bread + pastry

This recipe adaptation was another one of those saw it-checked the pantry-made it situations. Jeremy and I spent a few days before the actual Easter holiday this year with his family in Southern Illinois. I’ve  established a precedent of bringing some baked goods with me every time we take the three hour drive north/west on I-24 and when I saw the Spiced Cranberry Hot Cross Buns Kathryn posted on her blog, London Bakes, I knew they’d be perfect.

I had a bag of fresh cranberries withering in a produce drawer of our refrigerator [last hold-outs from the winter holidays] as well as a bag of candied ginger slices. Adding both amped up an already deliciously spice-ful recipe and added a variety of textures with the pop of fresh cranberries and the chew of the candied ginger.

The beauty of these buns is that they don’t have to be pigeon-holed just for the Easter holidays. Just skip the addition of the plain flour cross on top of the buns – but don’t skip the sugar glaze!

Hot cross buns were never a tradition for the Easter holiday in my family, unlike the ham and potatoes au gratin, but after these buns turned out so beautifully, I’m thinking I may have to make them one!

What are your favorite family Easter traditions, if you celebrate this holiday? I would love to know!



cranberry ginger spice hot cross buns | sweet betweens

Cranberry Ginger Spice Hot Cross Buns

from London BakesSpiced Cranberry Hot Cross Buns

yield : 12 buns



300 ml [1 1/4 cups] milk [I used whole, but you can use whatever you prefer]

50 g [a little under 1/2 stick] unsalted butter

500 g [4 cups] bread flour

1 tsp kosher salt

75 g [1/3 cup] granulated cane sugar

1 packet yeast

1 large egg, lightly whisked to combine yolk + white

100 g [4 ounces] fresh cranberries, sliced in half

1/4 cup candied ginger, small dice

zest of 1 lemon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cross [optional]

75 g [2/3 cup] all-purpose flour, unbleached

Glaze [optional]

2 TBSP granulated cane sugar


Warm milk to near boiling, stirring to prevent scorching the milk. Add butter and stir until melted. Set aside and let cool to 120-130 farenheit [ideal temperature to activate yeast].

While milk is heating, butter is melting and/or mixture is cooling, put flour, salt, sugar and yeast into the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Whisk to distribute evenly. Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture.

Add milk and egg to flour mixture. Stir together with a wooden spoon or spatula until combined. Knead mixture with dough hook attachment on low for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.

Cover dough with a clean cotton dishtowel and set in a warm place for an hour or so, until the dough has doubled in size.

Return bowl to stand mixer. Add cranberries, ginger and spices and knead for a few minutes until well distributed. Re-cover with towel and allow to rise again for an hour, or doubled in size, in your warm spot.

Divide the dough into equal pieces, weighing about 3 ounces each. Smooth into round buns and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover again and let rise until the buns have doubled in size, about an hour.

Heat oven to 375. While oven is coming to temperature, mix 2/3 cup all-purpose flour with 2-3 tablespoons water until you have a smooth paste. Pipe flour paste on top of buns into crosses.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

While buns are baking, melt 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in 2 tablespoons water. Once buns are finished baking [golden and crispy outsides, especially bottoms], brush syrup on top of each bun with a pastry brush.

cranberry ginger spice hot cross buns | sweet betweens

I had been hemming and hawing, waffling back and forth on the topic of homemade bread. In the last year or so I have been wanting to become *that* baker – the one who always has a fresh loaf of homemade sandwich bread around the house and who dabbles in fun savory and sweet boules, brioches and other types of bread + pastry.

When my pal Amy [Fearless Homemaker] shared her twist on a cinnamon swirl bread earlier this week, I bit the bullet. I may not have started the process until well into the evening on a Monday, but I had all of the ingredients necessary in the pantry plus a few for a twist. So I did it!

I. Baked. Bread. Y’ALL!

With a boost of confidence from Amy, Lindsay + Lesley on twitter everything went smoothly. I was nervous as I couldn’t remember how big the dough ball was pre-proofing, so I didn’t think it had risen enough. I figured I might as well go ahead with the baking since I couldn’t eat raw dough, anyways. Glad I did, as the loaf is wonderful! I may be glowing a bit from the rush of having accomplished a long dreamt-of goal, but honestly. The bread is GREAT! Decent chew thanks to the whole wheat flour, a sweet and spiceful surprise with the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spices, chocolate chips and hazelnuts.

Next time I make this bread [and believe me, there will be a next time. Probably next week!] I’ll double the filling, and maybe even add some dried fruit like cherries or blueberries? [Soak them in hot water to reconstitute so they are plump + moist before adding to the loaf.]

So, do it. Bake some bread this week/end! And please come back here and let me know how it went.



whole wheat[ish] nutty-spice swirl bread - sweet betweens 01

Whole Wheat[ish] Nutty Cinnamon-Chip Swirl

adapted from Fearless Homemaker‘s Whole Wheat Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Yield : 1 loaf [10-12 slices]  Prep Time : 20 minutes + 2.5 hours proof time + 40 min. bake time



1/2 cup warm milk [I used coconut-almond milk as we usually don’t have dairy milk in the house]

1/2 cup warm water

1 pkg yeast [1/4 oz]

2 tsp + 1/3 cup granulated cane sugar, divided

1 cup whole-wheat flour

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature

1 TBSP cinnamon*

1 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Nutty Spice Swirl:

3 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature

1 heaping TBSP pumpkin pie spice blend**

1 heaping TBSP dark brown sugar

1 heaping TBSP mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 heaping TBSP toasted, chopped hazelnuts

1 egg + 2 TBSP warm water, mixed [egg wash for loaf, just prior to baking]


1. Measure 1/3 cup sugar, flours, cinnamon and salt into medium bowl. Whisk to combine.

2. Combine warm milk and water, yeast and 2 tsp sugar in a measuring cup. Let sit for 10 minutes, until foamy.

3. While the yeast is foaming, add flour mixture to bowl of an electric stand mixer. Towards the end of the 10 minutes for yeast foaming, add butter and using paddle attachment, mix on low. While mixing, drizzle in yeast mixture until the dough just comes together.

4. Switch to dough hook attachment, increase speed to high and mix for 8-10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.

5. Butter or spray [with cooking spray] a large glass bowl, place dough inside and cover with a clean, cotton cloth. Let dough rise for 1 1/2 hours in the warmest spot of the house.***

6. While the dough is rising, mix together the spice swirl filling [all ingredients but butter]. Butter or spray your preferred loaf pan.

7. Once dough has risen to at least double its size, roll out on a floured surface to about 1/8″ thickness in a long rectangular shape [whatever the length of your loaf pan may be]. Smear butter on the surface of the dough. Sprinkle spice filling liberally over dough.

8. Tightly roll the dough, place in loaf pan and cover with cloth. Let rise an additional hour in the same warm spot in the house. Preheat oven to 350.

9. Whisk together egg and water for egg wash. Brush over top of loaf. Bake for 40 minutes, or until loaf is golden-brown on top. Cool, remove from pan, slice + enjoy!

* I ADORE these new[ish] roasted spices by McCormick. I’ve got the cinnamon and ginger and am hoping to build my collection to include them all. They pack so much of a spiceful punch with every teaspoon, I’m totally sold. So when you need to replenish your spices, splurge on these. They’re worth it! [*I was not endorsed by anyone to say this. 100% honest opinion here.]

**I used Trader Joe’s pumpkin pie spice mix because it includes cinnamon, ginger, lemon zest, nutmeg, cloves and black pepper. A bit more spice than your usual pie spice blend! Feel free to stick with just cinnamon or a blend of your favorite spices that will total up to one heaping TBSP.

***Amy proofed her bread in her small bathroom, door shut, heat cranked up, on a baking sheet. Lindsay turns her oven on for 30 seconds, turns the oven off [IMPORTANT!!] and then puts the bowl of dough in there to proof. Finally, Lesley turns her toaster oven on for a few minutes then puts the dough nearby to proof.

whole wheat[ish] nutty-spice swirl bread - sweet betweens 02

Despite growing up in Southeast Asia where fruits like mango, papaya, rambutan and mangosteen [my favorite!] are everyday, the persimmon was foreign and strange to me until I tackled it last year in Maria + Josh’s persimmon cookie recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod.

It’s still quite a subtle fruit to me, slightly citrusy. In essence I like to bake with the persimmon because it brings a nice bright flavor to the typically dense and rich baked goods you find in the fall season [hello, pumpkin!].

I tweaked a recipe for a persimmon bundt cake I saw in the November issue of Vegetarian Times. Topped with a tart + tangy vanilla bean buttermilk glaze, this is the kind of donut you want to have for dessert, not dunked in your a.m. java. Well, who am I kidding. I might’ve had a donut or two for breakfast after baking these up.

I’d love to know – what ‘exotic’ fruit or vegetable have you tackled in your kitchen lately?



Persimmon Baked Donuts with Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Glaze

adapted from Spiced Persimmon Bundt Cake with Yogurt Cream // Vegetarian Times Nov. 2012

Prep Time : 15 minutes  Cook Time : 15 minutes  Yield : 12 baked donuts



2 medium Hachiya persimmon, ripe [puree should yield 1 cup] [Hachiya vs. Fuyu]

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp coarse salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter [1 1/2 sticks], room temperature

1 1/2 cups + 2 TBSP granulated sugar, divided

3 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup whole Greek yogurt, divided

Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Glaze

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 TBSP melted butter

2 tsp vanilla extract

seeds/caviar from 1 long vanilla bean

4 TBSP buttermilk



1. Butter/grease your donut pan[s]. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Cut persimmons in half and scoop out flesh. Puree until smooth. Set aside 1 cup.

3. Whisk together flours, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

4. Beat butter in stand mixer until light and fluffy [about 5 minutes]. Slowly add in 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and continue to beat for another minute, or until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Finally, beat in vanilla extract.

5. Reduce mixer speed to low and add half of flour mixture. Follow with 1/2 cup of persimmon puree. Then add remaining flour mixture, the last 1/2 cup of persimmon puree and end with the 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt.

6. Transfer batter to a pastry bag with a wide tip or a large Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. Pipe batter into prepared donut pans.

7. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool completely.

Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Glaze

1. Stir together powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract until smooth. [I usually just dump all these ingredients in a medium bowl and have at it with a fork.]

2. Gradually add in up to 4 TBSP buttermilk until you reach the desired consistency of glaze for your donuts.


1. Place cooled donuts on a wire rack set on a baking sheet or over parchment paper.

2. Spoon glaze over donuts and let sit for 15 minutes for glaze to set.

These donuts are best eaten the day they are prepared. Can be kept in refrigerator in an airtight container for 2-3 days. If you are preparing the donuts in advance, wait to glaze them until just prior to eating.

I’m sure you’ve been hearing it out the wazoo, but y’all? FALL IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER! Fall is my most favorite season of the year. The cool but sunny weather. The beautiful leaves changing colors. The Husband + I’s anniversary in September which always warrants a trip to Asheville, NC. And the apples. Oh the apples!

The Husband and I spent this past weekend with his family in Southern Illinois. We went to a local orchard in the hopes to pick up some of the last peaches of the season, but no dice. The recent drought nipped the season short by a few weeks. We were, however, lucky enough to snag a giant back of local Jonagold apples. Sweet with a nice tart bite. Lovely red skin. One of my favorite apples.

[look at that chunky coconut-apple-almond topping!]

This recipe makes for a perfect filling breakfast – and the muffins are easy to wrap + store in the freezer for a quick warm-up in the toaster oven when you’re rushing out the door.

Paleo Coconut-Apple-Almond Egg Muffins Recipe

[adapted from Practical Paleo, by the author of the Balanced Bites blog]

Prep : 15 minutes          Bake :  25 minutes          Yield : 24 regular muffins


5 Jonagold apples, diced [approx. 2 cups – dice to your own size preference]

3 TBSP warm water OR 1 1/2 TBSP butter or coconut oil

1/8 cup sliced almonds + 1 [heaping] TBSP for topping

1/8 cup coconut flakes + 1/4 cup for topping

2 TSP cinnamon

2 TSP ginger, ground

2 TSP cardamom

8 eggs

3 TBSP coconut milk

1 1/2 TSBP coconut flour

1/4 cup applesauce [all-natural, no-added sugar]

1/4 TSP baking soda

pinch of sea salt


Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium skillet, saute apples, water or butter/coconut oil, and spices until the apples are soft. Allow the mixture to cool before combining with the egg mixture.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, coconut milk, coconut flour, sliced almonds, coconut flakes, baking soda and salt until well combined. Add the cooled apple mixture, reserving 1/2 cup for topping.

Spoon egg and apple mixture into lined AND greased muffin tins [grease even the paper liner, otherwise your pretty muffins will pull apart when peeling off the liner], about 1/4 cup each.

Bake for 10 minutes, then remove tins from oven to scoop about 1 TBSP of the reserved apple mixture for topping on each muffin. [doing so after baking for a while allows for the mixture to not sink straight to the middle of the muffin] Continue baking for 20 more minutes.



PS – here’s a goofy picture of me at the orchard we visited in Southern Illinois!

It’s about that time of year when the zucchini is going wild in the garden. We received two large squash in our weekly CSA and then graciously accepted the donation of another squash from our neighbors bountiful urban garden [I’m hoping to feature them + their garden in a post soon!]. Wanting to do something new with the squash, I decided to jazz up a pretty standard [but delicious!] recipe for regular zucchini bread/muffins and make them paleo-friendly so that The Husband could enjoy them throughout the week for breakfast.

These definitely have a different texture thanks to the gluten-free/paleo-friendly almond and coconut flours I used, but despite that they turned out pretty moist + chock full of sweet-tart dried cherries, sweet chocolate chips and spicy candied ginger.

Paleo-Friendly Chocolate-Zucchini Muffins

[loosely adapted from The Paleo Mom]

Yield : 22 regular muffins  Prep Time : 25 minutes Bake Time : 30 minutes


3 cups zucchini, grated

4 large or jumbo eggs [I had teeny-tiny farm fresh eggs from our CSA, so I had to up it to 6 eggs]

1/4 cup + 2 TBSP melted coconut oil

1/2 cup raw honey [we love TruBee Honey at Casa Sweet Betweens]

1 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup candied ginger [my pieces were already quite small, so if you pick up a box from the grocery store, you might want to dice the pieces finer – depends on your palate!]

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups almond flour

1 1/2 cups coconut flour

1/2 cup carob powder [can sub cocoa powder]

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt


1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease muffin tins, if necessary [I just baked mine in liners].

2. In a small bowl combine flours, spices, baking soda, salt, cherries, ginger and chocolate chips. Whisk until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.

3. In a large bowl, mix grated zucchini, honey, eggs and melted coconut oil.

4. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until just combined [do not overmix].

5. Scoop batter into prepared muffin tins, so they fill up 3/4 of each well.

6. Bake for 30 minutes, and enjoy!