Going Deep for Breakfast
Editors’ Note: We’re very excited to have a guest post today from Aimee Bourque, who blogs her culinary escapades at Under the High Chair; great food guaranteed, clean floors unlikely.
I think we can all agree, breakfast should be a tranquil start to our day. Whether you like your mornings to begin with merely the perfect muffin or prefer a full-on trucker’s breakfast, assaults on the senses are not welcome, nor, I’ve discovered, are conversations with a three-year-old.
On an average Saturday morning in my house, I take the path of least resistance in hopes of maintaining the peace. This means serving up something featuring bread and covered in our own harvested maple syrup for the little monkeys—with bacon of course. (We’re talking about my offspring here—they’ve embraced bacon without hesitation; as for the maple syrup, well, we are Canadian, after all.) All week we’ve slogged through balanced meals, fighting bite for bite, and now I just want them to hush up and eat up while I wake up.
This Deep Dish Blueberry French Toast is assembled the night before so the only real effort required in the morning is to bake and serve. Unfortunately, the simplicity of this breakfast dish doesn’t guarantee the sought after ‘Zen’ morning. Case in point on a recent weekend: I have just pulled a bubbling French toast from the oven and things are shaping up nicely—that is, until my pre-schooler wakes up.
No ‘good morning’, no hugs, he stumbles out of his room with this announcement:
“Mummy, I just made a little bit of barf in my mouth.”
He can’t say his ‘R’s and so he says ‘barf’ with what sounds like a British accent. BAwf.
Wordlessly, I hand him his sippy cup with apple juice and glance at his father, who is present at the kitchen table but hidden behind the newspaper. As expected, there is no response from him. Uh huh, selective hearing.
My son continues:
“I have a bug bite in my nose.”
He looks at me expectantly as one traveling finger identifies the exact spot, then reaches for a piece of bacon. Of course I’m supposed to make the offending nose feel all better, because that’s what mommies do, but it’s been a long week for this mommy and she’d like the newspaper reader to step in anytime.
I take a sip of coffee and hope that my son is finished listing his symptoms. But then he gestures towards his pull-up and says:
“My pee-pee is feeling a little bit broken”.
This is clearly not my territory anymore. The Homefront section of the paper twitches visibly.
“You’ve got this one,” I announce to my husband, “I’ll be in the garden”.
Deep Dish Blueberry Maple French Toast
As I mentioned, this dish is best when assembled the night before, much like a strata, of which, by the way, I am not a fan. Why waste those lovely ingredients on a *shudder* breakfast casserole when you can make them into the perfect omelet? I’m sorry, but it’s a cop-out.
Have at room temperature:
4 oz cream cheese
2 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons maple syrup or maple butter
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
8 slices of Italian bread, about ½ inch thick (I use the middle of the loaf)
1 cup blueberries
200ml light cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Pinch of salt
Grease a stoneware baking dish with butter. (This recipe works perfectly in my oval 1.23L Le Creuset)
In a medium bowl, blend together cream cheese, butter and maple syrup until they are completely combined and creamy like a frosting. Add cinnamon and mix well.
Lay out the slices of bread on your workspace and divide the cream cheese among four pieces. Spread it around evenly and top with the four remaining slices of bread. (Yep, this is a lot of work, but think of it as practice for school lunches someday.)
Here’s where it gets a little messy. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the sandwiches into three ‘fingers’, and each one of those fingers into three. You should have roughly nine bite-sized chunks per sandwich. Don’t worry if everything seems to squish out.
Transfer all the bread to the buttered baking dish and spread out evenly. Top with blueberries, tucking them in here and there, and pressing them down between the cubes of bread.
Using the same bowl as your former cream cheese mixture, crack the eggs and beat slightly. Add cream, maple syrup and salt; mix well.
Pour batter over bread. Using a well-washed hand, place your palm in the center of the dish and gently press all the bread down until the egg mixture seeps up through the cracks. (And you thought it was messy before. Hah!)
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, preheat oven to 350F.
Cook for 35-45 minutes until puffy and golden. Cover with foil if bread is browning before eggs are set.
Serve warm with more maple syrup and fresh blueberries.