Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

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These cookies were just featured in the New York Times! We’re so thrilled for Sarah and it just confirms what we already know about them, they are AWESOME!

You are on the right site, we are just taking a short break from baking bread to bring you one of our absolute favorite recipes from Sarah’s new book, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book. You all know Sarah’s gorgeous work here on Breadin5, but you may not be as familiar with her baking website. Sarah has been working with us on the Breadin5 website and has been instrumental in our cookbook photoshoots as a food stylist. During our last marathon photo session she brought us cakes, cookies, scones and even pie she was testing for her own cookbook. When she brought in these chocolate chip cookies we took a moment out of the shoot to declare them the best cookies any of us had ever had. I do not say that lightly, considering I had a cookie company in college, have baked no fewer than 500 chocolate chip cookie recipes and have consumed even more. These are the best and now you have the recipe.

We are thrilled for Sarah and are so proud of her and this brilliant book! She and her publisher have graciously offered a copy of her book to a lucky winner of our GIVEAWAY. Just leave a note in our comments and we will select someone at random. It will make a great addition to your cookbooks or a lovely gift for someone on your list. All our normal contest rules apply. This contest is over.

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Up-side Down Plum Brioche Cake

August is slowly slipping away from us, and here in Minnesota it’s brought endless days of cool weather and rain. Baking has been an essential part of my day, as I process changes: new routines about to begin, weather moving from hot to cold, and daily current events that fill my computer screen.

Stone fruits are still front and center at my grocery store; they’ve replaced the piles of berries that filled my fridge all through July. While we’ve mostly been eating them perfectly ripe and sliced, I did sneak in an up-side down brioche this week that was incredibly delicious. Made with plums, some butter and sugar, and a splash of vanilla, it’s a perfect way to celebrated the end of summer.

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Raspberry Brioche Braid

When my boys were little I took them berry picking. The concept was a good one and in my head it would be like a scene from Kinfolk. The boys sitting quietly by the raspberry bushes, adorably tossing berries into a gingham lined basket. The reality was more Lord of the Flies meets Blueberries for Sal (which is my all-time favorite children’s books). The boys would never sit still in a setting as inviting as this for running and wielding sticks, in-which to sword fight. Nor were they likely to toss a single berry into the basket, when they could just as easily eat them. So, I picked berries, while keeping an eye out to make sure my children were not impaling each other and were accounted for. I got enough berries to bake with, but they were not-so-ceremoniously consumed in the back seat of the car, by the before mentioned sword fighters, on the way home. It was an absolutely charmed day in its way, but not if your goal was to bake something tasty. We stopped at the store and bought Driscoll’s perfect raspberries, I baked a lovely raspberry brioche braid, that ended up in ABin5 and I have not gone berry picking (with the intention of bringing home berries) since…true story!

This raspberry braid is ideal for breakfast, brunch, after school snack or makes a sweet gift for your neighbor who just had an adorable baby (as mine recently did). When you have a bucket of brioche in the refrigerator this can be put together in a no time. First, I used the Driscoll’s berries to make a quick jam, which is so simple and delicious and I recommend making extra to just have around. The red of these berries makes for a ruby colored jam and the flavor is just pure raspberry, no additives or binders. These berries are all natural (organic options are available), never genetically modified and Driscoll’s follows the sun, so they are available and perfect all year round. The jam is spread over a layer of rich cream cheese filling and then the dough is folded over the fillings in a pattern that looks fancy, but is incredibly easy  to do. The finishing touches are a fresh raspberry glaze and sweet whole berries. It will impress everyone and they’ll assume you spent so much time preparing it. They never need to know how easy it is, until you share this recipe with them.

Driscoll’s is hosting a Minnesota-exclusive Giveaway (because we are the most raspberry loving people in the land (fun fact…according to the data reported by The Nielson Company the Twin Cities consumes 132% more fresh raspberries than the nation as a whole. This could be why Garrison Keillor, on the Prairie Home Companion, describes Minnesotans as “…all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average!”). When Driscoll’s asked me to create a recipe and share in their #BerryTogether Sweepstakes, it felt like a natural fit. One lucky, top prize winning, Minnesotan will get a 4-night getaway to Madden’s on Gull Lake. Four 1st-prize winners will receive Driscoll’s berries for a YEAR! All raspberry loving Minnesotans should visit www.berrytogether.com to enter. If you don’t have the good fortune to live in this great state, you can still bake this fantastic raspberry brioche treat.

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Blueberry Yeasted Coffee Cake

I’ve been on a jam making kick this week. I read about a really easy recipe in Jennifer Farley’s book, The Gourmet Kitchen and had to give it a go. I am now on my third batch, in as many days. Skillet jam is a super simple way to make fruit jam without the pectin and there’s no need to figure out the whole canning process, since this jam will disappear in a snap. Honestly, I just eat it out of the jar with a spoon. Today I made just enough blueberry jam to fill this brioche based coffee cake. Depending on the season and where you live, you can use fresh or frozen berries for the jam. I used frozen wild blueberries and they have a lovely tartness. This layered coffee cake is a perfect treat to serve at Brunch or pack for a 4th of July picnic. (more…)

Whole Grain Christmas Stollen

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Christmas Stollen is a wonderful German baking tradition this time of year. A sweet loaf that is studded with dried fruit, spiced with cardamom and a special treat of almond paste runs through it. Once it comes out of the oven it is traditional to slather the warm loaf in butter then roll it in sugar, but we skip the extra butter and dust it with a thick layer of confectioners’ sugar to look like the snow outside. This loaf actually holds up very well for a couple of days and that makes it a great gift for the holidays.
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Caramel Cinnamon Bun Bread Pudding

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Sometimes the best discoveries come from happy accidents. I made a pan of caramel cinnamon buns and I was the only one home to eat them. That in itself is no great tragedy, I took great pleasure in sitting down with a cup of coffee and a warm sticky bun in the perfection of solitude. But, the day went by and the kids were busy with sports, finals and all that kids are busy with, so I found myself with a pan of lovely, albeit slightly stale rolls. My boys would have happily devoured them as a midnight snack, but for my taste they were a bit stiff, after 12 hours on the counter. We talk about using stale bread for pudding in our books, that’s not news, but this recipe elevates a rather humble dessert to a special occasion by using sticky buns. I just put the sticky buns right back in the cake pan, with the caramel and all, then covered it with custard. I baked them and a new classic was born in my house. I served the pudding as dessert, but they are also perfect for breakfast or brunch.  (more…)