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Alexandra Penfold

Alexandra Penfold

A New Englander through and through I've been raised on New Haven pizza since birth. I'm always up for food adventuring. Co-author of New York a la Cart:
Recipes and Stories from the Big Apple's Best Food Trucks.

  • Website
  • Location: NY and CT
  • Favorite foods: Pizza, peanut butter, pasta, cheese, hummus, cookies, mangoes, pad si ew, dark chocolate (70% or higher), scones, street meat, cart food, lox, bagels, frappes, cheese fries, doughnuts and whoopie pies.
  • Last bite on earth: A slice of a plain pie from Modern Apizza, a slice of a plain pie from Sally's, a slice of a round regular pie from Di Fara's, a latte and a chocolate zeppole from Rocco's.

American Classics: 5 Easy Cereal Treats to Try

In my experience, if you take cereal and add melted butter and marshmallows you're going to end up with a quick, easy, and crowd-pleasing dessert. But why should Rice Krispies and their generic "crisp rice" counterparts have all the fun? These are some of my favorite cereal treats I've cooked up. What are yours? More

American Classics: Untraditional Hot Cross Buns

The trouble with hot cross buns, at least in my experience, is they tend to not be very good. After finding sweet, sweet success using challah dough to make monkey bread, I realized that the water + yeast proofing technique used in challah dough, made for a fluffier, chewier bun than the scalded dairy technique I had tried before for other sweetened yeasted breads and this inspired me to play with the dough to make hot cross buns with the texture that I had been searching for. More

American Classics: 5 Easy Cereal Treats to Try

@Zorazen: Ooooh, I love the sound of that!

Homemade Chocolate Graham Crackers

@lux_lisbon: They're a bit crunchier, not quite as airy as store bought.

American Classics: Mock Apple Pie

@Jane Lear: Wow! Thanks for sharing that tasty bit of history! So interesting!

Homemade Chocolate Graham Crackers

@hat19: You can absolutely reroll the scraps, use a very light hand flouring your work surface with cocoa powder and refrigerate the dough for a quick spell if it's getting too soft.

Hot Cross Buns

@Bigbananafeet: Wait. Hot cross bun French toast?! Genius!

American Classics: Untraditional Hot Cross Buns

@dashofginger: Thinking about it some more, it's so funny how what you grow up with shapes your idea of what a certain dish should be. I always thought it was really weird how plain pizza outside New Haven came with cheese on it, but I guess that's the Pizza Cognition Theory at work!

Hot Cross Buns

@karen r: Bread flour has more protein than all purpose flour which aids in producing gluten and makes for a nice chewy texture. The protein also aids in absorbing the liquids. You can make it with all purpose flour, but you may need to add a bit more flour by eye to make sure the dough isn't too wet when you go to knead it, which if you go too far adding more flour will result in a denser dough. Once of the eye-opening things I learned reading Shirley O. Corriher's Bakewise is that not all brand of all-purpose flour has the same amount of protein and it can vary by seasons. Does this help?
I've updated the notes section to include this for other folks considering the all-purpose vs. bread flour debate

American Classics: Untraditional Hot Cross Buns

@hyperfocal: I know, I know! A Jewish friend of mine joked that they were crypto-buns.

@dashofginger: Like many treats I supposed different American bakers have made hot cross buns their own. The ones I grew up came from the grocery store bakeries outside of New Haven, CT. They were baked primarily by little old Italian ladies that worked at the store. They came in little aluminum pans of six, not by the single bun and were more akin to a yeasted pull apart roll. I wanted them to be good as I often gave up my favorite treat--doughnuts--for Lent, but they were always kind of stale and the addition of red and green citron didn't help. I didn't grow up on buns made with currants, clove, allspice or nutmeg, in fact, I didn't even know that hot cross buns were supposed to have those ingredients until I had a more traditional English bun at a NYC bakery post college--so when I tried to make the sort of bun I craved that wasn't my starting point.

Hot Cross Buns

@MorgnsGrl: Pretty sure that would be super delicious. Report back!

@DrGaellon: Just staleness, though these buns hold up better than your typically hot cross buns, still delicious a day later. I wouldn't scale down the recipe because you need that whole egg in the dough. I think it would work if you froze half the dough before rising it. Then when you want to make the next batch, you can let the dough come to temperature in the refrigerator and proceed with the instructions. Instead of baking them in a pan you can form them into balls and bake them on a sheet. Happy baking!

American Classics: Lucky Charms Marshmallow Squares

@candinr: It's funny, I totally hear you, but the sort of oat-yness of the Lucky Charms is actually really nice with the extra marshmallow--I might even say, I *gasp* like it better than the original krispies. It's not as much of a sugar shock as you might expect. That said, you could get a similar sort of experience with less sugar making Cheerio treats (though these look a lot more fun!).

Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch Squares

@Tipskykit37: What a great idea! Maybe event some crushed peanuts, too!

@Tom Lindholtz: That sounds like a lot of fun! I love the candy cane idea. I'll have to try it at Christmas!

Challah Monkey Bread

saltandserenity: I used a 9 inch silicone Bundt pan. Which I think is equivalent to the 10 cup size.

Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Sherbet

Cooknotchef: Straight from the freezer, that way all your juices get turned into a lovely syrup!

American Classics: Chocolate Buttermilk Pudding

Good to know! I've never developed a taste for drinking straight buttermilk myself, but I do love that tang when added to most anything. I'll bet it would be good with white chocolate!

Chocolate Buttermilk Pudding

@onejolie: I've kept it for a couple days in the fridge without any problem.

@Robbie52: I wouldn't use yogurt here because of the curdling/boiling issue.

Challah Monkey Bread

@khai_: Absolutely! I've actually also tested it with frozen dough that's been defrosted. If you're working with refrigerated dough, just be sure to factor in some extra time for the dough to come to room temperature so it can finish its proofing. Happy baking!

Challah Monkey Bread

@Autumn Produce: I can't speak for other recipes, but think this one would be fine for doing by hand--it's mostly done by hand already. Here's what I'd do. Stir the ingredients together with a spoon until they come together into dough. Generously flour a clean surface. Generously flour your hands. Turn the dough out and knead it by hand for around 10 minutes, you can dust with flour along the way if it's feeling sticky--you don't want to add too much flour as that will impact the texture. Good luck! Let us know if you try it by hand!

Apple Cinnamon Kringle

Hi all, my apologies for the confusion, I've been playing with this recipe for awhile and I mistranscribed my notes. As appleling mentioned the dough is a halved version of the other kringle recipe that appears on Serious Eats, one that I posted a couple of years ago with a cherry jam filling. The challenge with buttery dough is definitely keeping it cool. @appleling: you can try chilling all of your ingredients and also putting the kringle back in to the fridge for 30 minutes or so once it's filled rather than putting it straight in the oven. I'll ask the kringle experts in my life if they have any other recommendations. I'm glad you liked the filling. I've been wanting to do a traditional apple filling since I first tried making kringle! I hope this clears things up. Please don't hesitate to post any other questions. Thanks!

Iced Lemon Cookies

@Lolap: Lemon extract is alcohol flavored with lemon oil, so it gives a more concentrated lemon punch. Happy baking!

Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie

@hmmary: Please let us know how it turns out! This sugar cream pie was super easy and unexpectedly delicious. I'd be interested to hear how it works with coconut milk.

Browned Butter Squash Pie

@Richard Holmes Thanks for the heads up! I'm so sorry for the mix up. I've fixed the recipe. I hope your pie turned out!

Pumpkin Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

@Jubjub: Hmmm. You could try adding a touch more bourbon, alcohol doesn't freeze so that helps keep it soft. It may also be your freezer. Mine gets super, super cold and it tends to make homemade ice cream really hard. I recently turned my freezer down--it's on the recommended middle setting now--and that helped my ice cream to be much more scoop friendly!

Banana Crumb Cake

@plazmaorb: The cake gets about as dark as a banana bread--definitely in the warm, darker brown range. I think it looks a bit darker in the photo than in real life, there was some funky late afternoon lighting when I took that photo.

Butterscotch "Salty Oat" Cookies

Apologies for the confusion. The cups measurement ended up getting deleted when I added the weight measurement. It's 3 1/4 cups of old fashioned oats. I've updated the recipe. Thanks!

Spiced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf

Thanks for all of the comments and tips! Glad to hear how nicely the tweaks work. The mini-chips are a great idea.
@DouglassKitchen: I hope you get you try the recipe again!

@saj14saj: I've updated the recipe. It's a recipe that I've made both butter using the creaming method and with browned butter. When I wrote it up for the post I decided that browned butter was a little more fall-like and I forgot to update that part of the instructions. Fixed! Thank you!

@morgancain: Very cool!

Sweet Technique: Assembling Layer Cakes

Employing good cake technique and best practices can make the endeavor a whole lot less stressful for the baker. The biggest, most important step that you can take when making a cake comes well before you begin icing or stacking layers. For celebration cakes, there is no step more important than coming up with a plan and a timeline. Come learn the basic steps of layer cakes! More

The Serious Eats Pizza-Making Guide

Welcome to our brand new pizza index! Over the years, our staff and readers have worked to build a treasure trove of pizza recipes and techniques, ranging from regional classics to home kitchen adaptations and twists. Have we covered it all? Absolutely not—that would take all the fun out it! One of pizza's greatest qualities, at least in our humble opinion, is how difficult it is to pin down or define. Ideally, this list will continue to grow and evolve indefinitely. In the meantime, we've done our best to organize our existing pizza resources to make things a little easier for all the home cooks and aspiring pizzaoli out there. Have at it, Slice'rs! More

Scooped: Black Sesame and Orange Ice Cream

In Asia, black sesame ice cream is as classic a flavor as vanilla in the States. There's not much to improve on it—it just works. Ground black sesame seeds take on the texture of tahini in that "so creamy it changes your perception of what creamy can be" sort of way. The rich, roasted flavors of the seeds, which give off an aroma as complex as fine chocolate, are a perfect match for a light custard. More

Bunny Bread

[Photographs: Donna Currie] You can use this shaping method with the bread of your choice, but it can't be too wet—it needs to hold its shape. And you don't want something that will have a massive amount of oven spring... More

The Vegan Experience Day 28: Final Thoughts As a Part-Time Vegan

It's been four weeks of complete veganism, and I'm finally back on my regular diet again. Well, that's a bit of a stretch, considering the fact that I don't think I'll ever go back to eating the way that I did before. For the past few days, the first question most people have asked is, "so what did you eat to celebrate?" It's a surprising question because to me, celebration implies that somehow eating meat for the first time in a month is a reward, something I had been working my way towards. Here are some last thoughts on the past month of dining. More

Vegan Mayonnaise

Note: For best results, use a hand blender along with the jar it came with. For a more stable mayonnaise, add a pinch of soy lecithin (available in health and nutrition stores) along with the tofu.... More

American Classics: Holiday Peppermint 'Crack'

This year, instead of buying tschotskes that my friends and family will have to dust until they end up in a yard sale or on eBay, I'm trying to make as made homemade gifts as I can. One of the first recipes that came to mind for holiday gift giving was my beloved Chocolate 'Crack'—it's easy, it's inexpensive, and it's absolutely impossible to pass up. But it's even better with a winter-appropriate peppermint spin. More

American Classics: Mrs. Wakefield's Chocolate Chip Cookies

In the more than seventy years since Mrs. Wakefield first published her recipe it has appeared on the back of millions (billions?) of bags of Nestlé semi-sweet morsels. The "Original Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies" were certainly one of the first recipes I mastered on my own, so I was surprised to discover that the off-the-bag "original" recipe might not actually be the original recipe that Mrs. Wakefield first published. More

10 Cranberry Dessert Recipes We Love

Some may feel that Thanksgiving cranberry sauce is the only serving of this tart fruit that you really need, but we disagree. Cranberries are wonderful in fall and winter desserts, adding a fresh pop of sweet-sour flavor and bright red color. Here are a few of our favorite cranberry dessert recipes from the SE archives. More