Little pistachio and cherry cakes

June 28, 2012 § 20 Comments

I’m leaving this afternoon to visit my family in Norway for two weeks.  So I baked.

I completely forgive you for the raised eyebrows and incredulous pursing of the lips.  Who bakes when they’re about to leave for two weeks?!  Who bakes while they are still scrambling to make sure they have packed for every possible type of weather?! Who bakes while they’re frantically attempting to get the house cleaned and the dog prepped for having a stand-in puppy mamma?!  Just how addled in the brain am I?!

But, you see, I have an explanation.  These are travel cakes.  Or, at least, they were meant to be, but more on that later.

You may now be asking, “ok, well, what are travel cakes?”  My answer, I’m afraid, is I don’t exactly know.  But, I decided to go ahead and try to make some anyway.

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Spiced cinnamon sugar breakfast puffs

December 20, 2011 § 24 Comments

On the off chance that your holiday breakfast plan is not yet inscribed in stone; in case you aren’t already bound and determined to have a strata, or frittata, or sticky buns, or perhaps puffy pancakes or spoon bread; or maybe you’d like to just add some icing to your giant, decadent, multi-course holiday brunch cake; well then dear friends, may I venture a suggestion.

I actually feel a bit ashamed that I’ve been holding this recipe from you for so long.  It’s a recipe that may, in fact, deserve a little shouting from the rooftops.  And, it’s a recipe with a history, which means stories.

I didn’t know any of the stories when I first started baking the original version (this is a wholly different iteration, but we’ll get to that later), I just knew that I had the recipe copied down on an index card from my friend, and I had labeled it “breakfast puffs.”

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Simply (the best) raspberry muffins

July 20, 2011 § 16 Comments

Photo by James Ransom

This is the story of some muffins.  It’s a story I almost wasn’t going to tell you because these muffins disappeared almost as soon as they happened, leaving nary a crumb and certainly no trace of photographic evidence (that’s what morning and house guests will do to muffins, you see).  And it’s very rare I cook something twice, so if it’s gone, it’s gone.

Gone-ish.  Sometimes I jot down notes from the recipe.  Sometimes I share it.  And sometimes then, the dish reappears.  That’s what these muffins did.  They resurfaced, emblazoned with a badge of honor: “simply the best raspberry muffins.”

Photo by James Ransom

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Pear and fig morning muffins

April 1, 2011 § 15 Comments

These muffins are exceptional.  I got up at 6 in the morning to bake these muffins.  Though even if I hadn’t, I think they would still taste as though they were kissed by the blushing early morning sunlight.

Of course, I didn’t get up early to make them knowing how lovely they would be.  I got up early to make them because I’ve been out most of the evenings this week and haven’t been able to cook dinner, so I had a strong urge to get my hands into something with a little more to it than frying an egg.  I woke up early, the dawn just starting to creep over the trees outside our window, and I thought of muffins.  So, I baked some and had them fresh and steaming on the table for breakfast at 7.

The urge to bake muffins was, in fact, odd because most of the time I find muffins terribly disappointing.  I have a not insignificant scone addiction but no real love for muffins.  You see, I have an idea of what a muffin ought to be, and on the infrequent occasions when I bother to try one it always falls far short of my expectations, usually being overly sweet, heavy, and tough.  When I first moved to Boston, I had a roommate who would bake these banana blueberry muffins, which sounds generally promising, however they were so heavy and dry and all their flavors were so messily jumbled together, I took to wanting to run away whenever I saw them sitting out on the counter.

Not these.  These are moist, light, and unbelievably tender.  The crumb is so delicate it borders on fragile.  And they have only the smallest trace hint of sweet, which serves as a subtle backdrop for the heady, natural sweetness of the pear and fig that is packed into every bite. « Read the rest of this entry »

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