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Breakfast/Brunch is always a lot of fun for me. I think it comes partially from when I was much younger and my mom and I would clean and make a big breakfast every Saturday morning. The week was always super busy, and we were mostly a cereal/toaster pastry family, especially in high school when my classes started at 7:15. Sunday was church day, so Saturday was the big day. The breakfast tradition carried over into college where my roommate and I threw quite a few brunches, not to mention brinners. We kicked ass at brinner.
This casserole was the result of me going to a brunch pot luck and not being able to find exactly what I wanted on Pinterest. So I combined the bits and pieces that I liked best. A brioche base here; a modified streusel topping there. It was almost blueberry, but I asked one of my friends her opinion on fruit options and she said anything but blueberry. So that put the kibosh on that. Apple cinnamon was my other contender so here we are.
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 lb brioche bread
1/2 cup regular sugar
1/4 dark brown sugar packed
1/2 tbsp vanilla paste
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/8 tspn salt
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/3 dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- Cut brioche breads into cubes and dice the green apples. Layer into the bottom of a 13×9 casserole dish.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together eggs, milk, cream, both sugars, cinnamon, vanilla and salt.
- Pour mixture over the bread and apples and cover. Set in the fridge for at least four hours, preferably overnight, so the bread can soak up the egg mixture.
- Bake casserole in the 350 degree oven for 45-55 minutes.
- While the casserole bakes, whisk together the dry streusel ingredients. Melt the butter then stir into the dry ingredients until crumbs form.
- 10 minutes before the casserole is done baking, pull from the oven, sprinkle on streusel topping and put back into the oven for the remaining 10 minutes.
* This recipe works even better if the bread is slightly stale. I unwrapped the loaf and left it in the toaster oven (turned off) overnight. I’ve also cheated and popped the cubed bread into a 200 degree oven for 45 minutes, turning over about half way through, to dry the bread out.
And I am chipping right away at #3 on my 31 before 32, this time with Upside-Down Skillet Corn Cake. While seemingly simple, I had a tough time with the recipe. Was it an off day? Was it the humidity? Am I not as good at this baking thing as I thought I was? Who knows, but this recipe was delicious and, after a bit of reflection, well worth the trouble.
- Boy howdy did I have a rough time with this recipe. First, I could not get the brown sugar to melt into the butter. I stirred and stirred, up-ed the heat, turned it back down, and in a desperate attempt – added more butter. Alas, it was all for naught, and I eventually just had to give it a “good enough” and cross my fingers. It 90% worked out. Most of the texture issues worked themselves out as the cake baked, but there was one small grainy patch left that I gently scrapped off before serving.
- I also could not get the fruit to cooperate, I used nectarines instead of peaches because that fuzz on the outside makes me shudder. As I tried to pit the fruit, it refused to release the pit, and two of my nectarines turned to mush in the process. Even afterwards all I could do was squeeze fruit pieces off of the pit and use them for something else. So I guess I should go for slightly under ripe fruit next time?
- The cook time was WAY off on this. I baked it for the recommended time plus some and finally took it out when it seemed like the sugar mixture on the edges was starting to burn. The middle was still not fully cooked. Next time I am going to bake it lower for longer. Maybe 325 for 50 minutes to an hour.
- It is important to note, I do not have a cast iron skillet that is the right size for this recipe so I used a cake tin. Which might have contributed to the bake time issues. I’d still use it again, but I’d also be interested in a do-over with the recommended equipment.
Feeling buoyed by my recent success, I decided to continue on my Sweet & Vicious baking streak. This time I selected a recipe that actually allowed for a lot of variance, but still maintained the sass that I am coming to expect from this book. First, I decided on the cobbler quickbread and, after checking my fridge, refined it to the blackberry iteration of the recipe. Then of course, I went all the way by adding the recommended flavor elevator of blackberry lemon thyme butter to pair with the finished product. Here’s how it went:
- This recipe made me so happy! Reading it and mentally running through the steps, it seemed… well… a bit extra, but every little thing blends perfectly into something so delightful that you don’t mind the effort. Just go for it; you won’t regret it.
- While the base recipe is solid, it is the bells and whistles that really take this over the top. First the spiced topping, that pinch of cayenne brings the most subtle hint of heat which in turn brings out the sweetness in the berries. The compound butter adds an extra level of richness, and the lemon zest paired with the mashed fruit keeps that slight tart that makes this more than just another sweet quickbread.
- I am having so much fun with this book; the more recipes I try, the more I want to make.
Sadly, one of my long time taste testers has taking advantage of a wonderful job offer and is leaving the sultry humidity of Florida in favor of North Carolina. Since he was one of my first testers and without a doubt one of my most appreciative, I did what any baker would do. I offered to make him any farewell cupcakes he wanted. The prompt response was “anything with peanut butter or booze”, and me being me, I said “let’s do both!”
Once I made that decision, I took to Pinterest for some fresh inspiration. I already have a kick-ass chocolate cake and peanut butter frosting recipe so I wanted to find something that would elevate the two. Within fifteen minutes, I found “Manly Cupcakes” by The Baker in the Rye and had the perfect accompaniment to my peanut butter and chocolate profile, bourbon and bacon. With a few minor tweaks, I was in business and ready to go.
Ingredients for the Maple Candied Bacon
- 4 slices of Bacon
- 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- dash nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degreed Fahrenheit.
- Place a silicone baking mat or foil on a cookie sheet and top with a baking rack.
- Pour maple syrup in one bowl and in another bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper.
- Dip the bacon in the syrup so it is fully coated. Then rub the brown sugar mixture into the bacon until it is completely coated in the sugar. Do this for all 4 pieces of bacon. Place each piece on baking rack, making sure it isn’t touching the mat underneath.
- Then, bake for 20-25 minutes until it is dark brown in color. *If it is undercooked, it will not candy and become a hard salty treat.
Ingredients for the Bourbon Syrup
- 1 cup Bourbon
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
- In a small pan, bring bourbon to a rolling boil.
- Turn to low and add in maple syrup, butter, and dark brown sugar.
- Then cook uncovered for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens up and reduces to about 1/3 cup. Let cool before using toppings.
- Even before I stopped drinking, I wasn’t a huge fan of bourbon, so I knew this was something I’d need a little help with. My first helper was the cashier at the liquor store. We talked about what I needed and what I needed it for and he showed me a few different options that would work best for what I had in mind. He also helped me find the best sized bottle since I wouldn’t be drinking the left overs. Andy stepped up for the tasting portion of this adventure since, to me, the syrup tasted only like sweet bourbon. We did several tastings during the process, and he helped me determine when the alcohol had burned off and when the subtle maple and molasses had fully blended. Did I like it when I was done? Nope. Did everyone else? Yep.
- I’ve tried to make candied bacon once before and hadn’t really had good luck with it, but I wanted to give it another shot. This recipe was pretty different from the first one, and it is hands down my winner. You do have to keep a close eye on your bacon since the difference between candy and charcoal is maybe a minute / minute and a half, but if you pull it off I guarantee it’ll be a crowd pleaser.
My recipes are adaptation of this recipe found on The Baker in the Rye.