Sim Sala Bim

Fluffy Overnight Cinnamon Rolls | La Pêche Fraîche

Then the Earth shook, that was all that it took for the dream to break
All the loose ends would surround me again in the shape of your face

What makes me love you despite the reservations?
What do I see in your eyes
Besides my reflection hanging high?

Are you off somewhere reciting incantations?
Sim sala bim on your tongue…

—Fleet Foxes

Fluffy Overnight Cinnamon Rolls | La Pêche Fraîche

Ever since I was little, there have been certain thought streams that help me settle down and fall asleep.

Particularly in the winter, I imagine myself in the deep arctic, in a little pure white snow cave dug into the side of a hill while a storm howls around the landscape.
I think of each warm piece of clothing I’d don (long johns, leggings, two pairs of my warmest, softest wool socks, gloves and mittens and a cuddly sweater, etc…) and imagine myself, warm and cozy despite the cold.
At that point, sleep drapes itself over my drowsy body, yet another blanket of comfort.

Fluffy Overnight Cinnamon Rolls | La Pêche Fraîche

I’d be hard-pressed to imagine anything more cozy than a pan of fresh-baked, fragrant cinnamon buns.
Just look—! at them.  They’re snuggled up against their brethren, their nakedness revealing bewitching spirals that hypnotize almost as much as their scent does.

I made these for Christmas morning, because that’s really the time to break out your most indulgent breakfast recipes.  Served still-warm with a cup of hot coffee or tea makes for a morning treat that’s impossible to top.

Fluffy Overnight Cinnamon Rolls | La Pêche Fraîche

If you want to pull off the magic of warm cinnamon buns on a busy holiday morning, it’s definitely imperative to have a reliable and easy recipe.

My requirements for such a recipe:
it must require minimal effort in the AM, because you’re going to be preoccupied with other things and no one wants to fuss around in the kitchen for half of the morning

it must be quick in the morning, because if your family is anything like mine, they will be breathing down your neck and threatening to turn to cold cereal by 11am

it must be consistently worth the calories and evening effort; it needs must prep and taste like a dream every time.

Fluffy Overnight Cinnamon Rolls | La Pêche Fraîche

These cinnamon buns fulfill all of my stipulations.
They’re easy, fast, and taste like a cloud of sugary, buttery, spicy goodness.
The night before, you make and knead the dough—15 minutes in a stand mixer/3 dishes (1 measuring cup + 2 bowls) dirtied.  Done and done.
The dough, which has similarities to a brioche in its milk- and butter-rich proportions, rises quickly and is smooth, shiny, and supple, making it easy to roll out once risen.
A heap of softened butter and brown sugar and cinnamon gets spread generously over the dough, further enriching the rolls with all-around deliciousness.
Rolled up tight and cut with kitchen string (or floss), they are tucked into a buttered pan and set in the fridge to develop flavor and relax overnight.
In the morning, it’s just a matter of taking them out of the refrigerator and preheating your oven; once again, they rise quickly and bake in less than 30 minutes.
A classic cream cheesy glaze is lathered on top, making the already fluffy, buttery buns even more luxuriously sweet and sticky and creating rivals to even Cinnabon buns.

Pinky promise these will make whomever you live with happy.  They are irresistible!

Fluffy Overnight Cinnamon Rolls | La Pêche Fraîche

Fluffy Overnight Cinnamon Rolls 
makes 15 large buns
adapted from KAF

for the dough:
240 grams (1 cup) low-fat milk, 110 degrees F
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 eggs, room temperature
75 grams (1/3 cup) butter, soft and cut up
530 grams (4 1/2 cups) flour
1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar

for the filling:
75 grams (1/3 cup) butter, soft
210 grams (1 cup) packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon

for the glaze:
3 tablespoons cream cheese
1 teaspoon cream
170 grams (1 1/2 cups) powdered sugar
splash vanilla extract

Make the dough: bloom the yeast in the lukewarm water; set aside to become frothy.
Place flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment.
Add in the frothy yeast mixture and stir on low; add in the eggs one at a time and knead until a rough dough comes together; add in the butter one piece at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
Knead on medium speed for 10 minutes, or until the dough isn’t too tacky and has created a “tornado” shape on the bottom of the bowl.
Dough should not be sticking to the sides of the bowl, but rather, be smooth and even and soft.
Remove from stand mixer bowl and form into a ball; place into a well-greased bowl and oil the top of the dough just a little.
Place in a warm, draft-free place with plastic wrap fitted snugly on top of the bowl.
Once doubled in size (about an hour), punch dough down.
Flour a surface lightly and grease a 9×13 or similar size pan.
Turn the dough out and roll out firmly into a 16″x21″ rectangle; dough should be fairly thin.
It will snap back as you roll it out, so be patient.
Once rolled out, spread the softened butter out all over the dough, leaving a small edge on one long side.
Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon all over the butter.
Starting from the long side opposite the little empty lip, roll up the dough into a snug spiral.
Using a piece of string or flavorless floss or a serrated knife, cut the roll into 12 2″ buns.
Arrange them snugly into the greased pan.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, remove from fridge and place in a warm, draft-free place.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
When buns have doubled in size, remove plastic wrap and place in oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and fragrant and a tester doesn’t stick in the center.
Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly while you prepare the frosting.
Whisk cream cheese and cream together with vanilla extract; sift in the powdered sugar and stir until a thick frosting comes together.
Spread over the still-warm buns in a thick layer.
Allow frosting to set, about 15 minutes, before serving with hot coffee.



Hey there, Autumn.


I thought I’d share some things that I’m loving and coveting right now.  Some hover on the edge of the seasons, some I share with autumnal intent, and some for plain old adoration.

First off, I cannot stop listening to “I’m Not the Only One.”
It’s been on repeat for 2 full days.
Sam Smith gets me and my current life mood, and this song is soothing but oh-so-sad.
It’s incredibly refreshing to hear his beautiful Adele-man-voice singing something other than “Stay With Me” or “Latch.”

I finally (!) read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Oh!!!!
It was utterly fantastic. I picked it up and didn’t put it down until I finished, 24 hours later.
The attention she pays to details, her nuanced plot implications, and realistic emotional touch add up to quite an addictive read.
And OMG I can’t wait for the movie.

I reallyreallyreallyreallyreally want to read The Hedge Knight (AKA the tales of Dunk and Egg) by GRRM to bide my time until the next GoT book (2015?!?! REALLY?!) but have discovered that it costs $100+ dollars to buy a new copy.
I may have to settle for the kindle version, which is inferior in my humble opinion. Give me a crackling spine and sweet, faintly musty paper pages any day.


I love the Hunter “Iconic Red” collection, but I really have my eye on some tall black wellingtons.  I have the olive green ones and absolutely adore them, and I think black can only be more versatile!
(Although since I intend to buy these gorgeous black boots in the next few weeks, red wellingtons could be just the ticket to keep my boot collection from looking too monotonous…)

I bought a pair of Lululemon 4-way stretch running shorts about a month ago, and I am about ready to throw out all my “norts” and invest in 4 more pairs of these babies.
They’re fitted without being clingy, so they don’t ride up or stick to you in weird places; they’re stretchy and comfortable, lightweight, and don’t cut in at all at the hips.
I hate having to adjust my clothing in the middle of a workout, which is the main reason why I fell for lulu leggings.  Now, I fear also been converted to their sport shorts…

This bag shall be mine, as soon as it goes back on sale (as Jessica pointed out, Rebecca Minkoff is always on sale).
I have a similar bag (white python, gold hardware) but it’s irritatingly large and due to its poor quality, stained from my blue jeans.  Can’t wait to get rid of it and replace it with a mini Mac!

In the realm of bags, I am coveting this Céline.
Sigh. One day.


I have more links to share, but I don’t want my varied obsessions to be too long-winded, so I’ll save them for another link love post.
(Although by then I’ll inevitably have racked up another impressive list of randoms…)

Let’s chat about this here cake, y’all.

It started out as a spiced applesauce cake with a heaping ton of streusel on top, but in the heat of the oven, the top of the cake buckled in and ate much of the streusel—when I pulled out the loaf, the top sported an eighth of the original amount of streusel.
I figured it would mostly just melt into the batter, no big deal.

However, something far, far better happened:
a pocket of molten streusel, basically a little river of caramelized sugar and butter with a heavy hit of salt, aka the stuff of dreams aka pinch-me-am-I-dreaming-deliciousness, formed right in the center of the cake.

The parts of the cake that retained their streuseled top (mostly the edges) were, just as expected, pleasantly moist with a lovely crunch on top.
So, if your streusel doesn’t sink through the cake, don’t worry.  Either way produces a gently spiced, super moist cake that offers a faint suggestion of apples and fall.
Either way, however, you neeeeed to add this glaze.
It’s my go-to: maple syrup, brown butter, salt, a touch of cream. UGH. Could eat with a spoon.

I snuck one two pieces of this cake before I wrapped it up and gave it to my bestfriendinthewholeworld, Gwen.
It’s perfectly comforting, well-suited for stressed out students!
Like a hug in cake form.
It’s a bomb way to start off fall baking—warm and spicy, but decidedly not pumpkin.

(I’m so not ready for that yet.)


Brown Butter Applesauce Cake
cake portion adapted from Averie
streusel portion adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes 1 9×5 loaf

for the streusel:
5 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

for the cake:
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup sour cream
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

for the brown butter maple glaze:
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 – 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
Make the streusel: combine all of the ingredients and pinch with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, set aside.
Make the cake: place the sugars, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Brown the butter in a skillet, then pour it over the sugar mixture.
While whisking, add in the eggs and vanilla extract; whisk until combined, then stir in the applesauce and sour cream.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder, then stir into the batter until homogeneous.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, then sprinkle the streusel on top.
Bake for 55-65 minutes, until a toothpick comes out completely clean (you can tent it with foil if the top browns too quickly).
Remove from the oven; while the cake is cooling, make the glaze.
Place butter in a small skillet and brown; remove from the heat and add stir in the salt and maple syrup.
While whisking, add in the powdered sugar, then add heavy cream to thin it to a pouring consistency (if you add too much cream, you can add in a little more sugar to balance it out).
Pour/drizzle the warm glaze over the slightly warm cake, then leave to cool completely.
Serve in thick slices with strong coffee.

A Donut A Day


Happy national doughnut (donut?) day!


Here.  Go make these ridiculous beignets from Mandy of Lady and Pups.
I’m coughing my lungs up (don’t ask me how I’ve managed to get so freaking sick right before exams…), and don’t feel like rewriting her thorough instructions.

Next time, I’m cutting mine into rounds and filling them with custard and jam.
This batch didn’t puff up nearly as much as I wanted, which only motivates me to retest and perfect.
In fact, I might do that tomorrow.  Just another reason to save your frying oil!!
Because doughnuts.

Also, if you have to ask whether that obnoxious amount of powdered sugar is really necessary, then I’m afraid you don’t deserve a beignet.  Visit Café Du Monde and you’ll see what I mean.

Back soon with pie. Xx




“Impossible, for a plain yellow pumpkin to become a golden carriage.
Impossible, for a plain country bumpkin and a prince to join in marriage.
A slipper made of glass is just a shoe and dreamers never make the dream come true. Impossible!”

-The Fairy Godmother, Cinderella


You’re probably hoping that your eyes deceive you and that these buns are not, in fact, orange.

That these buns are not, in fact, made of pumpkin.

Another pumpkin recipe on the blogosphere?  Impossible!  It will explode, raining orange, autumnal purée and pepitas over all of us.

Impossible!  Surely!

P.S. Still lolling at that gif.  Like I can’t even.  Hahahahahahahahaaha.


Okay.  Yes.  Oops.  It might be one pumpkin recipe too many.

I exploded the blogosphere and GET THIS IT GETS WORSE YES I KNOW

 because I still have at least one more pumpkin recipe

(but probably 2)

and then I’ll be done IpromiseI’msorryI’msorryIknowI’mabadblogger.

So let’s all forget that we’re sick of pumpkin.  Let’s pretend it’s a new and exciting medium in which I, as a food blogger, can work. (HA!)

Let’s just enjoy this damn orange vegetable while it’s still kind of fall and semi-acceptable.

Okay?  At least it’s November and not May.  Let’s look on the bright side of this tired squash.



Let’s talk bunz.

Soft, brown-butter, yeasted and spiced pumpkin dough is folded around a butter, pumpkin spice, and sugar filling into which you will undoubtedly want to faceplant.

Strips are cut, then cut again, then twisted and folded and knotted and topped with heaping amounts of sugars.

The Swedish-inspired buns expand a little, rise a little more, and then get baked to golden perfection.

The bottoms of my buns got a little burned.  (Teehee.) Double up baking sheets so this terrible tragedy doesn’t happen to you.

These are perfect with a hot cup of tea or coffee.  They would be a most marvelous accompaniment for a Swedish fika.

Fika fika.


Brown Butter Pumpkin Kanelbullens
inspired by Call me Cupcake! (Serious blog admiration/love/drool.)
makes approximately 16 buns

for the dough:
125 grams (approximately 1/2 cup) milk
125 grams (slightly heaping 1/2 cup) pumpkin
7 grams (1 packet, 1/4 ounce, 2 1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast
75 grams (5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) butter, browned
45 grams (scant 1/4 cup) sugar
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice blend
420 grams (3 1/2 cups) flour

for the filling:
85 grams (6 tablespoons) butter, very soft
45 grams (scant 1/4 cup) sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin spice blend

to finish:
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
granulated sugar and Swedish pearl sugar, for decorating

Place pumpkin and milk in a saucepan and heat to 110 degrees F; sprinkle the yeast over and allow to bloom for 5 minutes.
Whisk the browned butter, sugar, and pumpkin spice together very well.
When the yeast is dissolved and little bubbles are forming in the pumpkin/milk, whisk that mixture into the butter mixture.
Place in the bowl of a stand mixer and dump all the flour on top.
Mix with the dough hook for 7-10 minutes, until the dough is crazy soft and smooth, like a baby’s bottom.
You now have two options: leave the dough for up to 3 nights in the fridge in an oiled bowl with saran wrap pressed lightly against the surface, or let it rise at a warm room temp in the same bowl/wrapping situation until doubled in size, about 2 hours, depending on temperature.
If you refrigerate the dough, let it come to room temp before proceeding, which may take a while depending on the heat of your kitchen.
When you’re ready to finish the buns, roll the dough out into a large rectangle on a floured surface to a thickness of about 1/8 of an inch.
Mash the butter, sugar, and spices together with a fork or spoon (if your butter isn’t soft, use a mixer to soften it).
Spread the butter mixture over the rolled out dough- it should be very thinly spread.
Fold the short edges over, to fold the dough like a letter.
Cut strips of dough, then split them almost all the way up, leaving a small bit at the top still attached as one– like pants!
Twist the pant legs, then knot them together.
Place the buns on a well-insulated baking sheet (my bottoms got burned– I would recommend doubling up) lined with parchment.
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugars.
Allow to rise while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden and the buns are baked all the way through (pull one apart to inspect).
Enjoy warm with tea or coffee!

Brass Monkey


Winter is coming.



Sidenote: I cannot wait for February 2014.  I’m dying with anticipation for Season 4 of what is arguably the best television series ever made.
And yes, I’m willing to make that argument.

My dad and I good-naturedly disagree about this all the time.

Speaking of my dad, he’s here in Chicago visiting me and giving a talk at the Booth school.  I’m sitting here writing this while he works next to me at the Quad Club.

We just had dinner at the Green Zebra…

Life is good.

Edit: Sitting in Harper Memorial.  Just ate breakfast at the dining hall.  Wish I were at the QC.  Wish I had just eaten at the Green Zebra.



One thing I miss most about home is the leisure time spent watching my favorite shows avec mon papa.

I’m going through serious withdrawals, because while we have a Slingbox, I just don’t have enough time to sit down and watch the many hours of TV that have racked up.  I wish I did, but I don’t.  For a period of time, he was in London, and that didn’t help either.  Oh well.

Also, I just miss spending time with him and my mama and mes animaux.

I’m so grateful that he is here this weekend, and I’m incredibly excited to go home for Thanksgiving, which is already my favorite hollyday.

Incredibly. Excited.



It has been pretty bracingly cold in Chicago over the last few days.
I can’t say I’m surprised or unused to this type of weather, since Ithaca has very similar weather patterns (it generally lags 1 or 2 days behind Chicago weather, but is temperature-wise very similar), but it sure came on fast.

Supposedly, it will be 64 on Sunday…  Again, can’t say I’m surprised.

But three short days ago, it was 27 degrees F with the sun out, not including the windchill.

Edit: It’s around 45-50 degrees out today.  Gorgeous.  Perfect.  My kind of weather.  Cool enough to be comfortable.  Warm enough to be pleasant.  


Enter: bread pudd’n.
Hot, crunchy, citrusy, and custard-like, it’s a great comfort dessert.
The bread pieces on top are crunchy and crispy from the almonds and extra sugar which caramelizes in the oven.
Those on bottom are soft and gooey, bathed in custard redolent of citrus and butter.
It’s an eggy delight, and so simple!

I would love to be curled up on a couch right now, wrapped in blankets, with a steaming bowl full of bread pudding topped with a great mound of softly whipped cream and powdered sugar, watching Game of Thrones.

Can someone come make that happen?

Like, now?




Orange and Lemon Bread Pudding
5 eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch kosher salt
2 1/3 cups milk
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1 batch orange curd, fully cooled (recipe below)
1 1/2 loaves soft Italian bread
turbinado and granulated sugar, for sprinkling
handful almond slices, for garnish
powdered sugar and softly whipped cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter a 12-inch round pan (or other pan of comparable size).
Slice your bread into slices between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick.
Whisk eggs, milk, lemon zest and juice, sugar, and salt together.
Spread each of the sides of each of your slices of bread with orange curd, then arrange them in your pan.
Pour the milk and egg mixture over the slices of bread, making sure that they all get at least partially covered.
Sprinkle heavily with turbinado and granulated sugar.
Bake for 30 minutes, turning halfway through, until custard is set but slightly wobbly.
Garnish with lots of almonds and stick back in the oven for 5 minutes, to let the almonds toast up a little bit.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly, then dust with powdered sugar and serve.
Bread pudding and whipped cream or ice cream are a match made in the heavens above.  Do it.

Orange Curd:
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
zest of 2 oranges
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
pinch salt
1 egg plus 2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice
8 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

Whisk sugar, juice, zest, cornstarch, salt, and eggs together in a pot.
Begin to heat over low-medium heat until it comes to a boil; allow to cook until thick.
Remove from heat and whisk in vinegar or lemon juice.
Either transfer to a stand blender or use a hand blender: blend in the chunks of butter until the curd is very smooth and silky.
Allow to cool, then transfer to the fridge with a piece of clingfilm placed directly on the surface of the curd to cool completely.


“Adam was but human—this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.”
-Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson
I have bad news.
I did that thing I do again.
That thing that I do that makes no sense.
I scratched my compulsive, everything-from-scratch itch again.
I made bread- but not just any bread, a very involved, intricate, fussy, time-consuming bread.
Then, I chopped it up and made bread pudding.
I know.  I think I’m crazy, too.
But this bread… Oh, this bread.
Soft, fluffy, snowy white.
Yes, white bread.  Even though I’m a nuts-and-seeds, whole-food, whole-grain, fermented, brown, brown, brown bread type of girl, I love white bread.
We all do.  I refuse to hear otherwise.
Think about it… crispy, crackly baguettes, eggy challah, white sourdough boules…
White bread is great, occasionally.
Now is one of those occasions.

I baked this bread following instructions at Kirbie’s Cravings.
She adapted it from a cookbook, 65 Degrees, which outlines the Tangzhong method of making bread.
This is a Japanese-style Hokkaido bread, which is a milk, butter, and cream enriched dough.
In my experience, enriched yeast doughs need a little more care to ensure they come out perfectly.
Her instructions could not be any better, so I’ll send you there if you’d like to try the bread.
I highly recommend it.
(You will need a scale.)

I halved the recipe so I would only get 1 loaf, but found myself regretting that we didn’t have two loaves.  
The tangzhong paste is sort of like a bread enhancer/saver, so it will last a bit longer than other homemade breads, another reason to make two loaves.

Here’s the link:

Kirbie’s Cravings’ Hokkaido Milk Toast

(Thanks so much, Kirbie!!)

Some tips that I learned while making this bread:
The tangzhong cooks very quickly, so stay near it while it cooks.
Set a timer for 20 minutes and let the dough knead the entire time: due to the enriched nature of the dough, the gluten development is slightly inhibited (the butter, cream, egg, and milk make it difficult for the gluten to form) and needs a long kneading period.
Your dough needs to pass the membrane/windowpane test, which Kirbie describes perfectly.  She even provides pictures.
Now, these bread puddings:
you should eat them warm, with a dollop of cold, freshly whipped cream.
The chocolate is melty, the plums are fall-apart tender and tart.
The top of the bread is crunchy and the underside is custardy.
Bread pudding is a fall dessert.  
This bread pudding showcases the best of late summer: plums.
They’re roasted until bubbling and syrupy, then cut into small pieces and layered among fluffy bread cubes and dark chocolate chips, then smothered in custard and baked, again, until bubbling.
The juices pour down the sides as the puddings puff up; when you pull them out of the oven they will deflate a bit, but the result of the deflation is a lovely, dense custard, filled with goodies.
You could make these with any white bread: challah, sourdough, sandwich, brioche… just cut the crusts off.
Or, you could make them with Hokkaido milk toast… Which obviously I highly recommend.
P.S. Heat any leftovers (what’s a leftover) in the microwave for 20 seconds, so they warm up again.  They’ll taste like they’re straight out of the oven.

Roasted Plum and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding
makes 4 small ramekins, easily doubled, tripled, or quadrupled
2 plums or pluots
1 tablespoon of sugar
3 1/2 inch thick slices of brioche, challah, or sourdough, crusts removed and cubed
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 a vanilla bean, scraped
pinch of cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons large chocolate chunks or chips
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
whipped cream, for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Halve and pit the plums and place in a baking dish.  
Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar and bake until syrupy and soft, 12-15 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Whisk egg, milk, and 3 tablespoons sugar together with the scrapings of 1/2 a vanilla bean and a pinch of cinnamon.
Lay bread cubes over the bottom of each ramekin and place a few chocolate chips over that layer.
Cube the cooled plums; place a thick layer of plums over the first bread layer, about 1/2 plum per ramekin.  
Top with the remaining bread cubes and chocolate chips.
Pour 1/4 of the egg mixture over each dish, then sprinkle liberally with turbinado sugar.
Bake until puffed, golden, and juices overflowing, about 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly; serve warm with whipped cream.

Let Them Eat Cake

Hey y’all!
I hope you guys had a wonderful slew of holiday celebrations.
I’m here to give you some marvelous news: the good times keep on rollin’. 
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Today is Epiphany, the celebratory feast of the last day of the twelve days of Christmas.  In the past, upcoming religious observances like Ash Wednesday, Lent, and Easter Sunday, were announced on Epiphany, when calendars were not readily available.
In France, today, Epiphany is often celebrated with one of two special cakes: un gâteau des rois or une galette des rois.  
The gâteau des rois (literally, cake of kings- indeed, this is where the New Orleans King Cake, which is eaten to signal the beginning of Lent, originated) is traditional in Provence, and consists of a brioche ring topped with crunchy pearl sugar and candied or dried fruit.  
The galette is a much slightly more indulgent affair, traditionally comprised of two rounds of buttery puff pastry sandwiching a layer of sweet almond frangipane. 
Now, keeping in mind the holiday feasts which have just passed, I chose to make un gâteau des rois, because brioche has about one tenth of the butter and far less sugar than puff pastry, and I used part whole wheat flour for an small but appreciated health boost.
So there you go!  You can have your cake, and eat it too.  Even if you’re in an early-January post-resolutions funk.  Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.


Gâteau des rois avec les kumquats confits
recipe lightly adapted from Tartelette
75 mL (1/3 cup) milk, warmed to 110 degrees F
1 heaping teaspoon instant yeast
75 grams (3 tablespoons) sugar
1 small egg or 1/2 a large one (beat it and either weigh it and divide in two, or just eyeball it.  If you have jumbo eggs, a yolk will do just fine.  And if you cannot be bothered, just throw the whole egg in.  What I’m trying to say is that such a small amount of egg makes little difference here.)
small pinch sea salt (use 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon orange juice, or orange blossom water
140 grams (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) flour (I used half white-whole wheat and half all-purpose)
35 g (2.5 tablespoons) butter, softened
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon cream or milk, for egg wash
3 tablespoons jelly or preserves (I used a mix of meyer lemon and apricot)
Honeyed kumquats (see below)
Large pearl sugar (I used Belgian and Swedish)
Measure out the warm milk in a glass measuring cup or bowl.  Stir the yeast and sugar in gently.  Let foam up for 5 or so minutes, then pour into the bowl of a stand mixer or just a large mixing bowl.  Stir in the egg, sea salt, and orange juice and mix until all combined.  Begin to add in flour (if you aren’t using a stand mixer, use a wooden spoon and gather all of your kneading strength and courage), until all is combined.  Knead for 1 minute, then begin to add in the butter, piece by piece, waiting until the previous piece is incorporated before adding the next.  Now, knead for at least 8 minutes.  It is a wet dough, so be aware.  Once the 8 minutes are up, the dough should be barely sticky and supple, and smell like sweet butter and yeast.  Either place in a lightly oiled bowl with plastic wrap pressed right onto the surface, and allow to age and mature overnight in the fridge (this will make for better flavor), or continue right on.  Divide the dough into 8 equal weight chunks- mine were 51 grams each and were approximately 1/4 cup in size.  Roll the chunks into smooth balls, (put a dried bean in the middle of one) and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment.  Make a circle of balls, then place a jelly jar in the middle of the ring.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Allow the brioche to rise until doubled in size and very puffy, about 1 hour, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.  Fill the jelly jar with water, so it does not crack in the oven, then brush the dough with the egg wash and bake until the internal temperature is 190 degrees F, or the dough is shiny and deep golden.  Remove from oven and let cool, then carefully remove the jelly jar.
Heat up the jam until liquid, and strain out any large pieces of fruit, if using preserves or jelly.  Brush hot glaze all over brioche, then sprinkle on pearl sugar and place the candied kumquats on each little bun.  Enjoy!

Honeyed Kumquats
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 pint fresh kumquats, washed and cut into thin rounds
place the honey, sugar, and water in a heavy, medium sized pot and bring to a boil.  Once the syrup reached 234 degrees F, place all the kumquat slices in and allow them to cook for 8-10 minutes, until translucent.  (If you double the recipe, do this in two stages so as not to overcrowd the pan.)  Remove from syrup with a slotted spoon, and place on a sheet of parchment until needed.