lemon blackberry muffins

I was very much in a muffin mood this Saturday morning—sometimes it just feels good to make muffins! (I think this might make me weird/a grandma, but I’m going to roll with it). It does help that both Jordan and Robin very much enjoy when I am in a muffin mood and generously offer to help me eat the muffins produced.

These muffins are adapted from Smitten Kitchen. Deb is just so good at making recipes that I absolutely must try. I definitely have a cook-crush on her, no question about it.

Blackberry-Topped Lemon Muffins, adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 1/8 cup sugar, divided
2 lemons, zested
2 cups flour
2 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 t vanilla extract
1 container blackberries (in my case) or raspberries (per Deb’s recommendation)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners or grease and flour them. In a small bowl, mash 1/8 cup of sugar with the lemon zest. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter. Add the remaining 1 cup sugar. Add the egg, buttermilk, vanilla and lemon sugar. Mix in the flour just to combine.

Spoon the lemon muffin batter into the cups. Top each muffin with several berries, pressing the berries into the batter slightly. Bake for 30 minutes, until the tops of the muffins are just golden.

When we first tried these muffins, Jordan thought that the berries weren’t really necessary.  They sure looked pretty, but didn’t add much in the way of flavor. I kind of had to agree. The lemon muffin was great without them. But the second morning that I enjoyed the muffins, I changed my mind. The berries add a great tartness to the muffins and have a nice texture to boot. If I make these again, I will most certainly keep the berries.



baking therapy: cinnamon rolls

On Saturday night at about 8 pm I decided that I had to have cinnamon rolls. My sweet Jordan humors these moods of mine, but also tempers them with a little reason: perhaps I should not try to make and eat cinnamon rolls on Saturday night, but instead have them for breakfast on Sunday. Making the dough, plus 2 hours for the dough to rise, plus baking time … point taken. I also wisely decided that I should not eat a dozen cinnamon rolls myself, and invited a few lovely friends over for Sunday brunch.

These cinnamon rolls are awesome – gooey and cinnamony with a little tang from the cream cheese frosting.  And the best part is you can make them almost entirely ahead of time, which means you sleep in and have homemade cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven. You really can’t ask for more on a Sunday morning.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls, by Alton Brown

For the dough:
4 egg yolks, room temperature
1 egg, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
6 T butter, melted
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
4 cups flour
1 packet instant dry yeast
1 1/4 t kosher salt

In a stand mixer, whisk eggs, sugar, butter and buttermilk to combine. Add two cups of the flour, yeast and salt and mix. Switch out the whisk for the dough hook and add another 1 1/4 cup of flour. Knead on low for 5 minutes. Touch the dough – it should be smooth and soft but not sticky. If it is sticky, add a bit more flour. My dough did not need additional flour, but yours might. Knead for another 5 minutes on low.  Knead the dough with your hands for 30 seconds and place in a lightly oiled bowl to rise. Lightly oil the top and cover with a towel.

Now for the rising. The dough should rise for about 2 hours or until it has doubled in size. If you live in an old, poorly insulated apartment like I do there is probably not an appropriately warm place for your dough to rise. And if you’ve never made a yeast dough in said apartment, you will most likely have a panic attack when after two hours of quiet counter sitting your dough has not risen and you already have 4 confirmed breakfast guests. So you don’t experience a similar panic and wasted time, I recommend you place your dough in the oven, fill a dish below it with boiling water and close the door. Replace the hot water every 30 minutes or so and your dough will rise beautifully.

For the filling:
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 T cinnamon
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 T butter, melted

Once your dough has doubled in size, lightly flour a counter and butter a baking dish. Roll the dough into a 12 by 18 inch rectangle. Spread the melted butter on all but the top 1 inch. Sprinkle with the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt mixture on all but the top 1 inch. Roll the dough, starting with the edge closest to you and pinch the edge to seal. Turn it over so the seam is face down on the counter and cut into 12 pieces. Place the pieces in a buttered baking dish and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge.

The next morning about an hour before your guest arrive, take the rolls out of fridge, remove the plastic wrap and place in an off oven with a pan of boiling water to rise again. After about 30 minutes they should look delightfully poofy.

Remove the rolls and water from the oven. Preheat the oven to 35o degrees. Cook the rolls for about 30 minutes, until they are lightly browned on top. Frost with cream cheese frosting once you take them out of the oven.

For the frosting:
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
3 T milk
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Whip the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the milk and powdered sugar and mix to combine. Spread over the hot cinnamon rolls and serve.

Like I said before, these rolls are good. They are everything you want out of a cinnamon roll and, despite involving yeast and rising, are pretty easy to make. But, I think what these rolls have really taught me is that the pan of hot water trick is one to live by.



baking therapy: blood orange olive oil cake

I’ve never made or eaten an olive oil cake, but I generally like all things in loaf form and this recipe from Smitten Kitchen was absolutely irresistible. A special thanks to Deb of Smitten Kitchen for doing all of the legwork and finding the most perfect olive oil cake. This cake is delightful, moist, citrusy and balanced with a delicate olive oil flavor – a wonderful dessert or breakfast. Without a doubt, I’m adding it to the permanent repertoire.

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake with Citrus Compote, adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the cake:
Butter for greasing the pan
2 blood oranges
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt

Whipped cream and orange-honey compote,  for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan. Grate zest of 2 oranges into a bowl. Add sugar and mix with your hands to evenly distribute zest.

Halve one of the oranges and juice it into another bowl. Add buttermilk. Pour mixture into the sugar-zest mixture and whisk well. Whisk in olive oil and eggs.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently fold dry ingredients into wet ones. Mix until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 50 – 55 minutes. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes and then unmold. Serve with orange-honey compote and whipped cream.

For the compote:
2 blood oranges
2 navel oranges, tangelos, or other citrus fruit
1 – 2 T honey

Supreme the 4 oranges. Cut off bottom and top of fruit so it sits upright on the cutting board. Cut away the peel and pith following the curve of the fruit. Cut the orange segments out of their connective membranes and let them fall into a bowl. Drizzle with honey and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir and serve with cake.



the best thing …………….. in the world

First, this post is dedicated to my good friend Miykaelah because without her (and her obsession with a tiny cafe called Baked & Wired in Washington, D.C.) I would have never consumed the life-changing pastry I’m about to tell you all about.

What is this magical pastry, you ask. It is the donut-muffin!

Donut + muffin = Life-changing, cinammon-sugar-coated deliciousness.

Like I mentioned previously, my first and only (up until this weekend) donut-muffin was from Baked & Wired. Jordan and I had to wake up early and trudge down to the cafe in order to get our hands on two of their famed donut-muffins. So delicious are these donut-muffins, they sell out before 10 am! But boy am I glad we did! These pastries are beyond good. The perfect crumb, a crunchy-donuty exterior, 360 degrees and 3 dimensions of cinnamon sugar heaven. WOW was pretty much all I could think at the time. And then I moved 3,000 miles away from the delicious donut-muffin bakers, doomed to never eat a hybrid pastry so perfect again.

Flash forward to last Thursday. I was walking home from work and listening to the Spilled Milk Podcast. The theme of the episode was muffins. I was causally listening and laughing along with Matthew and Molly when I heard the words donut and muffin in quick succession. My recipe brain was on high alert! And, in a matter of seconds, I learned the secret key to making the donut- muffin!!! My baking life was changed! I stormed into the apartment happier than I had been all week and shared my discovery with Jordan. His life was also changed! Donut-muffins have special powers. You’ll see once you eat one.

Without further adieu …

Nutmeg Donut-Muffins with Cinnamon Sugar Crust, borrowed from Molly Wizenburg of Orangette with tremendous gratitude

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 ½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

Scant 1 tsp salt

½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg

¾ cup plus 1 Tbs whole milk

2 Tbs buttermilk

1 ½ sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

¾ cup plus 2 Tbs granulated sugar

2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and set a rack to the middle position. Butter a standard-size muffin tin.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg, and whisk to mix them thoroughly. Set aside. (I followed her recipe here, but Jordan and I both think that next time we’ll also throw a little cinnamon in the batter).

Combine the milk and the buttermilk in a cup or little dish, and set aside.

Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for a few seconds, until the butter is soft and creamy. With the motor running, add the sugar in a steady stream. Continue beating, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice, until the mixture increases in volume and lightens. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until they are just combined.

With a wooden spoon, mix 1/4 of the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Add 1/3 of the milk mixture. Continue to add the dry and wet ingredients alternately. Mix until the dough is smooth and well combined, but do not overmix. This batter has more flour than typical muffins – it is a muffin/scone/biscuit batter hybrid. So many converging pastries!

Divide the batter between the cups of the muffin tin. My muffin tins were overflowing, but it all turned out just fine. Bake until the muffins are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.


Melt 4 T butter. In another bow, mix 1 t cinnamon with 4 T sugar. Using a pastry brush, one by one brush the still warm muffins all over with butter. Toss in the cinnamon sugar. TAH DAH! You have a fresh and delicious donut-muffin!!!! That easy!!!  I’m not a science whiz or anything, but there is some perfect chemical reaction going on between warm muffin, warm butter and cinnamon sugar that cannot be missed. WOW.

Make this recipe. They are so good, it is *almost* beyond words.


P.S. I had one for dessert, and then breakfast, and then dessert again. Rarely do I eat that many portions of my baked goods. THEY ARE THAT GOOD.


ginger lemon muffins

Jordan’s parents came over for breakfast on Saturday. I was thinking of making coffee cake, but then I stumbled upon these muffins on Molly Wizenburg’s blog Orangette. The picture was so cute I just had to make them.

Marion Cunningham’s Fresh Ginger Muffins, adapted from The Breakfast Book and Orangette
Yield: 12 muffins
One (~3-ounce) piece of unpeeled ginger root, washed well
¾ cup plus 3 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk (I also decided that there is just no point in buying buttermilk when I can make it myself and have about cup of delicious homemade butter as the by-product. Want to learn how to make butter from scratch? Check out our post butter! homemade butter!)
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. baking soda

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a muffin tin.

Cut the unpeeled ginger root into large chunks. Process the ginger in a food processor until it is in tiny pieces; alternatively, mince by hand. Put the ginger and ¼ cup sugar in a small skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has melted and the mixture is hot. This takes only a couple of minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Add to the ginger mixture.

Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat the butter for a second or two, then add the remaining ½ cup sugar, and beat until smooth. Add the eggs, and beat well. Add the buttermilk, and beat until blended. (At this point my batter looked a little curdled – ew – but after I added the dry ingredients, it looked like regular batter and tasted just fine).

Add the flour, salt, and baking soda, and beat just until smooth. Add the ginger-lemon mixture, and beat to mix well. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Serve warm with fresh, salted butter

Conclusions: Absolutely delicious (and totally adorable)! I ate two right out of the oven (and wanted another). The ginger is surprisingly subtle, considering how much ginger goes into these muffins, and the lemon is a lovely companion. I will certainly be making these again! And, you have to try the homemade butter! It is soooo good.




I have a complicated relationship with brunch: I love breakfast foods. I love lunch foods. I love waking up late and still getting to enjoy breakfast in the company of friends. BUT… I hate waiting in line. I hate even more waiting in line for mediocre food (as brunch food out often is). I’ve struggled with these dueling desires for the last few years, especially during my stint in Washington D.C. where brunch is oh so fashionable. Last weekend I decide to host a brunch for a few friends hoping to maximize the elements of brunch I enjoy and minimize those that I don’t.

The Menu

Fresh Berry Tart with vanilla bean pastry cream (recipe courtesy of my new Tartine Bakery cookbook!)

Breakfast Pizza with fontina, bacon, sauteed mushrooms, eggs and chives (recipe by Jordan)

Hash Browns

Orange-Cranberry Scones (baked expertly by Jeff Quinn)

And of course, mimosas

(That goopy brown bit in the upper right is the hash browns. While not visually appealing, they were tasty).

Jordan and I diligently prepped all we could the night before and the cooking went splendidly that morning. Everyone showed up! The food turned out wonderful! The dishes were simple, but very satisfying. It was fun and relaxing – a perfect brunch! And the best part … No lines!

And perhaps one of the best compliments I’ve received lately from my dear friend Jeff: “… and I thought the gays had a monopoly on brunch!”

And just one more picture of my tart …



sunday breakfast: french toast

My love of breakfast foods has already been professed, but here I go again … I love breakfast! I love it deeply, and especially so after sleeping in on a lazy Sunday morning.

Emily and Jordan’s French Toast
Day old baguette (sourdough is our favorite), sliced into 1 inch thick slices
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 t vanilla extract
1 T brown sugar
1/2 t salt
1 t ground cinnamon (I love cinnamon and so I put a lot on my french toast)

Mix all of the above ingredients in a shallow baking dish. Melt 1 T of butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Generously coat the slices of bread with the egg mixture and place them in the hot pan. Cook several minutes per side, dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!