Category Archives: Breakfast

Apple Custard Cake

sliced-cakeI have a recipe for an apple caramel cake that is outstanding. But some occasions (maybe breakfast if you’re my husband) call for a simpler cake. This cake is perfect for those times. This is a dense cake. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! I mean dense in the best possible sense. This is yellow cake at it’s finest. Owing to butter, eggs, whole milk and sour cream it has a compact velvety texture.

My dad would have described this cake as plain. And he would have meant it as a great compliment. He liked subtle flavours, nothing too sweet, ornate or fancy. The inspiration for this cake comes from Sarabeth’s Good Morning Cookbook. Sarabeth knows good breakfast!

The first tweak I made to the original recipe was to toast the sugar. Stella Parks over at Serious Eats convinced me to give it a try. The bottom line is that toasting sugar in the oven tames sugar’s sweetness and the longer you toast it, the more intense the caramel flavour will be. Check out her article if food science is your jam.

I toasted my sugar for about 2 1/2 hours. The toasted sugar is on the right. I tasted both, side by side and did find that the toasted sugar tasted less sweet. You can toast 4 pounds at one time and it will keep forever, just like white sugar. toasted-sugarStart with a 9 inch tube pan (also called an angel food cake pan). Butter and flour the pan very well.brushing-panI made this cake twice last week. The first time I made it, I found it too plain. (Sorry dad!). On the second go-round I added an additional layer of apples and coated the apple slices in cinnamon-sugar.

Half the batter goes into the pan. Smooth it out.smoothing-batterI used the first Honeycrisp apples of the fall season! Pink Lady or Granny Smith would also be great choices.slicing-applesTop batter with cinnamon apples.arranging-applesRepeat with a second layer of batter and cinnamon apples. Then drizzle with custard mixture.drizzling-custardResist the urge to turn the cake out of the pan until it has completely cooled. Your patience will be handsomely rewarded. 3-slicesThe ribbon of cinnamon coated apples that runs through the center of this cake is quite beautiful.one-slice-1

Click here to print recipe for Apple-Custard-Cake.

sliced-cake-2

Sweet Potato and Turkey Sausage Hash

brunch for 2Although I write a food blog, I seem to struggle when it comes to deciding what to make when I have company for brunch. Smoked Salmon, cream cheese and bagels (unless I bake my own), feels like I phoned it in. Just not enough effort. Sort of like serving jarred salsa and bagged tortilla chips when friends come over. Pancakes and waffles are a challenge because they really are best served as soon as they are made and I don’t love cooking when I have people over. I prefer to have as much done in advance if possible. Plus, so many people are avoiding gluten and/or carbs these days.

My go-to brunch standard is a fritatta. My favourite is studded with sautéed leeks, cauliflower, corn and Gruyere cheese. It can be made ahead of time and is delicious served warm or at room temperature. But I get easily bored with food and always want to try something new.

Clinton Kelly made a variation of this hash on The Chew a few weeks ago. It seemed like a perfect brunch dish. He used ready made chicken sausage, but I keep Kosher, and couldn’t find any at my butcher. I decided to make my own. Since I wasn’t putting  the sausage in casing, it really is quite simple to do. It’s just a matter of picking the right seasonings.making sausageI decided to use ground turkey and seasoned it with paprika, fennel seed, allspice, salt and red pepper flakes. Ground turkey tends to be dry, so to add moisture, without adding extra fat, I added some finely grated apple and onion. I learned that trick from Rachel Ray.

Once the ground turkey is browned up, it’s time to make hash. I used a combo of sweet potatoes and Yukon golds. I added some corn, sweet red peppers, and jalapeños for a bit of zing. ready to make hashOnce all the veggies are cooked, the ground turkey is mixed in and it’s time to add the eggs. before baking12 minutes in a hot oven and brunch is ready. A big (12 inch) cast iron skillet is perfect for this dish, but any large skillet will work. It can be brought right to the table and served from the pan.hash for 4brunch for 1 625 sqIf you want to get really cute, make the hash in a big pan, and then transfer it to 4 mini cast iron pans. Top each with an egg and bake. Serve each person their own little pan. I found the mini pans at World Market for $7.99 each. I couldn’t resist. hash in mini pan 625 sq

 

Click here to print recipe for Sweet Potato and Turkey Sausage Hash.

Battle Babka

Almond Joy Babka with a latte 2Who among us hasn’t wished for more hours in the day? Well consider me your little “time fairy.” I’m going to give you 24 extra hours! In case you’ve forgotten, 2016 is a leap year. February 29, is leap day. With all that extra time on your hands, let me suggest that you make babka.

For the uninitiated, babka is a brioche dough (yeast dough enriched with butter), spread with a sweet filling, rolled up and then baked in a loaf pan. Many consider chocolate to be the ultimate babka. In fact, if you were even to suggest a cinnamon babka to these chocolate lovers, they’d likely gasp and and utter, “another babka“? They theorize that a cinnamon babka is a “lesser babka”.

My daughter was visiting this weekend and she wanted to help me with my next post. As we considered what to blog about, my suggestion of blood orange curd filled donuts, eclairs or tart were met with a less than enthusiastic ” oh, that’s interesting.” When  I showed her the photo of Chocolate Krantz cake (aka Babka) in Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Jerusalem, she got quite excited. She is enthusiastically in the chocolate camp, while my husband has both feet firmly planted in the cinnamon camp. Luckily, this recipe makes two babkas. And so Battle Babka was on.battle babkaThe dough for babka can not be rushed. It requires an overnight rest in the fridge. Then, divide it in half and roll out the first half into an 11 x 15 inch rectangle.rolling doughFor the chocolate babka, we were inspired by an Almond Joy chocolate bar. After spreading on the chocolate paste, we added chopped toasted almonds and unsweetened coconut. spreading chocolate fillingsprinkling almondssprinkling coconutHere’s where babka baking becomes fun. Roll up the dough into a tight roulade.rolling 2rolling 4Place roll on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze for about 15 minutes, to firm up the dough. rolled and ready for chillingOnce the dough has firmed up, it’s time to cut it in half, length-wise. A serrated knife makes easy work of this.slicing in halfLook at those gorgeous striations. gorgeous striationsTo assemble, the two halves need to be twisted back together again .twisting 1twisting 2twisting 3We repeated the process all over again, to make the cinnamon babka. Brush dough with butter this time, instead of chocolate.brushing butter on cinnamon babkaA thick layer of brown sugar and cinnamon go down next.sprinkling sugar cinnamonToasted pecans and dried cherries complete this version.pecans ans cherriesThe babkas are placed in loaf pans and allowed to rise for about 90 minutes. Because of all the butter in the dough, they only grow by about 15%.ready to riseOnce baked, they get doused with a brushing of simple syrup. This keeps the babkas super moist.brushing with simple syrupAfter a tortuous cooling period, (with my husband calling from upstairs, every 10 minutes, “Is it time yet?“, we sliced into them and tasted. One vote for chocolate from my daughter, one vote for cinnamon, from my husband. The deciding vote was up to me. I declare that Cinnamon babka is most decidedly not a lesser babka. The tart dried cherries, combined with the crunchy pecans won me over. But don’t let me influence you. Decide for yourself. battle babka 2We discovered that babka tastes even better the second day. Sort of like stew, it needs time for all the flavours to develop. We loved it with a latte for breakfast.Cinnamon Babka with latte 2 625 sqIt was still stellar late that afternoon with a glass of milk.Cinnamon Babka with milkNot surprisingly, it disappeared quite quickly.take a slice 1take a slice 2hey, where did all the babka go

Click here to print recipe for Almond Joy Babka.

Click here to print recipe for Cinnamon Pecan Dried Cherry Babka.

 

Maple Oat Waffles

waffles on red plates 2Don’t know what the weather’s like in your neck of the woods, but here in Ottawa we’ve been  under siege. Earlier this week we set a one-day-record for snowfall with over 50 centimetres (that’s almost 20 inches) burying the city. The old record of 41 centimetres was set in 1947. Whoopee for us!

Perfect time to cocoon, binge watch Netflix and make oat and maple waffles. I finished off all five seasons of Friday Night Lights in a few short weeks and I’m having Tim Riggins withdrawal. My husband can’t believe that after watching all those episodes, I still don’t understand football.

We started watching House of Cards, but my husband doesn’t understand the concept of binge watching. He restricts us to one episode a night. The man has incredible self-control. I decided to see if I could break down his will power with waffles. what you needThese waffles are the creation of whole grains maven Kim Boyce. Her 2011 book “Good to the Grain” is a veritable whole grains baking bible. Kim and co-author Amy Scattergood go beyond just substituting whole grains for all-purpose flour. They delve into 12 different whole grain flours and teach us what each one has to offer. I love that they are not whole grain militants. Many of the recipes have some all-purpose flour in the mix, because the lightness that you get from AP flour is sometimes necessary for superior taste. And first and foremost this book is focused on good taste!

Start with sifting the oat flour, oat bran and all purpose flour. sifting dry ingredientsThe batter is sweetened with maple syrup. They are light and fluffy, thanks to beaten egg whites.folding in egg whitesMake sure you preheat the waffle iron to high and brush on lots of butter. buttering waffle ironpouring batterWe topped ours with a fried egg, because everything tastes better with a fried egg on top! This is one food trend I am happy to follow.oat and maple waffle topped with fried eggbreak the yolk

Click here to print recipe for Maple Oat Waffles.

a bite taken

Popovers

a bunch of popovers 2Just saying the word “Popover” makes me happy. These are so much fun to make. I turned on my oven light and watched them rise up and pop right over the rim of the pan. It’s like magic! (Do not ever open the oven door while they are baking!)gorgeous popoversI somehow managed to keep my popover virginity for the first 50 years of my life. I had my first  one a few years ago at my cottage.  My sister Bonnie came to visit and brought her popover pans with her. (Doesn’t everyone travel with popover pans?) I promptly ate two, right out of the oven, slathered with butter. Why had I waited so long?

I have been meaning to make them myself and blog about them, to share the popover love, but life got in the way, and I got sidetracked. A family holiday to Aruba, over the winter break, brought me right back on track again. We had dinner one night at the Aruba outpost of BLT Steak.

Our entire dinner was delicious, but it was the popovers that will keep me coming back again and again. I was thrilled to see that they arrived at the table with soft butter and a copy of the recipe!2 popoversPopover batter consists of nothing more than milk, eggs, flour and salt. I also added some cheese, because cheese makes everything better.what you'll need Making perfect popovers is not really all that magical or mysterious if you understand about the science behind them. The website, bite-sizedbiology does a brilliant job explaining this.   Popovers are like little balloons. An elastic network of egg, milk, and flour proteins (particularly gluten) forms as the popover batter is mixed. This rubbery network then “inflates” as air trapped inside the batter expands during baking. 

Beat your eggs well.whisking eggsWhisk in some warm (120°F) whole milk.adding warm milk Gradually add the flour and salt, stirring well after each addition. It is not critical to get it totally smooth. A few little lumps are ok.

Place your muffin or popover tins in the oven, on the lowest rack, while it is preheating to 400°F. A hot pan will assist in giving your popovers a head start in rising. While popovers can certainly be made in a muffin tin, they will not be nearly as tall and dramatic as ones made in a popover pan. The main difference between muffin and popover pans is the shape of the cups. Popover pans have tall narrow-straight sided cups, while muffin tins are squatter and narrower at the base. The taller straighter sides of the popover pan gives the batter more vertical room to expand and build a bigger steam pocket.filling hot pansEach popover got a generous topping of Gruyere cheese before heading into the oven. adding gruyereServe as soon as they come out of the oven, with butter, if that makes you happy. The top and sides are a deep mahogany colour. Pop off the crunchy cheesy top to reveal a hollow custardy cavity inside.2 popovers cropped close

Click here to print recipe for Popovers.

popover with butter 625 sqI’m thinking I need a mini popover pan now. Tiny ones would be so perfect to serve with cocktails!