Cider Doughnut Muffin Recipe

muffin closeupFrom the Apple House at Linden to Marker-Miller Orchard, cider doughnuts are a sign of the season here in the Shenandoah Valley. These are the wonderful cakey doughnuts rolled in cinnamon sugar that are perfect with a cup of hot coffee or cider.cider donuts

Here at The Inn at Vaucluse Spring we have been inspired by these treats to serve our own Cider Doughnut Muffins for breakfast every Muffin-Monday this fall. They are easy to make, and are best made with local Rinker’s Cider.

We triple reduce the cider, making the muffins even more intensely apple-flavored.

Cider Doughnut Muffins


3 cups cider down to 1 cupreduced cider

Dry ingredients:

2 1/4 cups flour
1 ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt

Cream together:

1 stick butter, room temp
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temp
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

After baking, roll in:

Melted butter
Cinnamon sugar, mix together:
¾ cup sugar
3 T. ground cinnamon

Reduce cider and allow to cool to room temp. This can be done earlier in the day.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk dry ingredients together in medium bowl.  Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar with stand-mixer until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, blending well after each. Beat in vanilla extract.

Add a third of dry ingredients to butter mixture and beat just to combine.

Add half the reduced cider and beat to combine.

Repeat with another third of the dry mix, then the rest of the cider, then the remaining flour mixture, beating to combine after each.

level the scoopScoop into Pammed muffin tins using a large ice cream scoop, completely leveled (in order to get 12).  Bake 20 to 22 minutes until tops are golden brown.



roll in sugarWhen muffins are just cool enough to handle, roll lightly in melted butter (do not allow to soak) and then roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Serve warm.


photography:  Dylan Niide
styling:  Tehya Niide

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Bacon and Egg Breakfast Flatbread Recipe

bacon and egg breakfast flatbread

Sort of toad-in-a-hole meets breakfast pizza!  This is a fun recipe using those wonderful naan flatbreads that you can find about anywhere nowadays.  When we serve these as a third course at breakfast here at Vaucluse Spring following a muffin or coffeecake and a generous portion of fruit, we serve only 1 egg per person.  But if you are making these at home with no other accompaniments and you are serving enthusiastic eaters, plan on two eggs per person.

Bacon and Egg Breakfast Flatbread

(Makes 2 flatbreads – 3 to 6 servings)

3 slices thick-sliced bacon (Applewood smoked if you can get it)
2 T. brown sugar mixed with ¼ tsp. cardamom
2 pieces naan flatbread
Fresh baby spinach leaves
Grated aged white cheddar
6 medium eggs

Prep Bacon

floppy baconRoast bacon in 400 degree oven until some fat is rendered out but bacon is still floppy. Remove pan from oven and drain off drippings.

floppy bacon with brown sugar/cardamomSprinkle with brown sugar mix and grind some black pepper over top.  Return to oven and roast until done.  Careful, the brown sugar can burn quickly.

drain bacon on rackDrain bacon on a rack (otherwise, will stick to paper towels).  When cool, chop and set aside.
Note:  This is the technique we use at the inn when doing large quantities.  For small quantities at home, you could do this on the stove-top in a skillet.

Prep Spinach

flipping spinach with forksPile a large skillet full of baby spinach and sauté with a little oil or butter, flipping spinach with 2 forks until just wilted.  Remove from heat.

Uniformly Wilted Spinach

Uniformly Wilted Spinach


Prep Flatbread

flatbread cut outsCut 3 holes in each piece with a 2” biscuit cutter. Brush the cut-out pieces with melted butter and sprinkle with your favorite seasoned salt or your choice of herbs.  Toast in oven until just starting to color, about 10 minutes.  These are the Lil’ Dippers.

Place naan pieces on foil lined sheet pan that has been sprayed well with vegetable spray.  You can even brush some melted butter in the hole.  You do NOT want the egg to stick to the foil.  Trust me.


Assemble and Bake

flatbread with spinach and baconArrange the wilted spinach on the naan around holes.  Put bacon pieces on top of the spinach.

flatbread before bakingCrack an egg into a small bowl and grab the egg yolk and attached egg white and place the egg in the hole, leaving behind any unattached liquidy whites.  Repeat with remaining eggs.  Sprinkle cheese around eggs and on spinach.  Grind black pepper over egg.

finished flatbreadBake 9-10 minutes in 375 degree oven until egg whites are almost set to your preferred degree of doneness.  Remove from oven and let stand 2 minutes.  Use scissors to cut each naan into 3 pieces to serve.  Can hold briefly in warm oven before serving if need be.

Serve each piece with its Lil’ Dipper for dunking into the egg yolk. Delicious.

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Raspberry Coffecake Recipe

posted by Neil Myers

raspberry coffeecakeThis coffee cake is a hoot to make and tastes fantastic!  You get to poke berries into a half-baked cake, which sounds weird I’ll grant, but it’s strangely satisfying to push them in just right.  Plus, there is something about the fresh raspberries that make it indescribably delicious.  Blueberries, black berries, or even wine berries work just as well, but raspberries are our favorite.  We’ve had lots of requests for this recipe from our guests here at The Inn at Vaucluse Spring, so it’s time to share.


Raspberry-Lemon Coffee Cake
(one 9×13 baking pan)

Dry mix:
*  2 1/4 cups flour
*  2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
*  1/2 tsp. baking soda
*  1/2 tsp. salt

Cream mixture:
*  3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) soft butter
*  1 1/2 cups sugar
*  2 eggs, room temp
*  1 ½ tsp. vanilla

1 cup plus 2 T. buttermilk

Lemon Cream Cheese filling:
*  4 oz. cream cheese
*  ¼ cup plus 2 T. sugar
*  1 ½ tsp. lemon zest
*  2 eggs

Glaze:  1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam, melted over low heat with lemon juice added to thin out

1 cup fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter 9” x 13” Pyrex pan.  Mix dry ingredients and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.

Alternately add in dry mix and buttermilk to butter-sugar mixture, beating just until combined after each addition.  Set aside.

For cream cheese filling, beat cream cheese and sugar together in another bowl.  Add lemon zest and eggs and beat until combined

Spoon half of cake batter into bottom of buttered pan, spreading to edges.  Pour cream cheese mixture on cake batter, spreading to edges.  Dollop remaining batter on cream cheese layer, carefully spreading to edges of pan.

IMG_0637Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and gently press raspberries into cake.  Cake will still be wet in center and just starting to dry out on the edges.  Don’t worry about making a pattern with the berries – they move around anyway, and are easy to cut through.  Bake another 25-30 minutes until cake springs back & toothpick comes out clean.IMG_0641


Place on wire rack to cool before cutting.  Cut into 15 pieces large pieces, 18 medium, or 24 small.  Drizzle pieces with glaze and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Stand back and watch it disappear!cropped coffecake

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A Healthier Bed-and-Breakfast Breakfast

posted by Neil Myers

In our 19th year of innkeeping here at The Inn at Vaucluse Spring, we are re-thinking the idea of what it means to serve an indulgent B&B breakfast.  More and more of our guests are looking for a healthier breakfast.  The problem is that many health claims are diametrically opposed and there is no one menu which would strictly meet everyone’s idea of health.  The Paleo/Gluten-Free crowd is not going to be happy with what the Whole-Grain/Low Fat/Vegetarian folks want and vice versa.  Plus, we still have a lot of guests who just want to take a small vacation from these concerns and indulge themselves with their old way of eating for a couple of days.  Without becoming a short-order cook, what’s an innkeeper to do?

Our evolving approach is to follow The Middle Way (with apologies to the Buddha) and encourage our guests to relax a little bit about food.  In a world of Extreme-Everything, our choice is to be Extremely Balanced (can there can be such a thing?).  Our goal, as ever, is to serve delicious food, beautifully presented, that delightfully nourishes body and soul.  We will continue to accommodate allergies, food intolerances, and medically-imposed restrictions (as well as personal food preferences as best we can).

With the new Middle Way approach, we are considering calling our first course our Breakfast Appetizer or Starter so we have the leeway to serve something other that a breakfast bread.  The Appetizer/Starter may well be one of our traditional breakfast breads or muffins, or it might be a miniature version of one of our “sweet-day” breakfasts.  We just noticed the other morning how a breakfast strata filled with apples looked remarkably like an apple strudel; a smaller portion of this would make a lovely appetizer.  Last winter we got rave reviews on our Apple, Blueberry, and Carrot Muffins which (behind the scenes) we called the “stealth health” muffins because they contain a large portion of flaxseed meal and oat bran in addition to the goodness of apples, dried blueberries, carrots and walnuts.  We will be tinkering with the Breakfast Appetizer/Starter idea and getting guest feedback as we go.

The second course, Fruit for the Day, will continue to feature fruit, whether fresh or roasted.  We still believe perfectly ripe fruit, simply prepared, is an indulgence of which we don’t partake often enough.  It’s fun to try different combinations of fruits and sauces, and although there’s never been a lot of sugar in our sauces, there will now be even less.

The entre will be full of vegetables and protein, mostly in the form of eggs.  We’re still looking for a snappy name for this, so would love to hear your ideas.  We agree with Jefferson that meat is an excellent “condiment”, not the star of the show.  Eggs can be prepared in an infinite number of ways and they no longer seem to be considered the bad boys of the dietary world (after all those years of bad press!).  Fresh vegetables are as much an indulgence as fruit – in our daily rush we don’t always take the time to prepare them with care and imagination.  One of our favorite entrees right now is a Quinoa and Greens Breakfast Pie which we serve with a Prosciutto Crisp for a little crunch and ping of salt.  You might think there would be some hesitancy about the pie, but we’ve found that the overwhelming majority of guests really, really enjoy it.  Maybe it’s all those onions, leeks, red pepper flakes, and a great white cheddar.

So, we are looking to our guests for reactions, whether positive, negative, or indifferent.  Do you have an all-time favorite Vaucluse breakfast dish that you believe we should never abandon?  Any recipes of your own you would you like to share?  (We’ve gotten some fantastic recipes from guests over the years.)  Tell us about any new foods you have tried that you recommend.  Let’s hear from the silent majority who may think things should stay exactly the same.  Please email your thoughts directly to Neil.  I would love to hear from you.

* * *


Apple, Blueberry, and Carrot Muffins
aka The A-B-C “Stealth Health” Muffins
(12 muffins)

This is a substantial muffin with lots of super-food ingredients.  We like to serve them with cinnamon-sugar butter, but you could serve them plain.  They are good “keepers”, but the sooner you serve them after they come out of the oven, the better they will taste.  Ours come out just minutes before breakfast starts.

Whisk together dry ingredients and set aside:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup flaxseed meal
½ cup oat bran
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

Whisk together and then add to the dry ingredients:
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup milk
2/3 cup brown sugar
¾ tsp. vanilla

Add in:
2 cups shredded carrots
1 large Granny Smith apple (unpeeled), shredded
1/3 cup dried blueberries
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Scoop batter with 1/3 cup measure into muffin tins that have been sprayed with vegetable oil spray.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until muffins spring back when poked or toothpick comes out clean.


* * *

Quinoa and Greens Breakfast Pie

(serves 6)

We have experimented with several versions of this.  This is the current favorite, but you could certainly try other greens and cheeses depending on what you have available.  After nibbling on all the greens in the market, mustard greens are our current favorite for that extra zing of flavor. Sharp/tart cheeses are preferable; just think what a little splash of vinegar does for greens and you get the idea.  Go heavier on the red pepper if you like – we need to follow The Middle Way here at the inn.

½ cup quinoa (a mix of red and white looks especially nice)
1 cup water

1 small sweet onion, chopped medium fine
1 bunch leeks, white and light green parts, halved longways and cut into 1/8” semi-circles
1 bunch mustard greens, stemmed and coarse chopped
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ cup grated Cabot White 3-Year Cheddar

5 oz. goat cheese, softened
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
4 eggs, room temp.

Cook quinoa according to package instructions.  Dump into large mixing bowl to cool.

Sauté onion in a little olive oil until soft.  Add leeks (make sure they are well washed) to the pan and continue until they are soft as well.  Dump into the quinoa bowl.  Sauté greens with red pepper flakes until wilted.  Add to the big bowl and toss until evenly distributed.  Add white cheddar to the bowl mixture and toss again.

Beat goat cheese until soft and fluffy.  Mix salt and pepper together with each other before adding to goat cheese.  Beat until blended.  Continue beating, adding eggs, and mix well.  Pour goat cheese mixture over the big-bowl ingredients and mix well.  Put into a 9” pie pan that has been sprayed with vegetable oil spray.

Bake in 350 degree oven about 45 minutes until edges begin to brown and eggs are set (knife comes out clean).  Allow to cool 10-15 minutes before serving.


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Apple Butter Coffee Cake Recipe

posted by Neil Myers

Apple butter coffee cake is synonymous with fall at The Inn at Vaucluse Spring.  This past Saturday we had our first of the season, made with the local Stephens City Lions Club apple butter.  Lions Club members make it each year at Rinker Orchards, cooking it all day in copper kettles over an open applewood fire, with nothing added to fresh apples but sugar, water and their own secret blend of spices.  Our guests LOVE this coffee cake, so we thought we’d share our recipe.  We’ll never get around to publishing a cookbook, but if we did its title would be Too Good Not to Share!

Streusel mix:
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped pecans

Dry mix:
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg

Cream together:
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), room temperature
1 c. sugar

2 eggs, room temp
8 oz. sour cream

Apple butter mix:
2 egg whites
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup apple butter

Combine streusel mix ingredients and set aside.  Mix dry ingredients together in a different bowl and set aside.  Butter a 9” x 13” Pyrex pan.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar with KitchenAid until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the sour cream and beat until incorporated.  Add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.

In a separate bowl, whip egg whites with salt until stiff.  Fold in apple butter until evenly incorporated.











Cover bottom of baking dish with thin layer of batter.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup streusel over top.  Spread apple butter mix evenly over the streusel.


Spoon remaining batter over apple butter mix as evenly as possible to cover.












Sprinkle remaining streusel evenly over top. 


Bake in 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.  Place on wire rack to cool before cutting into 15 to 18 portions.  Enjoy!

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