Reliving a kitchen disaster of the past: Cinnamon Bread!

144My poor, dear friend Miki has been with me through two real kitchen disasters. Both happened when we lived in eastern Washington years and years ago.

The first she reminded me of today via a tweet she sent me. It was years and years ago.  I think I had just come back from a visit to my parents and my mom had given me some kitchen hand-me-downs to help stock my kitchen. I wasn’t making very much money and at that time, pretty much everything I had in my kitchen was from my mom or was very cheaply bought. One of the things she sent back was a glass pie plate. As I was unpacking, I was setting each item on the counter. Miki was sitting in my “dining room” which was separated from the kitchen only by the stove and some cabinets across the top. I was in the kitchen next to the stove. To my right, I had an oven in a “column” which I’d have to walk around to get out of the kitchen and to get to the area where Miki was sitting. Another oddity in my apartment was a large window in the kitchen out on to the hallway outside the apartment. I usually kept that window closed with a shade since it always seemed an odd place for a window when people could walk by.

Somehow, I must have accidentally turned on one of the electric burners and then placed the glass pie plate on the burner. It must have taken a while for the event to get set up, but just as I was walking away and going around the corner of my oven and into the dining area, there was a huge explosion of glass. I don’t remember if either of us screamed but I’m sure we were both afraid for our lives. I thought someone or something had come crashing through the kitchen window. I looked at Miki to make sure she was ok. It was then that we realized that the explosion had been the pie plate. Hot glass was everywhere! It melted into the carpet of my rental apartment. A true friend, Miki went to get her vacuum to help me clean it up and we ended up cutting bits out of the carpet. I found glass bits for ages after that happened. Miki, ever the good sport, stayed until I finally came down from all of the adrenaline. Amazingly, she also came back to eat many meals with me in that crazy apartment – very few ever cooked in glass!

After that apartment, I moved into a very cute rental house located in the wrong part of town. I loved it for the space and the yard where my cat could explore. I could also have a garden for the first time.

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Miki came over one day and I had in mind I was going to make this cinnamon bread I saw on a tv show made by Katie Brown. Miki doesn’t love cinnamon but I was going to creatively turn it into brown sugar bread.

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I mixed up the simple batter and measured out my brown sugar. I think the disaster here was not trusting my gut. When I turned the batter into my bread pan, I was thinking, gee, this pan is kind of full. I wonder if this is really one loaf?

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It wasn’t.

At first all was well. The bread was rising and smelled great. And then it didn’t. Something smelled like it was burning. Miki and I went to look at the oven to look in only to find the bread “erupting” like a volcano. It has risen to the top, but the center was coming up and over the top and dripping to the floor of the oven. We should have just taken it out and given up, but we tried putting in pans to catch the overflow to try to preserve the main loaf. I’m not really sure if we ever ate that bread. The only thing I remember of that day was that there was Miki, my friend, sticking with me through another kitchen mishap. With good humor. As always.

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I hope everyone has a friend like that! We still laugh about both of these events and I’m glad that they didn’t turn me off kitchens or cooking.

Today Miki sent me a tweet about a glass kitchen pan breaking.  It looked like it was used to bake rolls of some kind and it was sitting on a range top. I was thinking that I don’t cook in glass any longer, but then I remembered my lasagna pan. It might be the only pan I still have that is glass. I am careful never to get it near an electric burner.

This meant Miki was on my mind. Which meant the cinnamon bread mishap was also in my mind. I realized at close to 9 p.m. that I had forgotten about an office event tomorrow. I hadn’t made or purchased anything to take. Enter cinnamon bread. I knew I didn’t have the recipe since it had been such a terrible experience, but assuming the internet might have it, I googled “Katie Brown cinnamon bread.” Amazingly, it was there. Unlike the first time I made it, it now says it makes 2-4 loaves depending on the size of your bread pan. Vindicated! But too late.

140I should have known years ago. The recipe had 2 sticks of butter and 4 cups of flour. That alone should have tipped me off that we were talking about 2 loaves, at least. There’s also a full 2 teaspoons of both baking soda and baking powder in the recipe. That, too, should have told me there was going to be a lot of lift and volume. Mindlessly, I just ignored what should have been hints. It didn’t specify the number of loaves and I had assumed 1 loaf even though it could have been clear to me if I had thought about it at the time. The pan was so full even before it went into the oven that I should have suspected there might be trouble.

I had all of the ingredients so I decided to head back to the kitchen to try the recipe again. I made a half recipe for 1 loaf since my pan is on the large size. I added some cardamom to the cinnamon sugar mixture because I love cardamom. And it’s my bread!

You can make the recipe following Katie’s instructions, but I sometimes have difficulty halving a recipe, so here’s my gift to you for one loaf (2 if your pans are small or you like a short loaf):

Topping (mix in a bowl):

  • ¼ c. sugar
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • ¼ – ½ t. cardamom


  • 1 stick of butter (½ c. butter)
  • 2 c. sugar

Cream these together. I had to take a stick of butter from the freezer. I melted it mostly in the microwave and then stir the non-melted but softened butter into the sugar. It’s creamed-ish, but better than totally melting the butter. Add to this:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • ½ t. salt

I like mixing baking soda, powder and salt in with my wet ingredients to make sure they get combined rather than mixing them into the flour. Would my home economics teachers approve? No, probably not, but I’ve not seen how it’s wrong based on my baking results. So I continue to do it my way.

142I didn’t have buttermilk and I often don’t, so I did the trick which is to add vinegar to plain milk, wait a few minutes, and then you have “buttermilk” to add to your recipes. For baking where you have other flavors that dominate like the cinnamon and cardamom in this bread, I think it works well. If you’re making something where buttermilk flavor dominates (like pancakes or biscuits), go get the real stuff.

Alternate (½flour, ½ milk, ½ flour, and ½ milk) additions of the following:

  • 1 c. buttermilk or “buttermilk” using the vinegar trick
  • 2 c. flour

You only need to mix enough to combine. It can be a bit lumpy so the finished product doesn’t get tough.

That’s it. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a bread pan. My bread pan is on the large size (9.5 x 5 inches) so I knew mine would be one loaf instead of 2 even with a half recipe.

Into the pan, you put half of the batter and then cover it with half of the cinnamon-sugar-cardamom mixture. You then add the other half of the batter on top and then the last of the cinnamon mixture. Using a knife, you just squiggle and swirl the mixture to make the bread marbled. Into the oven it goes. For Katie, she suggests 45 minutes to 1 hour. I checked mine at 40 minutes and took it out at about 43/44 minutes when the toothpick came out clean.

Success. Past disasters in the past! It smells really terrific and holiday-ish as we near Christmas. I don’t blame Katie any longer for my mishap.  Sadly, Miki and I haven’t lived in the same city for a long time.  I wish Miki lived closer to me because it would be fun to cook something with her again. Hopefully soon…



A tale of two pumpkin breads

173Pumpkin bread is a delicious, delicious thing.

Pumpkin Bread_Recipe from Moms book

Click on image to enlarge if you want the recipe!






I don’t make it that often and I’m not really sure why, but we received a lovely large-ish pie pumpkin as part of our CSA around Halloween and I was worried it would spoil if I didn’t soon put it to use.  My mom and I had been talking pumpkin bread recipes when we had been together and an old family recipe came up.   She had put it in my book of family recipes so I pulled it out and decided to make it.

First, I roasted the pumpkin.  After washing the outside well, I cut it in half and removed the stem and seeds.  I placed it cut side down on a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper to keep my pans from being so hard to clean.  I roasted the pumpkin in a 350-375 degree oven for about an hour.  After coming out of the oven, I let them cool on the pans for about 30 minutes and then scraped the still warm flesh out and placed it in a container.  I refrigerated it until I was ready to make the bread.  If I didn’t have the pumpkin or I wanted to save time, I could have just used canned pumpkin, but this extra step wasn’t really much work.  It just added a day to the process — cooking the pumpkin the day before baking the bread.

Our family recipe is an odd recipe once you get into the details on the back of the card because it talks about different size pans and different cooking times.  I think my bread pans must be larger than a typical bread pan for when the recipe originated because even though it talks about being a recipe for 4 loaves, I made it at 2/3 batch the size and got 2 very short but delicous loaves.  If I was going to make it again, I’d make the full batch and just divide it between 2 loaf pans and then keep an eye on the cooking time.   I’d still check it at 50 minutes and then go for 5 more minutes increments until it was done.


One of the great things about this recipe is the high sugar content (3 cups!).  The thing that it does is make the top and the “crusts” very sugary and caramelized.  For people who might not like edges, it makes them pretty tasty even after a few days.

For Thanksgiving I decided I’d make this recipe and take a loaf to eat with the pie at dinner.  It was, for me, even better than pie.  Half of the second loaf became a Thanksgiving morning gift for friends and then I nibbled on the other half over the next few days.

I still had quite a bit of cooked pumpkin left from our pie pumpkin and I saw a lovely looking recipe for brown butter and bourbon pumkin bread recipe.  I decided to give it a try since I knew I’d be seeing friends who like bourbon who could help me eat at least one loaf.  It made two hearty loaves of bread.  The brown butter and bourbon flavor is pretty subtle.  If I were to make it again, I might increase the bourbon a bit.  Still, a very tasty and moist bread that was still very tasty and fresh as I finished off the last of a loaf as late as 4 days after I made it!


Both are really excellent recipes.  Neither is so heavily spiced or flavored as to mask the pure pumpkin flavor.  I was also happy to get to use one of our farm vegetables rather than buying a can of pumpkin.  The color was light, like my pumpkin’s flesh.  All in all, some delicious results!