Weekend Wonderings

Happy Saturday, readers.

I love brunch.  It’s my favourite meal, hands down.  It may be because I can take my time over it, reading the papers or chatting with friends.  It’s probably got more to do with the fact that it involves things like PANCAKES or EGGS or MAPLE SYRUP and BACON and YOGHURT and FRUIT and…you get the picture.

I’ve hosted a couple of brunches at our new house this summer.  Hosting brunch is easy, much less hassle than cooking dinner and your friends can leave early if they need to and stay around if they like.  There’s no “Arrrrgh it’s 10pm and I haven’t served dessert and it’s a school night” stress.  Just easy, breezy, long weekend days.

You all know I’m a Smitten Kitchen devotee.  Deb, the brains behind that glorious blog, is of the firm view that brunch should be as easy breezy lazy for the host as it should be for everyone else.  Prep everything in advance, and then there’s no slaving over eggs on the morning itself.  I concur.

This recipe, from Smitten Kitchen, is hands down the standout brunch item for me, and for everyone else who tries it.  The name should be enough in itself.  Boozy Baked French Toast?  Who in their right mind would ever say no to that?  And it is criminally easy to make.  Especially since Catherine brought me American-style measuring cups.  No more converting into grams!

I made the mistake of texting Clare this recipe, whilst she was, unbeknownst to me, dying of a hangover in KL.  Her pitiful texts back were too much to bear.  When I (when when when!) visit her, this is the first thing I’m making.  Before I even say hello.

    Image from Smitten Kitchen

Here’s how the magic happens:

The night before….

1 loaf brioche or challah or normal white bread (buttered) in 1-inch slices
3 cups (245g) whole milk
3 eggs
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Booze: I use 3 tablespoons Bailey’s and 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier.  Deb says Frangelico (hazelnut), Chambord (raspberry), Creme de Cassis (black currant) or Cointreau (orange) do just as well.

If you’d rather de-booze this, you can use vanilla or almond extract instead.

You can go a bit crazy with extra fillings if you like, adding a teaspoon of zest, a half-cup of chopped nuts such as almond slivers or pecans between layers or on top or a similar amount of raisins or other dried fruits.

(I prefer the mantra: less milk, more booze.)

Grease a baking dish (9×13-inch) with butter.

Arrange bread in two tightly-packed layers in the pan. Cut one slice into smaller pieces to fill in the gaps.  This is when my tessellating-OCD-ness comes to the fore.

If your  bread is sliced thinly, you might make more layers.  Don’t make more than three otherwise it won’t bake evenly.

If you are using any fillings of fruit or nuts, this is the time to get them between the layers or sprinkled  on top.

In a small bowl whisk milk, eggs, sugar, salt and booze or flavorings of your choice and pour over the bread. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The bread will absorb all of the milk custard while you sleep.

The Day Itself

Bake at 220 C for 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden.   (This will take longer if you have additional layers.)

It looks all kinds of grand and awesome when it comes out of the oven, but sadly does collapse once it hits cold air…so you might want to time the cooking for when your guests are seated.

Cut into generous squares and serve with maple syrup, fresh fruit, powdered sugar or all of the above.

You’re welcome.  Oh, of course, I’d be delighted to join you for brunch this weekend!  You shouldn’t have!

Categories: Food, Weekend Wonderings, Written By Anna
6 interesting thoughts on this

6 Comments

  1. Alex
    Posted October 6, 2012 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    That sounds amazing! Will definitely try this out soon!
    And Anna, with ideas lime these, you’re more than welcome to join us for brunch in Dubai!

  2. Lara Blue
    Posted October 6, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    YUM! :)

  3. Posted October 6, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Why do more people not get brunch?? So many options, all so delicious… When else can you justify eggs, bacon, Danish pastries and bucks fizz in one meal!

  4. Posted October 6, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Want.

  5. Peridot
    Posted October 8, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    I’ve done a version of this with blueberries in – it was basically pudding for breakfast and was IMMENSE.

  6. Posted October 8, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    I’m a bit late on this but I have to say, Anna is the Queen of brunch. Everyone should invite themselves around to her place immediately.

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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image by Lucy Stendall Photography

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