Mimi’s Spiced Sweet Bread (Kleeja)

This recipe comes from my best friend’s mom.  It’s a Middle Eastern sweet bread that’s perfect toasted up for breakfast or in the afternoon with a cup of coffee or tea.  Don’t be afraid to “make bread” – it’s really not a hard thing to do!

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 cups of bleached flour (2 1/2 lb.)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp anise powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar added to 2 cups warm whole milk
  • 1 package of yeast added to 1/2 cup warm water + 1/2 tsp sugar
    • 1-2 egg whites for brushing

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl – mix well (if you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, you can place the dry ingredients into the bowl – do NOT use a hand held electric mixer, the weight of the dough will probably break the motor)
  • Add in the melted butter and oil while the mixer is going – if using your hands, get mixin’!
  • Next, add in the water and yeast mixture
  • Lastly, mix in the warm milk and sugar mixture
  • Your dough should be moist, sticky and, well, dough-like – it should not be dry and crumbly nor too wet
  •  Place the dough into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap – place the dough in a warm place away from any drafts for 3 hours so it can rise
    • I always place my rising dough in the cabinet with our cable box, etc. because the equipment gives off some heat and helps the rising process
  • After the dough has rested for 3 hours, roll pieces of dough of desired size into cylinders and twist the dough into a knot (I used a small handful)
  • Place the knotted buns onto a parchment paper lined (or greased) baking sheet and brush the tops with egg whites
  • Bake at 350°F for approximately 15 minutes on the top rack and approximately 15 minutes on the bottom rack (next time I make these, I’m going to to cut the time down by a few minutes, so it’s a little bit trial-and-error with the timing)
    • Recipe yields approximately 35-38 buns
    • These freeze really well – once they’ve cooled, just place them in a Ziploc bag and pop in the freezer!

Mrs. G’s Gingersnaps

Put away that bag of Betty Crocker gingerbread cookie mix and make these instead!  These cookies are crispy, yet soft and chewy and perfectly spiced – you won’t regret putting in a little more effort to make the real deal.   

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cloves

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Cream the butter and sugar using an electric mixer
  • Add in the egg and then stir in the molasses
  • Sift together the dry ingredients and then add them to the wet mixture – mix well
  • Roll the dough into small balls about 1 inch in diameter and then roll them in granulated sugar
  • Place the cookie dough balls onto a greased or parchment paper lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart
  • Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes
  • Remove from sheet and cool on a rack -recipe yields about 3-4 dozen

Pumpkin Cheesecake

This cheesecake is the ultimate fall treat.  It’s decadent and has just the right amount of sweetness.

INGREDIENTS

CRUST
    • 1  cup graham cracker crumbs
    • 3/4 cup gingersnaps, finely crushed (put about 20 in a food processor and process until they’re fine)
    • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 stick butter, melted

FILLING

    • 3 – 8 oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature
    • 1 – 15 oz. can pumpkin
    • 3 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
    • 1  1/2 cups granulated sugar
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
    • 1/8 tsp cloves
    • 2 tbsp flour
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract

HOW TO MAKE IT

CRUST

    • In a medium bowl, combine the graham and gingersnap crumbs, sugar and cinnamon
    • Add the melted butter and mix well
    • Press the mixture down into a flat 9 in. springform pan – make sure the crust comes up along the sides of the pan
FILLING
    • Beat the cream cheese until it’s smooth
    • Add the pumpkin, eggs, egg yolk, sugar and spices
    • Add the flour and vanilla and mix together until well combined
  • Pour the filling into the crust and spread it out evenly
  • Bake in the oven for 45 minutes at 325°F (wrap the spring form pan in aluminum foil and bake it in a water bath – here are some more tips)
  • After 45 minutes in the oven, turn the oven off and leave the cake in there for another hour
  • After the hour, take the cheesecake out and let it cool on the countertop covered with an inverted large plate/platter – this will slow the cooling process down and prevent cracks
  • When the cheesecake is room temperature, place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours
  • Top your piece off with some whipped cream and enjoy!