Category Archives: Quick Breads

I Love Cast Iron

I love my cast iron pans. I own three of them. I came to cast iron late in my life as a cook, but better late than never. They are such reliable workhorses!



The first piece I owned is my griddle/grill pan. I have sort of a love/hate relationship with it. I love the griddle side, but not the grill side so much. I think I never got it seasoned properly from the start because I had no idea what I was doing, and so the grill side can be hard to clean.


But I like using the griddle side, especially for pancakes.


The second piece I acquired is an 8-inch skillet that was my maternal grandmother’s; I inherited it when she died. I had this for a couple of years before figuring out how to re-season it (it came to me pretty rusty). I guess did something right when I learned how to re-season it because it works great and is easy to clean. But it’s too small to cook many of the things I want to cook. 


It’s great for frying eggs though.


My 12-inch Lodge skillet is my most recent acquisition. It came pre-seasoned, but sometimes stuff sticks to it which I’m hoping will improve over time. But all in all, it works great, and it’s big enough to handle a couple of steaks at once, or …


half a package of bacon, or …



a small batch of fluffy biscuits. I just love biscuits. I vary the recipes I use, but this is the one I probably use the most. It’s from Alton Brown, but instead of using butter and shortening, I use all butter.





Southern Biscuits

(adapted from Alton Brown)

2 c flour

4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

4 tablespoons butter, chilled

1 c buttermilk, chilled

Preheat oven to 450°. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips or a pastry cutter or two knives, rub butter into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.

Turn dough onto a floured surface, dust top of dough with flour and gently fold dough over onto itself about 5 times. Don’t overwork the dough or the biscuits will be tough. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch floured biscuit cutter. Place biscuits on baking sheet so they just touch (or in this case, a lightly oiled cast iron skillet). Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting.

Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes. Yield about 1 dozen.


Baking business?


I sold a batch of cranberry-streusel muffins last week. A friend who has been a big fan of my breakfast muffins requested a dozen for an event she was hosting at her office. I got the recipe out of a Martha Stewart magazine a few years back. As I think I’ve mentioned before, I have a love-hate relationship with Martha’s recipes, but this one’s a winner. I think it’s the copious amount of butter and the streusel topping that puts them over the top. Healthy, no. Tasty, yes.

Rotten Banana Muffins


I am back in Austin after a short trip with my family to Fort Davis, Texas. What’s left of the bananas we took on the trip turned black, so of course that means it’s time to bake some of “those rotten banana muffins,” as my husband likes to call them.

So here’s the thing about banana muffins (or bread) — it’s best made with bananas that look like this:


Why? Overripe fruit is the sweetest. These bananas are too ripe to eat out of hand, but they are perfect for baking. Next time you have some bananas that have gone bad, don’t throw them out. Bake something with them. (Or peel them, cut them up, and freeze them for smoothies.)

Happy 2009!


Happy New Year, everyone! I baked corn muffins today to go with our New Year’s meal of black-eyed peas and greens (in this case spinach because there were no frozen collards at my HEB and I was not in the mood to bother with fresh).

It is traditional on New Year’s Day in Texas and the South to eat the peas for good luck and the greens for prosperity. When I was a kid, I hated black-eyed peas. My parents put so much pressure on me to eat them or risk bad luck all year long that I would swallow a few peas whole with milk, like taking a pill, just to get them to leave me alone. But now I like black-eyed peas, especially when there’s good cornbread and some kind of greens to go with them. I try to guard against putting pressure on my own kids to eat them, although I have taught them about the superstition.

Here is the corn muffin recipe I used, but I cut it in half. It is from one of my chef school textbooks.

Corn Muffins
Source: On Cooking
Recipe yield: 30 muffins

12 oz yellow cornmeal
12 oz all-purpose flour
7 -1/2 oz sugar (optional – I DON’T use sugar in mine)
1 TB baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
24 fl oz (3 c) buttermilk
6 eggs
6 oz unsalted butter, melted

1.    Preheat oven to 375° F.
2.    Sift dry ingredients in large bowl.
3.    Beat eggs; combine in bowl with other wet ingredients.
4.    Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour wet ingredients into dry; mix until just combined (overmixing will make the muffins tough).
5.    Portion into very well-greased muffin tin, filling about 2/3 full.
6.    Bake until done, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.