Tag Archives: brunch

Pear Pastry Braid

Pear Pastry BraidIt’s almost time for pie. Almost.

Yes, I know it’s November now, but I can’t just switch from Popcorn Balls to Pumpkin Pie on a dime. And truthfully, I’ve been concentrating too hard on the World Series and anticipating the new Scorsese film this week to fully get down to business with Thanksgiving. Rest assured though that the pies are coming. Sides, too! But first, this Pear Pastry Braid.Pear Pastry BraidI mean, do you see this beautiful thing? Is it brunch food? Is it dessert? I don’t know. I don’t make the rules. I just make the pastry.Pear Pastry BraidAnd oh, is this a good one. Pear Pastry Braid is super buttery and filled with tender pears that have been tossed with ginger, lemon, and a few tablespoons of sugar. Yum!Pear Pastry BraidDon’t let these glamour shots deceive you–it’s surprisingly easy to make. Simply roll out a sheet of rough puff pastry (or the frozen thawed all-butter stuff), make a bunch of diagonal cuts down both long sides and fill the center with sliced pear filling.Pear Pastry BraidPear Pastry BraidAlternating sides, carefully cover the filling with overlapping strips of dough, producing a braid-like appearance. Give it a brush of egg wash and a sprinkle of sugar, and then let it bake til golden.Pear Pastry BraidSounds like a lot, but the time from when you start peeling pears to when you pull the finished pastry out of the oven is less than an hour. It can be sliced and served warm too, meaning that you don’t have to plan crazy far in advance (especially if you already have the pastry dough in the fridge). There’s so much planning around food this time of year that it’s kind of nice to have something you can make when the mood strikes or when someone says they’re going to pop by.Pear Pastry BraidYou know what else is nice? Eating a slice of sweet, flaky Pear Pastry Braid in your pajamas on a Saturday morning. Or a Saturday night. Or both.

What?! I don’t make the rules. I just make the pastry.Pear Pastry Braid

Pear Pastry Braid
makes 1 braid, about 6 servings

Rough Puff Pastry:*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

Pear Filling:
4 medium firm-ripe pears
5 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

Make Rough Puff Pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Make the pear filling. Peel the pears with a vegetable peeler. Working with one pear at a time, use a large, sharp chef’s knife to trim off both ends. Slice down through the stem end to halve the pear lengthwise. Use a small spoon to scoop out the seeds. Slice the pear as thinly as you can.

Place sliced pear pieces in a medium mixing bowl. Toss with 4 tablespoons sugar, ground ginger, salt, and lemon juice. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a half-sheet baking pan with parchment paper.

Assemble the pastry braid. Flour a rolling pin. Unfold dough on the prepared pan. Roll dough out to 12×16-inch rectangle. Orient the pan/rectangle so that the side nearest you is a short side.

Carefully dust the edge of a sharp knife with flour. Cut off two small corners of dough on the edge furthest from you. Leaving a 4×16-inch space in the center for the filling, cut 1-inch diagonal strips strips down both sides of the pastry, as pictured in the post.

Fill the pastry braid. Leaving 1/2-inch of space at each short end, mound pear filling along the center (intact) section of dough. Make sure to leave any accumulated liquid behind in the bowl. Dot filling with butter.

“Braid” the dough. Starting at the edge furthest from you, take a strip of dough and carefully lay it across the filling. Then grab a strip of dough from the right side and carefully lay it over the filling so that it is overlapping the first strip. Continue doing this, alternating left and right until you reach the end of the braid. Fold the short edges up slightly to seal.

Make the egg wash. Combine egg and water in a small bowl and whisk together with a fork.

Paint egg wash over all exposed pastry. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake pastry braid for 25-30 minutes, or until pastry is golden and pears are tender.

Let pastry braid cool on its pan on a rack. When you can handle it (I could at 30 minutes, although it was still warm), very carefully slip your hands palm-side-up under the pastry and quickly lift it onto a large cutting board or serving tray. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice it into pieces. Serve immediately.

Pear Pastry Braid is best the day it is made.

Note:

You may use frozen all-butter puff pastry instead. Thaw according to package directions and begin the recipe at the paragraph that begins “Make the pear filling.”Pear Pastry BraidPear Pastry BraidPear Pastry Braid

Pumpkin Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Pumpkin Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}It’s that time! Tomorrow morning will be the first weekend breakfast of fall (even if you are regretting having packed away your summer clothes two weeks ago) and it should absolutely be this Pumpkin Puff Pancake. (And maybe bacon.)

(So many parentheticals today. Oy.)Pumpkin Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}This Pumpkin Puff is simply an autumnal take on my very favorite breakfast. Or maybe I should say “another” autumnal take—I made a Caramel Apple Puff a couple of years ago. You can have that next weekend though. This weekend, it’s all about the pumpkin.Pumpkin Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Mix up your pumpkin pie spice, crack open a can of Libby’s, put some of both in a blender with the usual suspects, and whirl up a smooth pancake batter.Pumpkin Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Pour it in a screaming hot pan with plenty of butter and go find something to do for roughly 17 minutes. I recommend figuring out which Emmy-nominated show you can manage to binge watch in its entirety before the broadcast on Sunday night (When They See Us! Pose! Fosse/Verdon!). Or, alternatively, if you’re local, determining which panel you’re going to attend at the Brooklyn Book Festival (I’ll be at the 4pm “How We Eat at Home” panel to hear Anita Lo, Carla Lalli Music and Alison Roman).

(What is it with the parentheses today?)Pumpkin Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Anyway…when you have decided to watch Sharp Objects and a few episodes of The Good Place…oops, sorry.

*ahem*

When your time has elapsed and your pancake is puffy and voluminous and golden, remove it from the oven. It will be big, buttery and beautiful at first, but will quickly settle into a crinkly, custardy pancake in the shape of its pan. Also, it’s going to smell magnificent, as almost all pumpkin spice-scented things do.Pumpkin Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Pumpkin Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Pumpkin Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Top it with whatever makes you happy—I went for my usual maple syrup and confectioners sugar, along with some toasted pecans. Keeping it seasonal, you know, because it’s officially fall in my kitchen and on this blog.Pumpkin Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Pumpkin Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Pumpkin Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}
makes 4-6 servings

For the Puff Pancake:
1/4 cup pure pumpkin purée (I prefer Libby’s)
1 cup milk (preferably whole)
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

For the pan:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

For serving:
confectioners sugar
pure maple syrup
toasted pecans

Place a large ovenproof cast iron or stainless steel pan in a cold oven. Preheat oven to 400F.

In the bowl of a food processor or high-powered blender, combine pumpkin purée, milk, eggs, vanilla, flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Process 30 seconds, or until no lumps remain. Let batter rest at least 5 minutes.

Once oven has reached 400F, remove the hot pan and add butter. Place pan back in the oven for 60-90 seconds, until butter has melted. Remove pan from the oven, and swirl the butter so it coats the pan. Pour in batter. Bake 17-18 minutes, until puffed and golden. Do NOT open the oven door during baking.

Remove pancake from oven—it will deflate quickly. Let cool 2-5 minutes before slicing and serving immediately with toppings of choice.Pumpkin Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Pumpkin Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Pumpkin Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Sour Cream Waffles

Sour Cream WafflesI love baking with sour cream for the richness, tenderness and moisture it adds to my cakes and other baked goods, but I have no desire to eat it on anything but pierogis—and I never make pierogis. And so sour cream frequently gets sad and gross in the back of my fridge, having been forgotten until I run out of space for the next cake or bowl of cookie dough or yogurt container.

Until now, that is.Sour Cream WafflesA few weekends ago, armed with a half-container of sour cream leftover from making kolaches, I set out to make some waffles. I had previously tried Molly Wizenberg’s Waffles of Insane Greatness and was intrigued by Stella Parks’s Buttermilk Waffles, but wasn’t going to make either of those recipes because sour cream, duh.Sour Cream WafflesInstead I combined aspects of both recipes into The Best Waffles I Have Ever Eaten In My Life. We’re talking crispy edges and fluffy interiors, light and not too sweet, and gorgeous and golden. Truly, the best waffles I’ve ever eaten in my life.Sour Cream WafflesI have 24 of them in my freezer leftover from testing and have been toasting and eating them plain as a midnight snack for the last few weeks, so I can confirm: these are the fluffiest and crispiest and The Best Waffles I Have Ever Eaten In My Life. Period.Sour Cream WafflesReasons the insides stay nice and soft:

• Sour cream is creamy, rich, and thick, which means it adds lots of moisture and some heft to the batter. Also, it’s acidic, so it reacts with the baking soda in the batter to help with the fluff factor.
• Egg whites are used in their liquid state. That’s right—no whipped egg whites here! This is a waffle recipe for those of us who are never going to be up for whipping egg whites before they’ve had at least two cups of coffee. If you’re skeptical, baking queen Stella Parks says using liquid egg whites instead of the more traditional whipped ones creates more moisture in waffle batter, which creates more steam, which creates a fluffier waffle, and—no surprises—she’s right.Sour Cream Waffles
• The dry ingredients include a large amount of cornstarch. Here, it impedes gluten-development in the same way that it does in cakes, producing a more tender texture.
• This recipe calls for a fifteen minute rest after you’ve prepared the batter. This allows the developed gluten to relax and gives your waffle iron time to get screaming hot, which is important for crispy edges! Speaking of which…Sour Cream WafflesReasons the outsides get crispy:

• Sugar. There isn’t much in this recipe, but the small amount is crucial for crispy waffle success. It caramelizes against the hot iron creating both crisp texture and golden color.Sour Cream Waffles
• Making sure your waffle iron is HOT. I let mine heat for at least 15 minutes.
• Letting the waffles cook until the steam dissipates. That may mean that your waffles take 6-7 minutes instead of the 4-5 it takes for the “ready” light to come on, but I promise you it’s worth the extra wait.Sour Cream WafflesI mean, look at that. Does breakfast get any better than that? I don’t think so.Sour Cream WafflesNeedless to say, half-containers of sour cream are a hot commodity around here now.Sour Cream Waffles

Sour Cream Waffles
makes about 8 4-inch waffles

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
2/3 cup full-fat sour cream
2 large egg whites, room temperature
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the waffle iron:
cooking spray

For serving:
butter
warmed maple syrup
seasonal fruit

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large liquid measuring cup (or small mixing bowl), use a fork to whisk together whole milk and sour cream. Whisk in egg whites, melted butter and vanilla.

Add liquid ingredients to dry in two installments, whisking until combined and mostly smooth (a couple of small lumps are okay). Let batter rest at room temperature for 15 minutes while the waffle iron is heating.

Preheat oven to 200F. Place a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet.

Grease waffle iron with cooking spray. Pour 1/3 cup of the waffle batter into each well of the iron and close the top. Let cook until steam dissipates and the waffles are turning golden, about 6 minutes.

Transfer cooked waffles to the prepared rack-over-pan and place in the oven to keep warm. Re-grease the waffle iron and cook remaining batter.

Serve waffles with butter, warmed maple syrup, and seasonal fruit, if desired. Enjoy immediately.

Leftovers may be layered with parchment, placed in a freezer bag, and frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat in the toaster.Sour Cream WafflesSour Cream WafflesSour Cream Waffles

Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}The last morning on Swan’s Island is usually a bit of a bummer. Sure, we’re still on-island for the day, but the thought of leaving on the following morning’s early ferry is looming. We’ve accepted that this will not be the year that we canoe. The only thing left on our “must” list is to hike around the lighthouse. It’s time to buy the things we’ve been eyeing at the vintage/antiques stores all week. To go say goodbye to the couple that owns the general store—after five summers, we’re on a first name basis. It’s time to take our recycling and garbage to the transfer station.*

*It’s not all fairy princess magic time, even though there is something sort of endearing about the whole process. I wish NYC waste disposal were so adorable.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}But it’s also time for one last good breakfast. Since VJ bought herself a waffle iron a couple of years ago, waffles have been a vacation must for us. She usually takes the helm on that, veganizing a very good gluten-free mix and serving up breakfasts that I am more than happy to eat on the cove-facing patio, but she politely agreed to my request to “mess with the waffle iron” this year.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Initially, she may have regretted this. I had it in my head that my Cornmeal Pancake batter would work just as well in a waffle iron. Truly, I was so sure of this that I was congratulating myself weeks ahead of time for being such a culinary genius and had practically already written the accompanying blog post.

I should probably mention that I had never made a waffle from scratch before.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}You can see where this is going—the first round was akin to cornmeal styrofoam. Turns out, waffle batter generally needs to be thinner than pancake batter, lest the final product be tough, dry and heavy. We ate the waffles anyway (bad waffles are still waffles), but it took two days and neither of us was particularly jazzed about it. Needless to say, I was a little disheartened, and spent a couple of days writing and rewriting the recipe until I was ready to try again on the final morning.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}As I began mixing together dry ingredients and measuring out aquafaba and oil, I started to worry that round two would be disastrous too, but I ladled the batter into the iron anyway. VJ and I had an unspoken agreement that we would eat the results, no matter how awful.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}But we were pleasantly surprised. My adjustments—reducing the cornmeal and doubling the aquafaba (chickpea canning liquid/egg substitute)—had worked, producing lighter, softer waffles with crisp edges and a good corn flavor. We finished them in one sitting. No arduous styrofoam-esque breakfasts here!Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Long story short, in addition to my haul from the vintage stores, this vacation also resulted in my purchase of a waffle maker. I’ve been home for about six days now and have already gotten a good return on my investment: I’ve made this recipe four six more times. You know, just to be sure they’re worthwhile. And also because I like having a freezer full of waffles.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}
makes about 8-10 4-inch waffles

If you do not want/need these waffles to be vegan, two large eggs may be substituted for the aquafaba.

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
~1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other milk of choice)
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 tablespoons aquafaba (chickpea canning/cooking liquid)
6 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the waffle iron:
cooking spray

For serving (optional):
salted butter (traditional or vegan)
warmed maple syrup
seasonal fruit

Preheat oven to 200F. Place a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet.

Heat waffle iron according to package directions.

Pour vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Add just enough almond milk to reach the 1 cup mark. Stir and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, cornstarch, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together aquafaba, oil, almond milk mixture and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry and whisk to combine.

Grease waffle iron with cooking spray. Pour 1/3-1/2 cup (depending on the size of your waffle iron) of the waffle batter into each well of the iron and close the top. Let cook until steam dissipates and the waffles are turning golden at the edges and divots, about 6 minutes.

Transfer cooked waffles to the prepared rack-over-pan and place in the oven to keep warm. Re-grease the waffle iron and cook remaining batter.

Serve waffles with butter, warmed maple syrup, and seasonal fruit, if desired. Enjoy immediately.

Leftovers may be layered with parchment, placed in a freezer bag, and frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat in the toaster.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Chocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Chocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}This Chocolate Puff Pancake has everything you love about a classic Puff Pancake…plus chocolate.Chocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}It’s quick and easy, coming together in 30 seconds in the blender and 18 minutes in the oven.Chocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}It puffs dramatically while baking (hence the name), but deflates quickly, leaving behind a rustic, rumpled, shareable pancake.Chocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}It has curled edges and custard-like center that I dream about all workweek long.Chocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}And chocolate. Chocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}I’m not normally a chocolate for breakfast sort of gal, but this? I could get used to this. And that’s serious because I am a confirmed vanilla person.Chocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Chocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Chocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Chocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}I mean, who can resist a barely-sweet chocolate pancake that you can literally fill with confectioner’s sugar, strawberries, whipped cream, and mini chocolate chips?!Chocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Chocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}The delicate pancake pairs so well with the fresh berries, airy cream, and melty chocolate. It’s pretty phenomenal as far as sweet brunches go.Chocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Plus, it’s pretty.Chocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}We all know pretty food tastes better. Or something.Chocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Chocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}
makes 4-6 servings

4 large eggs
1 cup milk (not skim or fat free)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder (preferably dutch process)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons butter (unsalted or salted)

Toppings:
confectioner’s sugar
fresh berries
whipped cream
mini chocolate chips

Place a large ovenproof cast iron or stainless steel pan in a cold oven. Preheat oven to 425F.

In the bowl of a food processor or high-powered blender*, combine eggs, milk, vanilla, flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. Process until smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Let batter rest 10 minutes, or until large bubbles dissipate.

Once oven has reached 400F, remove the hot pan and add butter. Place pan back in the oven for 60-90 seconds, until butter has melted. Remove pan from the oven, and swirl the butter so it coats the pan. Pour in batter. Bake 18-19 minutes, until billowy. Do not open the oven door during baking.

Let pancake cool 2-5 minutes before slicing. Slice and serve immediately with toppings of choice.Chocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}