Luckily, there are also a handful of baking sites I refer to time and time again, sites that move the needle past my comfort zone. When I go to these sites I KNOW I am going to get a rock star result.
So when it comes to baking desserts and breads like Samoa Macarons, the best crunch rolls, the flakiest crescent rolls, or a sugar-spun, towering Croquembouche, I know exactly where to turn. I head to one of my favorite bloggers, Barbara Schieving of the food blog Barbara Bakes, and the creator of these Strawberry Cheesecake Cream Puffs from her new book Simply Sweet Dream Puffs, with the recipe at the end of this post.
Barbara is a fellow Utah blogger and thanks to some of our local meet ups, I’m lucky to have sampled her baking prowess for myself.
So whenever I have a question about high altitude baking, how much yeast works best for this or that recipe, and pretty much any and every baking inspiration I’m in need of, she’s who I turn to first.
Barbara’s blog started in the same way most other bloggers have, as a way to keep their favorite recipes available for their families. “I stumbled on a food blog when I was searching for the calorie count of a Dunford Donut and was intrigued by the idea,” she says.
“When my daughter Jennifer called me once again to get a cookie recipe, I decided I should just put my recipes on a blog so she’d have them when she wanted them.”
A home-taught cook, Barbara admits she didn’t grow up with the same type of cooking her four kids (including a set of twins!) did and instead learned how to cook as an adult.
“My mom was a single mom and dinner was usually Hamburger Helper or something similar that was quick and easy. My mother-in-law was a stay-at-home mom so when I got married, my husband was use to eating meals made from scratch. I quickly learned to cook from scratch. I found that not only did I enjoy cooking and baking from scratch, but I had a knack for it.”
Her husband and high school sweetheart now joins her in the kitchen and refers to himself as her slicer and dicer. It’s a good thing too, because with two blogs—Barbara is also the creator of Pressure Cooking Today—she can use a little help in the kitchen.
“Baking is my first love because of my huge sweet tooth, but when I bought a pressure cooker, I just couldn’t stop dreaming up pressure cooker recipes. The challenge is having enough time to create original fun ideas for both sites, as well as enough time to promote both sites on social media.”
We’re all lucky to be the recipients of Barbara’s labor, and her great recipes that have made their way into thousands of kitchens.
And now, my list of 10 Q’s for Barbara’s A’s
1. Describe your blog in 3 words:
Baking made easy.
2. If you could be one food blogger other than yourself, who would you be?
Sandy of Reluctant Entertainer – I want to host dinner parties out by the pool under those pretty patio lights with the ease and grace that Sandy does.
3. Which 3 blogs do you follow/are obsessed with/can’t live a day without?
Not Quite Nigella – my virtually adopted Australian daughter. Her posts are always quirky and fun.
My Baking Addiction – we’re both addicted to baking.
The Baker Mama – Maegan has the most adorable little family. She has twin boys, loves baking and we both have a big sweet tooth.
4. What is the one kitchen tool you could never give up?
5. What dish are you obsessed with mastering that you just can’t get quite right?
I recently posted some Kouign Amann pastries that were delicious but not quite as pretty as Les Madeleines’ Kouign Amann here in Salt Lake City, UT. My family would be happy to have me perfect these flaky, sweet, crunchy pastries.
6. What did you have for dinner last night?
I’ve been testing recipe for my new pressure cooker cookbook, so last night we had Pressure Cooker Mongolian Beef. It’s one of our favorites.
7. What’s one secret talent outside of the kitchen nobody knows about you:
I love to travel and I plan the best trips. I’ve been to Hawaii, lots of different Caribbean islands, Italy, France, England, Scotland, and for my husband’s 50th birthday we took the whole family to Australia for 3 weeks – we spent some time in Sydney, then went up to Port Douglas and spent 3 nights on a live-aboard on the Great Barrier Reef scuba diving. I spend hours researching the places we’re going to find great places to eat, not-to-miss activities, and fun places to stay. I seriously considered becoming a travel agent.
8. You’re happiest when cooking/eating:
9. What have you taken from your experience of writing your book and how has that influenced you personally?
Break up a big project in to little chunks and it won’t seem so overwhelming. This transfers to so many areas in life. You don’t have to do everything at once.
10. The one secret ingredient to your success is:
Working hard and not being afraid to grab opportunities when they come my way. Along with all the help and support I’ve received from other food bloggers over the past eight years since I started Barbara Bakes. The food blogging community is filled with generous, kind, and talented people, and I’m grateful to be to make a living working along side them.
Barbara, you are seriously one of the best. Thank you for being one of my all-time favorite foodie crushes!
Cream Puffs Are What Sweet Dreams Are Made Of
As the author of Simply Sweet Dream Puffs, Barbara was recently asked to teach a class on making cream puffs at one of Salt Lake City’s best food sources, Orson Gygi. I bought tickets for me and my Smudge for a mommy/daughter cooking date where we were two of the attentive pupils in her baking class.
We learned hands on the secrets of the French classic paté a choux, and how to bake airy, light cream puffs, even if I didn’t read the instructions thoroughly and messed up twice.
Simply Sweet Dream Puffs
Barbara’s book shares not just cream puff recipes but recipes for eclairs, profiteroles and a gluten-free pate a choux, all from the same basic principle recipe that can be adapted into so many variations. Peanut Butter, S’mores, Churros, Lemon Sour Cream…and Red Velvet too. And a whole lot more.
Check out Barbara’s step by step video below for all you need to make your own puffs a success.
About the Recipe
Pâte à Choux is the fancy name for a basic dough that’s the base for the fancier named profiteroles, éclairs, gougeres, and the humble cream puff. Those French, they do it every time.
But the process is hardly intimidating. Try it. You’ll see.
The dough is made in three easy steps.
First it’s cooked in a saucepan where you use your muscles to bring it into a simple ball of dough.
Next, eggs are mixed in. Consistency is important.
Piping the dough into consistent sizes is simple thanks to Barbara’s handy template you can print out and then slide under your parchment paper to use as an outlined guide for your piping.
Then it’s time for the oven.
There’s no leavening agent in this dough (baking soda, baking powder, etc.) so the secret to cream puffs is that when the dough is baked at a high temperature, it creates steam that puffs up the little balls of dough.
While you may be tempted to pull the cream puffs from the oven because of their bronzed beauty, don’t. Be sure to cook them for the recommended time to ensure the insides cook too, and the outside is firm or they’ll collapse when they’re removed from the heat too soon.
There is no wrong or right way to fill your cream puffs. This filling is thicker thanks to the cream cheese so it stands up prettily and holds it’s shape overnight if you wish to make them ahead.
I used a simple strawberry jam in the bottoms of my cream puffs, but feel free to experiment with whatever your cravings are.
If you try this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below, or take a photo and tag it on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats and #barbarabakes.
- For the Cream Puff Shells (Pâte à Choux)
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- Egg wash (optional)
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon water
- For the Strawberry Cheesecake Filling
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup strawberry jam
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- For the Cream Puff Shells (Pâte à Choux)
- Preheat oven to 425°. Lightly grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper. Measure flour and set aside.
- Bring butter, sugar, salt, and ¾ cup water to a boil in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Immediately remove from heat, and quickly stir in flour mixture all at once. Return to heat and stir with a wooden spoon for 1 to 2 minutes, or until dough is smooth and forms a ball. Transfer dough to the bowl of an electric mixer, and let cool 5 minutes.
- Add 3 eggs, 1 at a time, beating until mixture is smooth and glossy. Spoon dough into a pastry bag fitted with a ⅝-inch plain tip. Pipe dough onto prepared pans into 1½-inch rounds (1½ inches high). Smooth out peaks and round tops with a moistened finger.
- Whisk together remaining 1 egg and 1 tsp. water. Brush tops of dough with egg mixture.
- Bake at 425° for 5 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 375°, and bake 30 minutes or until puffy and golden brown. Turn oven off; let shells stand in closed oven 10 minutes. Remove from baking sheets to wire racks, and cool completely.
- For the Strawberry Cheesecake Filling
- Place cream in a large bowl. Beat at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks from. Combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla in a separate medium bowl. Beat until smooth. Gently fold in the whipped cream.
- To Assemble the Cream Puffs
- Cut the top one-third off of each cream puff. Spoon a scoop of the strawberry jam into the bottom of the cream puff. Spoon or pipe the whipped cream mixture on top of the strawberry jam. Replace the tops. Chill until ready to serve. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
- Reprinted with permission from Simply Sweet Dream Puffs
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