As I’ve confessed before, I’m no pastry chef. I have little patience for exactly measuring and weighing flours, leaveners and extracts, then precisely mixing and baking until a dish is just perfect — but looks too good to even touch. But once in a great while, I get the baking bug and can’t wait to nosh on some carb-laden goodies warm from the oven.
And then I saw them.
While perusing through one of my favorite new cookbooks, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl by food blogger and now Food Network personality, Ree Drummond, I came upon the recipe for her French Breakfast Puffs. These fluffy, cinnamon- and sugar-topped beauties jumped off the page and called to me, “Bake me … bake me …” It was settled. I had to find an excuse to make them.
And ohh … they were so worth it. Tender, fluffiness on the inside with sweet and spiced, slightly crunchy tops — they were pure heaven. Their flavor reminds me of a cinnamon-sugar doughnut. I also like that the actual muffin batter isn’t overly sweet — notice there’s no vanilla extract used — which lets the sugary topping take credit for the sweetness. And talk about easy to make! One large bowl and a handheld mixer were the only items dirtied in the making of these muffins, and they took only five minutes to whip up. I will admit that the hardest part in the process was waiting the 25 minutes for them to bake, then letting them cool enough so I could handle them to apply the topping.
I made a few small changes from the original recipe, like swapping butter for shortening. Using real, quality butter gives these muffins a more, well, buttery flavor. My recommendation, butter-wise, is to use one with a high butterfat content, like the Irish Kerrygold or Plugrá. They’re pricier than store brand butter but have incredibly rich flavor and take baked goods to the next level. If I’m going to be consuming some empty calories, I’m going to make them worth it.
Honestly, I’m not sure if there’s anything particularly French about these muffins, but it doesn’t matter because they’re damn good. Great for breakfast, brunch or even a late-night snack, these French Breakfast Muffins are now going to be a staple of my baking repertoire and I highly encourage you to try them out as well.
French Breakfast Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter, room temperature
2 whole eggs
1 cup milk
1 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
2. In a bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. In a different bowl, cream together 1 cup sugar and butter with a handheld or stand mixer. Add the eggs and mix again until just incorporated. Add the flour mixture and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.
3. Fill prepared muffin cups to the brim and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are puffed up and golden.
4. Melt the stick of butter in a small pot on the stove or in a small bowl in the microwave. In a separate bowl, combine the 1/2 cup of sugar and cinnamon. After the muffins have cooled a bit, dip the tops of the muffins in melted butter, coating thoroughly, then immediately dip them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
5. Serve at room temperature or warm with a big pat of butter.