Three Kings Muffins

“Three Kings Muffins”? What’s that all about?

This is a multilayered story. First, I want to promote shorter, expressive names for recipes, evocative names. The gourmet trend to include more and more of the ingredients in the names of recipes, leaves names looking too much like the recipes themselves. I’ve done the same, but in the end, it’s less memorable.  Names like “Cordon Bleu”, or “Tiramisu”, or “Hello Dolly Bars”are like the title of a book. They require you to look inside, taste and discover, do a little reading, to learn about the ingredients that make a whole from the parts. If it’s a good book, you’ll remember the title. Second, I like giving names that connect to my Christian tradition whenever possible. It’s a sweet way of weaving my faith into the cultural fabric of life.

“Fine, Tim, fine. Still, what’s with the three kings thing?” Well, It’s all about the recipe, so here goes:

  1. The recipe begins with Magnolia’s “Sour Cream Breakfast Buns.”
  2. Modifications begin here, using three flours instead of one (thus three kings):
    1. 1 cup all-purpose flour
    2. 1 cup oat flour
    3. 1 cup Spelt
  1. Three treasures were placed inside as gifts (not in the original plan):
    1. 1 cup apples (surplus from a previous recipe)
    2. 1/2 cup cinnamon chips (surplus from a previous recipe)
    3. 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (surplus … you get the picture)
  2. A star was placed in the center –
    1. 1/2 teaspoon cream cheese filling (surplus… etc.)

As you can see, I couldn’t include all of these items in a name. So I had to come up with something. Kind of like Cisco (a.k.a. Vibe on The Flash), I get to name things. With three flours, three “gifts” inside, plus a star…

The Vibe says, “It’s Three Kings Muffins.”

What did the process look like? Hmmmm.


  1. Lightly oil and flour muffin tins – I do like the convenience of Baker’s Joy.
  2. Fill muffin tins 1/2 way – NOT 2/3.
  3. Dab 1/2 teaspoon cream cheese filling and push down with thumb


  1. Cover with topping (as per Magnolia recipe)
  2. Add a THIN dab of butter (as per YUMDOM requirements!)
  3. Bake
Magnolia recipe estimates 18 muffins. This actual recipe yielded 24 muffins.

Then enjoy.


Then enjoy giving some to friends.

gifted muffins

Happy Thanksgiving! Have a sweet day!

#67 Apple Walnut Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Icing


“We made this exceptionally pretty cake for special orders only, but so many customers requested it that it became part of our standard cake repertoire. ”

Excerpt From: Jennifer Appel. “The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.” iBooks.


This recipe makes Magnolia Man think so much of his beloved France – walnuts from our trees, golden delicious apples, Bonne Maman caramel, and fine calvados from Normandy.

This cake was not difficult to make – but I cheated a little bit. I didn’t make the caramel myself. The Magnolia cookbook has the recipe, but I had a jar of Bonne Maman Caramel and I couldn’t resist the ease of using it (this time).

The recipe calls for this cake to be a two-layer cake. I decided to split the batter between three pans for three layers. All I needed to do was watch the bake time which was reduced a bit. It worked out.


SOMETHING NOT-AS-USUAL: This recipe had three cups of flour – 2 cups all-purpose, 1 cup whole wheat. That is not unusual in the baking world, but it is for the Magnolia cookbook. The whole wheat created a cake more easy than usual to break and crumb. I managed to keep it together, but I did need to pay attention when handling it. The whole wheat also tends to “burn” more easily. This started to happen so I turned on the fan of our lovely convection oven.

Walnuts. Lots of walnuts.
Merci, maman – Bonne Maman.

I smiled after piping the caramel onto this cake. The cake doesn’t look like the Magnolia pictures – and I like mine more. Ha!

SWRILS? The instructions in the cookbook asks that you swirl the caramel on top of the cream cheese icing. I have NOT been able to swirls that looked like anything other than a heavy-handed mess. So, what to do? Google it! of course.

I got a good idea from a cupcake decorating video (which I can’t find at the moment) using a plastic sandwich bag.


CHUNKY GOOD: Inside this cake are 1inch big chunks of apple and coarsely chopped walnut chunks.

Nothing delicate about this cake. It’s a dense, moist, pack-a-flavor-punch cake.


#43 Pecan Pear Cake, p. 29

“The cake can also be made with sweet or tart apples and with or without the glaze. You won’t be disappointed with any version.” (p. 29)


Let’s start at the very beginning.

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 6.47.03 AM

Oh. Let’s begin again.

But wait !!! Oops. I almost forgot. Here’s the first step to take before working in the kitchen.

Hit it, Doc!

Now. Chop chop.

You may notice a can of “Baker’s Joy” resting inside the cake pan. Flour and oil ready to spray on the pan. Now there’s a reason to sing. “Doe, a deer…..”

This cake requires no big equipment to make. No mixer or blender or food processor. Just a whisk, a spoon, and some fancy handiwork.


Put it all together and pour it in the pan.

Lookin’ yummy. Chunks of pear and pecans everywhere.

BAKER’S JOY: A few notes on this production. The Baker’s Joy is so nice. Easy to use. The release at the end was perfect. That said, I actually enjoy the pre-industrial technique of adding the flour to the pan myself and bumping the pan all round. It feels like a little work of art each time.

DETOUR: I added more pecans than called for in the recipe. Why? I had a cup full of finely crushed, roasted pecans left over from an earlier recipe. I added that to the 1 cup of coarsely chopped pecans in the recipe. I think the results were lovely. I LOVE pecans and I LOVE the way the cake came out so nutty inside and out. Yes, “out”. The surface of the cake took on a real crunch that I find lovely. I hope those who eat this treat find it likewise so.

See what I mean?

The finale with the glaze.

And a couple of slices for the taste test.


High School teachers with hall and dining hall duty this week. See Mrs. Beck for details. ALSO and ALWAYS – Blog followers are automatically included in this gift. Just knock on Mrs. Beck’s door – and be nice.