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The Best From Scratch Dessert Recipes

Christmas is just around the corner. You may already have the menu planned for Christmas dinner, but in case you need some sweet new ideas to finish off your holiday meal, here are some of our favorite go-to dessert recipes for holidays and special occasions.


Classic Apple Pie

Ingredients

Pie dough:

  • 2 ½ cups flour

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 ½ sticks of very cold butter

  • 8 Tbs ice water

Filling:

  • 2 ½ pounds granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

  • ¾ cups sugar

  • 2 Tbs flour

  • ½ tsp salt

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

  • ½ lemon

  • 1 egg, beaten

  • 1 Tbs sugar


Instructions:

  1. In a medium sized bowl add the flour and salt and mix.

  2. Cut the cold butter into small cubes and add to the flour. You can use a pastry cutter, fork, or your hands to work the butter into the flour. Mix until you have lumps about the size of small peas.

  3. Add the ice water 1 Tbs at a time, mixing thoroughly until the dough beings to form into a ball. You may not need all 8 Tbs to accomplish this. If you use all the water and your dough is still dry, add a little more. The dough should not be too sticky or wet

  4. Work the dough into a ball, wrap with plastic and place in the fridge.

  5. Peel, core and slice the apples.

  6. In a bowl, add the apples, sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and the juice from half a lemon. Mix until all the apples are coated, then place in the refrigerator.

  7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  8. Remove the dough from the fridge. On a floured surface cut the pie dough in half and roll out both halves until round and about 1/8 inch thick.

  9. Place one of your dough circles into a pie dish. Gently press the dough into the bottom of the pan. Your dough should still hang over the sides of the pie dish. If it doesn’t, you can trim some sides that are longer and place them in the deficient areas.

  10. Pour the apple mixture into the pie pan.

  11. Add the top layer of dough. Trim excess dough from the sides and pinch the top and bottom crusts together to create a crimp. Make sure the edges are sealed together.

  12. Brush the pie with the beaten egg and sprinkle sugar on top.

  13. Cut four slits in the top crust to create a vent

  14. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and no greyish or undercooked pastry remains.

  15. Allow to cool completely before slicing.


Don’t want the hassle of making a pie crust? Try this Dutch apple pie instead!


Dutch Apple Pie

Ingredients:

Crust & Topping:

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar

  • ½ cup quick oats

  • ¾ cup butter, melted

Filling:

  • 2/3 cup sugar

  • 2 Tbs cornstarch

  • 1 ¼ cups cold water

  • 4 cup peeled, cored and chopped granny smith apples (about 2 large)

  • 1 tsp vanilla


Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Mix flour, brown sugar, oats, and butter. Reserve ¾ cups of this mixture for the topping. Press remaining mixture into the bottom and sides of an ungreased 9 inch pie plate.

  3. In a large saucepan mix sugar, cornstarch, and water until smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add apples and vanilla and stir to coat.

  4. Pour into crust. Crumble topping over filling.

  5. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly about 40-45 minutes. Cover edges with foil the last 20 minutes to prevent over browning. Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving.


Lemon Poppyseed Squash Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup melted butter

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • Juice and zest of 2 small lemons

  • 1 tsp almond extract

  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • ½ tsp baking powder

  • 3 cups flour

  • 2 cups grated summer squash

  • 1 Tbs poppy seeds


Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease or line 2 bread loaf pans and set aside.

  2. Place melted butter, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, almond extract, and vanilla in a large bowl. Cream together until fluffy and light in color, about 1-2 minutes

  3. Add the eggs one at a time and mix in each egg thoroughly before adding the next.

  4. Evenly sprinkle salt, baking soda, and baking powder over the mixture. Mix well.

  5. Add the flour a half cup at a time, mixing thoroughly between additions.

  6. Fold in the squash and poppy seeds. Divide the batter between the loaf pans. Bake 1 hour until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.


Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Now, obviously, if you’re going to make these cinnamon rolls, you’ll need a sourdough starter. I like sourdough cinnamon rolls over regular yeast rolls because there is more flavor in the dough. This recipe does take some forethought and planning because you need to start it about 30 hours before you want to serve them, but it is SO worth it. So if you don't have a sourdough starter, find a friend does and ask them to give you a little bit so you can try this recipe!


Ingredients:

Sweet Stiff Starter:

  • 90 grams white flour

  • 40 grams water

  • 30 grams sourdough starter

  • 30 grams sugar

Dough:

  • 130 grams scalded milk

  • 86 grams butter, cubed

  • 120 grams sugar

  • 10 grams salt

  • 6 grams vanilla extract

  • 190 grams sweet stiff starter

  • 450 grams white flour

  • 50 grams whole grain flour

  • 3 eggs

  • Cooking oil or butter, for greasing.

Filling:

  • 70 grams butter

  • 200 grams light brown sugar

  • 16 grams ground cinnamon

  • 1.5 grams salt

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 227 grams cream cheese (8oz), softened

  • 57 grams butter, softened

  • 240 grams powdered sugar

  • 2 grams vanilla extract

  • 1/8 tsp salt


Instructions:

  1. About 6-12 hours before you mix up your dough, build the sweet stiff starter.

  2. Mix the flour, water, starter, and sugar in a small jar and scrape down the sides of your jar with a spatula

  3. Take the start our of the jar and briefly knead it to fully incorporate the ingredients.

  4. Return the start to the jar, cover, and let it double in size.


Dough Mixing:

  1. When your sweet stiff starter is ready, scald the milk by warming it to 160 degrees in the microwave or on the stove.

  2. Remove the milk from the heat and add the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla to cool down the milk.

  3. Tear the sweet stiff starter into 5 or 6 pieces and put them in the bowl of the stand mixer. Add the flours, eggs, and milk mixture to the bowl.

  4. Mix on low speed with a paddle attachment until the dough begins to come together, then switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 10-15 minutes.

  5. Scrape the dough into a medium bowl, cover, and let rise until it has grown by at least 75%. This takes 6-12 hours depending on the ambient temperature. Aim to keep this dough at warmer temperatures, above 75 degrees if you can.

Filling Prep:

  1. Once your dough is ready, melt the butter for the filling and set it aside.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

Shaping your rolls:

  1. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.

  2. Lightly flour your countertop and scrape the dough out of the bowl onto the counter.

  3. Flour the top of the dough and pat it into a small rectangle.

  4. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 24 x 12 inch rectangle with the long side closest to you. Try to keep the corners even and the dough thickness somewhat uniform.

  5. Check to see fi you can lift your sheet of dough off the counter. If you can’t, then dust the top of the dough with flour, carefully pry it off the counter with your bench knife, and flip it over. Touch up the dough with your rolling pin, if needed, to regain the rectangle shape.

  6. Brush the melted butter onto the surface of the dough, leaving unbuttered a ½ inch border on the side farthest from you. Then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture onto the butter.

  7. Starting from the side closest to you, roll the dough until you have a tube. Let it rest seam-side down for about a minute.

  8. Using your bench knife, or serrated knife, cut the tube in quarters. Then cut each quarter into 3 pieces for a total of 12 rolls.

  9. Transfer the rolls to the greased pan. Place the end pieces cut-side up for a more uniform look.

Final Proof and Baking

  1. Cover the pan and let the dough proof for 3 to 5 hours. The rolls will expand quite a bit and push against each other. If your kitchen is below 75 degrees, you can place the dough in your oven with just the light turned on.

  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

  3. Place the pan of rolls uncovered on the middle rack and bake for 25-30 minutes. Look for light golden edges on the dough and a bubbling filling


Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. In the bowl of the stand mixer, combine the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt.

  2. Using a paddle attachment, and a bowl hood if you have one, mix for a couple of minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and continue mixing until the frosting is creamy and smooth.

  3. Add the frosting to the cinnamon rolls when they’ve cooled a bit.


These are our favorite treats for holidays and special occasions. Will you be trying any of these? What are your favorite go-to desserts?

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