Baked Lemon Poppy Seed Doughnuts

The romance of winter is fading as we enter the depths of the season. The novelty of the crisp, cold air has worn off; we pay no mind to the fleeting clouds materializing and dissipating in time with our breaths. The white snow has darkened, developing an industrial look to match that of the bustling city in which it lay. This month takes on the color gray for me, a match in both weather and mood.

The color gray is washed out. The vitamin D levels drop. The color gray is exhaustion. The news cycle (and the ensuing emotions) is inescapable. The color gray is fatigue. The days blur together in repetition and familiarity. To step out of these gray surroundings, I spent Saturday at an art museum, enveloping myself in a world of color, choosing to step away from my gray reality for a few hours. The atmosphere in museums carries a certain stillness about it, revealing a rich history with a closer look. It is about finding a new perspective in the unexpected pieces that draw the idea and speak to an inner truth.

If you are surrounded in gray, take time to embrace color—whether it be in nature, literature, or an art museum on a Saturday afternoon. Color is the antidote to the oppressive, stifling gray.

The gray began its slow descent back into my life on Sunday, surfacing in my baking and photography. At least until the color of the fruit basket caught my eye; the pink grapefruits and sunshine lemons a reminder of the artwork from the day before.

Lemons are a winter fruit, bright yellow and acidic. When combined with the sweetness of sugar and the subtle nuttiness of poppy seeds, the lemon takes on a bold, vivid flavor.  These  baked lemon poppy seed doughnuts may have a simple, monochromatic appearance, but the taste is a genuine pop of color in a gray landscape.

Baked Lemon Poppy Seed Doughnuts have a bold personality. The batter is infused with lemon zest and crunchy poppy seeds. The baked doughnuts have a cake-like texture. Don't skip the lemon glaze on these doughnuts—the glaze is mixed with fresh lemon juice and provides a bright, vibrant flavor to the overall dessert. The recipe can be doubled to fit your needs.

One Year Ago: Cacao Hot Chocolate & Bruleed Lemon Tart
Two Years Ago: Cranberry Orange Muffins & Pear Vanilla Sorbet
Three Years Ago: Double Chocolate Brownies, Pear Chocolate Scones, & Honey Oat Bread
Four Years Ago:  Rosemary Sandwich Bread, Cranberry Flax MuffinsChocolate Ginger Cookies, & Vanilla Marshmallows
Five Years Ago: Cinnamon Sugar CakeVanilla Bean Pudding, Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies, & Dark Chocolate Oatmeal
Six Years Ago: Chocolate Marbled Banana Bread, Cranberry Wine Spritzer, Quick Chocolate Cake, & Frosted Yellow Cake

Baked Lemon Poppy Seed Doughnuts

Yields 6 doughnuts

Lemon Poppy Seed Doughnuts
1/3 cup (70 grams) granulated sugar
Zest of 1 1/2 lemons
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (150 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup (80 mL) milk

Lemon Glaze
1 1/4 cups (140 grams) powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
Poppy seeds, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a standard-size doughnut pan.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and lemon zest until fragrant. Whisk in the vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds. Stir in the lemon juice and milk until uniform. 

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag (or large resealable plastic kitchen bag with the corner snipped off). Fill the depressions in the prepared pan with the batter until 2/3 full (alternatively, if appearance does not matter, you could spread the batter into the pan using an offset spatula, but this results in more unevenly shaped doughnuts). Bake the doughnuts for 12-15 minutes, or until puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the lemon glaze, stir together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth. If the glaze is too thick, thin with a teaspoon or two of additional lemon juice.

Dip the cooled doughnuts into the glaze, allowing any excess to drip off. Sprinkle poppy seeds on top. The glaze will take 10-15 minutes to set, depending on the thickness.

11 Comments

Kristin Rosenau

Photographer, writer, and baker of all things sweet.

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Roasted Banana Muffins

I am a creature of routine, embracing my daily schedules as if they were written in stone. Routine builds structure in my life, surrounding me in the familiar. Routine provides a way to form good habits and to keep them. Routine eases the burden of making decisions, something I find paralyzing on the most difficult of days. While I love (and need) routine, the schedule has grown stifling in the last year. My weekdays blur together in a stream of repetitiveness—I eat the same breakfast each morning; I settle in front of the television at the same time each evening; I fill my fridge with the same foods week after week. Lather, rinse, repeat.

In the past year, I have been working towards building spontaneity into the routine (the irony in this arrangement is certainly not lost on me. By definition, spontaneity fits in no schedule). My routine is filled with so many self-imposed rules (no going out on school nights, no eating past 8 pm, no staying up late on the weekend) that I feel like I'm smothering myself with monotony. I know the rules are there to benefit me, but some days I wonder how I've written myself to a single script. On a given day, the players may be interchanged, the infections of voice may be different, but the words fail to change. 

It's the spirit behind spontaneity that interests me, the freedom to break from routine and do something unanticipated. Last year I separated from routine only a handful of times. Once, while signing up for a six week woodworking course (of which I have two handsome Adirondack chairs to show for my efforts), and another when booking last minute plane tickets to Montana. It was exhilarating to "break the rules," to allow myself the power to leave the familiar, if only for a few hours at a time.

With a new year upon us, I am trying to set myself up for a year where routines have more room to bend without fear of breaking. I signed up for a month long community education pottery class to bring me joy (even if I am terrible when it comes to clay), I attend yoga class twice a week to clear my head, and I have plans to see a movie on a Tuesday, when seats are cheap and I have school the next day.

The new year feels like permission to start over—to leave the past in the past and start with the slate clean. My intention this year is to be open, open towards new ideas, unexpected plans, and a break in the daily routine. What are your intentions for the new year?

Dark spotted, fragrant bananas are ideal for baking, adding bold flavor to banana muffinsbanana bread, and banana cake. The problem with banana desserts is that when the desire to bake with bananas arrives, the bananas are not the right ripeness. Instead of waiting a few more days for the bananas to ripen, the bananas can be roasted in the oven to bring out the bright, familiar flavor. With extra vanilla extract and a sprinkling of chopped chocolate, these Roasted Banana Muffins are a simple treat for breakfast or afternoon snack.

One Year Ago: Coconut Matcha Chia Pudding
Two Years Ago: Coconut Almond Quinoa 
Three Years Ago: Almond Date Banana Smoothie 
Four Years Ago:  Chocolate (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream, Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal, & Raspberry White Chocolate Scones
Five Years Ago: Peppermint Hot Chocolate, Green Tea Coconut Ice Cream, & Chocolate Lavender Cupcakes
Six Years Ago: Banana Cinnamon Muffins, Vanilla Pear Milk, Cranberry Chocolate Muffins, & Salted Caramels

Roasted Banana Muffins

Yields 6 large or 12 standard muffins

3 medium-large bananas
2/3 cup (133 grams) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (80 mL) vegetable oil
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) milk
2 ounces (60 grams) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Banana slices, for garnish
Chocolate shavings, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Place unpeeled bananas on a foil covered baking pan and roast for 20-25 minutes, depending on ripeness of the bananas. Remove the banana from the peels and mash. Set aside and let cool for several minutes.

Keep the oven running. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar and oil. Whisk in the egg, vanilla, and mashed bananas until combined. Slowly add the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until smooth. Stir in the milk and chopped chocolate.

Fill muffin liners 3/4 full. If desired, place two thin banana slices on top of the muffin batter and sprinkle with chocolate shavings for garnish. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

6 Comments

Kristin Rosenau

Photographer, writer, and baker of all things sweet.

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Chocolate Cream Pie

Holiday baking is in full force in my kitchen. It has become a tradition to bake and decorate cut-out cookies for the holiday season while watching utterly cheesy, although delightful, holiday films. This year produced a trio of cutout flavors—classic sugar cookies, chocolate sugar cookies, and gingerbread cookies. The entire process typically takes place over three days (one to mix up the dough, another to cut-out shapes, and a third to decorate). While continuing the cookie tradition seems like such a good idea in the beginning, after six straight hours of decorating, I'm ready to toss in the pastry bag.

Yet, I persevere. The cookies are not for me. Boxed up and wrapped in ribbon, these cookies are shared with friends, family, and coworkers alike—a gift of holiday cheer.

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My grandmother's holiday baking features a smattering of sprinkled, chocolate dotted, and powder sugar dusted cookies, but her standout dessert is a classic chocolate cream pie. For fifty years, the pie has made its appearance at the holidays, right after the food has been eaten and the dinner plates have been cleared. It has grown into a family favorite, beginning with my father's obsession when he was young and gradually capturing the hearts of the rest of the family. Now we argue over who gets the largest slice.

Traditions form the bedrock of holidays. Baking cookies (and eating pie) is one I hold dear. Without dusting the entire kitchen in an immovable layer of flour, the holidays would somehow feel a little less spirited.

Have a happy holiday season, dear friends.

Chocolate Cream Pie is a rich, sweet dessert to be shared. Chocolate pudding is made with whole milk and thickened with egg yolks and cornstarch. A baked pie shell is filled with the pudding and chilled to set. Just before serving, each slice is topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Use your favorite high quality chocolate for best results—the chocolate flavor is bold. This pie is a great choice to serve after dinner with friends and family.

One Year Ago: Swedish Tea Ring
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Sugar Cookies 
Three Years Ago: Peppermint Marshmallows and Sugar Cookies
Four Years Ago: Almond Cardamom Rolls, Red Wine Chocolate Truffles, Gingerbread Cookies, & Candy Cane Cupcakes 
Five Years Ago: Peppermint Pinwheels, Candy Cane Popcorn, & Chocolate Clementine Cupcakes
Six Years Ago: Candy Striped Meringues, Chocolate TrufflesGingerbread Cheesecake, & Peppermint Ice Cream

Chocolate Cream Pie
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Yields 9-inch pie

1/2 recipe for double crust pie dough
2 tablespoons butter
9 ounces (255 grams) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped*
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (28 grams) cornstarch
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
3 cups (700 mL) whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream, for topping
Chocolate shavings or curls, for garnish

On a lightly floured surface, roll out pie dough into a 14-inch round. Wrap dough lightly around rolling pin and transfer to a 9-inch pie pan. Gently press dough into the bottom and sides of the pan. Trim the dough to allow a 1-inch overhang. Pinch dough between thumb and forefinger to make an edge around the rim. Refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (218 degrees C).

Line the crust with foil or parchment paper, and fill it with pie weights or dried beans to prevent the pie crust from changing shape while baking. Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes. Remove it from the oven, and gently remove foil or parchment with the weights or beans. Return the crust to the oven for 10-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely before filling.

For chocolate filling, place the coarsely chopped chocolate and butter in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, espresso powder, salt, egg yolks, and 1 cup milk. When the mixture is uniform, whisk in the additional milk and heat over medium heat until it comes to a boil, about 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently. When the mixture reaches a boil, turn the heat to low and whisk continuously for 1-2 minutes, or until the filling is as thick as a pudding and the whisk leaves tracks when stirring. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. 

Pour filling over chocolate and butter and whisk until uniform. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a film from forming and chill.

To assemble, place chocolate filling in baked pie crust and smooth the top. Chill until ready to serve. Top with whipped cream and chocolate curls.

*For best results, use high quality chocolate.

3 Comments

Kristin Rosenau

Photographer, writer, and baker of all things sweet.

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