Lottie + Doof + Spilt Milk

When we moved to Oak Park seven years ago, it was not a town with a thriving restaurant scene. We have a bunch of restaurants that are fine, but I am never really excited to eat at any of them. It bummed me out. When someone visits from out of town, we almost always leave Oak Park to eat. Seven years later things are basically the same—this isn’t a redemption story—but there is one very important exception. Last autumn, sisters Meg and Molly Svec opened Spilt Milk Pastry, a tiny storefront bakery near the center of town, and just a couple of blocks from our house.

Spilt Milk specializes in classic American pastries like muffins, cinnamon rolls, giant cookies and, of course, pie. Molly, the pastry genius of this operation, makes the best pies in Chicago. A bold claim, I know. But honestly, I love them so much and really believe it to be true. Pies are kind of the hardest thing for bakeries to get right and I’ve loved every slice I have had at Spilt Milk. I really respect that Molly regularly makes double-crusted fruit pies. So many pie shops lean too heavily on graham-cracker crusted custard pies because they are easier to make and store. I get it, but those are not what I want when I want pie. I want Molly’s ridiculously good Cherry Berry pie that is a pure expression of butter and the best of summer fruit.

But, as ever, who cares about a restaurant if all it offers is good food. Spilt Milk is also one of the friendliest, sweetest places around. Molly, Meg, Adrian, Julio, and the rest of the gang are always so good-spirited and welcoming, even on a weekend morning when the shop is swamped. Adrian will bring you a glass of water, Julio will offer to get you more coffee or walk around with samples of something delicious to try, Molly will take a break from baking to talk with customers. This crew is further ahead in customer service than places that have been at this for many years. It brings me so much joy, and I can tell my fellow Oak Parkers agree. So many of us have become regulars and have gotten to know the staff and everyone greets each other like old friends. It is the first place* in Oak Park that I am excited to bring friends to when they visit, which is sad in one way, but kind of exciting in another. I am hopeful that Spilt Milk helps pave the way for other good places to find an audience in Oak Park.

My two favorite things to eat at Spilt Milk, besides the pie, are the cinnamon rolls that show up on weekend mornings, and the blueberry muffins which are easily the best I have ever eaten. Bryan, who is a connoisseur of all things blueberry, agrees. There are a few secrets to these muffins. Molly uses a hearty dose of coriander in the batter, rather than the ubiquitous lemon zest. Because Molly is not a monster. She then tops the batter with a dollop of tangy cream cheese that bakes into a cheesy filling that perfectly compliments the rest of the muffin. They are baked in jumbo muffin tins which give the best crust to filling ratio. Eating one of these muffins warm from the oven is one the best things you can do with your life. And best news ever, Molly agreed to share her recipe with all of us. I hope you make these and then I hope you let them cool for about 15 minutes before tearing into them. Muffins are truly at their best in the first hour out of the oven.

Thanks to Spilt Milk for being my favorite place to eat in Oak Park, and for sharing some secrets.

Spilt Milk Pastry is located at 103 South Oak Park Avenue in beautiful Oak Park, Illinois.

I happen to have a 12-cup jumbo muffin tin, which I love. But I know most home jumbo tins are 6-cup, so feel free to cut the recipe in half to make 6 muffins. Bryan prefers these without cream cheese, but he is wrong. You can do what you like. And these truly are best warm. You can reheat in the oven or slice in half and toast in a cast iron skillet.

*We also have a pretty terrific butcher shop in town called Carnivore, but I don’t really bring out-of-town visitors there for obvious reasons. Come visit!

Blueberry Coriander Muffins (recipe by Molly Svec of Spilt Milk Pastry)

  • 4 3/4 cup (680 g) all-purpose flour
    1 1/3 cup (290 g) granulated sugar
    2 teaspoon (6 g) kosher Salt
    1 tablespoon + 2 1/4 teaspoon (16 g) baking powder
    1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    4 large eggs
    1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
    12 ounces (340 g) cold unsalted butter, cubed
    2 cups whole milk
    4 cups frozen blueberries
  • coarse sugar for finishing
  • cream cheese (optional, but they use about 2 tablespoons per jumbo muffin)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (325°F convection). Butter a jumbo muffin tin, or line with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the vanilla, milk, and eggs.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add the butter cubes and use a pastry cutter to cut them into the dry ingredients until the largest pieces of butter are about pea-sized.

Add the wet ingredients in two additions, being careful not to over-mix. Stop short of totally combined, add the blueberries, and mix to combine. The batter will be thick. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin, dividing evenly among the tin. Drop two tablespoons of cream cheese onto the top of each muffin and then sprinkle generously with course sugar.

Bake for 25-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

14 comments to “Lottie + Doof + Spilt Milk”

  1. Oh my goodness – yes! I’ve been here! And it’s absolutely delicious. I think I had a croissant and it was perfectly light/crispy/chewy/buttery. This is a reminder to go here again next time I’m in Oak Park!

  2. Anna! Also a reminder to let me know the next time you are in Oak Park!

  3. I have been looking for/wishing for/hoping for a blueberry muffin recipe that would change the way I think about blueberry muffins (cupcakes with blueberries and not very good cupcakes at that, usually–sometimes *updated* with lemon—yech).

    Thank you for giving me an exciting option to try this weekend.

    And if you ever happen to make it to The Matchbox, tell my nephew Graham to fix you the drink of his choice, on my tab. You make the world a more tolerable place to be in these disheartening times. Wish there were more people willing to speak their truth (myself included) so willingly. To neighbors of the mind, if not the locale!

  4. I don’t agree with it not being a great selection of restaurants in Oak Park. As of 9/22 There is Coopers Hawk, Maya Del Sol, Georgia pancake house, Trattoria, Hemingway Bistro and, flat top grill, Lou malnati’s. I would continue but I realize that this article is not about Oak Park restaurant development, or the lack thereof. Henceforth, BILLARCHEY do love spilt milk!! it is my guilty pleasure. I am in love with the chewy flaky biscuits. No need for a recipe for muffins. I will get mine at spilt milk.

  5. Hi Amanda- Thanks! : )
    TP- Hi! Glad we agree on Spilt Milk, since we don’t agree on the rest of your list. ; ) Also, FYI, Flat Top Grill closed a few months ago.

  6. These look amazing, but alas I have no jumbo muffin tins of any number. How do you think these would work in a 12-cup regular sized tin, and how would you adjust the cooking times? Thanks!

  7. I am an OP native who found your blog while living on the East Coast. I’ve enjoyed it for a long time, and I am excited to finally be able to take up one of your suggestions as I just moved back. I know you said there isn’t much, but are there any other restaurants/bakeries/cafes that aren’t too far from OP that you think are worth checking out? I saw your Chicago guide but know you said you might update it at some point – I would love to hear any current favorites. Thanks for the wonderful blog and recipes!

  8. Hey JB: I havent tried, so I am not sure. You’d definitely cut the above recipe in half for 12 standard muffins. And yeah, the cooking time would be reduced. But it should still work. Proportions will not be the same. And you’ll want to be half-sized blob of cream cheese. If you try, let us know how it goes.

  9. Hi S! Welcome back! To be clear, there really are places that are totally okay and that we eat at regularly. La Bella is run by a couple named Dave and Ann and they are so nice and the food is good standard Italian-American. They make us genuinely enjoy being there. Sen sushi is good. The patio at Maya del Sol is great in pretty weather, and the food is fine. If we expand outside of OP limits: Johnnies Beef in Elmwood Park is one of the most wonderful places on earth. I like Autre Monde in Berwyn a lot and Kinslahger across the street. Gene and Judes has the best hot dogs. We’re kind of into Yum Thai in Forest Park, but not sure if it is really good or we are just desperate. Forno Roso on Harlem in Dunning has great pizza. A bit more of a drive, but Vie in Western Springs is maybe my favorite place in Chicagoland for a fancy dinner. And then driving into the city there are a ton of places in the west loop that opened since you were last here that are great (Elske, Publican, Publican Quality Meats, Bad Hunter, Au Cheval, Roister, etc) and also Logan Square/Humboldt Park (Spinning J, Cellar Door Provisions, Fat Rice, Lula, Quiote, etc), which at the right time of day is a quick drive. If you ever need a specific recommendation, feel free to shoot me an email.

  10. Thanks so much for the welcome and suggestions, Tim! I am looking forward to checking those places out. Thanks again for everything.

  11. OP native circa 80s and 90s here who visits your blog for trips down memory lane. “Johnnies Beef in Elmwood Park is one of the most wonderful places on earth.” Best ever. I can still hear the guy working the cash register call out your order in the most perfect Chicago accent “medium iiiice, small friiiies”. When I was pretty young there was a French bakery called Minou that was fantastic on the oak park mall before they cut through Lake Street. Old school.

  12. Justin Jarrod Dean says:

    September 27th, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    Think this recipe will work w/ fresh blueberries?

  13. Hi Justin- Technically, it will work. Recipes usually call for frozen blueberries because a) they are consistently better tasting and b) they are easier to incorporate into the batter without them smashing and staining the batter–they stay in tact. If I had some fresh blueberries that were especially good, I would just freeze them first and then follow the recipe.

  14. Uh, I made these muffins and they’re incredible! I think my favorite muffins ever? Who knew that coriander = classic blueberry muffin flavor! FYI for others, I halved the recipe and made 12 regular-sized muffins (totally wish I had a jumbo muffin pan, but don’t yet), and it worked out great. The tins were almost over-full, but I used all the batter anyway, and they ended up with great hefty tops. I was thankful I thoroughly buttered the whole pan. And baking time was in the 25-30 min range.

What do you think?