Baked, Not Fried… Salted Caramel Donuts

Baked Salted Caramel Donuts

These baked donuts have a tasty vanilla and nutmeg base that will remind you of fried cake donuts.  The icing has an authentic caramel flavor, because it is actual authentic homemade caramel (plus a little powdered sugar).  The garnish of salt creates a great contrast with all the sweetness, but also helps emphasize the beauty of the caramel.

Inside a Baked Salted Caramel Donut

I was inspired to develop this recipe by a recent trip to Atlanta, GA.  My sister (aka Sister Breakfast) brought me a selection of donuts from Revolution Donuts of Decatur, GA.  All the donuts I tried were spectacular, but their Salted Caramel creation was the hands-down winner.  I make and eat a lot of donuts, so I was blown away that I had to check their website to confirm that the donut in my hand was baked and not fried.  It was possibly the best baked donut I’ve ever tried.  So I set out to recreate it and I’ve come very close.

Ingredients For Baked Donuts

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Cuckoo For Coffee Cake: 32 Great Recipes

Cuckoo For Coffee Cake: 32 Great Recipes

When you want a baked good for breakfast or brunch, you can’t beat a nice coffee cake.  They’re easy to prepare and ready within an hour. As they bake, your kitchen smells like a bakery.  If you have guests over, someone will always ask, “What smells so good?” If you need a dish to take somewhere, a coffee cake is the perfect, portable, party pastry.

The recipes here are all “quick bread” coffee cakes. That is to say, they don’t use yeast (which takes more time), but are made from scratch using flour as a base and baking powder or baking soda as their leavening agent.  (A couple of the recipes call for a store bought-baking mix like Bisquick which is basically flour plus baking powder.)

In a later post, we’ll address yeast-risen coffee cakes and short-cut coffee cakes (those which use dinner rolls, biscuits in a tube or some other time-saving base).  But for now, grab a coffee, sit back, relax and get ready to be hungry.  I present to you…

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How to Make A Basic Breakfast Strata

Basic Breakfast Strata

A breakfast strata is just a breakfast casserole with layered ingredients.  It’s best when you assemble it the night before and refrigerate it overnight.  The next morning: pop it in the oven, take a shower, watch a little George Stephanopoulos* and then… wham, bam, thank you ma’am… breakfast is ready.

Think of a simple farmhouse breakfast of sausage, toast and cheesy eggs with onions and peppers.  Now, imagine what it would be like to have all those wonderful flavors mingled together in a single, delicious bite.  That’s a breakfast strata.

This recipe features one of the non-glamorous superstars of breakfast… day-old bread.  You probably already know that day-old bread makes the best French toast.  It’s a little dry so it retains its structure but it’s also thirsty to absorb the egg, milk and other good stuff that make up French toast.  It’s the key to French toast that’s firm but pleasantly moist inside.   The same principal works for a strata.  After we assemble our strata (which includes slices of bread), we drown it in a French toast-like egg and milk mixture.

This dish elicited enthusiastic comments from the people I tested it on.  My Italian friend Pete said, “Dude, this is great. Is it cool if I get some more?”  My fiance Kellie said, “Tell me about this.  What’s in here? I’m gonna have another piece.”

Nobody is 100% sure who coined the the phrase “leave ‘em wanting more.” It was likely either Walt Disney or P.T. Barnum.  Whoever it was, let’s just assume they were talking about a good Breakfast Strata.

Ingredients For Basic Breakfast Strata

Let’s assemble a strata…

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Bailey’s Irish Coffee Donuts

Bailey's Irish Cream Donuts

This donut was a huge success last St. Patrick’s Day.  All year whenever I told friends I was thinking of making donuts, they’d say, “You should make the ones you made for St. Patrick’s Day again.”

This recipe uses my proven, kitchen-tested, yeast-raised donut base (which you can use for a multitude of different donuts).  The topping is a chocolatey, coffee-infused mocha icing and the filling is a vanilla buttercream that’s been transformed into a taste of the Emerald Isle by a shot of Irish coffee liqueur.

Irish Cofee Donuts

There’s an old Irish proverb that says, “Hunger is a tasty topping.”  That may be true, but I think you’ll prefer this mocha icing.

Bailey's Irish Cream Donuts

To Make The Yeast-Raised Donuts:

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Spam Breakfast Pie Gets No Respect

Spam & Fig Jam Breakfast Pie

We knew it was a hard-sell entering the big pie contest with an entry called “Fig Jam & Spam Breakfast Pie.”

The use of Spam was not a quirky, retro decision.  I’d made several test pies using bacon, ham and even chorizo as the meat in the filling.  But in every instance, the meat inside was overshadowed by our distinctive spicy, candied bacon crumble topping.

Test Pies

Test Pies: Preparing For The Big Day

We’d gone camping the previous weekend and had campfire sandwiches made from the portable meat, so I happened to have an extra can of Spam on hand.  I gave it a shot in a test pie.  It worked.  It provided a flavor that contrasted but still paired with the bacon topping.  It not only worked, but it provided an umami element… a taste you remembered growing up but had almost locked away forever.

For our official entry in the savory category, we made a flaky herbed crust and lined the bottom with onions caramelized with a gorgeous homemade fig jam.  We mixed our quiche base with a combination of Gruyère and Cheddar cheese, to which we added the Spam and seasonings.  Once almost fully baked, we topped the pie with crumbled bacon that had been rubbed with brown sugar, smoked paprika and crushed cumin seeds.

The Pie Contest Begins

The Pie Contest Begins

As instructed, we made one pie for the judges and one for mass consumption.

It was a real blast serving the pie to the public.  As people read the name of our entry, we were greeted with either huge smiles or looks of complete dismay.  Fig Jam and Spam.  It was a risk.

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The Beloved Basic Blueberry Muffin

Blueberry Muffin Recipe Card

One of America’s most loved baked goods is also one of the easiest to make.  Today, we’re focusing on a basic, reliable blueberry muffin recipe.  It takes about 10 minutes to prepare and 20 minutes to bake.  That’s right.  We’re talking about oven-fresh blueberry muffins in a half hour.

After we examine the basic recipe, I have a few tips and simple adjustments to make this good thing even better.

As shown in the recipe card above, the ingredients are:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter – melted
  • 1 cup blueberries

Blueberry Muffins

The trick to making these muffins tender is mixing the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately.  When you combine the two mixtures, use a gentle touch and mix only until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Over-mixing will make the muffins slightly tough.  (Although in truth, you can beat the bejesus out the batter and still get decent muffins.)

The same gentle technique goes for folding in the blueberries.  Take your time and mix just until the berries are evenly distributed in the batter.

For dolloping batter in muffin cups, I swear by my trusty ice cream scoop.  It fills the muffin cups almost exactly 3/4 full, which is ideal for this recipe.

Always test for doneness.  After 20 minutes, insert a toothpick in the center of a muffin.  If it comes out clean (no batter), the muffins are done.  If they need a few more minutes, consider covering the tops of the muffins with foil so they don’t get overly browned.

Blueberry Muffin

Now that you know the most rudimentary, reliable recipe, here’s few ways to make it even better:

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Banana Bread… So Easy, It’s Bananas!

How To Make Banana Bread

There’s nothing quite like a warm slice of banana bread with a nice smear of butter.  It’s as if the heavens looked down on the creation of butter and said, “Now we must create a perfect platform upon which to show off this butter.”  When made properly, banana bread is moist and loaded with flavor.  It’s pretty much a big, bread-shaped muffin.  Best of all, banana bread is so easy to make… it’s “nuts!”   Just kidding.  It’s totally “bananas!”

Banana Bread... So Easy, It's Bananas!

In this article, I’ll show you my favorite banana bread recipe and share a couple of tips for getting great tasting bread every time.  I’m also excited to present my latest cooking video.  Last week, I watched the movie The Artist.  It was cute.  But you know what it was missing?  A good banana bread recipe.  Here’s a few scenes that would have made it perfect:

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Top O’ The Mornin’ Lads And Lassies

Green Egg Casserole For St. Patrick's Day

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, many people are looking forward to healthy (size-wise) portions of corned beef, cabbage, Irish whiskey and Guinness.  While I plan to partake in all those great things, I’m most excited about St. Patrick’s Day breakfast.  Every year, I try to find new ways to incorporate green into my omelets, pancakes, waffles and other morning dishes.

One of my St. Patrick’s Day breakfast dishes was so green that it was literally unbelievable.  I submitted a photo of my Green Egg Scramble to the popular food picture site FoodGawker and they wouldn’t accept it.  They said it “looked overproccessed.”  I can see how they thought that, but seriously, it was food coloring and green peppers – not Photoshop.

Green Egg Scramble: Too Green?

Today’s featured St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast recipe is festive but not quite as over-the-top.  It’s a basic breakfast casserole with accents of distinct green from spinach, green pepper, green onion, chopped jalapeno and a garnish of parsley.

Ingredients For Green Egg Casserole

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