Bacon Chedder Muffins

One thing I enjoy is BBQ Baby Back Ribs. I owned and operated a pizza carry-out business several years ago (The Perfect Pizza) in Washington Michigan. My daughter, my brother and even my nephew worked there. It was early in my Culinary years and I still had a lot to learn and plenty of mistakes were made, but you can never put a price on experience, good or bad. Anyway we sold “great fall off the bone ribs” and we always sold out of them everyday. The way I made them was to simmer the ribs for about 45 minutes on the stove top, then bake them off in the oven at a low heat for three hours in a small amount of the liquid left over from the pot. We would bast them in Baby Ray’s Original BBQ Sauce. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water!. When I made these Bacon Cheddar Muffins and took a bite of them it made me think of BBQ. These have cheese, bacon and pecan nuts in them and I could see myself wiping up the left over BBQ sauce on my plate with them………

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
5 cooked slices of bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat you oven to 350 degrees and spray a cupcake pan with vegetable spray. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate small bowl whisk together the milk, egg and sour cream. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients then pour the milk mixture in. Stir with a wooden spoon until incorporated, then fold in the cheese, nuts and bacon. Spoon the batter to the top of each cupcake insert. (should make 8) Bake for approximately 20 – 25 minutes in the center rack of your oven. Allow to cool slightly then remove and place on a cooling rack. These are great served warm with a a nice pat of butter.

Chef Brian Klauss

Chocolate Eclairs

Making the Pate a Choux which is the shell for the eclairs is very easy and can be made ahead of time and frozen until you decide to fill them. You could even add cheese to the hot dough and make a savory shell, great for dipping into melted cheese or your favorite vegetable dip. I make Eclairs at the bakery all the time and usually fill them with a bavarian cream and top them with chocolate ganache. Today I’ve decided to make a chocolate filling that you can make right at home and a chocolate ganache to top them with. The finished product should be a nice crunchy shell with a smooth filling topped with that great chocolate ganache.

Pate a Choux (dough)
1 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs

Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees and line a 1/2 sheet pan with parchment paper

In a medium sauce pan add the butter, water, salt and sugar and bring to a boil. Quickly add in the flour and whisk, mix well until incorporated and the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and place the dough in a stand mixer fitted with a whip and begin to mix at a low to medium speed. Allow the dough to cool and mix for approximately 5 minutes (you don’t want to cook the eggs) When cooled add the eggs one at a time until a sticky dough like batter forms. In a pastry bag fitted with a star tip Wilton 1M begin to pipe out 3 1/2″ dough strips rocking slightly to form your eclairs onto the prepared sheet pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes (should have almost doubled and turned slightly brown on the edges) Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake another 20 minutes (the second heat is to allow the dough to dry out and form that crunchy exterior). Place on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Chocolate Pastry Cream
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup milk
4 egg yolks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter cubed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium sauce pan whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, egg yolks and milk. Heat over a medium to high heat whisking until you form a smooth thick consistency. (8 – 10 minutes) Remove from the heat and add in the vanilla, salt and butter, stirring until the butter is melted and incorporated. Remove from the pan and place into a small bowel and cover with plastic wrap pushing down slightly to make contact with the mixture. (this will help avoid a skin layer from forming) Refrigerate and allow to cool completely.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with filling tip Wilton 230 with the chocolate pastry cream and fill each shell from both ends.

1/2 Cup heavy cream
1/2 cup semi – sweet chocolate chips

In a small heat proof bowel add the chocolate chips. In a small sauce pan heat the cream until its begins to boil. Pour it over the chocolate and allow to stand until you see the chocolate melting. Whisk to form a nice smooth mixture.

Dip the tops of your filled eclairs and allow to cool. Keep refrigerated until serving

Chef Brian Klauss


These are biscuits/cookies which are originally from Italy and the names comes from the latin word for “twice baked”. Because the cookies must be twice baked to make them dry and crunchy. They are great as is, but you can also dip them in melted chocolate. They have a sweet/salt nutty flavor and great for dipping into your favorite coffee.

1 cup of slivered almonds
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat your oven to 350 degrees and line a 1/2 baking sheet with parchment paper.

Melt the butter in the microwave oven and then allow to cool to room temperature. set aside. Place the almonds on a baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes until slightly golden brown. When cooled place them on a cutting board and coarsely chop. In a separate bowl sift the flour and baking powder, add the sugar and nut, then mix to incorporate. In a separate small bowl whisk the eggs, butter and vanilla then gradually pour into the flour mixture, stirring with a fork. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Roll out two dough logs approximately 8″ long. Place them on the prepared sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. With a serrated knife make 1 1/2″ slices and then place back onto the sheet pan on their side and allow to bake another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip them over and bake an additional 5 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack allowing them to dry and harden.

Chef Brian Klauss

Well, the holidays are over and I’m back in Florida until the spring. I walked through the bakery just to make sure things were buttoned up before I left, I sure miss being at the bakery. I’ll admit waking up at 1am and starting the donuts is a little hard for someone over 60, but I still miss it. Anyways today I decided to make some pull apart bread. This recipe is very simple and it can be made either a sweet or savory. Chopping, slicing, or rolling small balls of dough allows for the finished bread to be pulled apart. Great for parties.

3 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 ounce of instant yeast
2/3 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
2 eggs

2/3 cup grated parmesan Cheese
2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
4 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Spray a 1/2 sheet pan with vegetable spray or line with parchment paper

In a bowl of a stand mixer add the milk, sugar and yeast. Mix to dissolve and allow to stand for 10 minutes (It should foam up) With the mixer at a low speed add in 1 cup flour and butter. Slowly add in an additional 1/2 cup flour and the eggs. Add in the salt and remaining flour and mix until the dough pulls away from the bowl. Remove the dough and on a lightly floured surface knead the dough for approximately 5 minutes. Spray the mixing bowl with vegetable spray and drop in the dough. Flip the dough to ensure both sides are coated with the oil. Lightly cover the bowl and allow the dough to proof, approximately 1 1/2 hours (should almost double in size)
Pull the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a 18″ x 16″ rectangle. (Filling) Spread the butter on the square dough then evenly spread the filling ingredients. Roll the dough from the long side and run a knife through the center to form two separate pieces. Rotate the dough with the split side up and begin to braid the dough and form a ring. Place the dough into a prepared 1/2 sheet tray and lightly cover with a damp towel. Allow to proof a second time approximately 1 1/2 hours. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Place the sheet tray into the oven and bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Allow to cool 20 minutes

Chef Brian Klauss


I love making cheesecake, its one of the bakery’s favorite desserts. Here is my basic recipe and some tips on making a great cheesecake

Makes one 9″ plain cheesecake

1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs or you can use 1 1/2 cups ground vanilla wafers or 1 1/2 cups of ground snicker doodle cookies.
3 tablespoons sugar if your just using the graham crakers
1/3 cup unsalted butter
32 oz. Philadelphia Cream Cheese (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 eggs (room temperature)

Heat your oven to 325 degrees, wrap the bottom of the spring form pan with foil to help eliminate water from contaminating the batter.

Place the all the crust ingredients into a small bowl and mix well. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9″ spring form pan. Bake for approximately 5 minutes in the oven. Remove and allow to cool
Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla at a medium speed until the mixture is smooth. Begin adding the eggs one at a time at a low speed just to incorporate. (avoid over mixing, this will add air and cause the cheesecake to rise too much and drop in the middle when cooling) Pour over the prepared crust. Place the spring form pan into a larger pan with sides and add hot water to approximately half up. Remember cheesecake is a custard and the water bath with help to cook evenly, avoid cracks, browning and a rubber texture. bake for about 55 minutes. The finished cheesecake should be firm at the top sides and slightly jiggly in the center like jello. (approximately 150 degrees in the center). Remove it from the oven and allow it to completely cool. Place the cheesecake into the refrigerator or freezer for approximately 4 hours. There are several ways to un-mold your cheesecake. I heat up a sheet pan on the stovetop and place the cheese cake on it right from the refrigerator or freezer and allow the heat to transfer for a few minutes then using a knife I can remove the sides and bottom easily. You can also heat a damp towel and wrap it around the pan for a few minutes, then remove the pan.When cutting your cheesecake, dip a sharp knife into hot water then slice, wipe the knife and dip again. Allow the cheesecake to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. You can also top with your favorite, fruit, nuts or sauce.

Chef Brian Klauss

Chocolate Babka

Well I am back in Michigan for the holidays and after walking through the bakery I realized how much I miss my customers, employees and baking of course. I decided that today I would work on making Chocolate Babka. This sweet yeast bread is a cross between a cinnamon roll and a bread. The word Babka translates to Grandmother and originates in Eastern Europe. There are many flavor versions, but I decided on making Chocolate. It’s great after a meal or you can slice it and make a fabulous french toast. (Tip on slicing…I freeze the loaf then remove it from the freezer and slice. You can re-wrap the frozen slices and remove them as needed)

Dough (makes 2- 8″ x 4″ loafs)
6 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons orange zest
4 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
14 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon salt

In a stand mixer add the flour (reserve the 1/3 cup to add as needed), sugar, yeast and zest. On a low speed add the eggs, milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. If the mixture is to wet add more flour, if to dry add a little more milk. Now add the butter a tablespoon at a time and then salt. The dough should be smooth and pull away from the sides of the bowl. Remove the dough and spray the mixing bowl with vegetable spray. Place the dough back into the mixing bowl and flip to coat both sides. Lightly Cover the bowl and let stand in a warm area to proof. (about 2 hours). Place the covered bowl in the refrigerator for 1 hour up to 24 hours.
While the dough is in the refrigerator make the filling, egg wash and simple syrup.

Chocolate Filling:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a sauce pan heat the milk and chocolate chips on a low heat until melted. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, salt and cocoa powder. Allow to cool completely which will allow you to spread onto the dough.
Egg Wash:
The egg wash will allow you to help seal the dough
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
Whisk well and set off to the side
Simple Syrup:
This will be the finishing touch to sweeten the warm Babka
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Mix both ingredients and place into a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and reduce by half. Allow to cool completely.

Spray two bread loaf pans 8″ x 4″ with vegetable spray
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide into two equal parts. Roll each dough into a 14″ square. Brush edges with egg wash and spread 1/2 of the chocolate filling onto each dough square to the egg wash edge. Roll up each dough and seal the ends. Using a knife, split each dough in half and twist together with the cut side up. Place into the prepared bread pan. Lightly cover and place in a warm area and allow to proof, doubling in size.
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and bake on the center rack for 30 – 35 minutes. (Cover with foil at approximately 20 minutes into the baking process to protect the top of the bread from burning). You can check that the Babka is done by inserting a toothpick in, it should come out clean.
Remove the bread and drizzle the simple syrup over each loaf while warm.
After 10 minutes remove bread from their pans to on a cooling rack.

Chef Brian Klauss

Banana Muffins

Today in Florida it’s getting cold….in the 60s and overcast, so I decided to make Banana Muffins. Several years ago a Master Baker from Bake Mark came to the bakery and gave me several tips on making the best muffins. Here are his tips;
1. Do not over mix the batter, this will develop gluten and make the muffin tough.
2. Fill the muffin pan to the top which will allow the muffin to form a head.
3. Dip a knife into vegetable oil and make a cross in the batter at the very top. This will direct the muffin batter to develop through the center and form the head perfectly.
4. Bake in the center of the oven to allow equal heat to form around the pan.
5. Do not over bake the muffin which will dry it out. Test as you would a cupcake by inserting the tip of a knife into the muffin and if it removes cleanly the muffins are done.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups ripe bananas (about 2 – 3 bananas)
1 egg
1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon apple spice
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons slightly soften butter

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and place your oven rack in the center. Insert muffin papers into the muffin pan and lightly spray the pan with vegetable spray. In a small bowl mix the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. In a separate medium bowl mash the bananas then add the sugar, cinnamon, apple spice, egg, melted butter and vanilla. Stir or lightly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until blended…..do not over mix.

Using a small ice cream scoop place the batter into the muffin papers up to the top of the papers. Dip a knife into vegetable oil and mark an X onto the tops of each filled paper. TOPPING: mix all the ingredients into a small bowl and using a pastry cutter or your hands blend until you develop a crumb like mixture. Place equal amounts of the topping onto each muffin. Bake for approximately 20 minutes.

Chef Brian Klauss