Category Archives: Breakfast in Bed
Post by Alison Hein.
Well Brian B, this is your cake!
Since I couldn’t think of anything new, I fell back to something old – Barm Brack – a colorful fruit-filled yeast cake traditionally baked at Halloween. It is customary to hide small metal charms in the brack. A coin means wealth in the coming year; a ring foretells upcoming nuptials; a thimble signifies spinsterhood; and a piece of cloth indicates poverty. If you plan to bake anything into your cake (I did not), be sure to wrap the tokens in large pieces of foil, forewarn anyone having a slice, and do not serve to young children or people with dental problems!
The word “brack” stems from the Irish “breac”, or speckled, due to the dried fruit strewn throughout the cake. The word “barm” means yeast.
Most barm brack recipes call for candied fruit peel in addition to dried fruit, but in this version I used a combination of currants, dark and golden raisins, and dried sweet cherries. Some people also like to soak the dried fruit in tea, cider or whiskey overnight before baking for intense flavors and to add moisture to the cake.
So feel free to experiment. Bake your brack the night before, then slice, toast and butter it for a Halloween morn breakfast in bed.
I wish you good fortune in the year ahead…
1½ cups milk
¼ cup (½ stick) butter
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 packet yeast
4 – 5 cups flour
¼ teaspoon each of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups mixed dried fruit (such as currants, raisins, golden raisins, dried cherries)
Grated rind of one lemon (or substitute orange)
Add milk to small, heavy saucepan and place on stove over medium heat. Allow to heat, without stirring, until tiny ripples begin to form across the surface of the milk (scalded milk). Remove milk from heat and add butter, brown sugar and salt. Pour milk mixture into food processer. Allow to cool until tepid, then sprinkle yeast lightly and evenly across surface.
Let yeast rest about 10 minutes, until it begins to activate and resembles wet sand. Add 1 cup of flour, spices, and most of beaten eggs, retaining about 1 tablespoon of eggs to glaze the cake before baking. Gently pulse the food processer, adding flour about 1 cup at a time, until dough is compressed and begins to pull away from side of bowl. Stir in the dried fruit and lemon rind. Transfer to a well-greased 8-inch round cake pan. Cover with a light tea towel and set in warm, non-drafty place to rise. Let dough rise for about one hour, until doubled in size.
Fifteen minutes prior to baking, preheat the oven to 400°. Brush the top of the barm brack with remaining beaten egg. Bake 30 to 40 minutes until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve warm with butter.
NOTE: If adding charms, wrap them in foil and push them into the dough after mixing in fruit, but before dough is set to rise.
Post by Alison Hein.
Brian B, our favorite Chief Operating Officer at Charles P. Rogers & Co., has tasked me with coming up with a fabulous cake recipe for Halloween. Well, this isn’t it, but it is a cake, and here’s what got me started thinking about it:
Brian asks me to think of a great idea…
My mind is blank…
I start googling Halloween cakes but am not inspired by my findings…
I turn to my old cookbooks and start leafing through…
I remember Rosemary Cookies, an old Halloween tradition of baking cookies into shapes for remembrance…
And then I remember Corsican Chestnut Cake, a version strewn with rosemary and pine nuts.
Also known as Pisticcini, this in-between sweet and savory cake recipe was adapted from The Book of Bread by Judith and Evan Jones. There is a long history of growing chestnuts in Corsica, where the flour is used to produce bread, pancakes, porridge, and traditional polenta. Oh yeah, and cake.
Chestnut flour is rich, dense, and sweetish, and does not suit everyone’s palate. Some cakes are baked with butter and milk and sometimes a mixture of white flour, but I like the simplicity of just a couple of eggs to create a light, firm dough. Fresh rosemary, pine nuts, and a splash of sea salt adorn the top of the cake and add balance. Try a thin slice, served warm, with a strong cup of black tea for a Corsican breakfast in bed.
P.S. Stay tuned for Brian’s cake!
2 cups chestnut flour (available in Italian specialty shops, gourmet shops, or online)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Preheat oven to 350°.
In a large bowl, mix together chestnut flour, water, 2 tablespoons olive oil, eggs and sugar. Pour batter into greased round cake or pie pan (about 9 inches in diameter). Sprinkle top with rosemary, pine nuts and sea salt.
Bake until the cake has shrunk from the sides of the pan, and the surface is lightly cracked. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and serve warm.
Makes 1 9-inch round cake.
by: Alison Hein
Last Christmas, my husband, Kevin, gifted me with a trip to beautiful and quaint Newport, Rhode Island, to attend the annual September Food & Wine Festival. I was eagerly anticipating it for the past nine months. We would be visiting the historic mansions – living it up at a cocktail party at the ill-fated Rosecliff, indulging in an elite wine dinner in The Elms’ splendorous gilded age dining room, sipping wine and tasting culinary tidbits on the vast lawn at Marble House. Maybe even meeting Jacques Pépin!
What could top all this? Our stay at the elegant, romantic Cliffside Inn! Innkeepers Nancy and Bill Bagwill have lovingly restored their stately Victorian manor house (built in 1876) that sits in the heart of the historic district just steps from the famous Newport Cliff Walk. Each room is filled with elegance and personality. Just like us, you may want to keep going back, staying in Beatrice’s Room with its cozy window seat, then the Garden Suite with private garden and giant soaking tub, etc., etc….
In nice weather, guests gather in the morning on the huge wraparound porch, where Bill and Nancy serve heavenly French-pressed coffee, fresh baked goods, and a variety of sophisticated and tasty daily breakfasts. Bill kindly let me talk my way into the kitchen one morning, where I photographed, and he orchestrated his very special Eggs Florentine recipe. Read on to learn some of Bill’s tricks so you can prepare this wonderful breakfast in bed at home. Or, better yet, go visit this one-of-a-kind bed and breakfast and ask Bill to make them for you. 😉
1 Portuguese Bolo muffin (or substitute English muffin)
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed and trimmed
2 tablespoons caramelized onions
1 tablespoon Never Fail Hollandaise Sauce (recipe below)
1 tablespoon panko breadcrumbs
Pinch of dried culinary lavender
Pinch of salt
2 thin slices tomato
To poach eggs, fill a heavy saucepan with enough water to cover eggs (3 to 4 inches) and heat until very hot and simmering, but not boiling. Try Bill’s surefire method – break eggs one at a time into a fine mesh strainer, gently roll the egg in the strainer to remove the excess loose egg whites. (This allows the eggs to cook without feathering and eliminates the need to trim). Carefully pour the eggs, one at a time, into the simmering water. Cook for about three minutes, until the white is firm but the yolk is still soft. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain. (Bill transfers the eggs to a tepid water bath to keep warm while preparing the dish.)
Cut Portuguese muffin in half and brush lightly with mayonnaise. Place cut-side down on a grill surface and cook a few minutes until nicely toasted.
Heat olive oil in heavy pan over medium heat. Place fresh spinach in pan, in two separate portions. Place 1 tablespoon of caramelized onions on top of each spinach portion. Cook, for a minute or two, until spinach is wilted and onions are warmed through.
Place panko in a small dish, and stir in a pinch of lavender and a pinch of salt. Lightly dredge one side of tomatoes with panko mixture. Place under broiler for less than one minute, until panko is lightly browned.
To plate each serving, place one half of toasted Portuguese muffin on plate. Cover muffin with one spinach / onion portion. Place two eggs on top of spinach / onion mixture and drizzle with Hollandaise sauce. Garnish with one tomato slice.
Serve hot with crispy Applewood bacon.
Makes 2 servings.
Never Fail Hollandaise Sauce
4 egg yolks
1 ½ teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
½ cup (1 stick) butter, bubbling hot
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Melt the butter in a small saucepan until it is bubbling hot. While butter is heating, combine egg yolks and lemon juice in a food processor with a couple of quick pulses. With food processor on, slowly stream in the hot butter until Hollandaise emulsifies. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper and pulse the Hollandaise one more time to combine.
Post by Alison Hein.
Cold, dark, rainy days like we’ve been having lately aren’t good for either photographs or bread baking. L They are, however, wonderful for fresh-baked bread eating! I have been obsessed with these pavot (poppy baguettes) since first biting into one many years ago in France. I use about ¼ cup of poppy seeds to completely cover the tops of the loaves. If you’re not as obsessed as I am, feel free to minimize, or even skip (gasp!) the pavot entirely.
Baby your dough as it rises by finding a warm, non-drafty spot in your kitchen. (Sometimes a small distance away from a pre-heated oven is just the right spot.) Don’t bang any pots or slam any doors either, and at the end of your patient waiting period, you will be rewarded with the dreary day joy of slicing into a fresh, yeasty loaf of handmade and well-tended deliciousness. Try it like they do in Europe – slather a slice with some soft, unsalted butter, then sprinkle on salt to your liking for a breakfast in bed that will cheer you and warm your heart on a dreary day.
2 cups tepid water
1 tablespoon (2 packets) dry yeast
2 tablespoons oil
¼ cup sugar
1 egg, plus one egg white
1½ teaspoons fleur de sel (or sea salt)
5 cups white flour
1 tablespoon semolina flour
Oil for rising
Flour for kneading, shaping and dusting loaves
¼ cup poppy seeds
Add water to large food processor, or large bowl. Gently sprinkle yeast on top to cover surface. Set aside until yeast begins to activate, about 10 minutes.
Add oil, sugar, egg, fleur de sel, and one cup flour to food processor or bowl. Gently pulse on food processor dough setting or stir until mixed in. Add remaining flour, about a cup at a time, until mixed in. If using food processor, gently pulse until dough is compressed and begins to pull away from side of bowl. Be careful not to over mix or dough will become tough. If making bread by hand, turn out onto floured board and knead gently for about five minutes. Add about ½ teaspoon oil to large bowl. Place dough in bowl. Turn and flip so oiled side faces up. Cover with light tea towel and set in warm, non-drafty place to rise. Let dough rise for about one hour, until doubled in size.
Punch down dough. Turn onto floured board and shape into 3 equal-sized baguettes. Sprinkle large baking tray with semolina flour. Place loaves on tray, cover with light tea towel and set in warm, non-drafty place to rise. Let loaves rise for about one hour, until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 425° about 15 minutes before dough is finished rising. Lightly brush loaves with egg white, then sprinkle poppy seeds on top to cover. Carefully make a few diagonal slashes on each loaf, using a razor blade or very sharp knife (I keep a craft knife on hand for this purpose).
Place loaves in oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes until browned. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
Makes 3 baguettes.