I think I’ve had a serious case of writer’s block lately, but there has been so much holiday merriment and other distractions that this space is often the first to get neglected. We got through the flurry of Christmas but it felt emotionally/mentally like a snowstorm. Lots of travelling, family, niece and nephew play times, late night Star Wars screenings, nights spent not in my bed (first world problems, I know), trips to the local bakery, eating all the food, and some really lovely conversations with family. Christmas with our loved ones was fun and sweet, but it was in a large concentrated dose over a small period of time that left my head feeling fuzzy and reaching for the 4th and unfortunately 5th cup of coffee, daily. Physically, our holiday was the exact opposite of a snowstorm with highs in the 80s! and lots of short sleeves and blooming roses (see above) and air conditioning. Such is life in the deep south, I suppose.
We did Christmas upright this year. Literally, by what was none other than the grace of Jesus, I managed to finish all my Christmas shopping on December 12th and had everything wrapped and under the tree by the 15th. It was as sublime as it sounds. (I bought everything online and had to shipped to me.) One of the happy rewards you get when your holiday shopping is done is that there is ample time to focus on the really important stuff, like breakfast. And second breakfast. And elevensies. I don’t normally follow a hobbits eating schedule, but I think that might have “accidentally” happened this year. Aaron and I took the entire week of Christmas off work, a week that has always had at least one of us working every. day. stay the 25th, and I think the extra rest (rest? maybe just time not at work), combined with excellent breakfasts and an abundance of sweet family time made this the best Christmas in my memory.
The first breakfast pictured above, is my current favorite breakfast that I’ve been fasting from, because of an adverse reaction to egg products. I’ll spare you the details, but just know that I’m eating these eggs with vigor and I’m savoring every minute. Plus, this is a great protein packed breakfast, and depending on your choice of bread, you get fiber and whole grains!
The second breakfast we consumed over the holidays were these perfect and delicious cranberry orange buns. They freeze beautifully, so they can be made up to a month in advance. (The above picture doesn’t do them justice- this was a test batch I made, the batch I made and froze were beautiful and fluffy but I didn’t get a photo of those, which is how you know you’re having fun: there isn’t any time to take pictures) Even the pickiest eaters in our group (an age range that included 2-62) enjoyed them. I think these would make a perfect New Years Day breakfast, a lovely house warming gift, a Sunday brunch, or a way to woo any surly family members who had to sleep on air mattresses because of a bed shortage over the holiday. So you should probably make these now, since there is still time to get in a few more holiday calories before everyone starts eating kale and grilled chicken for the new year.
The recipe I adapted the rolls from used fresh cranberries, which my local grocery was out of, so I opted for frozen and they turned out fine. I also forgot to add extra orange zest in the filling, so I added it to the icing instead. There were no complaints.
A savory option: I haven’t tried this yet, but if I wanted to make a savory version of these I would use the same dough recipe, cut the sugar in half and leave out the zest, and put cooked sausage/ground venison and goat cheese as a filling. Breakfasts for the future!
Scrambled Egg Toast
An idea, not a recipe, that I’ve been eating since high school.
Makes 1 serving
1 thick slice of whole grain toast (I used prairie bread)
1-2 large eggs, depending on the level of hunger
2ish tablespoons of milk
1-2 tablespoons of goat cheese, or a desired amount
Toast your bread, and spread the goat cheese over it. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. Add a swig of olive oil or a tablespoon of butter to a small pan. Turn the heat to medium and add the eggs, stirring frequently (especially at the end) until the eggs are cooked to your desired level of scrambled doneness. Top the toast with the eggs, and add desired amount of salt and fresh cracked pepper. Eat at once!
Cranberry Orange Breakfast Rolls
Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen
Makes about 18-20 one-inch rolls (1 inch before baking, they’ll rise in the oven) baked in a 9×13 dish
Update, 1/11/16: I made these again for a brunch with friends over the weekend. I upped the cranberries by about a 1/2 cup and only used 2/3 cup packed brown sugar. They were a hit and most people went back for seconds.
These are great for breakfast because they’re not too sweet, and go perfectly with coffee. They also makes a lovely afternoon snack with your afternoon tea (lets be real, it was coffee, again), if you’re lucky enough to have any leftovers.
4 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup whole milk (original recipe called for buttermilk, mine was waaaay expired)
zest of 1 orange, divided into halves (one half for dough, the other half for icing)
1 packet of instant yeast, OR 1 and 1/2 packets regular yeast.
3 and 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 and 1/4 cup frozen cranberries (not thawed)
1 and 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 cup light brown sugar (I used just shy of 1 cup and they were plenty sweet)
Juice of 1 orange
The rest of your orange zest
about 2 cups of powdered sugar
To make the icing: whisk all ingredients together, and add a desired amount to the cooled, baked buns.
To make the dough: I used a stand mixer, but you can always whisk, a wooden spoon and knead by hand if you don’t have one. (If you don’t have one, I’m sure they’re one sale by now)
Add your first 6 ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and stir to combine. If you are using regular yeast, add it now and let the mixture rest for about 10 minutes before adding flour and salt. If using instant yeast, add the yeast, salt, and 2 cups of flour and stir until well combined. Remove the whisk attachment and use the dough hook, and add the remaining flour, kneading on low speed for about 8 minutes. The dough will be soft, but not overly sticky. Put your dough in an oiled bowl, and allow it to rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size (mine took 3 hours).
For the filling:
Melt your butter and set it aside, we’ll use it to brush the pastry dough with. In a food processor, pulse your cranberries until very small and fine. (If you don’t have a food processor, I recommended trying to find fresh berries and chopping finely by hand. You can chop frozen ones, it’ll just be difficult, and thawed frozen cranberries will be really messy, and look like someone chopped off an appendage in the kitchen) Set your cranberries aside.
Butter your baking dish. You can use a large 9×13 like I did, or a couple of smaller ones. Lightly flour your work surface and turn your dough on top of it. Roll the dough into a rectangle, mine was about 20×12 inches, the long side being the side closest to you. Brush your dough with the melted butter, then sprinkle with brown sugar and chopped cranberry bits, dispersing them as evenly as possible.
Gently roll the dough into a spiral. From here I used a measuring tape and with the tip of my knife, made small, 1 inch marks in the dough. Then use a sharp serrated knife to cut the dough into pieces (I used my large bread knife). Place the buns evenly in their pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, remove the buns from the pan about half and hour before you plan on baking them. Preheat the oven the 350 degrees F and bake for about 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden around the edges. Allow the buns to cools and add the icing, serve immediately and try not to eat them all yourself. If you’re averse to extra sugar, these are delicious without the icing.
To Freeze: I assembled my buns completely and put them straight into the freezer. I took them out of the freezer the night before and into the fridge, then followed the baking instructions as above. They baked beautifully. You’ll want to bake your buns within a month from freezing.