Easy Cinnamon Roll Muffins

When I was younger I used to love these prepackaged cinnamon roll muffin things. They might have even come in a low-fat version…. I can’t remember the brand name (maybe it’s Hostess?), but man did I love those little devils. I can even recall coming across them in a vending machine and feeling like I had won the lottery. Nowadays, I prefer my sweet treats to have ingredients that I can pronounce, but I can still appreciate the idea behind my old favorites.

A few weekends ago I lazily rolled out of bed well after 9 with a very strong craving for cinnamon rolls. Not wanting to wait hours for the whole process, I had to go on an internet search for something else to have with our eggs.Then I remembered something from my friend Josie’s blog. Sure enough, easy cinnamon roll muffins sounded perfect, and totally reminded me of the treats I used to eat.

What I really like about these is how quickly they come together, you don’t even have to preheat the oven! I also like how they still have light yeasty taste to go along with the cinnamon sweetness. No, they are not a perfect replacement for real cinnamon rolls. But they are a still a great, quick, easy, sweet treat.


 

Salted Caramel Sauce

I know I just posted a recipe for Dulce de Leche but can you really have too many different kinds of caramel? The answer is no. You can’t ever have too many kinds of caramel.

Salted Caramel is pretty popular right now and for good reason. If you’re new to the salted craze you may think it’s a strange addition. But don’t be scared. The salt really takes the caramel, and anything it touches, to a whole new level. This sauce is amazing on apple slices, ice cream, pies, or straight up on a spoon. It’s also the perfect ingredient to take a special dessert to the next level (spoiler alert for tomorrows post!).

You might think caramel is hard to make, and if your making candy it’s can be a bit more challenging, but for this sauce it’s really not hard at all. You won’t believe how quickly it all comes together. And I’m including a boat load of pictures to help you along the way.

 

Sweet Cherry and Blueberry Pie

One thing I really love about living in China is the abundance of fresh produce. Every single night there is a truck parked right at the gate of our apartment complex filled with fresh fruit. It’s never unusual to see a person on the street with giant baskets full of cherries or lychee for sale. There are also neighborhood centers every few miles with wet markets, also filled with fresh produce (and some meat that seems a little more questionable, but that’s a subject for a different day).

A few weekends ago, Jesse and I were shopping the local wet market for some vegetables I needed for dinner. As we passed the fruit stand we decided to grab a some blueberries and a few kiwis. It’s not unusual for the stand owners to insist we taste test several other fruits. They probably know that I’m an easy sale. So, we weren’t surprised when the lady behind the counter peeled a lychee for us to try. I’m not a huge fan of lychee, but I took a bite, smiled, shook my head and said “Bu yao” (equivalent to no thanks). So she moved on to the next fruit, a small handful of really gorgeous Rainier cherries. Those, we could not say no to.

As we were leaving (blueberries, kiwi, bananas, and cherries in tow) Jesse looked at me and said, “You think you could make a cherry pie, maybe with blueberries too?” Challenge accepted. Which is some what comical because, as far as I know, I don’t like pie. Too much mushy fruit. But, not being one to back down from a challenge, I went to a reliable source to find a recipe, Martha. Later that afternoon I was sitting at the table pitting cherries, hoping that I might, just might, like the pie that I make. And much to my surprise, I did!

Sweet Cherry and Blueberry Pie

Ingredients
1 recipe pie dough (follows)
1 1/2 pounds sweet cherries (such as Rainier or Bing), pitted and halved
1 cup blueberries*
scant 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
All-purpose flour, for rolling
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
1 Tbsp granulated sugar, for sprinkling

*As you may be able to tell from the photo, I was a little short on the fruit (I think someone stole a few handfuls!)

Directions
 Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in lowest position.

Roll half of the pie dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper, into a 14-inch round. Carefully wrap the pie dough around a rolling pin and transfer to a pie pan, gently press the down, without stretching, so it is touching the entire pan and not just hanging from the sides. There should be about 1 inch of hangover on the outside of the pan, trim any excess. Roll the other half of the pie dough into another 14-inch round. Using a pizza cutter, cut into 10 even strips. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice. Add the cherries and blueberries, stirring to evenly coat.  Pour the filling into the pie pan.

Lay 5 of the pie dough strips, evenly spaced, horizontally across the pie pan. Fold back the 2nd and 4th strip, just past the center of the pie. Lay 1 strip of dough vertically (perpendicular to the other strips), just to the open side of the folded back strips. Unfold the strips, so now there should be 5 strips lying horizontally and 1 strip lying vertically (centered in the pan). Now you will work from the center out. To the right side of the single vertical strip, pull back the 1st, 3rd, and 5th vertical strip. Place a second strip to the open side of the fold. Unfold the strips (now there are 5 horizontal strips, and 2 vertical strips). To the right of 2nd vertical strip, pull back the 2nd and 4th horizontal strip. Place a third strip to the open side of fold. Unfold the strips. Repeat the same 2 steps on the left side. You should now have a lattice top. Trim any strips that stick out further than 1-inch from the pie pan. Tuck and press the strip edges into the outer crust. Crimp edges as desired.

*Pretend for a second that I didn’t take the first photo from the wrong direction…

With a pastry brush, brush the lattice top with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet (to prevent spillage!). Bake at 400 degrees until the filling is bubbling all over, about 60-70 minutes. Tent the outer crust with aluminum foil as needed, to prevent burning (about 40 minutes).

Allow to cool to room temperature on a wire rack before slicing to serve.

Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart

Basic Pie Dough (Double Crust)

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
Directions
In a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar; pulse briefly. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Do not overmix.
Divide dough in half, and turn out onto two large pieces of plastic wrap. Fold plastic over each portion of dough; press to shape into two 3/4-inch-thick disks. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days); dough can also be frozen up to 3 months (thaw before using).

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread


Do you know what today is? Friday, September 23rd, yes, but more importantly, the first day of fall! There might not be any leaves changing color or a crisp in the air, but I can still enjoy one of my favorite parts of fall. Pumpkin.

I can never wait for the official start of fall to bake with pumpkin and this year was no exception. I’ve already made my favorite pumpkin blondies and last weekend I whipped up something special to share with all on this special day. And oh man am I excited to share it with you. The light yeasted dough reminds me of a doughnut and the warmth from the rum glaze just screams fall. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Do you love pumpkin in baked goods?? Here’s some more!
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
Butterscotch and Pecan Pumpkin Cookies
Pumpkin Praline Cake
Pumpkin Quick Bread

 

What happens when your photo shoot starts to take too long!