Raised Gingerbread Loaf

raised-gingerbread-loaf-from-the-rowdy-bakerThis is definitely not your Grandma’s gingerbread! It’s a tender, rich yeast bread with the fragrance and flavor of spicy gingerbread…just not as sweet. (Don’t expect cake.)

And oh, my, does it toast well! When I took my first bite of a toasted slice, I immediately thought of cinnamon raisin bread, with a delectable hint of Boston brown bread. I love them both, so I was very pleased with the outcome.raised-gingerbread-loaf-toasted-the-rowdy-baker

I sure hope you like raisins, because they really make this bread special. Since the dough isn’t overly sweet, those little sugary bits of raisins add interest to the finished loaf. You could successfully substitute any chopped, dried fruit though, for a similar effect.

Can you imagine the French toast it made? C’est délicieux!gingerbread-french-toast

The recipe makes two loaves of bread, or you can make one loaf and turn the other half of the dough into Gingerbread Sticks! Half of the dough will make 20 long sticks or 40 short ones. You may want to go for the short variety for two reasons: They are fairly soft (especially the next day), so the short ones are sturdier. And, if you offer my Orange Cream Cheese Dip with the long sticks, you’re going to get the dreaded double-dipping!

gingerbreadsticks-from-the-rowdy-baker

So. Warm slices slathered in butter, toast (my personal favorite), French toast, or Gingerbreadsticks. Pretty versatile! I don’t think it would be your go-to bread for a ham and cheese sandwich, but still…lots of good reasons to make a batch.

Raised Gingerbread Loaf
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Makes two loaves or one loaf and 20 long (or 40 short) Gingerbreadsticks.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk (I use whole milk)
  • ⅔ cup molasses
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (more to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ⅓ cup warm water
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 6+ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup raisins
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, scald the milk. (Heat just until it gets bubbly all around the edge.) Remove from heat and whisk in the molasses, butter, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and brown sugar.
  2. Once butter is completely melted, stir in the buttermilk. Allow mixture to cool until lukewarm.
  3. In a small bowl combine ½ teaspoon sugar and warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top and allow the mixture to sit until bubbly - about 5 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl (a stand mixer is best) combine the lukewarm molasses mixture and yeast mixture. Add eggs and combine.
  5. Using a dough hook (or sturdy wooden spoon if beating by hand) stir in 6 cups of the flour and beat for 3 minutes. Dough will be very sticky. Add raisins. Slowly add flour as necessary, a couple of tablespoons at a time, just until dough comes cleanly from the sides of the bowl. Knead by machine or by hand for 2 additional minutes.
  6. Dough will be sticky; it will be more manageable after it has risen. Dump dough into well greased bowl, tossing to cover surface. Cover with a towel and allow dough to rise until double. THIS WILL TAKE LONGER THAN USUAL, because the dough is so sweet and rich. It can take up to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.
  7. Punch dough down. Divide into two pieces. Shape into loaves and place in well greased (or spray the pans with Baker's Joy) loaf pans. Cover with towel and let rise again until almost doubled.
  8. Heat oven to 375 F. When preheated, cut a shallow slice along the top of each loaf and bake for approximately 40 minutes. Remove from oven, brush the top of each loaf with butter for a pretty shine, and turn out onto a cooling rack.
  9. To make Gingerbreadsticks, roll ½ of the dough out to approximately 12-inches by 18-inches. Cut into 20 long strips. If you'd like shorter sticks (they're easier to handle) cut down the middle for 40 short strips. Place on parchment or slightly greased baking sheet. Allow to rise for at least 1 hour. They won't double in size, but should be light and puffy. Brush with an egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon water, and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for about 12-14 minutes.

Combine yeast and molasses mixtures, then add eggs.

Combine yeast and molasses mixtures, then add eggs.

Add flour. Not too much - this should be a sticky dough!

Add flour. Not too much – this should be a sticky dough!

It's a little sticky. Grease your bowl and your hands and toss the dough to coat it completely. Let it rise.

It’s a little sticky. Grease your bowl and your hands and toss the dough to coat it completely. Let it rise.

Form loaves.

Form loaves, let them rise (it can take up to 2 hours for a sweet dough like this) and bake.

Swipe a little butter on the hot bread for a pretty shine.

Swipe a little butter on the hot bread for a pretty shine.

Or make Gingerbreadsticks.

Or make Gingerbreadsticks.

Brush with a little egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar before baking.

Brush with a little egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar before baking.

I like to dip the Gingerbreadsticks in whipped cream, but for a little more flavor, make this easy Orange Cream Cheese Dip:  Beat together 8 ounces of cream cheese, 1/4 cup heavy cream, and 2 tablespoons concentrated orange juice. When smooth and creamy, gradually add 1 cup powdered sugar. Dip away!

Wait until you smell this dough baking! Mmmmmm.

Lorinda

 

Easy Cheesy Olive Bread

Easy Cheesy Olive BreadMy love for olives has evolved over the years. When I was young, black olives were served for holidays or with company meals. Mom knew enough to have several cans chilling in the fridge, because each of us girls needed ten…one for each finger, of course.

Green olives, and their little red pimientos, were gross. Something my folks had on a toothpick (along with a slimy little onion) in their martinis. Eeeeuw.

Many, many years passed before I discovered Kalamata olives and fell madly in love. Then, at a book club meeting (I believe wine was involved, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have tried them) I ate an embarrassing number of giant green olives, stuffed with garlic and jalapeños. Oh.My.

Today I put all of these olives, along with some sharp cheddar cheese, into a rustic, round, crispy loaf of bread. The dough is simple and basic; there are just a few extra steps to take to add the cheese and olives. It was super easy, and better than I had dared to hope. This will be a serious staple around here from now on!olives!

Easy Cheesy Olive Bread
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Makes one round loaf. You may want to double this recipe - seriously!
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups very warm water
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 3½ - 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup grated cheese (I used sharp Cheddar. Italian cheeses would be good, too.)
  • 1 cup chopped olives, pressed firmly in paper towels to remove excess moisture
  • Cornmeal
Instructions
  1. Prepare baking sheet by sprinkling the center lightly with cornmeal.
  2. In a small bowl, combine ½ cup of the warm water with sugar. Sprinkle in the yeast and allow the mixture to sit until bubbly - about 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl (a stand mixer with a dough hook, if you have it) combine the remaining warm water, yeast mixture, olive oil, garlic salt, and 3 cups of the bread flour. Mix together for 1 minute.
  4. Slowly add as much of the remaining flour as needed for the dough to come cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, or by hand for 8 minutes.
  5. Coat a large bowl with olive oil. Form the dough into a rough ball, turn several times in the bowl to coat the surface, cover and let rise until doubled - about 1 hour.
  6. Move to a lightly floured surface. Flatten dough and roll out to a rectangle approximately 14-inches by 9-inches, with the long side facing you. It should only take a few swipes with the rolling pin.
  7. Place half of the grated cheese in the center third of the rectangle. Cover with half of the olive mixture. Fold the right side of the dough over the cheese and olives.
  8. Place the remaining cheese and olives over the top (the left third of the dough will still be bare). Fold the left side over to cover the cheese and olives. Pinch all around to seal.
  9. Gently roll again - not quite as large, about 12-inches by 7-inches with the long side facing you. Again fold the right side over the center third, and then the left side over the right side. Pinch edges and form into a ball by gently bringing dough up to meet in the middle, pinching to close. Turn the dough over so the pinched center is on the bottom.
  10. Place dough on prepared baking sheet and let rise until almost doubled - about 40 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, place a baking pan in the bottom of the oven and add several cups of water. Preheat oven to 450, giving the oven plenty of time to develop some steam before the bread has risen.
  12. Cut an "X" in the top of the loaf with a razor or sharp knife, and carefully (that steam will be HOT!) open oven and quickly place bread on center rack. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until it's deep golden brown.
  13. Cool on a baking rack.

 

Bubbly yeast = happy dough!

Bubbly yeast = happy dough!

Mix everything together (well...except fot the cheese and olives!)

Mix everything together (well…except fot the cheese and olives!)

Dough in oiled bowl, ready to rise.

Dough in oiled bowl, ready to rise.

Doubled.

Doubled.

Put cheese and olives in the center third of the dough.

Put cheese and olives in the center third of the dough.

Fold the right side over the center.

Fold the right side over the center.

Add remaining cheese and olives and fold left side over the mixture. Pinch to seal.

Add remaining cheese and olives and fold left side over the mixture. Pinch to seal.

Roll, fold in thirds the other direction.

Roll, fold in thirds the other direction.

Pull sides up to the top and pinch to seal. Flip over onto baking sheet.

Pull sides up to the top and pinch to seal. Flip over onto baking sheet.

While the bread rises, place shallow pan in oven and add water. Steam helps create a lovely crust!

While the bread rises, place shallow pan in oven and add water. Steam helps create a lovely crust!

Cut an "X" in the top with a straight razor or very sharp knife, and bake!

Once risen, cut an “X” in the top with a straight razor or very sharp knife, and bake!

Easy Cheesy Olive Bread - The Rowdy Baker!

 

I’ll bet this dough would make wonderful soft breadsticks, dipped in a little marinara sauce. Or maybe even pizza dough! Guess I’d better go buy another big jar of those green olives.

Ciao!

Lorinda

Pitsate (Italian cookies)

Pitsate - the rowdy bakerAlthough I enjoy creating my own recipes, old family favorites are hard to beat. Unless you’re a member of a huge family corporation, “secret” recipes have a tendency to get leaked (or blogged), especially after a few glasses of wine. This may be one of those special recipes!

I plead the fifth, and so do any (ahem) co-conspirators.

I took a peek at Google, curious to see if a similar recipe had already made it onto the Internet, and was shocked to see there was only ONE recipe for Pitsate that I could find. That one included a powdered chocolate drink mix, so I’d have to say it’s not quite as old and traditional as this version.

Pitsate cookies are hard to describe. They’re similar to biscotti, but not quite as crunchy. Filled with toasted almonds and chocolate, delicately spiced, and rolled on powdered sugar (which gives them just a hint of crusty sweet glaze), these cookies are absolutely perfect for dunking in a cup of coffee.Pitsate from The Rowdy Baker

The traditional diamond shape can be a little challenging. I like to roll the dough out and use a giant pizza cutter (a long knife will do) to cut diagonal lines which make perfect diamonds.

Of course, this also creates triangles, but they can be overlapped slightly and smooshed together to make diamonds. Honestly? I have no problem eating triangles.

Diamonds are your best friend! Resulting triangles? Meh.

Diamonds are your best friend! Resulting trianges? Meh.

Alternatively, you can take balls of dough about as big as a large egg (these are big cookies!), flatten it, and trim it into shape. If you do this, keep all the scraps in one place and knead them back together for a few more cookies. Or you can roll the dough into a square log and slice the cookies, though the chunks of almonds and chocolate can make that option pretty interesting.

Did I mention these are big? They’re for dunking, not a tea party! Mine are about 5 inches from top to bottom, and 2 1/2 inches from side to side. If you’re a nibbler, not a dunker, feel free to BREAK ITALIAN TRADITION and make them smaller.

I use very, very strong coffee in these cookies. I combine 1 cup of water with 1/2 cup freshly ground coffee and bring it to a simmer in a small pan, then remove from the heat and let it sit until cool. After pouring it through a fine sieve, there should be about 1/2 cup of rich coffee.

This java will put hair on your chest!

This java will put hair on your chest!

Pitsate
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Makes about 36 large cookies.
Ingredients
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2¼ cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • zest from 1 medium lemon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 10 ounces chopped, toasted almonds (make sure you toast them for best flavor!)
  • 8 ounces chopped dark chocolate (use chips if you prefer)
  • ½ cup very, very strong coffee - cooled
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 F.
  2. Cover two baking sheets with parchment, or use silpats.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, cloves, and baking soda.
  4. Add lemon zest, vanilla, and eggs.
  5. Slowly add coffee and stir until combined.
  6. Stir in the almonds and chocolate chips.
  7. Sprinkle work surface generously with powdered sugar. Drop dough onto sugar and press into a disk. Turn over to coat both sides lightly, and roll approximately ⅓-inch thick.
  8. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut diamond shapes.
  9. Place on prepared pans approximately 1 inch apart, and bake for 12-13 minutes.
  10. Cool thoroughly on baking rack.
Combine dry ingredients

Combine dry ingredients

Hey, someone has to test the chocolate and make sure it's fresh, right?

Hey, someone has to test the chocolate and make sure it’s fresh, right?

Add lemon, vanilla, eggs, and coffee…yada yada yada. (In other words, I neglected to take a picture of this.)

Mix together the dough, almonds, and chocolate.

Mix together the dough, almonds, and chocolate. Roll, cut, and bake!

Now that is one sweet pitsate!

Now that is one sweet pitsate!

Pitsate

So…I can trust you guys, right? You didn’t get this recipe from me! What happens on The Rowdy Baker stays on The Rowdy Baker, my friends.

Shhhhhhhh.

Lorinda

Hearty Hamburger Buns

Hearty Hamburger Buns - The Rowdy BakerHomemade hamburger buns are easy to make, and taste so much better than store bought! Three types of flour are combined in this recipe to create a hearty dough that is substantial and flavorful, with a tender, consistently even crumb.

The Man’s birthday was today, and he chose hamburgers for his birthday dinner. I was willing to cook just about anything, but…he chose hamburgers! Since I’m trying to sneak whole wheat into our diet, I added enough to give the buns some character without turning them into hockey pucks. He said it was the best hamburger I’d ever made – so we were both happy with the results!Hearty Hamburger Buns from The Rowdy Baker

Of course, these buns aren’t just for hamburgers. Personally, I’m all about using them for peanut butter and banana sandwiches!  They’d be great for Sloppy Joes too, because they’re dense enough to keep from getting soggy.

This recipe makes sixteen average buns, or twelve large ones. They’re best fresh, so keep out the quantity you think you’ll eat in a couple of days and freeze the rest for later.

You really want this dough to be soft and slightly sticky so the buns aren’t too dry. There are lots of variables with bread: the brand of flour you use, your measuring technique, even the weather. So if it is really sticky, add a little more flour. You should be able to poke at the dough without having to wash your finger, but if you lift the dough with unfloured hands, it will definitely stick to them!

Hearty Hamburger Buns
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Makes 16 average buns or 12 large buns
Ingredients
  • 2 cups very warm water
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 packages active-dry yeast
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 3½ cups bread flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • sesame seeds or grated cheese if desired for topping
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl (preferably using a stand mixer) combine the warm water and sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the water and allow it to sit 5-10 minutes, or until it looks bubbly.
  2. Add honey and egg, mixing until well combined.
  3. With mixer on low, using a dough hook, add the bread flour and mix well. Add the wheat flour, cake flour, and salt, mixing until all flour is incorporated.
  4. Mix in the softened butter.
  5. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, (or 7-8 minutes by hand on a well floured board). THIS DOUGH WILL BE VERY SOFT AND SLIGHTLY STICKY. If it is very sticky, add a little more bread flour.
  6. Move dough to a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled - about 1 hour.
  7. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and cut into two equal pieces. Roll each piece into a log and cut each log into 8 pieces (or 6 pieces for jumbo buns).
  8. Form each piece into a ball and place on slightly greased baking sheets, no more than 6 pieces per sheet. Let the balls sit for 10 minutes, then press each one down firmly with the lightly greased bottom of a heavy pan. Let the buns rest and rise slightly in a warm place for 10 minutes, then lightly brush the top of each bun with water or milk. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, cheese, or both!
  9. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  10. Bake one sheet of buns at a time for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops are rich golden brown. Cool on a baking rack.

Once the yeast is softened and bubbly, add honey and egg.

Once the yeast is softened and bubbly, add honey and egg.

Then the flour and salt

Then the flour and salt

Add butter (okay...I forgot a pic of that) and knead. It will look pretty sticky, like this.

Add butter last (okay…I forgot a pic of that) and knead. It will look pretty sticky, like this.

Place dough in greased bowl. It won't be a pretty round ball, but that's okay.

Place dough in greased bowl. It won’t be a pretty round ball, but that’s okay.

Dough has doubled.

Dough has doubled.

Roll into two logs and cut into 16 pieces - or 12 if you want big 'uns.

Divide into 16 pieces – or 12 if you want big ‘uns.

Smash them flat with a heavy pan.

Smash them flat with a heavy pan.

Brush the tops with milk or water. (Milk will make a softer crust.)

Brush the tops with milk or water. (Milk will make a softer crust.)

Sprinkle with sesame seeds

Sprinkle with sesame seeds…

...or cheese.

…or cheese.

Bake until rich golden brown.

Bake until rich golden brown.

Not hard at all, huh? Like any rolls that come out of my oven, a couple of these babies were immediately hijacked, spread with butter, and inhaled. Who needs a burger?

Lorinda

Bear Farts! (Huckleberry Doughnut Drops)

Bear Farts - The Rowdy BakerBy now I should know better than to ask my husband to help me find a name for a new recipe; his sense of humor never evolved past fourth grade. But I have to admit, his suggestion made me laugh, and if you’ve ever wandered through the woods looking for huckleberries, you have probably seen lots of proof that bears found them first, and ate a ton of them!

To continue the bear theme with these delightful little cake doughnut drops, I made mine with honey instead of sugar. Buttermilk and a little fresh lemon are added for a touch of tang, but the huckleberries are really the star of the show.

Use fresh or frozen wild huckleberries, or small blueberries if you must. Expect to have a few escapees, as some will leap to their destruction in the hot oil. That’s a little distressing, since I know exactly how long and hard I have to pick to get a cup of berries, but the end result is worth the sacrifice. (Hint: Scoop those stray berries out of the oil between batches of Bear Farts. You don’t want them to cook into little black chunks that will stick to your lovely creations.)huckleberries aug 7 2016

These are very easy to make. Messing with the hot oil is the only time-consuming part of the recipe, but I’m just not crazy about baked doughnuts, so…I indulge in the real thing once in a while.

Oil is expensive. I use peanut oil (about $13.00 a gallon), and if I’m using my big stock pot it takes almost a gallon to get the oil deep enough. That’s a pricey batch of doughnuts! But you can use a smaller pan and just cook fewer doughnut drops at a time. You can also filter the used oil (cooled down, of course) through cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer and keep it in the refrigerator until you need it again.

Keep an eye on your thermometer and try to keep the oil at 350 F. If it gets hotter, the drops will get brown before the inside is done – not a good thing. Use a slotted spoon or spider to remove the doughnut drops, and layer them between paper towels to remove excess oil.

Remember, these aren’t light and airy like yeast doughnuts. They’re moist and dense, like…well…cake. Cake doughnuts are really best when they’re eaten fresh; they lose a little of their appeal by the next day. Eat ’em up!

Bear Farts! (Huckleberry Doughnut Drops)
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Makes about 48 doughnut drops. This can vary, depending on the size of your scoop.
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 tablespoons oil (I use peanut oil)
  • ¾ cup honey
  • zest and juice from one medium lemon
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup huckleberries, divided (If using frozen berries, keep frozen until needed.)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • oil for frying (peanut or canola work well)
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, oil, honey, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Beat until frothy.
  2. In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large pan or a deep fat fryer, add at least 2 inches of oil and a candy thermometer. Heat to 350 degrees.
  4. While oil is heating, gently stir ⅔ cup of berries into the dry ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients and stir JUST until combined.
  5. Once oil is the proper temperature, use a small cookie scoop (or two spoons - one to push the dough off the other) to drop small amounts of dough - about a rounded teaspoon full - into hot oil. They won't be perfectly round; shapes will vary wildly!
  6. BE VERY CAREFUL! Wear oven mitts and watch the temperature of your oil constantly. Try to keep it between 350 and (at the most) 375 F.
  7. Use a slotted spoon or spider to roll the doughnut drops over. When they are a rich brown, remove and layer between paper towels to drain.
  8. Place remaining ⅓ cup of huckleberries in a small pan on low heat with 1 teaspoon water. Cook, stirring (and mashing) occasionally, until berries are soft and have released their juice. Strain the juice into a small cup. Reserve the mashed berries for another use, like a smoothie or ice cream topping.
  9. Place powdered sugar in a small bowl and add huckleberry juice while stirring, until it creates a thin glaze. Roll warm doughnut drops in glaze and place on waxed paper or a cooling rack to dry.

 

Beat the liquid ingredients until frothy.

Beat the liquid ingredients until frothy.

Add berries to dry ingredients, then add liquids. Don't over-mix!

Add berries to dry ingredients, then add liquids. Don’t over-mix!

Use a scoop and drop it like it's hot!

Use a scoop and drop it like it’s hot!

Keep the temperature steady and let them get nice and brown on the outside.

Keep the temperature steady and let them get nice and brown on the outside.

 

Betcha can't eat just one!

Betcha can’t eat just one!

Bear Farts from The Rowdy Baker

Summer is waning, but I think I have a few more recipes in me before we all embrace the pumpkin and pecan frenzy. Peaches and plums, then pears and apples…lots of fun seasonal foods are still calling to me, and I’ll share!

Lorinda

No-Bake S’mores Cheesecake

No bake s'mores cheesecake - The Rowdy BakerWith grandchildren here for their summer visit, all thoughts have turned to s’mores. Cheesecake was our plan for their mom’s birthday, so you can guess what flavor we chose!

We made a large cheesecake with a graham cracker crust, a layer of chocolate cheesecake, a layer of chocolate ganache, and a layer of marshmallow cheesecake…and then decorated around the top with whipped cream and ganache rosettes.

I totally stole this photo collage from my daughter. Thank you, Brenna!

I totally stole this photo collage from my daughter. Thank you, Brenna!

 

When I say “we”, I really mean it. The girls are getting old enough to not only help, but practically take over. It’s gotten past the grit my teeth and try not to meddle stage; now I feel more like a conductor with a very talented and capable orchestra. Oh, and the beautiful blue nails in the picture? Those are 12-year old Sophie’s, not mine! (They’d be a little impractical for me in the garden.)

My daughter loved the dessert, and so did we. I especially liked the fluffy marshmallow layer, and would probably double that part of the recipe next time. There was enough room to fit it into the pan, and it deserved equal billing with the chocolate layer in my opinion.

Hints:

  • I used a 10-inch springform pan. Use a 9-inch pan, if you prefer. There’s room for all of the layers, but your decorations will just be on top instead of nestled into the crumb sides.
  • If you love marshmallows, you could add another handful to the melted marshmallow mixture before combining with the cream cheese.
No-Bake S'mores Cheesecake
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3 layers of goodness - chocolate cheesecake, ganache, and marshmallow cheesecake - make this a luscious (yet not too rich or heavy) dessert that will easily serve 10-12.
Ingredients
  • CRUST:
  • 2 cups finely-ground graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE:
  • 1½ cups chocolate chips
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups non-dairy whipped topping
  • GANACHE:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 10 ounces good quality dark chocolate
  • MARSHMALLOW CHEESECAKE:
  • 6 ounces mini-marshmallows
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream, divided
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 cup non-dairy whipped topping
Instructions
  1. CRUST - baked or no-baked options given.
  2. Baked (my favorite method): Heat oven to 325 F. Lightly spray 10-inch springform pan with an oil/flour spray like Baker's Joy. Place pan on baking sheet.
  3. Combine 2 cups graham cracker crumbs, ½ cup melted butter, and ¼ cup brown sugar. Press very firmly into pan, using fingers or straight sided measuring cup. Bake for 10 minutes. Move to rack to cool.
  4. No-bake crust: Prepare crust as described, but instead of baking, place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before adding filling.
  5. CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE LAYER:
  6. Melt chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 15 seconds until completely melted, or in small pan over lowest heat possible, stirring often. Set aside to cool slightly.
  7. In a large bowl, combine 12 ounces cream cheese, ½ cup sugar, and ¼ cup softened butter. Beat well.
  8. Add ¼ cup cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon vanilla, and beat until combined.
  9. Gradually add melted chocolate, beating until incorporated.
  10. Gently fold in 2 cups whipped topping. Spread evenly over prepared crust. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  11. While the cheesecake is chilling, prepare the ganache.
  12. GANACHE:
  13. Chop the 10 ounces of dark chocolate finely and place in a small bowl.
  14. In a small pan, heat 1 cup cream until it bubbles around the edges...almost to a boil. Remove from heat.
  15. Pour half of the hot cream over the chocolate and allow it to sit without stirring for a few minutes - this will begin melting the chocolate..Stir gently.
  16. Re-heat the remaining cream and pour over chocolate mixture. Allow to sit a few minutes more, then stir gently until smooth.
  17. Pour half of the ganache over the chocolate layer in the pan and return the cheesecake to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Put a piece of plastic wrap over the remaining ganache and set aside, stirring occasionally.
  18. MARSHMALLOW CHEESECAKE LAYER:
  19. In a small pan on low heat, stir together 6 ounces of marshmallows and ⅓ cup cream, Remove from heat before the marshmallows are completely melted, to leave little bites of marshmallows in the cheesecake. (If you prefer a smooth layer, stir until completely melted.) Allow to cool slightly.
  20. In medium bowl, beat together 8 ounces cream cheese, ¼ cup powdered sugar, and 1 tablespoon cream. Add the marshmallow mixture and stir until combined.
  21. Fold in 1 cup of whipped topping and spread the mixture over the ganache layer in the pan.
  22. Chill for several hours - overnight is even better! At any point during this chilling time, you can decorate your cheesecake:
  23. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip and pipe simple rosettes on a parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze for at least 1 hour.
  24. Decorate cheesecake with whipped cream, ganache rosettes, graham crackers, or cracker crumbs.
  25. Remove the springform pan ring and serve!
Press the crust into the pan very firmly.

Press the crust into the pan very firmly.

Spread the chocolate cheesecake layer evenly.

Spread the chocolate cheesecake layer evenly.

Between the chocolate layer and this lovely marshmallow layer was a layer of ganache...but we forgot to take a photo.

Between the chocolate layer and this lovely marshmallow layer was a layer of ganache…but we forgot to take a photo.

Sophie, piping out pretty ganache decorations.

Sophie, piping out pretty ganache decorations.

Sigh. My family has left, slowly working their way back to California. Things are quiet here – and I think I’m through with all things s’mores. At least until next summer!

Lorinda

 

 

 

Triple Chocolate S’mores Brownies

Triple Chocolate S'mores Brownies - The Rowdy BakerDeep, dark fudge brownies with a crumbly graham crust and chewy marshmallow topping are a dream come true for s’mores fans. They’re great for a crowd, because once the brownies have cooled down, the marshmallow turns from gooey to chewy, and won’t stick to a cover, so you can transport them easily to a picnic, potluck, or party.

I didn’t allow myself to Google s’mores brownies until I was writing this blog; sometimes it’s discouraging to see how many people have had the same exact idea!  And yes…this has been done and done and done. Sigh. But…it hasn’t been done by me before, and the idea of a brownie with a graham cracker crust really called to me. Guess I’m just jumping on the bandwagon with this one!

They’re easy to make and are hand stirred in one pot, so even I didn’t manage to make much of a mess – which was a very important criterion right now, since my kitchen is torn apart (getting a much-needed update) and I needed something to take to book club.

Trust me, when you’re washing dishes bent over the bathtub, you weigh the importance of using each bowl and utensil!Triple Chocolate S'mores Brownies from The Rowdy Baker

Makes 24 large brownies. You may notice that these probably won’t be on the “approved” list of most diets. Suck it up – they’re worth every calorie!

Triple Chocolate S'mores Brownies
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Makes 24 large, thick brownies.
Ingredients
  • GRAHAM CRUST:
  • 1¼ cups finely crushed graham crackers (9 double crackers) ...more for decorating if desired
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • BROWNIES:
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter (or 2¼ sticks)
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • ½ cup special dark unsweetened cocoa
  • 1½ cups mini chocolate chips (divided)
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups mini marshmallows
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan and line with parchment. (The grease will hold the parchment in place.) Spray parchment with a flour/oil baking spray like Baker's Joy.
  2. Combine graham cracker crumbs with ¼ cup melted butter and brown sugar. Press evenly into prepared pan.
  3. In a large pot, melt the butter. Remove from heat and add the sugar. Stir until well combined.
  4. In a small bowl or measuring cup, beat the eggs and vanilla until frothy. Add to pot and stir well.
  5. Add both kinds of cocoa, ½ cup of mini chocolate chips, flour, soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir JUST until combined. (A few streaks of flour showing is fine.)
  6. Drop spoonfuls of dough evenly over crust and smooth gently with an offset spatula, being careful not to disturb the crust. Spread close to edges of the pan.
  7. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the brownies comes out clean.
  8. Remove from oven and place on rack. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of mini chocolate chips. Let the pan sit undisturbed for 5 minutes (chips will be melted - you don't need to spread them) and then top with a single layer of mini marshmallows.
  9. Broil just until the marshmallows are golden brown. DON'T walk away - this goes fast, and you don't want black marshmallows! (They're pretty tasty at a campfire, but not so much on a baked treat.)
  10. Sprinkle with additional crushed graham crackers if desired, and allow brownies to cool in the pan on a rack for at least 30 minutes. Lift out by the parchment and cut into squares. Hint: the longer you wait, the easier they are to cut. If they're sticky and gooey, run a very sharp knife in butter before cutting each row.

Combine sugar and melted butter in large pot.

Combine sugar and melted butter in large pot.

Beat eggs and vanilla together. Stir into mixture.

Beat eggs and vanilla together. Stir into mixture.

Add everything else except for the marshmallows!

Add everything else except for the marshmallows!

Drop globs of batter over crust.

Drop globs of batter over crust.

Spread evenly. (An offset spatula is your friend.)

Spread evenly. (An offset spatula is your friend.)

Pull the brownies from the oven and scatter mini chocolate chips over the top.

Pull the brownies from the oven and scatter mini chocolate chips over the top.

When chocolate is melted, add a layer of marshmallows.

When chocolate is melted, add a layer of marshmallows.

Broil just until golden. Holy crap, it happens fast. Do NOT take your eyes off of the oven!!! Add crushed crackers if you'd like.

Broil just until golden. Holy crap, it happens fast. Do NOT take your eyes off of the oven!!! Add crushed crackers if you’d like.

Once cooled, slide a very sharp knife through butter and cut into squares. The longer you wait, the easier they are to cut. Of course, mine were VERY gooey because I’m all about instant gratification.

Happy summer!

Lorinda

 

Sausage Breakfast Strudel

Sausage Breakfast Strudel

My passion for baking usually revolves around sugar in some form, but occasionally I’m inspired to make something savory, and this strudel turned into my dream breakfast. Flaky dough surrounds a filling of sausage, cheese, eggs, and onions. Generous slices make a perfect Sunday breakfast!

I’m finding lots of uses for rough puff pastry – my new obsession – but this is my favorite so far. (I’m not tapped out yet, heaven help you.) The dough is much easier to make than traditional puff pastry or strudel dough, and can be made a day ahead, so breakfast will go together quickly. In fact, if you brown the sausage and onions and grate the cheese the night before, all you’ll have to do in the morning is roll out the dough, scramble the eggs, and assemble. Oh…and bake, of course.

The filling can always be modified to your preferences. Add mushrooms, spinach, green peppers, or diced cooked potatoes. More cheese, less cheese, even ham instead of sausage. This lovely dough can encompass any number of pleasant surprises!

Hint: if you’re adding anything juicy, like spinach or green peppers, sprinkle a generous layer of breadcrumbs over the cheese to help soak up excess liquid.

Sausage Breakfast Strudel - The Rowdy Baker

 

Sausage Breakfast Strudel
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This rich, savory breakfast strudel will serve 8. The dough and most of the ingredients can be prepared the night before.
Ingredients
  • DOUGH:
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cold butter
  • ⅔ cup very cold water
  • FILLING:
  • 1 cup grated cheese of your choice (more to taste)
  • 2 pounds breakfast sausage, browned and pressed firmly between paper towels to remove grease.
  • 6 - 8 eggs, loosely scrambled (they will continue to cook in the oven)
  • ½ cup sliced green onions
  • 5 slices provolone cheese
  • ASSEMBLY:
  • ¼ cup melted butter
Instructions
  1. DOUGH:
  2. Cut 1 cup cold butter into pieces approximately 1-inch square.
  3. Place flour on work surface, stir in the salt, and drop the butter onto the flour.
  4. With a bench scraper or metal spatula, chop the butter and flour together until combined. Don't overwork the mixture - you want to see chunks of butter larger than peas.
  5. Begin drizzling the water over the mixture with one hand, while flipping and tossing it with the other. Again, don't over do it! It should be a crumbly mess at this point.Use your metal utensil to form the dough into a rough rectangle about 5"x 8".
  6. Roll out dough to approximately 6"x10", using the metal scraper to form straight edges. Keeping the short edge facing you, Flip the bottom edge up to the middle (it will be crumbly...just do the best you can) and the the top edge down to the bottom. This will create three equal sized layers. Give the dough a turn to the left, lightly flouring the surface if necessary to keep it from sticking, and repeat. Repeat 3 more times. Wrap snugly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Make the filling while the dough chills, OR at this point you can leave the dough in the refrigerator until the next day if you prefer.
  7. ASSEMBLY:
  8. Heat oven to 400 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  9. Remove dough from refrigerator. Using the previous instructions, roll and fold two more times. (If you made the dough the day before, let the dough come to room temperature for 15 minutes first.)
  10. On a floured surface, roll dough as thinly as possible. Aim for 15"x18", with the short side facing you. Don't worry if your measurements aren't exact, but do make sure there's enough flour under the dough to keep it movable.
  11. Drizzle dough with half of the melted butter, spreading lightly with fingers or soft pastry brush.
  12. Beginning 3 inches inside the short edge facing you, and leaving 1 inch bare on either side, sprinkle the grated cheese from across the dough in a wide line.
  13. Cover the cheese in this order: sausage, scrambled eggs, green onions, slices of Provolone.
  14. Using a bench scraper or long metal spatula, lift the edge of dough facing you up and over the filling, as far as possible, and roll to the end.
  15. Pinch both ends and tuck under, pinching again. Carefully lift or slide onto parchment covered baking sheet, with seam side down.
  16. Coat with remaining melted butter and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until strudel is rich golden brown. Allow the strudel to cool for a few minutes before cutting it.

First, make the dough! (Don’t forget – this can be done the day before.)

Flour, salt, and butter - ready to chop-chop!

Flour, salt, and butter – ready to chop-chop!

Roughly chop together. Don't blend in the butter - chunks are what make it flaky!

Roughly chop together. Don’t blend in the butter – chunks are what make it flaky!

Fold like a book, with the open edge to your right. First fold is very rough. If it's pretty, you overworked it. It WILL come together!

Fold like a book, with the open edge to your right. First fold is very rough. If it’s pretty, you overworked it. It WILL come together!

Second fold is a little better

Second fold is a little better

After five folds, the dough is wrapped snugly and refrigerated for 30 minutes (or until the next day, if you’re the plan-ahead type).

Roll out the dough. Coat lightly with melted butter.

Fold two more times, and then roll out the dough. Coat lightly with melted butter.

Spoon sausage over a layer of grated cheese.

Spoon sausage over a layer of grated cheese.

Add scrambled eggs, onion, and slices of Provolone.

Add scrambled eggs, onion, and slices of Provolone.

 

Roll it up!

Roll it up!

Pinch the ends, tuck under, and place on parchment covered pan. Coat with melted butter.

Pinch the ends, tuck under, and place on parchment covered pan. Coat with melted butter.

And BAKE!

And BAKE!

I made this for just the two of us, and ended up freezing a huge portion of this for later. It’s rich and filling, and will easily serve eight people. Oh, and did I mention it’s scrumptious?

It is!

Lorinda

Flags and Flowers Pie Crust

 

Flags and Flowers Cherry Pie - The Rowdy BakerPick a filling, any filling! Cherry, apple…whatever says “Memorial Day” to you. What people will remember is the crust – flaky and delicious, and decorated with flags and flowers, with a star in the center to let steam out.

To have a generous portion of pie crust to work with (think thick, rustic crust and lots of dough to make shapes out of) I doubled my usual recipe.

Flags and Flowers Pie Crust
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A double recipe of pie crust will give you nice thick deep dish crusts, and plenty of extra dough for decorating..
Ingredients
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups shortening (chilled)
  • ½ cup cold milk
  • 2 tablespoons vodka (or vinegar, if you prefer)
Instructions
  1. Prepare your pie filling of choice.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.
  3. Cut shortening into the mixture (using a pastry blender or your fingertips) until there are no lumps bigger than a pea.
  4. Combine milk and vodka and add to the dry ingredients all at once.
  5. Use a fork or rubber spatula to lightly combine. Separate into two balls..
  6. Between two sheets of floured parchment, flatten one of the balls of dough and roll out to a size at least 2 inches bigger all the way around than your pie pan. Add a little flour as needed to keep it from sticking to the parchment. Remove top parchment and, using your pie pan as a guide, cut out a circle approximately 1 inch bigger around than the pie pan. Set aside the scraps for decorations.
  7. Slide a flat baking sheet under the bottom parchment and place your pie pan upside down in the center of the dough. With one hand under the baking sheet and one on the top of the pie pan, flip it over. Remove the baking sheet and gently peel back the parchment. Ease dough into the pan. Place in the refrigerator.
  8. Roll the second ball of dough the same size as the first, between sheets of floured parchment. Remove the top parchment and cut the circle of dough, saving the scraps, Using a cookie cutter, cut a star shape out of the middle. Slide a baking sheet under the bottom parchment and refrigerate while you work on the decorations.
  9. Combine all scraps and roll out thinly between parchment.
  10. Cut out 8 rectangles for flags. With a toothpick make guidelines for stripes and a large square in the upper left hand corner, poked with the toothpick for "stars". With a large sharp knife, cut thin strips to make stripes. Lay them on the rectangles, letting them fall over the edge, and press gently. Trim the excess dough from the sides.
  11. Make roses: Roll a small strip of dough to make the center. Cut round circles and overlap them around the center, pinching the outer edges to make them thin so they'll curl down a bit. Shape with your fingers. Holding the flower right below the petals, pinch off the excess dough from the bottom so the flowers will set neatly on the crust. Make 8 roses.
  12. Heat oven to 375 F.
  13. Remove crusts from the refrigerator.
  14. Fill the bottom crust and cover with the top, keeping the star centered. Crimp the edges.
  15. Arrange flags and roses around the outer edge.
  16. Place a baking sheet under the pie and bake approximately 40 minutes, or until the top crust is a rich golden brown.

Mark lines with toothpick. Add thin strips of dough - let it fall of the sides for now. And crumbly areas can be cleaned with toothpick.

Mark lines with toothpick. Add thin strips of dough – let it fall of the sides for now.

Trim the edges.

Trim the edges.

I neglected to get rose-in-progress photos. But it’s easy, honest! Just roll a little strip of dough for a center. Cut small circles and overlap – pinching the dough on the top to thin it and make it curl nicely. Use your inner artist! Hold the rose loosely in one hand with fingers under the blossom, and pinch off the extra dough so it will sit pretty.

Arrange flags and flowers.

Arrange flags and flowers.

At this point, you could brush the pie with an egg wash, or sprinkle it with sugar – or even colored sugar. You could even paint the stars and stripes with food color. I wanted rustic, so I left it alone.

BAKE!

Flags and Flowers Piecrust from The Rowdy Baker

And of course, you are the kitchen artist here. Make all stars, one large flag, or sculpt an eagle. Use canned pie filling or make your own. Whatever you do, it will be wonderful! Have a good Memorial Day.

Lorinda

Lavender Lime Tea Cakes – and a Bonus Cocktail!

Lavender Lime Tea Cakes, The Rowdy BakerUndecided whether to give readers a recipe that made a whopping 6 dozen tea cakes, or cut the recipe in half and end up with leftover coconut-lime mixture, I came up with the following options:

  • Make a ton of tea cakes. (Hey, they’re small. And light. And irresistible.)
  • Make a half batch and use the leftover coconut and lime mixture on a salad or vegetables.
  • Make a half batch and use the leftover mixture to make a kick-ass cocktail!

I’m pretty sure you know which route I took.

 

Tempting Tropical Fizz - Tthe Rowdy Baker

 

Waste not, want not, right?

So…the recipe will give you approximately 3 dozen dainty, soft, refreshing tea cakes. (Definitely more cake than cookie.) You can double it easily if you’d like, but then you won’t be able to make yourself a Tempting Tropical Fizz. Your call!

Making these cookies will require a couple of special ingredients and a little advance preparation. You will need to thoroughly chill a can of coconut milk so that you can pour out the separated liquid and keep the solids. Try to find coconut milk that is high in fat. If it doesn’t say so on the front, compare the nutritional information on all of your options to pick the one that has a higher fat content. Here’s what you’re looking for:coconut milk

I used lavender sugar in this recipe. I keep a jar of sugar mixed with culinary lavender in my pantry at all times, so my sugar was very flavorful and I just sifted out the lavender buds. (I mix sugar and lavender buds in a mason jar – 1 heaping tablespoon of buds per cup of sugar – and let it sit at least one week.) If you don’t happen to have lavender sugar sitting around, you can blend together one cup of sugar (if you’re doubling the recipe) and two teaspoons of culinary lavender in a blender until the lavender pieces are very fine.

(If you’d like more information about where to buy lavender and how to use it, please visit Sweet Lavender, a column I wrote for Yummy Northwest.)

You’ll find that the subtle flavor of lavender and lime isn’t overwhelming at all; it’s a wonderful combination.

Lavender Lime Tea Cakes - and a Bonus Cocktail!
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Makes 3 dozen tea cakes. This recipe will actually only use half of the coconut milk and lime mixture. (See instructions.) Double the rest of the recipe to avoid leftover mixture, or refrigerate it for another use.
Ingredients
  • 1 can (13.5 oz) CHILLED coconut milk...preferably a brand with a higher fat content.
  • zest and juice from 2 small limes (approximately 2 tablespoons juice).
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup lavender sugar *see instructions
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla ( I used clear vanilla for this, but that's optional)
  • 2½ cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. * To make lavender sugar, either start a week ahead of time and combine ½ cup sugar with 2 teaspoons culinary lavender in an airtight container (sift out the lavender buds before using) OR for immediate use, combine ½ cup sugar and 1 teaspoon culinary lavender in a blender and blend until the lavender is ground into small particles.
  2. Heat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment.
  3. Drain liquid from thoroughly chilled, canned coconut milk, and reserve for another use if desired. Place coconut solids in a small bowl.
  4. Add lime zest and juice to coconut solids and stir well. Place in refrigerator.
  5. In a large bowl, cream butter and lavender sugar together well.
  6. Add egg, egg white, and vanilla. Mix well.
  7. Remove coconut mixture from the refrigerator and give it a stir. Measure out ½ cup of the mixture and put the rest away for another use.
  8. Add ½ cup of coconut mixture to the bowl, stirring until combined.
  9. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low just until incorporated. Batter will be thick and sticky.
  10. Dough can be scooped using a small cookie scoop or level tablespoon, or you can pipe it with a pastry bag and rosette tip. (The cakes won't hold the shape well, but you will still see design on the top of the baked cakes if you pipe them.)
  11. Bake for 10 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies is turning a golden brown. The top will not brown.
  12. Remove to a cooling rack, and when the cakes are just barely warm, shake them gently in powdered sugar.

Drain the liquid and keep the solids!

Drain the liquid and keep the solids!

Somewhere between batter and dough. It's soft and sticky!

Somewhere between batter and dough. It’s soft and sticky!

You can scoop...

You can scoop…

Or pipe. Don't expect them to hold the rosette shape, but there will be some design on the top of the baked cakes.

Or pipe. Don’t expect them to hold the rosette shape, but there will be design on the top of the baked cakes.

Only the bottoms should turn golden brown.

Only the bottoms should turn golden brown.

Dust with powdered sugar. (See the shape? These were piped.)

Dust with powdered sugar. (See the shape? These were piped.)

Sooooo, ready for that cocktail yet?

TEMPTING TROPICAL FIZZ

Drop a heaping spoonful of the coconut milk and lime mixture into a glass. Add 1 pineapple slice and about 1/4 cup of pineapple juice (or more to taste). Add clear rum to taste, and top with sparkling mineral water. Give it a quick stir – it should be quite frothy!
I used approximately equal amounts of all 4 ingredients, which made a tart, refreshing drink. If you’d like it to be sweeter, add more pineapple juice or a little simple syrup.

Cheers!

Lorinda