Cinnamon Sugar Breakfast Puffs

By • November 19, 2011 • 256 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&MA&M

Makes 12

The Breakfast Puffs

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon 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.
  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 well 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.

Comments (256) Questions (9)

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about 1 month ago Kgiersch

Good, but much denser than I expected. Maybe needs an extra egg?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 month ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

They shouldn't be dense -- there's baking powder and baking soda in addition to an egg, so I'm not sure another egg is needed. Maybe cut back on the flour by 1/4 cup?

New_glarus

about 1 month ago AGIRLANDAPIG

I've never made doughnuts before but I've always wanted to. I'll give these a try!

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about 1 month ago Keikalani

Scrumptious. I thought this was a fairly simple recipe. They were a bit larger than I would have liked and a bit heavier than donuts and the orange zest was okay, just a little bitter. My family enjoyed them and I would definitely make them again!

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2 months ago Lizziemac69

I have commented on this recipe before, but here in snowy Atlanta this morning, these were, once again, a HUGE hit. I have learned to prepare them partially in advance. I brown the butter the night before, and mix up the dry ingredients and set them aside. That way, when you're ready to bake them, they come together a little quicker than they would if you have to wait on the butter to cool down after browning! Definitely a TOP FIVE recipe in my book for 2013/2014!

Sausage2

about 1 month ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Aw, thanks!

Port_online

2 months ago SunBunny

I am so going to try these! Just for the sheer fact you don't have to heat a vat of oil up for frying them in.

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2 months ago naturdiva

I baked these today, I'm trying to replicate the cinnamon puffs from Ladurée. these came pretty close. but I think they use concentrated cinnamon chunks? I modified the recipe, it only had almond milk(unsweetened ) earth balance "butter" instead of whole milk & unsalted butter. .i grated fresh nutmeg, allspice & cloves were also ground freshly. they were pretty awesome ! very tasty despite the changes , I'm certain they modifications saved some calories & arterial congestion , I'll definitely bake them again, my husband gave a thumbs up!!

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3 months ago Linda Johnson

I dunno... I was so excited about this recupe.. But didsppointed after I baked them.

Sausage2

3 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Sorry they weren't everything you hoped for! We all have individual tastes so there really is no way of knowing for absolute certain whether you'll like a recipe as much as others do, eh?

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3 months ago Virgil Richardson

Any thoughts on whether or not this recipe would work well with a gluten free flour?

Sausage2

3 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

I imagine they would. You might need to decrease the liquid very slightly. I find that gf all-purpose mixes tend not to absorb quite as much moisture as regular ap flour.

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3 months ago celtkath

Wow! When I taught in a very rural community I used to bake these in my wood oven to take to my 89 year old Gramma who lived in a hotel in downtown Los Angeles. I used about 1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg and about 1/4 y freshly grated ginger root, 1 1/2 C Whole Wheat pastry flour. No other flour or spices except the zest

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3 months ago celtkath

They were fantastic. She'd take home four for the week. I always used Saigon cinnamon for the sugar topping. Thank you for the memories and replacing the long lost recipe. I'm baking these in my city oven in the morning. Think I'll try T. Kelleher's overnight method. Supposed to read 1/4 t ginger.

Sausage2

3 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

So. Cool.

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3 months ago JudyFoodie

Made these over the holidays, delicious. Look forward to trying them again and varying the flavors. Less lemon, more vanilla and cinnamon, etc.

Sausage2

3 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Yes, I think there's a ton of room to play with flavor variations!

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3 months ago Erin

Delicious and the description is right on- "the best doughnut hole you've ever eaten." Note- do NOT skip the orange zest and add some vanilla bean to the cinn/sugar mix.

Sausage2

3 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

:)

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3 months ago Ryan

Make these this morning and they were a bit gritty. I admit to being a terrible baker (following directions isn't my strong suit), but feel a bit more milk may remedy the problem. My boys did love them!

Sausage2

3 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Hmm, I have no idea how they would have gotten gritty. Hopefully it will go better if you try again!

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4 months ago Lizziemac69

This is a fabulous recipe. I have made it now three times and each time my family goes nuts! It's a little bit labor intensive for a brunch/breakfast dish, and I wonder if it would work to brown the butter the day before and then put it back in the fridge and proceed from that point in the recipe on the day of baking. Varying the spices is nice. And they are lovely re-heated for several days beyond baking!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

4 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Doing the butter ahead of time should work -- you'll just need to melt it without heating it much in the morning. You could also mix together the dry ingredients the night before. Thanks for your comment!

Sausage2

4 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

I agree with Amanda.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

4 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I realized after I posted my note that I made it sound as if it were my recipe -- sorry about that, fiveandspice! Was just trying to help!

Sausage2

4 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Oh of course, that's what I assumed! :) I'm glad you jumped in.

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5 months ago Marji

if you use cake flour instead of all-purpose they will be lighter and fluffier....puffs!!

Sausage2

4 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Good idea!

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5 months ago Mlouise

For years, when I had weekend company, I would get up at dawn to make muffins or scones. Too late, I discover that Thomas Kelleher in the Bouchon Bakery Book, recommends making muffins the day before and let them sit in the frig unbaked...who knew! It works great...worth a try with these. I will report back in a week.

Sausage2

4 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Hope it worked well!

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5 months ago Jessica Edelman

Are there any make ahead tips? Can you make these a day in advance and re-heat them before rolling in sugar?

Sausage2

4 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Yes you can.

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5 months ago Mlouise

This is very similar to one of the first things that I made on my own...from The Betty Crocker Cookbook For Boys and Girls! Great then and still great.

Sausage2

5 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Some things are timeless. :)

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3 months ago celtkath

Mlouise and Lis, Betty Crocker's French Breakfast Puffs is exactly the recipe I used from a cookbook I found in the farm house my family lived in.

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6 months ago Lis

These have long been my family's favorite. They were in a cookbook and named 'French Breakfast Puffs.' The recipe I am familiar with never had any spices in the batter, so I simply added freshly ground nutmeg. These are a true 'cake' muffin and the simplicity of the butter-rich flavor with a dash of nutmeg is enough. I don't believe there would be any added benefit by freezing the dough- but try it what do you have to loose and perhaps everything to gain. They double well and well for smaller hands, mini-muffin pans work well. The minis also work extremely well for a party. But they are still my Daddy's favorite piping hot from the oven before the others come down and eat them all!

Sausage2

5 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Yes! I developed this recipe based on one a friend gave me for something called French breakfast puffs. She got it from her godmother, who got it from a friend, but somewhere down the line, somebody must have had that cookbook!

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6 months ago beekeeper

These are very good but both my husband and I liked them better plain without the cinnamon sugar topping.

Sausage2

5 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Totally understandable! That would make them a bit lighter, too.

Stringio

6 months ago Brenda Bard

grandma favorite for company

Sausage2

5 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

:)