Category Archives: Breads/Muffins

Hot Cross Buns

 
Where did Hot Cross Buns come from anyway? Apparently a 12th century monk got creative one Good Friday and added a cross to the buns he was baking. It kind of caught on and Hot Cross Buns became a tradition all over the world. I hope the monk got a promotion, although I’m guessing that by now he’s in Heaven and that’s quite a bit better than a promotion. Anyway, kudos to the monk and I’m glad he created these delicious Hot Cross Buns.

You can use currants, raisins or even dried cranberries for the added fruit, although the currants are superior because they’re small and are just tangy enough for the barely sweet buns. These little yeast buns came out so soft and fluffy and delicious. I had the piping for the crosses a little too thin and ended up glazing the entire tops of the rolls, but I think that may have made them even better!

This was the very first time I’d ever eaten Hot Cross Buns and I really enjoyed them. I warmed one up with a little pat of butter and it was just wonderful. I can’t wait till breakfast to have another one with morning coffee! Since this recipe makes 12 buns, I’ll freeze some of them. I think they’ll be just as good thawed and warmed up. I highly recommend making these for your Easter morning breakfast or brunch.

5 from 1 vote
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Hot Cross Buns

****Original Recipe from NatashasKitchen.com.  Soft and fluffy buns - great for breakfast.

Servings: 12
Ingredients
  • 1/2 C currants
  • 1 C boiling water
  • 3/4 C warm milk (about 110°) divided
  • 1/2 C plus 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter melted and cooled
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 envelope Active or Rapid Rise Yeast
  • 2 large eggs well beaten
  • 3 1/2 to 4 C unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg well beaten with 1 tsp water
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar mixed with 2 1/2 tsp milk or cream
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine currants with 1 cup of hot water.  Let sit 10 minutes, then drain well, pat dry, and set aside.

  2. In a large measuring cup, combine 1/4 cup warm milk with 1/2 tsp sugar and gently stir in the packet of yeast.  Let sit at room temperature until bubbly and almost doubled in volume (10-15 minutes).

  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup warm milk with 1/2 cup of sugar, the cooled, melted butter and 1/2 tsp salt.  Add the 2 beaten eggs and proofed yeast mixture and mix.  Stir in the ground cinnamon and nutmeg.

  4. Attach the dough hook to the mixer and add flour, 1/2 cup at a time until a soft dough forms (after 3 1/2 cups, start adding 1/4 cup more at a time until the dough is a soft ball).  Knead 8-12 minutes with the mixer until smooth and elastic.  Dough will stick a little to the bowl, but not to your hands.

  5. Add the drained and patted-dry currants and transfer dough to a large buttered bowl, turning it to bring the buttered side up.  Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free room 1 1/2 hours until doubled in volume.

  6. Turned out dough onto a lightly floured counter and cut in half.  Continue cutting dough until you have 12 equally-sized pieces.  Roll the pieces into smooth balls and put into a very buttered 9x13" baking pan or dish.  Cover and let sit in a warm area for 30-45 minutes, until slightly puffed up.

  7. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°.  Generously brush the tops of the risen buns with egg wash and bake for 15-17 minutes until tops are golden brown (or 190° when tested).  Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a rack.

  8. After buns are completely cooled, stir together the powdered sugar and 2 1/2 tsp. milk until thick enough to pipe (not too thin).  Put into a ziplock bag and cut a tip off one of the corners.  Pipe a cross shape over each of the buns (or make more glaze and cover the entire tops of the buns).  Good served warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes
Tips and Stuff: I ended up using about 3 3/4 cups of flour to get the ball to form in the mixer. If kneading by hand, knead for 8-12 minutes until you get a translucent window pane when stretching a small piece. When adding the currants, make sure they're patted dry so it won't make the dough sticky. To add the currants, add a couple of tablespoons at a time and fold in so that they're dispersed evenly through the dough. Make sure the 9x13" pan is buttered very generously so the buns won't stick. If they do stick a little, just gently ply them up with a flexible spatula.

Orange Cinnamon Bread from Heaven

 
I took a little liberty with the title of this post, but man, oh, man this Orange Cinnamon Bread really is heavenly!

I’m lucky to have a knack at making yeast breads – they always turn out unless my yeast is way out of date.  I end up with flour from head to toe, but homemade bread – especially this one – is really worth the time.   Your family will love that orangey-cinnamony yeast bread aroma coming from the oven.

This bread is light and airy with a swirl of cinnamon-sugar through it along with bits of orange zest sprinkled here and there.  While taking photos, I had to (had to) eat the end piece so no one would have to eat that.  It’s not nice to give people the end piece of bread.  Then I needed to test the texture of a regular piece, so I warmed it up for a few seconds with butter slathered on it.  Oh, my, my, my, as Mr. Kenda would say.  It’s fantastic!

Do take the time and make this bread.  It makes two loaves, so you can give the second one to someone you love.  They’ll definitely appreciate it.  Now, what did I do with that bread knife?


Orange Cinnamon Bread
**** Outstanding homemade bread.  Original recipe from Taste of Home’s Complete Guide to Baking.   Best when sliced, dotted with butter and toasted under a toaster oven or broiler for 2-3 minutes. Makes 2 loaves.

2 pkgs. (1/4 oz. each) active dry yeast
1/4 C. warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
1 C milk
3/4 C. orange juice
1 C. sugar, divided
1 tbsp. grated orange peel.
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg
6 1/2 to 7 C. all-purpose flour
Additional water
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Glaze:
1 C. confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp. orange juice
1/8 tsp. vanilla

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. In a saucepan, heat milk and orange juice until warm (110 degrees); add to yeast mixture. Stir in 1/2 C. sugar, orange peel, salt, egg and 3 C. flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (I used a total of 6 1/2 cups.)

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 6-8 minutes). Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly flour surface; divide in half. With a rolling pin, roll each portion into a 15″x 7″ rectangle. Brush lightly with water. Combine cinnamon and remaining half-cup of sugar and sprinkle over the dough up to 1″ from edges.

Tightly roll up jelly-roll style, starting at the short end and pinch bottom and side seams to seal. Place bottom seam down in two greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool (run butter knife around edges if slightly stuck). Combine glaze ingredients and drizzle over completely cooled bread.

Tips and Stuff
I used my Kitchen Aide to mix the ingredients together, changed to the dough hook on low for 3-4 minutes, then turned out the dough on the floured counter and kneaded for 3-4 more minutes until smooth and elastic (hold up a little piece and stretch – should be see-through).
My bread was perfectly browned and done in 30 minutes. Ovens may vary – just keep a watch. You don’t want the top too brown.
Store the bread loosely in a sack, bread box, or I used a plastic grocery bag tied loosely at the end (with aluminum foil wrapped on the cut end to keep it from drying out).

Blueberry Muffins (Cooking for Two)

 
One of my favorite breakfasts is Blueberry Muffins. When I was in high school, my Mom worked, took care of us, got up early to get my Dad off to the early shift, then would make me breakfast before I went to school. One day I told her to go back to bed and not worry about my breakfast – Carnation Instant Breakfast (remember that?) was good enough for me.

Every once in awhile, though, Mom would make blueberry muffins from scratch and leave them in a warm oven for my breakfast. That was a real treat and every morning I checked the oven just in case! I’ve never found a blueberry muffin I like as well as that one until these came along.

These Blueberry Muffins are light and barely sweet and the lemon zest adds a freshness along with the burst of fresh blueberry. There’s a little crunch from the lemon sugar sprinkled on top that really completes the muffin. They’re terrific.
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I made them twice because the first time I forgot to put my memory desk in the camera and didn’t realize it until I’d shot about fifteen pictures! Not to worry – I was ready and willing to make them again because they’re wonderful. They’re as close to the perfect Blueberry Muffin as I’ve found in a long time. And, oh that lemon zest. I just might have to make them again tomorrow.



Blueberry Muffins
****Outstanding muffins. So easy to make and the lemon zest takes them over the top. Recipe slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen. Makes 4 to 5 muffins.

Topping:
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. finely grated lemon zest

Muffins
3/4 C. all-purpose flour
1/4 C. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 C. 2% milk
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
3 tbsp. butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/2 C. fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and prepare 4 to 5 cups in a muffin tin by spraying with Pam and then a light coating of flour. Stir the sugar and lemon zest together in a small cup and set aside.

For the muffins, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, egg, and lemon zest together until smooth. Gently fold wet mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined (about 6 folding strokes). Fold in the melted butter and blueberries, gently.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and sprinkle each with the lemon sugar. Bake until muffins are lightly browned or until a toothpick comes out clean, about 22-24 minutes, rotating the muffin tin halfway through baking.

Let muffins cool in the tin on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove muffins from the tin and let cool for another 5 minutes.

Tips and Stuff
The original recipe called for either 1/4 C. whole milk or 1/4 C. low-fat plain yogurt. It worked perfectly with the 2% milk I had on hand, but use what you have.
When folding the butter and blueberries in, be very gentle for more tender muffins.
I made 4 muffins the first time and they were really big, so the second time I made 5 muffins and they came out more normally sized. If you make 4 muffins, put an empty cup between the filled ones so they won’t merge while baking!

Lemon Glazed Scones

 
Winter time means great citrus fruit time.  A friend gave us some beautiful homegrown lemons and there was no way I was going to let them go bad.  They’re bright yellow with a rather thin skin and were bursting with juice.  These Lemon Glazed Scones are just perfect to really showcase the bright, fresh flavor.


The scone is barely sweet and the amazing lemon glaze really complemented the flavor.  I had a hard time not licking the glaze bowl.  It was tart, sweet, and lemony and the addition of the butter made it creamy and buttery, too.  What a combination!


These were divine with coffee.  It makes me want to go out and get one of those greenhouse lemon trees.  If only I had somewhere to grow them!


Lemon Glazed Scones
****Outstanding. Barely sweet scone with a creamy, tart-sweet glaze. Makes 8 scones.

Scones:
1/3 C., plus 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
lemon zest from one large lemon
2 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
8 tbsp. (one stick) frozen butter
1 egg
1/2 C. evaporated milk

Glaze:
1 C. powdered sugar
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest.  In another medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and soda.  Stir into sugar/lemon mixture until combined.  Grate the butter into the flour mixture and mix quickly with your hands until it resembles coarse meal.  In a small bowl, combine the egg and milk.  Pour into the flour mixture and stir all together until thoroughly combined.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly flour surface and form into a smooth ball.  Shape into a 7 or 8″ circle, about 3/4″ thick and cut into 8 even triangles.  Place the scones onto a parchment covered baking sheet with a little room between each.  Bake for approximately 15 minutes until very lightly golden brown – don’t over bake.  Allow the scones to cool on a rack.  When completely cool, whisk together the glaze ingredients and brush onto scones. Let set before storing.

Tips and Stuff
I sprinkled a little turbinado sugar on each scone before baking.  I loved the crunch it gave them after baked.
I also sprinkled a little more lemon zest on each scone after they were glazed.

Doughnut Muffins

 
You had me at doughnuts, but add muffins into the mix and I’m yours.  My sister, Glenda, kept telling me about this recipe that she and her granddaughter have made many times and how much they love it.  I finally got the recipe from her and I’m not sure if I’m glad or sad.  These light-textured, cinnamon-sugar wonder buns are very addictive and bumped a few long-time standards from my favorites list!

doughnut-muffins
There’s nothing outlandish in the ingredients, but the muffin comes out light and fluffy and oh, so barely sweet.  Then, the good part – you roll the warm muffin in melted butter and roll it completely in a sugar-cinnamon mixture.  After doused in this concoction and while warm, they are the best things I’ve tasted in a long time!

doughnut-muffins2
Even better…mini Doughnut Muffins!  I had quite a bit of leftover batter from the 12 regular-sized muffins, so I greased the mini muffin pan and used the rest of it up.  Rolled them in butter after they baked, then into the sugar mixture and popped a warm one in my mouth.  Heaven!  Next time I’ll probably make them all mini muffins.  Bret said ‘mmph, num, uh-huh, mmph yum’ when I asked him if he liked them; mainly, because he was stuffing the mini muffins down his gourd. He liked them.

Here are the cute little mini bundles of delight:
doughnut-muffins3
These are staying in my regular rotation of recipes, maybe even an every week thing!


Doughnut Muffins
****Outstanding. Best warmed up and eaten the first day or so.

3/4 C. butter, softened
2/3 C. packed brown sugar
1/4 C. sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 C. 2% milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 C. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Coating: 1 C. sugar, 1 tbsp. cinnamon, 1/2 C. melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars til light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in milk and vanilla.  In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and baking soda.  Add to creamed mixture and stir by hand til just moistened.

Fill greased muffin cups and bake 17-19 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool 5 minutes and remove to a wire rack. Combine the coating sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and, in a separate bowl, melt the butter.  Roll a warm muffin in the butter and then dip and roll into the sugar-cinnamon mixture.  Repeat with all muffins.

Best eaten when warm.

Tips and Stuff
Make sure the softened butter for the batter is room temperature.
After adding the flour mixture, be sure and stir by hand just until combined so the muffins won’t be tough.
The mini muffins are the best – next time I’ll make them all mini!
Enjoy!