Pumpkin Bread and Tasty Tufts

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Some of you may already know this, but this semester in addition to posting on Kinsey Cooks I’ll be contributing to the Tufts food blog, Tasty Tufts. It’s a great website full of Boston and Somerville restaurant reviews, recipes, and thoughts on eating in college. My first post (which you can find by clicking here) is the recipe for my favorite pumpkin bread, and more posts will be coming from me this semester. Anytime I have a post on Tasty Tufts, I’ll post the link here on Kinsey Cooks so that you can stay up to date with the Tufts food scene.

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Whole-Wheat Ricotta Pancakes


Our family has made a lot of pancakes over the years, starting when I was just a toddler and eating silver-dollar sized pancakes, then making our way through numerous mornings of Aunt Jemima on camping trips and lazy weekend mornings. There have been blueberry pancakes with my grandmother and pumpkin pancakes with my aunt and cousin who even at four years old could impressively whip egg whites. Those seventeen-odd years of pancake eating have led me to think that they only way to fluffy, airy pancakes was a bowl of egg whites, whipped to stiff peaks that were carefully folded into the pancake batter.


Then, the other day I had a tub of ricotta that needed to be used, because, like other ingredients such as crème fraiche and tomato paste that come in inappropriately sized containers that fail to match the volume specified for in recipes, its end was drawing near. Anyways, I whipped up a batch of ricotta pancakes, and once I subjected my brother to this ten-pancake monstrosity I realized I had found the answer to fluffy pancakes without the annoyance of whipping egg whites. A half cup of ricotta in a batch of pancakes creates an impressive lift that stays with the pancakes until serving time and as a bonus makes for tender pancakes that yield easily under the light pressure of a fork. There’s no meticulously cleaning your metal bowl, separating your eggs, and spending five minutes fatiguing your triceps. Just a few dollops of ricotta into the wet ingredients and you’ll have fluffy pancakes that would impress any short-order diner cook.


Whole Wheat Ricotta Pancakes

Serves 4

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup whole-wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon table salt

2 eggs

½ cup whole milk ricotta

¾ cup water

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Vegetable oil, for cooking

Butter and maple syrup, for serving

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In another medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, ricotta, water, sugar, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and gently whisk to combine. Do not over-mix. Add the butter and stir to combine.
  3. Preheat a non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat, then lightly brush with vegetable oil. Using a ¼ cup scoop, dollop portions of the batter onto the griddle and use the back of the scoop to spread the batter into a pancake-sized circle. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm while you cook the remainder of the pancakes. Serve warm with butter and maple syrup.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Cannellini Bean Pot Pie

I’m not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed about how thoroughly I have watched The Office. Our family has watched every episode at least once (the good ones upwards of 2-3 times) and all it takes is one four beat measure of the theme song to be heard before Aidan and I run into the living room because our unspoken rule is “leave no episode unwatched.” One of my favorite episodes is the one where Michael microwaves and eats an entire family sized frozen chicken pot pie at the office and them promptly falls into a deep food coma-induced nap. The rest of the office workers—namely Jim and Pam—then run around changing all the clocks to read five in the evening before Michael wakes up and announces the work day is over.

Every time I see a reference to a pot pie, I think of that episode. Pot pie has never really been a huge draw for me because it’s almost never vegetarian, and the filling is often deadened by a creamy sauce that does nothing to marry the flavors of the various vegetables and herbs. Then I developed a recipe for perfectly creamy cannellini beans with just the right amount of garlic and rosemary and knew that they were just begging to be combined with a quick sauté of shallots and mushrooms that would support a tender whole-wheat and chive biscuit topping. It’s nothing like the sodium-laden monstrosity that sent Michael Scott into a stupor, but I can guarantee that though it’s tastier and lighter, this pot pie is still a hearty and comforting meal.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a few episodes of The Office to watch.

Cannellini Bean Pot Pie

Serves 4

Filling:

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 shallot, minced

2 carrots, diced

8 oz. button mushrooms, slices

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups rosemary cannellini beans

1/2 cup water

Biscuits:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon table salt

2 teaspoons thinly sliced fresh chives

3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

1. Prepare the filling: Heat the olive oil in a 10 inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. If you do not have a 10-inch cast iron skillet see the note below for a substitution. Once the oil is hot, sauté the shallot for 2 minutes, until translucent. Add the carrots, mushrooms, and salt, and sauté until the mushrooms are golden brown, 8-10 minutes. Set aside while you prepare the biscuits.

2. Prepare the biscuits: Preheat the oven to 450F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chives. Add the butter and work the butter into the flour with your hands until the butter is the size of small peas. Pour in the buttermilk and fold gently with a rubber spatula until a cohesive dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into an 8-inch round, then cut the round into 8 even triangles by cutting into quarters, then eighths. Place the biscuits on top of the filling in the skillet, leaving a little room between the biscuits to allow for rising. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the beaten egg, then place in the preheat oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven, portion into individual serving bowls, and serve.

Note: If you do not have a 10-inch cast iron, prepare the filling in a skillet, then transfer it to either a 9 inch pie plate or an 8 x 8 inch baking pan, then top with the biscuit dough as directed in step 2, then bake.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

No-Knead Walnut Bread

A few years ago, Jim Lahey revolutionized the bread-baking world with his recipe for no-knead bread–a bread that can be made with very little effort (and no kneading) and produces bakery quality loaves in a home oven. Any recipe for yeast bread utilizes gluten development to create a chewy and well-risen loaf of bread, but most bread recipes encourage gluten development with thorough kneading. Jim Lahey’s method, however, uses a very long rising period so that the gluten slowly develops in the bread dough. This long and slow rise uses a minute amount of yeast, and allows for lots of flavor development without an overwhelming yeasty flavor.

Once the dough has risen slowly overnight, it gets shaped before rising a second time to prepare it for the hot oven temperatures. The baking process is what sets this bread apart from all over homemade bread recipes. The loaf is baked inside of a Dutch oven so that the baking environment mimics a well-insulated brick bakery oven. The bread comes out of the oven a rich golden brown color with a crust that crackles when gently squeezed.

This variation has a nice crunch from the addition of toasted walnuts and is very similar to Acme Bakery’s Whole Wheat Walnut Bread that is sold nearly everywhere in the Bay Area. It’s the perfect accompaniment for hearty soups and stews, but it’s also excellent for breakfast or snack once toasted with some butter and jam or ricotta and honey. The whole process is rewarding, not demanding, and makes baking bread a straightforward and simple project.

No Knead Walnut Bread

Make 1 loaf

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole-wheat flour

1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten (optional)

1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast

1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

1 1/2 cups room temperature water

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, whole wheat flour, wheat gluten, yeast, walnuts, and table salt. Pour in the water and stir with a spatula until a shaggy mass forms. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature for 12-18 hours.
  2. 2. Once the dough has sat out, turn it onto a work surface and knead a few times to shape into a taught round ball. Place on a sheet of greased foil or parchment paper, cover, and let rise at room temperature for 1 1/2-2 hours, until doubled in size.
  3. Once the dough has risen, make a few 1/2 inch deep slashes on the surface of the loaf with a sharp knife. Place the loaf, with the foil or parchment, in a large (at least 6 quart) Dutch oven, and cover with the lid. Place the Dutch oven in a cold oven, then preheat to 425. Once the oven temperature has reached 425F, bake for 30 minutes, covered, then remove the cover and bake for 20-25 minutes uncovered until deep golden brown. Remove from the oven at let cool for at least 45 minutes before slicing and serving.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Banana Bread


On New Year’s Eve, I realized that we had 14 ripe bananas in the freezer. The collection had been growing for weeks, amassing silently next to the unsalted butter and frozen peas, until one could longer open the freezer before being pelted with ice-cold, thoroughly blackened bananas. I guess I deserved it—I never eat bananas plain, so once they begin to turn spotty brown, I throw them in the freezer and forget about them, much like I do for any other kitchen item that I am at a loss as to what to do about it.

After picking up the half-dozen bananas that came crashing down on me that day, I decided that I could not enter 2014 with 14 bananas hanging over my conscience. Fortunately, frozen, nearly black bananas are the perfect ingredient for my usual banana bread recipe that I have been using for the past four years. This made nearly five batches of banana bread, but luckily I have a willing brother who has stepped up to the challenge and eaten nearly half a loaf every day this year so far.

Peeling bananas while frozen may make my hands feel like I have the beginning signs of frostbite, but it is a crucial step in the recipe. Once mashed, frozen bananas produce a creamy puree of bananas, so that the finished loaf of banana bread is sweet and moist, without recognizable pieces of banana co-mingling with the chocolate chips. The chocolate chips are not optional; no banana bread is complete without them especially if, like me, you can’t stand bananas without them.

Unlike most coffee-shop banana breads, this recipe is a wholesome baked good, not something resembling a pound cake or cupcake. The recipe is full of whole-wheat flour, flaxseed, and yogurt, so that a few toasted slices of this banana bread spread with almond butter and honey is an excellent breakfast or afternoon snack. With banana bread this good, I may keep stockpiling frozen bananas, just hopefully not 14 at a time.


Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf

3 very ripe frozen bananas, peeled

2 tablespoons ground flax

¼ cup water

¼ cup milk

¼ cup non-fat Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vital wheat gluten (optional, but increases the height of the loaf)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 ½ cups whole-wheat flour

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with a strip of parchment, then grease the parchment and exposed inner sides.
  2. Place the bananas in a large bowl and mash thoroughly. Add the flax, water, milk, yogurt, vanilla, and sugar, and mix until well combined. Add the salt, wheat gluten, baking soda, baking powder, and flour and fold gently until almost combined. Add the chocolate chips and fold until well combined and no flour streaks remain. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top into an even layer. Bake in the preheat oven for 55-65 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Note: If you would like to convert this recipe into muffins. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan instead of the loaf pan, then bake the muffins for 18-25 minutes, until the tops spring back when lightly pressed.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Cranberry Swirl Muffins

There are two types of people in this world: those that like their Thanksgiving leftovers to resemble their Thanksgiving meal and those that want their leftovers reimagined. I fall into the latter camp—except for pie of course, I would eat Thanksgiving pie year-round if it was seasonally appropriate.

In past years, I’ve made Thanksgiving leftovers into mashed potato croquettes, roasted squash soup, and orzo with vegetables, but until this year I haven’t done anything with leftover cranberry sauce. As it turns out, cranberry sauce is perfect for swirling into small, tender muffins to enjoy for breakfasts and snacks in the week after Thanksgiving.

With whole-wheat flour, applesauce, and a minimal amount of sugar, these muffins are a nice counter-balance to the indulgence of Thanksgiving, leaving you with more room for leftover pie tonight.

Cranberry Swirl Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

1 cup whole-wheat flour

½ cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

¼ teaspoon table salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1 cup almond milk

1/3 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup leftover cranberry sauce (no leftovers? Use the recipe below)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease 12 muffin cups
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, flaxseed, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In another bowl, whisk together the applesauce, almond milk, and brown sugar. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold gently until just combined with a rubber spatula. Divide the muffin batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, then top each muffin with a spoonful of cranberry sauce. Using a butter knife or a chopstick, lightly swirl the cranberry sauce into the muffin batter. Bake the muffins in the preheated oven for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then remove and let cool on a wire rack.

Cranberry Sauce

Makes about 1 ½ cups

6 oz. fresh cranberries

2 teaspoons orange zest

¼ cup orange juice

¼ cup water

2-3 tablespoons sugar (according to taste preferences)

Pinch of salt

  1. In a skillet over medium heat, combine all of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the cranberries have popped and the mixture is a cohesive sauce. Pour into a jar to cool, then use in Cranberry Swirl Muffins.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

And for those of you that would like a laugh, here is my failed attempt at buckwheat cranberry swirl muffins. I’ll definitely need to do some more research to get buckwheat to cooperate with me. My brother was genuinely concerned when he saw them on the counter, but like any loyal taste-tester, offered to suffer through a dozen under-baked and gooey yet over-browned and dry muffins to prevent food from going to waste. Thankfully, my second attempt at cranberry swirl muffins was much more successful.

Whole Wheat Seeded Boule


This is not the loaf of bread to make when you want an airy slice of white bread. This is the loaf of bread to make when you want a hearty slice of bread full of flavorful seeds with a dense and chewy texture. The crust is just crisp enough to crackle upon touching—does anyone remember that scene it Ratatouille?—but not so crisp as to cut the roof of your mouth.

The dough starts out with a simple sponge of flour, water, and yeast that sits overnight until foamy and risen, which adds another dimension of flavor and makes the bread taste like it came from a professional bakery. Some whole wheat flour, honey, quinoa, flaxseeds, and sunflower seeds make up the rest of the dough, adding a unique texture to the loaf.


After the typical rising, shaping the dough into boules, and proofing, the boule is slashed on top with a sharp knife so that you can decide in which particular places the crust should expand while baking—a control freak’s dream.


To get the rustic appearance and crust, the boules bake on a preheated baking stone in a very hot oven with a pan of water beneath them to add some moisture to the baking environment. After half an hour or so, two gorgeous loaves will appear from your oven.

Once you suffer through an agonizing hour of waiting for the boules to cool before slicing, it’s really up to you how you serve them. We had them for dinner alongside a cheese and dried fruit plate with salad and a polenta tart, but this bread also forms the basis of my new favorite snack.


Toast a slice or two of this bread and top it with ripe avocado slices and a sprinkle of smoked salt. The mild, creamy taste of the avocados complement the crunchy seeds of the bread, and the smoked salt adds the perfect level of savory flavor to the toast. It’s an incredibly healthful snack that is both simple and filling. Served alongside a crisp green salad, it makes for a perfect lunch, while on its own is an afternoon snack to look forward to at the end of the day.


Whole Wheat Seeded Boule

Adapted from Flour’s recipe for Multigrain Sourdough

Sponge

1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup whole wheat flour

¼ teaspoon active dry yeast

¾ cup water

Dough

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

1 ½ cups water

3 tablespoons honey

½ teaspoon active dry yeast

2 ½ teaspoons table salt

1 tablespoon white vinegar

5 tablespoons ground flaxseed

¼ cup sunflower seeds

1/3 cup quinoa, rinsed

  1. For the sponge: Combine all the sponge ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until a sticky dough forms. Cover with plastic wrap and let set at room temperature for 8-16 hours.
  2. For the dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, and the water and mix on low speed until a dry, shaggy dough forms, 2-3 minutes. Turn off the mixer and let sit for 10 minutes so the dough can absorb the water and become more hydrated.
  3. Add the sponge, honey, and yeast to the dough and turn the mixer to medium speed, letting the ingredients become well incorporated, 3-4 minutes. Add the salt and vinegar and knead for 3-4 more minutes, until the dough is smooth and cohesive. Add the flaxseed, sunflower seeds, and quinoa, and knead on medium speed until the seeds are well incorporated, 3-4 minutes. Turn off the mixer, remove the dough from the dough hook, and let it fall back into the bowl. Cover the dough with a clean dishtowel and place it in a warm spot to rise for 2-3 hours—a turned off oven with the light on works well. The dough will not quite double in size, but it will have risen noticeably.
  4. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Take each half and form it into a round ball by tucking the edges underneath while moving it in a circular motion with your hands on the countertop. When the dough rounds have a taught surface, place them each on its own piece of parchment, about 8 ½ by 11 inches. Place the parchments on an inverted baking sheet, cover the dough rounds with a clean dishtowel and let rise for 2 hours, until relaxed and slightly puffy. 30 minutes before baking, place a baking stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
  5. When the dough is ready to bake, place a rimmed baking sheet in the bottom of the oven and have a pitcher of water nearby. Slash the dough rounds by creating 4 perpendicular lines in the center of each loach with a sharp knife, as seen in the pictures above. Gently slide the dough rounds onto the baking stone, fill the bottom baking sheet with water from the pitcher, and quickly close the oven dough. Bake the rounds for 28-32 minutes, until deep golden brown. Remove from the oven, discard the parchment, and let cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Indian Vegetable Curry

As someone who cooks and reads for pleasure, it’s not uncommon for a book to inspire a meal or recipe. Anything written by Jumpa Lahiri is no exception. I recently finished her collection of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth, and and enjoyed it just as much, if not more, than The Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies. Her writing is formulaic to a certain degree; her works often involve Bengali immigrants in the Cambridge area adjusting to life in America while dealing with loss or heartache. The stories are predictable, but the characterization and attention to detail is what draws me in every time. What I find incredible is her focus on food—what role it plays in the family dynamic as well as the long hours the women spend preparing and serving the food. The food shows a subtle transition to a Western lifestyle, a theme seen in all of her works, whether it’s the parents switching to coffee in the mornings, or the children ordering a pizza when the parents are out.



Without fail, reading one of Lahiri’s books sends me straight to the spice cabinet, ready to make a pot of daal or one of my favorite curries. Admittedly, this is not a curry that would impress any of the characters in her books—the curry powder is a pre-mixed commercial blend, and it’s ready in under an hour—but the complexity of flavors and textures makes this one of my favorite meals. I always toast my spices twice to heighten the flavor: once in a dry pan and then with the cauliflower and aromatics. Combined with the fragrant garlic, ginger, and serranos, the spices transform ordinary cauliflower, potatoes, chickpeas, tomatoes, and peas into a nutritious meal when served alongside some rice and whole-wheat naan.


Indian Vegetable Curry

Serves 4-6

14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes or 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

2 tablespoons sweet or mild curry powder

1 ½ teaspoons garam masala

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 onion, finely diced

12 oz. red potatoes, cut into a ½ inch dice

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 serrano chili, minced (seeds and ribs removed if you’re sensitive to heat)

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon tomato paste

½ head cauliflower (about 1 ½ lbs.), cored and cut into 1 inch florets

1, 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon table salt

1 ¼ cups water

1 ½ cups green peas, fresh or frozen

  1. If using canned tomatoes, transfer them to the bowl of a food processor and pulse 5-6 times until finely chopped, then set aside. If using fresh tomatoes, this step is unnecessary.
  2. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, toast the curry powder and garam masala until fragrant over medium heat, about 1 minute. Transfer the spices to a small bowl and set aside. In the same pot heat the vegetable oil over medium heat and add the onion and potatoes. Sauté for 10-12 minutes, until the onions have softened and the edges of the potatoes are beginning to brown. Clear a space in the center of the pan and add the garlic, serrano, ginger and tomato paste and sauté for 30-60 seconds until fragrant. Add the toasted spices and stir to combine, letting them toast again until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cauliflower to the pot and toss thoroughly for 2-3 minutes, until the cauliflower is well coated with the spices and aromatics.
  3. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, water, and salt, turn the heat to medium-high, and simmer briskly for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes and cauliflower are tender. Add the peas, stir to combine, and let simmer until the peas are hot, 2-3 minutes. Transfer the curry to a serving bowl and serve immediately with basmati rice and naan.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Whole Wheat Naan

Makes 4 Naan

3/8 cup warm water (about 100F)

½ teaspoon active dry yeast

½ teaspoon sugar

½ tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup whole wheat flour

Butter, for serving

  1. Combine the water, yeast, sugar, and olive oil in a large bowl or in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. Let sit until the yeast has begun to foam, about 5 minutes. Mix to recombine.
  2. Add in the salt and flour, and slowly mix (low speed if using a standing mixer) until all the flour is incorporated. If using a mixer, increase the speed to medium and knead for 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and glossy and springs back easily when pinched. If mixing by hand, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, until smooth, glossy and springy.
  3. Turn off the mixer, remove the dough from the dough hook and let it fall into the mixer bowl and cover the bowl with a dish towel. Let rise until almost doubled in size, 45-60 minutes.
  4. Once the dough has fully risen, turn it out onto a floured surface and divide it into 4 equal pieces. Taking one piece of dough at a time, roll it out to a circle 6-8 inches in diameter. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.
  5. To cook, heat a cast-iron skillet over medium high heat for 5 minutes until very hot. Gently lay one naan in the pan and brush it with water, then cover, letting it cook for 2 minutes until golden brown. Flip the naan, letting it cook covered for another 2 minutes until golden brown on the bottom. Spread a little butter on the naan, and cover the cooked naans to keep them warm and repeat with the remaining dough.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Whole Wheat English Muffins


I was so excited to make these English muffins last weekend that I woke up without an alarm at five last Sunday. Then I forced myself to go back to sleep because making bread at five in the morning is ridiculous. The wait, though excruciatingly long, was worth it—homemade English muffins are infinitely better than the store-bought version.


Even if you’re not as fanatic of a bread baker as I am, you’ll still love making these English muffins. I developed this recipe specifically for English muffins that can be baked in the morning, in under an hour. Once the dough is put together in the evening, it spends the night in the refrigerator, which allows it to rise slowly and develop more flavor than a traditional dough that rises for only an hour or two.


In the morning, the dough is pressed out into a large rectangle, then cut out into English muffins. My English muffins were on the smaller size, because despite having cookie cutters in the shape of squirrels, grapes, gingerbread men, hearts, Christmas trees, and my four year old handprint, we don’t have any three inch biscuit cutters, so I used a mason jar instead. However, if you have a round cookie cutter, feel free to use it.

To get the signature “nooks and crannies,” the English muffins are dusted with cornmeal and cooked in a cast iron skillet until golden brown for a chewy crust and airy interior, then baked for a few more minutes to fully cook the center. English muffins must be split in half with a fork to ensure that the nooks and crannies remain intact; slicing them in half with a knife would undo all of the hard work.

They’re fantastic hot out of the oven or toasted until golden brown. Serve them with your favorite spread and enjoy them for a special breakfast.


Whole Wheat English Muffins

Makes 18 small or 9 large English muffins

1 cup water, 100F

1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

About 3 tablespoons of cornmeal

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil. Let sit for 5 minutes to proof the yeast. Then add the flours, baking powder, and salt. Turn the mixer on medium low to combine all the ingredients, then increase the speed to medium and knead for 6-8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and shiny. Transfer the dough to a sealed container (at least twice the volume of the dough), and let rise in the fridge for 8 to 12 hours.
  2. Once the dough has risen in the fridge, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Pat the dough into a rectangle about 3/8 inch thick, then using a floured glass, cut out individual muffins. Using a traditional narrow-mouthed mason jar will yield 18 muffins, while a 2 inch biscuit cutter will yield slightly more. Let the dough rest on the surface until puffy and risen, 30-40 minutes.
  3. 10 minutes before the muffins have finished rising, preheat the oven to 350F and have a baking sheet ready. Heat a cast-iron skillet on medium-low heat, and dust the muffins with cornmeal. Once the pan is hot, place the muffins in the pan, leaving at least ½ inch between them. Cook for 2-4 minutes per side until golden brown, then transfer the muffins to the baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes until cooked through. While the first batch is baking, cook the remaining muffins in the cast-iron, dusting each muffin with cornmeal, then bake as before. Let the muffins cool for a few minutes on a wire rack before splitting in half lengthwise with a fork and serving.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Sticky Bun Pancakes


The actual definition of a sticky bun can be somewhat confusing, as most bakeries make it seem like a sticky bun is a cinnamon roll studded with nuts. Actually, a sticky bun is a breakfast roll made with an enriched (butter and sugar filled) dough, baked with a brown sugar glaze, and topped with a gooey pecan garnish. Unlike cinnamon rolls, they are not served with a cream cheese frosting, and the cinnamon levels are much more restrained. When a bakery does sticky buns well, it is well worth it to try them because not unlike like croissants, sticky buns are best made by professionals.


For the home cook, sticky buns are a hefty project to undertake, involving vast amounts of corn syrup, butter, and sugar—not to mention about five hours of kneading rich dough and wielding melted sugar. This doesn’t mean, though, that all hopes of sticky buns at home are gone. Instead, make a batch of whole-wheat pancakes and top them with a brown sugar and pecan garnish for a special weekend breakfast. Even better, these pancakes come together in less than thirty minutes but will impress everyone at the breakfast table.

The pancakes are light and airy, and the pecan topping is identical to the ones on top of bakery-style sticky buns. Tonight, make sure your stashes of pecans, flour, and brown sugar are sufficient, and get excited for a pancake you won’t forget.


Sticky Bun Pancakes

Serves 4

Pancakes

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon table salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups whole or low-fat milk

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 egg

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1-2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Topping

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

¼ cup dark brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

Powdered sugar to serve, optional

  1. For the pancake batter: Whisk together the flours, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine the milk, vinegar, egg, and butter and whisk to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Do not over mix. Set the batter aside for 10 minutes to hydrate while you prepare the topping.
  2. For the topping: In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt and bring to a boil, whisking until the butter is melted and all the sugar is dissolved, 2-3 minutes. Take the pan off heat, and stir in the vanilla and pecans. Set aside and keep warm while you cook the pancakes.
  3. To cook the pancakes: Heat ½ teaspoon vegetable oil in a 12 inch non-stick skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Using a paper towel, wipe the skillet, leaving only a thin film of oil in the bottom. Using a ¼ cup measure per pancake, spoon out the pancake batter into the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the edges are set and bubbles form on the top. Flip the pancakes and cook for another 1-2 minutes until light golden brown on each side. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  4. To serve: Place a stack of pancakes on each individual plate and top with a few spoonfuls of the topping. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if using, and serve immediately.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

If you’re looking for another special weekend breakfast, try my Zucchini Bread Waffles (my most popular post), or make a batch of my Almond Blueberry Breakfast Rolls.