Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

Bake 52 Week 38: Make Ahead French Toast

September 19, 2012

On paper, this recipe looked pretty good, especially since I love French toast.  But like our host, Valerie, I anticipated a more traditional French toast as the end product.  As soon as I started scooping it out to put on plates, I knew there was no way on this green earth that I would be putting any of this casserole in my mouth.  It smelled good, but the soggy texture made my stomach turn.  Joseph grew up eating bread and milk and the kids love it too.  The thought of eating soggy bread makes me want to gag.  I had hoped that the kids’ affinity for bread and milk would influence their response to this casserole, but unfortunately, it didn’t.  None of them liked it, and I was just glad that the school serves breakfast in the classroom each morning, so I knew that they wouldn’t starve.  I tried to bribe them to finish eating by saying that they could ride their scooters to school–which is a big deal for my kids–and they still didn’t finish.

I had high hopes for this recipe, and I’m sad that it didn’t meet my expectations.  If it sounds like something you’d like to try, head on over to Valerie’s blog for the recipe.



Bake 52 Week 31: Monkey Bread

August 1, 2012

To start off, I have to apologize for the near-repeat recipe this week. When the current round of recipe dates were posted, and I saw that my date fell right within the time range that I was expecting to have a baby, I picked my recipe early and got it made so that my post would be ready to go regardless of whether I was still pregnant or not (still here, btw…any day now!). Then, a couple of weeks later, Valerie chose cinnamon rolls for her recipe, which fell two weeks before me….and happened to use the same basic sweet dough recipe that the monkey bread does. Under normal circumstances, I would have just nixed the monkey bread and chosen something different. But, since my baking and post-writing was already done–and because I was busy trying to bake ahead as many recipes as I could in anticipation of my maternity leave–I decided that we’d just have to roll with it and perfect that basic sweet dough recipe!

I chose monkey bread mainly because it’s something that I’ve heard people talk about, but I’ve never had it before and really didn’t know exactly what it was….and it uses a Bundt pan, which is something I’ve wanted to own, but never had a good enough reason to buy.  Monkey bread was the perfect excuse for me to go out and buy one!

The base recipe for this monkey bread is the basic sweet dough.  It had a slightly different texture–heavier, I guess–than the dough I’m used to working with, but I was really impressed with the end result.  It’s easy to whip up and work with and baked up nice and light and fluffy.  You start with a buttermilk/butter/egg mixture that is slowly added to the dry ingredients as they mix.  I failed to read that the buttermilk should be warm, and I worried that maybe my dough wouldn’t rise well since I added it cold.  It did take a bit longer to rise, but I didn’t ruin the entire thing, thankfully!

After rising for a couple of hours, it’s time to assemble the cinnamon balls. My balls were pretty scary looking and the sizes were anything but uniform!

The recipe suggested covering the balls with plastic wrap and just pulling out a few pieces at a time to work with.  I thought that would be a waste of plastic wrap, so I just worked fast.  I left my cinnamon mixture in the bowl I mixed it in, rather than spreading it on a baking sheet….it worked just fine and saved a dish needing to be washed.

After everything is covered in butter and cinnamon/sugar, it’s left to rise again.  Easy as pie!

Once the balls have doubled in size, it’s time to bake.  After baking, you leave it to cool in the pan for just a few minutes and then dump it out.  I was a little worried that maybe I had messed something up and the balls would all fall apart when I pulled the pan off, but they had baked together nicely and looked really pretty.  I drizzled the glaze and let them sit for just a bit before digging in….and boy was that first bite heavenly!  Monkey bread should definitely be eaten warm!  The balls pulled apart easily and were the perfect size to be satisfying….for a few minutes at least, and then you needed another!

We really enjoyed this recipe.  I’m glad that the basic sweet dough is so easy to make….I’ll definitely use it again, and monkey bread will be on the list of make-again recipes for our family.

Monkey Bread

Make sure to use light brown sugar here; dark brown sugar has a stronger molasses flavor that can be overwhelming. After baking don’t let the bread cool in the pan for more than 5 minutes or it will stock to the pan and come out in pieces.


1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 recipe Basic Sweet Dough (see below)
8 TB unsalted butter, melted


1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 TB milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. FOR THE BREAD: Grease a 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan. Toss the brown sugar with the cinnamon, and then spread out over a rimmed baking sheet.

2. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter, divide it into 36 even pieces, and cover with greased plastic wrap. Working with several pieces of dough at a time (keeping the other pieces covered), round the dough into tight balls. Following the photo, roll the balls in the melted butter, followed by the cinnamon sugar, and arrange evenly in the prepared pan.

Sprinkle any remaining butter and cinnamon sugar over the top. Wrap the pan tightly in plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

4. Adjust an over rack tot he middle position and heat the over to 350°. Bake the monkey bread until the top is deep brown and the caramel begins to bubble around the edges, 30-40 minutes, rotating halfway through baking.

5. FOR THE GLAZE: Col. the monkey bread in the pan for 5 minutes, then gently turn out onto the platter and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla together in a small bowl until smooth, then drizzle it over the bread and serve warm.

In step 3, do no let the monkey bread rise, but refrigerate it overnight or up to 16 hours. Let the bread sit at room temperature until it has nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour, then bake as directed.

Basic Sweet Dough

This versatile dough is used to make Monkey Bread, Cinnamon Rolls, and Sticky Buns.

3/4 cup buttermilk, warm (110°)
6 TB unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt

1. Whisk the buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs together in a large liquid measuring cup. Combine 4 cups of the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt together in a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes.

2. Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If after 5 minutes more flour is needed, add the remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 TB at a time, until the dough clears the side of the bowl but sticks to the bottom.

3. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.


Bake 52 Week 29: Cinnamon Rolls

July 18, 2012

This was a yummy week.  While I never crave things like cake, or cookies, or pie, I do loooove bread-based baked goods.  I have yet to come across the perfect cinnamon roll recipe, but this one was close.  They were yummy!

A fun addition to the cinnamon/sugar mixture was cloves.  At first, I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about that.  The rolls smelled so different from traditional cinnamon rolls while they were baking and every so often I’d get a whiff of the cloves and realize that was the difference.  I was pleasantly surprised when I ate one though…the cloves were subtle, but just there enough to add a little extra punch to the flavor.  I’m not sure I’d add them every time, but it was a nice deviation from the norm.

I’ve grown tired of the amount of butter that all this baking we’ve been doing has used, so I decided to skip brushing the dough with butter before sprinkling the sugar on it….instead, I used the technique we learned with the cinnamon loaf and just sprayed it with water.

My roll turned out a little longer than the 18″ the recipe called for, and I wondered if I had maybe not made it fat enough when I wound up with three extra rolls and they still didn’t fill the pan.  They looked much better after rising, but there was still space to spare in the pan. And maybe it’s because I don’t have any good, sharp knives in my kitchen, but I don’t know why anybody would want to slice the rolls with a knife when we all know that using dental floss is such a slick little trick for slicing cinnamon rolls (we all know that, right?).

I know Amanda will probably drive all the way from California to throw tomatoes at me when I say this, but I REALLY don’t like cream cheese.  Nothing ruins frosting for me like cream cheese, and since the glaze for these cinnamon rolls called for cream cheese, I opted to use a different glaze recipe.  The end result was delicious and we all enjoyed a roll (or two) after lunch.

The recipe says to dump the rolls out of the pan to cool before adding the glaze. Unless I were going to serve these right away to enough people to eat them quickly, I’d leave them in the pan. We found that they dried out pretty fast just sitting on a cooling rack.

Valerie was this week’s host….check out her blog for this great recipe!


Bake 52 Week 18: Classic Pancakes & Flavored Maple Syrup

May 2, 2012

This was a fun week and one that I’ve looked forward to as soon as I saw it posted as Jesse’s choice.  It was a nice break from all of the sweet stuff we’ve been making, and it’s always nice when a week of baking can knock out a meal as well!

I decided to whip these babies up on a whim one night for dinner.  As is proving to be the case for me on a weekly basis, I got started without having fully read the recipe and I was already combining ingredients when I realized that I needed buttermilk.  I had no buttermilk.  Thankfully, the cookbook included a cheat for souring milk to use in place of actual buttermilk, and it worked quite well.  However, I did buy some powdered buttermilk at the store the next week so that I don’t run into this problem again!

These lived up to their name, Classic Pancakes.  There was nothing special or out-of-this-world about them….they were just an overall, good pancake.  I subsituted 1 cup of the flour for whole wheat flour to up the nutritional content some.

What turned out to be our favorite part of the meal was the flavored maple syrup we made to go along with the pancakes.  The cookbook offered several options and the kids chose blueberry.  It was pretty easy to make and YUMMY!  Doing it again, I’d probably strain the skins out, but nobody complained about having them on their pancakes, which surprised me.

While we still love our fall-back, whole wheat pancake recipe, these classic pancakes will likely be going into the breakfast rotation occasionally…and the blueberry maple sryup will definitely become a staple at our house!

For the Classic Pancake recipe, visit Jesse’s blog!

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French Breakfast Muffins

November 17, 2011

Do you ever have breakfast for dinner?  We do, and we love it!  There’s nothing like being in a what-to-cook-for-dinner slump and having the thought to just whip up some breakfast.  Our meal on this night was nothing particularly fancy: scrambled eggs (yes, I like them brown), YUMMY bacon from Christiansen Family Farms, and even YUMMIER French breakfast muffins.  I know they don’t look special, but trust me….they are!

Really, anything topped with cinnamon and sugar will make a meal better!  Here’s the recipe:

Muffin Ingredients

2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 large egg
1 cup plus 2 TB milk
6 TB unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

Cinnamon-Sugar Topping

2 TB unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

  1.  Heat oven to 375°.  Butter the cups of a 12-cup muffin pan and set aside.
  2. Measure and whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg into a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg until it’s frothy.  Blend in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid mixture.  Using a wooden spoon, mix the batter until it’s evenly blended.  Then spoon it into the muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full.
  5. Bake the muffins on the center rack for about 20 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a rack and let it cool for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the topping by stirring the sugar and the cinnamon together in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, melt the butter.  Set both bowls next to the muffins.
  7. Working with one muffin at a time, quickly dip the tops on the melted butter, and then in the cinnamon sugar, rolling each one to cover the entire muffin top.  Makes 12 muffins.