better, and if I offer them to the world, I may need more than 24!  My logic was sound. I felt good about this decision… that was until my dough started spilling out of not only the original pot used, but the second larger pot needed once I realized how much the dough expands after adding the yeast. 😳

2.  Make Dough In Advance


It’s always a good idea to read a recipe in its entirety before trying to tackle it.  In this case, you can make the dough a day (or even two) before.  In fact, you SHOULD make this the day before your cinnamon roller consuming desires must be met.  This dough needs lots of time to cool, (about an hour) and rise (an additional hour) before you are free to refrigerate it.  Additionally, the cream cheese filling must be made in advance and plopped into the freezer for about an hour!  Have I mentioned
that being a baker requires LOTS of patience?!

*note: while making the filling, I used less milk in my recipe to speed up the freezing process.  You’ll want this pretty solid to create a good base for wrapping the strips of dough around.

3. Work Fast-ish

Once you have a hankerin’ for cinnamon, sugar, and buttery goodness, grab half the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface.  You’ll want to work quickly from here on out because the dough will start to rise and be squished by your working fingers as you roll up these yummy treats… hence the previous tip to “grab half the dough.”  Once the dough is rolled out, spread evenly with a thin layer of melted butter, and sprinkle generously with sugar and cinnamon.  Now, you can either roll the dough (horizontally) to make cinnamon rolls… or use a pizza cutter and slice a gazilion strips in preparation for the ROLLERS!!


The way I decided to do this was to fold the dough in half before slicing.  This not only made things cleaner for my pizza cutter, it made the rolling process go faster having the dough already doubled… but, to each his own.

Now, if you would like a cream cheese filling, scoop ½ Tablespoon of the frozen filling into your hand and begin wrapping individual slices over it, in alternating directions.  Your goal here is to cover the filling pretty well so it doesn’t fully escape during the baking process.  If you would rather not deal with the messy filling, go ahead and grab a strip that has been doubled, make a knot to get the ball rolling… haha (I couldn’t resist, sorry), then use single strips to complete the look of the cinnamon roller.

Place these on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and let sit for 20-30 minutes to rise.  Once these have risen, bake at 375° for 14-15 minutes, or till golden brown.  Transfer to cooling rack and drizzle with icing. ( I used powdered sugar and a splash of milk till the right consistency was reached, but now that I think about it, you should use the Pioneer Woman’s maple frosting, I’ve heard of it’s magical powers!)

3. Tasting Time


That’s it! Congratulations, you’ve made a seemingly difficult recipe look easy!  You are a pro, a master in the kitchen… you can do anything now!  I hope these tips helped! Please let me know if you get stuck on a certain step, I’m happy to help and solve any problems you may come across.

Happy Baking!!

%d bloggers like this: