Hybrid food seems to be the trend these days and they usually involve a doughnut. Doughnut ice cream sandwiches, cronuts (doughnut + croissant), macaron doughnuts, and doughnut bagels are all examples that have popped up on our social media feeds. I freaking love doughnuts and I think they’re perfect as they are so I’m moving onto the cruffin. A cruffin is a croissant + muffin. Insanely crisp and flaky on the outside and fluffy, buttery and moist on the inside, it’s the perfect combo of both worlds. Oh, and because Mr. H loves jam filled doughnuts, I filled mine with my favorite blueberry jam (seriously, my favorite for years! I used for my blueberry pie cookies and blueberry pie doughnuts too) and dusted it off with powdered sugar.
Cruffins have become popular in the U.S. by Mr. Holmes Bakehouse in San Francisco. In fact, they are so desired that someone broke into the bakery to steal the recipe in 2015. The thief didn’t steal anything else, not even the cash. In a way it sounds like a ridiculous reason to risk going to jail, but it also shows how awesome a cruffin is. You know how they say there is no such thing as love at first sight but there is lust at first sight? When I first saw the photos of the cruffin from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, I fell in deep lust. I needed to have this cruffin, like now. But San Francisco is on the other side of the continent, what can I do? The only other way was to bake it on my own.
There is a very popular cruffin recipe that is on Pinterest by Lady & Pups. They’re ridiculously cute and have tons of layers, but they weren’t tall like the cruffins I was looking for. Enter the popover pan. It’s twice as tall as a muffin pan and perfect for the recipe. Am I telling you to buy a popover pan just for this cruffin? Heck yes. Before this recipe, I’ve even settled for making popovers in muffin pans but there is just no other way around it. I think if you make these in a muffin pan, there isn’t enough surface area for the fluffy interior and the ratio of the crisp to chewy would be off.
So how difficult is this recipe? If I’m being completely honest with you, it’s not easy. It is labor intensive and the yield is very small. Only 6 cruffins. But the6 cruffins are worth it. It’s like asking someone would you rather eat one fresh-off-the-conveyor-belt Krispy Kreme doughnut or a dozen stale supermarket ones? If you are the type of person who would go for the dozen stale ones, this recipe is not for you. But if you, like me, would rather have that one delicious doughnut, then dust out your pasta roller. Yes, you need a pasta roller. I’m going to say it is impossible to roll out the dough this thin with a rolling pin. Also, I recommend using a kitchen scale to weigh out your ingredients.
The ingredient list is short so you want to use the best ingredients on hand. I love King Arthur flour and I used the best butter I could get my hands on which was Kerrygold’s Irish butter. Irish butter is much more flavorful and rich than American butter and every penny was worth buying it for this recipe. I changed my technique just slightly from Lady & Pups. Her post has beautiful photos of how she did it, and I recommend looking through the photos if you have a difficult time understanding how to put this together. It does look a little intimidating, but don’t get scared because once you get the hang of it, it becomes a rhythmic process, kind of like knitting.
I promise you, it’s worth it. 🙂
makes 6 tall cruffins
150 grams (1 cup + 1 tbsp) bread flour
150 grams (1 cup + 1 tbsp) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp (6 grams) instant dry yeast
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
160 grams (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) luke-warm filted water (not tap)
50 grams (3 1/2 tbsp) salted butter, soften and cubed
165 grams (11 1/2 tbsp) salted butter, room-temperature
- In a bowl of a standing mixer attached with a dough hook, mix bread flour, all-purpose flour, yeast, and sugar.
- Once mixed, add in your water and knead on low speed until a shaggy dough forms, about 3 minutes.
- Add in the 50 grams of softened and cubed butter and knead for 5 minutes on low speed until the butter is incorporated and then raise your speed to medium and knead for about 10-15 minutes until a smooth ball of dough forms.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about 45 minutes, the dough will puff up and be larger in size.
- Prepare your popover pan by lightly greasing the inside with shortening and dusting it with flour. DO NOT skip this step. It would be very sad if the cuffins do not come out of the pan as one whole piece.
- Move dough to a lightly floured surface, and divide into 6 equal portions. (as shown in the above picture # 1). Take one portion out and cover the remaining under plastic wrap so the dough does not dry out.
- Flatten the dough with your hands to about ½ inch thick and with your pasta roller on the widest setting (or the lowest number), work the dough through your pasta roller.
- After you move the pasta through the widest setting once, fold the dough in thirds and then move it through the widest setting again. Repeat this step once more before moving onto the next step.
- Once the dough has been moved through three times on the widest setting, cut the dough in half.
- Lightly dust both sides of one half of the dough and move it through your pasta roller from the widest to the thinnest setting or as thin as you can get it without the dough tearing. (My pasta machine goes from 0-9, 9 was too delicate of a dough to work with so I only went to 8. It was still tissue thin and that is what you are looking for.)
- Set the first half of the dough aside and work the second half of the dough in the same way until the same thinness is reached. (as shown in the above picture #2)
- With an offset spatula, lightly butter one side of each half of the dough with the 165 grams of the room temperature butter (not all at once, divide the 165 grams for all the flattened dough). Be careful not to tear the dough and to completely cover each side with butter. (as shown in the above picture #3)
- Roll up one half of the dough, kind of like a fruit roll-up. (as shown in the above picture #4)
- Take the rolled up dough and place it on one end of the second buttered dough. (as shown in the above picture #5)
- Roll up the dough in the same way as the first dough to make one fat roll of dough. (as shown in the above picture #6)
- With a very sharp knife, cut the rolled up dough in half lengthwise. (as shown in the above picture #7)
- Place both halves of the dough into one cup of the popover pan with the layers (cut-side) facing outwards. You want to curl the first half of the dough in on the bottom, and then layer the second half of the dough on top of that one. Do not squish the dough into the pan, because it needs room to rise. (as shown in the above picture #8).
- Repeat steps 7-17 until you are done with all 6 pieces of the original dough.
- Loosely place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the popover pan and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours or until the dough is fully doubled in size. (as shown in the above picture #9)
- Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Place a sheet pan underneath the popover pan (to catch the butter drippings) and bake until golden brown and puffed up, about 20-30 minutes.
- Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing it to a wire rack.
- Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium star tip with blueberry jam.
- Find a divot on top of a completely cool cruffin and wedge the tip into the cruffin.
- Squeeze the piping bag to fill the cruffin with jam until you feel resistance.
- Repeat with the other cruffins.
- Lightly dust the top of each cruffins with powdered sugar.
Recipe adapted from Lady & Pups.
There is a store called “Marbles: The Brain Store” in my local mall. As the name suggests, the store mainly sells puzzles and games that exercise your brain. I ended up stopping by a few years ago with my friends and while we were browsing, we noticed a display of various puzzles. When one of us picked up a jigsaw puzzle of Jackson Pollock’s Convergence, a store clerk leaned over to us and commented, “I’ve never seen anyone complete it.” Of course after a comment like that, we HAD to take it home and try to solve it. A few years later, it’s still incomplete and sitting in my room.These macarons are inspired by my incomplete puzzle. I’ve done paint strokes on my macarons before and the difference between the strokes and the splatters is the amount of liquid you add to the food coloring. In order to make your splatters look imperfect and messy, you need to dilute your gel food coloring with a generous dose of vodka. I’ve done the splatters two ways, and I believe it works the best when you arrange your macarons side by side as if you’re creating a blank canvas for a painting. If you leave the gaps in between the macarons like my first try, you’ll miss the trail of paint that makes it look so convincing and similar to Pollock’s work. I absolutely love the effect that it makes. Try to get a small bit of each color on every macaron so that when you get the full effect for each macaron.
As fun as it is to splatter food coloring everywhere, I will leave you with a word of warning. The food coloring will get everywhere. It will get on your counter, on your clothes, and on your skin. My best advice is to lay a layer of paper towels on your work surface and wear an apron before you start. Now go satisfy your inner artist and have fun.
Jackson Pollock Macarons
You will need:
1 batch of vanilla macarons (recipe below)
1 batch vanilla frosting (recipe below)
red gel food coloring
yellow gel food coloring
blue gel food coloring
black gel food coloring
- Cover your work surface with a layer of paper towels.
- Arrange your unfilled macaron shells closely in a square/rectangular shape.
- In four plastic cups, place a few drops of gel food coloring in each cup.
- Dilute each color with a tablespoon of vodka and mix until your desired color is reached.
- Using a clean, food use only paint brush, saturate your brush with the yellow paint and use a flicking motion with your wrist to create a splatter pattern on your macarons.
- Once done, thoroughly clean your brush with water and dry as well as you can with a paper towel before repeating step 5 with a different color.
- Let macarons dry completely before filling and sandwiching them with your vanilla frosting.
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
- Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear. Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
- In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
- Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
- Once the syrup reaches 248 degrees, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
- Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks
- Mix a ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty. From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture at a time until the mixture “flows like magma”. The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
- With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, pipe 1¼ – 1½ in. rounds.
- The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macaron batter are dry to the touch, about 30 mins to 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
- Once you place the macarons in the oven, reduce the heat to 275˚F. Bake 10-13 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth. The macarons are done when you slightly wiggle them and they start to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
- Once you remove the macarons, reheat the oven to 350˚F for ten minutes before baking another pan of macarons at 275˚F.
- Let cool and fill.
1 c. whole milk
¼ c. flour
a pinch of salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
- In a saucier pan, put milk, salt and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
- Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
- Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the fridge until fully cool.
- In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
- Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
- Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.
This past weekend I made some baby shower cakes and cupcakes for a friend. There wasn’t a particular theme except the color blue and silver. Now this isn’t the first time I’ve catered for a baby shower, so I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like. If you’re like me and are very particular about your colors, you know how difficult it is to find that riiiiight shade of sprinkles. Try googling “baby blue sprinkles” and most likely you’ll get the generic blue. The first time someone requested a baby blue cake, I searched high and low for the right shade. Etsy, amazon, and just plain google search turned up nothing. Zip. Zilch.
You know what they say, “If you want something done, do it yourself.” (<= Side Note: Fifth Element is one of my favorite movies. Also, Gary Oldman pretty much can be anyone he wants. How is this the same person that played Commissioner Gordon?) And so I did. All you need is a ziplock bag, white sprinkles, and gel food color.
Place your sprinkles in a ziplock bag, add in your gel color. A tiny dab will do. You can always add more but you can’t take away the color. Start massaging your sprinkles into the gel color. The sprinkles will magically start taking on the color of your dye without melting. Once all the sprinkles are uniform in color, you are ready to go!
For the sprinkles on the cake I used, Americolor’s sky blue and electric blue and for the cupcakes, I used Wilton’s cornflower blue. I bought the silver sprinkles because metallic colors just don’t work as well when hand dying them.
Another tip I have is that if you’re short on time and on a budget, I recommend ordering items from Etsy. I love Etsy for their homemade things and supporting small business is always a good idea. I suppose I could’ve made the little converse booties and the cutout sign, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have done as neat of a job and it would’ve taken me forever. What I did make were the little fondant pom poms to tie the whole thing together with the décor. I promise to do a tutorial on this soon! 🙂
There are a few things every experienced baker thinks of trying in their lifetime. They are recipes that are known to be notoriously finicky and difficult, usually French. The kind of desserts you buy at the bakery because it’s not worth the trouble making in your own kitchen. One of these recipes is the croquembouche. In fact, if you google “difficult desserts to make”, the croquembouche makes the list almost every time.
So what is a croquembouche? I would describe it as a tower of caramelized cream puffs, held together only by caramel and covered by delicate sugar threads. It’s definitely looks impressive and I can see why some people would choose one over a traditional wedding cake. Plus, that crunch of the caramel over the cream puff is really delicious. Almost like a crème brûlée wrapped up in a cream puff.
This was a trial run that I did before a friend’s bridal shower and I learned that it takes a lot of time if you try to do it all in one day. What I did learn was that it’s not very difficult if you divide the work between three days. If you make the pastry cream two days before, and bake the cream puffs the day before and fill, dip and assemble it the day of, it is quite manageable in a decent amount of time. Here are my thoughts on the process:
1) I think the most difficult/scary part of making this is the hot caramel. I am not embarrassed to admit that I burned my fingers a few times while making this. Have a bowl of ice water on hand just in case you do burn yourself. Your gut reaction may be to put the finger in your mouth to cool it (at least mine was), but that will not help the burn. Take your time when dipping the creampuff into the caramel, and if the cream puff gets stuck in the sugar, then use a spoon to fish it out. DO NOT attempt to take it out using your fingers. This is not something that can be done in a hurry, so make sure you have plenty of time before doing this step.
2) No matter how carefully and evenly you try to pipe the pâte à choux (the cream puff batter), you will end up with unique looking cream puffs. At first, you may be disappointed, but the funny shapes come in handy later on when you’re assembling the croquembouche. It becomes kind of like a game of Tetris, where you try to find that perfect piece to fit that nook.
3) The most fun part is making the sugar threads. When the caramel is somewhat cool, you take your fork and spin it around the croquembouche making a fine web of sugar strings. It makes you feel like a spider and you can do as much or as little as you like.
4) I tried to put fondant flowers on it and realized it was not worth it. The fine sugar threads harden as soon as they touch the cream puffs and there is no way for the fondant to stick to it. I just wedged it in between the gaps that were created. I wouldn’t recommend trying it. It wasn’t worth the work.
Croquembouche with Vanilla Orange Blossom Pastry Cream
Makes 1 medium-sized croquembouche
For the pâte à choux:
1 c. water
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. granulated sugar
1 c. all-purpose flour
4-5 large eggs, plus an extra egg for the egg wash
- Line baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 425˚F.
- In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt, and sugar to a boil.
- Once the mixture reaches a boil, remove pan from heat and dump in flour at once and quickly stir with a wooden spoon.
- Once all the flour is incorporated, return the pan to the heat and cook the mixture for 30-60 seconds by continuing to stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until a thin film forms on the bottom of the pan.
- Move the dough into a mixing bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix for about 1-3 minutes until the dough is cool enough for you to stick your finger in. After that point, add 4 eggs, one at a time until incorporated. If the dough does not fall off the paddle in a “V” shape, add the fifth egg.
- In a pastry bag fitted with a large plain piping tip, pipe 1 inch circles of dough.
- In a separate bowl, make an egg wash by mixing 1 egg and 1 ½ tsp. water with a fork until well mixed.
- Use a pastry brush and lightly brush dough with your egg wash, brushing down any peaks you may have formed when you piped out the dough.
- Bake your cream puffs one baking sheet at a time in the center rack of your oven. Bake for 7 minutes and reduce the heat to 375˚F and bake for 10 minutes until golden brown.
- As soon as they come out of the oven, poke holes in each puff with a toothpick to release trapped steam.
- Once cool, use a small star pastry tip to make holes on the bottom of all the puffs
For the vanilla orange blossom pastry cream:
4 c. whole milk
1 c. granulated sugar, divided
3 egg yolks
2 large eggs
½ c. corn starch
1 pinch of salt
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. orange blossom water
- In a large saucepan, bring milk and ½ c. sugar to a boil.
- While the milk is heating, whisk egg yolks, eggs, ½ c. sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
- When the milk boils, slowly add milk to the egg mixture while whisking, one ladleful at a time.
- Once half of the milk mixture is added, add the egg mixture back into the milk mixture.
- Continuously whisk the mixture over medium heat until the cream thickens.
- Once thickened, take the mixture off the heat and mix in the butter until completely incorporated.
- Stir in the vanilla extract and orange blossom water.
- Strain the mixture through a sieve and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until ready for use.
For the caramel:
2 ½ c. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
½ c. water
- Prepare a metal bowl with ice water.
- In a saucepan, boil sugar, corn syrup and water until light amber. Do not stir while the sugar is cooking, it can cause crystals.
- Once the caramel becomes light amber, place pan into the ice water to prevent further cooking and cool the caramel.
- Place a 5 ½ inch cake board on a sheet of parchment paper.
- Fill the cream puffs with the pastry cream.
- Dip the top of each cream puff into the hot caramel, reheating it if caramel becomes too hard to dip. (CAUTION: Be careful not to touch the hot caramel, the hot sugar will stick to your skin and burn you. Keep a bowl of ice water on hand just in case to cool the burn asap.)
- Use the larger cream puffs for the bottom of the croqeumbouche.
- Dip the bottom of the first creampuff and stick to the outside of the cake board.
- Dip the next cream puff on the bottom and to the side, to stick to cream puff that is already on the cake board. Repeat the process until the first layer is done.
- When doing the second layer of cream puffs, arrange the cream puff in between each cream puff on the first layer, to create a stable tower.
- Continue to dip and build, heating the caramel if it becomes too hard.
- Once the tower is built, cool the caramel until it forms a thread when you lift it from the pot with a fork.
- Dip the fork into the caramel and circle around the croqeumbouche to create a web of caramel strings around it.
Pâte à choux recipe adapted from food network.
Pastry cream recipe adapted from all recipes.
Caramel recipe adapted from bon appetit.
* I realized that one category of blog posts that I love to read are monthly/weekly favorites. I love learning about new products and finds from other people. So I decided to share some of my favorite things too.
- Mansur Gavriel Lady Bag – No matter how many purses I look at, I always come back to this bag. Perfect in its simplicity and shape. It’s such a shame that it goes out of stock so quickly.
- Zara Printed Ballerinas – Goes with everything and incredibly comfortable. It’s super light too!
- The Original Beauty Blender – It’s what I’m currently using to apply foundation. Fast, fool proof application every single time. Just remember to wet it thoroughly and squeeze out the excess water.
- B.P. Straw Boater Hat – I first saw this on Blair Eadie on her blog (I love every single outfit of hers.) and had to have it. Bonus, it’s on sale!
- Stuart Weitzman Nudist Heels – The shoe that inspired a thousand copies. I’ve looked at them all, and nothing beats the original.
- Gentle Monster Love Punch Sunglasses – I’ve been waiting for these to come back in stock. I love the uniqueness of the frames.