Raspberry Cheesecake Morning Buns

Raspberry Cheesecake Morning Buns
          Raspberry Cheesecake Morning Buns

Raspberry Cheesecake Morning Buns

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking
Yield: 24 rolls

These Raspberry Cheesecake Morning Buns combine the world’s best yeast dough with fresh raspberries and indulgent cheesecake. I’ve used a sweet almond glaze to round out the flavors, but if you’re not an almond fan, you can use vanilla extract in the glaze instead.

Roll Ingredients:
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (100-110 degrees F)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 cups milk minus 2 tablespoons, room temperature
2/3 cup cold shortening
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 cups flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted, for after baking

Filling Ingredients:
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 sticks salted butter (or 2 stick unsalted butter and 1/2 teaspoon salt), melted
1 (12-ounce) jar raspberry jam
1 pint fresh raspberries (plus more for topping)

Glaze Ingredients:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/8 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla if you prefer)
sliced almonds for garnish (optional)

Note: I don’t recommend halving yeast recipes; instead, if you don’t want 24 rolls at once, consider freezing some for later. To freeze some of the unbaked rolls, just wrap them well before the second rise and freeze them. Once frozen, pop them out of the pan all together and store in the freezer, wrapped in plastic wrap and in a zip top bag or wrapped in foil. When you want to bake them, stick them back in a greased pan, thaw them in the fridge overnight, proof for the instructed amount of time, and bake like usual. These bun/roll recipes also provide the perfect opportunity to try two different flavor combos. I often make half sweet buns and half savory buns (like these or these) and half to make sweet buns for dessert. If you do this, just half the filling recipes and roll out the dough half at a time.

Mix the warm water and yeast in a medium bowl and let the yeast foam for about 10 minutes. Put 2 tablespoons white vinegar in a measuring cup and then add milk up to the 2 cup line. Set this aside. In a separate large bowl (or the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook), whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and cut the shortening into the mixture with two knives or a pastry cutter until the shortening looks like small peas. Stir yeast mixture and milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well, kneading just a few turns. Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly sprayed with cooking spray, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and proof in a warm, draft-free place (such as a closed, turned-off oven), for around 70 minutes or until doubled in size.

After proofing the dough, cream the softened cream cheese in a medium bowl until fluffy before adding the sugar and eggs. Mix together until well combined.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll it into a large rectangle about 1/8-inch thick (I carefully cut the dough in half and worked with half at a time to make it more manageable; if you do this, just spread on half of the filling ingredients for each half you roll). Spread the melted butter over the surface of the rolled dough and then dollop the cream cheese mixture all across the surface, spreading gently to create an even layer. Dollop raspberry jam on top and spread it gently across the cream cheese. Sprinkle on raspberries. Gently roll the dough up into a spiral (I find using a bench scraper to encourage the dough to roll up during this process incredibly helpful) and cut it into 2-inch rolls, placing them close together in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray (at this point, you could wrap and freeze the rolls for later if you wanted).

Cover the rolls let them rise in the fridge overnight (they will have nearly doubled.) When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, letting the rolls rise on top of the preheating oven covered by a clean dish towel. Bake them for about 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned on top (don’t underbake or they’ll still be doughy in the center). Brush with 2 tablespoons melted butter and return to the oven for 1 more minute. Whisk together the glaze ingredients and drizzle the glaze over the warm rolls. Serve immediately.

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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Target via Glam Media. The opinions in this post, however, are all mine.

Raspberry Lemonade Champagne Smash

Raspberry Lemonade Champagne Smash
Raspberry Lemonade Champagne Smash

Raspberry Lemonade Champagne Smash

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, inspired by A Beautiful Mess
Yield: 2 cocktails

This punchy cocktail is tangy and sweet, with a shot of Limoncello and plenty of peppy champagne! I love the fruity bits of raspberry throughout the cocktail.

6 ounces raspberries, plus more for garnish
3 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons chilled Limoncello
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups chilled champagne
1 cup chilled sparkling water
lemon slices for garnish (optional)

*Note: You can omit the ice if all your ingredients are well chilled and you don’t have an ice strainer.

Make a simple syrup: In a small saucepan, mix 1 tablespoon water and 2 tablespoons sugar over high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup is simmering. Transfer this to another bowl and stick it in the fridge to chill.

Muddle raspberries: Put most of the raspberries (reserving just a few for garnishing your drinks) into a medium bowl with 1 tablespoon sugar. Muddle them together with a muddler or the back of a spoon until the raspberries are all broken down and combined with the sugar. Divide this mixture into the bottom of 2 tall glasses.

Finish and assemble: In a cocktail shaker, mix Limoncello, lemon juice, champagne, sparkling water, 2 tablespoons of your chilled simple syrup, and ice (if your shaker is a smaller capacity, consider mixing just one drink at a time: 1 tablespoon Limoncello, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 3/4 cup champagne, 1/2 cup sparkling water, 1 tablespoon simple syrup, and ice for each drink). Shake well for several minutes and pour into the two glasses, straining out the ice. Garnish with lemon slices and raspberries and serve immediately.

Lemon Raspberry Gooey Butter Cake

Lemon Raspberry Gooey Butter Cake
Lemon Raspberry Gooey Butter Cake

Lemon Raspberry Gooey Butter Cake

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, adapted from one provided to St. Louis Today by Fred and Audrey Heimburger of Heimburger Bakery.
Yield: would easily serve 4-6 people

This was beyond fantastic. The gooey, fluffy texture of this cake along with the subtle lemon flavor was a downright ethereal combination. You’re gonna freak out when you taste it!

Crust Ingredients:
1 cup cake flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Filling Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
powdered sugar for dusting

Toppings Ingredients:
fresh raspberries
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 heaping tablespoons powdered sugar
lemon zest

NOTE: If you don’t have a skillet, I believe you can bake this in a greased 9-inch square baking dish (I’d use a glass one if you have it, and check it early and often. Remove when there’s some jiggle left.) Let us know how it goes if you try it this way for all the other skilletless people!

Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together cake flour, zest, and sugar in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or two knives until the mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling together. Press the mixture into the bottom (this step is a lot harder than it sounds, but be patient and use the back of a spoon to help spread/press the mixture down. I also stuck mine in the fridge for a bit to make the butter less sticky) and up the sides of a 10-inch cast iron skillet.

Make the filling: Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale yellow (about 2-3 minutes). Mix in the egg until just combined. Alternate adding the flour and evaporated milk, mixing after each addition. Mix in the corn syrup, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and lemon zest. Pour the filling into the crust and sprinkle the top with icing sugar.

Bake and assemble the cake: Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until cake is nearly set (mine was probably ready around 30). Some jiggle is fine — do not overcook! It’ll finish setting up as it cools. Sprinkle some more powdered sugar on top. Let the cake cool in the skillet for 2 hours. In the meantime, beat heavy cream and 2 tablespoons powdered sugar together in a bowl to stiff peaks. Pile heaps of fresh raspberries into the center of your cooled, set gooey butter cake, top with a mountain of freshly whipped cream and lemon zest, and serve.

Refreshing, Tart Lemon Granita with Fresh Berries

Refreshing, Tart Lemon Granita with Fresh Berries

Recipe by: Slightly adapted from Gourmet, via Epicurious
Yield: 2-4 servings

This amazing lemon granita is lip-puckering good! It’s like a sweet/tart lemonade frozen into a refreshing summer ice. If you’re a lemon fan, you’ll love it with a drizzle of limoncello and a handful of fresh, sweet berries.

2 to 4 large lemons
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
a few teaspoons limoncello (optional)
fresh berries (optional)

With a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, remove zest in long pieces from 1 lemon. Scrape off the white rind from the zest if you got much — this could make your granita bitter. Finely grate off the zest of another lemon. Squeeze 1/2 cup juice from lemons (this took 4 lemons worth of squeezin’ for me, but you only use the zest from the first 2).

In a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, combine water and sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Stir in zest (strips and grated) and transfer this mixture to a bowl to cool. Chill syrup, covered, overnight.

About 20 minutes before you’d like to serve your granita, discard large strips of zest (the grated zest stays in for flavor and texture) and stir the 1/2 cup lemon juice into the syrup. Freeze lemon mixture in an ice-cream maker until it’s “spoonable but not crumbly.” This usually took about 12-15 minutes for me. (If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can freeze the mixture, stirring every 30 minutes, for 3-4 hours.) Serve immediately, garnished with a teaspoon of limoncello and fresh berries if desired.

Red, White, and Blue Desserts!

Happy 4th of July! Here are some red, white, and blue desserts for your celebration. And don’t forget the sparkling raspberry lemonade and soft pretzel dogs, while you’re at it.


1. Red Velvet Cheesecake
2. Itsy Bitsy Berry Cream Pies
3. (Freshly Picked!) Strawberry Cream Pie
4. Gooey Butter Strawberry Shortcake (add blueberries too, if you’d like!)


1. The Ultimate Moist, Fluffy, Ridiculous Coconut Cake
2. Limoncello-Spiked Shortbread Icebox Cake with Fresh Raspberries (add blueberries too, if you’d like!)
3. Tres Leches Coconut Cake Trifle
4. White Sheet Cake with Fluffy Whipped Icing


1. Itsy Bitsy Berry Cream Pies
2. Fresh Blueberry Pie
3. Blueberry Cream Cheese Almond Braid
4. Blueberry Walnut Bread

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