Category Archives: Breakfast

How to Par-Bake Cinnamon Rolls {Make Ahead Method!}

How to Par-Bake Cinnamon Rolls {Make Ahead Method!}​

Coming from a Christmas morning breakfast casserole family, I’ve never really understood why so many people make cinnamon rolls on that day of all days.

I mean, have you made cinnamon rolls from scratch? They are not a quick recipe, clocking in at a minimum of three hours start-to-finish (slightly less if you do the rise overnight). My family is all adults so we start our Christmas morning at a leisurely 9am, eat around 10, then get to the gifts around noon. If we wanted cinnamon rolls for breakfast, that would require the baker (me!) to be up and functioning at 7am. Big no thank you. And if you have kids or people who get up for gifts at 6am or earlier…3am? Earlier? Forget it!

But what if I told you that you could have warm, fluffy, homemade cinnamon rolls on your table on Christmas morning in under an hour? Yes, it’s possible, thanks to a little technique called par-baking.

You’ve definitely heard the term “par-baking” on here before in association with pie crust. It means to partially bake, which is exactly what we’re going to do to these rolls: partially bake them ahead of time, then finish the baking on Christmas. This method will work with any yeast-raised cinnamon roll recipe you love. I wouldn’t recommend this method for any rolls with fruit in the filling (i.e. not these) as it might degrade during thawing, but I think nuts would be okay.

How to Par-Bake Cinnamon Rolls {Make Ahead Method!}​

Now, this isn’t a magic trick. You do have to plan ahead to do about 2.5 hours of mixing/kneading/rolling/rising at some point to make this work. But (but!) the bulk of the work can be done anytime between now and Christmas (or whenever you want cinnamon rolls).

The process is simple. Make your cinnamon roll recipe up to the baking step, then bake for about half the baking time (15 minutes). At this point, your rolls should be risen, puffed and pale. Where you would normally continue baking them until brown, resist that urge and remove them from the oven.

Let your rolls cool to room temperature and then triple wrap in plastic, cover in foil and freeze until the night before you need them. If you don’t want to have your 9×13” pan out of commission for any length of time, you can bake in a disposable aluminum baking pan, then tuck it into your freezer for up to six weeks.

The night before you want cinnamon rolls, move the par-baked rolls from your freezer to your fridge to thaw out. In the morning, simply uncover and bake your rolls for the remaining 15 minutes, until golden. Finish with cream cheese frosting and voila! Fresh homemade cinnamon rolls on your table in under an hour, and you didn’t have to sacrifice sleep to make it happen.

How to Par-Bake Cinnamon Rolls {Make Ahead Method!}​

Call it Christmas magic. Call it whatever you want. Just call me for breakfast.

Par-baked Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from Dana Velden

cinnamon roll recipe of choice
9x13-inch baking pan (disposable aluminum, if desired)

Follow your yeast-raised cinnamon roll recipe up to the baking step.

Preheat your oven to 375F. Bake cinnamon rolls for 10-15 minutes, until risen, puffed and pale.

Remove cinnamon rolls from the oven and allow to cool completely in their pan on a rack. Triple wrap the pan in plastic wrap, then wrap in foil. Freeze for up to 6 weeks.

The night before you want cinnamon rolls, move the pan of frozen rolls to the refrigerator. Let thaw 8-12 hours.

Preheat oven to 375F. Unwrap rolls; discard foil and plastic wrap.

Bake rolls for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Top with cream cheese frosting (or whatever your recipe says) and serve warm.

Orange Cardamom Scones

Orange Cardamom Scones​

If you’ve never tried combining orange and cardamom, prepared to be wowed. Paired together in baked goods, they somehow walk the line between tea-like subtlety and stealing center stage, and are never, ever boring. In a season of pumpkin spices and apple ciders, this blend can sometimes get lost in the mix, but just like your favorite character actor, when it gets its moment, it’s all “pumpkin spice who?”

Orange Cardamom Scones​

Now, this is not the first time I’ve put Orange Cardamom on this site—far from it, in fact. If you’ve tried my tea cake, shortbread or morning buns, you know why I’m over here waxing poetic, but if you haven’t, I suggest you start simply by mixing some zest and spice into scones.

Orange Cardamom Scones​

Oh yes, these Orange Cardamom Scones may not look particularly exceptional, but they are. Tender, perfumed with citrus, and reminiscent of chai (that’s where you might recognize cardamom from!), they’re a perfect pastry for a weekend morning or lazy afternoon before it starts getting dark at 3pm and afternoons cease to exist.

Orange Cardamom Scones​

Scones themselves are pretty easy to make, and as they require cold butter, they’re a great way to practice some pie dough skills before all the holiday food-ing begins. But they’re also a great way to usher in some coziness as fall finally (finally) seems like it might be here to stay.

Orange Cardamom Scones​
Orange Cardamom Scones
makes 8 scones

Scones:
2/3 cup half-and-half, very cold + more for brushing
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
zest of 1 medium navel orange (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes

Glaze:
2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1-1 1/2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (from about 1 medium navel orange)

Make the scones. Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a liquid measuring cup, use a fork to whisk together half-and-half, maple syrup, and vanilla. Refrigerate.

In a small bowl, use your fingertips to rub together orange zest and sugar until combined.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cardamom, salt, and orange sugar. Add cold butter. Use a pastry blender or clean fingertips to cut the butter into the flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Stir in half-and-half mixture.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Pat it to 1-inch thick circle. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice circle into 8 wedges. Place scones at least 2 inches apart on prepared pan. Brush with more half-and-half. Bake 16-18 minutes, until puffed and golden.

Meanwhile, set a cooling rack over a piece of parchment paper. Let scones cool on the pan on a rack for a few minutes, before removing to the prepared rack.

When scones are cool enough to handle but still a little warm, make the icing. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together confectioners sugar, salt and 1 tablespoon orange juice. Add more juice by the 1/2 teaspoon until icing is thick, but pourable. Pour or drizzle icing over the scones as desired. Icing will set quickly, and eventually harden completely after a few hours.

Scones are best the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin Pancakes

Two pumpkin recipes in a row?! ‘Tis the season.

And even if it weren’t, the prospect of these fluffy, golden Pumpkin Pancakes might just get me to crack open a can of the orange stuff any ol’ time. Even in the middle of summer. But seeing as it’s October right now, I suppose I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Right here, right now though, on this autumnal Wednesday? Nobody can argue with me about seasonality. They can call me basic if they want, but if being basic means I get to have a stack of Pumpkin Pancakes for breakfast and then stock my freezer for an inevitable mid-November Pumpkin Pancake “emergency?” Well, call me basic.

Call me whatever you want, in fact. Just don’t forget to call me when you’re making these for breakfast.

Pumpkin Pancakes
makes 18 pancakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup pure pumpkin purée
1 1/3 cup milk or buttermilk, room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
canola or vegetable oil, for cooking

For serving:
pats of butter
chopped nuts
maple syrup

Preheat oven to 200F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a medium mixing bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together pumpkin purée, milk (or buttermilk), melted butter, eggs and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and whisk until no streaks of flour remain—there will still be some lumps. Let batter rest 5-10 minutes.

Heat your pan or griddle over medium heat for a few minutes, until heated through. Brush with oil (or grease lightly), then wipe excess out with a folded paper towel or kitchen towel.

Stir rested batter one or two strokes. Pour 1/4 cup increments of batter on greased pan. Let cook 2-3 minutes, until bubbles are forming and they are turning golden. Flip with a spatula and cook for 2 minutes, or until the bottom is turning golden. Remove to prepared baking sheet and keep warm in the oven until serving.

Continue making pancakes with remaining batter, greasing the pan only as necessary.

Serve immediately with butter, chopped nuts and/or maple syrup, if desired.

Leftover pancakes may be stacked in threes, triple-wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for a couple of months. Discard plastic and microwave 2.5 to 3 minutes before serving.

Vegan Pumpkin French Toast

Vegan Pumpkin French Toast​

The first morning in Maine is always a production. As it’s the first day of the trip that hasn’t involved a pre-dawn wake-up call and several hours in the car, it’s something to celebrate, preferably with loads of coffee and a good breakfast, like this Vegan Pumpkin French Toast!

You read that right: vegan French toast. Like no eggs, no dairy, but all the crispy goodness. This Vegan Pumpkin French Toast will knock your coziest socks right off.

Vegan Pumpkin French Toast​

I’ve been intimidated by veganizing French toast in the past due to the classic recipe’s reliance on eggs for structure and flavor, but you know what? Pumpkin is an excellent egg replacer in baked goods, and does indeed provide some structure and flavor (with the help of some pumpkin pie spice). Plus, pumpkin season (or as you might know it, autumn) has officially begun and this is fulfilling all my cravings.

As for the process, it’s basically the same as traditional French toast. Mix up the eggless pumpkin custard, dip some day-old bread in it and fry it up in a mix of (vegan) butter and oil. Top it off with maple syrup, confectioner’s sugar, toasted pecans, or anything else your heart desires and dig into this pumpkin decadence!

Vegan Pumpkin French Toast​

As you can likely tell from the photos, I made the batch pictured at home in NYC, but our first-day-in-Maine batch worked just as well even with gluten-free sandwich bread. It was the perfect way to start our trip and the perfect way to start off a new season.

Vegan Pumpkin French Toast​
Vegan Pumpkin French Toast
makes 8-10 pieces, about 4-5 servings

1/2 cup pure pumpkin purée
1 tablespoon granulated or brown sugar (or maple syrup)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 1/4 cup unsweetened plant milk (or other milk of choice)
8-10 thick slices day-old vegan bread (I used 2/3 of a 1 lb. country loaf from Costco)

For cooking:
2 tablespoons (vegan or regular) butter
2 tablespoons canola oil

For serving:
maple syrup
confectioner’s sugar
toasted chopped nuts
seasonal fruit

In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together pumpkin purée, sugar, pumpkin pie spice or salt. Whisk in plant milk. Pour custard into a shallow dish.

Heat 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat.

Working with one or two slices of bread at a time, dip each in the custard, coating both sides. Transfer to the pan and cook 2-3 minutes, or until turning brown. Flip with a spatula and cook another 2-3 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Repeat dipping and cooking processes until all slices of bread have been used. Add more butter and oil to the pan as necessary.

Divide French toast among plates. Top with maple syrup, confectioner’s sugar, toasted nuts, and/or seasonal fruit as desired. Serve immediately.

Sparkly Applesauce Muffins

Sparkly Applesauce Muffins​

These Sparkly Applesauce Muffins are so easy and so good! They’re a perfect treat for transitioning from summer to fall, before everything is truly all pumpkin spice all the time…which will be next week on this website and also everywhere.

The batter is made with ingredients you likely already have at your disposal and comes together in a flash. Divide it into a muffin tin, filling each well up to the top, and then sprinkle on a thick (thick!) layer of sugar and pie spices before sliding them into the oven.

While baking, the muffins will dome dramatically. This is because of the baking powder and baking soda, of course, but also because the oven time begins with a blast of 425F heat that jumpstarts the rise. After five minutes, the temperature is reduced to 375F for the remaining time, yielding tender muffins with the most glorious sparkly, crackled tops!

Sparkly Applesauce Muffins​

Once the muffins are cool enough to handle, dig in! You’ll love the simple balance of pie spices and buttery apple flavor, and that’s to say nothing of the textures! The tops are crisp and crunchy, and the insides are sooo soft. Be forewarned that this perfect combination is fleeting, however, as the topping will start to melt in about a day. If you want to keep your applesauce muffins around for longer, bake them without the sugary flourish. There’s no need to miss out entirely though—you can still have the sparkling effect by painting the tops of the cooled muffins with butter and dipping them into the spiced sugar before serving.

Sparkly Applesauce Muffins​

I’m all about living in the solution, y’all! Especially when it means there’s a sparkling batch of applesauce muffins on my counter and yours.

Sparkly Applesauce Muffins​
Sparkly Applesauce Muffins
makes 12 muffins

Topping:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Muffin Batter:
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
~2/3 cup milk of choice, room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted & cooled slightly
1 cup (8 ounces) unsweetened applesauce

Preheat oven to 425F. Use muffin liners to line 12 cups in a standard muffin pan (or grease them well). Set aside.

Make the topping. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a liquid measuring cup or small mixing bowl, use a fork to whisk together vinegar and milk. Set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes, until curdled.

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

Whisk eggs into milk mixture one at a time, followed by melted butter and applesauce. Add half the liquid to the dry ingredients. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir ingredients together (15 strokes maximum). Add remaining liquid and stir to combine (15 strokes maximum). Batter will be thick.

Divide batter among prepared muffin cups, filling to the tops. Sprinkle a heaping teaspoon of the topping mixture onto each well of muffin batter. Tap full pan five times on the counter to release any air bubbles.

Bake muffins 5 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375F and bake another 15-16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let muffins cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Serve immediately. Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for up to a day. Sugar topping will degrade over time.