Greek Sesame Twist Cookies

Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, these vanilla buttery cookies are perfect to have with a hot winter (or just on its own) drink by the Christmas tree.

Happy December and happy international cookie day! The Christmas season is my favorite time of year, and it is finally here! My favorite Christmas tradition is staying up late and baking hundreds of cookies with my mom to share with friends and family. Every week until Christmas, I will be posting some of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes, so follow me on my blog and social media so you don’t miss a recipe!

Today, I am sharing my favorite, Greek Sesame Twist Cookies (minus the sesame). These cookies are a staple in my house for the holidays. My mom and aunt got this recipe from a Good Housekeeping magazine when they were pre-teens, starting their traditon of making Christmas cookies. Because I am not the biggest fan of sesame seeds, I just omit them. I guess I make more of a Greek Twist Cookie. Every year at Christmas Eve, my aunt will make her version with the seeds and my mom and I will make ours. And every year, both versions are gone before the end of the night.

These cookies are extremely simple to make. It’s a one bowl recipe, the dough is very easy to work with, and you don’t even need to chill the dough! Begin by beating sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Then, add eggs and vanilla. It may look chunky and not very well mixed, but this is normal. On a low speed, beat in the dry ingredients until just combined. Divide the dough in half and cover the other half with a tea towel or plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. It is important to make sure the dough doesn’t dry out or your cookie dough will crack more easily. Take about a Tablespoon of dough and roll it into a smooth ball between your hands. Then, roll the dough into a 6-inch long rope. Gently, fold the ends together and twist 2-3 times. Be sure to not over twist, or the dough will crack. These cookies do not spread much, so placing them an inch apart on a lined cookie sheet will be okay. Before baking, brush the top with an egg wash and, if you want sesame seeds, sprinkle them on now. Bake until the top and bottom of the cookies are slightly golden.

In the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to try something new with the twist and make candy cane shaped cookies. I began by dying half of the dough bright red, keeping in mind this color will fade a bit in the oven. I then took a Tablespoon of each color and rolled them into 6-inch long ropes, intertwined them, and shaped them into a candy cane shape. They were super cute and were full of holiday spirit, I will definitely be doing this again in future years!

I’d love to see your Greek Sesame Twists! Tag and follow me on Instagram @beyondbakingwithamandajane and use the #beyondbakingwithamandajane! I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Greek Sesame Twist Cookies

  • Servings: 3 dozen cookies
  • Rating: ★★★★★
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg white
  • 3 Tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 cookie trays.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the sugar and eggs until creamy.
  3. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. (The mixture may look chunky)
  4. On low speed, pour in the flour, baking powder, and salt until just combined.
  5. Divide the dough in half. Wrap one half with plastic wrap or a tea towel.
  6. With slightly floured hands, roll a tablespoon of dough into a 6-inch rope. Gently fold the rope in half and twist 2-3 times, repeat with the remaining dough. *Note: you can shape your cookie however you would like after twisting the dough.
  7. Place an inch apart on the cookie sheet.
  8. Brush the cookies with egg wash, sprinkle the sesame seeds on top (optional).
  9. Bake for 12-18 minutes, or until the bottom is lightly golden.

Taste tested with love by friends and family.

Dad’s Apple Pecan Crumb Bread

A fall favorite. Flavorfully moist apple bread with a nutty buttery crunch crumb topping

It is really starting to feel like fall here in North Carolina! In honor of fall, I want to share my dad’s apple bread recipe. This recipe is a family recipe from my dad, and he made this bread for my mom when they were dating. My mom liked it so much, she even added it to her recipe book!

Although we haven’t baked this bread in a while, it used to be a staple in my house when I was younger. We would always make this bread after we went apple picking. What else would we do with 15 pounds of apples? By the end of fall, we would have eaten 10 loaves of apple bread!

Originally, there was no crumb topping on this bread (that’s my addition!). However, I think the crumbs provide an extra crunch and texture to the bread that makes it taste even better and makes it more interesting! The crumbs also add a little bit of sweetness to the crust which brings everything together perfectly.

When making this bread, you don’t even have to peel the apples! I personally think that having the skin on the apple adds to the texture of the inside of the bread, and let’s be honest, it is just easier to not peel the apples. If you do not want the skin, you can feel free to peel them, it will be just as yummy! Do what you like best! The rest of the recipe is pretty straight forward.

When you are adding the crumbs on top, I like to press together a few really big crumbs and push them into the batter slightly, then cover it up with smaller crumbs. Doing this will create pockets of buttery and nutty deliciousness within the moist bread!

I would love to see you guys making this recipe! Tag me in your creations on Instagram @beyondbakingwithamandajane

Dad's Yummy Apple Crumb Bread

  • Servings: 1 Loaf
  • Rating: ★★★★★
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Ingredients

    For the bread:
  • 2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups raw apple chunks, 2-3 apples
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • For the crumb:
  • 1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each edition.
  4. Gradually stir in the flour mixture until just combined.
  5. Add cubed apples, milk, vanilla, and chopped pecans. Mix until just combined.
  6. In a separate bowl, make the crumb topping. Stir the flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt together. Cut in the softened butter until you have crumbs. Sprinkle on top.
  7. Bake for 50-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Taste tested by friends and family with love.

Classic Hawaiian Sweet Rolls

Soft and fluffy, sweet Hawaiian rolls

One night, my dad was watching The Food Network, and they were making Hawaiian sweet rolls. This sparked his request for me to make some for him. The first time we had ever tried these rolls was in Hawaii, on the Big Island, when we visited the Panulu’u Bake Shop. They are very famous for their hawaiian sweet rolls, and they were delicious, so light and fluffy with the perfect amount of sweetness. When my dad requested it, I decided to give them a shot!

What makes Hawaiian Sweet Bread different?

Hawaiian Sweet Bread is sweetened with pineapple juice rather that white sugar or honey, and it contains potato starch. Potato starch is the key ingredient to the best Hawaiian sweet bread! Potato starch and potato flour are very different. Potato starch is less flavorful and more like corn starch compared to potato flour which is made with whole potatoes. Without the potato starch, the bread is not smooth, moist, or flavorful. Just a small amount makes a huge difference in the final product. The starch helps absorb more water and creates more air pockets, so the bread ends up being more silky, moist, and airy.

This recipe is very standard and simple, you can do it! Treat this like any other yeast bread. Begin by activating the yeast in the warm water and pineapple juice mixture. You need to make sure the liquid is not too hot and not too cold for activation. I use a meat thermometer to ensure the liquid is 110-113 degrees F. Then, when you add the yeast, make sure you let this mixture sit and get foamy before adding it to the rest of your ingredients. If this mixture doesn’t get foamy, you know your yeast is no longer good.

While your yeast mixture is sitting, combine the dry ingredients and set aside. Then, in the bowl of the stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the butter, brown sugar, eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla. Add the frothy yeast mixture. Slowly add all of the dry ingredients into the bowl and whip with the paddle attachment for 3 to 4 minutes. Next, switch to a dough hook and knead until the dough passes the window pane test, about 5 minutes.

To do the window pane test, gently grab the edges of the dough and let gravity slowly pull it down. The dough will pass the test if you can see the light pass through the super thin dough, this means enough gluten has formed.

Once the dough passes this test, let the dough rise until doubled in size in a greased bowl, about 3 hours. Once doubled, punch down the dough and cut into 15 even pieces and shape into tight dough balls. Place them in a greased 9 x 13 pan and let rise until doubled again. Brush the top of the rolls with the egg wash and bake at 350 degrees until the center is 195-200 degrees F or until golden brown on top.

My dad and I sat on our deck on a nice, sunny day, eating the warm Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, pretending we were back in Hawaii. I hope you enjoy this summery recipe as much as we did! I would love to see your creations! Tag me on Instagram @beyondbakingwithamandajane with your Hawaiian Sweet Rolls!

Perfect Hawaiian Sweet Rolls

  • Rating: ★★★★★
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Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 Tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice, canned or fresh
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons potato starch
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk (save the whites)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a medium-size saucepan, warm the water and pineapple juice until 110 degrees F. Remove from heat and sprinkle the yeast over top and give it a little stir. Let sit until frothy.
  2. In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, starch, and salt. Mix well and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, brown sugar, eggs, egg yolk (remember to save the egg), and vanilla. Add the frothy yeast mixture and mix well.
  4. While the mixer is on low, slowly add the dry ingredients. Once you pour in all the dry ingredients, beat on medium-high for 3 minutes.
  5. Switch to the dough hook and knead until the dough passes the windowpane test, about 5 minutes.
  6. Place dough in a greased bowl and let rise, covered, until double in size. This will take about 3 hours depending on how warm your kitchen is.
  7. Grease a 9 x 13 pan. When the dough is doubled in size, punch it down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 15 even pieces.
  8. Using your hands, make each piece of dough into a tight ball. Cup the dough ball with your hands and pull one hand down, rotating the dough ball. This will create a tight ball and tension on the surface of the dough. Then, place in the greased pan. Repeat this step for all 15 of the rolls.
  9. Cover the rolls and let rise until doubled in size.
  10. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  11. Mix a tablespoon of water with the reserved egg white and brush this egg wash over the risen rolls.
  12. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the bread is 200 degrees F. The tops should be a nice golden brown.

Taste tested by friends and family with love.

Overnight No Need to Knead Crusty White Bread

New York Times easy and delicious crusty bread. Restaurant level crunch on the outside, pillow soft and chewy on the inside.

Last week, New Jersey was hit with tropical storm Isaias. Power went out across my town, targeting my house as I had my overnight crusty bread in the dutch oven! The power flickered on and off while it was baking, but I was hopeful that I would have power long enough to bake my bread. However, after 15-20 minutes of baking, big trees took out our power. I still had 45-50 minutes of baking left to do! I kept the oven closed and hoped that the bread would bake. Sure enough after 50 minutes of “baking,” I took the bread out, uncovered the dutch oven and steam came flowing out, it was done and beautiful, UNBELIEVEABLE!! It was perfect and crusty and the inside was moist and airy. I was so surprised and relieved that it was successful!

This is to say that this bread is VERY easy and forgiving. Even after the bread was baking in an oven that turned off a quarter of the way into baking, the final product was just as yummy. My grandma kept saying that it tastes like bread from fancy Italian restaurants. The crust is perfectly flaky and crunchy, and you don’t even have to use a steam oven or a tray of water at the bottom of the oven! The inside is very moist, soft and springy, almost doughy.

As I said before, this bread is extremely easy and quick to make. I got my recipe from The New York Times No-Knead Bread, but I added a few variations to my liking and to make the recipe easier.

Make the dough the night before you want to bake the bread. Mix together the flour, salt, sugar, and instant yeast until a shaggy dough forms. (Note: Do not convert the instant yeast to active dry yeast because the yeast flavor will be too strong with active dry). Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 12-18 hours. The longer you can let it sit, the better. Although the original recipe does not have sugar under the ingredients, I always love sweeter breads, so if you do too, add some sugar!

After 12-18 hours of the dough resting, the surface of the dough should have a lot of small bubbles. This is how you know when your dough is ready. At this point, turn out the dough on a floured surface. Using heavily floured hands, gently fold the dough over on itself 3-4 times. Cover and let the gluten rest for 15 minutes.

While the dough is resting, grease and flour a large mixing bowl. After the dough has rested, using heavily floured hands, again, gently and quickly shape into a rough ball. Coat your hands in enough flour to minimize the dough from sticking to your hands. Put this dough seam side down in the prepared mixing bowl. Cover with plastic until doubled in size, about 2-3 hours.

When the dough is almost doubled, preheat your oven with the dutch oven inside. Let the dutch oven sit in the preheated oven for another 15 minutes. Remove the dutch oven and pour the dough ball into the dutch oven, do any small adjustments to the shape of the dough, then cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 15-30 minutes depending on how brown and crisp you like your bread. This last step without the lid is primarily to add some color and more crunch to your bread. To ensure the bread is cooked all the way, the internal temperature should read about 200 degrees F.

I hope you try out this deliciously easy bread, I would love to see pictures of your bread! Tag me on Instagram with your creations @beyondbakingwithamandajane

Overnight No Need to Knead Crusty White Bread

  • Servings: 1- 1.5 pound loaf
  • Rating: ★★★★★
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Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 tsp granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Stir together the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar until a shaggy dough forms. Cover with plastic and let sit for 12-18 hours at room temperature.
  2. When the dough has a lot of bubbles on top, turn out on to floured surface. Fold dough over on itself 3-4 times using floured hands. Sprinkle thin layer of flour on top. Loosely cover and let sit for 15 minutes.
  3. Grease and flour large mixing bowl.
  4. With floured hands, shape dough into rough ball and place into prepared mixing bowl. Cover with plastic and let rise until doubled in size, about 2-3 hours.
  5. About 30 minutes before dough completely rises, preheat oven to 450 degrees F with the dutch oven inside. Let dutch oven sit in the preheated oven for at least 15 minutes.
  6. Once doubled, pour the dough ball into hot dutch oven. Make any small adjustments to the shape of the dough. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15-30 minutes, until desired color.

Taste tested by friends and family with love.