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Simplify your holiday baking with sheet pan recipes from Molly Gilbert's new cookbook

Toasted s’more blondies. (Dana Gallagher)
Toasted s’more blondies. (Dana Gallagher)

Have you jumped onto the sheet pan dinner bandwagon? Preparing your entire dinner on a single sheet pan saves time and makes cleanup simple. Among the popular sheet pan cookbooks is Molly Gilbert’s “Sheet Pan Suppers.” Now, the cookbook author and French Culinary Institute graduate has a beautiful new book dedicated to sheet pan baking, called “Sheet Pan Sweets.”

The book features the expected birthday cakes — but Gilbert takes them to a new level with the coconut tres leches cake, a chocolate pear cake and a rolled pumpkin tiramisu cake. There are also breakfast offerings like apple fritter cake and spiced granola. Other recipes include bars, cookies, pies and even breads, like the orange olive oil challah.

Gilbert joins Here & Now‘s Robin Young to talk about the new book and provide some tips.

Molly Gilbert. (Dana Gallagher)

Recipes from ‘Sheet Pan Sweets’

By Molly Gilbert

Toasted s’more blondies

Makes 20 to 25 blondies

We love a blondie! Especially one that’s all dressed up for summer camp. Studded with dark chocolate and graham cracker pieces and topped with toasty marshmallows, these bars are ready for buddy check at the lake, and also to walk awkwardly behind the cute boy from bunk 5 on the way to play capture the flag. The nice thing is that although these s’more-flavored treats evoke summertime fun, they can be made and enjoyed any time of year, no campfire needed.

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1⁄2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1⁄2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 6 whole graham crackers, broken into small pieces
  • 12 ounces mini marshmallows


Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center position. Grease a sheet pan with nonstick spray.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the butter turns a toasted, amber color (it will bubble and spit; when it quiets down, check for browning). Pour the browned butter into a large heatproof bowl, making sure to scrape the pot for all those delicious browned bits, then whisk in the brown sugar and granulated sugar until well combined (the mixture may look grainy). Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition, then stir in the vanilla until smooth.

4. Gently stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a rubber spatula until a smooth dough just comes together. Fold in the chocolate chips and graham cracker pieces.

5. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and spread it evenly to the corners with a large offset spatula. Bake the blondies for 18 minutes, until starting to set but still a bit soft and gooey. Remove the pan from the oven and scatter the marshmallows on top of the blondies, pressing gently to adhere. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the bars are set (a tester inserted into the center will come out mostly clean) and the marshmallows are nicely golden, about 12 minutes more. To really brown the marshmallows, set the pan under the broiler for about 30 seconds. Allow the bars to cool in the pan for 15 minutes.

6. Spray a large knife with nonstick spray, then slice the blondies into 20 to 25 squares. The bars are best the day they are made but will keep, tightly covered, at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.


Apple fritter cake

Serves 24

To me, the apple fritter is always the best choice at the donut shop. Every time. I mean, I’ll never say no to a maple old-fashioned or a plain raised glazed, and there’s a time and place for fancy shapes, fillings, and toppings, but if it’s in the case, the apple fritter has my vote. You can’t beat the dense yet airy dough, studded with pockets of apple and cinnamon and bathed in a milky glaze. This cake is an homage to my favorite donut — it’s got the same dense crumb, baked apple pockets, and sweet maple glaze. And the best part? No frying necessary.

Ingredients

Cake

Apple fritter cake. (Dana Gallagher)

  • Unsalted butter or nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 4 cups chopped peeled apples (about 3 large; I like a mix of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious)


Glaze

  • 4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3⁄4 cup confectioners’ sugar 2 tablespoons maple syrup 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt 1 tablespoon whole milk


Instructions

1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the center position. Grease a sheet pan with butter.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, melted butter, and oil until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and almond extract and whisk well to combine.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until the dough just comes together. Fold in the apples until evenly distributed.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly to the corners with a large offset spatula. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cake is deeply golden and the edges just start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Set the sheet pan on a wire rack and let the cake cool for 20 to 25 minutes.

6. Make the glaze: Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring often with a rubber spatula until the butter turns a toasted, amber color (it will bubble and spit; when it quiets down, check for browning). Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, and milk until smooth.

7. Drizzle the glaze evenly over the cooled cake. Let set for 5 minutes.

8. Slice the cake into pieces and serve. The cake is best the day it’s made, but will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.


Pumpkin tiramisu roll

Serves 8 to 10

She’s pumpkin cake! She’s tiramisu! She’s pumpkin cake and tiramisu, all rolled up into one! Quite literally, I mean. The combination of pumpkin, coffee, warm spices, and cream is a surprising delight of flavors, and the pretty roulade, all dressed up with a bracing amount of cocoa powder on top, is ready for her closeup. And to be served with a hot cup of coffee.

Ingredients

Cake

Pumpkin tiramisu roll. (Dana Gallagher)

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree, such as Libby’s
  • Confectioners’ sugar


Filling

  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup heavy cream, cold
  • 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum or pure vanilla extract
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder


Instructions

1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center position. Grease a sheet pan with nonstick spray, line it with parchment paper, and grease the parchment, too.

2. Sift the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and baking soda into a medium bowl. Whisk in the salt until combined.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, whip the eggs and granulated sugar together on high speed until pale yellow and thick, about 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin puree and mix on low speed, just until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed again until no streaks remain.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly to the corners with a large offset spatula. Bake 6 to 8 minutes, until the cake is just golden and springs back when lightly poked.

5. While the cake bakes, lay a clean dish towel on a work surface and fill a fine-mesh sieve with about 1⁄2 cup confectioner’s sugar.

6. Remove the cake from the oven and immediately run a paring knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Working quickly while the cake is still hot, sift a thin layer of confectioners’ sugar over the cake, then turn the cake out of the pan onto the dish towel, sugared side down. Carefully remove the baked-on parchment from the cake, then sprinkle a layer of confectioners’ sugar where the parchment used to be. Gently roll up the cake and the towel, starting from a short side and rolling away from yourself. Let the cake cool completely in the towel, about 35 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, Make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, whip together the espresso powder, mascarpone, cream, granulated sugar, rum, and a pinch of salt on medium-high speed until thick and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes.

8. When the cake is cool, unroll it onto a work surface. Spread the mascarpone cream over the cake, leaving a 1⁄2-inch border. Tightly but gently, roll up the cake with the filling inside (this time leave the towel behind). If you’d like, use a serrated knife to trim the ends of the roll to make neat edges. Carefully transfer the cake to a serving platter, seam side down.

9. Sprinkle the top of the roulade with the cocoa powder, then cut the cake into thick slices to serve. The cake will keep, loosely covered, in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.


Blueberry muffin cake

Serves 20 to 24

Why scoop and bake two dozen individual muffins when you can bake a whole blueberry muffin cake, complete with a tender crumb top ping, on a single sheet pan? (No good reason, that’s why.) This blueberry muffin cake has it all — a moist, vanilla-flavored base with hints of lemon, bright pops of fresh blueberries, and, yes, that superb crumb top. Slice it into cute squares and pile it high on a platter for brunch. I promise you won’t miss the muffins.

Ingredients 

Blueberry muffin cake. (Dana Gallagher)

  • Unsalted butter or nonstick cooking spray


Crumb Topping

  • 1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1⁄3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1⁄3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt


Cake

  • 2 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3⁄4 cup (1 1⁄2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1⁄4 cups granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1⁄2 cups sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries, plus more for topping
  • Turbinado sugar


Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center position. Grease a sheet pan with butter.

2. Make the crumb topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until well combined. Add the flour, cinnamon, and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until a thick dough forms.

3. Make the cake: In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and lemon zest on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, on medium-high speed until fully incorporated (the mixture may look curdled, but will smooth out as you add the rest of the ingredients). Add half the dry ingredients and mix on low speed to incorporate, then mix in the sour cream and vanilla. Add the remaining dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just a few streaks remain. Fold in the blueberries with a rubber spatula.

5. Pour the batter onto the prepared pan and spread it evenly to the corners with a large offset spatula. Break up the crumb topping into uneven clumps with your fingers and scatter over the batter, all the way to the edges of the pan. Tuck a few blueberries into some crumb-topping crevices, if you’d like, and sprinkle the top with a bit of turbinado sugar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the sheet pan on a wire rack and let the cake cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes.

6. Slice the cake into 20 to 24 squares and serve. The cake will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Recipes reprinted with permission from Sheet Pan Sweets by Molly Gilbert (‎Union Square & Co., October 2022).

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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