Orange Rosemary Pancakes

Sometimes you have extra rosemary sitting around from a recipe you made for dinner the night before. And while you could go look up ideas for another dinner recipe that uses rosemary…why not just make pancakes instead?

That’s how these pancakes came into my life. I happened to have extra rosemary, oranges and milk. None of those things are typically in my kitchen so really: these pancakes had to happen. Right then, right there.

These pancakes are a scrumptious brunch treat that’s great for a slow Sunday, Easter brunch or any other time you have a hankering for pancakes. Which, at least in my world, is a pretty regular occurrence. The ricotta gives the pancakes a fabulous, pillowy texture and the orange/rosemary combo is a really nice pairing of fruit with a more herbal flavor.

These require a few steps to get breakfast on the table, but it’s worth it. You need a bit of lead time, because step one is infusing your milk with the rosemary. Steeping the rosemary in milk gives your pancakes a subtler rosemary flavor than if you folded bits of rosemary into the batter itself. This recipe also requires you to whip egg whites to medium peaks. That doesn’t take very long, but you do need to pay close attention to get your peaks justtt right. Thanks to this wonderful internet thing, I’ve found some great egg white tutorials, like this visual guide from The Kitchn.

The original recipe calls for a lavender whipped cream topping. We didn’t do that part (a.k.a. I didn’t have any lavender sitting around) but it sure sounds delicious!

Orange Rosemary Pancakes

Original recipe: This is a Sweet Blog. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: We got 8 pancakes out of this, but your yield obviously depends on how big you make your pancakes!

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~45 minutes

Cook Time: ~4 minutes per pancake, but will depend on your stove

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 2 large eggs, with the yolks and whites separated into separate bowls
  • 2 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1 tbsp orange zest

Directions

Prep your milk

  1. Pour your milk into a saucepan and throw the rosemary sprigs on top
  2. Heat the pan until it starts to simmer, then remove from heat
  3. Let your milk cool for 15 minutes. Then, remove the rosemary sprigs. You can strain the milk if needed to get out extra bits of rosemary

Make your batter

  1.  Whisk your flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk your milk, ricotta, egg yolks, orange juice and zest
  3. Fold your dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing until it’s all just incorporated. You should still see small lumps in the batter
  4. Now, whip your egg whites with a hand mixer or stand mixer, until they form medium peaks
  5. Whisk the egg whites into the bowl of batter. When you’re done whisking, there should still be slight traces of egg white whips visible

Cook your pancakes

  1. Butter a pan, and heat it up to medium heat
  2. Pour your batter into the pan and let it fry until small bubbles appear on the top. Then, flip it over and fry for one more minute on the other side
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Rosemary Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles

First things first: isn’t “snickerdoodle” a wonderful word? Try ordering a snickerdoodle without giggling. Hard, right? It’s so much more fun to say than the boring, descriptive phrase “chocolate chip cookie.”  You may know exactly what you’re getting when you order a chocolate chip cookie, but there’s just no joy in saying the words.

I actually looked into the linguistic origins of “snickerdoodle” the last time I posted a snickerdoodle recipe. Some believe the word is derived from a German word for pastries. Others believe the “snicker” is specifically there to inspire laughter. And some believe the name was invented by bakers who tended to give their treats fun monikers like “jumble” or “doodle.” I’m guessing it’s some combo of theory 1 and 3: it probably does have linguistic roots in an older food, with a “doodle” flourish added in for a smile.

I remember the first time I encountered a snickerdoodle, back in my high school cafeteria. I fell in love with the crackly, cinnamon sugar spiked, pillowy cookies. I rediscovered that love a few years ago when I tried a recipe for Pumpkin Snickerdoodles. Pumpkin in the batter made the cookies even more moist, and pumpkin pie spice added flavor complexity to the dough. Fast forward a few years and I’ve tried many new variations, from an apple pie version to snickerdoodles with caramels baked right into the middle.

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Little bits of rosemary baked right in

When I saw this recipe for rosemary snickerdoodles, I had to try it out. As regular readers know, I have a thing for baking with herbs. So the idea of combining my love of snickerdoodles with my love of “intriguing” flavors made this recipe a “must do.” I added these to a “Web-Hopping” roundup back in April and I’m glad they finally came to fruition!

This is a brown sugar cookie base with little bits of rosemary mixed into the batter. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out to have herbs mixed right into the batter instead of infusing them into the butter or sugar, like I did for those lemon basil cookies I shared a bit ago. Turns out, bits of rosemary in your snickerdoodle is a fine idea, indeed. Snickerdoodles don’t usually have a brown sugar base, so these have more of a molasses taste than you might be used to. The rosemary enhances the dough’s flavor profile, but it doesn’t make the cookie savory by any means. If you didn’t know I put rosemary in there, you might not even be able to figure out what’s happening – you’d just notice there’s a deeper flavor, and a nice contrast between the chewy cookie middles and the crackly cinnamon sugar mix on top.

This dough freezes really well, so you can make it when you have extra fresh rosemary and then freeze the dough until you actually want to bake it. I froze mine for a month or so, then popped the frozen balls right into the oven. You may need a minute or so more in the oven if your dough was frozen, so just keep an eye on how they’re looking.

Rosemary Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles

Original recipe: Baker Bettie. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: ~25 cookies

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~70 minutes assuming the minimum of 30 minutes chill-time

Cook Time: 12 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (preferably dark brown to really enhance the molasses flavor)
  • 1 tbsp very finely chopped rosemary. Really, chop it finely; otherwise you’ll only taste rosemary in your finished cookie!
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar and 1/2 tsp baking soda, OR 1 tsp baking powder*
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsbp additional cinnamon

*If you don’t have cream of tartar, you can swap in 1 tsp baking powder – but then remember to nix the baking soda! Otherwise you’ll have a few too many chemical reactions happening in your dough.

Step by Step Directions

Make your dough 

  1. Chop your rosemary. As mentioned above, I suggest chopping it quite finely so you don’t bite into big bits of rosemary when the cookies are done
  2. Cream your butter, brown sugar and rosemary together until they are light and fluffy. If you’re using a mixer, you should be using the paddle attachment. This will take about 2 minutes, but always check to make sure it looks right before moving on
  3. Add in the egg and vanilla, and mix until incorporated
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together your flour, salt, 1 tsp of cinnamon, cream of tartar, and baking soda (remember to omit the baking soda if you’re using baking powder!)
  5. Switch your mixer on to low and slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed
  6. Cover your bowl, and chill the dough for at least 30 minutes in the fridge, or up to 24 hours. As I mentioned, you can also scoop the dough into balls at this point and freeze it until you want to bake the cookies

Bake your cookies 

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375F
  2. Mix together 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tbsp cinnamon to make your cinnamon sugar
  3. Scoop about 1.5 tbsp of dough to make each cookie ball
  4. Roll each cookie ball around in your cinnamon sugar mix
  5. Place your dough onto lined baking sheets, and bake for about 10-12 minutes. The cookies are done when they’re puffy with set edges, even if the middle still looks a bit underbaked

Let the cookies cool completely on a baking sheet, then store them in an airtight container. Or, skip the cooling step and just start eating your cookies… why wait?!

 

Rosemary-Infused Cake with Blackberry Preserves and Mascarpone Frosting

I should make cakes more often.

People often ask me what my favorite thing is to bake. And I used to say that I wasn’t even sure, that I try new recipes every time and love experimenting in the kitchen. But today, let’s put a stake in the ground: my favorite thing to bake is a layer cake.

Layer cakes rarely make it to the top of my baking list, though, because they’re hard to carry on a bus and often hard to serve. I’ve noticed partygoers are more likely to casually grab a cookie than a piece of cake. Even cake’s single-serving cousin, the Cupcake, is oft doomed at parties, since people don’t always want to hold a cupcake while balancing drinks and socializing. Cake balls work well- but that’s another post, for another day.

DSC07941Despite logistical difficulties, nothing beats a layer cake from the perspective of personal satisfaction. Cakes are actually pretty simple to bring together once you know the drill, and frosting recipes tend to be simple too. When that cake is assembled, it sure feels good. Plus, nothing beats the deliciousness of a fluffy, light slice of cake.

Birthdays are the time I’m most likely to indulge my love of layer cakes. And so it’s become a tradition that every year, I bake myself a birthday cake. I bring it to whatever birthday party I decide to have and share it with my friends. People always ask why I want to put so much effort into my own birthday- but it’s such a source of joy for me. Each year I “treat myself” to whichever cake I want the most from my “to bake” list. I throw caution to practicality, and even to ingredient cost- and just make what I want to make. A couple years ago I made Lemon Blueberry Cake, then last year it was this Cardamom Cake with Strawberry Filling.

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Interior shot (A very messy one!)

This year, I decided herb’s the word. I am a huge fan of herbs in baked goods, as you’ve likely noticed. And I’d been eying blogger Molly’s herb-filled cake creations for a while. So for the 2nd year in a row, I made a cake from My Name is Yeh. It was an excellent choice. This cake is fluffy, delicate, and delicious. The rosemary is just a faint hint, since it’s infused in the milk rather than baked into the batter in herb form. That delicate flavor is complemented by plump fruit in the blackberry preserves, and a creamy mascarpone frosting. My finished cake was nowhere near as beautiful as Molly’s original creation, but it sure tasted good. I was a bit apprehensive about bringing an herb cake to tons of people but hey- it was my birthday so I figured I got to do what I wanted! I was happy to hear that my friends really enjoyed this cake too… and kept going back to sneak more slices.

I can’t let another year go by before I bake another layer cake. So, I hereby declare that in 2016, I shall make more cakes, even if that means clutching onto a cake as I stand on an overcrowded bus, racing across town.

Rosemary-Infused Cake with Blackberry Preserves and Mascarpone Frosting

Original recipe:  My Name is Yeh. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: I used two 8-inch cake pans; Molly’s original cake uses three 6-inch pans. As a rule, you can split into as many pans as you like as long as those pans are evenly filled. And pay attention to bake time as you switch around the cake “volume” 

Suggested equipment: Mixer 

Total Time: ~1.5 hours assuming simple decoration 

Cook Time: ~20 minutes 

Ingredients

Cake 

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 2 sprigs rosemary, washed and patted dry

  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour

  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Frosting 

A note: I ran out of icing to frost the sides and was cool with that but if you want to ensure enough icing, you might want to double this!

  • 12 oz unsalted butter, softened

  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese, softened

  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

  • a pinch or two of kosher salt

Step by Step Directions

Infuse your rosemary into the milk 

  1. Take out your butter so it softens up in time for the cake batter
  2. Place your milk and rosemary in a small saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium heat
  3. Stir the mixture often, making sure it doesn’t start to curdle or “set” on the top
  4. Once the mixture has simmered, turn off the heat and let the saucepan sit uncovered for 15 minutes. You don’t want to throw the hot milk into your batter for two reasons: 1, the temperature might throw off your batter texture. And 2, you want to let the rosemary fully infuse into the milk!

Make your cake 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Sift cake flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl
  3. In a separate bowl or your mixer bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy
  4. Beat the eggs into your butter mixture, one at a time
  5. Add the vanilla, yogurt and oil to the butter mixture and mix together
  6. Add your dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat until smooth (about 1-2 minutes of beating action)
  7. Measure out 2/3 of your infused milk, using a strainer if you see any stray bits of rosemary floating into your milk. Some milk may have evaporated during the infusion so if that happened, you can add more plain milk to your cup to make it up to a full 2/3 a cup. I actually had leftover infused milk rather than lacking milk
  8. Pour the milk into your bowl of batter
  9. Grease and flour your cake pans, or line them with parchment. I prefer parchment myself
  10. Pour the batter evenly between your cake pans and smooth the tops
  11. Bake your cakes for 18-24 minutes. Mine took 20 minutes on the dot. You should rotate the cakes halfway through so they bake evenly
  12. The cakes are done when a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then invert them onto a rack to cool completely
  13. While the cakes cool- take out your mascarpone and butter to make the frosting

Make your frosting and assemble

  1. Use your mixer to beat the butter, mascarpone and vanilla together
  2. Add sugar and a pinch of salt, then beat the frosting again until it is light and fluffy
  3. Taste and adjust as needed- I ended up adding a second pinch of salt to taste
  4. Assemble your cake! Put 1 layer on a plate, and spread a thick layer of frosting on top. Cover that with a layer of blackberry preserves. Then, set a 2nd layer on top of that. Keep going until you run out of layers
  5. I then frosted the top with mascarpone frosting, too. Molly frosted her sides but I actually ran out of icing and decided to go for a “semi naked” cake look to compensate for that
  6. Decorate the top with sprinkles if you wish- and why wouldn’t you wish?!

Store cake in the fridge to keep the mascarpone icing nice, but let it sit out for a little bit before serving so it isn’t totally firm when you serve. I noticed the rosemary flavors actually got stronger over time and sort of melded into the frosting from the cake on Day 2. I think I liked the cake better on Day 1 but it still got rave reviews at my office on Day 2!