Vanilla French Toast

When it comes to the great breakfast carb debate, there are usually three major camps of people:

Team Pancakes, Team Waffles, and Team French Toast.

I’ve said already a few times that pancakes are my one true love, so if I had to pick a team, I would be on Team Pancakes. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have love for the other ones though. I like ’em all. I’m planning on getting a waffle iron pretty soon, so I should be able to start sharing waffles recipes on the blog then. But there really is no excuse for my not having any French Toast on the blog yet. So, I’m fixing that today.

Good French Toast starts with a great loaf of bread. You want to make sure it’s got a good outer crust, a dense inner crumb and can be sliced very thick. If your bread slices are too thin, then it’ll absorb too much liquid and the finished product will be flat like pancakes. No good. A few months ago I shared a recipe for what I’m pretty positive is the easiest loaf of bread that I’ve ever made. It was called English Muffin Toasting Bread and it produced a sturdy loaf with a coarse, close-textured crumb. I said back then that it would make excellent toast and it did…I also said that it would make perfect French Toast.

Turns out, I was right about that too.

The cream in the egg mix makes the toast cook up rich and fluffy on the inside. Before you even ask if the nutmeg is *really* necessary, I’m going to just stop you  right there and say a firm ‘yes’. It gives just enough spice to compliment the sweet of the vanilla and you DO need it.

Now I just said that good French Toast starts with a good loaf of bread and I’m going to say it again: good French Toast starts with a good loaf of bread. If you don’t feel like baking the English Muffin Toasting bread, I do know that Trader Joe’s sells a challah loaf that will also work well. As will store-bought Texas Toast. Keep in mind that because this is a very simple recipe with simple flavors, they’ll taste at their best when they’re given the best foundation–in this case, bread. So go with the good stuff.

Sharing this at this week’s Fiesta Friday #232, co-hosted this week by Laurena @ Life Diet Health and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.

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Vanilla French Toast

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour Baking Companion

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) heavy cream (or half and half)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons rum (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 slices thick sliced bread (like Challah, Texas Toast, or English Muffin Toasting Bread)
  • Powdered sugar and maple syrup, for serving

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 285°. Place a rack on top of a sheet pan that you’ve lined with foil or parchment paper. Arrange the sliced bread on the rack, then place in the oven for 12-15 minutes. (This is just to dry out the top/bottom of the bread enough so that it isn’t overly soaked by the cream-egg mix).

Once the bread is done drying out, lower the oven temp to 250°.

In a shallow dish (large enough to fit about 2 slices) whisk together the eggs, cream, salt, nutmeg, rum and vanilla until smooth but not foamy.

Place the butter and oil in a heavy skillet and set it over medium heat. Don’t let it get too hot; if it starts to smoke, it means that it’s too hot and your toast will cook too quickly.

Place 2 pieces of the bread in the soaking dish, turn them over, and turn them over once more. It should take about 15 seconds, total; you want the bread to absorb the liquid, but not be too soaked/saturated.

Place the bread in the preheated skillet and fry it for 3 minutes before turning. It should be golden brown before you turn it—if it isn’t, you can SLIGHTLY raise the heat. Fry on the second side for about 2 minutes. Transfer it to the rack rimmed baking sheet and keep it in the oven while you finish frying the rest of the bread.

Once it’s all done, dust it with powdered sugar and serve with syrup.

 

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pull Apart Bread

Sometimes, I’ll mess something up in the kitchen. Happens to the best of us. But inevitably each time that I do, after I’ve tossed out the evidence and cleaned up the kitchen and sat down and given myself time to stew/pout/feel sorry for myself, I get this irrepressible urge to get back into the kitchen and make something else–y’know, just to ‘prove’ that the bad dish was just a fluke and that I do in fact have cooking/baking chops.

I know there are at least a few of y’all who can relate to that. It’s okay to admit it. This is a safe space.

Although there are days where things go left, I also have days in the kitchen that turn out the complete opposite, where I make something that is SO GOOD I want to cook and bake again just to replicate all of the deliciousness all over again. That’s kinda why this post is happening today. Something not only went well, it went so fantastic that I just had to have another go at it. That ‘something’ was last week’s recipe of this Chocolate-Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread. That stuff was legit, one of the best loaves of bread I’ve ever made in my life.

Clearly by the post stats, y’all thought it was pretty good too, so thanks for the love.

So, what are we doing here again you might ask? Well, first of all, I just really enjoyed the method of putting it together. Second, maybe chocolate and cinnamon aren’t to your liking (poor unfortunate soul that you are) and you need something a little bit different–here it is. Third, the method is easy and flexible enough to where any number of flavor combinations and ingredients could go into a pull apart loaf. This is just my second attempt at the method to see if this combination was a good one.

Spoiler alert: it is.

Just as I did before, I’m using my go-to Challah recipe for this, as it’s easy to put together with minimal ingredients, and also sturdy enough to stand up to the layering of the dough in the pan later. If you have another recipe for Challah or an enriched bread to use, that’s fine–you COULD also use frozen pre-made bread dough that you thaw for a real shortcut. Just make sure it’s a brand you trust and that you’ve got enough to fill two loaf pans.

Whereas the loaves from last week were spread with softened butter, chocolate and cinnamon, these loaves are spread with a combination of cream cheese, lemon zest, blueberries and white sugar. Just like before, the dough is cut into squares that are stacked together, than layered into a loaf pan. They don’t have to be perfectly arranged. The more imperfect that they are, the more they’ll make pieces good for ‘pulling’ the bread apart into portions.

Like the butter from last week, the cream cheese isn’t here to give the bread a ‘gooey-ness’ on the inside–it’s main function is to keep it nice and soft and fluffy. I love when blueberries bleed through baking–it gives the food a beautiful color as well as the flavor that works so well with the freshness of the lemon zest. I also sprinkled some white sugar on top of the loaf just to give it a layer of crunchy texture.

I knew this was a winner before I even sliced into it. It proofed up HUGE, and browned beautifully in the oven. The smells were divine. And the taste? No words. I wish I could bottle them up and send them through the screen to all of you.

Also, you notice how it seems like photo overkill this week? That’s because during the photoshoot I was so impressed with how gorgeous this thing looked that I couldn’t put my camera down. It was love at first sight. I’m trying to help all of y’all capture that same magical feeling I had. I’m trying to make you drop everything to go and bake this bread. Is it working? Good. Now get to it.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #224, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

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Blueberry Cream Cheese Pull Apart Bread

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

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Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

For Filling

  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • White sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

In a large bowl of a standing mixer, sprinkle yeast over warm water. Sprinkle white sugar on top of that. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until proofed and frothy.

Use the paddle attachment to beat in honey, oil, eggs, and salt. Mix until just combined. Switch to the dough hook and add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating switching to kneading with hands as dough thickens. (You may not need to use all 8 cups, this varies according to location and time of year)

Sprinkle a work surface with flour. Turn the dough out onto it and use your hands to knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed.  Grease the standing mixer bowl, place dough back inside and cover with plastic wrap and a damp clean cloth. Let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.

Meanwhile, grease two 9 x 5 loaf pans and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the cream cheese with the lemon zest and nutmeg in a small bowl.

When the dough has finished rising, turn out onto your floured work surface and punch down the risen dough. Divide in half and keep one half covered in the bowl while you work with the other.

Roll the half out into a 12 inch square. Use a spatula to spread HALF of the cream cheese mixture over the dough. Sprinkle HALF of the white sugar on top of that, then HALF of the blueberries on the sugar, using your fingers to press the blueberries down into the dough. Use a pizza wheel, bench scraper or sharp knife to cut the square into 16 small squares. Make 4 stacks of 4 squares each. Place each stack on its side into one of the greased loaf pans. Gently separate the dough layers so the dough fills the pan (it doesn’t have to be neat). Repeat this step with the other half of dough and the other half of the cream cheese mixture, blueberries and sugar.

Cover both loaves with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towels and allow to rise in warm places until dough rises by half its size, about 1 hour. Just before baking, sprinkle the tops with the white sugar. Bake until loaves are browned & cooked through (195-200 degrees F inner temp), tenting with foil if browning too quickly. Allow to cool in pans for about 15 minutes, then loosen with a knife around the sides. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool for about 30 more minutes before serving.

English Muffin Toasting Bread


So. Here’s the situation. You’re afraid of baking with yeast. You think that it’s only meant to be used by pastry chefs, grandmothers and Martha Stewart. You may have tried it once or twice before to disastrous results. So now, you avoid it at all costs and stick to the store bought stuff.

The first thing you should realize is that you’re not alone. Plenty of people are intimidated by yeast. I used to be one of them.

The second thing you should know is that in spite of your fears and/or bad past experiences, you too can bake with yeast. You really can.

As much as I love baking now, I’m not so good or full of myself that I can’t remember the days when I wasn’t good at it–the days when baking used to just straight up humble me.

Heck, there are some days when I mess something up and it still does.

There are also days when I too doubt my own abilities and whether or not I’m actually ‘good’ at this, or just a really good faker. On those days, I tend to keep things in my kitchen simple so that I don’t create situations where I’m prone to mess up.

Today’s recipe is the third thing that I want y’all to know about, as this is a recipe that uses yeast, yet I can still guarantee you will be fool-proof and deliver a delicious result. The ingredients and steps are minimal. There’s so kneading or shaping required. You probably have everything you need to make it already. The only thing that you’re missing is belief in yourself and that it’ll actually work.

That’s where I come in: I’m here to tell you that you CAN do it, and that it WILL work. There are no hard parts/steps to this, but because I know you’re nervous about using the yeast, I’ll walk you through the step twice; once here and again in the actual recipe:

First, check the date on the package of the yeast to make sure it’s fresh enough. Good. Now, when you warm the milk, water and oil over the stove I don’t want you to freak out if you don’t have an instant read thermometer. It won’t make or break the recipe; the senses mother nature gave you will work just fine. The temperature you’re looking for is going to be just over baby bottle warm, but not too hot that it stings your finger. So long as you don’t feel a sting, it’s not too hot.

Sprinkle the yeast on top. Then, sprinkle the sugar on top of that. Why? The sugar will speed up the proofing of the yeast. (I can’t remember where I learned that trick, but I never make bread without doing it now; it’s that effective.) Wait ten minutes. At the end of them, you should have frothy, poofed up yeast (and provided you followed my instructions, you will.)

From there, literally the only thing else you do is mix everything else together and slap it into a loaf pan. You wait a few minutes for it to rise, the you wait a few more for it to bake. Then, you’re done. No kneading. No shaping. As Ina would say “How easy was that?”

This obviously looks nothing like traditional round English muffins, but I like to think that this bread gets its name from the inner texture. Like English muffins, it has a coarse, close-textured crumb. Because this crumb is so tight, it’s perfect for catching & pockets of butter, jam, peanut butter or anything else you want to smear on top of it. This bread makes the absolute, the MOST divine toast. It’s delicious on its own, but it was practically made for becoming thick, buttery slices of toast. Or even better yet…French-toasting.

Whatever your yeast insecurities may be, I beg you to put them aside at least enough to try this. If it doesn’t work, I give you permission to come back here and yell at me–but I’m positive you won’t. If anything you’ll be coming back to tell me I was right; you COULD bake with yeast, and this bread was SO delicious.

Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #216, co-hosted by Petra @ Love Food Eat and Zeba @ Food For The Soul.

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English Muffin Toasting Bread

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • Cornmeal, for sprinkling in the pan

Directions

Combine the water, milk and oil in a small saucepan and heat gently over the stove to about 120-130°F. Remove from the heat, and sprinkle the yeast on top. Sprinkle the sugar on top of that. Allow to rest until proofed and frothy, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile in a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the flour, salt and baking soda.

Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients. Use the paddle attachment of the standing mixer, or the beater attachment of a handheld one to mix/beat at high speed for 1 minute; the dough will be smooth and very soft. Or, you can use your hands to mix together until smooth and beginning to feel elastic, about 2-3 minutes. (It’ll still be slightly sticky)

Grease a 8 x 4 loaf pan and sprinkle the bottom with cornmeal. Scoop the soft, sticky dough into the pan and use a spatula to try and smooth out the top as much as possible.

Cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel and allow to rise until it’s just starting to crown over the pan. The timing for this can vary—mine rose VERY quickly in about 30 minutes, but if yours hasn’t, you can give it another 30. What’s important is that you don’t let it rise TOO high above the pan before baking.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F. Uncover and place loaf pan on a sheet pan and bake on the middle rack for about 20-27 minutes until bread is golden brown. Inner bread temp should reach 190-200°F.

Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes in the pan before removing the loaf and allowing to cool completely. Serve sliced thick with butter and jam. (It’s also perfect for French toast).

Sally Lunn Bread

Sally Lunn Bread1

I wonder just how exactly a person gets a food, dish or meal named after him or her.

I only bring up the subject because I think that it would be pretty cool. I mean, if there’s anything that’s stood the test of time, it’s food. It’s not going anywhere. People have always got to eat. So even if you don’t have any children to pass on your name to, if you have a food named in your honor that turns out to be pretty good, then you’ve got a good chance of standing the test of time so to speak, right?

Sure enough, I know of several famous foods with people’s names in them that have been around for a while. I also just Googled some. Cause why not?

Sally Lunn Bread2

According to Wikipedia (which y’know, is SUCH a reliable source, winkwink)General Tso Chicken was apparently named after a famous Chinese general during the Qing Dynasty from the Hunan province. Although apparently, the people from the actual place have never heard of it, and the real General Tso couldn’t have eaten it the way it’s prepared now anyway.

I bet you thought that the Caesar salad was named after the famous Roman emperor, right? WRONG! It actually got it’s name from a chef called Caesar Cardini from Mexico who came up with the salad  when the few basic ingredients were all that he had on hand.

Graham Crackers were first brought about by a Presbyterian minister named Sylvester Graham. He got the ‘brilliant’ idea in his head that coarsely ground wheat flour biscuits would subdue sexual urges. No comment on what I think about that.

Sally Lunn Bread3

The Margarita drink was brought about by a Dallas socialite named Margaret Sames who put together the flavor combinations while on a vacation in Mexico. I can’t personally say that I think she was successful as Margaritas really aren’t my thing, but no one asked me so moving on.

Salisbury Steak came from an American surgeon during the civil war that believed that vegetables and starches were health hazards; so he came up with the idea of mixing ground beef up with onions and prescribing it 3 times a day with hot water in order to flush out toxins.

The legend of Beef Welllington originated with the winning of the Battle of Waterloo by Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley. The Duke’s chef made him the pastry wrapped beef in the shape of a Wellington boot.

Sally Lunn Bread4

Then there’s Sally Lunn Bread. This tradition got started with a young Huguenot refugee from France named Solange Lyon who immigrated to Bath in 1680 and found work in a bakery in Lilliput Alley. Solange eventually became famous for a delicious brioche style bread she would make, and as its fame spread, her name gradually took on the name Sally Lunn. Thus, the Sally Lunn bread was sensationalized.  It eventually made its way across the pond and into Southern cooking, which is how my grandma came to hear of it and make it as a breakfast bread for her daughters smeared with butter and jam.

This is one of my family’s favorite breads for me to make. It’s thick, spongy, chewy and slightly sweet. We eat it all on it’s own as a side for dinner but I think it would also make an excellent base for French Toast or stratas. Plus, it has a really cool name.

By the way, this post just begs the question: what do I have to do to get  someone to name a food after me?

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Sally Lunn Bread

  • Servings: 8-10
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Recipe Courtesy of Southern Living Magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm milk (100°-110°)
  • 2. Stir
  • 1 (1/4 oz.) envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup warm water (100°-110°)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Directions

1. Stir together first 3 ingredients in a 2-cup glass measuring cup and let stand 10 minutes, until yeast is proofed.

2. Stir together flour and next 2 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. (Dough will look shaggy).

3. Stir together warm water and baking soda. Stir yeast mixture , soda mixture and melted butter into flour mixture until well blended.

4. Spoon batter into a well greased 10-inch (14 cup) tube pan, or split equally between 2 well greased loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (80°-85°), 45 minutes to 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

5. Preheat oven to 400°. Carefully place pan(s) in oven. Don’t agitate the dough. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a wooden stick inserted in center comes out clean and when internal temperature reaches 190°.

6.Wait ten minutes, then remove to a wire rack. Wait 30 minutes before slicing.

Flour’s Famous Sticky Buns

Sticky Buns2

When was the last time you had to do something that required a whole lot of effort?

I can think of several things in my life that I’ve had to do that really forced me to go the extra mile and push myself to the limits to make sure that I got the job done.

Example? Well, let’s take the ISP (Integrated Physical Sciences) course that I took when I was still an undergrad student at Michigan State. It was a requirement for every student to take one before they could graduate. By the time my fifth year came around (‘Super Senior Year’ is what we called them), I still had to get mine out of the way. Now before you get all judgmental on me for that, just hold your horses for one collard-pickin minute and let me explain:

I had a personal goal to keep a very good GPA throughout my undergrad career. This is not easy to do when you’re trying to juggle two jobs (at one point, I had three because I was crazy). Additionally, I’d witnessed one too many other people attempt to get all of their requirements out of the way when they first got to campus freshman year,then witness their GPAs plummet at the subjects they weren’t very good at. This wasn’t going to happen to me. Nope. That’s why, by the time my first year of college came around, I had my strategy all planned out.

Sticky Buns1

Whereas most freshmen took the  required classes that they thought they would struggle in the most first-I did the complete opposite. I took all the classes I knew that I would do very well in first. Turns out, this was a pretty smart idea because there’s a little secret that they neglect to tell Freshmen about concerning the GPA: it’s very VERY difficult to build back up once it goes down. You’re much better off starting off strong, then gradually allowing it to drop little by little rather than making it plummet right off rip then try to rebuild it back up. Which is exactly what I did. I waited until the last couple years of my undergrad years to take my math and sciences classes- which were still extremely challenging.

I ended up having to take one Math class 3 TIMES. (Don’t ask,it’s still too painful to talk about). My second math class is a blur to me-all I remember was that I did a lot of praying and drank more coffee than was healthy for me. And I swear that my Statistics class was specifically designed to shave off 5 years of my life.

The only reason I passed my Biology course was because I did every single extra credit assignment that my professor assigned- and I really, really REALLY didn’t like him. He was one of the most arrogant jerks I’d ever met and getting up at 8:00 am every Monday morning to listen to him lecture (literally)was just NOT  fun. He was one of those teachers that liked seeing students fail his tests because it made him feel smarter. Just thinking about him now is putting me in a bad mood.  I couldn’t stand him to the point where Hell would freeze over before I gave him the satisfaction of not passing his class. I definitely did.

Sticky Buns4

My Physics class was the last one that I had to take. It was a summer course, which meant it went much faster than normal classes during the Fall and Spring semesters.It was also an online class, meaning that we never even saw the professor besides the lectures videos he uploaded to  a website.Our assignments were submitted electronically and we all had to go into a lecture hall on campus to take 3 tests, and that was it. The cool thing about the tests were that the professor allowed us to have one double sided cheat sheet that we could use.

That was all I needed to hear.

Looking back, the effort I put into my cheat sheet was kinda ridiculous. I wrote as small and tiny as I possibly could to make sure I could fit every single piece of information on the paper. And just to make sure I didn’t waste time during the test looking for the colossal amounts of information i was writing down, I eveen color coded the cheat sheet according to specific topics. I wasn’t leaving ANYTHING to chance. I was GOING to pass that class.

And I did. Rather well, actually.

And my GPA when I graduated? 3.527…like a Boss.

Sticky Buns3

Like the cheat sheets from my ISP class, these sticky buns require a little bit of extra effort. But like the cheat sheets, they are also SOOOO worth the end result. My twin sister had been asking me to make them for weeks before I finally gave in and decided to give them a go. I’ve heard of this recipe because of the extreme popularity of the bakery, Flour that they originally come from that’s run by Joann Chang. People supposedly line up and wait hours for these sticky buns…and I can’t say that I blame them. The verdict from my family was unanimous; they’re fantastic. What really sets them apart from your typical sticky bun has gotta be the ‘goo’ that they’re topped with. It’s thick and gooey, but not overly sweet. The dough is what requires the extra mile, as it’s supposed to set up overnight in the fridge, but like I said, you’re not going to regret it. It’s golden, buttery and tender brioche at its best.

I’m taking these sticky buns to the Fiesta Friday #29 hosted this week by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and cohosted by Jhuls and Selma.  I certainly hope you’ll be there to join us at the party to get one….because these babies just aren’t gonna last that long.

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Flour’s Famous Sticky Buns

Recipe Courtesy of Joann Chang

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION (PAGE 1, PAGE 2, PAGE 3)

Ingredients

Goo

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks;)unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Basic Brioche Dough, recipe follows
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Brioche Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups (350 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
  • 2 1/4 cups (340 grams) bread flour
  • 1 1/2 packages (3 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast or 1-ounce fresh cake yeast
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 3/8 cups (2 3/4 sticks;) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces

Directions

1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar & cook, stirring, to combine (it may look separated, that’s ok).

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, cream, water, &salt. Strain to remove any undissolved lumps of brown sugar. Let cool for about 30 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature. You should have about 3 cups. (The mixture can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

3. Divide the dough in half. Use half for this recipe and reserve the other half for another use. On a floured work surface, roll out the brioche into rectangle about 12 by 16 inches and 1/4-inch thick. It will have the consistency of cold, damp Play-Doh and should be fairly easy to roll. Position the rectangle so a short side is facing you.

4. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and half of the pecans. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Starting from the short side farthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll. Try to roll tightly, so you have a nice round spiral. Trim off about 1/4- inch from each end of the roll to make them even.

5. Use a bench scraper or a chef’s knife to cut the roll into 8 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2-inches wide. (At this point, the unbaked buns can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 week. When ready to bake, thaw them, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, then proceed as directed.)

6. Pour the goo into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, covering the bottom evenly. Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly over the surface. Arrange the buns, evenly spaced, in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm spot to proof until the dough is puffy, pillowy, and soft and the buns are touching-almost tripled in size, about 2 hours.

7. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat to 350 degrees F. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the dish on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. One at a time, invert the buns onto a serving platter, and spoon any extra goo and pecans from the bottom of the dish over the top. The buns are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, and then warmed in a 325 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes before serving.

Brioche Dough:

8. Using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and 5 of the eggs. Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until all the ingredients are combined. Stop the mixer, as needed, to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.

9. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter, 1 piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is important for all the butter to be thoroughly mixed into the dough. If necessary, stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.

10. Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny, another 15 minutes. It will take some time to come together. It will look shaggy and questionable at the start and then eventually it will turn smooth and silky. Turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute. You should hear the dough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. Test the dough by pulling at it; it should stretch a bit and have a little give. If it seems wet and loose and more like a batter than a dough, add a few tablespoons of flour and mix until it comes together. If it breaks off into pieces when you pull at it, continue to mix on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until it develops more strength and stretches when you grab it. It is ready when you can gather it all together and pick it up in 1 piece.

11. Put the dough in a large bowl or plastic container and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof (that is, grow and develop flavor) in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight At this point you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

 

Maple Sausage Breakfast Sandwiches

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I don’t always get to eat it the way that I want it, but I gotta say that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. There’s so many great choices; pancakes (first and foremost in my heart), french toast, waffles, cinnamon rolls, omelettes, muffins, hashbrowns and of course, the breakfast sandwich.

I know. I’ve probably made you hungry just talking about it. That’s the point.

My earliest memory of the breakfast sandwich is when I was still in elementary school. My school used to have this annual ‘Sleepover’ on a Friday night, where we could all come and spend the evening playing games or watch movies that were still set up in different classrooms, then all come and sleep together in the gym with our sleeping bags. In the morning, they would always feeds us McDonald’s breakfast, where we had the option of either getting the hotcakes and sausage, or the McMuffin breakfast sandwich before our parents came to pick us up.

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Because pancakes hold the keys to my heart, I would always choose the hotcakes, but mostly everyone else did choose the McMuffin instead. It would be a few years later before I decided to finally try the Sausage McMuffin. The real reason for my hesitance was actually pretty dumb. I don’t like having cheese on my sandwiches. (Yes, I know. I’m weird.) and for some strange reason, I had no idea for a while that you could ask for the sandwich to not have cheese on it. It’s hard for me to explain now, but my innocent 6 year old self thought that if I went through a drive through and asked for my sandwich not to have cheese on it, I’d get yelled at or get told that they did NOT do things like that and I’d have to take it or leave it…or something like that.

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So imagine my delight when I was told by my mom one day that I COULD actually ask for them to just leave the cheese off of the Sausage and Egg McMuffin. So yeah, I did ask for one sans the cheese. And from that day, to this, I have always loved having sausage breakfast sandwiches smeared with fruit jelly or preserves. True story. Aren’t you glad that you found out that I wasn’t the sharpest crayon in the box at 6?

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If you’ve ever been to a grocery store or to the two ‘main’ burger joints in the US, you’ll find an assortment of breakfast sandwiches to choose from for the convenience of a quick breakfast. Sausage/Ham and Egg McMuffins. McGriddles. Croissanwiches. Special K  Flatbread Sandwiches. Jimmy Dean Delights. We’ve all heard of them. We’ve all probably had at least one before-and why not? They’re easy. They’re inexpensive. And they don’t taste that bad.

So what’s the point of making the individual ingredients at home when you can technically buy them at stores or restaurants?

Just because, really.

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You guys probably remember that I recently made Whole Wheat English Muffins from scratch. They were a huge hit all on their own, but I thought that I would try to elevate them a little bit and make them into an entire breakfast dish in and of itself, which resulted in these breakfast sandwiches. Like the English Muffins themselves, these sandwiches are quite healthy. With turkey sausage, egg whites and whole wheat bread, you really couldn’t ask for a more well-balanced breakfast. It also makes me feel a little bit better about the huge dollops of jam that I smear on both sides of the sandwich. Cause you know: it’s all about maintaining a balance right? 😉 I’ll be taking these to this week’s Fiesta Friday, hosted by  Mr Fitz@Cooking with Mr Fitz and Justine@Eclectic odds n sods. Sorry guys- I brought another “healthy” dish. Next week I’ll be back with something sweet. Wear your yoga pants- it’s gonna be “one of those” 😉

fiesta-friday-badge-button-i-party

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Maple Sausage Breakfast Sandwiches

Recipe Adapted from Kelsey Nixon

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 8 Whole Wheat English Muffins, sliced in half
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tbsp  not melted
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 Egg whites
  • Salt and pepper

Maple Sausage:

  • 2 lbs of ground turkey sausage
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons granulated onion
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

Directions

  1. Brush the inside of each roll with the melted butter and toast in the oven until slightly crispy & golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  2. Mix together all the ingredients for the sausage in a bowl, & shape into 8 patties. Make sure you form the sausage patties in the same size & shape of the bread you are using, so that way every bite you take of the sandwich has every component it.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Brown the sausage patties for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Once they are browned & cooked through, remove patties to a paper towel-lined plate.
  4. In the sausage drippings, add the remaining tablespoon of butter and crack 4  egg whites into the skillet. Sprinkle the whites with salt and pepper and cook them to your desired doneness.
  5. To assemble a sandwich, place a sausage patty on the bottom half of the toasted roll and top with the egg whites. Have it plain or dressed with the condiments you prefer. I eat mine with fruit preserves, or with Frank’s Red Hot.

 

 

 

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Coconut-Almond French Toast Casserole

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Happy Easter everyone! I’m a Christian, so today I’m celebrating Resurrection Sunday (Jesus Christ’s resurrection), but if you’re not a Christian and just celebrate ‘Easter Bunny Easter’, or if you’re a Jewish and celebrating Passover, then I wish you a happy holiday with your friends and family. True to Cooking is My Sport fashion, I’m sharing some trivia with you guys:

  1.  The name, “Easter” comes from a goddess: Her name is Eostre and She was the Mother Goddess of the Saxons of Northern Europe. She was, according to Grimm (yes, one of those Grimms), “goddess of the growing light of spring.” 
  2. Hot cross buns come from the wheat cakes that were baked in honor of Eostre. As part of the adoption of traditions, Christians added the cross on the top and had the cakes blessed by the Church. In England, it was believed that hanging a hot cross bun in the house would protect it from fire and bring good luck for the coming year.
  3.  Easter eggs once acted as birth certificates. During the 19th century, when many families were unable to get to the closest town hall to file a birth certificate, an egg would be accepted as a method of identification. The egg would be dyed and inscribed with the person’s name and birth date. It was completely legal and accepted by courts and other authorities

Source

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Besides the Easter holiday, today also  marks the final day of the Challah bread series we’ve been doing this week. You guys finally get to find out what I did with the three loaves of braided Traditional Challah and the Vanilla Bean Challah that I made (y’know, besides just eat it warm and slathered with butter). This time, instead of finding another way of doing Challah, I wanted to use it as a main ingredient in another dish. I went with a recipe that my twin sister has been asking me to make for a while now that she saw on the Food Network.

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I love this recipe for so many reasons- not least of which is how awesome it tastes, which I’ll get to in a minute. What I really liked about it was that it let find a use for the ‘end’ pieces of the challah loaves. Don’t look at me like that. I know I’m not the only one that usually ends up throwing them out. Let’s face it: no one really wants them-until now that is. At first I was concerned that only 9 slices of bread wouldn’t be enough to make a substantial casserole. I was also worried that they would be overly soaked and ultimately soggy from the egg custard.  Fortunately, I was surprised. The bread puffed up really well when baked. Challah’s a pretty sturdy bread, so it was more than able to stand up to the egg mixture. I will say this though: if you’re using plain old Texas Toast bread, then I would think about bumping it up maybe two or three slices, as it’s much softer than Challah. It also doesn’t taste near as good, but you guys knew that already, right?

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Okay, now to the good part: what does it taste like? Well first of all, what really (and I mean REALLY) sets this dish apart from any normal overnight French Toast Bake is the Coconut Almond Crust that’s baked on top of it. It’s like a crunchy, sugary almost candied carmelized effect that is doubly awesome when contrasted with the soft texture of the baked challah. If you’re not entirely convinced, then let me say up front that I’m not even a fan of coconut at all. I don’t care for the texture or overall flavor…and I STILL couldn’t imagine eating this dish without the coconut almond crust. It’s that good.

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As you can see, I sprinkled powdered sugar on top of mine and added some berries and syrup, but my mom and sister said that they thought it was good enough to eat all on its own. If you’re looking for an easy dish to make for breakfast or brunch guests that will still knock their socks off, this is the one to try. Or maybe you’re like me and baked a crap load of Challah or other sturdy bread that you have to do something with to avoid letting it spoil. Make this. You won’t regret it.

And I guess that does it for the Challah Series. Until I find another one to try. Then it’ll probably get a reboot. Don’t put it past me.

Challah- 3 Ways

Traditional Challah

Sweet Vanilla Bean Challah

Coconut-Almond French Toast Casserole {Challah}

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Coconut-Almond French Toast Casserole

Recipe Courtesy of FoodNetwork.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter, for greasing dish
  • 9 slices Texas Toast or other thick-sliced bread
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

         Coconut-Almond Crust:

  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 300°. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish.

2. For the French toast: Lay the bread slices in one layer (it’s OK if they overlap a little) on a baking sheet. Bake the slices (to dry them out a little) for 6 minutes, then flip and bake for 6 minutes more. Set aside to cool.

3. Whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, granulated sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Dunk each bread slice in the egg mixture to coat thoroughly and shingle the slices in the buttered casserole dish. Pour any remaining egg mixture over the bread. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

4. For the coconut-almond crust: Put 1/2 cup of the coconut, 1/3 cup of the almonds, granulated sugar, flour and salt in a food processor and process until very fine. Add the butter, egg and egg yolk and process well to form a smooth paste.

5. To assemble the casserole: Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the coconut-almond mixture evenly over the soaked bread slices. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup sliced almonds and 3 tablespoons coconut and bake until puffed and lightly golden and the custard is set (the center of the casserole will no longer jiggle when shaken), 45 to 50 minutes.

6. Allow to cool for 1 hour before serving, or serve at room temperature. Serve with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and berries if using.

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