Books to Cooks is the one stop Vancouver shop for all books related to cooking, wine, beer and spirits, and a frequent stopover for chefs promoting their latest projects. A fixture in the Seattle restaurant, Tom Douglas, recently came by to promote his latest cookbook, Dahlia Bakery Cookbook, based on one of his many spots, Dahlia Bakery.
Douglas is charmingly raw and doesn’t hold back when it comes to discussing everything from the reality of the culinary world to politics. There was many a laugh.
The book itself is a gorgeous work of practical art with recipes including the famous doughnuts with cinnamon sugar and mascarpone and his show stopping coconut pie that Obama himself (or Barrack as Douglas referred to him) can’t live without when he’s in town.
He started the morning with Grandma Douglas’s Schnecken, German sticky buns filled with lots of buttery goodness.
He also had some peanut butter sandwich cookies ready for us and sent us home with additional pastries. I can’t wait to delve into the book. The two recipes are below.
grandma douglas’s schnecken
Makes 12 to 14 schnecken
My family has made these schnecken for most every holiday for as long as I can remember. schnecken, which means “snails” in German, are basically pecancinnamon buns. Once the schnecken were turned out hot from the pan and the top of the buns covered with gooey pecan caramel, the real struggle began— fighting my seven siblings for first crack at our favorite piece. it might have been the first time i realized that my rotundness and arm length gave me a distinct advantage over my sisters as i groped for the warm center of this classic cinnamon pull-apart. After the center pieces were gone, i went for the ultra- caramelized golden brown corners. It’s convenient to prepare the schnecken to the point of forming the rolls and setting them into the prepared pan a day ahead. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and store them, unbaked, in the refrigerator overnight. When you are ready to bake the schnecken, remove the pan from the refrigerator and set it in a warm place for about an hour. Then bake as directed in the recipe. Kosher salt is coarser than table salt. If you are substituting table salt, cut the quantity in half.
special equipment: 9 × 13- inch Baking Pan
1⁄2 cup (1 stick/4 ounces/113 grams) unsalted butter, plus more for the bowl and pan
1 cup (8 1⁄2 ounces/242 grams) milk
5 tablespoons (2 1⁄4 ounces/63 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
3 to 3 1⁄2 cups (13 1⁄2 to 15 1⁄2 ounces/383 to 439 grams) all- purpose flour as needed
sugar- pecan topping
3 ⁄4 cup (1 1⁄2 sticks/6 ounces/170 grams) unsalted butter
3 ⁄4 cup (4 1⁄2 ounces/128 grams) packed brown sugar
1⁄4 cup (3 ounces/85 grams) light corn syrup
3 ⁄4 cup (3 ounces/85 grams) chopped pecans
cinnamon- sugar filling
4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick/2 ounces/57 grams) unsalted butter
1 cup (7 ounces/200 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1. To make the dough, melt the 1 ⁄2 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium- low heat. Add the milk and sugar and heat just to lukewarm (about 110°F), stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the warm milk mixture into a bowl. Stir in the yeast. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes, then stir in the salt.
2. Beat the whole egg and egg yolk together and add to the yeast mixture. Stir in the flour 1 cup at a time until you have a sticky dough. Scrape the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until you have a nice smooth dough. Butter a large bowl. Place the dough in the prepared bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Put the bowl in a warm place and allow the dough to rise for 2 hours, until tripled in volume.
3. Meanwhile, brush a 9 × 13- inch baking pan with some melted butter (or spray it with vegetable oil spray). To prepare the sugar- pecan topping, melt the butter with the brown sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium- low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from the heat and spread the mixture in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans.
4. Punch down the dough and turn it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead for a minute, then use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle about 15 × 12 inches and 1 ⁄8 inch thick. To make the cinnamon- sugar filling, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium- low heat and allow it to cool. Brush the butter thoroughly over the surface of the dough. In a bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the melted butter. Roll the rectangle up, like a jelly roll, along one long edge.
5. Slice the log of rolled dough into 1- inch- thick slices and arrange the slices, cut sides up, in the prepared pan. Cover the pan with a piece of plastic wrap (you can spray the plastic wrap first with vegetable oil spray to be sure it doesn’t stick to the dough) and allow it to rise in a warm place for about 40 minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the schnecken until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. Check them occasionally during the baking time, and if they seem to be browning too quickly, loosely cover them with a sheet of aluminum foil.
7. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes. Turn the schnecken out of the pan while still warm by inverting the pan over a large platter or baking sheet. Serve the schnecken warm.
peanut butter sandwich cookies, aka “the nora ephron”
Makes about 24 sandwich Cookies (3 inches in diameter)
This may be the most sought- after cookie recipe in the book, the cookie that makes it into Seattle
Metropolitan magazine’s food lover’s guide year after year. Once, when director, screenwriter (When
Harry Met Sally), and novelist Nora Ephron was in town, she stopped by the dahlia Bakery and bought a few of these cookies. Later she e-mailed me, saying this was her all- time favorite and asked for the recipe. Naturally, I sent it to Nora along with a big package of cookies. When I asked Nora if I could name the cookie after her in my cookbook, she said, “Are you kidding me? This may be the greatest cookie ever ever ever.” a sandwich cookie takes more effort than a drop cookie, because you have to make both cookies and filling. In addition, this recipe involves a chilling step and requires the cookies to be double- panned. But the results are worth it for the best- textured peanut butter cookie with the creamiest peanut filling. After arranging the scoops of cookie batter on a baking sheet, slip another baking sheet underneath to double- pan so the cookies bake more slowly and evenly. Since you can bake only eight cookies per baking sheet, and the cookies must be double- panned, you’ll have to bake them in batches. Be sure to let the baking sheets cool thoroughly before reusing them. We use two different peanut butters in this recipe. Skippy creamy peanut butter makes the filling smooth and creamy. Adams crunchy peanut butter, which like other natural peanut butters must be well mixed before using to incorporate the oil, has just the right almost- runny consistency and crunchy bits of peanuts to give the cookies the perfect texture. To re- create our peanut butter sandwich cookies, we suggest you use the same or similar brands. We prefer moist brown sugar from a resealable plastic bag rather than from a box. This recipe requires a 2- hour or longer chill of the shaped cookie dough, so plan accordingly. the amount of salt in the filling is a perfect balance to the creamy peanut
butter, but if you are substituting table salt for the kosher salt called for in the recipe, be sure to cut the amount in half. this recipe was inspired by the Bouchon Bakery.
special equipment: electric Mixer, 1- ounce ice Cream scoop (optional But recommended for the Most uniform Cookie sandwiches)
peanut butter filling
1 1⁄2 cups (14 ounces/400 grams) creamy peanut butter, such as skippy
6 tablespoons (3 ⁄4 stick/3 ounces/ 168 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
peanut butter cookies
1 1⁄2 cups (8 ounces/227 grams) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1 2 ⁄3 cups (51⁄4 ounces/99 grams) rolled oats, such as Quaker old fashioned
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 sticks plus
2 tablespoons/111⁄4 ounces/320 grams)
unsalted butter, softened
1⁄3 cup (31⁄2 ounces/125 grams) crunchy natural peanut butter, such as adams, well mixed
3 ⁄4 cup (5 1⁄4 ounces/150 grams) granulated sugar
2 ⁄3 cup (51⁄4 ounces/150 grams) packed brown sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature (see “how to Bring ingredients to room temperature,” page 12)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. To make the peanut butter filling, combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl using a whisk.
Cover and chill the mixture until you are ready to fill the cookies.
2. To make the peanut butter cookies, in a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder (see “How to Sift,” page 13). Stir in the oats and salt. Set the dry ingredients aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, chunky peanut butter, and sugars and cream on medium- high speed until very fluffy and pale, at least
3 minutes, scraping down the mixing bowl as needed.
4. Turn the mixer to medium- low and add the eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate each egg and scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients on low speed in 3 to 4 additions and mix until just combined. Do not overmix. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula, going all the way to the bottom of the bowl to mix in the dry ingredients well.
5. Use an ice cream scoop to portion all the cookies in 1- ounce scoops (or use about 1 heaping tablespoon per cookie), placing the scoops on a parchment lined baking sheet (see “How to Scoop Muffins, Cookies, and Cupcakes,” page 74). You should have about 48 cookies. (You can place all the cookies close together for the chilling step— you will space them for baking later.) Chill the scooped cookies for at least 2 hours or longer.
6. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 375°F. Arrange 8 cookies, spaced evenly apart and staggered, on each parchment-lined baking sheet. (Note: Do not flatten the cookies; they will flatten as they bake.) Set the baking sheet inside another baking sheet to double pan and place it in the oven. Bake until evenly golden, about 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time. If you have 2 double- panned pans in the oven at the same time, also switch them between the racks. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before removing the cookies with a metal spatula. Allow the cookies to cool completely before filling them.
7. To make a cookie sandwich, turn one cookie flat side up and spread with a little less than 2 teaspoons of filling. (If you have a 1- ounce scoop, you can slightly underfill it to portion the filling or underfill a tablespoon.) Top with another cookie, flat side down, pressing gently. Repeat until all the cookies are assembled into sandwiches.