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Nun’s Puffs

6 Nov

Let’s start with the name, shall we? After much searching, I am still completely clueless as to how these delightful little pastries came to gain their rather fetching name. We can speculate, of course, but that’s all we’d be doing, and it seems almost beside the point to try and create a juicy backstory for these little numbers. Especially when, instead of looking around for naming clues, you should be spending your time baking up a batch of nun’s puffs. No, like right now.

With a texture poised somewhere between a choux pastry puff and a popover, only less crisply dry and more eggy in the middle, the nun’s puff might be my new favorite breakfast treat. Because of their relative simplicity, ingredient-wise, they are prime candidates for dressing up in any manner you choose. The richness of the butter, combined with the slight custardy flavor of the eggs, is the prefect backdrop for both savory and sweet applications. The outsides, so crisp and light, mingle delightfully with the airy and soft middle, because of the relative hollowness of the pastry’s middle, you can fill them with any number of things. I stuffed my serving with scrambled eggs, topped with a nice scoop of fried apples’n’onions (thank you, Almanzo Wilder), while my son slathered his with raspberry preserves. Both were absolutely delicious. I also sprinkled half of the puffs with cinnamon sugar before I baked them, and the resulting puffs emerged with a lovely lid of cinnamon crunch perched on top.

For as splendid as these puffs look, they are a cinch to make. Because they are baked in a common muffin pan, you don’t need a special pan, as you do with popovers, and you don’t need to fuss around with the oven, as you do with cream puffs. You mix, portion out, then bake. What greets you after 30 minutes is a dozen of the most spectacular baked goods you’ve ever seen straight from the oven, craggly, tall, and light as a feather.

Last Year: Sweet and Spicy Popcorn

Nun’s Puffs Recipe

From Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup milk

¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

4 large eggs

optional: 2 teaspoons sugar mixed with ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Thoroughly butter a 12-portion muffin pan, being sure to butter the edges of the cups and around the top.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. When butter had melted, stir in milk and raise heat to medium.. Bring the mixture to a light boil, then add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Continue to cook and stir the mixture until it comes together in a cohesive ball. Remove from heat, transfer dough to a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes.

When dough has cooled a bit, add the eggs, one at a time, beating for about a minute after each addition. You can beat the egg into the dough with a wooden spoon, a handheld mixer on medium speed, or a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater attachment on medium-low speed. After the last egg has been beaten in, the mixture should resemble an extremely thick, stiff cake or muffin batter.

Divide the dough evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each cup about 2/3 full. If using, sprinkle the tops of the dough with cinnamon sugar.

Bake in center of oven for about 30 minutes, or until the puffs are tall, golden brown, craggly on top, and very puffy. Remove each puff from the pan immediately, and allow to cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve while still hot or warm.

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18 Responses to “Nun’s Puffs”

  1. willbakefortattoos November 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    What cute little puffs. I imagine good cheese and ham or bacon would be pleasant to find tucked away inside.

  2. pilgrimk9 November 6, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    Yum, like great big profiteroles

    • savorysaltysweet November 6, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

      Exactly–only a bit less crisp and a tad more eggy. Overall: so good.

  3. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide November 6, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    Those look heavenly. Ha, ha. Get it? Heavenly.:)

  4. Meredith November 8, 2012 at 11:05 am #

    I wonder if these came out of one of those convent cookbooks– I love convent cookbooks. When I get back to Texas I will check my Ursuline cookbook from New Orleans– they were French, so you never know. The question is, can you say nuns puffs five times fast?

  5. Allison November 10, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    Those look awesome! I am super curious about the true story behind the name…

  6. Erin November 12, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    These were fantastic. My friends loved them! Thanks!

    • savorysaltysweet November 12, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

      I am so glad you gave them a try! I love hearing back about recipes.

  7. Annette Kelly November 12, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    Another great recipe. Can’t wait to try with pear preserves.

  8. Jean Schell November 12, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

    I know hat I’m having for breakfast tomorrow!

  9. Else-Maria Tennessen November 12, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    Omigosh, I am SO making these!

  10. Melissa Burford November 12, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

    These look so yummy. I can’t wait to figure out what I’d want to fill mine with. They’d be great for a weekend brunch…especially Christmas, then everyone can figure out what they want. Thanks!

  11. Misty November 13, 2012 at 6:49 am #

    I think I will make these for brunch this weekend!! great idea!!

  12. Darlene November 13, 2012 at 7:35 am #

    These puffs look delicious. Thanks for sharing.

  13. agonysdecay November 14, 2012 at 11:56 pm #

    Oh my, I am making these for a get together next weekend. I’m not sure how many people will be able to try them, as I will probably eat the whole first batch!

  14. Celia November 29, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    These sound very British and quite magical! I am getting a creative cooking boost, whilst reading your posts, so I thank you…

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