Mexican Sweet Buns or ‘Conchas’

The quintessential Mexican ‘Conchas’ are a type of sweet roll topped with a cookie crust, shaped for it’s namesake, a seashell. Though its precise origin is not known, all conchas are made from an enriched, yeasted dough similar to brioche or challah. What isn’t really clear, is the point at which a baker decided to cover a small round of sweet dough with a thin layer of cookie dough and then bake it.

Traditionally, the bread roll itself is not flavored, but the cookie dough topping has either a vanilla or chocolate flavor. This topping is an essential element on the sweet roll but the color or the way it is scored or decorated can be done in many different ways. Sometimes, brown or white sugar or even colorful sprinkles are dusted over the topping.

Conchas are sometimes split in half horizontally and filled with anything from whipped cream, custard or even refried beans. Some bakeries have been experimenting with new concha flavors. Cinnamon, walnut, agave nectar with golden raisins and pecan flavor are some that have been introduced.

It seems that conchas are at their best when eaten fresh which makes good sense being made from a yeast dough. It’s going to be interesting to see if I can create some of these little conchas with such a mysterious past.

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Mexican Sweet Buns or 'Conchas'
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Sweet Buns
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Sweet Buns
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Instructions
Sweet Dough
  1. In a dish, add yeast to lukewarm WATER & allow to sit for 5 minutes so yeast can activate. In a large bowl, whisk together lukewarm MILK, sugar, butter, salt & egg. Add yeast mixture & stir to combine. Add flour, about a 1/3 at a time, combining after each addition. Once all the flour has been added, knead on a lightly floured surface for about 2 minutes. The dough should be elastic & slightly sticky but easy to handle.
  2. Place dough in a large greased bowl & turn the dough over to coat. Cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
Topping
  1. In a bowl, beat the sugar, margarine & vanilla together until light & fluffy. Stir in flour & mix until a thick dough forms. Add additional flour if needed. Divide dough into 3 or 4 even pieces & tint each with food color. If the dough becomes sticky from the food color, add more flour. Cover pieces with plastic wrap until ready to use.
Assembly
  1. When dough is ready, turn out on a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 16 even pieces ( press dough into a 14 x 14-inch rectangle; with a sharp knife cut into 4 strips in each direction). Shape each dough piece into a ball by tucking the corners under ( don't roll between your palms, this will just deflate the dough & make it tough). Place dough buns on a large baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.
  2. Roll out the topping pieces on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 2 1/2-inch rounds with a cookie cutter or pastry ring. Use the pastry ring to score lines into the dough to resemble the ridges on a seashell (concha). Transfer the scored topping dough rounds to the buns using an offset spatula. If the topping doesn't adhere naturally, use a pastry brush to apply a few dots of water on the underside before applying to the buns.
  3. Allow the buns to rise for about 40 minutes. Before its time to bake, preheat oven to 375 F. Bake buns for 18-20 minutes or until they are just lightly browned on the bottom.
Recipe Notes
  • The topping is made with margarine as it will yield a crunchy & flaky texture.

Moroccan Spiced Fruit Bread

Today, March 28th is the birth date of my mother. Her imprint on my life was huge and I will forever miss her. I read an article recently which I would like to share with you today. It read:

‘I’ve met two kinds of strong women. The first kind is snippy, closed off and only too happy to point out when something isn’t up to their standards. The second kind is like a majestic tree with roots firmly planted and arms open wide. They plant and nurture the seeds of the future and parts of them are passed on through the generations’. My mother was definitely the second type of woman.

When I was thinking about what I wanted to post today, my mind drifted to the recipe archive that lives in my head, eventually making its way to the yeast breads. This is an area my mother had mastered down to a science.

Bread is such a staple food in the diet of most populations and will have featured heavily in most people’s childhoods. This explains why it is one of those smells that evokes such strong memories, particularly of family, childhood and comfort.

I love yeast breads that have spices and dried fruits in them. I recall a combination I had used in another way sometime back so I decided to see if I could make it work in my bread today.

WONDERFUL MEMORIES OF OUR BEAUTIFUL MOTHER!

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Moroccan Spiced Fruit Bread
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Fruit
Sweet Dough
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Fruit
Sweet Dough
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Instructions
Fruit
  1. In a small bowl, combine fruit, juice & spices. Set aside to marinate.
Sweet Dough
  1. In a small dish, heat milk to lukewarm. Add yeast & 1 tsp sugar; let sit for 5 minutes to allow yeast to activate. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup melted butter, sour cream & egg. Add yeast mixture & stir to combine.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together flour & salt. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture 1 cup at a time, combining after each addition. Once all flour has been added, knead on a lightly floured surface for about 2 minutes.
  3. Lightly grease the large bowl, place dough in it & cover with plastic wrap & a tea towel. Allow to rest for at least one hour, in a draft-free place until doubled in volume.
  4. Punch dough down & place on a lightly floured surface. With your hand, pat & shape the dough into a rectangle 14 X 12-inches in size & about 1/2-inch thick. Using a ruler & a pastry wheel or sharp knife, cut the rectangle into 5 strips. Cut each strip into diamonds about 2-inches long. With a pastry brush, lightly butter tops of 'diamonds' as well as the bottom & sides of a bundt pan with the melted butter.
Assembly
  1. Arrange a layer of diamonds side by side in a ring on the bottom of the bundt pan. Divide fruit mixture in half & sprinkle half over diamonds in pan. Repeat with another layer of buttered diamonds & sprinkle with remaining fruit. Top with last buttered diamonds, arranging each successive layer so that it fits over the spaces left in the previous ring.
  2. Don't concern that the diamonds do not fill all the available space; as they rise & bake they will expand. Cover bundt pan with plastic wrap & a tea towel & allow to rise in a draft-free place until doubled in volume.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake bread for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. To test for doneness, turn bread out & rap the bottom sharply with your knuckles. The bread should sound hollow; if it doesn't, return it to the pan & bake for 5-10 minutes longer. When baked, turn out on a wire rack to cool slightly.
Drizzle
  1. In a small bowl, beat together drizzle ingredients until smooth, adding only enough milk to make preferred drizzle consistency. Spread or drizzle over warm fruit bread & sprinkle with reserved orange zest.

Irish Cream Cheesecake in Chocolate Cups

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

Although St. Patrick’s Day started out as a religious feast holiday, celebrating the life of St Patrick, it has become kind of a mixture of non-religious celebrations steeped in Irish culture, folklore and superstition.

Each year on March 17th, we break out every piece of green clothing and jewelry, dye food green etc. … not quite the way it was celebrated in the 7th century. Green wasn’t even part of the equation. The original color associated with St. Patrick’s day was actually blue. One of the reason’s green replaced blue was because of Ireland’s nickname, The Emerald Isle.

For my food tribute to acknowledge St. Patrick’s day, I’m making some Bailey’s Irish Cream cheesecakes. This iconic liqueur came about when R & A Bailey found a way of bringing together the two great Irish traditions of distilling and dairy farming. Launched in 1975, Bailey’s Irish Cream can best be described as moderately sweet with roasted nut, maple sugar, spice and fig aromas. The liqueur is not only enjoyed on the rocks, in coffee or in cocktails but as a topping or baking ingredient.

These fuss-free chocolate cups work well with the unbaked Irish Cream cheesecake filling.

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Irish Cream Cheesecake in Chocolate Cups
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Chocolate Cups
Irish Cream Cheesecake Filling
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Chocolate Cups
Irish Cream Cheesecake Filling
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Instructions
Chocolate Cups
  1. Paper-line 8 muffin cups. In a microwave-safe bowl, place chocolate wafers. Microwave chocolate in short increments of time until chocolate is almost melted. Then stir until the chocolate is smooth.
  2. With a pastry brush, thickly & evenly coat inside pleated surface & bottom of each paper cup with melted chocolate. Refrigerate coated cups for 10 minutes or until firm. Remove from refrigerator, carefully peel paper from each cup. (Will keep for a good length of time in an airtight container in refrigerator.)
Irish Cream Cheesecake Filling
  1. In a small, microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the gelatin & 1/4 cup heavy cream. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. With a hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, sugar & salt until creamy & smooth. Slowly pour in the Irish cream & remaining heavy cream. Increase the speed to medium & beat until smooth & creamy, 1-2 minutes, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
  3. After the gelatin has absorbed a good bit of the cream, microwave the gelatin mixture for 25 seconds to melt it. With the mixer on medium-low, slowly pour the melted gelatin mixture into the cream cheese mixture. Increase speed to medium-high & beat till fluffy & voluminous, about 2 minutes.
  4. Pour mixture into chocolate cups & refrigerate for at least one hour. These cheesecakes are fine unadorned but nothing says you can't top them with a dollop of whipped cream & a few blueberries.

Vegetable-Bacon Squares w/ Baked Bagels

I guess if I were trying to classify this meal, I would put it somewhere between a crustless quiche and a frittata. Sometimes you just put together ingredients you like and it tastes amazing. There’s no incredible back story or cooking revelation, its just turns out to be a great meal.

Quiche and frittata are both egg dishes but they’re not just for breakfast anymore. The difference is the quiche, crustless or not, is made by adding ingredients to a custard base of eggs and heavy cream, milk or half & half that is poured into a baking dish and baked. With frittatas, eggs dominate and little or no cream or milk is used.

Usually they are first cooked in a pan on the top of the stove and then finished in the oven. These vegetable-bacon squares need only to be baked in the oven. For a nice compliment to this meal, I made some quick 5-ingredient bagels … no yeast or boiling required.

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Vegetable-Bacon Squares w/ Baked Bagels
Instructions
Veg-Bacon Squares
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Butter a 9 X 9-inch baking dish; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat eggs until a little bit frothy. Sift in the flour & beat until well combined then whisk in oil. Add zucchini, carrot, onion, bacon & cheese; gently mix to combine.
  3. Pour into prepared baking dish, smooth the top & bake for about 30-35 minutes or until 'set'. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into serving pieces.
Baked Bagels
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Place parchment over a wire rack on a baking sheet.
  2. In a bowl, whisk flour, baking powder & salt. Add yogurt & mix with a fork until combined. It should resemble small crumbles. Lightly flour work surface & knead dough a few times until tacky but not sticky. Dough should not stick to your hands at this point.
  3. Divide into 4 equal balls. Roll each ball into 3/4-inch thick ropes & join the ends to form bagels. Top with egg wash & sprinkle with a topping of your choice or just leave plain. Bake on the top rack of the oven for 25 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before cutting.

Mandarin Orange Tarts

Although mandarin oranges are a traditional holiday food, they sure make a wonderful bit of sunshine for us still in the colder part of our year.

Very often when I go to make something and the recipe calls for orange or lemon zest, its not something I have on hand. I guess its all about thinking ahead and drying the citrus peels when I do have them. There is no magic secret … just time and patience. Wash and dry the fruit, lightly grate off only the top layer of peel. Transfer to a flat dish to dry then store the zest in a glass jar. When it comes time to use, crush some between your fingers before adding it to other ingredients. This will release the citrus essence and flavor.

There is no comparison between artificial flavors and real citrus zest in baked goods. These little mandarin tarts not only use it in the filling but the pastry as well.

There are various other uses for citrus zest such as in poultry marinades, baked into breads or for a splash of flavor in tea. These tarts made such a simple little refreshing dessert.

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Mandarin Orange Tarts
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, Asia, French
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Ingredients
Orange Pastry
Mandarin Orange Pastry Cream
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, Asia, French
Servings
Ingredients
Orange Pastry
Mandarin Orange Pastry Cream
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Instructions
Orange Pastry
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a bowl, whisk flour, sugar & zest. Add butter & blend with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually add the orange juice, using enough to form a dough that cleans the sides of the bowl.
  3. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface. Using a 2 1/2-inch cutter, make 12 circles & fit into tart pan cups. Line the pastry with foil & add pastry weights. Bake about 10-15 minutes. Remove weights & foil & bake 10 minutes longer until pastry is golden.
Mandarin Orange Pastry Cream
  1. In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar & cornstarch until it turns pale yellow.
  2. In a saucepan, combine milk & orange zest; bring to a boil. Remove from heat, slowly add a egg mixture a little at a time, whisking well until fully incorporated.
  3. Return mixture to heat & keep whisking over medium heat until it thickens. Stir in orange juice. Transfer to a bowl & cover with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap touches the surface of the pastry cream. When it comes to room temperature, refrigerate.
  4. When cooled & you are ready to use the pastry cream, whisk with an electric mixer for 15-20 seconds to a smooth & spreadable texture. Spoon filling into baked tart shells. Top each with a couple of mandarin orange slices. Brush oranges with a bit of apricot jelly.
Recipe Notes
  • If pastry¬†weights are not available, reverse you tart pan & place pastry rounds over the bottoms of tart cups to bake.
  • If you use canned mandarins for decoration, drain & blot on paper towel to remove excess liquid.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pancake Bake

Today, February 25th is Shrove Tuesday. The date can be anytime between February 3rd & March 9th. It is exactly 47 days before Easter Sunday, based on the cycles of the moon.

For centuries, the consumption of pancakes has widely been regarded as a popular way to celebrate Shrove Tuesday, which takes place the day before Ash Wednesday in preparation for Lent. However, the day is celebrated in a variety of ways around the world with many different foods.

Today’s recipe idea comes from the bettycrocker.com website. I printed this pancake recipe out a very long time ago but never got around to trying it. So today’s the day … You notice it uses General Foods Bisquick mix. I don’t use a huge amount of this baking mix but its handy once in a while.

I was curious (as usual) about the history of the product. It seems a salesperson for General Foods, was on a train to San Francisco late one evening in the 1930‘s. Since the dining car was already closed and he was quite hungry, he asked the chef if he could make him something quickly, nothing fancy and not too much fuss. He was served a plate full of piping hot biscuits. When asked how this was possible so fast, the chef said he had a pre-mixed blend of lard, baking powder, flour and salt that he stored in an ice chest. This became the inspiration for a product that is still convenient more than 80+ years later. Today, Bisquick’s product line has grown to include flavored biscuit mixes, easy shake ‘n pour pancake mix and even gluten-free Bisquick. Interesting!

This turned out to be real good, but of course you have to like pumpkin to enjoy it and we do.

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pancake Bake
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Course Brunch, Lunch
Cuisine American
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Filling
Topping
Course Brunch, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Filling
Topping
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Instructions
Pancakes
  1. In a large bowl, combine Bisquick mix, & 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2/3 cup milk, 2 eggs, pumpkin & 1 tsp vanilla. Add dry ingredients to wet, mixing ONLY until just combined.
  2. Heat griddle to about 325 F. Pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto griddle. Cook until edges appear dry, about 2 minutes, then turn & cook 1 minute. Repeat with remaining batter; let pancakes cool completely.
  3. Lightly butter a 13 X 9-inch baking dish. Spread each cooled pancake with cream cheese, then cut in half & place cut side down into baking dish.
Filling
  1. In a large bowl, beat 6 eggs, 1 1/2 cups milk, cream, sugar & 1 Tbsp vanilla. Pour over pancakes. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 2 hours but no longer than 8 hours.
Topping
  1. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 F. Remove baking dish from refrigerator. In a small bowl, mix flour, brown sugar & 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or finger tips until the size of small peas. Sprinkle on top of pancakes in baking dish.
  2. Bake about 1 hour or until topping is golden & filling is set. If topping browns to quickly, cover with foil. Allow to stand 15 minutes before serving.

Spiced Papaya-Banana Muffins

A little touch of exotic seems like a good idea in late February. When you think of bananas and papaya, doesn’t tropical come to mind? I never seem to have much luck when I bake with bananas. I would rather eat them raw, in fact you might say they are a staple at our house. But, I have hung on to this muffin recipe for a long time and never tried it. Papayas are not something I usually buy, but that soft buttery texture and slight musky undertone paired with banana should work magic in this recipe.

You will notice the name of the recipe says ‘spiced’ and when you read it there is only one teaspoon of cardamom spice in it. A little bit of this pungent spice packs a big punch so it is good to use it sparingly. The flavor of cardamom is wonderfully complex … herbal, spicy, floral and slightly sweet.

Cardamom is a spice that’s used in both sweet and savory cooking in many cuisines all over the world. No other spice more completely captures the essence of the exotic and that exactly what I was aiming for.

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Spiced Papaya-Banana Muffins
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cardamom & baking powder. In another bowl, combine mashed banana, papaya, oil & beaten egg.
  3. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture, stirring gently, then fold in pistachios. Stir ONLY until batter is combined.
  4. Put batter in muffin tray cups lined with paper cups, filling each to about 3/4 full. Top with remaining chopped pistachios.
  5. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until baked through. Remove from oven & let them cool in the tray for 10 minutes, then put the muffins on a wire rack to finish cooling.
Recipe Notes
  • This recipe makes either 7 large muffins or 14 medium size.

Rosca de Reyes

The tradition of a New Year’s Cake is one that spans countless cultures and is meant to symbolize wealth, prosperity, health and good luck for the coming year. The cake or bread usually contains symbolic items baked inside which is believed to give good luck to the receiver.

Most of the cakes are consumed at midnight on new year’s eve … though some cultures cut their cake on Christmas or the Epiphany on January 6th.

In January of 2019, Brion and I spent some vacation time in Merida, Mexico. We stayed at a wonderful boutique hotel called Hotel Del Peregrino. On the morning of January 6th we were served some Rosca de Reyes (cake/bread) at breakfast. This was the first time either of us had tasted this traditional bread. It was absolutely delicious and yes, you might have known, I would not only have to make some, but learn the history behind it.

January the 6th is a special day in Mexico, known as ‘Three Kings Day’, which represents the height of the Christmas season. This date marks the culmination of the 12 days of Christmas and commemorates the three wise men who traveled from afar, bearing gifts for the infant baby Jesus. The day when the wise men found the baby Jesus is known as Epiphany which is the event represented by the Rosca de Reyes.

The circular form of the rosca represents God’s eternal love which has no beginning or end. The dried candied fruits that adorn the bread symbolize the King’s crown, while the traditional figurines placed inside the bread represent the baby Jesus. Whoever finds this token is obligated to host an upcoming party on the occasion of ‘Candlemas Day’, a Christian holiday which occurs each year on February 2nd. The traditional menu for this event would be tamales and hot chocolate.

In researching the internet for a traditional recipe for the cake/bread it seems orange and vanilla were usually in the actual dough but as for the decorations, there were a lot of fruit and nut choices. Apart from the circular shape it looked like personal preference dictated your decoration design. Here’s my best interpretation of Rosca de Reyes!

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Rosca de Reyes
Instructions
Bread Dough
  1. In a small bowl, combine lukewarm water, yeast & a pinch of sugar; stir with a fork until dissolved. Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes in a warm place until frothy.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, salt, anise seed & cinnamon. Make a well in the center of the flour & add eggs, yolk, cooled butter, orange zest & vanilla. Whisk to form a slurry, pulling in a little flour from the sides of the bowl. Pour the yeast mixture over the egg slurry; using a wooden spoon, mix until a shaggy dough that is difficult to mix forms.
  3. Place on a lightly floured work surface & start kneading until you have a smooth dough. It will take about 10 minutes to get good results. Be careful not to add to much flour to your work area, the texture should be soft, smooth & holds a ball shape.
  4. Place in an buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap. Allow dough to proof in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 -2 hours.
Bread Decoration
  1. In a bowl, cream butter with sugar; add egg yolk & mix until combined. Add flour & continue to mix until a soft dough forms. Refrigerate if your not quite ready to use it yet.
Assembly
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. When dough has doubled in size, turn onto a lightly floured surface & knead a few times. Shape the dough into a large ring & place it on the prepared baking sheet. Seal the ends to close the ring. Loosely cover with buttered plastic wrap & allow to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes or more until almost doubled in volume.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small dish, whisk together egg wash. Divide the 'decoration dough' into 4-6 equal sections. Roll each with your hands until you get a strip long enough to decorate the ring. Brush dough with egg wash.
  3. Place the 'decoration dough' strips around the ring, try to place them facing one another, then decorate the ring with candied or dry fruit such as mango, pineapple, cherries, figs, citron, orange or lemon peel or quince paste strips or any personal choice you wish. Once the ring is decorated, sprinkle it with sugar & sliced almonds.
  4. Bake the bread for 20 minutes or until the bread is a nice golden brown color. Ovens vary so it may take a bit longer. Transfer bread to a wire rack to cool. After bread has cooled insert the plastic baby dolls from the bottom of bread. Some times the plastic dolls are inserted into the bread before baking, personally I think inserting them afterwards works just fine.

Fruity Swedish Tea Rings w/ Orange Butter

Believe it or not, we are at the eve of Christmas 2019. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is wondering how we got here so fast. This year I thought it would be nice to make some Swedish Tea Rings for gifting.

These sweet bread rings are slashed at the sides to expose the colorful fruit and nut filling. There are different variations of this bread, some do not have any fruit in them at all, just cinnamon sugar.

Swedish tea rings have been around for a very long time and while not much is known about their origin, their roots are definitely Swedish. It is believed that the bread essentially started as Christmas preparation and was a part of the grand Swedish Christmas feast.

It seems, the authentic Swedish tea rings are similar to a cinnamon roll in the shape of a ring or wreath. I have also concluded that cardamom ( one of my favorite spices) is to Scandinavians like vanilla is to us in America …. the backdrop to anything sweet. With that, I decided to go with a fruit bread that brought both cardamom and cinnamon together. Sweet!

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Fruity Swedish Tea Rings w/ Orange Butter
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Course Brunch, dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Sweet Bread Dough
Filling
Orange Butter
Course Brunch, dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Sweet Bread Dough
Filling
Orange Butter
Votes: 1
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Instructions
Sweet Roll Dough
  1. In a small dish, heat milk to lukewarm. Add yeast & 1 1/2 tsp sugar; let stand for 5 minutes to allow yeast to activate. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 6 Tbsp sugar, melted butter, sour cream & eggs. Add yeast mixture & stir to combine.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cardamom, cinnamon & salt. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture, 1 cup at a time, combining well after each addition. Once all flour has been added, knead on a lightly floured surface for about 2 minutes.
  3. Lightly grease the large bowl, place dough in it & cover with plastic wrap & a tea towel. Allow to rest for at least one hour, in a draft free place until dough has doubled in volume.
Filling
  1. In a small bowl, combine butter, sugar, extract & orange zest; set aside. Toss the fruit & almonds with flour; set aside.
Assembly
  1. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, divide in half. Roll each into an 18 x 12-inch rectangle. Spread half of the (butter) filling over each rectangle to within 1/2-inch of edges; sprinkle each with half of the fruit mixture. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side, pinch seams to seal.
  2. Place seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheets. Pinch ends together to form wreaths. With sharp scissors, cut from outside edge to 2/3 of the way toward center of ring at 1-inch intervals.
  3. Separate the cut pieces slightly, twisting each individually to allow filling to show,overlapping with the previous piece. Cover & let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 F. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool. In a small bowl, combine orange butter ingredients. Serve with fruit bread. Refrigerate any leftover orange butter.

Savory Ham, Olive & Cheese French Toast

Like so many other dishes throughout history, french toast was created as a way to utilize everything and eliminate waste. Practically anyone who likes bread, milk and eggs will enjoy french toast.

Known by many names around the world, in France itself, the dish is known as ‘pain perdu‘ or ‘lost bread’. The dish is made by dipping hard or stale bread in a mixture of milk and eggs, then fried. In the process, you ‘lost’ the original bread and what you had was a sweet dish held together by the eggs and milk.

Over the years, french toast has seen many gourmet makeovers. Savory or sweet, it can be eaten for brunch, dinner or a late night snack either hot or cold. The best french toast is browned and crispy on the outside while incredibly custardy and rich on the inside. I found there are a few things you might want to avoid to achieve success …. not choosing the right type of bread …. using anything less than whole milk …. not whisking the custard enough …. not soaking the bread long enough …. cooking the french toast at too high of a heat.

The inspiration for this recipe came to me when I had made some ham & olive bread. Out of curiosity, I decided to see what it would taste like as french toast. The flavor was absolutely amazing!

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Savory Ham, Olive & Cheese French Toast
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Servings
Ingredients
Bread Dough
Filling
Egg Dip for 8 thick slices bread
Servings
Ingredients
Bread Dough
Filling
Egg Dip for 8 thick slices bread
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Instructions
Bread Dough
  1. Cook potato, peel, mash & cool. Combine yeast with lukewarm water; whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let stand about 3 minutes until foamy. Add butter, salt, sour cream & potato; mix well.
  2. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto lightly floured surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Filling
  1. In a skillet, saute onion with bacon until slightly cooked. Drain well on paper towel. In a large bowl, combine all prepared filling ingredients.
Assembly
  1. When dough has risen, place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll into a large rectangle then scatter filling ingredients evenly over dough. Roll up like a jelly roll, starting from its longest side. Place in a bundt pan or a 9-inch round spring form pan. Make deep slashes on the top (making sure NOT to go right to the bottom). Cover with plastic & allow to rise in a draft-free place for about an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Brush with a bit of milk or beaten egg. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until bread has a nice golden brown color. Remove from oven & allow to cool. Nice if made a day ahead of preparing french toast with it.
French Toast
  1. In a small bowl, beat together 1 cup milk & 3 eggs. Slice 8 thick slices from olive bread. Pour half of the egg/milk mixture on to a rectangle plate. Lay bread slices in it, then pour the rest over top. Heat griddle. When bread has soaked up all the egg/milk mixture place slices on griddle & fry to a golden brown. Serve just plain or with butter.