By Lauren Jessen — ICE Graduate + Blogger, A Dash of Cinema

I’ve never been a big pie person. I can appreciate a good homemade pie with a thick crust and multiple scoops of ice cream, but it’s not the Thanksgiving dessert that I look forward to most. If you fall into the same anti-pie category as me, try making these hazelnut and cardamom sticky buns instead. The cardamom and hazelnut form a delicious flavor duo, especially when paired with this soft, tender dough.

sticky buns

I remember the first time I made sticky buns in culinary school during module 4 of my culinary arts program at ICE. The entire class was excited —because how often do you get to make sticky buns, let alone eat them? We lined muffin pans with pecans and caramel and placed the bun dough on top. Those 30 minutes spent waiting for the buns to bake felt like an eternity.

Now that I’ve learned the proper way to make them, sticky buns are way less intimidating. Essentially, all you’re doing is making a cinnamon roll, but adding the “topping” to the bottom before baking. Then, when they’re finished baking, you flip the buns onto parchment paper. The end result is a gooey, sweet topping and filling with a delicious yeast dough that everyone at the dinner table will be thinking about well past Thanksgiving.

As if sweet, delicious gooiness wasn’t enough, sticky buns are also amazing because you can switch up the flavors with the seasons — you can substitute pecans, pistachios and walnuts for the hazelnuts, and cinnamon, lemon and pumpkin for cardamom. There’s a lot you can do with sticky buns, which makes it a great go-to dessert for any occasion.

 

sticky bunsHazelnut and Cardamom Sticky Buns

Dough

Ingredients:

2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ¾ teaspoons yeast
2 eggs
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
A pinch of cinnamon
3 ½ tablespoons sugar
½ cup butter, unsalted, room temperature

Preparation:

  • In a small saucepan, heat the milk until it reaches 110-115°F.
  • Add the sugar and yeast to the milk, and let the mixture sit for five minutes until the yeast becomes frothy.
  • Add the eggs to the milk mixture and whisk until smooth.
  • In the bowl of a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, mix the flour, salt, cinnamon, sugar and butter together using a dough hook.
  • Pour in the milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix until combined.
  • Transfer the dough to a buttered bowl and allow to rise for one hour. After one hour of rising in a warm spot, transfer the dough to the fridge for one hour.
  • Roll out the dough to form a rectangle, about 10-12 inches wide.

Filling

Ingredients:

1 egg, whisked for egg wash
½ cup hazelnuts, chopped
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons light brown sugar

Preparation:

  • Combine the hazelnuts, cardamom, cinnamon and light brown sugar to create the filling mixture.
  • Cover the dough with egg wash, and then spread the filling mixture on top.
  • Roll the dough along the long side. Cut the log evenly into 12 equal pieces. These pieces will be placed on the topping in the prepared pans (see below).

Topping

Ingredients:

½ cup hazelnuts, chopped
1 ⅓ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup corn syrup
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cardamom

Preparation:

  • In a saucepan, over medium heat combine all the ingredients until just melted to create a caramel topping. Be careful not to overcook this mixture.

Making the sticky buns

  • Heat the oven to 350°F.
  • Prepare the sheet pans by spreading the chopped hazelnuts on the bottom and covering them with the caramel topping.
  • Place the buns in the baking pan on top of the caramel and hazelnuts, making sure to give space between each one, as they will double in size when baking.
  • Bake buns for 30 minutes until golden. Allow to cool for 30 minutes, and then flip the sticky buns onto a parchment-lined sheet tray.

Master sticky buns and much more in ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts career program — learn more today.

 

By James Briscione, Director of Culinary Research

Your Thanksgiving turkey has a secret; and I’m here to tell it: that bird HATES being roasted in the oven. I know it, your turkey knows it and deep down, you know it, too: roasting a whole turkey in the oven just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It consumes a massive amount of time, space and energy, none of which I would be against if the results were impeccable. However, the sad truth is that roasting turkey in the oven is inefficient and the end product is imperfect.
sous vide turkey

I blame Norman Rockwell. Ever since he painted that famed portrait of an American family gazing lovingly at Mom as she places that large, bronzed bird on the table, the whole, roasted turkey has been the Thanksgiving gold standard. I can only imagine how dry the breast of Rockwell’s turkey must have been — he should have painted a 50-gallon drum of gravy in the background because I bet the family would have used every last drop of it.

Whole roasted birds have an inherent problem: for optimal flavor, tenderness and juiciness, the breast and legs need to be cooked at different temperatures for different lengths of time. At times like this, I like to channel Alain Senderens, one of my favorite rebel chefs and one of the fathers of Nouvelle Cuisine. Chef Senderens balked at the way that tradition trampled innovation in French cuisine. So this Thanksgiving, join me as I thumb my nose at tradition and invite innovation to my pumpkin-spice themed Friendsgiving.

Two words: sous vide. I have spent years extolling the tender, juicy and delicious virtues of cooking chicken sous vide. That led me to think, if sous vide makes the best chicken I’ve ever tasted, it will surely make the greatest turkey, too. All I had to do was figure out a way to cook turkey sous vide, yet make sure it still looked like a turkey when it arrived at the table, lest my family think I’m a total failure in annual fatherly duties (thanks for nothing, Rockwell). I decided to use a technique that I learned from Bryce Shuman at Betony, where they always cooked sous vide chicken breast with the bones in, so it would retain its natural shape. I applied the same method to the turkey breast, which I fit into a large, gallon-sized zip top bag. I zipped the legs and wings inside a separate bag and was on my way to a glorious Thanksgiving revolution: perfectly cooked legs and breasts with a classic presentation. This just may be the type of thing that makes everyone around the table happy this Thanksgiving. Check out the recipe below.

Sous Vide Thanksgiving Turkey

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons dry sage
2 teaspoons ground fennel seed
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 cup kosher salt
1 whole turkey, about 10-12 pounds
4 ounces melted butter

Preparation:

  • Start by making a dry brine — combine the sage, fennel seed, pepper, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly to combine.
  • Fabricate the turkey into a bone-in breast by removing the back-bone with a chef’s knife or kitchen shears. Separate the wings from the breast by cutting through the wing joint. Remove the legs from the body, cutting through the thigh joint and leaving the thigh and drumstick attached.
  • Use a Polyscience immersion circulator to heat a water bath to 66˚C (151˚F).
  • Generously season all of the pieces with the dry brine on both sides. Place one leg and one wing in each of two large, gallon-sized zip top bags. Add 1 ounce of melted butter to each of the bags. Place the seasoned breast in the refrigerator while the legs cook.
  • Fill a large pot or bowl with room temperature water and lower the open zip top bag into the water. The water pressure will push the excess air out of the bag. When the top of the bag reaches the level of the water, seal the bag. Transfer the sealed bags to the water bath and cook for six hours. Remove the bags and cool immediately in an ice bath. When chilled, transfer to the refrigerator and store for up to seven days before serving.
  • Reduce the water bath to 62˚C (143.5˚F). Place the turkey breast into a large, gallon-sized zip top bag and add the remaining 2 ounces of melted butter. Use the method above to remove the excess air from the bag and seal. Transfer the sealed bag to the water bath and cook for four hours. Add the chilled turkey legs to the bath and cook 40 minutes longer to reheat. Or, if not serving immediately, remove the bags and cool immediately in an ice bath. When chilled, transfer to the refrigerator and store for up to seven days before serving.
  • When ready to serve, heat a water bath to 62˚C and add the sealed bags of breast and leg to the bath and leave 40 minutes to reheat.
  • To serve, heat the oven to broil and arrange the turkey pieces on a baking pan and place on the middle rack under the broiler until golden brown.

You, too, can become an expert chef — learn more about our Culinary Arts career training program. 

By Jenny McCoy — Pastry & Baking Arts Chef Instructor

It’s hard to truly determine who ought to be credited for the first brownie. One version of history credits Bertha Palmer, a Chicago businesswoman and socialite, for inspiring the sweet that is about as American as apple pie. On a recent visit to Chicago, I took a walk down one of the brownie’s memory lanes.

Bertha was the wife of Potter Palmer, a wealthy businessman who was very much involved in the development of downtown Chicago. They were introduced by a mutual friend and Potter’s former business partner, Marshall Field (whose department store acquired and popularized Frango chocolate truffles, by the way). As a wedding gift to his bride, Potter gave Bertha an extraordinary gift — The Palmer House hotel. Under the couples’ ownership, largely directly by Bertha, The Palmer House became the epicenter for entertainment amongst socialites in Chicago and well-heeled travelers worldwide. In 1893, for the World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition, an event that would draw influential people from around the globe, Bertha entertained the notion of creating a small confection that has since become beloved all the world over.

Palmer House brownieStorytellers say that for the World’s Fair, Bertha asked The Palmer House pastry chef to create a small cake or confection that could be included in boxed lunches for ladies visiting the fair. The pastry chef developed a thick, dense, fudgy chocolate bar, covered in walnuts and a sweet apricot glaze. It was unlike any other confection and became incredibly popular. Though it still wasn’t called a “brownie,” as similar versions of the dessert later appeared in the Sears Roebuck catalog and in cookbooks by Fannie Farmer and others, its name was given. More than a century later, you can still enjoy a square of warm chocolate goodness topped with ice cream made with the same recipe used in 1893 at The Palmer House. Or, if you can’t make it to Chicago anytime soon, you can create a batch of brownies yourself using the recipe below, adapted from the original.

The Palmer House Brownie
Adapted from the original recipe found here

Ingredients:

14 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 pound unsalted butter
12 ounces granulated sugar
4 ounces all-purpose flour
8 whole eggs
12 ounces crushed walnuts
Vanilla extract
Apricot Glaze (recipe below)

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 300° F.
  • In a double boiler, melt chocolate with butter.
  • In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients except walnuts.
  • Pour chocolate into dry ingredients and mix with a spatula for 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Add eggs and vanilla to chocolate mixture and mix to combine. Pour into a 9”x 12” baking sheet, sprinkle walnuts on top and use your fingers to press walnuts down slightly into mixture.
  • Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. When finished baking, the brownies will have risen about ¼ inch and the edges should be a little crispy. Note: Even when properly baked, brownies will test “gooey” with a toothpick in the center due to the richness of the mixture. Remove brownies from oven and allow brownies to cool for about 30 minutes.
  • While brownies cool, work on your Apricot Glaze (recipe below). Once brownies cool, use a brush to spread a thin layer of the Apricot Glaze on top. Cut into squares and serve (highly recommended with a scoop of ice cream).

Pro Tip: The brownies are easier to cut if you place in the freezer for about 3-4 hours after glazing.

Palmer House brownies

For the Apricot Glaze

Ingredients:

1 cup water
1 cup apricot preserves
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

Preparation:

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix together water, preserves and unflavored gelatin.
  • Bring to a boil for two minutes. Use hot.

Want to master brownies and more with Chef Jenny? Click here to learn more about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program. 

By Kelly Newsome — Student, School of Culinary Arts

cobb salad

An entire class on salad, seriously? That was the topic of conversation one Tuesday evening in the women’s locker room at ICE. We hemmed and hawed, convinced that there was nothing to learn about salads that we didn’t already know. Salads, at least in the American culinary tradition, have been relegated to the depths of diet food, a punishment rather than a pleasure. But, as I would soon learn, salads can be unabashedly delicious, and the classics are classics for a reason — when executed correctly, they are irresistible. My assignment that Tuesday night was Cobb salad — a classic American recipe that gave me a newfound respect for the humble art of salad creation.

I always thought that Cobb salad was named after the famous baseball player, Ty Cobb. Not true. The Cobb salad was born in the wee hours of a Hollywood, California, morning in 1937 at the Brown Derby restaurant. The owner, Bob Cobb, was ruffling through the kitchen’s refrigerator, pulling out various remnants including lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, tomatoes, chives and avocado. Smelling bacon being cooked nearby, he grabbed a few slices to add to his dish. Bob tossed the ingredients together and shared the outcome with his friend Sid Grauman (of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre fame). Mr. Grauman was so impressed that he asked for a “Cobb salad” at the restaurant the very next day, and a classic was born. The legend seems familiar to the story of the famous chicken wings of Buffalo. Perhaps the common thread is American ingenuity and resourcefulness on a plate?

cobb salad

A really great Cobb salad is not only a thing of beauty but an absolute pleasure to eat. Each bite brings a symphony of flavors and textures — the crispy bacon meets the creamy blue cheese, the crunchy and fresh salad greens mingle with pungent herbs and luscious chicken, the eggs provide a soft and satisfying backdrop, and the piquant vinaigrette delicately envelops each morsel and acts as an essential bridge that transforms the dish from many things to one. Each component, when perfectly cooked and assembled, offers a culinary experience that is far greater in combination than any one ingredient alone. This is the key to understanding the true beauty of a perfectly composed salad. Like any other dish, it’s all about the balance.

So how does one approach the Cobb salad? According Chef Charles Granquist, my instructor for salad night, “execute each ingredient perfectly, dress each component separately and arrange the salad organically — don’t overthink it.” When the night was through and the salads were delightfully devoured, visions of Cobb salad parties danced in my head: the classics I thought, can’t be beat.

cobb salad

Cobb Salad
Yield: makes about 10 servings

Ingredients:

5 chicken breasts, bone-in
Salt as needed
Ground black pepper as needed
20 slices bacon, cooked
1 pound, 4 ounces Romaine lettuce, washed, dried and torn into pieces
8 fluid ounces red wine vinaigrette (recipe below)
10 ounces tomatoes, medium-dice
10 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
3 avocados, peeled, pitted and cut into medium-dice
5 scallions, bias-cut (at a roughly 45-degree angle), thinly sliced

Preparation:

  • Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and roast until internal temperature is 165°F. Cool, remove the breasts from the bone, cut into ½” dice.
  • Cook the bacon slices until crisp. Drain on absorbent paper towels and keep warm.

To assemble the salad:

  • For each serving, toss two ounces romaine with two tablespoons of vinaigrette. Mound on a plate, and top with four ounces chicken, 1¼ ounce diced tomato, one ounce blue cheese, two ounces avocado, ¼ ounce green onions and two bacon strips, crumbled.

Red Wine Vinaigrette
Yield: 8 fluid ounces

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon shallots, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 fluid ounces red wine vinegar
6 fluid ounces canola oil
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Preparation:

  • In a small bowl, combine the shallot, mustard and vinegar.
  • Add the canola oil gradually, whisking constantly.
  • Add additional flavorings and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust acid/oil balance.

A few tips from the chef in training:

  1. Make sure that your bacon is crispy! If it isn’t, you’ll lose that essential crunchy bite.
  2. Cook the chicken on the bone if possible — this delivers a more succulent and satisfying result.
  3. Make sure that you dress (don’t overdress) and season each component individually. This is the key to creating a cohesive and balanced dish.
  4. Use a long, oval platter rather than a bowl. This creates a more even spread for serving and presentation.

Ready to pursue your passion for culinary arts? Click here to learn about ICE’s culinary, pastry and hospitality programs. 

By Caitlin Raux

Give a girl a slice of pizza (plus garlic knots) and you’ll feed her for a night. Teach her to make homemade pizza and she’ll be able to host spontaneous dinner parties and feed all of her pizza-loving friends for a lifetime. Because with just a handful of ingredients — flour, water, salt, yeast and olive oil — you can throw together a pizza using what’s already in your cupboard, adding a few fresh toppings to give it that gourmet touch.

But not so fast: making a crust with just enough chewiness and crispiness, and sturdy enough to act as a vessel for your tasty toppings, can be tricky — but with a few tips and the simple recipe below, you’ll be serving up pro-level pizzas in your own kitchen. In a new video, Chef Jenny McCoy shows us how to make pizza-party worthy pies. Try it for yourself and you’ll discover how easy it is to make authentic, homemade pizza. The only challenge will be choosing whom to invite to your excellent pizza parties.

Before you begin, here are some tips:

  • Use the Windowpane Test: Kneading your dough develops gluten, which gives dough the elasticity needed for stretching and rising. (Like getting up in the morning — you knead to stretch and rise… ba-dum-chh.) To know when your dough is sufficiently kneaded, use the windowpane test. Break off a hunk of dough, roll it into a smooth ball, gently stretch the dough and hold it up to the light. Gluten-full, elastic dough will be transparent in the center — like a “windowpane” — and you should be able to see the light pass through.
  • Start from the middle: Once the dough has risen, it’s time to stretch it. To begin stretching, place your dough ball on a lightly oiled surface, and, using your fingertips, gently prod the dough beginning in the middle and pushing outward. Work your fingers around in circles to slowly stretch the dough in all directions. Continue until your dough is a large, mostly flattened circle, slightly thicker on the edge and not too thin in the middle. If your dough is too thin in the middle, it won’t be able to support the toppings and may burn if you try to bake it anyway.
  • Easy with the sauce: I know what you’re thinking — It’s my pizza and I’ll sauce if I want to! But too much sauce makes for a soggy, weak crust. To ensure your pizza will have a sturdy base, especially if you eat your pizza New York-style (grab, fold, devour), go easy with the sauce.
  • Brush on the olive oil: To get that crispy, crackly crust, use a brush to slather on some olive oil. A flavorful extra virgin olive oil will score you maximum flavor points.

Check out all of our pizza making tips here

Pizza Dough
Yield: Makes 3 individual pizzas
Note: For the best crust, prepare this recipe the day before you plan your pizza party – the dough should rest overnight in the refrigerator.

Ingredients:

2 cups warm water (100-110° F)
2 ½ teaspoons (¼ ounce envelope) active dry yeast
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for coating
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 ¼ cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal, for dusting
Pizza sauce and toppings, as desired

Preparation:

  • In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, olive oil and sugar, and stir to combine. Add the all-purpose flour and bread flour, followed by the salt. With a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, stir the dough until all of the flour has hydrated and it begins to form into a ball.
  • Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead the dough, adding more flour as needed. The dough will become sticky, but keep kneading — as the gluten develops, the dough will tighten up and begin to seem drier. Once the dough has been kneaded into a tight ball, about 10 minutes of kneading, transfer to a large bowl coated with olive oil, cover, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Transfer the dough to the refrigerator and let sit overnight to chill.
  • Place a pizza stone or upside-down baking sheet on the center rack of the oven and preheat oven to 300° F (or higher if your oven allows). Once the oven reaches 300° F, increase the heat to 550° F (or higher if your oven allows). This gradual increase in temperature will prevent your pizza stone from cracking or your baking sheet from warping.
  • On a lightly floured surface, cut the dough into 3 pieces. Gently knead a piece of the dough a few times until it’s smooth. With your hands dusted in flour, gently stretch the dough outwards using your fists, to begin making a circle of dough. Once the dough has stretched to about ¼-inch thick circle, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and stretch any areas of the dough that are thicker. (If you pizza isn’t a perfect circle, don’t fret — that’s what chefs like to call rustic.)
  • Lightly sprinkle a pizza peel with cornmeal. Slide the circle of dough on the peel and reshape as needed.
  • Add sauce and toppings to the pizza as desired, but take note: less is more with artisanal-style pizza dough. Drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil onto the edge of the dough to give it a crispier crust. Carefully place the peel in the oven and slide the pizza onto the stone or baking sheet. Bake until crust is deep golden brown and the cheese is bubbly with some browned spots. Depending on the thickness of the dough, the amount of toppings, or how hot your oven is set, the baking time can take anywhere from 8 to 14 minutes.

Ready to learn how to make pizza — and much, much more — like a pro? Click here to learn about ICE’s recreational cooking and baking courses.

By Jenny McCoy — Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

As the Fourth of July approaches and we eagerly anticipate colorful firework displays and backyard barbecues, why not celebrate with a red, white and blue sprinkle-covered confetti cake? This delicious lemon-almond cake, filled with fresh strawberries and blueberries and layered with cream cheese icing, is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Before you begin, here are my favorite pro tips for success:

  • Use some shortening to make the cake a brighter white, which also makes it easier to color. If you prefer butter, you can substitute the shortening with more butter.
  • Be sure to scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl as you add the ingredients to your cake batter. This will ensure your batter is buttery smooth.
  • If you want to customize the results, your cake batter can be flavored with a variety of extracts. One of my favorite combinations is vanilla and coconut extracts. Alternatively, if you prefer a plain vanilla cake, replace the almond extract with an additional one teaspoon vanilla extract, for a total of two teaspoons.
  • I love to use a cardboard cake round to invert my cakes from the pans. It gives them a sturdy surface to fall on, which prevents the cake layers from tearing. Ask your local bakery for a few or cut out some rounds from a cardboard box.
  • Don’t have a cake turntable? Not to worry! My favorite kitchen hack is to use the plate and wheel from a microwave to layer and frost my cakes.
  • Instead of worrying about your cake layers sliding around as you frost the top and sides of the cake, try this trick — use a long bamboo skewer to hold everything in place.
  • A flat, metal bench scraper (more often used for cutting bread dough) makes for amazingly straight sides on your frosted cake. If you don’t have a bench scraper, use a metal icing spatula, like the one featured in the video.
  • Don’t worry about having a perfectly frosted cake for this recipe. As long as it’s relatively smooth, once it’s covered in sprinkles, it will be a showstopper no matter what!

One last trick: to make sure the cakes don’t stick to the pan, cut parchment paper into a circle to line your round cake pan. Here’s how:

Remember how you used to make paper snowflakes from folded paper in elementary school? Well, that same technique will now serve you well as an adult. If you enjoy baking cakes, that is.

For a round cake pan, simply fold a piece of parchment paper in half three times to make a triangular wedge of paper (kind of like a slice of cake—what a coincidence!). Turn your cake pan upside down and place the tip of the paper wedge directly in the center of the pan. Trim the wider edge of the paper wedge to the length of the radius of the pan, or the very edge of the cake pan. Unfold and voila! A circle of parchment paper to perfectly line the inside of your round cake pan. Check out this video on ICE’s Instagram feed to see how it’s done.

July Fourth-fetti Cake
Makes one three-layer cake

For the Cakes:
Makes 3

Ingredients:

2 sticks (8 ounces) butter, softened
½ cup (4 ounces) shortening
3 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3 large egg whites
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Red food coloring
Blue food coloring
3-4 tablespoons red, white and blue sprinkles

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350º F. Lightly spray three eight-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, egg whites, almond extract and vanilla extract, and mix until smooth.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and stir together. Add half of the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add the milk and mix until combined. Add the remaining half of the dry ingredients, followed by the buttermilk and mix until well combined and smooth.
  • Divide the batter evenly between three bowls and add blue food coloring to one bowl and red food coloring to the second bowl, mixing in and adding coloring in drops as necessary until the desired color is reached. Add sprinkles to the third bowl and stir until evenly combined. Pour the batter into the three prepared cake pans and bake until very light golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans for five minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature.

 

For the Lemon-Almond Simple Syrup:
Makes ½ cup

Ingredients:

½ cup simple syrup
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 teaspoons lemon extract

Preparation:

  • Combine the simple syrup, vanilla extract and lemon extract and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
Makes 6 cups

Ingredients:

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (16 ounces) cream cheese
6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preparation:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until soft and very smooth. Add the cream cheese and mix until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar and salt and mix until fully combined. Add the vanilla extract and whip on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to five days.

 

To assemble the cake:

Ingredients:

1 blue cake layer
1 sprinkle cake layer
1 red cake layer
½ cup Lemon-Almond Simple Syrup (recipe above)
6 cups Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe above)
1 cup blueberries
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups red, white and blue sprinkles, to decorate

Preparation:

  • Slice the tops off the cake layers to create a flat surface. Place the blue cake layer on top of an eight-inch round of cardboard. Use a pastry brush to lightly soak the blue cake layer with the simple syrup. Spread about one cup of the frosting on the blue cake layer and cover with fresh blueberries. Top with the sprinkled white cake layer and repeat by soaking the cake layer with simple syrup and covering with one cup of frosting, and top with the fresh strawberries. Place the red cake layer on top. Frost the tops and sides of the cake with the remaining four cups of frosting. Freeze cake for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Place the sprinkles in a large bowl. Hold the cake over a rimmed baking sheet and gently cover the sides and tops of the cake with the sprinkles by pressing them against the frosting and allowing the excess to fall back onto the tray. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to two days. If refrigerated before serving, let cake stand at room temperature for one to two hours before serving.

Want to learn how to make tasty desserts like a pro? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs.

By Jenny McCoy — Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

I have a vivid memory of a bun-related conversation with my grandmother. As she walked me home from day camp, I remarked that I wanted a bun in my hair. (I never had long hair; my mother thought a pixie haircut was “just so cute!” Naturally, long hair was all I ever longed for. That and braces.) My grandmother’s retort: “You want a bun from the bakery in your hair?” Perhaps that’s when my fascination for buns, rolls and all other warm, yeasty and sometimes sweet delights began.

hot cross buns

Springtime rolls around and out come trays of hot cross buns, adorning the display windows of European bakeries. An obsession with their soft tender crumb, fragrant spices and candied orange rind, and the strangely satisfying chewy texture of the doughy cross, is a cross I have to bear. I try to sample as many as possible — sometimes suddenly stopping my car to park when I come across a new bakery, just to compare them to the many dozens of buns I’ve enjoyed since childhood. I’ve tasted them while traveling throughout the south of England (on a tour of cathedrals, no less); I’ve sampled their Italian and Austrian counterparts on Good Friday in Florence and Vienna; and I’ve had countless rolls made by the plump-fingered Polish ladies whose bakeries I frequented while growing up on Chicago’s north side. Yet all of that abruptly came to a stop a few years ago, thanks to our dean of bread baking, Sim Cass. His recipe for hot cross buns is the absolute best I’ve ever tried. It is downright perfect, easy to execute and traditional in its roots — my kind of recipe. I’ve tweaked it ever so slightly, so I hope Chef Sim doesn’t damn me forevermore… keep reading, I’ll explain.

A few fun facts about these underappreciated buns:

Some people believe they can ward off evil spirits.

The cross is said to symbolize holiness; but, delicious as they are, I have no faith that these tasty little baked goods will save us from any harm.

The darned things have been damned!

These delectable sweets, with origins tracing back to ancient Greece, were recently banned in England from being served in schools, hospitals and other public institutions, as a means to prevent public endorsements of any one religion.

Icing evolution.                  

Traditionally, the cross decorating the buns was made from a simple paste of flour and water. Over time the cross has changed and some bakers mark their buns with a sweet frosting called fondant, which is similar to the icing used to top a cinnamon roll.

Let’s break bread, shall we?

Just as the saying goes, hot cross buns are quite commonly given as gifts during Easter, as a symbol of friendship and kindness. So regardless of your religious beliefs, you can gladly accept and enjoy them if you so choose. Just turn them 90 degrees and you’ll have an X instead of a cross — X marks the delicious spot.

hot cross buns

Hot Cross Buns
Servings: makes two dozen rolls

Ingredients:

7 cups bread flour
¼ whole nutmeg, finely grated
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground allspice
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¾ sticks unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 ½ cups whole milk
¼ cup honey
2 envelopes (½ ounce) instant active yeast
4 large eggs, divided
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
½ cup (2 ounces) candied citron peel, finely minced
1 ½ cups raisins
Nonstick cooking spray
1 recipe cross paste (recipe follows)
1 recipe honey syrup glaze (recipe follows)

Preparation:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, spices, sugar and salt and mix on low speed for one minute. Add the butter and continue to mix on low speed until the mixture resembles grated Parmesan cheese and absolutely no lumps or pieces of butter remain, about eight minutes. Meanwhile, warm the milk to about 100° F. Add the yeast and honey and stir to combine.
  • Switch from the paddle attachment to the dough hook. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the milk and yeast mixture to the dry ingredients and butter mixture in the mixer bowl. Add three of the eggs to the mixer, one at a time. Add the orange zest. Once the dough has mixed into one solid piece, mix the dough on low speed for three minutes. Increase the mixer to medium speed for four minutes until the dough is smooth. Add the candied citron and raisins to the mixer and continue to mix on medium speed for two minutes to combine. Remove the bowl from the mixer, lightly cover with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 45 minutes to one hour.
  • Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Once the dough has risen, divide the dough into 24 equal-sized pieces (about 2 ½ ounces each or a piece the size of a racquet ball). Roll each piece into a small ball, taking care to tuck in any raisins poking out of the dough (they can burn easily in the hot oven). Arrange the rolls of dough on the baking sheet in a 4 x 6 roll grid. Lightly spray the rolls with nonstick cooking spray and lightly cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Let the rolls rise at room temperature until increased in size by about 75%, about 45 minutes.
  • Remove the plastic wrap. Lightly beat the remaining egg in a small bowl. Brush the entire surface area of the rolls with the beaten egg. Carefully pipe a line of the cross paste across the rows of rolls in one direction, then repeat in the opposite direction to create a cross pattern.
  • Bake the rolls until a deep golden brown, rotating the tray halfway through the baking, about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove the rolls from the oven and let cool on the tray placed on a cooling rack. Immediately brush the rolls evenly with the honey syrup glaze until no glaze remains. Let cool until just warm enough to handle and serve immediately, or cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container for up to two days. To store longer, transfer the cooled rolls to a freezer bag and freeze for up to four weeks. Thaw at room temperature and microwave to warm up for a few seconds before serving.

Cross paste:

Ingredients:

1 cup bread flour
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preparation:

  • Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a small round piping bag and set aside at room temperature until ready to use.

Honey syrup glaze

Ingredients:

¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
¼ cup honey
2 pinches of salt

Preparation:

  • Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Let simmer for three minutes and set aside at room temperature until ready to use.

Learn to bake buns (and more!) like a pro with Chef Jenny — click here for information on ICE’s career programs.

“Once you’ve tasted this Irish soda bread, you’ll never buy a loaf from the bakery again,” says ICE Chef Instructor Sarah Chaminade. Members of the ICE team, who had the chance to sample the goods, would happily concur — that this is truly the best Irish soda bread recipe. But what exactly is soda bread? According to Chef Sarah, “Some say it resembles more of a scone than bread since it doesn’t contain any yeast. You can find hundreds of different recipes — some include caraway seeds and others even add eggs. If you ask true Irish lads or lasses, they’ll tell you soda bread must have only four ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk.” Baked with caraway seeds, currants and even a shot of whiskey, Chef Sarah’s recipe departs from the original yet still captures the essence of this classic Irish goody. With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, there’s no better time to master Irish soda bread. 

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:

4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 cup dried currants
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, or combine 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice for every cup of milk
1/4 cup Irish whiskey
Flour for kneading

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix on low speed to combine. Raise the speed to medium low and add the butter, a piece or two at a time, until all of the butter has been incorporated and the mixture is crumbly. This will take 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the caraway seeds, honey, orange zest, currants and, finally, the buttermilk and whiskey. Mix until just combined.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead a few times to smooth the mixture into a round loaf and transfer to a nonstick baking sheet. Make a cross hatch design (just breaking the skin of the dough) on top of the loaf with a knife and sprinkle with a bit of flour.
  • Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the loaf is set and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Let the bread cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

Learn to bake like a pro with Chef Sarah — click here for information on ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.


Alternative flours — like chickpea flour, banana flour and grapeseed flour — can add a nutritional kick and a tasty nuance to many everyday recipes. Though substituting your tried-and-true AP flour may seem a little intimidating at first, once you have a few recipes under your belt you can add these alternative flours to your regular cooking and baking repertoire. To help you get there, Chef Sarah Chaminade is sharing three new recipes that she developed for ICE and Direct Eats using alternative flours. First, Chef Sarah uses chickpea flour to add a sweet and creamy texture to her chickpea canapés. Then, Chef Sarah demonstrates how to make a gluten-free angel food cake using banana flour —with all of the lightness and none of the gluten. Then, she uses merlot grapeseed flour in her chocolate chip cookies to create a gluten-free and vegan take on the classic recipe. Watch the video below, and then scroll to get the recipes.

Chickpea Canapé
Servings: three to four dozen individual canapés, depending on the size of each

In Liguria, the region flanking Genoa along Italy’s northwest coast, farinata is a classic dish. Farinata is a thin chickpea cake typically cooked in a wood-burning oven. In Liguria, bake shops put signs in their windows announcing the time that the farinata will be ready and customers line up to buy it. It’s a perfect snack when eaten like a piece of pizza on waxed butcher paper. Farinata, just like pizza, can be stuffed or garnished with any vegetable, cheese or sauce.

Ingredients:

3 cups chickpea flour
5 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano, chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Optional garnish: dollop of creme fraîche, crispy prosciutto or micro herbs like micro arugula

Preparation:

  • Preheat convection oven to 450 °F (or 475 °F for a conventional home oven).
  • Combine chickpea flour and water with whisk until smooth — let sit for 1 hour to allow batter to thicken slightly.
  • Stir in remaining ingredients.
  • Pour the batter onto a silicone baking mat or a baking sheet lined with parchment. Spread evenly with spatula and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
  • Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut farinata into squares (5×7 or 6×8, depending on the size you prefer) and top with optional garnish.

* Recipe adapted from Ciao Italia by Mary Ann Esposito

Gluten-Free Banana Flour Angel Food Cake
Yield: one cake

1 10-inch angel food cake pan with removable bottom
15 egg whites, room temperature (note: it’s essential that they are at room temperature!)
1 pinch of salt
½ cup plus ¾ cup coconut sugar
1½ cups banana flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
* Flavor variations:
Replace vanilla with zest of one lemon, two limes or half an orange, or replace vanilla with two teaspoons of cinnamon

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350 °F.
  • In a very clean, dry mixing bowl combine egg whites and salt and whip to soft peaks. Gradually add ½ cup of coconut sugar. Continue to whip egg whites to medium peaks, being careful to not over whip.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together the remaining coconut sugar and banana flour.
  • Gradually sift dry ingredients into the whipped whites, folding gently to be careful not to deflate.
  • Fold in vanilla extract and vanilla bean.
  • Pour batter into an ungreased angel food pan, spreading carefully to distribute batter evenly — do not bang the cake pan, as this will cause the batter to deflate.
  • Bake for 50 min, or until golden brown and cake springs back when lightly touched.
  • Remove from oven and invert onto a cooling rack without removing the mold.
  • Allow the cake to cool completely before unmolding.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Merlot Grapeseed Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: one dozen cookies

2 ½ cups almond flour
¼ cup merlot grapeseed flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup agave
1 cup 72% bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 325 °F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Melt the coconut oil in microwave or on stove top. In a medium bowl, combine all wet ingredients.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  • Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, mixing with a rubber spatula or spoon to combine.
  • Stir in the chocolate chunks, and allow the mixture to chill in refrigerator at least 30 minutes.
  • Using a cookie scoop, scoop mixture onto your prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Let cool before enjoying. Because these cookies stay nice and moist, they taste great the next day too.

Master culinary or pastry arts with ICE’s expert chef instructors — click here for information on our career programs.

This St. Patrick’s Day, try your hand at an Irish-inspired sweet — no baking involved! Chef Sarah Chaminade shares her boozy take on cheesecake, with a buttery, chocolate cookie crust and a creamy filling accented by Bailey’s Irish Cream.

Baileys_Cheesecake_edited_300dpi-1

No-Bake Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake
Yield: One (nine-inch) or four (four-inch) cakes

Ingredients:

200 grams chocolate wafer cookies
100 grams unsalted butter, melted
200 grams heavy cream
150 grams Bailey’s Irish Cream
10 grams powdered gelatin
500 grams cream cheese, softened at room temperature
150 grams sugar
50 dark chocolate pearls

bailey's cheesecake

Preparation:

  • Process the chocolate wafer cookies in a food processor until they resemble fine crumbs.
  • Transfer crumbs into a large mixing bowl and stir in melted butter. Mix until combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of a parchment-lined cake pan or ring molds, and place them in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, or with an electric hand mixer, whip the heavy cream to medium peaks and set aside in your refrigerator.
  • In a medium bowl, add the Bailey’s Irish Cream and sprinkle the gelatin over. Set aside for two to three minutes.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Over a double boiler or in a microwave, heat the gelatin-Bailey’s mixture slowly until gelatin is dissolved and liquid is smooth. While still warm, pour the gelatin mixture into the stand mixer bowl with the cream cheese mixture and mix together at low speed until combined. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the whipped cream, reserving a small amount of whipped cream for decoration (see next step).
  • Fill your prepared cake pan or molds with filling to the top. Using a piping bag filled with reserved whipped cream, pipe rosettes of whipped cream around the edges of the cake and top with chocolate pearls.
  • Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least four hours or preferably overnight before serving.

bailey's cheesecake

Master baking with Chef Sarah in ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program — click here for information.