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Yeah, I went there – gooey Maple Walnut Sticky Buns with caramel, drippy icing and an addictive filling. Your morning just got better.
Here in New York City I have some of the best bakeries in the world outside my door. Artisan breads, flaky croissants and delectable pastries at my fingertips. And you’d better believe I take advantage of them, despite that I have to wear my chubby-clothes for a week afterwards.
One of my favorite pastries at some of these shops are the sticky buns. I had to figure out how to make a version at home! Usually they are a tender brioche-style dough, not too sweet and very buttery, with crunchy nuts doused in caramel.
The dough was fairly easy. It’s a yeast dough, loaded with butter, enriching milk and eggs. One reason I say it is so easy, is there’s no trick to this yeast dough. With all the rich ingredients it stays very soft and gets mixed completely in your mixer. You don’t need to deal with a sticky mess on your counter, kneading by hand.
I kept everything streamlined and opted to buy caramel sauce instead of make my own. Guess what!? It’s NBD (no big deal), it tastes amazing and cuts out about a million steps. I also can’t leave well enough alone and wanted a unique, fun, morning flavor so I added maple to the recipe. Thank goodness I’m crazy like that, because dang! They are like a mix between my favorite pastry and a maple donut. Heaven.
Genius really struck when I started experimenting with a make-ahead option. These babies freeze! You can make them large or standard size and freeze them unbaked for up to 3 months. Pull them out 2 or 3 hours before baking and bam! you have breakfast, brunch, or a little nibble for a baby shower spread.
This recipe makes a dozen large buns so if you aren't serving a group, you can freeze some to bake later. To make smaller, standard-size buns for a crowd, see note at the end of the recipe.
- 1 cup milk plus 2 tbsp
- 2 pkgs (1½ tbsp) active dry yeast
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 21 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 5⅓ cups all-purpose flour
- 1¼ tsp salt
- 3 tsp maple extract
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 cups walnuts, chopped
- ⅓ cup caramel topping sauce (such as Smucker's)
- 1½ cups confectioners' sugar
- Scald 1 cup milk (heat to steaming). In a mixing bowl combine warm milk, yeast and sugar. Let yeast start to bubble, about 5 min.
- Add 12 tbsp butter and eggs to mixer and beat, with the paddle attachment, until slightly blended. Stir in flour and salt, about 2 min. Scrape down sides of bowl and continue mixing on medium speed to develop the dough, 3 min more.
- Transfer dough to a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap; set aside in a warm place and let rise until doubled, about 1 hr. Grease tow large-cup muffin tins. Melt 6 tbsp butter and stir in 1½ tsp maple extract; set aside.
- Gently punch down dough and divide in half. Roll into 2 12-by-18-inch rectangles on a lightly floured work surface. Spread maple-butter mixture evenly over both rectangles. Sprinkle each with half the brown sugar and walnuts. Roll tightly into logs, starting at the long edge, and pinch seams together. Cut each log into 6 3-inch pieces for a total of 12 buns. Place in muffin tins cut side up, cover and allow to rise for 30 min. Heat oven to 325°F Bake until golden brown, 28 to 30 min.
- Combine caramel topping and 1½ tsp maple extract. carefully remove hot buns from pan and place on a clean baking sheet; drizzle with caramel.
- For icing: Melt 3 tbsp butter and stir together with confectioners' sugar and 2 tbsp milk; drizzle over buns. Serve warm or cool. Store airtight for up to two days.
- Grease 18 standard-size muffin tin cups. Fill and roll dough as directed. Cut each log into 9 2-inch pieces. Place cut side up in muffin tins, cover and let rise 30 min. Bake as directed, 22 to 25 min.
- Prepare buns as directed, in either size. Do not let rise a second time; cover pan, freeze until solid, then keep frozen in pan or transfer frozen buns to a zip-to bag. To bake, thaw in pan and let rise at room temperature until double in size, 2 to 3 hr. Bake as directed.
Recipe by Tara Bench
Photographer: Lisa Hubbard
Food Stylist: Susan Vajaranant
Prop Stylist: Penelope Bouklas
Originally published in Ladies’ Home Journal Nov 2011
Easy Cinnamon Rolls is an understatement! There’s no waiting for dough to rise–this is a quick, and delicious version of a favorite morning treat.
Good cinnamon rolls still warm from the oven, with drippy thick icing, have got to be one of the best gifts to mankind. But sheesh, they take a long time to make.
My solution: quick bread cinnamon rolls! The dough uses baking powder and baking soda as leavening instead of yeast. The idea is sort of a glorified biscuit.
The dough is richer than typical baking powder biscuits. With the addition of an egg and a little more sugar the flavor is closer to your favorite yeasty cinnamon roll. I’ve melted the butter instead of cut it in like typical biscuits. This makes the dough less crumbly and easy to roll with the cinnamon filling.
I used buttermilk in the dough so I included it in the frosting as well. I don’t use buttermilk often, so I like to find ways to use it when I have it in the fridge. I think I may just have to make this recipe again to finish it off–Woohoo!
These are quick to make, and disappear even faster. Eat them while they’re warm–they are best eaten the same day. Like biscuits they don’t keep all that well. I mean they’re fine…I eat anything made of bread with frosting no matter how old it is…but I’m just saying the cinnamon rolls are at their prime right out of the oven!
Trust me: it's worth the time to make these mouthwatering rolls from scratch rather than baking the prepackaged kind.
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
- 5 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2½ tsp cinnamon
- 2⅔ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup low-fat cream cheese, softened
- 1 tbsp low-fat buttermilk
- 1¼ cups confectioners' sugar
- Heat oven to 425°F with rack in upper third. Coat a 9-inch square pan with cooking spray; set aside.
- In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, 2 tbsp granulated sugar and cinnamon with 2 tbsp butter; set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 3 tbsp granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg and 3 tbsp butter. Stir together the liquid and dry ingredients; dough will look rough. Knead on a floured surface until just smooth, about 5 turns.
- Pat or roll dough into a 9-by-13-inch rectangle. Brush with 2 tbsp butter. Spread dough with brown sugar filling, leaving ½-inch border. Use a spatula to lift dough from surface and roll, starting at a long side, to form a tight log. Pinch seam to seal log and slice evenly into 9 pieces. Place in prepared pan swirl-side up and press rolls down slightly. Brush tops with 1 tbsp butter.
- Bake until edges are just golden brown and rolls are cooked through, 22 to 25 min. Loosen rolls from pan and invert onto a plate; reinvert to right side up onto a rack. Cook 5 min before icing.
- For icing: In a bowl, beat together cream cheese and buttermilk until smooth. Beat in confectioners' sugar to form icing; spread over rolls with knife. Serve rolls warm.
Here’s another quick bread treat: My Whole Wheat Pumpkin Walnut Bread, or Pulla Bread, a yeast bread that will blow your mind…if you’ve got a few extra minutes to spare.
Recipe by Tara Bench
Photographer Yunhee Kim
Food Stylist Anne Disrude
Prop Stylist Megan Hedepeth
Originally published in Ladies’ Home Journal March 2009
World’s Best Bran Muffins is not a title to be taken lightly. Once you taste these, you’ll call them by no other name! You will want to eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
• • •
These tasty little baked goods are inspired from a childhood favorite. We would often have them with dinner, and leftovers would be our breakfast the next day. Seems strange, I know, to have muffins for dinner, but as kids it was the best thing ever. Still is. Try it.
This post may include affiliate links. For more information please see my disclosure agreement.
Muffins are quick-breads, so the recipe is really easy for kids to put together and bake. This was one of our dinner duties as kids, making muffins. Instead of plain bread and butter with dinner, it was something slightly sweet on the side of our main dish.
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I like using a heavier gauge muffin tin, rather than a standard pan. I find it bakes my muffins more evenly. This gold version from Calphalon is great.
If you typically don’t use muffin papers, a good non-stick muffin pan like this one from USA Pan is a necessity. You still have to grease the cups, but it just takes a little cooking spray and your muffins pop right out with a little nudge.
For most people bran muffins are a boring breakfast food. Something slightly bland that goes down in the name of fiber.
In my recipe I kept the fiber. Kept the signature bran. Added some whole wheat flour, extra brown sugar, sweet raisins and poof! The World’s Bes Bran Muffins are ten times better than any muffin you’ve ever had. One secret tip is to grind the raisins (currents or dried cherries if you want to sub) in the food processor with some of the All-Bran cereal. These small bits of dried fruit add sweetness, flavor and actually absorb a bit of the liquid to help the muffins stay moist and tasty, like cake. I love cake. But, not to get side-tracked…
World’s Best Bran Muffins are delicious anytime of day!
You can definitely call this a healthy breakfast. With 3 grams of fiber each and low-fat yogurt mixed in (adds a little protein), you’re not doing so bad. If you take my advice to heart, they really do make an amazing addition to dinner, lunch, or as a snack. It’s an all-day thing for me.
Oh who wouldn’t want to put a little butter and honey on that gem!? Best bran muffins for the win! Let me know how you like these, and how brunch month goes for you!
Bran muffins are good for your heart, but too often they taste like cardboard. The challenge - to create a moist, delicious, satisfying bran muffin that still packs a healthy 3 grams of fiber. You will love what I came up with.
- 2¼ cups All-Bran cereal
- ½ cup raisins, dried currants or dried cherries
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup whole-wheat flour
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 2 large eggs
- 1¾ cups low-fat plain yogurt
- ¼ cup unsulfured molasses
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Raw sugar crystals (optional)
- Heat oven to 400°F. In a food processor, finely grind half the cereal. Add raisins and blend until finely chopped. Transfer mixture to a bowl with remaining cereal, flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar, baking soda and salt; set aside.
- Combine butter, eggs, yogurt, molasses and vanilla. Stir together wet and dry ingredients until just combined. Do not overmix.
- Line muffin tin with baking cups; fill each just more than halfway. Sprinkle generously with sugar crystals, if desired. Bake until muffins spring back when touched, about 18 min. Remove from the tin and allow to cool slightly.
- You can store remaining batter in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
For more easy baked snacks and breakfast treats. Try a few other Tara Teaspoon favorites.
Whole Wheat Walnut Pumpkin Bread with a drizzle of glaze is what food dreams are made of! Super easy to make, and great as leftovers!
Ham and Gruyere Mini Turnovers are a snap using store-bought puff pastry. You can even make extra and freeze them to pop in the oven anytime.
Recipe Tara Bench
Photographer Rita Maas
Prop Stylist Tiziana Agnello
Food Stylist Anne Disrude
Originally published Ladies’ Home Journal March 2009
Most likely you are still enjoying the soup days of winter. These layered, flaky Dill Ricotta Biscuits are the perfect pair for your simmering dinner.
I love making soup for the zone I get into. Chopping veggies, bits of herbs and adding all the flavors is calming for me. I’ll even do it to procrastinate the rest of my life responsibilities! Typically a fresh baguette or even a crouton or two (or more than a few!) are good to serve along with it.
I have a bit of a weakness for bread. Pretty much any kind will do! These biscuits with a bit of butter are genius with any soup. And fill the quota for bread like a charm.
I added ricotta to the biscuits to add lightness to the texture. And the milk solids help the biscuits achieve a lovely golden brown color while cooking. The biscuits are made using the basic blending method of cutting the butter into the flour and leavening and gently mixing in the liquid and ricotta.
Don’t over mix the dough and pat it out on your work surface to cut. Over mixing will create a tough biscuit because the gluten in the flour has more of a chance to develop.
The gorgeous layers and flakiness come from the bits of butter melting and creating little steam pockets as the biscuits cook.
For photo-worthy biscuits, here is a trick I’ve learned from my years in food styling: When you cut each biscuit with a round cutter, don’t twist and turn. Cut straight down and lift straight up. This keeps the layers separated on the sides and allows the biscuit to rise straight up to the sky as it bakes, instead of collapsing to one side or the other from the little twists during cutting.
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1½ tsp salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, cut up
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
- Heat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles small peas. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, ricotta and dill; stir into flour mixture. On a lightly floured surface with floured hands, pat out dough to 1-inch thickness.
- Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits. Push together dough scraps and shape into more biscuits. Place biscuits, 1 inch apart, on a baking sheet.
- Bake until puffed and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack and let cool slightly. Serve warm.
Recipe Tara Bench
Photography Blaine Moats
Prop Stylist Carol Linnan
Originally publishes Ladies’ Home Journal February 2008
Making little kids laugh has got to be one of the best things on the planet. I love when they lose it! Just toss their heads back laughing. It’s so gratifying to know that they are laughing, not out of courtesy, but because they genuinely think it’s funny. (Well at least most kids haven’t honed the skills of manipulation and the courtesy laugh)
My 3 year-old nephew Sawyer is a sucker for gibberish. All I have to do rattle off a nonsensical sentence to him in a language no one understands and he’s a gonner.
If you just read the name of this recipe to kids, I’ll guarantee at least a crinkled nose and grin. But, I’m pretty sure you’ll get a full blown laugh.
It’s the perfect, pre trick-or-treating dinner. Made with store-bought pizza dough, canned tomatoes, creamy ricotta and colorful roasted veggies, it’s simple enough to prepare–even while wearing your witch hat.
- 3 parsnips (about 1 lb), peeled
- 3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper, stemmed and seeded
- 1 zucchini (about 8 oz)
- 2 tbsp cornmeal
- Flour, for work surface
- 1 bag (1 lb) frozen pizza or bread dough, thawed
- 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
- 1¼ cups whole-milk ricotta
- 3 tbsp fresh or 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1. Heat oven to 400°F. Cut parsnips into 2- to 4-inch-long by ½-inch-thick sticks; toss with 1 tbsp oil and ¼ tsp salt. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast 15 min.
- 2. Meanwhile, cut bell pepper into thin slices. Cut zucchini lengthwise in half, then into ¼-inch-thick slices. in a large bowl, toss together bell pepper, zucchini, remaining 2 tbsp oil and ¼ tsp salt; add to roasting parsnips on baking sheet. Roast until tender and just golden, about 20 min. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
- 3. Increase oven to 450°F and place rack in lower third. Sprinkle a baking sheet with 1 tbsp cornmeal; set aside.
- 4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the dough and, using, hands, stretch to 1/8-inch thickness. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Top with half of each tomatoes, ricotta (in dollops) and roasted vegetables. Bake until cooked through and bottom is golden brown, 15 to 18 min. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make one more pizza.
- 5. Transfer pizzas to a cutting board, drizzle with oil and top with oregano.
Recipes by Tara Bench
Original published in Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct 2008
Photography Evan Sklar
Prop Styling Megan Hedgpeth
Food Styling Susan Vajaranant
I had a can of pumpkin + whole wheat flour + it’s October = this recipe.
Plus I love a quick-breads. Love ’em. Love saying it, love making it.
This bread is lightly spiced so the walnuts and pumpkin don’t get overpowered, with a tiny bit of maple cinnamon glaze (just to make sure I hit my sugar minimum before noon). Although plenty of butter slathered on a slice works as well.
I typically don’t use pumpkin pie spice because depending on the brand, I find it has too much nutmeg or too much allspice. But I really like the simplicity of it. I used it here, but not a lot; then added an extra punch of cinnamon (because that’s the flavor I really want the most of). You can do the same in any recipe–simply reduce the amount of pumpkin pie spice in your recipe and add extra cinnamon or ginger.
Yes, yes of course! You can swap out the walnuts for chocolate chips! (It’s quite delicious as you can imagine). I’d omit the glaze.
This lightly spiced pumpkin bread touts nutty whole wheat flour and walnuts. Drizzle it with a little maple cinnamon glaze.
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
- 1 cup milk
- 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup broken walnuts, plus more for the top
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease a large loaf pan (9 1/4 x 5 1/4 inches) with cooking spray, and line with a strip of parchment if desired.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together the brown sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs until smooth. Add the pumpkin puree and milk and whisk until combined.
- In another bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pie spice and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk together just until mixed. Stir in the walnuts.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and top the center of the loaf with extra walnuts. Bake for 1 hour, until bread springs back when touched on the top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool about 15 minutes in the pan then remove to cool completely on a rack.
- Meanwhile, make the glaze: Stir together the confectioners' sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon. Add a little water to make a glaze consistency. When bread is cool, drizzle with glaze.
Make Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread! Swap the walnuts for 1 cup chocolate chips. Then top the loaf with a few extra chocolate chips.
Recipe by Tara Teaspoon
Recipe, photography and food styling by Tara Teaspoon
My sweet friend Emily shared her family recipe for Finnish pulla bread this year. Pulla is a slightly sweet, cardamom-scented bread eaten with coffee or tea in Finland (so popular it’s like the coffee and donuts combo here). There are certainly several variations on the traditional, often it’s made into rolls instead of braids or speckled with raisins. Here, if I dare say, is the most divine recipe—it might just become a holiday tradition!
The Pulla Legacy (and confessional)
This bread has been a Harris family staple since Emily’s dad made it for her mom when they were first married. The best part—he made it out of boredom on his two week Christmas break from law school! Finding the recipe in a cookbook he had from his time spent living in Finland on a mission, he surprised Mom Harris with braided loaves of bread and an apartment scented with sweet cardamom.
Mom Harris now bakes the bread every Christmas to give away. One year making over 100 loaves! The bread, warm out of the oven, is so tempting the Harris kids enacted a “pulla bread tax.” Stating that some of the loaves from each batch had to stay home to be eaten. Fair enough I say!
Emily’s favorite memory is of a particularly snowy December night when the roads hadn’t been plowed yet. Dad Harris pulled her and her brother through the neighborhood on their Radio Flyer sled to deliver the loaves. It’s THAT worth it!
More than one of their friends have confessed to eating entire loaves themselves, even hiding the special delivery from their spouse. Clearly, you should make this bread and see what all the fuss is about!!
This braided bread is a staple in Finland (and with the Harris family at Christmastime!). Slightly sweet and flavored with cardamom, it can be devoured warm or sliced when cool.
Makes 3 braided loaves
2 pkgs (2 scant tbsp) instant dry yeast
½ cup warm water
2 cups plus 2 tbsp warm milk
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
5 large eggs
8 to 9 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup butter, melted
Swedish pearl sugar
- In a small bowl dissolve yeast in warm water; let stand 5 min. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine 2 cups of the warm milk, granulated sugar, 2 tsp salt, cardamom, 4 eggs and 4 cups flour. Add the yeast mixture and stir for 1 min.
- Stir in the melted butter and add the remaining flour, about ½ cup at a time while the mixer is on low speed. Dough should pull away from the bowl when enough flour is added. Let dough knead for 5 minutes on low. Cover and let rise until double in bulk, about 1 hr.
- Turn mixer on low again and knead dough for 30 seconds. Remove from bowl to a floured work surface. Divide dough into 3 balls.
- Starting with one ball, divide it into 3 smaller balls and roll each into a long rope, 14-to-15-inches long. Pinch the ends of the 3 ropes together and begin to braid. At the end of the braid tuck the tips under the loaf and pinch to secure. Transfer loaf to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with 2 remaining balls of dough.
- Loosely cover loaves with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, 45 min to 1 hr. Heat oven to 375ºF.
- Whisk together remaining 1 tsp salt, 1 egg and 2 tbsp milk. Brush each loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with Swedish pearl sugar and sliced almonds. Bake until deep brown and cooked through, 18 to 20 min. Cool slightly and eat warm. Bread will keep airtight for up to 3 days.
See just how to create the beautiful braided loaves: