Lemon & Cream Cheese Babka

Lemon & Cream Cheese Babka

I will be the first to admit that I am not a professional baker. I have baked for many, many years, but am in no way at the level of professional. I have just as many bad days in the kitchen as good ones.

This is especially true when it comes to yeast. Yeast is my kryptonite.
Anytime I go into the kitchen with plans to bake yeast risen bread, I am fully prepared to have the bake come out wrong. The silver lining is that you can always learn by messing up.

This past weekend may have been my worst weekend in the kitchen to date. I decided to challenge myself by attempting a Babka. A Babka is a traditional Jewish sweet yeast risen bread that is swirled with chocolate or cinnamon. The bread dough itself is basically a brioche dough. Technically speaking, it is medium of the difficulty of yeast breads.

Three days and four attempts is what it took to get this recipe right. I threw out two doughs and one finished loaf before the fourth and final loaf came out soft and pillow-like. So you do not make the same mistakes, I wanted to share what I learned from my experience. What else is a blog good for?

As for the filling, (per usual) I did not want to take the traditional route. My husband’s grandmother gave me a some homegrown lemons. Her lemon tree yielded for the first time this winter. Lemon is the perfect pick-me-up during the cold months when we lack sun and fresh ingredients. I juiced and zested them, combined them with softened cream cheese, then rolled the mixture up into the dough. My poor husband had to go to the store to get me more cream cheese after I threw out my third attempt.

The finished loaf is delightfully sweet, with a hint of tang. I think a glob of raspberry jelly would adorn a slice of fresh baked lemon cream cheese babka perfectly.

Several slices of lemon cream cheese babka sitting on a wood tray

What I learned throwing out three batches of babka dough:

Batch one and two:

  • Always check your yeast. Yeast will last in the fridge, but of course not forever. Instead of wasting your time making an entire batch of dough to only realize that it will not rise, take the first 5 minutes and make sure the yeast you are using is alive. It is simple, always bloom your yeast in warm water or milk (depending on the recipe). If it sits for 5-10 minutes and it is not bubbly…your yeast is bad. If it is bubbly…it is living!
  • Make sure your ingredients are not cold. If you know you are baking with yeast, set out your eggs, flour (if you store it in the fridge), etc in advance to ensure it is they are room temperature. Cold items will slow down the growth of your yeast. Just like a warm environment will speed up the yeast’s growth.

Batch three:

  • Kneed your dough for longer that you think. Let me explain: Written recipes have various times for kneading dough with a stand mixer. Truly you can only tell when a dough is ready by touch or sight. Just because a recipe says knead for 5 minutes, does not mean that dough will be ready to rise after 5 minutes of kneading. It is easiest to tell when a dough is ready by kneading it by hand. If that is not you (me either), then you must look at your dough to see if it has been kneaded enough. If the recipe says the dough should “pull away from the bowl and form a soft smooth dough”, then make sure it does just that. Otherwise your finished bread will be more like cake than bread.
  • It often takes longer than the recipe says to let your dough double during a rise. Each home and each region is different. For example, I live in the deep south where it is humid. So during the summer it may take less time for my dough to rise. Right now it is dead of winter, and it took a bit longer for my dough to rise to double. My house was very cold. The moral of the story–watch your dough and only move on to the next step when the dough has actually doubled. Do not simply let it sit for the time designated in the recipe.
  • This is babka specific. Some methods call for slicing your rolled up dough down the middle then twisting it. Next, you stuff it into your bread pan to allow it to rise. The finished loaf has exposed filling on the top. The slicing method works great for certain fillings, but not all fillings. Cinnamon sugar or chocolate are ideal, cream cheese is not ideal to cook exposed to the heat of your oven. For my version I used a different method, I did not slice the dough. I rolled it up then twisted it together before placing it in the loaf pan. This way the filling stayed inside of the bread without being directly exposed to the heat of the oven. Consider the method of babka rolling you want to use based upon the type of filling you stick in your babka. Literally you can stuff anything inside a babka, sweet or savory.Upclose picture of the inside of the lemon swirrled babka

Lemon & Cream Cheese Babka

Lemon & Cream Cheese Babka

Ingredients

  • For the dough:
  • 3 Cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup of Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of Warm Milk, between 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of Yeast
  • Zest from 1 Lemon
  • 1 Stick of Butter, softened
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of Salt
  • For the filling:
  • 1 Eight Ounce Block of Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1/4 Cup of Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl bloom your yeast: Pour in warm milk then sprinkle your yeast over the top. Do not stir. Allow the yeast to bloom for approximately 5 minutes, or until small bubbles form.
  2. While you yeast blooms, prepare your stand mixer. In the mixing bowl, with a dough hook attached, combine your flour and sugar.
  3. After you yeast has bloomed, pour it into the flour mixture. Turn you stand mixer on low and allow it to begin mixing.
  4. Next add in your eggs and vanilla. Mix until it all comes together. If the mixtures looks too dry and crumbly add in more milk.
  5. Turn you mixer up to medium and add in your butter one tablespoon at a time. Let each piece of butter fully incorporate before adding the next. When you are ready to add in the last piece of butter, pour in your salt as well.
  6. Knead the dough on medium speed for approximately 10 minutes, or until a smooth elastic dough that pulls away from the side of the bowl forms.
  7. Place the finished dough in a bowl that is coated in cooking spray, then spray cooking spray over the top of the dough. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  8. Allow the dough to rise, in a draft free place, for approximately 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  9. While you dough rises, create your filling.
  10. In a small bowl, zest and juice your lemon.
  11. Next, whisk in the remaining ingredients to the lemon filling until the mixture is smooth and fully combined. Set aside, covered, until ready to use.
  12. Once the dough has doubled, gently turn it out onto a heavily floured surface.
  13. With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to create a 16x12 inch rectangle.
  14. Spread your lemon cream cheese filling onto the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch space around the outside of the dough.
  15. Starting at the short side, roll up your dough like you would a jelly roll. Press the ends into the roll to seal.
  16. Fold your roll in half, then twist the halves around itself at least four times.
  17. Place the loaf into a greased bread pan. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise to double. At least 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.
  18. Once doubled, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fairenhiet.
  19. Bake the bread for 30 minutes on the middle rack. After 30 minutes, bake it for an additional 30 minutes covered in aluminum foil to avoid over browning.
  20. A thermometer in the middle should read 190 degrees. If after an hour of baking the middle is not done, cook the loaf for an additional 10 minutes.
  21. Let bread cool before slicing.
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https://epicuropedia.com/2019/01/25/lemon-cream-cheese-babka/

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Jerusalem Bagels with Burnt Honey Cream Cheese

Jerusalem Bagels with Burnt Honey Cream Cheese

Savory, nutty homemade Jerusalem bagels and a side of decadent, condensed burnt honey creamed cheese–it’s a baking recipe that I know everyone will love.

I am super ecstatic about this post and sharing a recipe that I will be adding to my list of rotating go-tos. As someone who constantly cooks, I can state with confidence, on behalf of all of the home cooks out there, it is rare that you find a recipe that is both easy and a show stopper.

The recipe makes Jerusalem bagels, which are different from a normal bagel due to the lack of boiling. Even though the bagels are not boiled, the flavor is still amazing. They taste reminiscent of a bagel/pretzel hybrid. By forgoing the step of boiling, you are saving on time and work, hence making the process a lot easier.

I recommend you eat these warm out of the oven or warm them up if you are eating them at a later time. They go with just about anything, hummus, cream cheese, cheese, etc.

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I wanted something sweet yet unique, so spruced up some cream cheese by making burnt honey. The process of “burning” honey is simply caramelizing it a bit, to give it a deeper more condensed flavor. A quick warning–once you eat honey like this you will never go back.

As for the topping, I glazed them with honey to add a bit of sweetness and keep with the honey theme and a sprinkling of sesame seeds to add nuttiness. The recipe is extremely versatile, serving as a great base for any topping or mix-in. In the future, I will be posting many more versions of Jerusalem Bagels.

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Jerusalem Bagels with Burnt Honey Cream Cheese

Yield: 6

Ingredients

  • Bagel Ingredients:
  • 1 Tablespoon of Quick Acting Yeast
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Milk, warm but not higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 4 1/2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons of Sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons of Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • Olive Oil
  • 4 Tablespoons of Honey
  • Sesame Seeds for Topping
  • Burnt Honey Cream Cheese Ingredients:
  • 1 Block of Creamed Cheese, softened
  • 1/2 Cup of Honey

Instructions

  1. First make your burnt honey creamed cheese. Pour your honey into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat.
  2. Cook the honey for about 10 minutes, until it turns a light amber color and thickens slightly. The honey will foam as it cooks, that is okay.
  3. Once reduced, set aside to let the honey cool completely.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, combine your burnt honey and creamed cheese. Stir to desired combination, swirled or fully mixed.
  5. Place mixture in a sealable container and place in the fridge until ready to serve.
  6. Begin making your bagels by blooming your yeast in the warm milk, allowing to sit for about 5 minutes.
  7. In a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, mix together your flour, baking powders, sugar.
  8. Pour in your bloomed yeast and milk, then mix until combined. Lastly mix in your salt as to not kill the yeast.
  9. Add your dough hook to your stand mixer, and kneed the mixture on medium for five minutes. A soft pliable dough should form. If the dough looks dry, add more milk as needed.
  10. After the dough has been kneaded, remove the dough from the mixer and rub on a light amount of olive oil.
  11. Place coated dough in a large oiled bowl, cover tightly. Allow to rise for at least one hour, or until it has doubled in size.
  12. Once the dough has risen, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare two sheet pans by lining them with slip mats or greased parchment paper.
  13. Gently remove the dough from the bowl, and section the dough into six even pieces.
  14. On a lightly floured surface, roll each section of dough into a log that is about 12 inches long. Attach the ends together to create an oblong circle. Gently place on the prepared sheet pan.
  15. After the bagels are prepared, allow them to rest for 15 minutes.
  16. Before baking, slather each bagel with honey and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
  17. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, or until a golden color and cooked through.
  18. Serve with burnt honey creamed cheese.
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https://epicuropedia.com/2018/08/24/jerusalem-bagels-burnt-honey/

 

Cherry Cheesecake Ice-Cream Sammies

Cherry Cheesecake Ice-Cream Sammies

August is notoriously sweltering hot in the low country. For cooks, this means foregoing recipes that use an oven to avoid heating up the house and instead opting for recipes that cool you down. I can think of no better way to cool down in the summer heat than with ice cream.

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Growing up in the south, my mom loved to make us homemade peach ice cream with one of those old fashioned ice-driven churners. The result was loosely churned ice cream with chunks of cold fresh peaches. A perfect treat after playing all day on a long, sticky summer day.

Even today, when my husband and I visit my mother for a summer holiday or gathering, she loves to make ice cream with the same machine–and many times it still includes peaches. So of course when I registered for my wedding, I wanted to include an ice cream maker. I thought it would be so lovely to be able to make my own ice cream at home

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Tips to perfect your own ice cream:

• If you want a more pungent flavor, soak your flavoring in your milk starting the night before you make your ice cream base.

• The difference between this ice cream and others is the larger amount of cream and egg yolks used in the recipe.

• Always temper your eggs to avoid creating scrambled egg ice cream.

• Make sure you completely cool you base in the fridge before you add it to the ice cream maker.

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Cherry Cheesecake Ice Cream Sandwiches

Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:

• 1 Stick of Butter, softened
• 1/2 Cup of Granulated Sugar
• 1 Large Egg
• 1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
• 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
• 1/4 Cup of Cocoa Powder
• 1 1/2 Cups of All Propose Flour

Directions:

  1. Beat together butter and sugar until thoroughly combined and continue to beat for another three to four minutes until fluffy.
  2. While beating, combine your remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl and mix together.
  3. In a small bowl, beat together you extract and egg.
  4. Mix 1/2 of your dry mixture into your butter mixture.
  5. Follow by your adding in your egg mixture, beating until fully combined.
  6. Finish by mixing in your remaining dry mixture.
  7. Shape dough into a disc, cover in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for one hour.
  8. On a well floured surface, roll out your chilled dough to an 1/8 inch thickness.
  9. Use your desired cookie cutter to cut out your cookie rounds.
  10. Place all of your cookie rounds on a slip-mat lined cookie sheet.
  11. Let the cookies rest in the fridge for another ten minutes before baking. While the cookies chill, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  12. Bake for 10 minutes or until just done. Let cool completely before using.

Cherry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Ingredients:
• 1 Block of Creamed Cheese, softened
• 1/2 Cup of Granulated Sugar
• 4 Large Egg Yolks
• 1 Cup of Whole Milk
• 2 Cups of Heavy Cream
• 1/2 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
• 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
• 1 Cup of Fresh Cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped

Directions:

  1.  Pour your milk and cream into a large sauce pan and heat over medium heat. Do not let the milk heat over a simmer.
  2. While the milk heats, whisk together cream cheese, granulated sugar, vanilla, salt and egg yolks until thoroughly combined. Continue to beat for an additional one to two minutes until fluffy.
  3. Slowly temper the egg mixture with your warm milk. Start by adding about 1/2 a cup at the time, pouring slowly while you continually whisk by hand.
  4. Once all of the milk has been tempered in, pour the custard back into your saucepan.
  5. Heat over medium and cook the custard, stirring continually. Heat until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon or is at least doubled in thickness.
  6. Remove from the heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer.
  7. Let the custard cool completely in the fridge before churning, about one hour.
  8. When ready, add the custard to your ice cream maker and churn according to the machines instructions.
  9. Once churned at soft, stir in your cherries.
  10. Place ice cream into a sealable container, and let harden for at least one hour before serving.

Piñata Funfetti Cake

Piñata Funfetti Cake

If you ask most cooks or bakers why they love being in the kitchen, many will tell you it is not the actual making of the recipe but the joy of sharing it with others.

For me that joy amplifies with the opportunity to bake a celebration cake for those that I love — especially when it is for one of my nieces or nephews. With my nephew’s third birthday party approaching, my sister asked that I bake him a special cake. He asked that his party be Trolls-themed. So, deciding on the type of cake was easy—funfetti—because it matched the rainbow theme.

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Because my nephew may or may not be my favorite of the group, I wanted to take the simple funfetti cake up a notch by making it piñata style.

A piñata cake is a cake that has the center removed and filled with candy or sprinkles. I choose both. It is an easy method to apply to any layered cake and creates a very dramatic effect for your cake eaters. Once you cut the first slice, the center comes pouring out.

My nephew absolutely loved the effect; you can see his little hands sneaking some candy as I tried to snap a picture.

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To cut the sweetness of the sugary cake and center, I went with a cream cheese frosting. This takes the cake from one note to several, especially for the adult party goers.

As for decorating the outside of the cake, stick with what your are capable of. If you have never used fondant, try your first time with a smaller project. The same goes for any technique you haven’t used much. I knew I could create a semi smooth and level cake, so that is the method I applied to get a show stopping cake.

Really, with my sister hosting the party outside at her cow farm I am sure any cake decorations would have done just fine.

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A few tips for cake decorating:

• Let your cakes cool completely before assembling. The cake will fall if you do not.

• To make your cake level take a perforated knife and slice off the rounded top of each layer.

• After layering the cake with icing, always coat the outside with a crumb layer of icing. This will give the cake a cleaner finish.

• After the crumb layer is on, stick your cake in the fridge to allow the icing to set up. This will help hold the cake together.

• To smooth the final icing coat, use a cake scraper or even a large plaster knife.

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Funfetti Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 Sticks of Butter, Softened
  • 2 Cups of Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Buttermilk
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 4 Cups of Cake Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 Cup of Sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare your four 6-inch cake pans by first rubbing them with Crisco or butter, then coat the lard in flour. Be sure to dump out the excess flour. Set pans aside.
  3. In a large whisk together your flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a second large bowl whisk together your eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.
  5. In your stand mixer or with a hand mixer on medium, beat together your butter and sugar. Continue to beat for at least five minutes until butter becomes pale and fluffy.
  6. Start 1/3 of your wet mixture and add it in, mixing until combined.
  7. Add 1/3 of your flour mixture, mix until combined. Continue with 1/3 wet, then 1/3 dry, repeating until all of the ingredients are mixed in. You should end with the last third of your flour mixture.
  8. With a spatula, fold in your sprinkles.
  9. Evenly divide your batter into your prepared cake pans.
  10. Bake on the center rack for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  11. Let you cake cool on a wire rack before assembling.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 8 Ounce Blocks of Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 Stick of Butter, softened
  • A 1 Pound Box of Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt

Directions:

  1. In your stand mixer or with a hand mixer on medium speed, beat together your butter and cream cheese.
  2. Next add your extract and salt, mixing to combine.
  3. Add in the powdered sugar a little at a time, being sure to mix in the last amount before adding more.
  4. Beat frosting until all of the ingredients are combined, then continue to beat for another minute or two until the frosting becomes fluffy.

Piñata Cake

Ingredients:

  1. 6.25 Ounce Container of Sprinkles or Candy
  2. Funfetti Cake (above)
  3. Cream Cheese Icing (above)

Directions:

  1. Level your cake layers by removing the rounded tops with a knife.
  2. Cut a 1 to 1 1/2 inch hole into the center of three of the four layers of cake. A small cookie cutter will work fine.
  3. Using 1/3 of your icing, assemble your cake. First layer the three tiers that have a hole in them by placing frosting in-between each layer of cake, then pour in your sprinkles, last top with the whole and last layer of cake. .
  4. Apply 1/3 of your icing to the outside of your cake, creating a crumb coat.
  5. Let the cake rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Apply the remaining 1/3 of icing to the outside of the cake, smooth with a frosting smoother.
  7. Decorate or top the cake how you desire.

Leftover Muffin Bread Puddin’

Leftover Muffin Bread Puddin’

My husband absolutely refuses to eat leftovers…sometimes I swear I married a 12-year-old-boy!

As for me, leftovers were a huge part of my childhood. At the end of the week I looked forward to making a plate of all the leftover meals my mom cooked throughout the week. I dubbed it a hobo supper.

With the dilemma my husband has created in our home, I am constantly trying to think of ways to not waste uneaten food. It seems to be easier to repurpose sweet treats.

Last week we went on our annual trip to Myrtle Beach to take part in a celebrity and professional golfer golf tournament. We have such generous friends that take us with them for free, so bringing up a ton of snacks is a must. At the end of the weekend, we came home with an entire container of oversized muffins…don’t worry, we finished off an entire container of a different flavor. I am not one to refuse a fresh extra moist muffin.

I placed the leftover muffins in a display container on the counter in an attempt to tempt my husband to eat them throughout the week. Surprise! He ate one. I could not in good consciousness throw them out, so instead I skimmed my pantry for ingredients to bake something with.

I call the resulting creation Stoner Pudding. The end result of this attempt was a dish a stoner, while having the munchies, would create. A little of this…a little of that…the end result something completely unexpected yet delicious. Ingredients that kinda go together, working together to bombard your tongue with something completely new.

The bread pudding was made with leftover (pretty stale) cream cheese muffins. To create the custard, I added brown sugar and cinnamon to the mixture. The pudding needed texture, so a bit more cinnamon and some rice crispy cereal gave it the perfect crumble top. Bread pudding usually has a sauce, so I took the opportunity to use up a tiny bit of leftover marshmallows to create a pourable marshmallow cream.

As you can guess, I made rice crispy treats the other day and have leftover ingredients for that as well.

The use of stale muffins gave the bread pudding a soufflé like texture, completely different than any bread pudding I have ever had. The taste gave a slight wink cinnamon sugar cereal with milk, the milk being the marshmallow cream.

The marshmallow cream recipe below only serves about four people. Double it as needed.

Leftover Muffin Bread Pudding

Base Ingredients:

  • 5 Large Cream Cheese Muffins, stale
  • 1 Cup of Milk
  • 1 Cup of Heavy Cream
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/3 Cup of Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Stick of Butter, melted
  • A Pinch of Salt

Crumble Ingredients:

  • 1 Stick of Butter, cold
  • 2 Cups of Rice Crispy Cereal
  • 1/3 Cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 Cup of Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons of Cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Butter a 12 inch baking dish and set aside.
  3. Cut the leftover muffins into one inch squares, place into buttered dish.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together your milk, heavy cream, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  5. Pour your melted butter over your chopped muffins. Then pour over your custard mixture. Gently stir one time to fully coat each muffin.
  6. Cover with aluminum foil, bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil bake for another 10 minutes of just until custard is set.
  7. While bread pudding is baking, prepare your topping.
  8. In a small mixing bowl, work together your butter, flour, cinnamon, and sugar using your finger tips.
  9. Once fully combined and crumbly, gently mix in your rice cereal.
  10. Once baked, remove bread pudding from oven and evenly top with the crumble.
  11. Bake for another 10 minutes until crumble has set.

Marshmallow Cream

Ingredients:

  • 4 Ounces of Marshmallows
  • 4 Ounces of Heavy Cream

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine cream and marshmallows.
  2. Heat on medium, continually stirring until marshmallows have melted and combined with cream.
  3. Pour over sliced bread pudding as desired.