Category Archives: Breads

Easy Homemade Almond Croissants

Easy Homemade Almond Croissants

I make almost every baked good I consume from scratch with the best ingredients available to me. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes down to it. Even at the height of the pandemic, I was inspecting different brands of flour to see their protein counts because I care that much.* That said, when it comes to store-bought baked goods, I have one glaring weakness: Costco croissants.

*4% or bust. King Arthur, Heckers & Trader Joe’s only.

Easy Homemade Almond Croissants

I will go out of my way for a Costco croissant. They are shockingly delicious, especially when eaten like a wild animal mid-shopping trip, somewhere between produce and electronics. I was introduced to them by my friend and certified Costco enthusiast, David, and I’ve been ruined ever since. The finest French pastry they are not, but I defy you not to enjoy one while it’s still warm, as they almost always are when I sling them into my cart. For $6 (and a Costco membership) you too can have 12 big, buttery Costco croissants in a giant clamshell package. Twelve seems like a lot, but if you’re anything like me, that means one for now, one for later, two for tomorrow, and eight to sit out on my counter to get stale for Easy Almond Croissants.

You see, Almond Croissants, while a bakery favorite, are frequently just another way to use up leftover bread; think of them as the even more sophisticated cousins of French toast and Bostock. Imbued with almond flavor inside and out, they’re deceptively simple to make and even easier to eat.

Stale croissants are split and soaked in simple syrup, smeared with homemade frangipane, sandwiched together, and topped with sliced almonds before baking. They emerge from the oven fragrant and flaky with the best crisp almond edges and rich, dense centers. You may leave them plain—as if there’s a way for Almond Croissants to seem plain!—or you may dust them with a little confectioner’s sugar for flair. I like flair.

Easy Homemade Almond Croissants

While I am a Costco croissant purist, these may be made with any pre-baked or store-bought croissants you may have on hand. Please keep in mind that your croissants may differ in size from mine, so you may end up with a larger or smaller quantity of Almond Croissants than I have. Not that I’ve ever found such a thing to be a problem. It is the summer of frangipane, after all.

Easy Homemade Almond Croissants
Easy Homemade Almond Croissants 
makes 8-12 (I made 8)

Simple Syrup:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup water

Frangipane*:
2 cup blanched almond flour or 8 ounces blanched almonds
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold-ish room temperature, cut into cubes
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure almond extract

For Assembly & Garnish:
8-12 store-bought croissants (I used 8), preferably a little stale
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar, optional

The simple syrup and frangipane may be made up to a day in advance. Just cover and refrigerate until you are ready to bake.

Make the simple syrup. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and stir until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool until you can comfortably hold your finger in it. Transfer to a bowl or dish (I used a pie plate) that is slightly larger than your croissants.

Make the frangipane. In a food processor (or very good blender), pulse almond flour, all-purpose flour, salt and sugar together. Pulse in butter. Pour in eggs and almond extract, and process until frangipane is a homogenous paste. Set aside.

Arrange oven racks in central positions. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two rimmed sheet pans with parchment.

Assemble the almond croissants. Slice each croissant in half equatorially.

Working with one sliced croissant at a time, dip each half in the simple syrup, making sure to coat all sides. Place the bottom halves cut-sides-up on the prepared pans, and set the top halves on plates or another surface while assembly continues.

Use an offset icing spatula or the back of a spoon to spread about 2 heaping tablespoons of frangipane on the bottom half of each croissant. Top the frangipane with the top halves of the croissants, cut-sides-down. Press down lightly on each to adhere.

Spread about a tablespoon of frangipane on top of each filled croissant and sprinkle sliced almonds over the top. Bake croissants for 20-22 minutes, or until the frangipane is golden.

Let croissants cool on the pans for 15 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the tops, if desired. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Almond Croissants are best eaten the day they are made.

Note: You will have some leftover frangipane after making these. Refrigerate it and use it for these or this.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Of all the myriad ways I describe myself and what I do, “bread baker” has consistently been pretty low on the list. I have gotten pretty good with cakes and cookies and even pie, but bread still isn’t an area of my expertise.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

That said, I’ve been slowly getting into bread-making since the start of the pandemic. I didn’t jump on the sourdough starter train or anything (seemed like a huge waste of flour at the time), but I tinkered with no-knead recipes and have since posted two English muffin breads and a dreamy, decadent cheese bread. Today though, I’m tackling one of my favorite things in all of bread-dom, classic Cinnamon Swirl Bread.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Oh yes, I have loved Cinnamon Swirl Bread as far back as I can remember. Paired with butter or peanut butter, it was my dad’s go-to “feed the kids” breakfast when I was little, and it’s one of my many go-to “feed yourself before your blood sugar drops further” meals at the ripe age of almost-37. A few weeks ago, I tried my hand at making Cinnamon Swirl Bread at home and it turned out so well! Soft, buttery, cinnamon-scented and perfect for toast.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Cinnamon Swirl Bread is super simple to make and can be put together in about 4 hours. That may seem like a lot, but with two rises and an hour of baking time, the active prep is a little more than 30 minutes.

The base recipe is exactly the same as the one I use for cheese bread—it’s soft and buttery, like a brioche. It comes together in minutes and is soft, pliable and so satisfying to knead. Let it rise once, then roll it out like you’re making cinnamon rolls and scatter it with cinnamon, sugar, and a little flour before rolling it up for a second rise. Flour in the filling may seem strange, but it lends some structure here so that the cinnamon swirl keeps its definition through the second rise and baking time. I can’t take credit for this brilliant tip—shout out to the fine folks at King Arthur Flour.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

This bread needs nearly an hour in the oven, until it’s tall and deep brown and smells outrageously delicious. If you want a perfect swirl for toasting and all, you should probably let your Cinnamon Swirl Bread cool completely. I know that’s a big ask and you’re probably (justifiably) going to ignore it, but someone might revoke my newly-minted bread baker card if I don’t say it.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

But for real, if you’re not at least tempted to tear into this like a wild animal, we might fundamentally misunderstand each other.

That’s okay, though. More Cinnamon Swirl Bread for the rest of us.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Cinnamon Roll Bread
makes one loaf

Dough:
2 3/4-3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk
1 large egg, room temperature

Filling:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

For Finishing:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Make the dough. In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sugar, instant yeast, and salt. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter and milk together until just warm to the touch, about 95-110 degrees.

Crack the egg into a small mixing bowl. Whisking constantly, add the butter/milk mixture in a thin stream until completely combined. Add mixture to the dry ingredients and fold together. A shaggy dough should form and be pulling away from the bowl. Gradually add flour in 2 tablespoon increments until the it pulls away a bit.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 5-6 minutes, until smooth. Gather dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl, making sure to get a little oil on all sides. Stretch some plastic wrap over the top and allow dough to rise in a warm, draft-free environment for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

In the meantime, heavily grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with butter.

Mix the filling. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together sugar, cinnamon and flour. Set aside.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. When the dough has risen, punch it down and turn it out onto the surface. Roll it out to an 11x14-inch rectangle (about 1/8-inch thick). Sprinkle the filling over the entire surface of the dough, leaving 1/2-inch bare on all sides. Starting from a short edge (an 11 inch edge), tightly roll the dough into a cylinder place it in the prepared pan. Cover pan loosely with plastic wrap. Let loaf rise in a warm, draft-free place for 45-60 minutes, or until it peaks over the top of the pan. If you poke it with your finger, the dent should remain.

Meanwhile, set an oven rack in the central position. Preheat oven to 350F.

When loaf has risen, remove and discard the plastic wrap. Bake loaf for 50-55 minutes, tenting the loaf with foil if it is getting too dark. Test for doneness with a skewer—if it meets any resistance or comes out with dough on it, bake in five minute increments until neither of those things happens. To test for doneness with a thermometer, insert the end into center. If it reads at 190F or above, it’s done.

When the bread is done, brush the entire top with melted butter. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning it onto a rack to cool completely.

Slice bread thickly and enjoy warm or room temperature, or use it for toast. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers for up to a week.

Soft Cheddar Cheese Bread

Soft Cheddar Cheese Bread

When I was twisting up Lemon Morning Buns a few weeks ago, it occurred to me that the same soft, stretchy, buttery dough would make spectacular cheese bread. Long story short, I was right.

Soft Cheddar Cheese Bread

This here loaf is as rich as any brioche, layered with extra sharp cheddar, twisted up like a babka and baked to burnished, glossy perfection. It’s cheesy and buttery, savory with a hint of sweetness, and best served in thick slices at literally any temperature.

Soft Cheddar Cheese Bread

Seriously. Served warm, the cheese is super melty. At room temperature, all the flavors are at their peak. Sliced cold out of the fridge, it’s reminiscent of leftover mac & cheese, one of my favorite things on earth. (I know I’m not the only one who likes cold mac & cheese!)

This cheese bread looks much more difficult to make than it actually is. It starts the same way as the Morning Buns: mixing, kneading, and letting the dough rise. After that, roll it out into a rectangle, cover it with cheese, and roll it back up cinnamon roll-style.

Here’s where we get a little wild. Slice your rolled up dough lengthwise so that you have two long pieces. Twist those together and put them in a loaf pan to rise again—don’t fret if it looks wonky. Once risen again, give the loaf a good brush of egg wash and bake til golden, pausing partway through to give it another swipe of egg for excellent sheen. I like to hit it with a little butter right out of the oven too, just for kicks.

Soft Cheddar Cheese Bread

As with most baked goods, the most difficult part of this recipe is letting it cool long enough so that you don’t destroy your fingers and the roof of your mouth with piping hot cheese bread. It’s almost a risk worth taking. Almost.

Soft Cheddar Cheese Bread
Soft Cheddar Cheese Bread
makes one loaf

Dough:
2 3/4-3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk
1 large egg, room temperature

Filling:
1 8-ounce brick sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

For Finishing:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Make the dough. In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sugar, instant yeast, and salt. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter and milk together until just warm to the touch, about 95-110 degrees.

Crack the egg into a small mixing bowl. Whisking constantly, add the butter/milk mixture in a thin stream until completely combined. Add mixture to the dry ingredients and fold together. A shaggy dough should form and be pulling away from the bowl. Gradually add flour in 2 tablespoon increments until the it pulls away a bit.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 5-6 minutes, until smooth. Gather dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl, making sure to get a little oil on all sides. Stretch some plastic wrap over the top and allow dough to rise in a warm, draft-free environment for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

In the meantime, heavily grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with butter.

Shape the loaf. Flour a surface and a rolling pin. When the dough has risen, punch it down and turn it out onto the surface. Roll it out to an 11x14-inch rectangle (about 1/8-inch thick). Sprinkle the cheese over the entire surface of the dough, leaving 1/2-inch bare on all sides. Starting from a short edge (an 11 inch edge), tightly roll the dough into a cylinder and set it on the surface seam-side-down.

Slice the cylinder in half lengthwise. Place both halves next to each other, cut-sides-up. Carefully twist them together. Place twist in one of the prepared pan. Cover pan loosely with plastic wrap. Let loaf rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30-45 minutes, or until it peaks over the top of the pan. If you poke it with your finger, the dent should remain.

Meanwhile, set an oven rack in the central position. Preheat oven to 350F.

Make the egg wash. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together egg and water.

When loaf has risen, remove and discard the plastic wrap. Use a pastry brush to brush the entire top of the loaf with egg wash. Do not discard remaining egg wash.

Bake loaf for 25 minutes. Remove loaf from the oven and brush the top again with egg wash. Bake for another 20-25 minutes, tenting the loaf with foil if it is getting too dark. Test for doneness with a skewer—if it meets any resistance or comes out with dough on it, bake in five minute increments until neither of those things happens. To test for doneness with a thermometer, insert the end into center. If it reads at 190F or above, it’s done.

When the bread is done, brush the entire top with melted butter. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning it onto a rack to cool completely.

Slice bread thickly and enjoy warm, room temperature or cold. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers for up to a week.

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread

If you’ve never had English Muffin Bread, you’re in for a treat. It’s got all the craggy cornmeal-edged goodness of a quality English muffin, but baked into a loaf that you can slice as thick as you like and toast to golden perfection! It’s wildly easy to make—no proofing yeast or kneading, and only one rise *in the pan*—and it’s so good that I actually really love doing multiple tests on it. Don’t mind me over here packing my freezer with sliced English Muffin Bread. Nothing to see here!

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread

My recipe for plain/classic English Muffin Bread can be found by clicking here. Please treat yourself to a loaf or two, heavily toasted with lots of butter, and then come back for this Cinnamon Raisin version.

Yep, that’s right. Cat’s out of the bag. I’m a raisin person! I like them in cookies, carrot cake, and a chicken stew my mom makes, among many other things (though never with or when I am expecting chocolate). I am sure this is a giant waving red flag for some of you, but we all have our flaws, and mine is that I enjoy the occasional raisin-speckled baked good. I like dried grapes and I like them in stuff and I’m not going to feel bad about it, okay? Okay.

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread

If you are not a raisin person, I’ll get you with the next recipe, but this one’s for my fellow raisin enthusiasts and me. Because we know what’s good, and thickly-sliced, craggy, deeply toasted Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread with butter is very good. It’s pretty outstanding with peanut butter, too, if that’s more your speed. I usually go with one slice each way—a single piece of toast is rarely enough.

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread

My favorite part of this recipe? It takes exactly the same amount of time and effort as plain English Muffin Bread, which is to say…not very much. You’ll need all of 10 minutes to measure, stir together and divide the recipe into two loaves, an hour to rise over the top of the pan and 30 minutes to bake. The absolute most important part of this whole process is not slicing into the baked bread until it’s completely cool. Just don’t do it! The bread needs the cooling time to set its hole structure, and will be dense, gummy and otherwise weird if you slice it while it’s warm. Resist the intoxicating smells of fresh bread and cinnamon! It’s for your own good. Your breakfast’s, too.

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread
Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread
makes 2 loaves

For the pans:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3-4 tablespoons cornmeal

Bread Dough:
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or bread flour)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
4 1/2 teaspoons (2 packages) instant yeast
1 cup raisins
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 2/3 cups warm water

For proofing:
plastic wrap
oil, butter or cooking spray

For serving:
butter
peanut butter

Grease 2 9x5-inch loaf pans with butter. Add cornmeal and rotate pans so that the entire insides are coated in a thin layer. Tap out and discard excess cornmeal.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and instant yeast. Stir in raisins.

In a large liquid measuring cup (or other vessel) whisk together melted butter and warm water. It should be warm to the touch (90-110F) but not hot.

Whisk/stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients in two installments. Stir until a sticky, shaggy dough forms and flour is coated, then stir an additional 30 seconds to make sure things are saturated.

Grease your hands, then divide dough into prepared pans. Grease 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Lay them loosely over the top of each loaf pan.

Place pans in a warm, draft-free environment for 45-60 minutes, or until the dough has risen just above the tops of the pans. While dough is rising, preheat oven to 400F.

When dough is ready, gently peel off and discard plastic wrap. Dough may seem a bit wet and jiggly. Gently place pans in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden all over. The interior temperature should be at least 190F.

Immediately turn bread out onto a rack. Let cool completely so crumb structure can set. Do not slice into bread until it is completely cool.

Slice and toast before serving with butter, peanut butter, or your topping of choice. Leftovers will keep well-wrapped in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Blueberry Corn Muffins

Blueberry Corn Muffins

I don’t really like to tell people how to live their lives or what they should eat, but I have to make an exception. It’s important, I promise.

Y’all, you need to start putting blueberries in your corn muffins. Yes, the dinner-appropriate muffins I posted in the dead of winter. Those. Put blueberries in them and then eat them for breakfast or lunch, or even dinner, if you can get away with it.

Just do it. You won’t regret it. #peerpressure

Blueberry Corn Muffins

It seems obvious once you’ve thought about it. Corn and blueberries are great together! Corn is sweet and earthy; blueberries are sweet and tart. The two are frequently paired in salads in the summer months, so why not combine them in muffins, you know? This was my exact train of thought when I made these a few days ago, and now I’m just wondering why I didn’t make them sooner.

These Blueberry Corn Muffins are so easy to whisk together, and the payoff is outstanding. The recipe is the tiniest tweak on my original corn muffin recipe; I added a touch more flour and some vanilla for a sweeter profile without upping the sugar. Oh, and plenty of fresh summer blueberries, of course!

Blueberry Corn Muffins

Blueberry Corn Muffins bake up in less than 15 minutes. They’re soft, tender and perfectly domed, with a slight crumbly crunch from the cornmeal and bursting blueberries in every bite! While combining two already great things doesn’t always give great results, I am here to say that the union of corn muffins and blueberries is not to be missed.

I’ll say it again: you need to start putting blueberries in your corn muffins.

Blueberry Corn Muffins
makes 12 standard muffins

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup milk (preferably whole), room temperature
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400F.

Line a 12-cup standard muffin pan with cupcake liners, or grease well. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl, toss 1 tablespoon of the dry ingredients with the blueberries. Set aside.

In a small-medium mixing bowl (or large measuring cup), whisk together milk, sour cream, butter, eggs and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon just until combined. Gently fold in blueberries.

Divide batter among muffin cups, about 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) each; they will be pretty full. Carefully tap the pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake for 13-14 minutes, until domed and a bit golden.

Remove muffins from the oven and let cool in the pan for ten minutes before removing to a rack to cool. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Leftovers will keep well tightly-covered at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five. Muffins may be double-wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 3 months.