You never know who, or what, you’ll meet in Exandria. Maybe a fearsome creature. Perhaps a shady noble. Or if you’re lucky, the Shadow Baker. The Critical Role elf pastry baker, whose name is actually Ephred, is wildly charismatic and smells of baked goods. He keeps a number of pastry options tucked away in the inner pockets of his cloak. Give this strong connection to food, it was probably a given that Exquisite Exandria: The Official Cookbook of Critical Role would include a Shadow Baker recipe. We have an exclusive peek at the Shadow Baker’s pocket muffins and blackberry compound butter. We’re drooling.
Introduced in Critical Role‘s third campaign, the Shadow Baker is an NPC voiced by Matthew Mercer. This recipe is just one of 60 from the book. The Official Cookbook of Critical Role is written by Liz Marsham with recipes by Jesse Szewczyk, Susan Vu, and Amanda Yee, and a foreword by Quyen Tran and Sam Riegel. In its pages you’ll find food and drinks from across Exandria.
Muffins of the Shadow Baker
The Lantern Spire is the first stop for many visitors to Jrusar, being the only way into the city on foot. Once there, you’ll find crowded streets winding up and around the spire toward the ever-burning light of the Prakash Pyre that gives the spire its name. If you ignore those streets, though, and find a way inside the spire, you could find yourself at the Elder’s Post grey market.* If you are lucky, you might come across Ephred, the master pastry chef known as the Shadow Baker. And if you are very lucky, the pockets of his cloak might still contain some delightful treats to buy.
Few among us are so lucky,** so we have attempted to re-create two of the Shadow Baker’s muffins for the home cook. Beginning with the same batter, they then diverge into savory and sweet options. The savory muffin has sausage and potato, while the sweet is topped with cinnamon sugar crumble and served with the Shadow Baker’s signature blackberry citrus butter.
*You could also find yourself extremely disoriented or extremely robbed. Proceed with caution.
**But if you are, please say hi for us! We are big Shadow Baker fans here at Exquisite Exandria.
Shadow Baker’s Pocket Muffins
MAKES 24 MUFFINS
PREP TIME: 40 minutes
COOK TIME: 25 minutes
Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Streusel Topping
½ cup / 70g flour
½ cup (1 stick) / 113g cold unsalted butter, grated
¼ cup / 50g packed light brown sugar
¼ cup / 50g granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Corn Muffin Batter
1 cup / 140g all-purpose flour
1 cup / 140g fine-grain cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup / 240ml buttermilk
½ cup (1 stick) / 113g unsalted butter, melted
⅓ cup / 65g granulated sugar
Savory Breakfast Muffins
4 ounces / 115g breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled
8 small purple potatoes, small diced and parboiled (see Note)
1 cup / 128g shredded Cheddar cheese
Blackberry Compound Butter (recipe follows), for serving
Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C and line two twelve-cup muffin pans with muffin liners.
To make the cinnamon and brown sugar streusel topping: In a medium bowl, add the flour, grated butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon. Using your hands, scrunch the ingredients together until crumbles form. Do not scrunch too long, or the butter will melt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Prepare the corn muffin batter: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, melted butter, and granulated sugar until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and stir until a thick batter forms.
Scoop half of the batter evenly into 12 of the muffin liners and top with the streusel.
To make the Savory Breakfast Muffins: Mix the sausage, potatoes, and ½ cup of the shredded cheese into the remaining corn batter and scoop into the remaining 12 muffin liners. Top these savory muffins with the remaining ½ cup of shredded cheese.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the batter is completely cooked and the cheese is brown and bubbly around the edges of the savory muffins. Serve the muffins with the Blackberry Compound Butter alongside.
NOTE: To parboil potatoes, boil them in salted water until they are no longer crunchy, but still a bit firm in the center, 5 to 6 minutes.
Blackberry Compound Butter
MAKES ½ CUP
½ cup (1 stick) / 113g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons blackberry jam
Zest of 1 small orange
To make the blackberry compound butter: While the muffins are cooking, add the butter, blackberry jam, and orange zest to a small bowl. Using an electric or handheld mixer, mix on low until well incorporated and the butter takes on a purplish hue, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a small serving dish and serve with the streusel muffins.
Reprinted from Exquisite Exandria: The Official Cookbook of Critical Role. © 2023 by Gilmore’s Glorious Goods LLC. Published by Random House Worlds, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
Illustration by Adrián Ibarra Lugo.
Exquisite Exandria: The Official Cookbook of Critical Role arrives on shelves on August 29. You can place a preorder now.