Cinnamon Sugar Breakfast Puffs

By • November 19, 2011 297 Comments

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Author Notes: This is a recipe I got from my childhood best friend, college roommate, and partner in all things related to having tea parties, binging on whipped cream and scones, building snow forts, trying to find the source of creeks, spiking hot chocolate, climbing mountains, and other adventures of all sorts. I think she got it from her godmother, who is the ultimate hostess (she has one of those giant houses with stone lions out front, which basically means you're required to be a good hostess).
My friend had these at a brunch hosted by her godmother, and became unbelievably obsessed with them. She was generous enough to share the recipe with me too. I made some little tweaks and changes because I can't help it, like spicing them up, and using browned butter (because butter should almost always be browned in these types of cases). They're kind of a hybrid of spice cake, muffins, and cinnamon sugar donut holes...so what's not to love?! Plus they're remarkably quick and easy. And, I must admit, I take odd enjoyment in eating anything called a puff.
fiveandspice

Food52 Review: These puffs are like the best doughnut holes you've ever eaten. Cakey and light, with crisp edges and a crunchy blanket of cinnamon sugar, they're gently spiced, with a murmur of orange zest in the background. Brown butter gives them an especially rich, nutty flavor. Don't skip the quick dip in melted butter before you roll them in the sugar -- and make sure to enjoy these while they're still warm! - A&MThe Editors

Makes 12

The Breakfast Puffs

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 pinch ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature

Cinnamon-sugar coating

  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the 1/3 cup butter, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until browned and nutty smelling. Pour into a mixing bowl and allow to cool completely to room temperature.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease and lightly flour a 12 cup muffin tin.
  3. Add the sugar and egg to the cooled butter. Beat with an electric mixer until all creamed together, lightened in color, and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
  4. In a separate little bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, spices, and zest. Add the dry ingredients in increments to the butter-sugar mixture, alternating with the milk and beating until fully combined after each addition.
  5. Divide the batter evenly into the cups of the muffin tin. Pop into the oven and bake until golden brown and fragrant, about 20-25 minutes.
  6. While the puffs are puffing, put the melted butter in one shallow bowl and combine the sugar and cinnamon in another one. When the puffs come out of the oven, use a knife to gently pop them all out of the muffin tin.
  7. One by one, dip each puff in the melted butter - get it all over it - then roll it in the cinnamon sugar. Transfer it to some lovely, festive serving platter, and continue until you have rolled all of the puffs. Serve warm - they are by faaaaar the best when they are still warm - with coffee, and mimosas, and other goodies.

Topics: Breakfast

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Comments (297) Questions (9)

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about 1 month ago Christina Hoskins

I need to make a large quantity of these...anyone ever try to triple the recipe? Also, is there a lot lost if you make them the day before?

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4 months ago Karen

Any chance wholewheat pastry flour or spelt flour could be used in this recipe?
Trying to stay away from AP flour, but would love these for relaxing weekend breakfasts. Thanks.

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4 months ago Toni

I am a baker with bakeries in Dallas, and these are our most popular breakfast treat. We call them Donut Muffins. I've seen many recipes for donut muffins - I think it's more about the execution than the recipe, that makes them different. I think the name "Puff" is what has thrown a lot of people off, even though you have explained that they have a cake donut texture - which is absolutely so. They don't "puff" like an airy popover, and I think that might be the expectation, seeing that your friend's recipe called them Puffs. We make the batter and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Works perfectly. Leftover muffins are fine too, just microwave for 10 secs to soften and melt the sugar/cinnamon.

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4 months ago Mari Yomota

You are absolutely right. I thought it was supposed to have the texture of raised doughnuts. Thanks for summing it up :)

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5 months ago basketpam

IF these are something that can be made and frozen and re-heated down the road I would love to make a big batch of them for my nephew to take back to college with him as he's coming home this weekend. He shares a dorm "suite" set-up with 4 or 5 other guys so when I send something I make quite a lot. I believe two of the guys are either on the football or basketball team so I don't need to explain any further about appetite. Believe it or not, each of the guys has their OWN room (something unhead of in my day long ago in college) and share a "jack and jill" bath with one other and then they have a common area with a kitchenette and living room area for the group of them. Would it be best to make until the puff is baked but not coated with the cinnamon/sugar mixture or should I go ahead and coat them? Things like this are great when he has early morning classes and doesn't have time to run to the dining hall. Would you also suggest wrapping these individually before freezing?

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4 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Yes, they can be frozen and rewarmed. It's of course not quite as good as when fresh, but they do reheat quite nicely. I would say, wrap them individually in tinfoil and then put several together in a freezer bag.

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5 months ago Mari Yomota

Mine didn't rise much. It was kinda like the texture of cake doughnuts and the surface of each puff wasn't as smooth as the picture above but tasted really good. I measured everything correctly. I wonder if melted butter, egg, and milk weren't at room temperature?

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4 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

They are about the texture of cake donuts. You do need to have everything at room temp, and you also need to make sure to beat the butter and sugar until they're really fluffy.

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4 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

butter, sugar, *and egg*

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4 months ago Mari Yomota

I thought it would be more spongy (just by the way it looks in the picture). Next time, I will have them ready at room temp. Thanks for the wonderful recipe though :)

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5 months ago Haley Sonneland

Haley handles PR and marketing for Food52

Just made these this morning and I love them! My only recommendation would be to try to spread the batter over two sheets of muffin tins. Mine were almost cupcake sized and I would have preferred munchkin size.

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6 months ago Denise

My Mother made these when I was a little girl. I helped by rolling them in the butter and then the cinnamon sugar - my fingers tasted awesome! I still make them and my cousin makes them as well. Best served warm. My Mother's recipe was from a 1950'ish Betty Crocker Cook Book. It's fun seeing them on this site. I knew my Mom was one of the original Foodies! :-) I will have to try your version fiveandspice & thanks for the memories!

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2 months ago Charisse Lockhart-Cox

These muffins were a Sunday family tradition for us growing up. So much so I memorized the original recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook. My friends call them "Duffins" and delight in making them as much as I did as still do! Glad to know someone else out there grew up on these as well!

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6 months ago Margaret

Hi! I'm hoping to have these for Christmas morning but want to make tomorrow. I am wondering what will be best so the puffs are still delicious...make only the dough in advance and then bake Christmas morning? Or make the puffs in advance and then roll in butter and sugar on Christmas morning?? And depending on what you recommend please explain if freezing needs to occur or if the fridge is fine. I'll be making on a Monday and eating Thursday morning after Santa :) Thanks!!

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6 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I would suggest, the night before, getting the dry ingredients ready, browning the butter, having your sugar measured and eggs ready. The morning of, I'd mix them according to the recipe (shouldn't take more than 5 minutes). I wouldn't make the puffs in advance because they won't be as special. Hope this is helpful!

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7 months ago Maria

I don't think there's a better way for me to make out this recipe. The ingredients are really hard to find. - Andrew Stolper

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5 months ago basketpam

I can't figure out if you're being sarcastic or complementing the recipe. Are you being sarcastic when you say the ingredients are hard to find as this is just about as basic of ingredients as you can get in an American kitchen. And then, is the meaning of the first part saying you don't think there is any way you can improve up this recipe? Your comment just doesn't make any sense at all so I want to give you the benefit of doubt as to what you mean.

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7 months ago Trine Midtun

They look delicious! I'm going to make them over the weekend.

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7 months ago Ksb

We call these dirt bombs.

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7 months ago John

Hi, I was a little surprised they didn't rise as much as I expected. I make lots of Yorkshire puddings and I can't stopping them from rising. Suggestions please.
They are nice

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8 months ago wanda kelly

I have made tese before, but misp) a"ed the recipe. Glad to have it back, as everyone loved them.

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8 months ago Smita Lakhotia

Could you tell me an egg substitute here? I simply love this recipe but we don't use eggs in our baking (I know that may sound silly but can't change it). Can I use buttermilk or some other substitute?
Thanks in advance!
Smita

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8 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

I don't know that much about egg substitutes, but maybe take a look at this article and see if it gives you ideas? https://food52.com/blog...

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7 months ago Gene Puerta

If you have ground flax, mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax with 3 tablespoons of water to equal one egg. If you do not use eggs in baking, I strongly I recommend buying a multi-pound bag of ground flax (it keeps well). Flax is filled with protein, fiber, and omega 3 fatty acids, too. Pay attention to recipes before subbing, though, particularly recipes using coconut flour.

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9 months ago Babette

I used to make these as a kid and they are so amazing! If you're feeling extra indulgent, pair these with a pumpkin spiced latte. Looking for other amazing eats and trends? Check out my new blog: http://babetteandbuttons...

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9 months ago Diana

I tried this recipe yesterday morning. I LOVED IT!!!! And my 3.5 years old son loved it too, and asked me make it often. Thank you!

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10 months ago Mark X

Tried this recipe for brunch. And I honestly don't see why/how this was a contest winner: Too dense, dry, and inedible. I find most Food 52 contest winners to be winners in my kitchen as well. These breakfast "puffs" are the exception--horrible experience!

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10 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Hi Mark, definitely really sorry they didn't turn out well for you! I've never had a problem with them being dry - they should turn out with about the consistency of a cake donut (they're just called puffs because that's what they were called in my friend's recipe I was inspired by, but they're not actually particularly puff) , so I don't know what might have happened.

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10 months ago Manhattan Tart

I've made these a jillion times and never had them turn out anything close to dry; they're always moist and flavorful. I'm a baker by profession and am exceedingly picky about the recipes I choose to repeat. This recipe is more than worthy. Perhaps you should re-try the recipe, Mark, carefully confirming your measurements? It really is fabulous time and again. I'd encourage you to give it another go.

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7 months ago wanda kelly

I've never had them turn out anything but moist and puffy! Maybe check to make sure your flour, etc, are fresh. IDK.

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11 months ago justrunmad

Would it be possible to make these without the spices and use vanilla instead? I read another comment about there being baking soda and baking powder in the ingredients. I only see baking powder.......was the baking soda left out of the original recipe? Thanks!

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10 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Sorry for not replying to this sooner. I've only been sometimes receiving notifications about comments! Anyway, you could definitely use vanilla instead, I bet that would be yummy. And, the recipe just uses baking powder, no soda.

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12 months ago mercer

Made these this morning. The only change I made was to use sour cream in place of the milk. Delicious!

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12 months ago Kiel Man

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