#18, Blueberry Muffins, p. 17

Nothing makes a cheerful morning like the smell of fresh muffins baking in the kitchen. (p. 17)

Nothing makes anytime of day more cheerful than the smell of fresh muffins baking. (Chez Bonneau)


Back to basics

I needed to cheer up a little girl who spent all weekend lying in bed feeling bad and missed a day of school on doctor’s orders. So, as soon as I got home….. You guessed it! I popped into the kitchen to pop something wonderful into the oven. Well, it was really what popped out of the oven that was the wonderful part.

Of course, I get to do all the gooey stuff that I enjoy so much. Following authors’ orders, I mixed this one by hand (that is – by hand with a gigantic fouette in it).

The yumminess begins. Glupidy glupe.

I was wondering during my very brief stirring of this mixture, why this recipe needed so little mixing and was even allowed to be lumpy like pancake batter. That’s OK. I am the last one to want tough pastries. After the basic mix up, I got to fold in the blueberries – 2 cups of plump blueberries.

NOTE: The recipe asked for 1.5 cups of blueberries, but I didn’t want 1/2 cup of blueberries on hand to go bad in the fridge, so I just added the extra – contrary to authors’ orders. By the way, the small plastic containers most often used for selling blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries in Doha, contain 1 cup of fruit.

That’s right. Look at that luscious, sticky, gooey, juicy muffin-to-be.

22 minutes later

I see a little bear poking his eyes and nose out of one of these. What do you see?

15 minutes after that

Ready to bring a smile to my patient-in-waiting.

Dear friends. I realize that some of my measuring habits would not be conducive to turning a profit as a baker — Ain’t that sweet?!

#17 Seven-Minute Icing, p. 132

“This classic American marshmallow-like frosting is a childhood favorite of many.”(p. 132)


This brief post is just about icing, the Seven-Minute Icing. This is my first time to make a cooked icing and I didn’t do a great job with it. On the other hand, I did have fun trying and believe I’ve learned something.


I’ve borrowed a couple of photos from the web to illustrate the difference between a true success and something less.

True success. Look at that standing peak. This icing will stay where you put it, and hold any shape yet remain soft.
Successful, but just barely. Could use another minute or so of whipping. Mine needed more time under the mixer. It wouldn’t stand up.

Now, why am I writing about an icing instead of what was baked and needing a good frost job? Well, with students having a day off from school and needing to fill time productively, my daughter decided to bake a cake. I think it turned out rather well. It’s just kind-uh hard to pin her down on the recipe she used. Anyhooo, she left the icing job for me. So, here we are. Here’s a picture of the finished product:

It has potential. Don’t you think?

Let me explain. This is what I did to get what you see:

  1. Sliced off the puffed-up top of each cake layer.
  2. Spread a layer of raspberry jam and icing in the middle.
  3. Placed the second cake layer upside down on top of the first.
  4. Iced the whole thing (sides included). Hmmmmmmm.

DETOUR: I went for, “gotta get this done”, instead of “gotta do this right.” The sides of the cake layers were not straight up and down (Gotta get new pans!), so I ended up with a cake that looked like a flying saucer that bulged in the middle.


To make things worse, the two layers wanted to slip and slide and not stay put. So I let it sit overnight and gave it some thought. The next day, I decided to attempt carving the cake to give it straight sides – and was pretty successful (don’t you think?). I left the icing alone, leaving the sides as you see in the photo above. I’m gonna let French 3 students be the ones to judge.

Until proven otherwise, I think my daughter and I made a pretty good, pretty good lookin’ cake.

See ya later!

#16 Dried Cherry Crumb Buns, p. 12

“Dried cherries give a new twist to the traditional breakfast crumb bun, and you don’t need to worry about their being in season.”(p. 12)


This could be my favorite recipe so far – I know. I know. I’ve got a long way to go.

I normally save the end product for the last photo, but it’s first this go round. I didn’t take many pictures of this process. It seemed so straight forward, another “18 large muffin tins” recipe that only produced 10 for me. I’m not complaining. The moment I started to lift these darlings out of their muffin nest, I thought, “these are the lightest, fluffiest, most delicate muffins I’ve ever made.” I ate half of one. I was right. It was scrumptioulamous. (Yep, it was better than scrumptious.)

The topping did require a bit of elbow grease. It has only 3 ingredients: flour,  light brown sugar, butter. Magnolia instructs us to cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter. I invested in a new food processor to do just that, but stuck to the older, low-tech method as suggested.


I finally arrived at the desired “pea sized” butter+flour+sugar mixture.

1 of 10.

I recommend this recipe to everyone following this blog and pondering which recipe to try for themselves. For my Doha friends, dried cherries are available at Mega Mart. The recipe calls for buttermilk. I’m not sure if Mega Mart has buttermilk or not. I substitute buttermilk with Laban. It’s not as thick as most American buttermilks, but it has a nice tanginess that works well.

Please allow me to repeat myself: light, fluffy, delicate, tangy sweet, scrumptioulamous.

Now…… Our family is only consuming 4 of these 10 beauties. Question is, where will the other 6 land tomorrow? We’ll see. Any suggestions?

#15 Sour Cream Breakfast Buns, p. 14

“The comforting smell of sugar and cinnamon made these buns a customer favorite.” p. 14


Ready to roll some buns!

That is, everything’s in place to start baking.

IMG_0689La mise en place – to reduce stress and some mistakes. Everything to make these treats is right before your eyes.

LEARNING: My follower friends may recall from earlier posts that I have had some technique challenges. Twice, I made “roughly chopped” walnuts by pulverizing them with a hammer in a bag to save time. Both times, I had more walnut dust than small chunks. Well, I did some googling and found out some more appropriate methods. I discovered that doing it correctly was not too hard and yet another kind of boy fun. Cleavering the walnuts was crunchy fun.

IMG_0685 Ready. Set. Oh, the red box? A piece of handmade furniture for a Barbie world that my daughter is making — random.
IMG_0687 Done. Cool, huh?

Needless to say, I mixed it all up. First, in the big mixer (I’ll include that in a picture when a do a “my gadgets” blog post.). Then, I folded in the sour cream. Mmmmmmmmm.

IMG_0690 Tummy yummy.

Got everything ready to pop into the oven.

IMG_0692 Ready for the oven.

NOTE: The recipe says to prepare 18 LARGE muffin cups. I think that the recipe makes 18 standard size muffins. I made 6 large muffins and 6 smaller versions in cool little tartelette pans.

IMG_0696 Looks yummy. Only tummies can tell for sure.

Everything came out looking great. We have yet to take a bite. That is for family and friends later this morning. NUTHER NOTE: The 6 giant muffins in the background stayed in the oven for 30 minutes. The recipe calls for 20-25 minutes, but that was definitely not enough for the big guys. The smaller, tartelette version, stayed in the oven for 20 minutes.

Now it’s off to school. My little do-dads will go up against some stiff competition this morning – doughnuts from Crispy Cream most likely.

Have a great and blessed (and sweet) day!

#14 Banana Bread with Coconut and Pecans (Walnuts), p. 11

The bedtime story below was written after posting this title and pictures (from the web). I did this so that my colleagues on the 4th Grade team might have an opportunity to comment on the treat they shared earlier in the day.

It’s time for bed.

“Can you read me a story?”

images images-1


Supper’s done. Bath’s are finished. Teeth are brushed. Lights are out. Prayers are said…..

“Lights are out,” I said.

– But someone left a light on in the kitchen.

(Sniff. Sniff.) Am I dreaming already, or do I smell cinnamon and bananas?

– Shhhh. Papi said it was time to go to bed. Lights out.

Shhh, yourself. I can’t sleep with a banana cake baking and making me hungry all over again. I’m gonna see what Papi’s up to.


That’s not Papi! Where’s Papi?

– Shhh. Hey! Papi’s asleep. Someone else is in the kitchen doing the baking.

Better go wake up Papi.

– No. Are you kidding? Let Papi sleep. Looks like this desert is gonna be smurfalicious. Go back to sleep and pretend this didn’t happen. Mommy won’t believe us. But looks like we’ll have banana bread for breakfast.

You’re right. I wonder if there’ll be hot chocolate too.

– I don’t know. But let’s go to sleep. I’m tired. Sooner to sleep. Sooner to breakfast and a bite of that bread.


– Night.

#13, Raspberry Cream Cheese Breakfast Buns, p. 10 a.k.a. Disaster Struck

Houston, Houston, We have a meltdown!


instead of


But that isn’t the end of this story.

I contacted two consultants, Thomson and Thompson, who specialize in saving lost-cause muffins for friends of Tintin. They got to work on the case right away.


First advice: Don’t give up on the recipe. Just accept that life in the oven has changed things.


FIRST – JUST THE FACTS — DETOUR FACTS: I got a little too smart for my britches (in Texas talk).

  1. I chose the wrong pan for muffining (tell your computer dictionary to learn that word) and thought I would do something really cool and it would turn out great. Nope. The pan in question is sometimes called a shortcake pan; it creates a kind of well in the bottom of the goodie to hold fillings. I just think it’s cool. It worked GREAT for the corn muffins (see #12 below). But NOT for this recipe. I greased and floured the pan, but it required strength and patience to coax the muffins out.
  2. I thought I could put extra batter in the wells and that I would have a pretty puffy top. Hey! I’ve done it before! Nope. Not this time, Hodo. (Hodo is my Texas family nickname – well, one of my Texas family nicknames.)

WHAT EMERGED FROM THE OVEN?  The muffins (called “buns” by Magnolia this time) didn’t exactly rise. They just glooped out and over the top of the wells and flowed all together to create a single muffin top that spanned the entire muffin pan. I think they were weighed down a bit by the raspberry jam.

WHAT TO DO? Operate! Yep. My consultants said that all could be saved, but that saving meant transforming. So here’s what we did.

Thomson and Thompson look on as their reconstruction plan is executed
  1. With a knife, separate all the grown-together muffin tops.
  2. With a knife, carefully separate the jam-loaded tops from the pan and the muffin bodies.
    1. Place on a cookie rack to await further reconstructive surgery.
  3. With a cheese spreading knife, coax the muffins out of the short-cake wells.
  4. Construct the canapés.
    1. Turn the muffins upside down.
    2. Fill the short-cake wells with raspberry jam and a dollop of cream cheese. IMG_0675
  5. Construct the muffin-top sandwich cookie-ish things
    1. Muffin-top #1 – spread a thin layer of cream cheese
    2. Place muffin-top #2 against #1 to create a cream cheese sandwich cookie-ish-muffin-thing
      1. Both out-sides of this creation should have raspberry swirls all over.
      2. Cover both sides of the muffin-top sandwich cookie-ish thing with confectioners sugar.

Do this  IMG_0677  to get this IMG_0679.



Thompson and Thompson suggested delivering these goodies to the high school counseling department since they are always respectful and would never hurt anyone’s feelings on purpose.

But did it really end well?

We invite the HS counselors to give us some feedback on these treats — for our learning.


#12 Corn Muffins, p. 9


“In pursuit of the perfect corn muffin, we think we’ve got the right proportion of ingredients that create a light, moist, and not-too-sweet version of this traditional breakfast favorite.” (p. 9)

Time to get cookin’.

I can never really sleep in like some do – and I don’t regret it. If I miss my morning time being up and about while everyone else is still lost in their dreams, I feel like I cheated myself of the best part of the day. So… armed with my pot of espresso and my “batterie de cuisine” (all the kitchen tools), things look promising.

This recipe is the very first in the Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. I may have done it once before. At least that’s what I was told by most critical judge after the first bite. AND, by the way, this simple recipe got a big thumbs up from the one that says everyday, “I’m just not hungry. Why do you make me eat?” Just take a look. They turned out very well indeed.

Notice the empty espresso cup. Time to move on.

But this morning I had to add something extra to the morning mix.

It’s called a frittata, an Italian quiche of sorts. Easy to make and scrumptious if not left too long in the oven. And this one came out at the right time.

Yum is just around the corner.

And here is “around the corner”.

Now’s my time to call everyone to table on this Saturday morning. “À table!”


Have a great day! Looks like we’ve started a good one.

See you later.

#11 Walnut Brown Sugar Squares, p. 83

Patisserie Chezbonneau was invited to liven up a special gathering in the ASD MS/HS Library on September 16. Representatives from the Qatar National Library were on campus to help ASD teachers sign up and have access to the new library. Chezbonneau spent a bit of time Monday evening cranking out three Magnolia recipes to share.


Walnut Brown Sugar Squares – Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies – Black Bottom Cupcakes.


photo 2
The most French of today’s recipes (secret in the blog).

 Well……. This was the third recipe of the night. Why did I choose to bake it on THIS night? Because, in the words of Magnolia, “This is one of the easiest and quickest recipes in the book” (p. 83). I thought that I just HAD to offer a bit of variety and hoped that all would work out. IT DID!

If you LOVE brown sugar, as I do, you gotta love this recipe. Half (more or less) of the volume is made up of two ingredients – brown sugar, walnuts. There is jus barely enough flour and one egg to hold the sugar and nuts in place.

SECRET INSIDE? Why did I call this the most “French” of theses “traditional American pastries”? Becauzzzzze, the walnuts came from our walnut trees at Chezbonneau, France. Our neighbors gathered them for us last autumn. My wife cracked them all (shame on us lazy ones!) this summer and WE ate them just now. Luckily, she is happy to share this family treasure with others. And I know a number of people were glad she did.

Based on hallway feedback, I’d say this was the second most popular recipe of the day. If you sampled some of this desert but didn’t leave a comment on the blog, I invite you to do so while your memory buds can still taste the sugar.

LEARNED: Simple can be sooooooo good. Don’t mess up simple with fancy anything – or else have a very good reason for doing so.

DETOUR: Luckily, nothing went wrong. I didn’t forget and leave anything out of the recipe because there was almost nothing to forget.

#10 Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies, p. 76

This was the second recipe of Monday evening and the scariest. Just take a look at that picture. Yes, take a look at it and ask yourself, “What does that look like?”

I will tell you what it reminds me of later on this page. Don’t look! Guess! Then, if you wish and think it’s appropriate, leave your COMMENT of what you think the photo resembles. Cast aside all fear. This was the favorite of the day.


photo 3
How ’bout them swirls?

Discounting my attempts at creating swirls, this recipe turned out well and good in every respect. The surface (the part not covered by cream cheese) formed that wonderful ever-so-thin crust that only brownies can have. The smooth exterior protected the moist, dense interior – hiding a goodly bit of French walnuts like the “squares” of recipe #11. Finally, the brownie was chewy – just enough to get stuck in you molars. Mmmmm.

LEARNED: Not all brownies have to be chocolate. Looks can be deceiving – I already knew that, but sometimes it’s so hard to “believe” what you already know. Does that make sense? Earthy walnuts calm the storm of the intense sugar rush of two cups of butterscotch.

DETOUR: None. All went as expected – except for the swirls. Now, about those swirls and my psychology test.

What did this pan of brownies look like to me after I tried my swirling technique with the cream cheese?


Zo tell me. Vat dit you zee emerch from zee oven?

– I saw drawings left by extraterrestrials. I’m sure they were left by the same beings that drew the Nazca lines in Peru.

Is zer zomsing more you vant to tell me?

– Oh yes. I think they wanted to tell us that they have brains like ours. That’s why the cheese looks like p. 168 of my Grey’s Anatomy textbook with a close up of the grey matter.

Ziss is disturbing.

– None of that bothered me until I saw the dinosaurs fighting each other. Can’t you see that?

How could you bring yourzelf to eat zuch a sing?

– Are you kidding? Butterscotch and cream cheese in the same bite!

Tell me. Vas zer any left over?

– Not a single bite.

One more sing.  Do you feel drawn to repeat ziss sing, ziss zwirly sing?

Only if friends ask me to.

– Are you my friend?

#9 Black Bottom Cupcakes, p. 94

This was the first recipe of a 3-recipe evening. That may sound like a lot of baking and time spent in the kitchen. Well, it was. However! I can already see that as I grow more familiar with baking, I’m spending less time worrying about the next step. I’ve learned that “most of the time” I need to mix the dry ingredients, then prepare the wet ingredients, then cream the butter and sugar (if there is any butter, which most often there is), and so on.


2826931152_e560516a62 Courtesy of http://www.foodlibrarian.com/

I was looking forward to this recipe most of all. When I saw this incredible ball of thick chocolate batter come together in the mixing bowl, my genetic predisposition toward chocolate happiness went into overdrive.




Then I had the pleasure of pouring big spoonfuls of liquidy cream cheese + chocolate chips on top of this into the muffin cups.

photo 5 Sorry for this weird perspective – pre iOS 8.

And it turned out beautiful to behold (for which I’m truly grateful), but only OK in terms of ultimate cupcake quality. I accept full responsibility for the just-OKness. Detours? Learning?


I made a connection to prior learning. Huh? I was so afraid of the cream cheese stuff being poured on top and put into the oven. I couldn’t imagine how it was going to go well. But I trusted. I had to. Experts told me to. So I popped them into the oven, and this is what came out:

IMG_0652 Snowcapped perfection?

At this point I remembered that American bakers put cream cheese into the oven all the time – Cheese cake, duh. All but a couple of these were eaten. I know that for some, this was the favorite of the three treats at the library. But it wasn’t so for me. FLAVOR: excellent, TEXTURE: cupcake correct, MOISTURE: on the dry side.


No mistake made(?), yet something else learned. Risk having a gooey cupcake rather than one that is too dry. Why? Maybe it’s just personal. I can’t stand a dry cupcake. I deal much better with goo. But, hey, that’s not learning. That’s just preference. Where’s the learning? It’s in the detour. I’ve said before that I under-bake by a minute or two most everything put into my oven. I and my friends have noticed before that the standard issue oven in our houses cook hotter than what they read. Add to that, Magnolia mentions on page 6 of Helpful Hints that some ovens may be as much as 25 deg. or more too hot. One should use a thermometer to find the true temperature of the oven. I read that before baking this batch. I will test the oven before moving forward — and I’ll let you know what’s up.