Perfect Blueberry Muffins

The last time I made my usual blueberry muffin recipe, I wasn’t as happy with it as I remembered. Those muffins overflowed and flattened out, more of a mushroom shape than a nice, mountainous muffin shape. It was about then that Alton Brown published an updated version, which I tried – and wasn’t thrilled with because they were way too big, among other reasons. (His assertion that everyone loves a muffin top is inaccurate.) So I was pretty excited when Smitten Kitchen updated her blueberry muffin recipe. It made fewer muffins (9, a good number for a family of 2 1/2 people), looked easy to make, and took ingredients I had as long as I still had blueberries on hand.

I was impressed when I tried the recipe. The muffins assembled easily and quickly, and they turned out perfectly, as promised. They were fluffy and moist, even after a couple of days, and had lots of blueberries strewn throughout them. (Alex actually would like a little more muffin, and a little less blueberry.) I liked the hint of lemon in the muffin. The muffins rose and domed nicely – no batter overflowing onto the muffin pan and flattening out. I think this has become my new go-to muffin recipe.


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Quick Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

My intermittent weekend baking continues. While Alex took weekend nap duty with the baby, I whipped up a quick and easy chocolate chip coffee cake (adapted heavily from Taste of Home) for him for Father’s Day. If you just have one coffee cake recipe in your rotation, this should be it.

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Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones

Alex got me the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for Christmas, and although I’ve only read a little of it, it’s a great cookbook so far. I already talked about the Maple Bacon Biscuits that I made from it. My second recipe attempted from it was Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones, which are also featured on the Smitten Kitchen website. I was excited to make these scones because I bought an incredibly excessive amount of ricotta cheese for our Christmas lasagna, and since I don’t like cheese that much, I had no idea what to do with it other than find recipes that incorporated it into baked goods. Plus, this recipe has raspberries (which I love) and whole wheat flour (which makes me feel healthy).

These are very good scones – good enough that I made 2 more batches of them later on, one of which is in the freezer, waiting to be baked once baby is here. Now if I can just figure out what to do with the other container of unopened ricotta cheese in my refrigerator.

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Maple Bacon Biscuits

Alex got me the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for Christmas (I’m sure you’ve noticed that I link over to Smitten Kitchen regularly), and the first, oh, dozen recipes I read in it were all things that I would really like to make. Definitely a sign of a good cookbook. Since my focus right now is bread, however, the first one I made was for Bread 47, Maple Bacon Biscuits. I’d wanted to make a recipe like this for a while, but the one I’d found online that I really wanted to try involved maple extract, which I didn’t have and hadn’t gotten around to getting. So Deb’s version of the biscuits – which only made 6, which is a reasonable number of biscuits for me and Alex – with bacon and actual maple syrup, was a clear choice.

I am really, really glad that I decided to make the biscuits from this cookbook. Based on how good this recipe was, I have very high hopes for everything else in the book. This recipe was easy to make, the dough easy to handle, and the resulting biscuits themselves – very delicious.


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Cinnamon Rolls

Bread 46 was the Cinnamon Buns recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. I had planned to make a different cinnamon roll recipe but didn’t have the ingredients I wanted for it. It surprised me that I hadn’t noticed this recipe from the book sooner, despite making probably about half of the book’s bread recipes.

Thus, brunch on Christmas morning was cinnamon buns. You can bake the rolls on the same day you make them, but I didn’t want that much work on Christmas (or any morning, really). To make brunch happen, I made the buns the day before and put them in the fridge overnight for their second rise. They became puffy in the meantime, and I removed them from the fridge 3 hours before I wanted to bake them to remove the chill.

Some aspects of these rolls were amazing, and some needed work. I’ve made great cinnamon rolls twice before (from Alton Brown’s overnight recipe and from a recipe from Smitten Kitchen), and based on those, I’ve recommended some adjustments below.


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Cinnamon Bread

I’ve fallen behind on my bread project for this year, unfortunately. Life has a way of making that happen. I had great momentum starting out this year, and I even managed to mostly keep up with it during a hectic summer. In fact, I’ve even continued bread making despite a major life change on the horizon, as we’re expecting a baby in February!

However, the thing that has put me the most behind has been a little more sudden. Alex got a new job, and within the past few weeks, we’ve been putting all our energy toward a move from St. Louis to New Jersey. This very exciting development has meant that I’ve had little time to cook, aside from throwing together random ingredients to use up things I have in my pantry. I’ve had even less time for blogging – or much of anything else. (For instance, today was the first day I’ve picked up a novel to read in weeks.)

I will still meet my goal of 50 bread recipes in 2014, but I’ll have to play some catch-up in November and December, just as I did in 2010. It’s a little disappointing to not stick to the schedule I’d originally planned, but I’m looking forward to having the time to focus on cooking (and unpacking, of course) later this year.


For Bread Week 36, I made Cinnamon Bread. This is one of my all-time favorite recipes; I’ve made it a few times before. This is a recipe that I give for bridal showers and weddings, whenever I can, because it is easy, reliable, and above all, very delicious.

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Vanilla Chai Donuts

This weekend, it finally began to feel like fall! I had the windows open both yesterday and today to let in the refreshingly cooler air. This is St. Louis, so we may still have some hot days in the future, but I hope this weather is a turning point. I am really ready for fall, my favorite season.

Today I made Vanilla Chai Donuts for breakfast to celebrate the cooler weather. The donuts took some brewed chai tea as well as five – yes, five – spices. This morning was not a great baking morning for me. I ground all the spices – cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, coriander, and cloves – but forgot to add them to the batter. I also didn’t read the ingredient list closely and added baking soda instead of powder. I wasn’t about to waste the spices that were sitting on the counter waiting to be used, so I made a second batch.


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Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

I’ve really enjoyed having toast for breakfast recently, so I decided to make Oatmeal Sandwich Bread for Bread Week 30.

This sandwich bread recipe had the benefit of being straightforward and easy to make. As with the Light Wheat Bread, it was a good cookie butter delivery vehicle.

oatmeal sandwich bread

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Monkey Bread

When discussing my plans for Bread Week 29 with my husband, he reminded me that I made monkey bread once upon a time. I hadn’t exactly forgotten, but it wasn’t something that had come to mind within the past 7 months. I’d made this monkey bread recipe from Cooking Light, but since I like trying new recipes, I thought I’d try to find a different recipe to make. Faced with multiple sticks of butter and caramel sauces, though, I decided to revisit the same recipe I’d made years ago, with whole wheat flour, minimal butter, and a not-overwhelming amount of sugar.

I planned to make this bread for breakfast on a weekend morning, so I made the dough the evening before and stashed it in the fridge immediately so it could have a slow overnight rise. I ended up sleeping in until noon (oops!), so breakfast turned into a late afternoon snack. The bread still turned out perfectly.

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Gluten-Free Baked Donuts

I really, really wanted donuts recently. However, being back on my gluten-free diet at the moment, I couldn’t just go and get one. I decided to adapt this Baked Doughnuts recipe from King Arthur Flour, since one of the commenters on the recipe said that it worked with gluten-free flour and a little xanthan gum.

I’ve tried this recipe – twice – and am very happy with it overall. I decided I didn’t like the cinnamon in the batter. I’ve dipped the donuts in cinnamon sugar, and drizzled them with chocolate icing. Both are good. I’ve used them with two different gluten-free flour mixes, and it worked with both. I also expect it will work fine with regular flour and no xanthan gum as originally written. So, make these donuts.GFbakeddonuts

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