Tag Archives: brunch

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip MuffinsIn five years, I’ve deleted exactly three recipes from this blog. I’ve kept terrible photos, absurdly lengthy writing and even some personal stuff on here, so you may be wondering why I’d remove whole recipes. The answer is simple: because they were bad. Not “not perfect,” not “unoriginal.” Just bad. They didn’t taste good and/or work properly, and those are basically the only two requirements for me to put a recipe on here, so I deleted them. Among the group were a batch of Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins that were truly atrocious, and which I have finally found the time to rework into something delicious.Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip MuffinsNow, I didn’t intentionally write a terrible muffin recipe. There were circumstances. I wrote the old recipe for Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins when I was five days off the break-up a four year relationship. That was my first mistake—don’t try to do good work when you’re heartbroken.

My next mistakes were not adding enough fat, eggs or dairy. My best friend made the old version a few years back and the only word she used to describe them was “lumpy.” Yikes. I took down the recipe shortly thereafter and put the words “Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins” on my to-bake list once again.Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip MuffinsTwo weeks ago, I found myself five years more experienced, very over that boyfriend, and with a large bag of mostly-unallocated whole wheat flour. Armed with that and a newfound favorite muffin recipe, I set out to fix my past mistakes. Dare I say I nailed it?Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip MuffinsThese Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins are soft and just sweet enough, with plenty of chocolate chips and whole grain flavor. Butter, sour cream and eggs keep them moist and balance the potential for heaviness that comes with using all whole wheat flour. They also get a little lift from starting in a 400F, then continuing at 350F until they’re fluffy, puffy and perfect.

Thank goodness for second chances.Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins
makes 12 standard muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk, room temperature (not skim or nonfat)
1/3 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, plus more for topping

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a 12-cup standard muffin tin, or line with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, use a whisk to beat eggs. Whisk in butter and vanilla, followed by whole milk and sour cream. Add wet ingredients to dry, using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to combine. Do not overmix. Fold in chocolate chips. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Dot the tops with additional chocolate chips, if desired.

Tap full pan on the counter five times. Bake for five minutes at 400F. Do not open the oven door. Reduce baking temperature to 350F, and bake an additional 15-16 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Serve.

Muffins are best the day they are made, but may be kept covered at room temperature for a couple of days. They will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip MuffinsWhole Wheat Chocolate Chip MuffinsWhole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins

English Muffin Bread

English Muffin Bread Today I’m taking this blog into new territory: bread! You won’t find me feeding any sourdough starters or anything, but I have taken a chance on a few bread recipes over the last year because…well, I had some time on my hands. English Muffin Bread is my favorite by a long shot. It’s got all the craggy structure of English muffins, toasts like a dream, and is so delicious it’s kind of ridiculous.English Muffin BreadI first heard about English Muffin Bread when Rebecca posted her recipe a few years ago, and then crossed paths with it again recently while Instagramming my way through the Southern Living 1985 Annual Recipes cookbook. It looked so easy to make that I couldn’t resist giving it a go!

While my initial try was a bit dense, it was still tasty (as nearly all homemade bread is), and I soon found myself making eight more batches in an effort to nail down the perfect balance of English muffin texture, rich flavor and ease of preparation. I’m here to tell you that I succeeded.English Muffin BreadMy English Muffin Bread is a one bowl, no-knead, single rise situation. By giving this dough just a few minutes of your time and then a bit of patience, you’ll be rewarded with all the craggy texture you love in English muffins, but in a sliceable, toastable loaf. Two of them, actually.

That may sound like more bread than you need, but if you’re anything like me, you won’t have a problem getting through it. However, if you have more self-control than I do, you could freeze or gift a loaf, or just halve the recipe. Oh, and for what it’s worth, making two loaves of this bread is way less expensive than purchasing store-bought English muffins. You know, if you care about that sort of thing.English Muffin BreadEnglish Muffin Bread couldn’t be easier to make. Simply whisk together flour, a touch of sugar, kosher salt, instant yeast and a little baking soda, then stir in water and melted butter until a shaggy dough forms. Divide your dough in two, then put it in two cornmeal-dusted loaf pans. No, you didn’t miss a kneading step—thanks to the high volume of liquid and the desired texture, there’s no need to knead! <—see what I did there?!English Muffin BreadLet your dough rise for about an hour, just until it peaks over the tops of your pans. The combination of yeast and baking soda along with the single rise mean that the oven-ready dough will be very airy and a little delicate. It should be a bit wet looking and a little jiggly—be gentle with the pans so you don’t knock out any of the holey, craggy structure.Bake your loaves for 25-30 minutes as 400F, until golden all over and hollow-sounding when tapped. If you’re worried about under-baking, a food thermometer should register 190F when the bread is done.English Muffin BreadEnglish Muffin BreadTurn your loaves out onto a rack as soon as they come out of the oven, then let them cool completely. This is supremely important. Do not let the intoxicating smell of fresh-baked bread tempt you to rip into this while it’s cooling or you will find a gross, gummy mess. The hole structure needs to cool completely for maximum English muffin goodness. I find that cooling takes 2-3 hours, but that’s a small price to pay for the quality of toast you are about to consume.English Muffin BreadEnglish Muffin BreadWhile you can absolutely enjoy a slice of English Muffin Bread without doing anything to it, an extra crispy, golden brown, toasty finish really makes each slice sing. The holes and crags are emphasized, the cornmeal on the edge gets extra crunchy, the minuscule amount of butter in the dough gives it just enough richness. Like a perfectly toasted English muffin, it’s perfect with a smear of soft butter. Or honey. Or jam. Or Nutella. Or peanut butter. Or avocado. Or fried into French toast. Or made into a grilled cheese.

I’ve tried it all those ways. Quality control, y’all.English Muffin Bread

English Muffin Bread
heavily adapted from Julie L. York of Asheville, NC, via Southern Living magazine
makes 2 loaves

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

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

For proofing:
plastic wrap
oil, butter or cooking spray

For serving:
butter
jam
honey

Grease 2 9×5-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, baking soda, salt and instant yeast.

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. Even dough out so that no portion is too much taller than any other. Grease 2 pieces of plastic wrap with oil, butter or cooking spray. 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 desired condiments. Leftovers will keep well-wrapped in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Fresh Orange Cinnamon Rolls

Wherever you are this week, I hope you’re safe, warm, and have enough to eat!Fresh Orange Cinnamon RollsWhen I was a kid, I had a friend whose mom hated to cook except for Saturday breakfast. A lot of the meals I ate with this family were takeout, but come the weekend, there were eggs and bacon, orange juice, blueberry muffins, and cinnamon rolls from one of those cans you have to thwack against the edge of your countertop. Little me thought it was the best ever (Puff Pancakes obviously excepted).Fresh Orange Cinnamon RollsI had one complaint though, because of course I did. Every once in a while the cinnamon rolls would be the orange kind, and while everyone in that family loved them, I deeply did not. I kept my mouth shut—#manners—but I hated them. In fact, I still do, but only because I hate fake orange flavoring.Fresh Orange Cinnamon RollsTurns out, I love Orange Cinnamon Rolls made with real fresh oranges. Like really, really love them. I mean, what’s not to love about fluffy, buttery, orangey cinnamon rolls?!Fresh Orange Cinnamon RollsI’m over the moon for these, y’all. There’s orange zest in the dough and cinnamon filling, and orange juice in the glaze and the icing! Yes, you read that correctly, these babies have a glaze *and* an icing! I did this on last year’s Meyer Lemon Sweet Rolls for maximum citrus flavor, and it works just as well here. Fresh orange flavor alllll over the place.Fresh Orange Cinnamon RollsFresh Orange Cinnamon RollsFresh Orange Cinnamon RollsJust after you pull your rolls from the oven, paint them with the orange glaze so they get glossy and soak up all that sticky orange flavor. Let that absorb for a few minutes and then hit them with a simple orange icing. This goes without saying, but yes, you can double it.Fresh Orange Cinnamon RollsAnd then, well, you know what to do.Fresh Orange Cinnamon Rolls

Fresh Orange Cinnamon Rolls
makes 12 rolls

I recommend having 3 large (or 4-5 medium) oranges on hand before beginning this recipe. Better to have too many than too few.

Dough:
2 3/4-3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast (I use Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise Yeast)
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 large eggs, beaten, room temperature

Filling:
2 tablespoons orange zest (about 1 large navel orange)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Glaze:
1/4 cup fresh orange juice (about 1 large navel orange)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Icing:
1 cup confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2-3 tablespoons fresh orange juice (most of 1 large navel orange)

Grease a 9×13-inch casserole dish or rimmed baking pan. Set aside.

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

In a small saucepan, heat whole milk and butter until hot to the touch, about 110F. Stir in orange zest.

Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold milk mixture into dry ingredients, followed by beaten eggs. Add more all-purpose flour in 2 tablespoon increments until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Flour a surface and your hands. Knead dough 5-6 minutes until smooth, then form into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes (you may do this in a bowl, but I just do this on my surface).

Make the filling. In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to mash together orange zest, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt and butter, until completely combined. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12×18-inch rectangle. Drop filling over the dough by the spoonful. Use an offset knife or the back of a spoon to spread filling mixture over the dough, keeping a 1/2-inch perimeter on all sides. Starting with the long edge closest to your body, tightly roll filled dough away from you, smoothing any seams with your thumbs. Slice dough into 12 rolls. Place rolls close together in prepared pan. Cover the pan with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Place covered pan in a warm, draft-free place for 60-90 minutes, until rolls have doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375F. Uncover rolls. Bake 25-30 minutes (mine took 27), tenting the rolls with foil if anything begins to brown too quickly.

While rolls are baking, make the glaze. In a small bowl, use a fork to stir together orange juice and sugar. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until the sugar has dissolved (45-60 seconds total).

Remove rolls from the oven. Let cool 1-2 minutes, then use a pastry brush to paint glaze all over all exposed pastry. Use all glaze. Let sit 5 minutes while you make the icing.

Make the icing. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together confectioners sugar, salt and 2 tablespoons of orange juice. Add more juice by the teaspoon (up to 3 teaspoons) until icing is thick, but pourable.

Spoon/pour icing over the rolls and use an offset icing knife or the back of a spoon to spread icing over the rolls as desired. Serve.

Fresh Orange Cinnamon Rolls re best served the day they are made, but will keep covered at room temperature for a day or so.

Fresh Orange Cinnamon RollsFresh Orange Cinnamon RollsFresh Orange Cinnamon Rolls

Honey Butter Drop Biscuits

Honey Butter Drop BiscuitsSouthern-style biscuits are one of my go-to comfort foods. I make them regularly for weekend breakfasts and quick dinner side dishes, and there’s almost always a bag of them in my freezer. I don’t even need to look at the recipes anymore—I know the proportions, methods, times and temperatures by heart. Yep, I’m a biscuit gal, just like my grandma.Honey Butter Drop BiscuitsHoney Butter Drop BiscuitsHoney Butter Drop BiscuitsAll that said, I’ve never really gotten on the drop biscuit train. I guess I thought they were cheating or something—the ingredients and mixing methods are nearly identical, but you don’t have to pat and cut anything, instead scooping the sticky dough directly onto a pan before baking. I suppose that without dirtying a surface or doing extra work I assumed that they were a slightly-less-good version of the “real deal.” But I was wrong. So, so wrong.Honey Butter Drop BiscuitsTurns out, drop biscuits are their own thing entirely. They’re fluffy and tender instead of flaky and layered, and they have these extra crispy-crunchy exteriors with which I am now fully obsessed. And the recipe works with both whole milk and buttermilk, and (!) I don’t have to scrape an invisible layer of butter and flour off of my countertop every time I make a batch. Drop biscuits, where have you been all my life???Honey Butter Drop BiscuitsI won’t lie to you: drop biscuits are not a traditionally beautiful food. They’re scraggly, craggy and have slightly wonky shapes, regardless of whether you use a cookie scoop, a spoon or your hands to dole out dough. They’re super delicious, just a little ugly. Or at least they are until you give them a glossy coat of salty-sweet honey butter.Honey Butter Drop BiscuitsHoney Butter Drop BiscuitsOhhh yes.Honey Butter Drop Biscuits

Honey Butter Drop Biscuits
makes 10-11 medium-large biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar or honey
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
1 cup whole milk or buttermilk, very cold

Honey Butter:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add chilled butter. Using your fingertips (not your palms!) or a pastry blender, cut cold butter into flour mixture until it is roughly the size of peas.

Pour in 1 cup cold buttermilk. Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until a sticky, shaggy dough forms.

Scoop dough by the 1/4 cup and drop biscuits a couple inches apart on the prepared pan. Bake biscuits for 12-14 minutes, until they have puffed and are starting to brown.

Make the honey butter. In a small bowl, combine butter, honey and salt. Microwave in 20 second increments, stirring between, until melted together. Brush onto warm biscuits. Serve.

Biscuits are best the day they are made. Leftovers may be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of days. Biscuits without honey butter may be frozen for up to 3 months.

Honey Butter Drop BiscuitsHoney Butter Drop Biscuits

Maple Scones

Maple SconesMaple Scones are one of my favorite things. They’re so simple and good, and every time I have one, I get nostalgic for the days when I was learning beginner baking basics in a studio apartment I shared with an ex-boyfriend.Maple SconesA lot has changed in seven years, and also very little. I moved into a larger apartment. I got over the boyfriend (finally, and to my great relief). I have a much larger kitchen now. In fact, it’s so big that my work station is in the living room/dining area, and my (second) pantry and a dedicated dairy fridge are in my bedroom. I have a great roommate, who more-than-tolerates my kitchen time and is one of my dearest friends. I’ve taken all those baking basics and built them into more complex things, the way people do when they’re really excited about something.

On that note, I’m still really excited about home baking. I still bake everyday while listening to The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC—I never miss it. And in the fall, I still get nostalgic for Maple Scones which, in turn, make me nostalgic for that terrible, tiny, dark kitchen where I learned how to properly measure flour by volume.Maple SconesMaple SconesThe first scones I ever made were the very good Maple Scones from Dinner with Julie. I made them over and over as-written, but ever so slowly, I’ve experimented with different scone methods and transformed what was once her recipe into mine. Half-and-half has become heavy cream, I’ve reduced the butter and upped the baking powder, I’ve added butter to the glaze. I kept the brown sugar and maple syrup, obviously. The results are mapley, fluffy and flaky with edges that are somehow both nubbly and tender.Maple SconesWhat I’m saying is that I make a hell of a maple scone. And now, seven years into baking and almost five into this blog, you can too. And maybe one day, when this post is seven years old, you’ll look back and realize that my recipe has ever so slowly become yours.Maple Scones

Maple Scones
makes 8 scones

3/4 cup heavy cream + more for brushing, very cold
2 tablespoons maple syrup (I use Grade A dark amber, robust taste)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes

Glaze:
2 tablespoons maple syrup + more to preference
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

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

In a liquid measuring cup, use a fork to whisk together heavy cream and maple syrup. Refrigerate.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, brown sugar, and salt. 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 heavy cream mixture until a shaggy dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Pat it to 3/4-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 heavy cream. Bake 15-16 minutes, until puffed and golden at the edges. Let scones cool on the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, or until they can be handled.

Make the glaze. Combine maple syrup and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in 20 second increments, stirring between, until butter is melted. Whisk in confectioner’s sugar and salt. Glaze should be very thick, but drizzlable. Add more maple syrup by the teaspoon until your desired consistency is reached. Drizzle glaze over scones.

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

Maple SconesMaple SconesMaple Scones