Tag Archives: cinnamon

Maple Cinnamon Rolls for a recipe swap birthday

I’m going to start referring to my recipes as “Engineer-Tested”. It’s true. I usually deliver a substantial amount of baked goods to my husband’s work. Shut in their tiny warehouse office, the engineers, designers, and whoever else is around always seem happy to eat whatever I bring them. I like to think that I’m contributing to the incredible things these super smart people do.


This week the engineers tested a very special recipe for me. I brought over half my celebratory Maple Cinnamon Rolls, baked in honor of the Recipe Swap’s first birthday. This may only be my second month in the swap, but a talented group of bloggers has been putting unique spins on retro recipes for a whole year! I’m so glad Christianna of Burwell General Store had the brilliant idea to start the swap last year and I hope it will keep going for years to come. I just got started!

A birthday deserves a cake, of course, so our starting recipe this month is for Maple Syrup Cake.

“Maple molasses”, aka, maple syrup (I googled it), sugar, butter, spices…why mess with a good thing? Well, I guess that’s not the point. According to the rules of the recipe swap, I had to change something. Believe me, I’ll be making this cake straight up at some point. For this post, I turned the typical birthday dessert (cake) into my family’s typical birthday breakfast (cinnamon rolls).

My mom denies this, but she used to make cinnamon rolls for my brother and I to eat on our birthday mornings. She claims it was only my brother that got cinnamon rolls and maybe she’s right. The point is, I associate cinnamon rolls with birthdays, almost more so than white-iced cakes topped with plastic toys and candles. I love the smell of spice and layers of soft bread swirled with sweet, sticky cinnamon.

My mom made her birthday breakfast cinnamon rolls from the tube, which is perfectly fine with me. Last year, though, I found a cinnamon rolls recipe that I will probably make for the rest of my life. It comes from the Horn of the Moon Cookbook by Ginny Callan, which I found in a thrift store. These rolls were actually my first post in MuffinEgg, making them especially appropriate for this blog-related birthday. The bread is light and fluffy and the filling, made according to the original recipe, is not too sweet. If you’re after that really dark, sweet cinnamon swirl, there is nothing stopping you from putting a few spoonfulls of brown sugar on your dough before rolling it up.

Only three left by the time I took my pictures. They’re that good.

Of course, this time I had maple syrup cake on the brain so my favorite cinnamon rolls got a maple-y twist. There’s maple syrup in the dough and between it’s layers. In fact, maple syrup is the only sweetener in these cinnamon rolls. As an added bonus, I threw in a vanilla bean (not literally. I scraped the seeds out and threw them in). I have a huge package of vanilla beans and keep forgetting to use them. Cinnamon roll dough with vanilla beans…yum. If you have some, try it!

The original instructions suggest doubling the recipe and freezing half the cinnamon rolls before baking. I think this is a brilliant idea. I can’t really imagine a situation where you would want to make only 8 cinnamon rolls and not even put more away for a rainy day. I doubled the recipe for you here, so if you really want a small batch you can halve the ingredients or check out my first cinnamon roll post.

Maple Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from Horn of the Moon Cookbook by Ginny Callan


1/2 cup milk (I used vanilla soy milk)
1/2 cup mashed peeled sweet potato
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons maple syrup
3 teaspoons yeast
4 tablespoons warm water
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Optional: seeds scraped from one vanilla bean

My Free-Form Filling

2-4 tablespoons coconut oil
2-4 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4-1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Bring milk to a boil in a small saucepan. When it reaches a boil, turn off heat and add potato, butter, and maple syrup.
Next, combine yeast and warm water in a medium bowl. Stir to dissolve.
Add the potato mixture to the yeast and water.
Beat in egg, salt, and vanilla bean.
Add 1/2 cup unbleached white flour, mixing well. Then add the remaining white and wheat flour.
Knead until smooth and elastic.
Cover and leave someplace warm to rise until doubled in size (this takes about 1 hour).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Punch down dough and knead on lightly floured surface. Then let it sit for another 10 minutes.
Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness in an approximately 9×15 in. rectangle-ish shape.
Spread coconut oil over the dough. My coconut oil was soft enough that I could spread it around with my fingers.
Drizzle with maple syrup and spread the syrup around with the back of a spoon
Sprinkle with cinnamon and walnuts.
Roll dough up from the longer side so you have a long roll.
Cut into 1 inch thick slices (or whatever size gives you 16 rolls) and set rolls in a baking dish or two (you can put one in a plastic bag and then in the freezer for later).
Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

I like to top my cinnamon rolls as needed. The engineers got a simple powdered sugar glaze on theirs. I ate some rolls plain and sprinkled others with powdered cinnamon sugar. You could also spread more coconut oil or butter and maple syrup over warm rolls before serving (like pancakes but maybe better).



Filed under other goodies

Naturally sweetened carrot rice pudding bites


Those look good, don’t they? Or maybe I’m the only one who thinks prickly little hunks of healthy stuff look appetizing. Humor me.

Grab a carrot, pull that bucket of dates off the top shelf in your pantry (What? You don’t have a huge container of dates in your pantry? Well go get some!) Put those cashews you’ve been munching on for days to good use. I know you have leftover rice or some other grain in your fridge.

This isn’t so much a recipe post as it is a post about creativity. I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity over the past couple days. Training for my new museum internship started this week and learning through creative design is the institutions main focus.

Creativity…design…those are two crucial aspects of blogging as well as more aspects of our life than we probably realize. They have always been intimidating words for me. I’ve never considered myself to be an “artsy” person and in certain circumstances I’ve felt uncomfortable pressure to be “creative”. Design? How could I ever design anything?

So far, what I’ve learned about creativity in my internship is more relevant to this blog than I thought it would be. I have fresh motivation and renewed ambition. I cannot wait to see what I can really do with this blog if I let loose and break free of how I think things should be. Let’s just find out where this goes.

What does this have to do with carrot rice pudding bites? Carrot rice pudding bites are what happens when I let myself get creative with food. I have some kind of craving for a particular taste, flavor, shape, or texture. I have certain ingredients at my disposal. I really, really want to use something because it’s been in the fridge for bordering-on too long. I look at some recipes – thumbing through cookbooks and clicking through bookmarks online. In the end, I get pull out some ingredients, mash them together in a bowl, smoosh them into a mini-muffin tin, and bake them.


How do they taste? Pretty good for being a total experiment in culinary creativity. Did Lee and I eat all of these tasty bites? You betcha – every last sticky-sweet little bite.

Unfortunately, I have not quite mastered the practice of writing down what I’m doing when I’m experimenting in the kitchen. Thus, I don’t have a recipe. That said, I think wads/bites/hunks/balls like this are best made as free-form, creative, recipe-free items. Here are the basic components and a method that seemed to work for me at least once.

Naturally Sweetened Carrot Rice Pudding Bites

dates: 10 small pitted
cashews: 1/2 cup, raw

Chop these up in a food processor. Pour this mix into a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.

carrot: 1 medium, grated
cooked brown rice: maybe 1 1/2 – 2 cups
spices: allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger…you know, those yummy ones…as much or as little of them as you like
flour, whatever kind you want (I used millet flour): 2 tablespoons
egg, beaten: 1 (or make it vegan with 2 tbsp flaxseed meal + 1/4 cup water)

scoop “dough” into a lightly oiled mini muffin pan or onto a cookie sheet (also lightly oiled or lined with parchment/Silpat)
Bake at 375 F. for 10-12 minutes, or until muffins/balls are firm and starting to brown.

Munch away! These are surprisingly sweet for containing no processed sugar.


Filed under muffins, other goodies

Sourdough Anything Coffee Cake


That may look like the bubbly surface of a strange planet but it’s not. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a planet entirely composed of coffee cake? It would have a caky core rich with sourdough, a bubbly fruit layer, and a sweet, mottled crust of buttery crumbs. I’d live on that planet.

Sorry for the random space reference. I guess I’ve been spending too much time in the science museum. It sure is nice to be back in museums, though! I’ve managed to snag and internship in one and a volunteer position in another. I’ll take all the unpaid experience I can get if it puts me in a situation to learn and network in my chosen field.

One of my chosen field’s, that is…baking/blogging being the other one.


Okay, I’m dying to talk about this coffee cake. Could it look and more scrumptious? Maybe I’m just flabbergasted by it because I rarely make coffeecake and am unused to the beautiful, indulgent-looking breakfast/brunch/dessert (yes, you have my permission to eat this for all those meals). I say indulgent looking because this coffee cake isn’t going to make you feel like you just ate half a dozen doughnuts. There’s butter and sugar in there, for sure, but in much more modest amounts that you would think. Hey, there’s fruit too, any kind of fruit you want!

The secret: sourdough starter! I’ve been experimenting with using my started in a few things other than crusty bread loaves and have been very pleased with the results so far. It seems to be a good replacement copious amounts of fat in recipes. This is the first blog-worthy product and it is more than worthy. This coffee cake stops time when you cut a slice, sit down with a fork and a cup of coffee, and push everything else aside. You can also just eat hunks of cake straight from the pan with your fingers. i’ve tried it both ways.


One reason I delved into the land of coffee cakes, where I do not often venture, is that Peet’s was kind enough to send me two bags of new medium roast ground coffees and a mug through the FoodBuzz Tastemakers program. I am in love with the first bag I opened, Cafe Solano, and have been enjoying it every morning with my cereal. Being the only coffee drinker in the house, I have a lot of brewing and sipping to do! Rest assured, fellow Peet’s fans, there will be more coffee-oriented posts to come!

You can get your hands on some excellent Peet’s medium roast coffee with this coupon http://www.peetscoffee.com/medium-roast-offer/


Really, the zippy Cafe Solano roast with “floral notes and a subtle fruit essence”, as Peet’s experts describe it, is perfect alongside this fruit-studded coffeecake, whichever kind of fruit you use. I was very happy to find that this medium roast coffee has intense flavor without being overpowering or bitter. There are places for dark and light roast coffee in the world but sometimes the middle is best.


Sourdough Coffee Cake
Adapted from The Galley Wench on Food.com

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sourdough starter
1 beaten egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
about 2 to 2 1/2 cups fruit of choice, chopped/sliced, preferabley fresh or frozen (I used chopped frozen rhubarb)

1/2 cup flour (more whole wheat pastry or anything else you feel like using)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir till well blended.
Cut in 1/4 cup butter until mixture resembles course meal.
Separately, mix together sourdough started, beaten egg, and vanilla.
Add went ingredients to dry, stirring until completely incorporated.
Pour batter into a lightly oiled baking dish (I used an 11×7 dish).
Evenly distribute fruit on top of batter.
Mix topping in a small bowl, blending flour, cinnamon, and sugar, then cutting in butter.
Sprinkled topping over fruit.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, or until the edges of the cake are brown and the top is evenly cooked.

Bake a coffee cake, brew some coffee, and settle down with your goodies and a juicy book. Enjoy fall!


Filed under desserts, other goodies

Apple Maple Muffins (With Millet Flour)


If you ask me what my favorite season is, I will promptly answer “Fall”, without a doubt. Why, then, am I resisting fall’s arrival this year? I’m still buying summer squash, stone fruit, and corn. Hey, these things stay in season a lot longer here in California. Maybe my resistance comes from San Francisco’s goofy summer weather. Our warm, sunny days just started last week and will be gone by early October. Cool, foggy mornings and brisk afternoon breezes were the norm all summer long. I don’t have a problem with that, especially after living in the oppressive Caribbean heat for several months. I just can’t get into fall until it really feels like fall.

Something about visiting the East Coast last week made me crave fall apples like nothing else. Lee and I made a last minute trip for his grandmother’s memorial service but managed to visit three states in a short amount of time. We flew into Boston, spent the night in a nearby hotel with Lee’s family, and spent the next day at the service and post-service gathering in the Connecticut. The Connecticut countryside feels almost mystical to me. The grass is so green and the little stone walls are so quaint. It’s about at foreign as landscapes get to a Californian.

The next day, my 26th birthday, we were all the way up in Maine at Lee’s parents house. We lived there for a few months last summer so it truly felt like home. I must say, Maine was having better weather than SF. It was sunny and warm. The trees had not started changing yet. Still, something in the air smelled or felt like fall.

Lee and I were driving his MGB down a winding country road when I exclaimed that it would be fun to pick apples on my birthday and it was too bad apple season hadn’t started yet. It hadn’t? The next curve we rounded brought us to the local orchard and we pulled off as soon as we saw the you-pick sign for apples.


The trees were loaded. I mean loaded. The branches were heavy with apples and the air smelled sweet. The early season Macintosh and Cortland apples were a little tart but I like them that way. We tried really hard not to pick too many, knowing we’d be leaving in a couple days anyway, but it was so hard not to fill our bags. We left with 13 pounds of apples and vowed to eat as many as possible before our flight home.

One can only eat so many apples in one day. When it came time to pack our things, I just couldn’t leave our bounty behind. We boarded the plane with a bag of apples nestled in a carry-on.

I knew I had to bake something with the country-crossing apples. I guess this is an admission that fall has arrived to some part of my being. I started with a recipe from one of my thrift store cookbooks and adapted it to suit my pantry and my laziness. The millet flour was an experiment with a happy result. I expected these muffins to turn out dense and dry because of it but they surprised me with their fluffy texture. They are a bit crumbly, almost like corn muffins, and have that sandy, grainy texture as well. The millet flavor is sweet and subtle. It goes nicely with maple, I think. All in all, I’m excited about millet flour’s prospects as an addition to my baked goods.


Apple Maple Muffins (With Millet Flour)
Adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens Bread Cookbook, 1963, Double-apple Fantans

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup millet flour*
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup finely chopped tart apple
1 beaten egg, 3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup oil or melted butter (I used coconut oil)
1/3 cup maple syrup
12 apple slivers for muffin tops
Optional coating for apple topping: 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (I skipped this but will try it next time)

*I bought my millet flour at the local co-op but you can make your own by grinding the grain in a coffee grinder until you have a fine powder.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Line a muffin pan with paper or silicone liners, or coat with a little oil.
If you plan to coat apple topping with cinnamon sugar, blend those ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Combine flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and chopped apple in a large bowl, stirring until completely mixed.
In a separate bowl, blend egg, milk, oil, and maple syrup.
Add liquids to dry mixture and stir until just combined.
Spoon batter into muffin cups.
Top each muffin with an apple sliver, either tossed in cinnamon sugar mixture or plain.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown on top.
Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack


Filed under muffins