Savory Breakfast Bread Pudding

Savory Breakfast Bread Pudding
My first office job was an entry-level marketing position in mortgage banking. This savory bread pudding recipe was inspired by one I received in the 1980’s from our receptionist at the time, Dottie. I’ve upgraded the ingredients of sandwich bread, Kraft cheese and Jimmy Dean sausage into something modern, refined and packed with flavor – sophisticated enough for brunch entertaining.

Full confession – I’ve eaten this as many times for dinner as breakfast. After a long day in the office (I miss those early days of entry-level work), it warms up in the microwave quite nicely.


Savory Breakfast Bread Pudding

Updated and inspired by a 30-year-old recipe for “Breakfast Quiche.” Quiche was a big thing in the 1980’s.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups country white bread, cubed
  • 1 cup cooked baby potatoes, sliced ½ inch thick
  • 1 cup frozen roasted peppers and onions (I used Trader Joe’s version)
  • ¾ cup Spanish chorizo, sliced ½ inch thick
  • ½ cup Gruyere cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8” square pan. Sprinkle bread cubes on the bottom of the pan, followed by potatoes, sausage, frozen veggies and, finally, cheese. In a small bowl, beat together eggs, milk, Dijon, salt and pepper. Pour over ingredients in the pan and let sit at least 30 minutes until bread absorbs egg mixture.  Lightly press down on bread to fully submerge, if needed (can be covered and refrigerated overnight).
  2. Bake 45-50 minutes until center is firm and cooked through. Slice and serve. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers. Warm up in the microwave.

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Ultimate Crumb Cake

A slice of crumb cake
I’ve been thinking about things that have nothing to do with my recipe again; about whether alcohol lowers nascent inhibitions – or merely lowers our overall standards. Umm…nevermind.

As I said, nothing to do with this quintessential crumb cake or the reason for baking it. I’m four weeks into my new job and, one thing I’ve discovered is that these people relish feeding each other as much as I do. I’ve found my food tribe. In one short month, I’ve had home-fried catfish, freshly made salsa, street tacos, Vietnamese coffee (twice), Porto’s pastries, and some warm and fluffy add-your-own-frosting cinnamon rolls from a local bakery. My pounds, which I was hoping would melt right off once I began working again, are staying firmly planted around my middle.

This crumb cake was my first contribution to the food-is-love fest at my new office. It has the ideal 50/50 ratio of crumb to cake that every crumb cake should have – and the cake portion is so light, rather than eat the crumb topping and throw away the cake – it begs you to eat the whole thing…and perhaps even go for another slice. No health–redeeming qualities – this is pure morning indulgence.


Ultimate Crumb Cake

Slightly adapted from this Bon Appetit version.

Ingredients

    Crumb topping
  • ½ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • Cake
  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon (rounded) baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 large eggs
  • 2/3 cups full-fat plain yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Make crumb topping: Mix both sugars, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl. Add melted butter and stir to blend. Add flour and toss until moist clumps form. Set aside.
  2. Make Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9” spring-form pan. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat until well combined. Add yogurt, lemon zest and vanilla and beat just until blended. Add flour mixture in 2 additions, beating just until incorporated.
  3. Transfer ½ of cake batter to prepared baking pan and spread evenly. Squeeze small handfuls of topping together to form small clumps. Drop ⅓ of topping clumps in a ring  over cake batter (topping will migrate towards the middle while baking). Cover topping with remaining cake batter, smooth as evenly as possible. Cover with remaining topping clumps.
  4. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean and topping is deep golden brown and slightly crisp, about 45 minutes. Cool cake and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Crumb Cake Flat Lay

Carrot Raspberry Breakfast Muffins

Healthy Carrot Muffins
Mornings and I are frenemies, at best, and it’s been a difficult transition shifting my schedule from going to sleep at 5 a.m. to waking up around that same time. It’s necessitated a nightly cocktail of melatonin and warm milk and a carefully devised morning ritual. My ritual isn’t for empowerment, productivity, or getting my blood pumping; it’s mainly about gentle pampering and self-care that tells my soul, “See, pre-dawn mornings aren’t so bad.” Softly, softly, the morning and I meet.

I sleep in a freezing-cold bedroom with windows open wide to the night air – perfect for a sound sleep, not ideal for throwing the covers off each morning. The chilly temperature makes me covet a deeper snuggle under the duvet, not put my feet on chilly wood floors, so I make sure the heater in the rest of the house kicks on about 15 minutes before my alarm. Knowing there’s warm coziness on the other side of the bedroom door helps get me moving (not to mention two cats impatiently crying behind the locked door).

Once I’m padding around the kitchen, I feed the beasts, brew a cappuccino (Nespresso, I love you. You have no idea the crap I used to drink each morning), warm a homemade baked good-o-the-week, and snuggle onto the couch. For half an hour, I simultaneously read the news and play fetch with kitty Mochi and the often elusive “Mr. Mousy,” an eviscerated blob of plastic and fur that, at one time, resembled a mouse. During this contented couch time, the sun slowly peeps in the window and I willingly greet another day.

I don’t wait until the very last moment to spring from bed to shower. I don’t scroll through work emails and stress about my day. I don’t red-line the latest contract while absentmindedly gulping down a cup of brown liquid that barely resembles coffee. Instead, I pause…and enjoy.

My morning pause would be incomplete without a home-baked treat to accompany my cappuccino. These past two weeks (and probably next week as well), it’s been muffins. I’ve cracked the perfect morning muffin code – not too big, not too sweet, packed with good stuff, with a tender crumb and loaded with flavor. I thought I couldn’t outdo last week’s banana-cherry muffins, but I’ve done just that with this carrot-raspberry version.


Carrot Raspberry Breakfast Muffins

The perfect morning muffin – not too big, not too sweet, packed with good stuff, with a tender crumb and loaded with flavor.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ⅓ cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg plus 1 yolk
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts, plus more for topping
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1 large carrot, shredded

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, almond flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, yogurt, vinegar, vanilla, egg, and yolk. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until just blended. Fold in walnuts, raspberries and carrot.
  2. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Top with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts. Bake 25-30 minutes until muffins are brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool slightly and enjoy.

Best Banana Cherry Muffins

Moist Banana Cherry Muffins
I forgot how exhausting it is to be a member of the gainfully employed. I barely survived my first week. If you asked me to recall the high point and low point, I’d say the high point was discovering the twice-weekly lunchtime yoga class in the California sunshine. Sign me up.  The low point was waking up in the wee hours at 6:00 a.m.  Just one short week ago, I was falling asleep about that time.

I’ve tried to soften my 6:00 a.m. blues by pampering myself each morning with a cardamom-rose latte (my new favorite) and a warm, freshly baked treat, like these remarkably moist banana cherry muffins. They help, but I still miss the warmth of my 6:00 a.m. bed.


Best Banana Cherry Muffins

These exceptionally moist and flavorful muffins were adapted from my favorite banana bread recipe.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg plus 1 yolk
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts, plus more for topping
  • ½ cup chopped fresh or frozen and drained cherries, plus 3 more for topping
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, almond flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla, egg, and yolk. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until just blended. Fold in walnuts, cherries and bananas.
  2. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Top with a quartered cherry and chopped walnuts. Bake 25-30 minutes until muffins are brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool and enjoy.

Gibassier

aquiA basket of Gibassier
Oh, little-known gibassier, how I adore thee!

I’ll never forget the December 2013 morning when I met my first gibassier (pronounced zee-bah-see-ay) over cappuccinos at Portland’s Pearl Bakery. While I devoured these knots of breakfast bread goodness in mere seconds, their sugar-crusted memory lingered with me long after. Best consumed with a steaming hot drink, these yeasty little fists of dough are subtly flavored with olive oil and orange blossom water and studded with candied orange peel and anise seed. Once they emerge hot from the oven, they are given a bath of clarified butter and coated with granulated sugar, giving them a sandy crust worth licking from one’s finger tips. If I could pop one of these in my mouth every day along with my morning cuppa, life would be grand.

But, alas, my waistline doesn’t allow such indulgences and, with an overnight pre-ferment and almost 4 hours of proofing time, my usually hectic schedule does not either. So, starting in 2014, gibassier has become a special Christmas morning tradition – a crackling fire, Ray Coniff Singers’ “Sleigh Ride”, mugs of not-too-sweet mochas, and a heaping platter of oven-warmed gibassier (as well as a loaf of gratuitous marzipan stollen).

Pure contentment – It’s no wonder we’re always late to the mid-day holiday festivities.


Gibassier

This 2017 version has been slightly adjusted from my original 2014 recipe, which was adapted from Ciril Hitz’s Baking Artisan Pastries & Bread.

Ingredients

    Overnight Starter (Biga)
  • 90 grams all-purpose flour
  • 90 grams bread flour
  • 110 grams whole milk
  • 2 pinches from a packet of instant yeast (I use Fleishman’s)
  • 1 large egg
  • Dough
  • Remainder of packet of instant yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons water at 107⁰ F
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoon orange flower water
  • 200 grams all-purpose flour
  • 200 grams bread flour
  • 100 grams granulated sugar
  • 85 grams unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons anise seed, toasted and slightly crushed
  • 70-90 grams candied orange peel, cut into ¼” dice – it’s worth making your own
  • Topping
  • 50 grams granulated sugar (don’t use superfine)
  • 113 grams unsalted butter (1 stick)

Directions

  1. Night before baking: Combine overnight starter ingredients in the bowl of a mixer. Combine on low speed until well combined. Put in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and put in a warm place (can be on top of an oven that is cooling from previous cooking) draft free place. Let ferment overnight. It will not rise much.
  2. Day of Baking: Bloom yeast in 2 T. water at 107⁰ F. All remaining liquids (eggs, oil, and orange flower water) should be about 60⁰ F.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer, combine eggs, olive oil and orange water. Mix with paddle attachment. Add starter dough and beat slowly until loose and fairly uniform. Change to dough hook and add flour, sugar, salt, and yeast (don’t let salt and yeast touch). Mix for 4 minutes. Add softened butter to dough in 4 stages, incorporating each before adding more. Mix dough until gluten fully develops – the dough will be smooth and soft. When you pull off a piece, it will pull into a “window” rather than breaking. Add the anise seed and candied orange peel and mix on low until combined. When you remove the hook, it should come out completely clean.
  4. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic. Let proof 2 hours in a warm, draft-free place.
  5. Divide dough into 18 parts 65-70 grams each, shape into rounds, and let rest for 20 minutes covered by plastic or a dishcloth.
  6. Shape into semi-circles about 1/2 inch thick (To make shaping easier, I shape them into a torpedo and then pat them into a semi-circle).
  7. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and cut each semi-circle with three long slashes on the outer edge curved side, and then with four short slashes (one in between each of the long ones)*. Gently spread the “toes” and place on the baking sheets (8 each). Let proof for 1 1/2 hours in a warm, draft-free place, covered with plastic.
  8. While gibassier proof, clarify 1 stick of unsalted butter for topping. Set aside. Place oven racks on two top positions. Preheat convection (fan) oven to 350⁰ F. Bake gibassier 12-15 minutes, switching baking sheets half-way through baking. When the gibassiers are golden brown (some parts may be lighter than others), remove to a cooling rack.
  9. While still warm. brush generously with clarified butter (once), and roll in sugar (twice). I freeze leftovers and rewarm them in a 200⁰ F oven for 10-12 minutes. Before serving, I give them a final sugar roll.

*The traditional way to shape gibassier is with the three long slashes in the middle and the four shorter slashes on the curved edge.
Gibassier

Gibassier – ready for baking