Zucchini Banana Avocado Bread

zucchini banana avocado breadAs was the case last summer, the zucchinis in the garden are growing like weeds. We only go harvesting about once a week, but every time we go, there are new (sizeable) zukes to be plucked from the dirt.

To use up the zucchini, yellow squash and the surplus of cucumbers, we’ve been making fresh salads with a basil, garlic, lemon and oil dressing. Those salads are pretty ridiculous, in terms of delicious flavor, but let’s face it; my primary interest in zucchini is to use them for baked goods. They are so moist and lacking in their own flavor that they’re the perfect add-on item to just about any recipe. At the very least, they won’t hurt the taste or texture of the final product.

huge zucchiniOne of our zucchinis was particularly huge, about the size of my forearm. The recipe I ended up using (with modifications, natch) called for 1 cup of shredded zucchini and I used only about one quarter of the vegetable.

I went with a zucchini banana bread recipe from Taste of Home, as zucchini + banana sounds like the perfect combination for moist bread. I used only about one quarter of the sugar it called for, and added some honey for supplemental sweetness, but I could have cut out even more; the bananas seemed to have added enough sugar on their own. Also, I subbed a ½ cup of whole wheat flour for ½ cup of all purpose. It didn’t affect the bread negatively at all.

zucchini banana avocado breadAnd of course, I didn’t use any of the oil the recipe called for, and instead used avocado for the fat. As I was mixing up the initial ingredients, I felt like I was making some sort of salad.

The bread came out perfectly, with a crunchier, browned crust and moist interior. After a couple days, it was still delicious and moist, but unfortunately, the Chicago summer humidity got to it and the crust failed to maintain its crispness. Does anyone have any tips for how to store to save baked goods from moisture?

Check out the recipe below and let me know how it turns out or an modifications that made it better!

Zucchini Banana Avocado Bread
Makes three 5-¾” x 3” x 2” or one 9” x 5” loaf 

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 bananas)
½ cup mashed ripe avocado
½ cup honey
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup shredded zucchini
½ cup walnuts (optional)

Directions
In a large bowl, combine mashed bananas, mashed avocado, zucchini, honey, egg and vanilla. In small bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients into the wet mixture and stir. Fold in walnuts.

Transfer into three 5-¾” x 3” x 2” well-oiled loaf pans. Bake at 325° F for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. If you don’t have three small pans, use one 9” x 5” pan and bake at 325° F for about 55-65 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

Chai-infused crepes, with avocado instead of butter

chai crepesLast week we were in the mood for some breakfast-for-dinner action. Our go-to breakfast is usually a frittata of sorts, toast or possibly pancakes. But last week it was crepes that were calling out.

We haven’t made crepes in probably two years, and the last time we did, I recall them sticking to what was surely a cheap pan poorly lined with Teflon. Since then, we upgraded our kitchen to include a Bialetti, and, judging from the maiden voyage that was crepe-making, the pan is living up to the hype (the surface was so smooth—perfect for flipping crepes).

chai crepesThough we based our crepes on your average, run-of-the-mill recipe (from allrecipes.com), the final product was anything but ordinary. First of all, per usual, we used a butter alternative. After tasting delicious success using avocados in brownies, we decided to give it another go, and used one avocado instead of the 4 tablespoons of butter the original recipe called for. We just mashed the avocado, and then mixed it into the batter, so there were a few tiny avocado pieces in the crepes. I recommend getting rid of those with a hand mixer, as I will next time, but in the end, the avocado was mostly unnoticeable and definitely didn’t alter the flavor or texture.

Secondly, and more importantly, we infused the milk and water with chai tea. This wasn’t my idea, and at first I was skeptical, since I didn’t love how the batter smelled. I ate my words when the crepes were done cooking, however; they tasted amazing. The hint of chai was subtle but just enough to make a difference.

chai crepesThe final element for any crepe adventure: toppings. I had three crepes, one each with Saigon cinnamon and sugar, strawberry preserves and Trader Joe’s cocoa almond butter.

Final assessment: the chai crepes tasted incredibly, and were arguably better plain than with any toppings that muted their own flavor. The avocado-as-butter wasn’t perfectly smooth, which annoyed the obsessive-compulsive side of me far more than my taste buds, but also gives me a reason to try these out again. I also think the batter wasn’t thin enough, which made the crepes thicker than what a French brasserie would serve, and gives me another reason to give them another whirl.

Interested in trying out a fun twist on crepes? Check out the recipe below. Note: we also doubled the original recipe, in anticipation of eating breakfast-for-dinner two nights in a row.

Chai-Infused Crepes

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup water, heated
1 bag of chai tea (I used decaffeinated chai tea)
1 cup milk (plus more if necessary)
1 ripe avocado, well mashed (or 4 tablespoons of butter, if you’re feeling less than adventurous) 

Directions
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and eggs.

Heat the water to boiling and steep tea bag in it for a few minutes. Add the milk to the tea, and then pour mixture into the mixing bowl with flour and egg. Stir to combine.

Mash ripe avocado to be as creamy as possible and add to mixture. Stir to combine. If there are still pieces of avocado, use a hand mixer on low for a few minutes until mixture is smooth. Batter should be thinner in consistency than pancakes. If thinning is necessary, add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, to thin it out.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop batter onto griddle, using about ¼ cup for each crepe. Tilt pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.

Cook each crepe for about 2 minutes, until bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, flip and cook the other side. Serve hot with toppings like Nutella, preserves, sugar or cinnamon sugar.

Super easy, sugar-free white bread

super easy white breadWe learned quite a while ago that there is little served at restaurants, cafés and bakeries that we can’t make on our own. Ambience, service and exploring the city are things we also value, so we will continue to frequent certain dining establishments and check out new ones, but it’s kind of satisfying to see something delicious and know that yours taste just as good, or better. Among the items we’ve found we prefer homemade are wings (not breaded and baked to a crisp, much better than breaded and fried), scones, muffins, fruit breads, granola and cookies.

Now we are adding yeast breads to that list. As I shared recently, I’m pretty new to the world of yeast doughs. It’s the kneading process in which I lack confidence in my skills (and no, I do not have a bread maker or a table mixer, so mixing and kneading are standard parts of baking). Luckily I have a partner who is quite adept at kneading so he takes care of that for me. In fact, he pretty much spearheaded our first attempt at a yeast bread.

book of breadWhile walking home from Inkling on Broadway one day, we stopped at the used book store we always stop at when we’re walking on Broadway. We actually didn’t go in, just explored the sale cart on the sidewalk outside. There we found a $3 gem: a bread recipe and techniques book from 1976. I’m sure we could find 97% of the information in it online, but using a book with yellowed pages that explains how to shape bread is pretty charming, amirite? Either way, it is chock full of bread ideas that I would never have even thought to look up.

Our objective was to make a bread that was plain in flavor, that could be multipurpose—toasted with butter and cinnamon sugar, cold with tuna salad or baked into some sort of garlic cheese bread. We went with Basic White Bread I. Exciting, I know.

white bread doughThe recipe was suuuuuuuper easy. Super long, but super easy. Even though it was easy, when we bake, we tend to do a lot of sidestepping of recipes and ingredients and amounts of ingredients. Among the modifications this time around: the recipe calls for baking the dough in pans, but we did freeform loaves, so who knows if that altered the texture of the bread somehow. Also, due to our impatience to have garlic bread with our spaghetti dinner, I doubt we let it rise long enough, which may have made the bread denser than what it is supposed to be.

All in all, this bread is great. Easy, plain in flavor, and comes out with a crusty shell and soft interior that make trying it right out of the oven totally necessary.

Basic White Bread I
Makes two 8-inch loaves

Ingredients
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
3 cups warm water
1 ½ tablespoons coarse salt
6 ½ to 7 ½ cups unbleached white flour

Directions
Put yeast in a large bowl and pour ¼ cup of the warm water over it. Stir gently and let sit a few minutes until it is thoroughly dissolved and looks creamy.

Pour the rest of the warm water into the bowl along with the salt, stirring to dissolve. Now add the flour, cup by cup, stirring well after each. After the sixth cup or so, the dough should be getting hard to stir. Scrape it out of the bowl onto a well-floured working surface and let it rise while you wash out the bowl and butter or oil it.

Start kneading the dough, scraping it up from the working surface and slapping it around a bit to activate the gluten. Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary to keep it from sticking. When it is smooth and elastic, return it to the buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until double in volume. Because this dough has no sugar in it, it could take 1 ½ – 3 hours, depending on the warmth of the kitchen.

Turn the risen dough out again onto a lightly floured surface, punch it down, and divide it in half. Form each half into an 8-inch-ish long loaf and place onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. Cover lightly with a kitchen towel and let rise until dough doubles in volume again. This could take 45 minutes – over an hour. Don’t let it rise too high, however, or it will sink when it is baked.

Bake in preheated 350 F (convection 325 F) oven for 40 minutes. Remove loaves from pans and let them cool on racks.

The most delicious treat I’ve made in a while: Fudgy Avocado Brownies

avocado browniesOver the past few weeks, the garden has been sprouting up zucchini like crazy, and I paid a visit to my dear friend Erin, with whom I share a passion making baked goods healthier, both of which have contributed to my interest in baking with vegetables. When I was in Indiana visiting Erin and her nearly one-year-old son, we made zucchini brownies. We were talking too much to document the process, but trust me when I say they were goooood.

The weekend following the zucchini brownie-making adventure, I decided to make my foray into the world of avocados in baked goods.

avocado icing

avocado icing: like guac except with confectioner’s sugar instead of garlic!

I’ve heard from a few people, and read in a few blogs, that avocados can just as easily be a sweet food as they are savory, and work well as a great butter alternative. My brother-in-law’s friend apparently calls them “green butter,” which makes perfect sense, given their smooth and rich consistency.

Recipes for avocado brownies are not hard to find on Pinterest, and I went with this one from How Sweet It Is. I didn’t modify the recipe as much as I usually do; the main change I made was to use less sugar. I also added soy milk (due to using avocados that weren’t ripe enough), used vegetable oil instead of avocado oil and added chocolate chips (because why not?).

avocado browniesThe brownies turned out to be incredibly delicious. They were definitely 89 times tastier than brownies I’ve made using yogurt or applesauce as butter alternatives, because they kept that rich, fudgy texture that make brownies so irresistible.

Avocado Brownies Recipe

Ingredients:

For Brownies
2 large ripe avocados, mashed as well as you can (about 1 1/8 cups)
8 ounces high-quality dark chocolate, melted
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable or grape seed oil
4 ounces dark chocolate chips
1 – 4 tablespoons soy milk (if the batter needs some moisture due to under-ripe avocado)

For Frosting
1 large ripe avocado
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

For Brownies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally spray a 9-inch square pan with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk mashed avocado and melt chocolate. Whisk in sugar until combined, then add in eggs and vanilla extract, mixing well. Add in flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, mixing with a large spoon until JUST combined – do not over mix. Stir in avocado oil until it’s well distributed and batter is somewhat smooth. Fold in chopped chocolate, then spread batter in pan. Bake for 28-32 minutes, or until middle is set. Remove and let cool completely, then frost and top with grated chocolate if desired.

Note: I placed these in the fridge (covered thoroughly with plastic wrap) to store and when eaten immediately from the fridge, they can be even denser and slightly dry, so I recommend letting them come to room temp or even placing them in the microwave (we did this!).

For Frosting:
Add avocado to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until mashed and creamy. With the mixer on low speed, add in vanilla then slowly add in powdered sugar, scraping down the sides if needed, until a smooth frosting forms. Frost brownies once cooled.

Summer Report: Weather & Gardening

american flagThis summer has been a rollercoaster of emotion, weather-wise. In June, we had highs in the low 70s and lows in the low 50s. Yes, I realize that most of June precedes the actual summer solstice, but I don’t care. On my birthday (June 2, for all of you keeping track at home), I expect sunshine and warmth. At the very least, I shouldn’t have to wear layers and a scarf to walk to a farmer’s market, which is exactly what I did on my birthday.

Then, when the weather finally warmed up, my delight quickly turned into whining as rain and wind and thunderstorms took over. I know, it’s hard to believe that I would ever whine about the weather not being 85 and sunny, but I have a witness who will testify. And I’ll tell you what’s always a challenge: playing beach volleyball in 30 mph winds.

It’s July now and this Chicago summer is finally looking like a Chicago summer: 90s and humid, yay! Would I prefer the weather be dry? Of course! But the sensation of sweltering that the humidity creates is quite welcome by me. It’s even hot enough that I can enjoy an iced or blended beverage without shivering; cold drinks are actually necessary.

But I digress. The only information I needed to relay is this: the June storms seem to have been good for the garden I’m helping tend in Northwest Indiana (and probably great for commercial farmers all over the region), so I guess I should stop complaining. Just last night, the Head Farmer (my boyfriend’s mother) sent us a photo of the first harvest. Three large zucchinis!

Knowing that something is growing in that ground is so gratifying. Gardening is not easy, turns out. At points when I was planting seeds or weeding, I really questioned why we’re doing this. Weeding, in particular, is not fun. It is so physically taxing that, while I’m doing it, I get why inorganic food exists. The possibility of getting rid of the weeds, in one feel swoop, is soooo tempting that yeah, I understand why pesticides exist. No, I’m not saying I want toxic chemicals in the products I ingest; I simply want to express how much my knees and back hurt after just an hour of weeding in a 25’ x 20’ plot and my endless amazement that my great-grandfather did it until he was 89. Anyway, I can feel myself rapidly losing my hippie cred (did I ever have any?), so I’ll move on.

This summer is the second year we’ve done the garden, expanding this year to include more blueberry and strawberry bushes. Last summer, my personal contribution to the land was embarrassingly scant, so this year I’m trying to redeem myself by putting in more effort. I’m under the assumption that the harder I work, the sweeter the zucchinis, tomatoes, berries, rhubarb, asparagus, pumpkin, onions and peppers will taste. At the very least, I’m am increasingly fascinated that seed + dirt + water + sun = food. It’s magical!

Check out the progress of the garden over the past six weeks:

June 7, 2013: hoeing the land in anticipation of planting seeds and blueberry bushes
home garden

June 14, 2013: weeding to be done after many days of rain
home garden

July 6, 2013: plants!
home garden

July 17, 2013: edible food!
zucchini

Strawberry Coconut Muffins

strawberry coconut muffinsI think muffins are my new favorite food. Save for the rainbow cookies I made for Pride Parade (I ruefully have yet to document), the only thing I’ve been baking in this first month of summer have been muffins, which is probably a testament to the amount of berries I always have on hand during the warm months.

That said, I’m always looking for muffin recipes that use less butter but still taste good. Never an easy task, mind you; replacing butter with other fats like yoghurt or oil often creates a more spongy texture that I really don’t love. Let’s face it: butter makes most recipes more delicious.

Then I found this recipe on wholeliving.com that calls for zero butter, but still has that dependable muffin texture. I wanted to work coconut flakes into the mix, so I changed it around a bit to fit those, and a couple other ingredients I had at the ready. I went with sweetened coconut flakes because that’s what I had, and it turned out to be a great choice. When the coconut on the tops of the muffins were roasting in the oven, the sugar on the flakes seemed to crystallize, which made for a nice, glittery effect. Making muffins pretty isn’t something I would typically try to do (I have yet to complete Beautiful Baked Goods 301 at the Domestic Goddess Academy), so this was a nice surprise.

The original recipe called for a shorter bake time at a higher temperature, but I’m pretty sure I used more strawberries, which made for some pretty juicy batter.

These muffins ended up being quite delicious, and they’re surprisingly sin-free (if butter is your sin, that is). If you’re interested, give the below concoction a whirl. Also, let me know if anything is confusing; I don’t always make note of the things I do while baking, so writing about it after the fact might be unclear.

Ingredients
15ish strawberries (about 1 ½ cups), sliced or quartered
1/3 cup sugar
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup plain soy milk
¼ cup light olive oil or vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup plus a few handfuls coconut flakes 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (you’ll be bringing down the temperature after 9 minutes of baking). Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Toss together strawberries and 1/3 cup sugar. Using a potato masher, lightly mash berries; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a glass 2-quart measuring cup or a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, egg, and vanilla; whisk to combine.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk mixture and the berry mixture (with juice). Fold just until combined, then fold in ½ cup of coconut flakes. Using an ice cream scoop or a large spoon, divide the batter among the muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops with extra coconut flakes.
  4. Bake about 9 minutes, then reduce the oven to 350 degrees and bake for about 12 more minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.. Cool 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

Czech Kolacky for Slovak Day – Why Not?

czech kolacky

Babi’s recipe: Czech Kolacky

Every year, my friend Andrew throws a Slovak Day party. If you’re Slovak(ish), don’t freak out that you forgot to send your grandparents a card; at this point, Slovak Day is an excuse to get together, enjoy the sunshine, drink Golden Pheasant (Zlatý Bažant) and eat loads of sausage and kraut and stuffed cabbage. It is not (yet) a globally recognized holiday.

I am part Slovak and part Czech, so this year I felt I had what it takes to make a culturally-significant dish to bring to the celebration.

But.

(And here’s where I know my millions of readers will gasp.) But I didn’t quite make a Slovak dish. Instead, I made kolacky, using a recipe from my Czech grandmother. I had recently baked with her and as such, had some hands-on training fresh in my mind that made me feel prepared to tackle a yeast dough.

Quick background before I ramble on about my baking experience: kolacky originated as a semisweet wedding dessert from Central Europe, and is described as a pastry that holds a dollop of fruit rimmed by a puffy pillow of supple dough. Very poetic, Wikipedia. If you are from, or have family from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland or pretty much anywhere in that vicinity of the world, you are probably familiar with kolacky. What you may not know there are many, many derivations of this traditional treat. Take a look at a few photos.

The full recipe is at the end of the page, but if you’re interested in some color commentary, keep on reading.

The first step in the process was the one that made me the most nervous: the whole yeast + warm milk thing. So the science part, I suppose, is what I presumed most difficult to manage. Many yeast dough recipes suggest combining the lukewarm milk, yeast and sugar in a bowl, but my grandmother combines the dry ingredients (sans yeast) in a bowl and makes a little ditch in the middle, into which she adds the milk and the yeast to let them bubble and do chemistry.

yeast in a mixing bowl

Next, you add the one cup of melted butter. As you may know, I have fallen victim to anti-animal fats propaganda, and have lots of fun experimenting with butter alternatives. It took actual effort to not replace half the butter with grape seed oil, but I was reminded by my helpful kitchen helper that this is a traditional recipe with which I needn’t  tamper. And really, would my grandmother’s grandmother sub plant oil in her kolacky? I don’t think so.

butter

Once all your ingredients are mixed together, your dough should be slightly sticky. Put it on a clean, floured surface (a big, wooden pastry board, perhaps, if you are so blessed with a kitchen large enough to house one). Knead the dough for a few minutes, adding flour to it as you go. It’s less of a knead, and more of a roll and fold, as the photo below suggests. This is truly the technique portion of the baking competition, and I really can’t put the instructions into words; it requires in-person training. Over the winter, my grandmother demonstrated and tried to teach me, but I have yet to master. My helpful kitchen helper is actually pretty good at it, though, so I’ll let that be his thing.

kneading dough

After the dough has been kneaded for a few minutes and is less sticky, plop it back in your mixing bowl and let it rise. Cover it with your Chicago Triathlon kitchen towel. If you don’t have one, an ordinary kitchen towel will probably suffice.

chicago triathlon kitchen towel

Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, then roll dough into 1.5” balls and place onto greased cookie sheets. Cover them again with your Chicago Triathlon kitchen towel and let rise for 20 minutes.

Get out your favorite shot glass; it’s going to be your handy dandy tool to create little pits in the dough into which you’ll add your fruit.

kolacky making

Traditionally, the filling in kolacky is dried fruit, preserves, pastry cheese or canned poppy, but I didn’t have any of that. Also, it’s summer, so I need to eat at least a pint of fresh berries a day, which means I have to put berries in my desserts to get full intake. In two separate bowls I added sugar to raspberries and diced strawberries, let them sit and then drained them of their sugary juice. I don’t think the raspberries were drained enough, because their juice was pooling a bit once the fruit was added to the kolacky.

unbaked kolacky

I also added a streusel to a few of the kolacky, thinking the fresh fruit would need a sweetening agent. Then I remembered I had sugared the fruit already so I stopped what I was doing and saved the streusel for some sort of rainbow-berry dish to be made later this week for Pride.

The final step before putting the goods in the oven is to use a brush to coat the edges of the kolacky with egg. I am not yet cool enough to have a pastry brush made of feathers, so I attempted it with a fork. It didn’t work. I need a brush.

coating kolacky with egg

Bake for 10-12 minutes. You’ll know the kolacky are done when the edges are a gleaming golden brown. If you didn’t adequately brush the dough with egg (ahem, me), then your edges won’t quite be golden brown, but they’ll still taste good.

kolacky baking

My first attempt at kolacky yielded a product that didn’t look anything like my grandmother’s but I promise they tasted really good. And to quote my grandmother, the master baker herself: “the main thing is that they taste good.”

Here is the full recipe:

Ingredients:
4 cups flour
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup lukewarm milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 egg yolks
¾ cup lukewarm milk
½ teaspoon salt
½ lemon rind (optional)
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons run (optional)
1 cup melted butter (or ½ cup butter plus ½ cup olive oil)

Instructions:
Combine flour and sugar in a bowl. Make a ditch in the middle of the dry ingredients and add ¼ cup lukewarm milk and yeast. Let stand at room temperature until foamy.

Mix together salt, egg yolks, vanilla, rum and ¾ cup warm milk. Add mixture and melted butter to the flour. Mix with a wooden spoon about 2 minutes to make soft dough that’s slightly sticky, then put on a floured board and mix/fold/knead with your hands for another 2-3 minutes, adding flour a little bit at a time.

Cover with a towel and let rise until mound of dough has doubled in bulk. Roll dough into 1 ½ inch balls.

Place on greased cookie sheet 3 inches apart. Cover with towel and let rise for about 20 minutes. After they have risen, use a small glass or fingers to make an indentation in each. Spoon 1 teaspoon of your favorite filling into each. Beat one egg and brush edges with a pastry brush.

Bake a preheated oven at 425 F for 8-10 minutes.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Filling for Kolacky:
You can use canned peach, apricot or prune.

If you’d like to use dried fruit, soak the fruit at least 1 hour, then cook in ½ cup of water on a stovetop for about 10 minutes. Blend to puree, stir in ¾ cup sugar, ½ teaspoon vanilla and a dash of cinnamon.

Canned poppy seed is another option. If you’d like to make your own poppy, cook 8 ounces of poppy, ½ pint of milk, ¼ sugar (or honey), a dash of cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of preserves (strawberry or prune).

The final option is to fill with cheese. To make the pastry cheese combine 8 ounces cream cheese, 1 cup cottage cheese (squeeze excess water until it’s dry), ½ cup sugar and ½ cup raisins. If it’s runny, add 1 tablespoon of minute tapioca pudding.