Category Archives: Breakfast

Cinnamon Rolls

Remember the Cooking Light cookbook I wrote about before? The following is is a mostly-followed version of that. I am somewhat surprised, with how this week has gone, that I settled on a somewhat involved recipe, but it turned out well and I was proud of them. As my boss described, this is one of those weeks where if you owned a hospital, no one would get sick; pretty much nothing has gone as planned, and we’ve been going from one hectic situation to another. It’s been a while since I had one of those weeks, and boy do I not miss it.

Add to that the cloudy-rainy that has been going on, and and you get a sad kitty. Don’t get me wrong – California most definitely needs all the rain it can get and I most definitely do not begrudge it, but it seems to be harder for me to handle when the shit hitteth the fan and I need my vitamin D on my days off. But it looks for the most part like the weather is returning to NorCal norms, for good or ill, and for that I am rather grateful.

Back to the food.

Quite a while ago I shared a recipe for no-knead cinnamon rolls, but I saw this recipe in the Cooking Light book and thought it might be nice to try something a little healthier. Unfortunately, I had to make a couple of ingredient substitutions that knocked the healthiness down a bit. I’ll share the original recipe below with only a couple of small alterations and notes on what I did.

Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Rolls

from Cooking Light

Dough
1 1/2 packages (3 1/4 tsp) dry yeast
3/4 cup warm fat free milk
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 large egg
1 large egg white
11.25 oz all-purpose flour, divided (about 2 1/2 cups)
7 oz whole-wheat flour (about 1 1/2 cups)

Filling
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/3 cup raisins

Glaze
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
5 tbsp fat-free milk

To prepare dough, dissolve yeast in warm milk and 1/4 cups arm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes or until foamy. Add butter and next 5 ingredients (through egg white); stir well. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 9 oz.  all-purpose flour (about 2 cups) and whole-wheat flour to yeast mixture, stirring until a soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining 2.25 oz all-purpose flour (about 1/2 cup), 1 tbsp at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky). Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°F), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentations remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; roll into a 16×12-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Coat surface of dough with cooking spray. (I don’t do cooking spray, so I used butter wherever it said to use spray.)

To prepare filling, combine brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg; sprinkle over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle raisins over dough and press gently into the dough. Roll up rectangle tightly, starting with a long edge, pressing firmly to eliminate air pockets; pinch seam to seal. Cut dough into ~16 rolls. Place rolls, cut sides up, in a 13×9-inch pan or in individual muffin tin cavities. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Uncover rolls. Bake at 375°F for 22 minutes if in pan, 15 minutes in muffin tin, or until lightly browned. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

To prepare glaze, place powdered sugar and vanilla in a small bowl. Add 5 tsp milk, 1 tsp at a time, stirring to form a thick glaze. Drizzle glaze evenly over rolls.

Pomegranate Scones


I have pretty much always had a love-hate relationship with pomegranates. I love how they look, how they taste, and how mess-less the actual meat of the fruit is; I absolutely hate trying to get the fruit out. I can have all the patience in the world with unknotting yarn skeins that have been given to kittens and take hours, but I hate picking pomegranate seeds from the fruit. Absolutely no patience for it. So I really haven’t had all that much pomegranate, which is rather unfortunate.

I recently came across a Pinterest pin that described soaking a pomegranate to get the seeds out: the lining absorbs so much water that it actually pushes the seeds away from itself, making it a million times easier to get at them. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but you know I will.

In the mean time, I found another pin for pomegranate scones. They look so pretty! I don’t know about the seed-parts of the seeds, but it seemed like a good idea. Unfortunately, there are no pomegranates in sight at the moment, and I’m too lazy to go to the store this morning for them. Luckily, I have some pomegranate syrup from my birthday not-cake, an apple-pomegranate tarte tatin. You’ll be seeing that up here eventually because it was super-amazing.

Below is a variation of the recipe from the pin I found, substituting some things here and there.

They turned out amazing, by the way. Don’t take my word for it. Just try it – you’ll see.

Pomegranate Scones

adapted from Project Fairytale

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled
3/4 cup pomegranate syrup, divided
1/4 cup half and half
1 egg
1 cup powdered sugar

Make ahead: Pomegranate Syrup

Bring 3 cups pure pomegranate juice to a boil on the stove and reduce until a scant 1 cup . Chill 1hr.

Take cold butter and either chop into 1/8″ cubes, or grate with a cheese grater. (I personally have not had luck with the cheese grater option – it’s messy and a lot ends up melting on your hands by the time it’s finished. That being said, there are a lot of people who swear by that technique.) Place back in fridge while prepping other ingredients.

Blend flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl with a whisk until combined. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, then add half and half and 1/2 cup chilled pomegranate syrup. Set aside.

Cut chilled butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or your fingertips until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg mixture and gently mix together until it comes together. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll or pat out to a desired thickness. From here, the possibilities abound: you can go the traditional scone route and form the dough into a circle then cut into wedges; you can also roll it out and use cookie cutters, which I find to be SO FUN. I mean, I can make pumpkin-shaped pumpkin scones for crying out loud.

Once scones are shaped, place 1″ apart on baking sheet in the freezer while oven preheats to 400°F. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until golden on top. Cool on wire rack.

In small bowl, add 1/4 cup powdered sugar to remaining 1/4 cup pomegranate syrup; whisk until blended. Add remaining powdered sugar to the mixture in 1/4 cup increments until it is all incorporated. If the glaze is thicker than you would prefer, add a tsp of water or vanilla to adjust consistency.

Dip scone tops in glaze and let set on wire rack. I tried artfully dripping more of the pomegranate syrup on the top of the set glaze, but it didn’t quite work out as planned visually. Tasted amazing, though ^^

IMG_2292 copy
Looks a little like blood, doesn’t it?
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Totally looks less like blood on close-up. 

After a long gap…. Pumpkin Espresso Bread

Holy buttons, it has been a good long while since my last post – about a month and a half. In my defense, life has been crazy around here: lots of working, a Halloween party,more working, helping people move. Lots and lots going on. Add to that the presence of a new kitten in our lives, and you get a LOT going on.

By the way, meet Trixie:

Trixie Hobbitses

She hasn’t quite moved in yet – she was rescued with her sister when they were about 4-5 weeks old, and we are keeping them together until they’re at least 8 weeks old to try to bypass more trauma. Her fully name is Archaeopteryx Pearl Hobbitses Wobblebottom. Pearl is her given name, but we deemed her much more of a Trixie due to her speedy-zoom nature (think Speed  Racer). She  is also known as Trixter, Trixie Hobbitses (say it aloud if you don’t get it), and Little Miss Wobblebottom. She is becoming much more coordinated, but sometimes when she walks around – especially after eating – she staggers around a bit like a drunk. It’s adorable.

As you can imagine, I am trying to spend as much time with her, as well as bringing her into the house to meet Ginger and get them acclimatized to each other, as I can before she fully moves in with us. Ginger is a bit reticent around other cats, and is very confused as to why this little whippersnapper keeps invading the house – but he’ll get used to it.

At any rate,  back to the baking! I haven’t been baking as much as I would want lately, as we have until the last couple of weeks been short-staffed, but I’m trying to get that to change. I haven’t made anything horrendously interesting that I haven’t posted before – mostly pumpkin scones, pumpkin coffee cake, and orange-cardamom sugar cookies. (Apparently I haven’t posted the cookies yet – must do because they’re pretty awesome.) I am baking the following recipe this morning, and it’s definitely worth sharing.

Pumpkin Espresso Bread

from A Pastry Affair

Bread
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp espresso powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt

Topping
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp espresso powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan or insert cupcake liners into pan.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together brown sugar, pumpkin, oil, milk, eggs and vanilla extract. Fold in the flour, baking soda, espresso powder, spices and salt. Spread batter evenly in loaf pan or spoon into muffin tin.

In a small bowl, mix together all topping ingredients. Sprinkle evenly over the batter.

Bake loaf for 50-60 minutes, or muffins for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before cutting and serving.

pumpkin espresso

Strawberry Scones

I always get strange looks from people when I tell them I love baked goods with blueberries, but I cannot eat them fresh. They just don’t taste like blueberries to me, for some reason. The best logic I can come up with for it is that from the baked goods flavor and texture, I guess I expected blueberries to be sort of larger individual blackberry ball-things – you know, just full of juicy goodness with a bit of pulp. I am also pretty sure I didn’t have fresh blueberries until I was around 20ish years old. I honestly can’t remember having them before then, and to me, fresh blueberries just taste sort of fruity-grassy green, not like baked blueberries at all. Perhaps my tastebuds will change, and eventually I will find them desirable. Perhaps. Eventually. Until then, Mikal can have all the fresh blueberries that I don’t make into jam (will be doing that soon :D).

Until I had these scones, I was kind of the opposite with strawberries – I could eat raw strawberries until the cows came home, but the thought of them cooked just turned me off. I mean, they get kinda slimy and they generally loose that tart goodness… It’s just not the same. I do make an exception for strawberry jam – it is cooked down, but it’s just a reduction of the amazing flavor of strawberries with the occasional chunk. Preserves are hit-or-miss for the same reason of slimyness. I have texture issues.

So when my grandmother made these for breakfast one day while I was visiting her a few months ago, I was slightly ambivalent. I think I was less ambivalent because I have never not liked something my grandma made, at least not in the baked goods department. I really can’t remember anything she made that I didn’t like; interesting. (It’s strange what you don’t realize until you turn your mind to it.) At any rate, I reserved judgment while she was making them, and once they started making amazing smells in the oven – I tell you, I was hooked. I love scones, and I love the smell of them baking, and the strawberries lent just a bit of sweet fruitiness to the smell….. Oh, yes. And once they got to the table I ate way too many, especially considering there were eggs and bacon and something else she had made along with the scones. I had to get the recipe from her afterward – for that and for her key-lime pie.

strawberry scones

Strawberry Scones

6 tbsp butter, chilled
2 cups flour
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup heavy cream + 2 tbsp
1/3 chopped fresh strawberries

Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Cut the butter into small pieces and return to refrigerator. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to combine. Add chilled butter and rub with your fingertips until butter is well distributed – it should look like coarse crumbs. Gently stir in the eggs and 1/3 cup heavy cream until the mixture forms a soft dough. Stir in the strawberries.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat into a 1″ thick shape. From there you can cut your own triangles or use cookie cutters to achieve the shapes you would like – just make sure to not overwork the dough when you’re gathering the scraps to pat it out once more.

Brush with the remaining heavy cream and dust with raw or granulated sugar, if desired. Bake until golden-brown, about 18-20 minutes. Serve warm. Eat one or two and then give the rest away so that you don’t eat the whole batch in one sitting. You’ll understand when you make them.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

When one makes it known that they like to bake or cook, it’s easy to get gifts for them – just go for an interesting-looking cookbook. I have been gifted all sorts of cookbooks over the last several years, to the point where I have a whole bookshelf dedicated to them:

cookbooks

The above does not include the large number of Sunset and BonAppetit magazines I have elsewhere. At some point, one kind of has too many cookbooks. I know that sounds blasphemous, but it’s kind of true. At one point when we got the Curries, Jewish, and Greek Cooking books, Mikal and I went through them and flagged the recipes that looked most enticing to us, with the intent of eventually making all of these items. I don’t know if we even got through a handful – it’s a lot of food! Lots of recipes! It’s a bit daunting. Imagining making even half of the items contained in that bookshelf…. I could easily have a few years’ worth of recipes on my hands.

You know, at this point that sounds a bit like a fun adventure, especially with the food we get from the CSA (community-sustained agriculture). I’ve actually been doing that a bit this week – we purchased a full share from the CSA for this quarter, and it’s just a ton of food, mostly vegetables. So Tuesday night I made a ratatouille variant (didn’t have eggplant, but had zucchini and yellow squash), and last night I made citrus chicken with herby-cheesish baked zucchini and tomatoes. It was kind of fun to do some random.

Speaking of zucchini – that’s a lot of what we have been getting lately in our share: giant zucchini. I love making zucchini bread. It’s so delicious and I can pretend it’s vaguely healthy. Even before using one giant one for the last two nights’ dinner, I grated down a couple more and came out with 9 cups of zucchini. That’s a lot of zucchini bread. Just saying.

As with banana bread, I have a zucchini bread recipe that works pretty well, and is pretty damn good, but I’m pretty sure it’s not amazing. I have personally gotten a bit tired of eating zucchini bread muffins over the last couple of weeks. This prompted me to start looking through my cookbooks, checking to see if there are any interesting other items out there I could try. I came across Chocolate and Zucchini, a book my grandparents got me a couple of years ago. I’m pretty sure I have tried one or two recipes from it at some point, but I had not been brave enough to attempt the recipe the book and blog were named for – chocolate zucchini cake. The author has a blurb about it and how she started making it, and as had happened when my mother first made zucchini bread, I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Even knowing that zucchini bread is awesome, and that you can’t really taste the zucchini, I just couldn’t reconcile the flavors of zucchini and chocolate.

Getting sick of a particular something does help bypass a lot of that feeling, though. So I took the plunge and made cupcakes rather than cake, and they were absolutely amazing. The zucchini traps in moisture, as it does with bread, and gives the cupcakes a richness that belies its decently moderate use of cocoa powder and chocolate. The moisture bit is particularly useful because of what is going on with my baked goods. You see, my office recently got some new furniture, including a beverage station. That in itself was pretty awesome (no more having to run to the kitchen in the back when guests want some coffee), but what made it just that much more awesome was that a tiered pastry dish was included. I don’t know if the powers that be that assembled the set for the office had me in mind at all, or even know that I bake, but I have taken over that pastry dish with a passion. I now bake goodies twice a week to ensure that it is adequately stocked.

IMG_1792

Those are the plain zucchini muffins. The moisture that the zucchini helps lock into the bread helps these puppies stay fresh over a few days so that I’m not making a batch every day. No, those biscotti aren’t mine – though eventually I’ll figure out better packaging and they will be.

I don’t have an image for the chocolate zucchini cupcakes, but I will undoubtedly make more. Nine cups of zucchini. Nine.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

from Chocolate and Zucchini

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, or 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp instant coffee granules
3 large eggs
2 cups unpeeled grated zucchini
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (or cut-up Dove dark chocolates)

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a muffin tin or line with paper baking cups.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. With a mixer or food processor, cream the butter and sugars. Add vanilla, coffee granules, and eggs, mixing well between each addition.

Reserve a cup of the flour mixture and add the rest to the egg mixture. Mix until just combined.

Add the chocolate chips to the reserved flour mixture and toss to coat, then do the same with the zucchini. Fold into the batter and blend with a wooden spoon – don’t overmix. Pour into the prepared pan and level the surfaces with a spatula.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the middle cupcakes comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool for 10 minutes, then fish the cupcakes out of the pan and let cool to room temperature before serving. At this point you can sprinkle the tops with confectioners’ sugar (very pretty), or glaze with melted chocolate.