Celebrate with Sweet Easter Bread

In many cultures, bread is symbolic for life and sustenance. If there is bread in the house, no one will go hungry. Bread has symbolic meanings in different religions as well. Throughout Europe, Easter bread symbolizes new life and served at breakfast on Easter morning. The history of Easter bread goes back hundreds of years and is enjoyed during a meal at the end of Lent.

During its life cycle the grain of wheat dies and is reborn months later in the form of a spike capable of providing sustenance to human beings. Wheat is the quintessential nutritional plant. It was believed to contain the mystery of life and death and thus it became a sacred plant. One of the essential features of the Neolithic era was plant cultivation. This led to a way of life that had previously been unimaginable and gave birth to new beliefs that completely altered the spiritual universe of humankind.

Encylopedia.com   April 13 2017

Celebrate with Sweet Easter Bread recipe

Celebrate with Sweet Easter Bread recipe

There are many recipes for Easter bread with a variety of ingredients and shapes. Traditionally, Italians and other Europeans develop their family recipe with the usual ingredients of flour, milk, eggs, butter, sugar, and yeast. Additional ingredients, like oranges and anise are added to the dough. These special ingredients personalize the bread and show what Easter means to the family or town. Every loaf of Easter bread tells a story. The bread means life. The three braids symbolize the elements of the Holy Trinity, and the eggs mean new birth. (Jovina Cooks). The baker becomes the storyteller of their family history and Easter significance.

Celebrate with Sweet Easter Bread recipe

Celebrate with Sweet Easter Bread recipe

This Easter bread recipe is slightly adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2012. It is less involved than other traditional recipes because a “starter” is not required. Yet, I kept the shape simple as one long braided loaf decorated with eggs and poppy seeds. Another benefit I learned, is there’s no need to hard boil the eggs before you color them. They cook in the oven with the bread. It is always great to have one less thing to do around any holiday.

Celebrate with Sweet Easter Bread recipe

Before I researched the history of Easter bread, I believed challah and Easter bread are the same, with the exception of the decorated eggs.  There are similarities, but ultimately they are different breads. Easter bread is made from a sticky dough, has fewer eggs, and is sweeter than challah. Additional ingredients in Easter bread are oranges, anise, and dried fruits or nuts. I also learned Easter bread is similar to Panettone, but has a different shape.

Celebrate with Sweet Easter Bread recipe

Without question, Easter bread is delicious and fun to make. It is an airy, pleasantly sweet, and fresh tasting bread. I made the bread once with orange zest and fennel pollen, and once without. Both versions produced bread with delicate subtle butter flavor perfect for a delicious breakfast treat. Also, don’t be afraid to eat the eggs as long as the Easter bread has not been sitting unrefrigerated for over 12 hours. As always concerning any egg product, use your common sense.

Celebrate with Sweet Easter Bread recipe

You should make this bread just to fill your home with its seductive scent. For 24 hours, my house filled with a warm buttery scent causing everyone to perk up and take a break from their work. Joy was in the air. Don’t we all need a break from work, and have a chance to look around? This time of year, there are so many wonderful surprises to discover. New plants and flowers are popping up every day and the sun feels warmer and warmer. I love Spring and the activity of life that comes with it.

Make creamy ricotta to spread on your sweet Easter Bread. A heavenly breakfast of homemade ricotta smeared on homemade bread.  

Celebrate with Sweet Easter Bread reicpe

I don’t know about you, but whenever I make bread I am happy. Baking bread brings me joy and a great sense of accomplishment. Maybe it is because the touch of dough is so smooth and soft. I love feeling my hands wrap around the supple dough. I tell myself to stop and resist temptation to play with my food. If you find yourself succumbing to this seduction, please stop yourself or you will have tough overworked bread.

Celebrate with Sweet Easter Bread recipe

At last, Spring is here along with every reason to celebrate new life after a dormant winter. At any time, a loaf of homemade bread brings the promise of life and sustenance for all to enjoy. Without hesitation, the promise of your specially prepared loaf is revealed in the joyful expressions of friends and family. Join the fun and start your Easter celebration at breakfast with sweet Easter bread.

Celebrate with Sweet Easter Bread Recipe

 Celebrate with Sweet Easter Bread reicpe

Sweet Easter Bread

Prep Time: 3 hours

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 25 minutes

Category: Breakfast

Cuisine: Italian

1, 12- 16 inch loaf

Sweet Easter Bread

This is a delicious bread perfect for any breakfast. It is lightly sweet with hints of orange zest and fennel pollen. The eggs will cook perfectly in the oven with the bread for an extra bonus.

Recipe is slightly adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2012. Recipe by Melissa Roberts

Ingredients

    For the Dough
  • 2/3 cup / 150ml whole milk
  • 5 Tbs / 70g granulated sugar- divided
  • 1 3/4 tsp / 1/8oz / 6g active dry yeast
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 3/4 cups / 405 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp / 3 g Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (10 stick) / 113g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tb / 23 g melted butter
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp of ground anise or fennel pollen (optional)
  • Poppy Seeds for decorating (optional)
  • 1 egg plus 2 teaspoons of water, mixed (for egg wash)
    For the decorative eggs
  • 5-6 large eggs
  • Food coloring of your choosing

Instructions

    Make the Dough
  1. Heat the milk in a 2-cup microwave safe glass measure in the microwave until the milk reaches 110-115F (43-46C). (Can also heat the milk on the stove in a small sauce pan). Start at 30 seconds and check the temperature of the milk and add 10 seconds until you reach the desired temperature. You do not want it hotter than 115C because the higher temperature will kill the yeast.
  2. Gently stir in 1 tablespoon (13g) of the sugar, and the yeast into the milk. Let it sit for 5 minutes. The milk should get foamy from the yeast. (If the milk does not get foamy your yeast is not active).
  3. Melt the butter and let cool.
  4. Whisk the eggs into the milk and add the cooled melted butter.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the remaining 4 Tb (58g) sugar, all-purpose flour, and Kosher salt, orange zest (optional), and ground anise or fennel pollen (optional). Mix together with a whisk or fork to get the ingredients evenly combined. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  6. On low speed, add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix to get the ingredients combined. Stop and scrape the bowl when necessary. About one minute. Turn the speed up to medium high and mix for 5 minutes until the dough gets soft and silky.
  7. Brush the insides of a medium mixing bowl with the remaining half tablespoon of melted butter. Add the bread dough into the bowl and butter the tops and sides of the dough with the remaining butter. Turn the dough around in the bowl to get a good coating of butter all over it. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter in a warm spot until it doubles in size, for 1 1/2 hours up to 2 hours.
  8. The dough can be made ahead up to the point of the first rising. Refrigerate the dough, then when ready, rest the dough at a warm spot on the counter and let it rise for 2 1/2 hours.
    Color Eggs
  1. Color your eggs according to the directions of your food coloring. You do not need to hard boil the eggs first, just be careful not to crack any eggs while you are coloring them. The eggs will cook in the oven while the bread is baking. Refrigerate your decorated eggs until you are ready to use them.
    Assemble the bread
  1. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and divide the dough into three equal pieces.
  3. Lightly sprinkle flour over your work surface and dust your hands with flour.
  4. Roll each piece of dough into long tapered ropes about 16 inches (41cm) long. If your dough is springing back and not lengthening, cover the strands with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Arrange the strands lengthwise across the sheet pan and pinch the top of the strands together. Loosely braid the dough. Drape the outer left strand over the middle strand, then drape the outer right strand over the (new) middle strand. Repeat alternating the left and right outer strands until you are at the bottom. Pinch the bottom strands together and secure. Tuck the eggs between the braided strands down the middle of the bread. The eggs will slide out if they are too close to the sides of the bread. Loosely cover the bread with plastic wrap or clean kitchen towel and let the bread rise for 45 min - 1 hr. The bread will puff up but not double in size.
  6. Meanwhile, arrange the oven rack to the middle position, and if you have a baking stone place it on the middle rack. Pre-heat the oven to 350F/ 175C/ Gas Mark 4. When baking bread, I like to preheat my oven for an hour. I believe the temperature is more even and accurate.
  7. After the final rise, whisk together one egg with 2 tsp water and brush the bread with the egg wash. Avoid getting the egg wash on the eggs. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, if using, and place the sheet pan with the bread on the middle rack in your oven. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until the internal temperature is 190F (88C).
  8. Take the bread out of the oven and slide it with the parchment paper onto a cooling rack. After 5 minutes remove the parchment paper. Can be served warm or room temperature.
  9. The bread can be made the night before serving for breakfast, 8 hours in advance. After 8 hours, the eggs might start to turn bad. The bread will be fine for a couple of days, but not the eggs.
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Baked Oatmeal with Apples and Apricots

Breakfast, how I love thee, let me count the ways. I love thee for the replenishment after an evening’s fast. I love thee for the breakfast coffee which awakens me from my evening slumber. I love thee for the simple unpretentious food like cereal, eggs, toast and fruit which ease me into a new day. I love thee for the endless sweet and savory discoveries that enlighten me.

Alas, more breakfast love has come my way in the form of a new breakfast discovery. It is not sexy or fancy, but belongs in the simple and unpretentious category – baked oatmeal. I happen to like oatmeal, and all hot cereal, so I am open-minded to this idea of baking it. However, if you are not a fan of oatmeal this might be the recipe that will win you over. It is one of the easiest and adaptable breakfast recipes around.

Baked Oatmeal with Apples ad Apricots recipe

For the last 50 something years, I have been dutifully stirring a pot of oatmeal to just the right consistency, without ever questioning if there was a better way. That was foolish of me, because there is. What a novel idea. It is so simple, I am kicking myself for not thinking of this earlier. Apparently, it is an old secret because the Amish have been baking oatmeal for generations.

Baked oatmeal is rolled oats layered between fruit and sweetened with maple syrup and milk. It is like a cross between a bread pudding and a fruit crumble without the crunch. It is not custardy or rich like bread pudding, but there is a similar texture. The rolled oats absorb the maple syrup and milk, plus the juices of all the fruit and spices while it is baking. This process transforms oatmeal from an indistinguishable porridge to a healthy baked breakfast treat. It is so good, you will believe you are eating dessert for breakfast, minus the guilt.

Baked Oatmeal with Apples and Apriots

While I was baking breakfast rolled oats, the house filled with the sweet scent of maple syrup, apple pie and oatmeal cookies. It was quite intoxicating. I had almost forgotten how magical these aromas can be. Despite the fact I had just eaten lunch, the smell of baked oatmeal made me so hungry, I became impatient for the oatmeal to finish. This seductive smell is very persuasive and could convert any oatmeal skeptic to grab a spoon and dig in. Certainly, I wish I knew about this 28 years ago when I tried, and miserably failed, to get my kids to eat hot cereal. I can imagine their chiming, “Is it done yet? Can I have some?”

Baked Oatmeal with Apples and Oatmeal recipe

Baked Oatmeal with Apples and Apricots recipe

Easy Adaptations for Baked Oatmeal

As I mentioned earlier, baked oatmeal is one of the most adaptable recipes around. If you are on a non-dairy diet, substitute milk with unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk. If you are on a vegan diet, substitute with non dairy milk and a flaxseed egg substitute. Full disclosure, I have tested that yet, but I don’t see why it would not work. If you make this a vegan breakfast, please let me know how it goes.

Additionally, use your favorite fruit or whatever is in season. I made this fruit filling because I needed to use up some leftover dried fruit from my pantry. The dried figs, apricots and cranberries went perfectly with apples and minced ginger. Follow the basic recipe, then substitute the fruit with any seasonal fruit you have available, even frozen fruit. They all work. If raisins are the only fruit you want to use, then you will need a fresh fruit like apples, or bananas sliced lengthwise and cover the bottom of the pan. Mix the raisins with the rolled oats and proceed as directed. The fruit on the bottom of your baking dish will help prevent the oats from sticking to the pan.

Baked Oatmeal with Apples and Apricots recipe

Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks, is my primary source and where I first discovered this simple but remarkable breakfast. For this recipe, I followed a basic formula I found consistent in most baked oatmeal recipes. Typically, they all had about 2 cups of rolled oats, 2 cups of liquid, 1 egg, melted butter, a sweetener, and various amounts of fruit and spices.

March is a tweener month for fresh produce, and why this recipe includes apples and dried fruit. I love to combine fresh and dried fruits. The concentrated flavors of the dried fruit add a lot of fruit flavor. Plus, I had a lot of odd amounts of dried fruit that I needed to use up, and this recipe is perfect for that. My baked oatmeal has a decent amount of fruit in it, but if you want a ratio of more oatmeal than fruit, it is easy to scale the fruit down. Just make sure there is a good fruit layer on the bottom of your pan.

Baked Oatmeal With Apples and Apricots recipe

More breakfast ideas from Lemon Thyme and Ginger:                         Banana Oat Pancakes, Gluten free Dutch Baby Pancake, Lemon Glazed Apple Muffins, Goat Cheese Omelet 

Baked oatmeal is also easy to make ahead and reheat it for a later time. I like to make it on a Sunday morning, then reheat individual portions in the microwave throughout the week. This makes the work week easier to manage when I don’t have to think about what’s for breakfast. You can also prepare it ahead, refrigerate, then reheat the whole dish, covered in aluminum foil, in the oven.

Baked Oatmeal with Apples and Apricots recipe

To be honest, I was surprised at how good baked oatmeal is. However, there is one downsize, and that is I used three bowls to make it. Baked oatmeal may require more cleanup, but it is more enjoyable to eat than the standard stove top recipe. This is one new discovery worth making. Oh baked oatmeal, how I love thee.

Baked Oatmeal with Apples and Apricots

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

6 servings

Baked Oatmeal with Apples and Apricots

Baked oatmeal is an easy and delicious substitute for stovetop oatmeal. All the ingredients are mixed together to make a comforting and nutritious breakfast. It is perfect to make ahead of time, then warm up individual portions to eat during the middle of the week. This is a delicious family breakfast that all members will enjoy.

Use the basic recipe and substitute any fruit to fit into the current season or personal preference.

Serve warm for breakfast or a hearty dessert.

Ingredients

  • 2 apples which can be different varieties but should be ones that do not get too mushy when baked
  • 6 dried apricots
  • 6 dried figs
  • ¼ - ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 heaping Tbs of minced ginger
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg (1/4 tsp if using store bought ground nutmeg)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • Shy ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp ground ginger (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbs melted butter
  • 2 cups milk or unsweetened nondairy milk - like coconut or almond milk
  • 1/3 cup real maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F / 190˚C / Gas Mark 5 and place the rack on the top third of the oven. Generously butter an 8’ x 8” (20cm square) baking pan.
  2. Core and slice the apples then chop into decent bite size pieces. There is no need to peel the apples. Mince the dried apricots into pieces between ¼ inch to ½ inch big. Chop the dried figs into bite size pieces.
  3. Add the prepared fruit into a mixing bowl, then add lemon juice, freshly ground nutmeg, and minced ginger. Mix well to get all the fruit evenly distributed. Set aside.
  4. In another bowl mix together the rolled oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and most of the chopped walnuts. (Reserve some walnuts to sprinkle on the top). Mix the ingredients together to get evenly combined. Set aside.
  5. In a third bowl, whisk together the milk, maple syrup, pure vanilla extract, and room temperature melted butter until thoroughly mixed together. Set aside.
    Putting it all together.
  1. Add a good layer of the prepared fruit to generously cover the bottom of the buttered baking dish. Add the oatmeal and spread it to cover the layer of fruit. Pour the milk mixture all over the oatmeal, and tilt the pan to encourage the milk to flow into all corners and throughout the oatmeal. Bang the pan against the counter to make sure the milk has flowed completely through the rolled oats and fruit. Add the remaining fruit and chopped nuts to cover the top of the oatmeal.
  2. Bake for 35 – 45 minutes until it is golden brown on top and looks set in the middle.
  3. Remove the baked oatmeal from the oven and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Spoon portions of the baked oatmeal in a bowl and serve warm plain, or with additional milk or yogurt. I think it is sweet enough as is, but add more maple syrup if you want it sweeter.
  5. Store in the refrigerator covered for several days. Re-heat in the microwave in a glass container covered with a paper towel.
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Airy Banana Oat Pancakes

Whenever I go out for breakfast or brunch I have a silent debate about what to order. Usually, I will toggle back and forth between the different selections. Do I want pancakes? Eggs? My thoughts circle around in my head questioning which would be healthier, won’t leave me hungry in two hours, and what do I really want? It is ridiculous, but I must walk my way through the menu, weigh each option, assess my mood, then grant my wish.

Airy Banana Oat Pancakes recipe

On the occasion that I do choose pancakes, I feel as if I have made a gutsy decision. A cheer for a laissez-faire attitude to eat whatever I want, and stand up to the imaginary food police. When did pancakes become a guilty pleasure? A song comes to mind coaxing me to live by the wise words of Bobby McFerrin, “Don’t worry, be happy.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-diB65scQU
Airy Banana Oat Pancakes

Fortunately, I devised a solution to convince my inner grumblings and created a more “nutritiously dense” pancake breakfast. I substituted all-purpose flour with oat flour. I could be kidding myself, believing pancakes made with oat flour are healthier and a more nutritious choice then pancakes made with all-purpose flour. It is a whole grain after all. At this time I am not sure how reliable my nutritional information is. Yet, if we put the potential nutritional benefits aside, pancakes made with oat flour are moist, airy, and have a slightly nutty and sweet flavor. In other words they taste great, extra health benefits or not.

Airy Banana Oat Pancakes recipe

It is not just a straight swap of all-purpose flour with oat flour. Oat flour does not have the gluten proteins and will need extra leavening. Also, oat flour has more moisture than all-purpose flour, so you might not need the same ratio of liquid to flour. The easy part is, pancakes are the perfect place to start learning how to cook with gluten-free flour because of its free-form structure.

You can make oat flour by putting rolled oats into a blender and grind away. However, the flour will not get as smooth as the store-bought oat flour. The uneven gritty texture might be fine in some baked goods, but I prefer my pancakes light with an fluffy texture minus the granules. If you can find oat flour at your grocery store, buy it. Bob’s Red Mill and King Arthur  are two companies that make oat flour. Fortunately, Bob’s Red Mill is widely available at most grocery stores and usually costs around $3.65, and over $6.00 for gluten-free oat flour. If you want to make banana oat pancakes for someone with a gluten intolerance or celiac disease, make sure the package says it is gluten-free on the label.

Airy Banana Oat Pancake recipe

I believe oat flour adds a nice flavor to pancakes and does not have that floury aftertaste that you sometimes get with all-purpose flour. Banana Oat Pancakes are a great way to sneak in some oatmeal for little ones, (and big ones) who are not so fond of eating a bowl of oatmeal cereal.

 

Airy Banana Oat Pancakes

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

14 pancakes 3 inch pancakes

Serving Size: 2 - 3 pancakes per person

Airy Banana Oat Pancakes

Airy banana oat pancakes are light with a slightly sweet and buttery flavor. It is a great way to add some nutritious oats into your diet. They are made with oat flour and is a delicious gluten-free alternative for pancakes.

For Blueberry Pancakes substitute the bananas with 1 cup fresh blueberries.

For Buttermilk or yogurt pancakes: substitute the milk with 1 ½ cups buttermilk (or yogurt) and ½ cup milk. Substitute the baking powder with 1 tsp baking soda plus 1 Tb baking powder. Omit the vanilla. The batter will be a lot thicker than pancake batter with milk.

Serve the pancakes with butter and warm real maple syrup.

Ingredients

  • 3 Tb (1 1/2 oz/ 43 g) melted butter
  • 2 cups (7 oz/200 g) oat flour
  • 3 Tbs granulated sugar (2 oz/56 g)
  • 1 Tb plus 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (1/4 tsp if using store bought ground nutmeg)
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs separated
  • ¾ cup rough chopped bananas (4 ¾ oz / 137 g, about 1 ½ bananas)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 225˚F. Place a baking sheet in the oven on a rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. Melt the butter using a microwave or stove top. Set the butter aside to come to room temperature.
  3. Sift the oat flour into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg to the bowl with the oat flour. Stir the ingredients so they are evenly combined with a wire whisk. Set aside.
  5. In a medium bowl, mix together the egg yolks, milk, and vanilla until thoroughly combined.
  6. Add the egg and milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix together until well combined with the whisk. The batter will thicken and you will see some air bubbles. Add the cooled melted butter and bananas then mix until just combined.
  7. Add the egg whites and mix until well combined. You do not have to worry about over mixing with oat flour because there are no gluten proteins. Optional: whip the egg whites with an electric beater until they are stiff, but not dry. Then fold one quarter of the egg whites into the batter. Add the remaining egg whites and carefully fold them until all mixed in.
  8. Heat your griddle or skillet to medium - medium/high heat. (I set my electric griddle to 350˚F, then turn in down to 325˚F when it is hot.) To test if your pan is hot enough, flick some water onto the surface of your heated pan. If the water bubbles, sizzles and dance, the pan is hot enough. If the water just sizzles, then the pan needs more time to heat up. If the water immediately evaporates, then the pan is too hot.
  9. Melt a little knob of butter on the griddle or skillet, and spread it evenly over the pan's surface.
  10. Use a 1/4 dry measuring cup to scoop the pancake batter and pour the batter onto the hot surface. Use a thin rubber spatula to help scrape out the batter from the cup. Continue to scoop and pour batter onto the hot pan until the pan is full but not crowded. I fit 6 pancakes at a time using a countertop griddle. A 12-inch skillet will fit 3 pancakes at a time.
  11. As the pancake batter cooks it will begin to form bubbles. When some of the air bubbles pop, the pancakes are ready to flip. Look for some air bubbles appearing in the middle of the pancake, about 2- 3 minutes. Use a sturdy spatula, flip the pancakes over, and cook the other side for another minute or 2. You want nice golden brown color on both sides of the pancakes and cooked all the way through in the middle.
  12. Put the cooked pancakes on the baking sheet in the oven to keep them warm while you finish the rest of the pancakes.
  13. Serve with warm maple syrup.

Notes

Pancake batter is not suitable to making ahead of time. All the loft from the leavening and egg whites will deflate over time. Cook the pancakes as soon as the egg whites are folded in the batter.

If you need to prepare the pancake mix ahead, mix together all of the dry ingredients and cover them with plastic wrap. They can sit on the counter until you plan on making them. Add the wet ingredients and egg whites when you are ready to cook them.

It is optional to whip the egg whites. I did not detect a significant difference between whipping them or not. Pancakes made with oat flour benefit from extra leavening so it won't hurt, but it is not mandatory.

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Apple Muffins with Lemon Glaze

While in my mid 20’s I commuted into Manhattan by train from Bedford Hills NY. As commutes go my morning routine was generally relaxed. Joe would drive me to the train station in Bedford Hills, and we would get breakfast at a place called Leslie’s Kitchen. They served the best apple muffins and every morning I asked for one. Joe and I would eat our muffins and talk before my train arrived. Not a bad way to start one’s commute.

Apple Muffins with Lemon Glaze recipe

Apple Muffis with Lemon Glaze recipe

Unfortunately Leslie’s Kitchen does not exist anymore, but I still think of those apple muffins. What I liked about them was, they had chunks of apples in the muffin and sprinkled with cinnamon. They were also extremely moist and light. Leslie’s apple muffins were delicate muffins that did not weigh me down like some muffins will. It might not have been a hearty breakfast, but to this day I have not seen or tasted apple muffins like the one’s I had from Leslie’s Kitchen.

Apple Muffins with Lemon Glaze recipe

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I was thinking about recipes that would be great to serve for breakfast on Christmas morning.  I wanted to share a recipe that was easy to make, something that could be made ahead, and had a touch of festive cheer. My pondering concluded with an inspiration to recreate the apple muffins I longed for from Leslie’s Kitchen. As a result of my recipe testing, combining, swapping, and improvising, I came up with a recipe that is similar to what I remember of Leslie’s Kitchen apple muffins but are all dressed up for the season. Since it is December and overflowing with holiday spirit and celebrating, I included a glaze to add some sparkle and pizzaz to my apple muffins.

Apple Muffins with Lemon Glaze recipe

Apple Muffins wtih Lemon Glaze recipe

My recipe is adapted from three recipes. Two are from Joy of Cooking and one idea from Baking Illustrated Cookbook.  First, I combined and adapted Joy of Cooking standard muffin and their apple and walnut muffin recipes. I added dried apricots and yogurt and omitted the cinnamon. The yogurt addition in my recipe created the moistness and lightness similar to the apple muffins I was recreating.

Then I decided to add sparkle and shine, so I dressed up these delicacies with an idea from Baking Illustrated, and brushed a lemon glaze over the muffin tops then dipped them in lemon sugar. This one small step converted good muffins into fabulous party worthy muffins with lemony crystal sweetness and sparkle.

Apple Muffins with Lemon Glaze recipe

Apple Muffins with Lemon Glaze

My recipe for apple muffins is not exactly the same as Leslie’s, but they do remind me of them and satisfy my apple muffin cravings. Apple muffins with lemon glaze are festive breakfast muffins that shine with lemon sugar crystal twinkles and the warmth of apples. They are a delightful way to start your day and will satisfy peppy early risers and grouchy morning people alike. Enjoy!

Make ahead tip for Apple Muffins:

Joy of Cooking says you can freeze muffin batter. Spoon the muffin batter into muffin liners and freeze. First freeze the batter in the muffin liners while still in the muffin tin. Then, take the frozen muffins out of the tin and place in a freezer bag. Keep in the freezer until ready to bake.  When baking day arrives, place the frozen muffins into the muffin tin then bake. The baking time could take longer, so watch carefully.

If freezing is not your thing, mix the dry ingredients together the night before. Then finish mixing the recipe the next morning. I would not recommend making the muffin batter the night before you want to bake them, because the leavening could weaken overnight.

Apple Muffins with Lemon Glaze

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

12 medium size muffins

Apple Muffins with Lemon Glaze

Apple muffins with lemon glaze will give your morning breakfast some festive sparkle and shine. They are delicious moist muffins with apple and apricot surprises in every bite. These muffins are painted with a light lemon glaze and dipped in lemon sugar crystals. Party worthy muffins all age groups will enjoy.

These muffins can be made ahead, frozen before cooking, then baked (still frozen) the morning you want to serve them. See my tip in blog post.

Apple muffins with lemon glaze are best served the day they are baked, but will last for one day, packed in an airtight container.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sized apples, (see note)
  • 2/3 cup/158g granulated sugar
  • Rounded 1/3 cup/ 63 g chopped dried apricots (about 1/4" in size)
  • 4 Tb/2 oz/56 g sweet butter
  • 2 cups/280 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tb/13g baking powder
  • 1/2 tea baking soda (use only if you add yogurt, buttermilk or sour cream)
  • 1/2 tea Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tea freshly grated nutmeg (1/4 tea if used ground nutmeg)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup/ 237 ml yogurt or buttermilk (you can substitute with whole milk or cream- but omit the 1/2 tea baking soda)
  • 1 tea/5ml vanilla
    Lemon Sugar Glaze for muffin topping
  • zest from one small lemon
  • 1/2 cup/100g Turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup/60ml fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup/54g granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a regular size muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. Peel and core the apples. Grate one of the apples on the coarse side of a box grater and put into a medium size bowl. Chop the remaining apple into pieces no bigger than 3/8" /1 cm. Add to the bowl with the grated apples. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the apples and stir until combined. Add the granulated sugar and chopped dried apricots. Stir then cover with plastic wrap directly on top of the apples to prevent browning, and let the apple sugar mixture to sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Melt the butter in a microwave or saucepan. Set aside to slightly cool.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, (only if using yogurt, buttermilk, or sour cream), Kosher salt, and nutmeg, and whisk until just combined.
  5. In another large bowl whisk together the yogurt (or substitute), eggs, melted butter, and vanilla until just combined. Add the apple mixture to the yogurt mixture and stir until just mixed in.
  6. Add the yogurt/apple mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Be careful not to over mix the muffin batter.
  7. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin and fill each cup slightly shy of the top of the tin.
  8. Bake the muffins in the oven for 14- 17 minutes, turning from front to back halfway through the baking time. A toothpick inserted in the middle of a couple of muffins should come out clean.
  9. Cool the muffins for a couple of minutes in the muffin tin. Remove the muffins from the tin and place the muffins on the cooling rack. Serve or add the Lemon glaze to the muffins.
    Lemon Glaze
  1. While the muffins are cooking prepare the lemon sugar and lemon glaze. Mix the grated lemon zest with 1/2 cup Turbinado sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. In small sauce pan add 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture becomes syrupy and reduced to about 4 tablespoons.
  3. I recommend to place the cooling rack with the muffins over a piece of parchment paper, newspaper, or baking sheet to protect your counter from the dripping glaze.
  4. Once the muffins have cooled for 5 minutes, brush the warm lemon glaze over the muffin tops with a pastry brush. When all the muffins are glazed, dip one muffin at a time, and top side down, into the lemon sugar. Turn muffins right side up and place on the cooling rack.
  5. Best enjoyed on the same day they are made. These muffins do not have to be completely cooled before serving. Can be served after they have been cooled and glazed.

Notes

There are some great types of apples to use in baking. I used Lady Dragon and Granny Smith Apples in my recipe testing. You want to use a firm apple that will stand up to the high temperature of baking.

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© 2016 – 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Gluten-Free Dutch Baby Pancake

I love breakfast and will never skip this meal. Most of the time I am just having a bowl of yogurt with fruit and coffee, or almond butter multi-grain toast. No matter what I am eating, breakfast is a sacred and meditative time of day even if it only lasts for 10 minutes.

Our usual breakfast routine is self-serve. I stock our pantry and frig with our habitual breakfast foods, Joe does his thing in the morning and I do mine. Joe makes us a big pot of coffee so all I have to think about first thing in the morning is locating a clean mug.  Sometimes it is the little gestures that mean so much, I love waking up and seeing a full pot of coffee ready and waiting.  The coffee is made, and I can ease into the routine of the day.

Gluten Free Dutch Baby Pancake Recipe

Gluten Free Dutch Baby Pancake Recipe

Thanksgiving is a month away, and I am looking forward to having a full house and time to dig into a big breakfast shared with people I love. The table loaded with any variety of cherished breakfast delights like eggs, pastries, bacon, fruit, coffee, and oj. Everyone is lounging around in their pj’s, hair ruffled and the sleepiness wearing off of their expressions, helped along by jokes and ease. We are all relaxed and enjoying the morning before the work or activities begin. Family breakfast time is a luxury and I cherish each one I get.

But why wait until a holiday to enjoy a breakfast meal together? I believe it is time for me to bring back an old tradition we used to have when we were dating. It is time for a breakfast date, and pancakes will be on the menu.

Gluten Free Dutch Baby Pancake recipe

Not just any pancakes though, Dutch Baby pancake with a slight variation: made with oat flour. Dutch Baby, or German pancakes, are light pancakes cooked in a skillet in the oven. It is one of the easiest things to make and has very few ingredients. It is incredible. They are similar to crêpes and popovers with the light layers of dough and air, but what makes them really stand out is adding a hint of nutmeg in the pancake batter and finishing with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the sprinkled confectioners sugar. Wow. The plain and simple transform into a regal delicacy.

Gluten Free Dutch Baby Pancake recipe

 

Gluten Free Dutch Baby Pancake Recipe

Why change a good thing and substitute all-purpose flour with oat flour? Why not. Oat flour has a slightly nutty and caramel flavor making it a complimentary ingredient to use in a variety of baked goods. It is also a great gluten-free substitute for all-purpose flour. Replacing all-purpose flour with oat flour makes the butter taste more buttery, if that is possible, and the slight nuttiness is a nice welcome. You do not have to worry about over-mixing the batter either when you use oat flour. Dutch Baby pancakes made with oat flour will not rise up the sides of the pan like a traditional one, but it will puff up randomly, creating hills and valleys for pools of butter and syrup to collect. This oat flour Dutch Baby pancake reminds me of funnel cake with its irregular shape.

Gluten Free Dutch Baby Pancake recipe

It is also great to experience cooking with alternative flours in the event you need to prepare a meal for someone on a gluten-free diet. Cooking with gluten-free flours is not that simple, but making pancakes with them is because you do not have to worry about the structure like you do for making a cake. Using alternative flours in pancake recipes is an easy starting point to become familiar with gluten-free flours.

More recipes with alternative flours click here for my favorite gluten-free cookbook by Alice Medrich, Flavor Flours.

Make a breakfast date with your special someone, or enjoy breakfast with good friends. This Dutch Baby pancake recipe is simple to make, impressive to look at, and taste light and airy and bright, just asking to be drizzled with warm maple syrup.

Gluten-free Dutch Baby Pancake recipe

This recipe is adapted from David Eyre’s Pancake, The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser

Other recipes using oat flour, Gluten-free Nifty Cake

Where to buy oat flour? Oat flour is becoming widely available at some large supermarkets, such as Stop&Shop and Whole Foods, and smaller specialty grocery stores like Mrs. Green’s and other family run markets like DeCicco’s in Westchester and Putnam Counties. Bob Red Mill is the most common brand and they have a gluten-free oat flour and rolled oats. King Arthur, and Arrowhead Mills have oat flour but they may not be gluten-free. Oats and wheat are often grown together and/or milled at the same place. Unless it says Gluten-free on the label it could be made from rolled oats that have been cross pollinated or cross contaminated with wheat. You can also buy oat flour on-line at Amazon, but it is double the price compared to my grocery store.

Gluten-Free Dutch Baby Pancake

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

2-4 servings

Gluten-Free Dutch Baby Pancake

Using oat flour to replace all-purpose flour in this Dutch Baby Pancake recipe is a flavorful and gluten free alternative. This Dutch Baby is similar to popovers and crepes with its thin and airy layers, but it is cooked in a hot skillet in the oven. This breakfast treat is so simple make and is surprisingly delicious. The little bit of lemon juice and the hint of nutmeg makes this pancake standout and is a real treat. Serve immediately for either breakfast or dessert.

It is great served with macerated fruit, fresh fruit, and warm maple syrup, or honey.

This recipe is adapted from David Eyre's Pancake, The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup (1 1/2 oz/ 43 g) oat flour*
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (118 ml) *see note for a dairy free alternative
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tea of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 Tb butter (2 oz/52 g)
  • 1 Tb confectioners sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • *If you want to use all-purpose flour use 1/3 cup (1 5/8 oz/46 g) of all purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place a 10 inch cast iron skillet, or sturdy oven proof skillet in the oven to heat up.
  2. Sift the oat flour into a medium mixing bowl. Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl and add to the flour. Add the milk and nutmeg and mix all the ingredients until combined.
  3. With the skillet still in the oven, place the butter in the skillet to melt. When the bubbling subsides and the pan is very hot, pour the batter into the center of the pan. The batter should spread evenly out. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. The pancake should be evenly golden brown and set in the middle.
  4. Sprinkle the Dutch Baby with powdered sugar and put the pan back in the oven for a minute or so.
  5. Remove from the oven and squeeze the juice from half a lemon all over the pancake. Serve immediately.
  6. You can slice it right in the skillet, or slide it onto a serving plate then serve.
  7. Serve the pancake with fresh fruit topping of your choice, and or maple syrup.

Notes

Dairy free option: I made the recipe using oat flour and almond milk for a dairy free and gluten free alternative. Use the same amount of unsweetened almond milk as cows milk in the recipe. The Dutch Baby pancake will not be as puffy, but it still will puff up and taste great.

Dutch Baby is also great as a dessert. Drizzle it with Nutella or chocolate sauce and creme fraiche or ice cream. Any fruit topping with cream is a good option as well.

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© 2016 – 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

How to Make an Omelet

If there is just one food a person should learn to cook, I would recommend learning how to cook anything with eggs. If you can cook an egg, be it fried, scrambled, poached or hard-boiled, you can give yourself endless varieties for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eggs are versatile and inexpensive, and easily provide a satisfying, high protein meal. One of my favorite breakfasts is, scrambled eggs with a side of fresh chopped tomatoes and spinach, drizzled with truffle oil: A bright and  fresh taste combined with the indulgent smell and flavor of truffles. It is a great way to start one’s day. An egg is a perfect food and one that I am pleased is off the Do Not Touch list.

How to Make an Omelet with recipe
Araucana Chicken Eggs from Rochambeau Farm, Bedford NY

Rochambeau Farm, Bedford, NY

It is intriguing to me that this humble food arouses such debate about one’s skill as a chef. Rumor has it that one’s omelet making skill has either squashed or jump started a chef’s career, (Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton). My research shows that there are various omelet cooking techniques. One can add milk, water, heavy cream, cook on low heat, high heat, scramble, pull, tilt, and whack your way to omelet perfection. I believe that something so fundamental should be less complicated and intimidating.

“The egg can be your best friend if you give it the right break.” Julia Child, The French Chef episode, “Elegance with Eggs”.

How to Make an Omelet with 2 recipes
Mise en place for cheese omelet

Fortunately for me, my introduction to making omelets did not involve the intimidating classic French technique, but a more relaxed version of pulling the eggs away from the side of the pan and allowing for the liquid to easily flow into the emptied space. This introduction was generously taught to me when I was around 9 years old.

Continue reading “How to Make an Omelet”

© 2016 – 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

A Hint of Summer on a Winter’s Day

I made a new discovery this past week. As I was walking around the produce department I spotted a fruit that I had never seen before, lemon plums. The color was what first grabbed my attention, a warm vibrant yellow with a thin smooth skin. Their shape is somewhat similar to a lemon and somewhat similar to a plum, but longer and a little larger. These days anything bright and warm looking will hold the attention of any skeptical winter weary person. The end of winter is here and we North easterners no longer see the virtue in the color grey. I stared at these lemon plums as if I was watching a long summer sunrise. Entranced, I collected some plums to buy and bring home.

Lemon Plums in season in winter.

My research informed me that lemon plums are in season now and from Chile. They are rare and I was instructed to snatch them up when I saw them. Lemon plums are picked when they are yellow and unripe. As they ripen they gradually turn the color of a reddish-orange, the darker they get the riper and sweeter they will become.

Ripening lemon plums

Ripening lemon plums

Continue reading “A Hint of Summer on a Winter’s Day”

© 2016 – 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.