Category Archives: Breakfast

Cinnamon Roll Bliss!!

Every year for probably the past eighteen years, our traditional Christmas breakfast has consisted of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls that come in a tube. Because they smelled and tasted good, because they were super easy, and because we’ve had so much chaos and small children to deal with, not much sleep, and knee-deep wrapping paper. It was all we could manage.

But one of those small children has grown into a budding baker, and this Christmas she offered to make cinnamon rolls from scratch. She found a recipe in one of her Christmas presents from last year, The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. This cookbook has produced some incredibly delicious and amazing treats this year.

These cinnamon rolls were probably one of the best things yet.

These cinnamon rolls were not to sweet. The density was perfect – soft, yet with a thick and satisfying chewiness, almost biscuitlike. The cinnamon center was incredibly rich and wonderful, and the icing had a little tang of cream cheese. It was so deeply satisfying and decadent, and was definitely a special treat, yet wasn’t overly sweet.

These are hands-down going to be the new Christmas (and maybe New Year’s!) morning tradition. Recipe from: America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

(recipe after the break)

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West coast apple cider donuts/doughnuts

a pile of homemade glazed apple cider donuts

It’s Spring (ah-choo!), a time of year garnished with blossoms (pollen–ah-choo!) and greening trees that I wish I could watch entirely from inside a hermetically sealed room that no pollen can permeate. I miss Winter and Autumn. While everyone dances to mentions of rhubarb and salivates in anticipation of stone fruit, I wax nostalgic about Autumn. Yes, I’m contrary like that.

Oh, Autumn, ye of sweaters and crisp-non-allergenic-air, and persimmons and…apples…and apple cider donuts. Over the past couple of months, I’ve heard my East Coast friends rave about apple cider donuts (or doughnuts, however you want to spell it). They have been eating the apple cider donuts from NYC’s Greenmarket, and they have been raving about the donuts at Atkins Farms.

I have never had an apple cider donut, yet found myself craving one as if it were my #1 childhood comfort food. Finally, Alexander Chee slyly slipped me the Washington Post’s apple cider donut recipe and put an end to my whining yearning. Time to fulfill a wish.

While I normally adapt recipes, I followed this one exactly, even draining the donuts on “several layers of paper towels” instead of a wire rack.

It is not a recipe to be made on a busy weekday morning, but rather on a pleasant and lackadaisical weekend morning. The dough is easy enough to form; while you boil/reduce the apple cider down, you cream the sugar and butter, and combine with wet ingredients, before adding the dry ingredients. There are two time consuming steps that involve putting the dough in the freezer to firm up, before cutting into donut shapes.

homemade apple cider donuts in process

Don’t walk too far away, because you don’t want the dough to freeze entirely. This is a concoction that cannot be fully ignored until it’s finished…and then well, when it’s finished, you’ll find it impossible to ignore.

After cutting into donut shapes (I used a 3″ biscuit cutter, and an upside down bottle of Boylan’s cherry coke to cut the holes–this made it so I had zero donut holes because I couldn’t.get.the.donut.holes.out.of.the.bottle, but oh well), you put the donut shaped dough into the freezer to firm up (but not freeze!), before frying, and watching the dough “poof” up.

homemade apple cider donuts in process

Make sure you work fast–the donuts only need 60 seconds on each side in the hot oil, so you want your area prepped–a paper-towel-laden plate on which to drain the donuts. And another plate on which to set the cooled donuts.

While the donuts were frying on their first side, I moved the draining donuts onto a non-paper towel plate…and when the donuts were frying on their “second” side, I would move chilled donut dough out of the fridge.  Be organized or they will burn.

The cider glaze is a must, and something you prep while the donuts are in the final freezer step.  I didn’t have powdered sugar on me, so I zapped granulated sugar in the food processor for a couple minutes. Worked just fine (I guess I did adapt the recipe). 😛

They came out perfect. Oh so perfect.

Hints of apple with each bite accompanied bursts of flavor explosions in my head as I bit into the first fresh, warm donut. They didn’t cease on the subsequent bites, either.


Recipe after the jump…

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Pumpkin Muffins

pumpkin muffin, originally uploaded by c(h)ristine.

I am supposed to be on a novel-writing crusade this month: 1,667 words a day (that’s a total of 50,000 words this month).

But ahem…what do I end up doing instead? BAKING! It didn’t help that this month’s issue of Gourmet was terribly appealing:

i like this month's gourmet cover

This month of Gourmet breaks the gloomy, moody look of recent covers (as Eric noted on Read Cook Eat not too long ago), and I love that it has a narrative quality to it. Who put the turkey on the (wonderful antique) stove? How long has it been sitting there? Whose kitchen is this? It’s easy for magazine covers to encroach upon “foodporn,” closeup shots of food (hello, and I am guilty of porno’ing my food). Plus, something about the lighting in this shot appeals to me.

Instead of writing, I opened up the magazine and read it. Who could resist? Who knew it was just one step in the road to temptation? I ran all the recipes through my head, tasting the imagined results. I had to write, I had to write my novel. But as I kept thumbing through the pages, I kept wanting to BAKE. And there it was: a simple recipe for pumpkin muffins, in the “You Asked For It” section.

I haven’t made muffins in years–and how ironic, considering that this blog is called “Muffin Top.” To top it off, there is not a single muffin recipe in our “Muffin Top” blog! Time to kill 2 birds with one stone: satiate my baking desire (and writing procrastination), and supply Muffin Top with its first muffin recipe.

Pumpkin muffins fit the Autumn/Halloween/Thanksgiving season–it’s the time of year when there never seems to be enough pumpkin-based recipes, just as summer screams for recipes filled with peaches and plums, and fruit preserves. The warm spices of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves combating the cool chill of Autumn and Winter feel like a culinary cozy sweater. Plus what can you say? The orange-y pumpkin color coordinates so well with Fall leaves!

Though I made these muffins on a Friday afternoon, I can’t help but think how much more delicious they might be on a chilly Autumn morning. It took less than an hour to fill the house with a wonderful spicy pumpkin scent, and produce warm, delicious muffins. Can you imagine waking up to something so delightful? If the first taste of your day is one of these pumpkin muffins, how can you have a bad day at all?

pumpkin muffins!

This recipe is super easy. I had most of the items already in my pantry, except for the can of solid-pack pumpkin–which at this time of year, is a pantry staple. The recipe produces a dozen muffins, or one muffin tin full of muffin tops. The only adjustment I made was putting an entire 15-oz. can into the recipe (this was by accident but as you see, the muffins came out just perfect anyway–very moist).

Recipe follows after the jump…

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