Breads and Muffins

PW’s French Breakfast Puffs

This recipe was posted to Pioneer Woman back in December of 2007 and I knew from the ingredients alone that these had to be delicious.  And who can argue with bread dipped in butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar?  No one.  That’s who.  Here is the link to her post.  I really like her site and every recipe I’ve tried has been great.  If you don’t follow her blog already, then you should.

I don’t know why I haven’t tried these until now.  My mother-in-law made them a few weeks ago, and I was inspired to try them myself.  I made them in mini muffin cups instead of the regular size so that I would have more tasty treats.  I had leftover batter after filling the 24 cups, so I used a madeleine pan for the rest…they didn’t look that great t, but they tasted good.

Since I was using a smaller pan, I reduced the baking time to 15 minutes.  Other than that everything is the same as Pioneer Woman’s recipe.  Why mess with a good thing?  While these are a bit messy to prepare, they are worth it.  Any puffs left over can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for a few days.  They don’t taste quite as good as fresh, but they will still satisfy your sweet tooth.


Caramel Banana Oat Muffins

If you are anything like me, when you look in your freezer you might see about a dozen or so frozen black bananas.  When bananas go bad in my house I either make banana bread if I have the time, or I stick them in the freezer.  This pile of frozen bananas adds up quickly.  Before I made these muffins I had 16 frozen bananas!

I pulled out 3 bananas from my stash and made these muffins earlier this week.  The recipe is from  Here is the link.

To the original recipe I added a cup of caramel pieces and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.  I lowered the oven temperature from 400 F to 375 F.  My batch of muffin batter made more than enough for 12 muffins.  I was able to make an additional 8 mini muffins, so maybe 16 regular sized muffins total.  Everything else is just as it is in the original recipe.

The oats add a nice texture, and the caramel pieces bring in some extra delicious sweetness.  Some of the caramel pieces sunk to the bottom of the muffins, so some of them were hard to remove from the pan.  Be sure to grease your pan and paper well!  These muffins are OK at room temperature, but I recommend warming them in the microwave or toaster oven.

Caramel Banana Oat Muffins


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 1 cup caramel pieces


  1. Combine flour, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, soda, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the egg lightly. Stir in the milk, oil, and vanilla, then mix in the sugar.
  3. Add the mashed banana, and combine thoroughly. Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined.
  4. Fold in caramel pieces.
  5. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper bake cups, spray with cooking spray, and divide the batter among them.  You may have extra batter to make a few more muffins.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 18 to 20 minutes.

Grilled Pita Bread

Bread is not my forte.  I am scared of things that require proofing yeast and waiting for dough to double in size.  Because inevitably the yeast does not proof, and the dough does not double.  I know all the tricks to avoid such problems.  Make sure your yeast is active and not expired.  Make sure your water is between 110° and 115°F.  Make sure you let the dough rise in a relatively warm space.  Despite my efforts, I have failed more than once in the bread department and this makes attempting yet another bread both frightening and daunting.

With my past experiences, why would I subject myself to more bread baking?  Because grilled pita bread sounded way too delicious to pass up.  I am so very glad that I decided to make these.  Every other part of the meal was incredibly tasty, but these were my favorite part.  This may have been because I was a successful bread baker for one night, or they might have been that good.  The exterior is so crunchy and delicious.  The pita are pretty thick, so the interior is soft and fluffy.  These were a great complement to our dinner of grilled Thai chicken and roasted asparagus.  Of course this would be a perfect partner to a Greek meal of souvlaki and tabbouleh.

The dough is easy to put together in the stand mixer and rose well after the first hour.  It was a snap to roll out the individual pitas and let them rise for another 45 minutes.  I was a bit scared about them sticking to the grill, but the olive oil brushed onto the pitas helped with the sticking and hepled to achieve a nice crisp crust.  They only about 3 minutes on the first side and 2-3 on the other.  Check them so they don’t burn.  They are tastiest fresh from the grill, but can be reheated in a 350°F oven for a few minutes.

Grilled Pita Bread

Courtesy of Fine Cooking (slightly adapted)

  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; more as needed
  • 1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil; more for the bowl and for brushing pitas
  1. In a small bowl, mix the honey with 1/2 cup lukewarm water and stir in the yeast. Let sit until the yeast has started to foam, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Put both flours and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. With the mixer running on low speed, mix in the olive oil until fully incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add the yeast mixture and 1 cup lukewarm water and mix until fully incorporated, 2 to 3 minutes more. Raise the speed to medium and knead the dough until it comes away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball that is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky, 4 to 5 minutes. If the dough seems too wet, add more all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. at a time. Raise the speed to medium high and continue to knead for 5 minutes. Oil a medium bowl, transfer the dough to the bowl, and roll to coat it with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead two or three times to remove any air bubbles. Form into a log and divide it evenly into 10 pieces. Form each piece into a ball and then roll into disks about 1/4 inch thick and 6 inches in diameter. Lightly oil two rimmed baking sheets. Put the disks on the baking sheets, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until just doubled in thickness, 30 to 45 minutes.
  4. Heat a gas grill to medium high heat, and oil the grates.  Brush the pitas lightly with olive oil, and lay the pitas, oil side down on the grill.  Cook the pitas in batches on the grill until starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Brush with oil, then flip and continue cooking until lightly golden on the bottom and the pitas are cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack. If stuffing, cut the pitas in half and carefully separate the layers with a fork.

Cherry, Almond and Coconut Bread

A fellow 6th grade math teacher gave me a bag of Amish friendship bread starter about a 6 weeks ago and I have been going strong giving away starter and baking bread every ten days since then.  The problem now is that I’m running out of friends to give it to!  Nothing like realizing you only have 12 friends to really boost the self esteem.  Sad day.  Anyone in Amarillo need some starter?  Let me know.  I will even drive it to your house.  There is one caveat, you have to then become my friend…

I’ve tried a few variations on the basic cinnamon bread.

  1. butterscotch pudding with toffee bits
  2. butterscotch pudding with toffee bits and vanilla chips
  3. vanilla pudding with pecans
  4. chocolate pudding with white chocolate chips

These cookies I made last week inspired my latest bread experiment.  Seeing as how I had dried cherries, almonds and coconut on hand it only seemed natural to give these ingredients a chance in the bread.  I made one loaf plain with vanilla pudding and cinnamon, and to the remaining batter I added the cherries, almonds and coconut; about a handful of each.  What am I doing?  No measuring?  I think I’m turning in to Rachel Ray!  Before you know it I am going to be writing EVOO in my posts and giving all my posts super cutesy names!  OK, OK.  I will not turn in to Rachel Ray.  I will tell you that the amounts were about 3/4 cup each.  Give or take…

If you have friendship bread starter, then just add 3/4 cup each cherries, sliced almonds and sweetened shredded coconut.  If you do NOT have starter, then you can try to make your own using the following recipe from  After you make the starter you can make the bread!  The recipe I have been using is at the bottom of this post.  One of the best parts about this bread is the cinnamon sugar coated pans.  It gives such a wonderful, crunchy exterior.  I used some Sugar in the Raw on top of my loaves and it was incredibly good.  Perfect crunchy sweetness.


Cinnamon Sugar Cake Donuts

There are times in my life, for reasons unknown, that I just crave something.  There isn’t always a good or rational reason for the craving.  It just happens.  Last weekend I was craving cake donuts.  I was really craving blueberry cake donuts from Lone Star Bakery in Round Rock, Texas.  But seeing as how I live about 500 miles from there now I would have to settle for these homemade donuts.  Maybe settle is not the right word.  To “settle” implies that I was accepting something less.  These were no bakery donut, but I would not classify them in the “settling” category.  These were some yummy donuts.

I found these donuts to be very simple and delicious.  The texture was delicate and sweet.  I liked the coating of cinnamon sugar and the contrast of soft donut to crunchy sugar.  The slight nutmeg flavor is perfect.

This recipe is from and I followed it word for word.  Well, I guess I refrigerated the dough for more than an hour.  It was more like 2 hours.  But I don’t consider that a modification.  I consider it more like bad planning.  With the good results I got with the increased chilling, you could probably make the dough the night before and use it in the morning.  I love things you can make ahead of time.

Cinnamon Sugar Cake Donuts
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¼ cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 quarts oil for deep frying
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup white sugar
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder, salt, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and nutmeg.
  2. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg, butter, and vanilla. Mix until well blended. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  3. Heat oil in a deep heavy skillet or deep-fryer to 370 degrees F (185 degrees C).
  4. On a floured board, roll chilled dough out to ½  inch thickness. Use a 3 inch round cutter to cut out doughnuts. Use a smaller cutter to cut holes from center.
  5. Fry doughnuts in hot oil until golden brown, turning once. Remove from oil to drain on paper plates.
  6. Combine the remaining ½ teaspoon cinnamon and ½ cup sugar in a large re-sealable bag. Place a few warm donuts into the bag at a time, seal and shake to coat.  Enjoy with a nice cup of coffee.

My Favorite Banana Bread Part II: Hawaiian Banana Bread

Banana Bread Part I was posted almost 8 months ago.  I get these ideas in my head about how I’ll post a series of recipes in a row devoted to one thing or another.  I get very excited about it, but after my first post in a series…I usually fail to continue.  This was the case with the banana bread and with my Seinfeld recipes.  I did succeed in a series of pumpkin recipes and a rolled food series.  OK, so I guess I’m 2-2 in my attempts at a series of posts.  This (if I can get one more banana bread recipe completed) will make my record 3-2!  Not too bad.

There is a freezer bag with 18 bananas in my freezer.  I was about to place 6 more soft, blackened beauties in there today when I thought, “This is silly.  Why don’t I just bake some crazy delicious banana bread?”  My favorite banana bread has coconut and pecans.  It is so very decadent.  Almost dessert like.  You should definitely try it.  Seriously.

This banana bread also contains coconut, but with the addition of buttery macadamia nuts and sweet pineapple this banana bread becomes…Hawaiian banana bread!  I love the way that it has made my house smell during its hour long baking time.  I adapted a recipe from to create this bread.  The amounts of the ingredients are the same, I just made some substitutions: walnuts replaced by macadamias, a cup of all purpose flour traded in for a cup of whole wheat, and I added a cup of shredded coconut.

I love banana bread sliced and eaten plain, but banana bread sliced, buttered and broiled is tremendously delicious.  The contrast of the crunchy top and soft interior is lovely.  Try it both ways and let me know what you think.

I found a great way to mash my bananas when I made this bread.  Turns out that a potato masher is a great way to mash your bananas to a perfect smooth consistency.  I love finding new ways to use things in my kitchen!

The combination of flavors in this bread is great.  Sweet pineapple, mellow coconut, buttery macadamias all mixing with delicious banana.  Feel free to change the macadamias to any nut you like, but I think they make this bread a bit different than other banana breads.

Hawaiian Banana Bread

Adapted from

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts – chopped
  • 3 eggs – beaten
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups mashed bananas – (about 5)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 can crushed pineapple – (8 oz)—drained
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients and pineapple; mix well.
  3. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in macadamias and coconut.
  4. Spoon batter into 2 greased and sugared 8×4″ loaf pans.
  5. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees F. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pans.

Candied Ginger Scones

These are lovely and delicious.  Fresh flavors with just enough sweetness.  Fall apart goodness with pieces of spicy, sweet ginger.

I found the recipe on Epicurious.  It is a basic scone recipe consisting of simple and pure ingredients: chilled butter, flour, cream, salt, sugar and baking powder.  They stray from the basic scone with the addition of lemon zest and chopped candied ginger.  The only problem I had with these was that the dough seemed a little too crumbly, so I added a bit more cream.  Be careful not to over-mix the dough, or the scones will end up a little tough.  Other than that, this is an easy recipe that produces great results.


Candied Ginger Scones

(courtesy of

  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest (about 1/2 lemon)
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
  • 4 1/2 ounces candied ginger, finely chopped into 1/4-inch pieces to equal 2/3 cup
  • ¾ – 1 cup heavy cream, plus extra for brushing the tops of the scones
  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder, and pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the lemon zest and butter, and pulse on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is pale yellow and the consistency of fine meal.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the ginger. Make a well in the center and pour in the cream. Using one hand, draw in the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  4. Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead a few times to gather it into a ball. Roll or pat the dough into a circle about 3/4 inch thick. Cut out the circles, cutting as closely together as possible and keeping the trimmings intact.
  5. Gather the scraps, pat and press the pieces back together, and cut out the remaining dough. Place the scones 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Brush the tops with the remaining cream.
  7. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, until the surface cracks and they are slightly browned.

Monster Zucchini Part I: Zucchini Bread

Last week I was greeted at 8am with a bag of fresh vegetables from one of my co-workers.  There were beautiful red cherry tomatoes, a couple of bright green jalapeños and the biggest zucchini I had ever seen!  My first thought was zucchini bread.  I love how moist and wonderful zucchini bread is, and I like that it has vegetables in it…even if none of the original nutritional value remains after it’s been mixed with sugar, oil and eggs.


Back to the huge zucchini.  I really wish I’d weighed this monster before using it yesterday.  Just use this picture as proof…it was a big vegetable.



Almond Butterscotch Friendship Bread

friendshipbread2My friendship bread starter made it to day 10, and it was ready to be transformed into two delicious loaves of bread.  I loyally stirred and added flour, sugar and milk every day I was supposed to.  I was pretty excited about it this evening.  It was a long day at school…I got there at 7:30 am and did not come home from school until 7:00 pm.  After I got home, Ben and I went to dinner with a friend of his who’s staying with us tonight to break up his car trip from Colorado to Waco.  We got home from dinner at 9.  The excitement of the bread had subsided a bit yielding to the excitement of sitting on the couch and not doing a thing.  I forced myself to go into the kitchen and just get it done.


First Days and the Start of a Beautiful Friendship…Bread

My Amish Friendship Bread on Foodista

I survived my first 2 days with 6th graders.  I realized that I’ve kinda missed teaching.  I didn’t miss staying at school for 11 hours, getting home after 6pm, sitting down and realizing just how exhausting it can be to be on your feet all day, well, except for a 25 minute lunch.  That’s right 25 minutes.  All of you office people out there who enjoy hour lunch breaks where you get to eat at a real restaurant with waiters and such should be thankful.  And on those days where you have to have a quick lunch, think of the teachers out there who don’t ever get to leave the building they work in for lunch.

Sorry!  I forgot this wasn’t about self pity,  but about Amish Friendship Bread.  I wish I knew these kids…they look so very friendly.


Photo courtesy of