Apple Cinnamon No Knead Bread

apple loaf (640x424)Combine the smell of bread baking and apples baking and you have Apple-Cinnamon No-Knead Bread. Here is a version of the no-knead bread baked in cast iron that includes chopped dried apples, cinnamon and apple cider. More variations on the No-Knead theme can be found here.

apple sliced (640x424)Apple Cinnamon No-Knead Bread

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup chopped dried apples (cutting with kitchen scissors works well)

1 cup apple cider

1/2 cup water

Whisk the flour, salt and yeast together. Add the cinnamon, sugar chopped apple and mix together. Add cider and water and mix into a moist dough.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12-18 hours

Heat oven to 450 degrees. When oven has reached 450, place cast iron pot and lid in oven for 30 minutes. While the pot and lid are heating, remove the dough from the bowl onto a well-floured surface and form into a ball and cover with plastic wrap.

(Tip: use a sheet of floured parchment paper and turn dough out on the parchment paper, form into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. When you are ready to cook, you can pick up with parchment with the dough on it and place in the hot pot. Use scissors to cut away excess paper or fold down to make sure you still have a tight fit with the pot lid.)

After heating for 30 minutes, remove the hot pot from oven and place dough in pot (Be careful!).

Cover and place the pot in oven at 450 degrees. After baking for 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven. The bread should slip out of the pot and then cool on a rack.

cutting apples (640x424)Using scissors to chop the dried apples

mixing apple (640x424)Mix the dough and then let set 12-18 hours

apple ball 2 (640x422)After setting for 12- 18 hours form into a ball and let set 30 minutes while pot and lid heat

apple sliced (640x424)Bake, slice and enjoy!

Backyard Bird Count

bluebird 2 (640x509)This weekend is your chance to be a citizen scientist and participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count. Take as little as fifteen minutes to observe the birds in your backyard and then report on the web site at The information from bird watchers across the United States and Canada provides important data for scientists as they study migration and population distributions.

Our deep snowfall in the northeast this winter has provided lots of birds at the feeders. In a few minutes looking out my window this morning, I saw:

bluebirdEastern Bluebird

white throatWhite Throat Sparrow

juncoDark Eye Junco

The junco and white-throat sparrow are winter time visitors to our area. They are two birds that you can mark the change of seasons when they appear in the fall and leave in the spring.

titmouseTufted Titmouse

wrenCarolina Wren (probably wising it was still in Carolina)

doveMourning Dove

song sparrowSong Sparrow


We also had an assortment of woodpeckers (downy, hairy and red-bellied)

bird bathRemember if you feed the birds to provide a source of fresh water. Currently the snow is higher than our bird bath. but the heater keeps the water thawed.  Enjoy the birds today and all year long!

Blueberry Pound Cake

blueberry pound (640x424)The best thing to do during cold weather is bake something good. Sunday afternoon was one of those days and I wanted to do use some of my frozen blueberries from last summer’s days of picking. This recipe uses blueberries with a traditional pound cake yielding a rich buttery blueberry cake. I thawed the frozen blueberries and drained the extra juice or you can use fresh blueberries. A great recipe for dessert or to take to a pot-luck dinner and will add some sweetness to a cold winter day.

Blueberry Pound Cake

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups flour (2 cups in batter, 1 cup to dredge blueberries)

2 cups blueberries

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla. Mix in baking powder, salt and 2 cups of flour. Fold in blueberries that have been dredged in 1 cup flour

Pour into 10 inch tube pan which has been buttered and sprinkled with sugar.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 minutes and then turn out of pan.


Having a Bluebird Day

bluebird pair 3 (640x373)Although I am not a cold weather person, one of the joys of the winter is the Eastern Bluebirds which arrive to feast on mealworms. Bluebirds have made a big comeback in the area in the past twenty years with many people providing boxes for nesting and an active Pennsylvania Bluebird Society.

bluebirds 1 (640x424)If you want to attract bluebirds to your yard, they l-o-v-e mealworms. You can buy live worms but my birds like the freeze dried ones just as well. Wrens and titmice also like the worms and they will gobble them.

bluebird 2 (640x509)I love the splash of color that the bluebirds add to the winter landscape.

bluebird house (640x449)The birds do remain in the area year round, however, we have not been successful with getting them to nest in our boxes. Since we live in the woods, they have plenty of natural nesting cavities. They spend a lot of time looking in the boxes and each year our hopes raise in anticipation of a nesting pair but eventually they head back to the woods to build their nests.

bluebird bb (640x423)We see them occasionally during the summer but it is during the winter, when natural food is in short supply that they spend the days hanging out at the mealworm feeders and bird bath.

bluebirdandfinch 2 (640x424)Hope you enjoy this touch of blue on a cold winter day and Have a Bluebird Day!

Bran Bread

bran bread (640x424)With the snow falling and more in the forecast, I had the afternoon off from work yesterday.  So what better way to spend a snow day than watching the birds at the feeders and baking bread?

I pulled out an old recipe booklet that I have had since I was in high school -  Fleischmann’s Bake-it-Easy Yeast Book. This is a bran bread that uses all-bran cereal to add extra texture.  Along with the bread, we added some some vegetable soup frozen from last summer’s garden and it made a great dinner on a cold snowy evening,

Bran Bread

7 to 8 cups flour

3 cups whole bran cereal

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon salt

3 packages active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups milk

3/4 cup water

3 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup butter

3 eggs (at room temperature)

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix 1 1/2 cups flour, cereal, sugar,salt and undissolved dry yeast.

Combine milk, water, honey and butter in a saucepan. heat over low heat until liquids are very warm (120- 130 degrees). The butter does not need to melt. Gradually add to dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add eggs and 1/2 cup flour. Beat at high speed for 2 minutes. Stir in enough additional flour to make a stiff dough.

Turn out onto lightly floured board; knead until smooth smooth and elastic; about 8 – 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down; divide in half. Roll each half to an approximate 14 x 9 inch rectangle. Roll up and either place in a 9 x 5 x 3 inch greased loaf pan or make a free-form loaf. Cover; let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Bake on lowest rack position at 357 degrees approximately 40 – 45 minutes or until done. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Feasting on the Wreath

bluebirds wreath (640x419)Each year after we remove the decorations from the Christmas tree, we put the tree in the yard to serve as cover for the birds during the cold and snowy days of winter. This year I purchased a wreath made with fresh greens including juniper which has lots of little blue berries. When I finished with the wreath, I threw it on top of the Christmas tree outside with ribbons still attached because I figured some bird would like the berries.

birds wreath 3 (640x424)Much to my surprise, the birds who have been feasting on the wreath are the Eastern Bluebirds.

male on wreath (640x424)Sometime it is a group of birds on the wreath enjoying the berries. Other times it is just one or two.

birds wreath (640x396)And there are more berries…

scrounging (640x424)And still more…

female bluebird bath 1 (640x423)After feasting on the berries, then you need a drink.

bluebird and goldfinch (640x417)And sometimes you are joined at your favorite watering hole by a friend.

Early Education on Twitter

Twitter 1 (640x424)
Do you tweet? Twitter is a quick way to communicate and stay up to date on news, events and other items of interest. If you are interested in early learning, you can follow the school readiness initiative I coordinate, PEAK, on Twitter @PEAKPartners for the latest information on early education for families and teachers.

Click on the “Follow” button in the posts below or search for @PEAKPartners on Twitter. Some of the posts on Twitter this week from PEAK:

Pistachio Chicken Strips

pistachio chicken (640x424)Here is an easy recipe using chicken breasts with a crunchy coating of chopped pistachio nuts mixed with curry powder. Easy to mix and bake and ready in 20 minutes!

Pistachio Chicken Strips

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders

1/4 cup chopped pistachios

1 tablespoons toasted bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. If using whole chicken breast, slice into strips lengthwise.

2. Arrange chicken pieces in a single layer in baking dish.

3. Combine pistachios, bread crumbs and curry powder and sprinkle evenly over chicken. Spray nut topping lightly with cooking spray.

4. Bake for 25 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165 degrees and nut topping is lightly browned.

Apple Pocket Pies

pocket pie apple (640x424)This recipe uses crescent roll dough to create a crusty pocket for an on-the-go apple pie. The original recipe used frozen pizza dough  for the crust but I did not have any available and did have two packages of crescent roll dough in the refrigerator.  Crust, apples, sugar and cinnamon — definitely the makings of something good.

Apple Pocket Pies

2 packages of refrigerated crescent dough

2 cups of chopped apples (approximately two large apples)

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 cup chopped nuts, optional

1. Mix the chopped apples, sugar, cinnamon and sugar together.

2. Unroll the crescent dough on a lightly floured surface. If using crescent roll dough, pull the dough apart in four sections. Roll each section with a rolling pin to make four squares. If using the crescent dough, roll out and cut in four squares.

3. Spoon several tablespoons of apple mixture on top of each square. Fold corners to middle and use fingers to seal seams.

4. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

5. Repeat with the other package of crescent dough and apple mixture. Sprinkle the tops with sugar, if desired, or brush with egg white.

6. Bake 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Cream Cheese Breakfast Cake

breakfast cake (640x424)This is a yummy sweet treat for breakfast or to use as a dessert. Crescent rolls are used on the bottom and top of a cream cheese filling with cinnamon/sugar and nuts sprinkled over the top. When I want it for breakfast, I usually prepare it a day ahead and refrigerate until time to cook, then I can just pop it in the oven and it is ready in about 20 minutes.

Cream Cheese Breakfast Cake

2 packages refrigerated crescent roll dough , at room temperature

2 – 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1 egg, separated

1 1/2 cups sugar, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped pecans

4 tablespoons butter (or margarine), optional

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12/ x 15 inch jellyroll pan with nonstick spray. Spread one package of crescent roll dough in the bottom of the pan. Use fingers to seal edges.

2. Beat the cream cheese, egg yolk (reserve egg white for later), 1 cup of the sugar and the vanilla in a medium bowl. Spread over the dough, leaving a 1/4 inch border of dough on all sides.

3. Roll out the second package of dough on a flat surface that has been dusted lightly with flour. Lift and place over the cream cheese mixture. Press the edges to seal.

4. Brush the top of the dough with the reserved egg white. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle over the top Sprinkle with the copped pecans and dot with the butter, if desired.

5. Bake 20-30 minutes, until lightly browned. Cut into squares.

Cinnamon-Sugar Pecans

Here are some pecans with a cinnamon-sugar coating – great addition to holiday treats.

spicy pecans (640x424)Cinnamon-Sugar Pecans

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg white

1 pound large pecan halves

1. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, lightly beat egg white. Add pecans; stir until coated. Sprinkle with sugar mixture; mix well.

2. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet (line with parchment paper for easy clean-up). Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove nuts from baking sheet to cool on waxed paper.

Jam and Jelly Jars

jelly jars (640x424)I grew up living in the country and active in 4-H Club and had a lot of experience with canning various fruits and vegetables. Over the years of married life, I have done some canning here and there when we have had a garden or fruit. This past summer I spent a lot of time at my local u-pick orchard picking raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, peaches, apples, etc. Planning for gifts, I turned much of my bounty into jelly and jam.

jelly jars 3 (640x424)I usually use the Ball Blue Book or Kerr canning books for portions and directions (I was too busy this summer to post the recipes). For the canning jars, I used the traditional jelly jars from Ball and Kerr and reveled in my beautiful jars of homemade preserves.

Then…. this week as I was looking at various sites, I ran across Food in Jars. While the traditional jars and two-piece lids are always recommended for home canning, Marissa at Food In Jars also gives directions for using some of the jars/lids that are traditionally used for commercial canning.

empty jars (640x424)

4 ounce Hexagon Jars

I loved the look of the hexagon jars and as it happens, the supplier for the jars (Fillmore Container) is less than an hour away. So before I knew it, I had ordered two boxes of 4 ounce hexagon jars with button lug lids and gone to the warehouse for pick up.

lids (640x424)

Button Lug Lids

The only problem is there is not a lot of fresh fruit available when there is four inches of snow on the ground. So I took the easy way out of opening some of the jars I canned this summer; reheating the jam/jelly and going through the usual canning process using the hexagon jars  All of the directions are on the Food in Jars site – or follow the traditional canning directions from Ball or Kerr. Remember to read Marissa’s comments concerning using the lug lids about not tightening too much. I know it is not very practical to redo perfectly good jelly and jam but I really wanted to try the hexagon jars in time for some parties this week.

I usually don’t worry about my two-piece lids sealing as they are pretty dependable but this was my first time to use one-piece lug lids and it was really an experiment. I was thrilled as the finished jars started to cool and I heard the lids pop.

I love the look of the hexagon jars and will probably try some of the other jars on the Fillmore Container site next summer. This is something I would only use with jams and jellies because they are so high in sugar and if a jar does not seal, you can just put it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

Take a look at Food in Jars if you are interested in canning or other recipes using jars.In the meantime, I will admire my jars of jelly and think about next summer’s harvest and try to avoid looking outside at the snow and ice.

jelly 3 (640x424)

Fruit Cake

fruit cake (640x424)I am not a fruit cake eater but it is something that my husband and brother enjoy so after many years of no fruitcake, I decided to make it again this year. This is my grandmother’s recipe and has a cake-like texture. Feel free to make substitutions in fruits and amounts. Mamma Franklin never had all of the items in the recipe – there was always lots of improvising. My mother usually added one cup of pear preserves to the cake, also. I added 1/2 cup of peach jam as that is what I had on hand.

Mamma Franklin’s Fruit Cake

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups brown sugar

3 eggs, separated

1 cup molasses

5 cups flour

1 teaspoon all-spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup strong coffee

3 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup seedless raisins

1/2 cup currants

1 cup chopped dates

1 cup chopped figs (sometimes we had figs but usually not)

1/2 cup chopped citron (we never had this)

1 cup chopped nuts

Grease two loaf pans (or one tube pan) and line sides and bottom of pan with parchment paper.

Cream butter and gradually cream in the sugar; add the well beaten egg yolks and molasses, thoroughly mixing.

Whip the egg whites and set aside. Sift and measure 3 cups flour, add spices, baking powder, soda, salt to the flour and sift. Into the first mixture, stir in portions of the flour and liquid coffee alternately until all are well mixed. Add vanilla and fold in well beaten egg whites. Now sift and measure the other 2 cups flour and mix it with the chopped nuts and fruit. Add this to the cake mixture and stir until mixed.

Pour into loaf pans. Bake at 300 degrees for approximately 2 1/2 hours.

Tutti-Fruitti Cookies (Lady Baltimore Cookies)

tuitti fruitti (640x424)This is a recipe that one of my cousins developed when she was in high school. She won a national cooking contest with the recipe and as I remember the prize was a new stove. The recipe uses a filling similar to the Lady Baltimore Cake between two buttery cookies. I usually cut the recipe in half as the cookies very sweet and a little goes a long way.

Tutti- Fruitti Cookies (Lady Baltimore Cookies)

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup milk


8 egg yolks

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup butter

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup grated or flaked coconut

1 cup cherries, chopped

1/3 cup cherry juice

1 1/2 cup raisins

Method for Filling

Place slightly beaten egg yolks in sauce pan. Add sugar and butter; cook over low heat, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add rest of ingredients and mix well. Cool before spreading between cookies.

Method for Cookies

Cream butter until soft. Add sugar gradually and continue mixing until very creamy. Beat eggs slightly, then stir eggs and vanilla extract into creamed sugar. Sift flour baking powder and salt together. Add alternately with milk to butter mixture.

Roll out on lightly floured board to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutter and place on ungreased baking sheet.

Bake about 12-15 minutes or until slightly brown at edges. Remove from pan and allow to cool. Spread filling between cookies.

Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cookies

peppermint patty cookies (640x424)This is a recipe given to me by a co-worker. A great chocolate cookie with a mint candy surprise in the middle… You can either use the whole peppermint patty in the cookie or use just half of the patty.

Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 cup butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

30 peppermint patties

Powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa. Set aside.

3. With a mixer, cream butter and sugars together until smooth. Add in eggs, one at a time. Next add in vanilla and mix until combined.

4. Gradually add flour mixture and beat until flour disappears. Lightly flour your hands, then take a golf ball sized ball of dough, roll into a ball and flatten into a disc. Place a peppermint patty in the center and wrap the excess dough up and around the patty. Make sure the entire patty is covered. Repeat with remaining dough and place on prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.

5. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are set, but still soft in the center. Remove from oven and let sit on baking sheet for 3 minutes. Move to a cooling rack and cool completely. Dust the cookies with powdered sugar.

Raspberry Coconut Cookies

raspberry sandwich (640x424)A great cookie to have at Christmas or anytime during the year…

Raspberry Coconut Cookies

3/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup flaked coconut

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt


1/4 cup butter, softened

2/4 cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoons milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup raspberry preserves

1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, coconut, baking powder and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well.

2. Shape into 1 inch balls. Place 1 1/2 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets (use parchment paper for easy removal and clean-up); flatten with a glass dipped in flour.

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cook on wire racks.

4. In a small bowl, beat the butter, powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth. Place 1/2 teaspoon preserves and a scant teaspoon of filling on the bottom of half of the cookies; top with remaining cookies. Yield 1 1/2 dozen.

Mississippi Mud Cookies

mississippi mud cookies (640x424)Mississippi Mud Cakes are popular in the South – a rich chocolate sheet cake with chocolate chips, nuts and marshmallows. This is a cookie recipe that uses the same basic ingredients to make a chewy chocolate cookie. Good at Christmas or anytime of the year.

Mississippi Mud Cookies

1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup milk chocolate morsels

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons miniature marshmallows

1. Microwave semisweet chocolate morsels in a small microwave-safe glass bowl at HIGH 1 minute or until smooth, stirring every 30 seconds.

2. Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; add eggs one at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Beat in vanilla and melted chocolate.

3. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually add to chocolate mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in chopped pecans and 1/2 cup milk chocolate morsels.

4. Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Press 3 marshmallows into each portion of dough.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks.

Cathedral Window Candy

cathedral window (640x424)I found this recipe while in high school and we starting making it at Christmas since it makes such a pretty addition to the Christmas desserts. My original recipe used a double boiler (remember those?) to melt the chocolate pieces and butter. But now the microwave has taken the place of the double boiler for most tasks.

Cathedral Window Candy

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine

1 – 6 ounce package milk chocolate chips

1 – 6 ounce package mint chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped nuts

1/4 cup shredded coconut

1 package mini colored marshmallows

1. Mix the chocolate chips and butter in a microwave proof dish and heat on low power until melted, stirring frequently as the mixture begins to melt.

2. Stir in the nuts and coconut

3. Cool slightly and then pour over marshmallows. Pour on waxed or foil paper and form into a roll.  I pour the mixture on three sheets of aluminum foil  (about 12-18 inches long) and use my spatula to form the candy into a roll and then wrap the foil around the candy.  Cool and slice.

Stollen (German Christmas Bread)

stollen (640x424)Stollen was a Christmas staple for my German mother-in-law. I continue to make stollen yearly for my husband which he enjoys with a generous dollop of butter and a cup of coffee. The recipe below makes two large loaves. Rather than two large loaves, I divide the dough into four parts and make three smaller loaves so I have some for gifts and I use one part to make a cinnamon loaf. For the cinnamon loaf, after rolling out, I smear with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar and roll up. It can be baked as a loaf or cut into rolls. Nuts are always good to add and top with a powdered sugar glaze.


Have ready:

6-8 cups all-purpose flour

Combine and let stand for 3-5 minutes

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water or milk

2 packages active dry yeast

Add 1 cup flour. Cover this sponge and let it rest in a warm place until light and foamy, about 1 hour.

Sprinkle a little of the sifted flour over:

1/2 pound raisins

1/2 pound chopped blanched almonds

1/2 cup chopped candied fruits

Beat until soft:

1 1/2 cups butter

Add gradually and blend until light and creamy:

1/2 cup sugar

Beat in, one at a time:

3 eggs

Add 3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Add sponge and enough flour to knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk. Place on a floured board. Knead in the fruits and nuts. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces (or see my comments above about dividing into 4 pieces). Roll each into an 8 x 15 inch oval. Fold in half lengthwise and place loaves on greased baking sheets. brush the tops with melted butter.

Let the loaves rise, covered, until almost double in bulk (about 45 minutes). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 30-40 minutes or until done. When cool brush with glaze or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Russian Tea Cake Cookies (Raspberry Pinwheels)

raspberry pinwheels (640x419)This is a recipe that my German mother-in-law always made at Christmas. I have no idea where it got the name of “Russian Tea Cakes” but is absolutely my favorite cookie – a rich dough formed into a pinwheel with raspberry jelly, nuts and cinnamon on the inside.  Use parchment paper on the cookie sheets and it will make it much easier to remove cookies from the pans. After 50+ years of baking cookies I finally learned to use parchment paper and it has been wonderful – why did I not start using it years ago rather than trying to scrap sticky cookies off the cookie sheets?

Russian Tea Cakes

1/2 pound butter

1 cup sugar

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup nuts, chopped fine

Clear fruit jelly, warmed (I like raspberry)

1 egg white, lightly beaten

1. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, sour cream and vanilla and mix well.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder. Add to egg mixture and beat well. Remove dough from bowl and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

3. Divide dough into 3 equal parts. Roll out on a floured surface into a long rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Mix together sugar, cinnamon and nuts and sprinkle on dough. Pour warmed jelly over sugar, cinnamon begin careful not to pour it too close to the edge.

4. Roll up the strips as you would a jelly roll. brush dough with egg white. Place rolls of dough on a cookie sheet and refrigerate until firm (or place in the freezer for about 20 minutes) – this makes it easier to cut into slices.

5. Cut the rolls into slices. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet (The parchment paper will make your life much easier and the cookies are a breeze to remove from the cookie sheets). Sprinkle the cut cookies lightly with some extra cinnamon/sugar mixture, if desired.

6. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven 12 – 15 minutes or until delicately brown. Cook on rack. Makes 2-3 dozen. Store in a tightly covered container.