My First Drexel Food Lab

Food Science and Culinary Arts students at Drexel University are given so much opportunity through Drexel’s Food Lab.  The Drexel Food Lab started in 2014.  It is a food product and innovation lab that is a part of the Food Science and Culinary Arts Department in the Center for Food and Hospitality Management.  Students that choose to volunteer each Friday work on real world projects for themselves, the school, or actual clients.  Commercial clients range from Philadelphia non-profits and startups to multi-million dollar companies.

On the Friday that I attended my first Food Lab meeting, recipe development for the non-profit organization, Cook for Your Life, was the  focus. Students spent a few hours developing one or two dishes to present later.

Cinnamon sugar twists with butternut squash yogurt dipping sauce

Pumpkins, sweet potatoes, apples, butternut squash, oats, and spices were soon spread across the workspace.  I reached for the butternut squash, dates, and apple.  The two dishes I made were cinnamon pie twists with a butternut yogurt dipping sauce, and date caramel.  I am going to share the cinnamon pie twists with butternut yogurt dipping sauce in this post (the date caramel is coming soon)

Other dishes made included: pumpkin pot pie with an oat whole wheat crust; a savory butternut squash/onion galette; zucchini stir fry; spicy millet veggie burgers; a tomato chutney with wheat balls; an enchilada stew; and an eggplant pita sandwich.  On the sweet side, we served: date caramel; cinnamon pie twists with a butternut yogurt dip; three healthy smoothies; and a butternut squash tart.

Some of the dishes made for lunch at Food Lab.  (yes there was more than this…)

These pie twists were inspired by the cinnamon sticks I make every time I make pie.  There is inevitably always leftover pie crust with which I would roll, cover in cinnamon sugar, and bake for a warm treat that my sister and I would eat as the actual pie finished baking.

I finally realized that someone doesn’t need to be making a pie to enjoy these cinnamon twists.  You even get more of the twists if you skip the pie all together!

Sweet, flaky and covered in cinnamon sugar

Cinnamon Sugar Pie Twists

  • Servings: 30 twists
  • Print


Pie Dough

  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 stick butter (1/4 lb), cold, but into 1 inch chunks
  • 1/2 c water
  • 2 Tbs vinegar (any type works – I usually use apple cider or white)
  • ice

Cinnamon Sugar

  • 3 Tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Butternut Dip

  • 1/2 c thick yogurt
  • 1 cup mashed butternut squash, butternut squash puree
  • 2 Tbs maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg


Pie dough:

  1. Mix the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl
  2. With your hand, or a pastry cutter, incorporate the butter until the butter is the size of peas.
  3. Mix the water, vinegar, and ice together.
  4. Slowly add the water mixture to the butter mixture, a tablespoon at time, until a the dough can be pressed together, but is not wet.
  5. Divide the dough in half, form two discs, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Baking the Pie Twists:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a tray with parchment paper.
  2. Mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a shallow bowl.
  3. Take one of the pie discs out of the fridge.
  4. Flour a cutting board and roll out the dough into a square/rectangle shape that is about a 1/4 inch thick.
  5. With a pastry cutter, pizza cutter, or knife, cut the dough into strips about 3/4 inch x  4 inches long.
  6. Lightly dab the dough with water (using a finger or pastry brush), and coat it in the cinnamon sugar.
  7. Holding both ends, twist the piece of dough a few times to make the “twist” shape.
  8. Place the twist on the prepared pan and repeat the process with the rest of the dough.
  9. Bake for about 12 minutes until lightly golden.
  10. Enjoy with or without the Butternut Yogurt Dip (directions below)

Butternut Yogurt Dip

  1. Mix everything together until smooth.  If the butternut is stringy, push mixture through a strainer.
  2. Enjoy!

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