My guy wanted to sample a loaf of freshly baked bread I had made earlier in the week. I knew it wouldn’t survive with maximum freshness until Saturday, when I’d see him next, and I was trying to determine the best way to supply him with the baked goodness he craved. Toast with jam? Yawn! French toast? Been there, done that! Then, I remembered bostock.
Oh yes, bostock!
If French toast and a bear claw had a love child, bostock would be the result. This addictive breakfast confection is made by soaking a thick slice of enriched bread, like brioche, in flavorful syrup, slathering it with a generous layer of homemade almond cream paste and finishing it off with crunchy sliced almonds. The pastry is then baked until the almond topping is puffed, golden and crispy. It needs nothing more than a sprinkling of powdered sugar to finish it off. Fancy enough for a brunch gathering, this tasty treat first appeared in Europe as a way for bakers to use up day-old brioche bread but became such a beloved treat that bakers had to start baking more brioche just to keep up with the demand. I’ve seen some bakers sandwich a layer of jam between the syrup and almond paste to gild the lily, but I prefer the simplicity of the original.
It may seem like a lot of work for a busy weekend morning, but it’s actually simple to prepare. The syrup and almond cream paste can be made the day before. Then, in the morning, just slather the bread with the syrup and almond cream while the oven heats up, sprinkle with almonds, bake for about 20 minutes while you have your first cup of coffee (or some morning canoodling) and they’re ready. Breakfast is served!
The REAL French toast. Crispy almond cream paste topped pastries flavored with orange flower syrup.
Orange Flower Syrup
½ cup water
¼ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon orange flower water
1 teaspoon orange zest
Almond Cream Paste
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup almond flour a.k.a. almond meal, toasted until fragrant
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
6 slices brioche, challah or other enriched bread, sliced 1” thick
¼ cup sliced almonds
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Make Syrup: Heat water and sugar in a small saucepan until sugar has dissolved. Turn off heat and add orange flower water and zest. Set aside.
Make Almond Cream Paste: In a medium bowl, stir butter, toasted almond flour, powdered sugar, and salt together until well combined. Add egg and extracts and blend well.
Make Bostock: Preheat oven to 350⁰ F. Brush both sides of brioche slices well with orange flower syrup. Liberally spread tops of slices with 3-4 tablespoons of almond cream paste and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Place bostock on lined sheet pan and bake 18-22 minutes until tops are golden and almond cream is slightly puffy. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm.
Certain weeks, this week for example, I struggle to post even once. I’m typically not confounded by the culinary piece (although I can get frustrated when a day-long recipe results in an inedible flop), but by this part – the header, the “intro”, the story behind the recipe. Often, I’ve cooked (and eaten) my creation days, if not weeks, before I hit upon a header for the recipe, if ever. Many dishes never make it to publication.
Last night, “D” and I were batting around fictional “intro” ideas for these scones (baked last Sunday) that included a faux picnic featuring these scones at last night’s Hollywood Bowl concert (à la Sunset Magazine) and another story involving Jared Kushner, Russia meetings and his desire for sweet scones vs. savory.
Unfortunately, in my world, the truth behind the recipe is never that compelling.
I baked these savory scones for no other reason than I wanted kitchen time. The flavor combination idea (a classic) resulted from watching a rerun of The Great British Baking Show. Originally, I was imagining a yeasty swirl bread, loaded with a filling of bacon-cheesy goodness when I hit upon the idea of scones instead. Using my favorite sweet scone recipe as a base, I decreased the sugar, swapped sweet ingredients for savory and, voila – buttery, savory scones.
Granted, the Kushner-Russia connection would have been more interesting.
I’ve taken my favorite American scone recipe and turned it savory and loaded with flavor. With three sticks of butter in the dough, no additional butter is needed on these babies.
8 strips bacon, cubed
1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts only, sliced
3 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 ¼ cup buttermilk, divided
1 whole egg
flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp. Remove bacon from pan. Add green onions to bacon grease in pan and sauté until softened. Add onions to bacon and cool both. Preheat oven to 350⁰ F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicon mats.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the cold butter. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until butter is pea-sized.
In a liquid measuring cup, measure 1 cup buttermilk. Beat in whole egg until well combined. Pour buttermilk into dry ingredients and gently combine with your hands until dough barely comes together. Add bacon, green onion, and cheddar and gently combine. The secret to flaky scones is not to overwork the dough.
On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into two disks about 1 ½ inches high. Cut each disk into 8 wedges. Place the wedges on the baking sheets. Brush scones with remaining ¼ cup buttermilk and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 35-40 minutes until scone are golden brown. These scones are best served slightly warm.
I didn’t buy an Inn. If you Google a town’s name and the only images that pop up are of the town’s one and only attraction, beware. Either the town is unapologetically un-photogenic or it doesn’t exist. In this case, it was the later. Mind you, the locationexists – I stayed there, but there’s no town – just a short stretch of houses lining a country road. I’m looking for a small-town rural Inn, not no-town rural.
I’m content with the outcome. This trip helped me clarify what I don’t want, I’ve also lost my Inn-assessing virginity, and I enjoyed a short mini-vacation in the beautiful southwest.
During this short trip, I stayed at two separate B&Bs and both places managed to serve a version of green chile egg casserole…the ubiquitous Southwest breakfast of champions. There’s a lot of recipes already out there – all very similar. This is my version using Hatch green chilies:
I cook my puff a little longer ensuring a crisp crust along the sides and bottom.
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
⅓ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of white pepper
4 oz. can Hatch green chilies (I used the “Hot” version, but they also have a “Mild” version for those who don’t like spice)
1 cup full-fat cottage cheese
4 cups Jack/Colby cheese (grate yourself, do not use pre-shredded)
Salsa, sour cream, or guacamole (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly brush the inside of four large ramekins with some of the butter and set the ramekins on a sheet pan.
In a small bowl, combine flour baking powder, salt and white pepper.
In a larger bowl, beat the eggs well; add green chilies and juice, cottage cheese, and remaining butter. Stir well to combine. Add flour mixture and gently stir until flour is incorporated. Fold in most of the cheese, leaving a bit to sprinkle on top.
Pour mixture equally in ramekins and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for about 40 minutes until well puffed and browned. Don’t be alarmed if the big, beautiful, highly-domed puff collapses slightly once removed from the oven. Serve with salsa, sour cream, or guacamole.
The annual nectarine onslaught has begun again and, in fact, the prolific bounty has already managed to snap two branches with the weight. Harvest time is brief with pounds upon pounds of sweet fruit ready all at once. I want to rescue each juicy orb from Newton’s law, plucking them from the tree before they fall, but each morning I find a dozen plump globes bruised and broken upon the ground, their potential wasted. In my efforts to salvage the masses in the past, I’ve bubbled large caldrons of steamy nectarine jam, resulting in three dozen jars “put up.” One can only eat so much jam, however, and most of it remains languishing in the cupboard. I’ve also undertaken a raft of baked goods, but it’s a losing battle – a recipe requires a pound or two of fruit, while I’m picking a few pounds each DAY. I’ve tried freezing the fruit, but that resulted in mushy brown thawed blobs. I picked the first fat, ripe nectarines this week, preparing them with a drizzle of butter, sprinkle of sugar, and quick broil. I know I can’t save them all, but over the next few weeks, I’m willing to try.
Every morning at the cabin around 7 a.m., the landlords would hang a breakfast basket on a hook just outside the front door. The contents would change daily, but there was an overall theme – orange juice, fruit, some combination of granola or cereal with yogurt or milk, a homemade sweet pastry, and a homemade savory pastry.
I’d wake up and grab my basket from the hook, make myself a cup of coffee, rewarm the pastries in the oven, and then carry my repast to the flagstone patio. I’d spend the remainder of the morning watching the sun peek its head above the mountaintop while munching on my breakfast.
I made this granola upon my return to help ease me back into workday life and remind me of breakfast at the cabin.