I have never been very good at breakfast-ing. I want to be better but if I could have it my way I would have a few hearty cups of coffee until lunchtime comes around. I certainly love breakfast-type foods but just not during the appropriate 7 to 9:30 am window. It takes a lot to force feed myself cereal every morning but I do it because I keep stumbling across these “top 5 lists for health” which show up in magazines that tend to hang around in dentist office waiting rooms and include lines like “studies show that eating a large breakfast can improve this, that, the other thing, and is linked to becoming a billionaire…”
So why can’t I just enjoy the first meal of the day? I blame it on Hot Lunch.
My Hot Lunch experience definitely had its fair share of fish sticks but I was lucky that my elementary school offered a program that was on the better side. I am not certain of this because I rarely got to enjoy it due to the fact that I had to bring my lunch in an assortment of tiny Tupperware containers which all packed into a reusable cloth lunch bag – may I add that this was way before all that jazz was cool.
But I was relieved of these containers every other week when they served the Breakfast-For-Lunch meal. In my opinion this was the one meal that Bob* the lunch guy actually nailed and the only worth fighting with my parents for about letting me buy. Not that I blame him much because who am I to judge. His job was to make Hot Lunch for 100 children under the age of 12 and I don’t think we actually cared what we ate as long it included one of the three food groups: cookies, pizza and pepperoni.
This is one of those dishes that has an awesome name which makes me want to come up with puns like: this is “strata”-up delicious. Or one bite will send out of this “strata”-sphere.
But stratas are also one of the best ways to clean out your fridge and feed a crowd at the same time. Oh do you have a ton of holiday leftovers, hardly any time, and a brunch planned for New Year’s Day?
Perhaps I can recommend this make-ahead anything goes strata.
A strata starts with stale day-old bread. For the record I would like to say that any recipe that starts with stale bread and ends with a magically delicious custardy breakfast casserole has got to be worth it. It’s a good thing that putting together a strata takes hardly any effort at all.
December is not the time to loose your baking focus. As I have said before I have spent months preparing for this four-week festival of butter and brown sugar. The holi-daze are also not the time to be shy when it comes to over-the-top baking so let’s save the two ingredient slushies for summer when turning on the oven requires a ridiculous amount of effort/some sort of bribe.
If you can believe it these started out as cinnamon rolls but then I went bonkers and ended up with this recipe which is further proof I can not leave well enough alone when it comes to the baking category.
But most recipes need a good switch up every now and again. Think of these as those orange chocolates that you smash up against the wall to break them into individual slices BUT in the form of a cinnamon roll’s cousin. The twisted swirl shape looks impressive for not much extra effort and I urge you to give it a-go but just in case, I have included directions for making these as good-ol’ fashioned swirl buns as well.
It all begins with a yeasted chocolate dough. Look at that thing of beauty! Why have I not added cocoa to every batch of cinnamon roll dough before? I apologize for not thinking of this sooner my friends. I also let my dough rise in the refrigerator overnight which makes everything easier. No one likes to wait for dough to rise, so it’s best to do it while you are doing something productive like sleeping.
The filling is a mix of granulated and brown sugar and orange zest. Zest keeps everything, um, extra zesty and cool.
Next chop up some good quality dark chocolate (looking much prettier in an ombré color scheme).
small cake stand // $19.95 // one
offset spatula with natural handle // $2.50 // two
small 6-inch cake pans // $6.50 for one // three
tiny boxes in kraft paper brown // $5.00 for ten // four
twine in gold shimmer // $15.00 for 240 yards // five
metallic silver sanding sugar // $7.95 // six
classic Bundt pan // $24.00 // seven
metallic gold sanding sugar // $7.95 // eight
kitchen scale // $22.00 // nine
Because it is holiday time, I’m jumping on the bandwagon with a gift guide for 2012.
I am a firm believer that the best gifts are small and thoughtful and not over the top BUT I am pretty sure I would change my tune in a hot second if I ever woke up on Christmas morning and there was a brand new Lexus parked in the driveway with a red bow on the hood. While I patiently wait for that to happen it is all about gifts that are in the “thought that counts” category (which as I hope you agree, are totally better anyways). Plus I think it is probably best if we all buy our own cars, right?
I have received lots of emails from you about gift ideas for your favorite baker so this list was made with bakers everywhere in mind. Hopefully if you are baker you have all the mixing bowls, measuring cups, and whisks that your little heart desires but these items are just a few little things that the lover of baked goods in your life will appreciate. Or perhaps you need a little holiday treat as well (I will not judge if that happens to be the case). Friends – I give you BMUB’s 2012 holiday gift guide for bakers!
Since turning the calendar a page, we have officially entered that lovely period in the year that brings endless cocktail parties with feasting and socializing overload. I happen to love this particular time of the year because it is an excuse to get together but with the added bonus of the “holiday” heading which means everyone wears sparkles and I get to eat my annual serving of gravy.
The months of November and December are also the time where one needs a quick and easy little something to bring to that feast. I think written somewhere there is an official rule that you can’t show up to a party empty handed, right? A little jar of cocktail snack treats is just what you need to win the hearts of hostesses everywhere.
I know it has been a little quiet ’round these parts but I’ve had a few too many failed dessert attempts emerge from my oven over the past week or so and I will admit that my baking mojo is low. I needed to ease my way back into the saddle so hello there toasty pecans!
Question: What will make your home smell like a scented candle from Pier One and fulfill all of your fall pumpkin spice cravings?
Answer: Baking and then eating this cake.
I tried to hold out as long as I could, guys, but it’s been hard to avoid with everything around me turning to pumpkin quicker than one can say Cinderella. It’s always the lattes first. Then those tiny (but omg aren’t they ADORABLE?!) pumpkins make their way into the stores by the bushel. Next the seasonal pumpkin-shaped Reese’s and Snickers bars show up just to taunt me when I’m in line at the drugstore stocking up on dental floss. Oh the irony.
So it was inevitable that I too, would fall victim to such deep ochre fate. I knew the minute I took a bite of this cake that there was no going back. It is always a sad day when the realization sets in that I must say good bye to popsicles for another long year.
Somewhere, right now, there is a gathering of gourds mocking my fall to The Pumpkin. “It was just a matter of time. I knew we’d get her,” said the jack-o’-lantern with a laugh to his buddies in the patch. The roasted pepitas crunched as he tossed them back into his toothy grin.
Perhaps I’m being dramatic. I have had four cups of coffee and it is creative writing hour over here.
In addition to giving into the seasonal pumpkin mania, I broke one of my personal baking rules and made a low-fat cake. Up next: my public apology to butter.