Us lucky ones relish the holidays when our households are full with prodigal sons and daughters and other far-flung family and friends. Much laughter, much food, much coming-and-going, and the routine for meals will fly right out the window.
Which is why we're big fans of brunch. It's two, two, two meals in one!
You can feed the multitudes once mid- to late-morning, then let them scavenge until dinner time. Maybe the grandbabies get up at the crack of dawn, but it’s not like the rest of us are bounding out of bed to cook something complicated. So our solution is simple make-ahead or easy-do recipes that split the difference between breakfast and lunch.
Our friend Dominique's Colossal Cinnamon Rolls can be made with thawed frozen bread dough (or your own), and prepared the night before, so all you have to do brunch morning is bake the big bun, add some fruit, scramble some eggs, et voila! The rolls look and smell spectacular and are guaranteed to wake up the most determined sleepyhead.
Our own holiday “must” is a variation on the German pfannkuchen that goes under the not particularly elegant or accurate moniker "egg breakfast." Quick to mix together, the batter puffs up into a buttery golden wonder that's beautifully complemented by fresh fruit, yogurt, powdered sugar and lemon. You need to get the gaggle assembled before these puffcakes come out of the oven, because they'll quickly collapse, but the impressive entrance and fabulous flavor make whenever you serve them feel like a holiday.
Colossal Cinnamon Rolls
2 1-pound loaves frozen bread dough, thawed
⅓ cup butter, melted
⅓ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ cup chopped pecans
1¼ cup sifted powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
Grease a 12-inch pizza pan. Set aside. On a lightly floured surface, flatten thawed dough. Cut each loaf into four pieces. Form each piece into a rope about 18 inches long. Stir together the two sugars and cinnamon. Place mixture in a long, shallow pan. Brush one rope on all sides with melted butter. Roll rope in sugar mixture to coat evenly. Beginning in the center of prepared pan, coil dough. Repeat with each rope, first buttering, then sugaring, then connecting the rope to the end of the coil, and coiling further until all dough is used and pan is covered in a colossal coil of cinnamon dough. Sprinkle remaining sugar mixture over roll and distribute pecans over the top. Let rise until doubled in a warm place, 30-40 minutes, then bake at 350 F 30-35 minutes OR cover roll with plastic and let rise overnight in the refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before baking. Bake at 350 as above. If roll starts to get too brown, cover with foil for the last 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Stir together powdered sugar, vanilla and dribble in enough milk to make a thick glaze. Drizzle glaze over cinnamon roll and serve.
There Must Be a Better Name than Egg Breakfast
¾ cup flour
¾ cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
For filling/garnish: fresh or thawed frozen peaches, strawberries, and/or blueberries; plain yogurt; lemon slices. Powdered sugar.
Preheat oven to 425 F. In a medium bowl, beat eggs slightly with a whisk. Beat in flour, then milk. Whisk until smooth. Meanwhile, melt butter in ovenproof skillet and let it get hot. (You can do this on the stovetop or by sticking the skillet with the butter in it in the oven while you mix the other ingredients.) Pour batter into skillet. Bake 20-25 minutes until puffed up, golden brown and set in the middle. Serve immediately. Cut into wedges, pass garnishes, ending with powdered sugar and and a squirt of lemon. Two skillets' worth will serve 5-6. Three skillets will fit on an oven rack, and if you enlist some help you can whip up three batches simultaneously.