These pancakes found their way into my life through Joel, my partner and his family. There are only a couple well known family recipes that I’ve been introduced to since being with Joel (almost 7 years now!) namely Lumpias (which we all just made as a little family with his brother, so good!), Wacky Cake (this was a completely foreign thing to me) and no-bake cookies. But these pancakes are by far my favorite.
If you could see me on the first day of fall, I would be an absolute giddy school girl. I would be so completely beside myself, singing at the top of my lungs, and basically bouncing around the house.
Okay, so it’s not the first day of fall anymore, we are into November, and these muffins have just renewed my love of those first fall days. It’s amazing what maple can do! Here’s the trick with maple. You usually want to buy the “grade B” maple syrup. I know that goes against all forms of logic, but grade B in this case is a darker, more intense flavor. It is also less refined then grade A.
These are adorable little muffins… they are spongy and light, and would be so perfect filled with something goopy. Like a maple whipped cream with a little orange zest in it, or a strawberry jam? They come together quickly too! Just remember to preheat your pan, which gives the muffins a head start on the rise they’ll do in the oven. Eggs are getting whipped and maple syrup is on stand-by:
These already start to puff when you put them in the pan:
These taste like a pancake in a muffin form, that already has some maple syrup on it. I love them with plain yogurt, but they are also excellent with this easy strawberry jam.
Literally, I was running around the house when the scent of maple hit my nose. Try them out for yourself and remember all the things you love about fall. Stop and look around, take a moment to enjoy the space and time you are in. Take a bite.
Cuisine: Breakfast, Brunch
2 tbsp melted butter, cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup light sour cream
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
Safflower, Canola or vegetable oil, for brushing
To prepare the pan:
Brush canola oil in a cast iron or regular muffin pan.
Place empty cast iron muffin tin in oven and preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. If you do not have a cast iron muffin tin, just use a regular one and wait until the oven is already preheated. Then heat the pan for 15 minutes in the warm oven, just before you are ready to fill the pan.
To make the puffs:
In a medium sized bowl, beat the eggs until they are light and foamy.
Stir in the melted butter, sour cream, maple syrup, brown sugar and vanilla.
Beat until well blended and light. In another bowl, whisk the flour and baking soda together until well mixed and no lumps remain.
At this point, you can preheat your pan if using a regular muffin tin. While the pan is heating, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until well blended.
Carefully remove the heated pan from the oven, and fill each muffin hole with about 3/4 of it’s capacity with the thin batter.
Bake at 475 for 9-10 minutes, or until the tops are puffy and lightly browned.
Remove the puffs from the pan and cool. Serve with jam, or plain yogurt.
These are a variation on my Grandma’s “Never Fail” baking powder biscuits. They are sort of the family’s go-to biscuit recipe. I love them because they are easy and quick, and you can make them with buttermilk, cheese, herbs or spices.
I got a poor cherry crop from our single tree this year, but I also discovered that the country road we live on has TONS of cherry trees. Those trees actually did fantastic, just growing out in the “wild”, giving us sweet, dark cherries that I pitted, froze and dried.
This is one of those, mix/dump/shape recipes.
Mix everything in a bowl:
Dump it on to a floured surface and shape into a rectangle:
Cut into squares (or use a glass or biscuit cutter and make rounds) and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake! These smell amazing while they are baking!
It’s easy to add stuff to your biscuits! You can take any biscuit recipe (perhaps your own Grandma’s?) and make them interesting:
Here’s a basic formula: (you can pretty much add all of these, or 1 or 2 in any combination) 2 Tablespoons Herbs (and/or citrus zest) + 1/3 cup dried fruit + 2 oz cheese
You know what’s so funny about this recipe? Because these are such a family favorite, I have 3 or 4 different handwritten recipe cards for these biscuits that various family members have given me, all written in my Grandma’s handwriting. The notes Grandma writes on each one are funny, quirky, and can be QUITE specific. For example, she says that to mix the dough, after you add the milk, you only need to stir it 10 times. Count them, don’t over mix. Well, I usually do count, just out of habit, and she was right! 10 times just about does it.
For years I always used butter with these, until I discovered the Spectrum Organic Shortening a few years ago. I started using that and I think these turn out a little higher then usual. You can buy Spectrum Shortening at some grocery stores, or here on Amazon. Mmmm. I think a second biscuit is calling my name….
Grandma also says to serve with jam and butter and a joyful heart.
Cherry Asiago Oregano Biscuits
Recipe Type: Breakfast, Brunch
Serves: 6 biscuits
This recipe is based on my Grandma’s and (Great Grandma’s) “Never Fail” Baking Powder Biscuits. They are a family favorite and I hope your family loves them too! To make them plain, simply leave out the cherries, oregano and asiago. You can mix in any combination of additions you like, or just serve simply with butter and jam, and as Grandma says, “a joyful heart.”
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons organic shortening
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons oregano, chopped
1/3 cup dried cherries
2 oz. grated or shaved asiago with a peeler to make “shards”
Fresh ground pepper, optional
Blend the flour, baking powder, salt. Cut in the shortening and blend until very crumbly and fine. Stir in the chopped oregano, cherries. Toss in the asiago.
Then pour in the milk and carefully and slowly blend them all together with a fork in circles around the bowl. Grandma says it will take about 10 times around the bowl or until it is all moistened.
Then turn the sticky mess onto a slightly floured board or counter top and (here’s where grandma and I differ), shape into a rough rectangle. Cut into 6 squares with a sharp knife. Top with fresh ground black pepper.
Place on a parchment lined pan and bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes, or until nicely browned. Let cool on the pan a few minutes, then dig in.
I just want it all. I want sweet, savory, fatty and crunchy. Weekend breakfasts are the perfect way to get this all at once. I think that’s the main reason I love Saturday and Sunday mornings: opportunities for waffles.
This past weekend it was muffins and jam. I awoke Saturday morning and exclaimed: Rhubarb! Somehow I can. not. get. enough.
One might call this triple R jam! It can be made in a small batch and stored in the fridge. I made this to go on my favorite millet muffins that Heidi Swanson has in her book Super Natural Everyday. I made it while making bacon and hashbrowns for one of our weekend morning breakfast feasts.
This recipe could be improvised a hundred ways. I started with what I had, which is most likely why I love it so much.
I reached deep into our freezer and pulled out some rhubarb from last year (!) and some frozen raspberries. I had to find a way to wake them up from their long nap. BAM. Balsamic vinegar. Roasting the fruit and adding a little acid is a great way to add flavor to anything.
Add a little of whatever juice you have in the fridge (not citrus, but apple, cranberry, blueberry, pomegranate…) and some spices and you are good to go! Get your weekend breakfast on.
Roasted Rhubarb and Raspberry Quick Jam
Recipe Type: Homemade condiments, Jam
Author: Sugar Pickles
Serves: 2 1/2 cups
1 cup rhubarb, fresh or frozen, cut into 1/2” chuncks
1 10 or 12 oz bag frozen raspberries or 1 pint fresh berries
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup blueberry or apple juice
Cranberry, pomegranate or grape would also work well)
1/4-1/3 cup sugar, honey or agave syrup
1/3 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*
1/4 teaspoon vanillla extract
Pinch kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 400. Spread the cut up rhubarb on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle the balsamic vinegar over the top. Roast for 15 minutes. It will get very soft. Then sprinkle the raspberries on the same sheet and return to the oven to roast for another 5-10 minutes.
When the berries and rhubarb come out of the oven, they will be very soft, and the pan will have some bits sticking to it. Deglaze the baking sheet by pouring 1/4 – 1/2 cup of juice directly on it, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits that are stuck to the pan. Pour everything off into a small sauce pan and add the sugar or agave, the rest of the juice, and the the spices.
Let it come to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, until it is thick. Taste and season with a sprinkle of salt if desired.
Serve immediately or store in the fridge up to 2 weeks.
*Pumpkin Pie spice is a blend of spices that are commonly used in pumpkin and other similar baked goods. My favorite is the one from Trader Joe’s, which has a blend of ground cinnamon, ginger, lemon peel, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom. You can use any pumpkin pie spice blend, it will not taste like pumpkin pie. Alternatively you can add in a pinch of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cardamom or any other similar spices you have on hand.
A decent English muffin has been somewhat elusive around here. There are so many methods to try: raised, baking soda, cooked on the stove top or baked in the oven. I started with this recipe from Alton Brown that Joel found online. Then, I tried out the recipe from River Cottage Bread book, which I thought was sort of good, but not quite delicious enough. Then I found the recipe in this post from the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook, gifted to me by a thoughtful aunt. It was closer to that quintessential muffin, and had a perfect chewy texture. I love almost everything about these. The only thing I don’t love, is that they do take a little bit of fuss and precision. Also one thing kept bothering me, the fact that they are not cooked on a griddle with rings, as many other recipes I’ve tried. Not that this mattered, because the flavor was almost dead on. Alas, somethings just can’t ever be perfect. I baked this recipe a few times and then decided to add an egg, because it seemed that they were missing an eggy flavor that prevailed in other batches. The egg helped.
These rise up so pillowy and light. Sometimes they look and feel like a giant marshmallow to me.
After you let them do their first raise, you shape them. Cut into 12 pieces. I have vowed to weigh my pieces out next time, but for now I’ll spare you that anal retentive urge and just say: 12 pieces, cut.
Shaping can be a little tricky with these; you are basically rolling them into a ball, using a counter with a little flour/not too much flour/some indescribable magic amount of flour so that they stick to the counter but still roll around. The counter acts as a point of traction that allows the dough to roll smoothly into a ball. If you can’t get this technique down, it’s okay, just roll them into balls using your hands and pour yourself a drink. No sense in getting worked up about it, they will still be delicious.
I have to go on to tell you that I’ve tried so many english muffin recipes it get’s hard to track them all and trying and failing over and over can make you a bit crazy. Once when I was working at Les Caves, in Corvallis, the baker brought in their version of raised English muffins to cook on our griddle for brunch service. They smelled up the kitchen, puffed slightly on the griddle, and looked generally perfect. This was when I was near the beginning of my English muffin quest. I drooled and asked her if she would share the recipe with me as I stared from my place at the dish pit. She looked kind of surprised, and said, “Oh, well, it’s just a basic English muffin recipe.” I sort of receded and replied with a quiet “oh sure” but in my head I was screaming and shaking her shoulders with a crazed, “Basic!? BASIC? YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW LONG I’VE…” But in the kitchen such dramatics are not received well. So, this memory sticks in my head as my measure of a good English muffin. Have I found it in these muffins? No, I think that vision is still eluding me. But these are very good, and have been a favorite around here to all who eat them.
I just saw an episode of Good Eats on Netflix the other night. Guess what A.B. made? English muffins. A completely different recipe then the one I started with. Looks like I have another recipe to test. In the meantime, these are worth baking up and enjoying during brunch, with peanut butter, marmalade, or as a breakfast sandwich.
English Muffins, almost perfect
Recipe Type: Bread
Author: Sugar Pickles, adapted from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook
1 medium Yukon gold or other waxy potato (5-6 ounces)
First portion of water: 1 1/3 cups at 68 degrees (cool tap water)
3 cups bread flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 large farm egg
1 tablespoon honey
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
Second portion of water: 1/3 cup at 68 degrees
Olive or vegetable oil for oiling your hands and the bowl
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the counter
2 tablespoons cornmeal
Cook your potato: Cut the potato in 1” chunks, leaving the skin on. Put the potato in a small sauce pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook the potoato until it is tender, about 8-10 minutes after the water has been simmering.
Drain, and transfer to a bowl. Using a potato masher or a fork, mash the potato with the skins on. Measure the mashed potato. You only need a well-packed 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of mashed potato. Save the rest to eat later, or discard. Place the well packed 1/2 cup mashed potato in the fridge. When the potato is completely cool, you are ready to start the rest of the recipe.
Start your dough: Pour the first portion of water that is at or near 68 degrees F into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Use an instant read thermometer to check the temperature of your water if you are not sure. Add both flours, the cooled potato, egg, honey, salt and yeast. Mix on low for about 10 minutes. You should have a soft dough that is sticky, stretchy and wraps around the paddle. Scrape the dough down. Turn off the mixer and allow the dough to rest in the bowl for 5 minutes.
After the dough has rested, turn the mixer to medium speed and mix for another 1 or 2 minutes. The dough should be wound around the paddle and will be stronger and stretchier. Now, with the machine running, start adding the second portion of water (1/3 cup) about 2 tablespoons at a time. Wait until an addition of water is absorbed before adding more water. It is very important to add the water gradually, usually 3 additions does the trick. When all the water has been added, mix the dough for another 2 minutes until a soft, smooth, shiny dough is formed. Use your thermometer to test the temperature of your dough. It must be between 75-80 degrees. If your dough is not at this temperature, place it somewhere slightly warmer (or cooler, if it’s too warm) for awhile and check the temperature again later. You don’t want to start the “clock” on the rising time until your dough is at least 75 degrees. I’ve that at this point, I usually just put the dough in a large oiled bowl, turn the dough once to cover it with oil, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and put it in a turned off oven with the oven light on. This creates an amazing little warm box and it will work, more so then you might think! On top of the fridge works well too.
Once your dough is between 75-80 degrees, (put in the oiled bowl and cover with plastic if you haven’t already done so) place in a warm spot and let it rest for 30 minutes. If your kitchen is cooler then 68 degrees (like mine is often in the winter) let it rest in that little warm spot again. You don’t want it too warm, however.
After the 30 minute rest, uncover the bowl (don’t discard the plastic wrap) so you can “turn the dough.” Rub some oil on your hands before turning, the dough will be sticky. With the bowl in front of you, reach to the opposite side (the farthest side away from you) of the bowl and grab the dough from that side. Pull it up and stretch it upward, as far as you can, with out breaking it, then fold it over to the side closest to you. You will not be able to stretch very far at first, but will get farther as you keep turning the dough. Turn the bowl a quarter turn, and continue pulling and stretching until you go all the way around the bowl (4 turns). Then turn the whole bowl of dough over, cover it again with your plastic wrap, and return it to the slightly warm spot again for another 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, you are going to turn the dough again, using the same process described above. Then cover the dough and allow it to rest for an hour (this would be 2 hours total rising time). The dough will then get bubbly and often looks to me like a big soft marshmallow. This means it’s really good dough!
At this point you can either continue to bake the English muffins, or cover the bowl again with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, finishing the muffin process in the next day. If you just need to buy some time between this step and moving forward, you can also just pop the dough in the fridge for an hour or so.
To shape and bake the English muffins: Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper. Combine the two tablespoons of flour with two tablespoons of corn meal in a small bowl and sprinkle all over the baking sheets. Set the pans aside.
Flour a work surface, such as a counter, and dump the dough onto it. If the dough has been in the fridge, I like to let it come up in temperature, so you may want to set the dough out on the counter an hour or two before you plan to shape and bake.
Using a floured metal bench scraper or a floured knife, cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. This is hard to do, mine usually end up with two large ones and the rest somewhat equal in size. To get twelve pieces, cut the large dough ball in half. Cut each half in half again (giving you 4 pieces of dough) cut each fourth into thirds, or three pieces, giving you 12 total pieces. To shape each muffin, take a piece of dough and place it on a lesser floured space on the counter. Fold it in half on itself, and adjust it so that the more floured side of the dough is facing up and a lesser floured side is facing down. Using your hand, make a loose cup shape, and in a circular motion, roll the dough around on the counter. You want the dough to get slightly stuck, so that it will form a smooth ball, but stuck more on the counter side, not your hand. It takes practice, so if you can’t get this to work, just roll them roughly into balls using the palms of both hands. Don’t worry if they don’t look perfect, they will still taste delicious.
Place 6 english muffins on each baking sheet, spacing them out evenly, and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Place them in a slightly warm place (I return them to the oven with the light on, but you need to remove them before you preheat your oven!) Let them rise until doubled, about an hour or two depending on if they have been in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Put a rack on the top third and a rack on the bottom third. Bake the muffins for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, remove them from the oven and flip each muffin over to the other side. Using a kitchen towel wrapped around your hand, or a hot pad, give each muffin a little pat/squash. You want to flatten it just slightly to give them a crinkled edge. But do so quickly, and be careful of the hot steam. Rotate the pans (front to back, top to bottom) and return to bake in the oven for another 8 minutes, until golden and baked through with a few brown patches.
Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before eating.
To Serve: Slice each (or split by puncturing laterally with a fork all the way around) English muffin in half and toast. I store these in a plastic bag in the fridge, and they’ve never gone bad on me. Joel prefers these with peanut butter, for breakfast almost everyday, but I love them with marmalade. We both agree they make excellent breakfast sandwiches.