Posts Tagged ‘Breakfast’

Swedish Beauties

Now before my fellow male bloggers out there get too excited, this post has nothing to do with beautiful Swedish women…but please keep reading on. 

The staff here at Baking in Oregon, all one of us, are descendents of a number of fine European countries.  However, Mr. Baking in Oregon is a full ¼ Swedish – my grandmother was born there and emigrated to the US as a child.  She, along with my great aunts and uncle and my great-grandparents, brought with them some of the traditions and recipes from the homeland.  Unfortunately, as time has passed and they have all now gone on to a better place, much of these old traditions have been lost.

Growing up, I remember having a treat only once in a great while that I stopped experiencing when my grandmother passed away when I was 15.  That treat (besides her fabulous apple pie) was Swedish Hotcakes.  If you aren’t familiar with them, Swedish Hotcakes are the Swedish version of the crepe or any other thin pancake you may find around the world.  As one of the most common foods found around the world, there are many different types, but they are all common in one thing – they are really thin.

In Sweden, they are typically eaten with Lingonberries.  For us, we would roll them up with butter and syrup, butter and a sprinkling of sugar.  We always loved having these at my grandparent’s house, but after my grandmother passed away, no one carried on that tradition.

Fast forward 10 years.  Mr. Baking in Oregon invited a young lady to become Mrs. Baking in Oregon.  Wouldn’t you know it, Mrs. Baking in Oregon also had some Swedish ancestry.  And guess what?  Her family also ate Swedish Hotcakes, and they still had the recipe (which turned out, I discovered later to be identical to ours), but even they had not really had them in quite a long time.

Enough was enough.  This tradition had to be revived.  The recipe itself is a very simple mixture of eggs, flour, sugar, milk and salt.  There’s not much that can go wrong, or is there?  As it turns out, that simple little blend of ingredients expects to be cooked in a very specific way or it will refuse to give you the results you expect.  If you’ve ever watched a cooking show where crepes or something similar are made, you’ve undoubtedly seen the likes of Bobby Flay or others attempting to make their first one – and it usually doesn’t come out very pretty.  It seems like it would be easy, and it is, once you know what you’re doing.

After many batches, both failed and successful, I’ve managed to get this down to a near science.  I was told once that I should always expect to throw out the first hotcake as the first one just never turns out properly.  That’s not acceptable.  If I’m going through the trouble of making these (a time consuming process), I’m not throwing any of that wonderful deliciousness away!

Let me start by saying this, patience is a virtue when making these hotcakes.  Also a virtue is commitment and focus.  If you can’t spend your time watching over these through the entire process without getting distracted, you will be disappointed with the results.  The whole process is remarkably simple, but turn your back for more than a moment and you may be tossing your work of art in the trash.

Here are the secrets I’ve discovered to making successful Swedish Hotcakes (or crepes, for that matter).  First use the proper pan.  Pretty much any 10″ pan with a flat bottom and curved sides will work.  I use an actual crepe pan by Calphalon.  Nonstick is a plus and will make your life much easier.  Always, always, always pre-heat your pan for at least 10 minutes before making your first hotcake.  After many years of making these and more hotcakes than I can count, this one step made more difference in how the first hotcake turned out than anything.  I discovered it by mistake when I was making them one day and forgot I had turned on the burner before I was ready.  When I went to make the first one, it turned out great.  What happened?  I always lost the first one.  When I realized what I’d done, I tried it again, same results.  Now I do it every time, and I’ve never lost a first hotcake since.  Next, don’t use too much batter.  For a 10″ skillet, about 1/4 cup of batter is the right amount.  If you want or need them to be thicker, bump it up to 1/3, just know that the thicker you make them, the harder to cook them without becoming rubbery.  Finally, don’t leave them.  They need you.  You need them.  Every time I walk away from my hotcakes for even a minute, they end up being overdone.  Just like making risotto properly requires you to stir through the whole process, plan on planting yourself at the stove until you’re done.  This reward requires commitment people.

As for serving, well, that’s entirely up to you.  There are so many options, a few of which I’ve already mentioned.  For the purpose of this entry, I whipped up a batch of Blueberry Topping as well as a Creamy Ricotta/Cream Cheese filling to fancify these up a bit.  Do what you want, you can even try something savory if you like.

For our family, this is a treat we enjoy only a couple of times a year, which keeps them special.  Now that I have a young daughter, I will pass this fun little tradition on to her in the hopes that she will pass it along to her children and so on and so on.

If you have an old family recipe or tradition that’s fallen by the wayside, why not try and revive it?  After all, it wouldn’t have been a tradition if people didn’t enjoy it in the first place – you may not know what you’re missing.

For a copy of the hotcake recipe, click here.  For a copy of the Blueberry Sauce and Ricotta Filling, click here.





Read Full Post »

Puff up your Breakfast

After a break for vacation, I’m back with a new post (finally!)

There aren’t many things in this world I enjoy more than a hot breakfast.  Maybe it’s because my job and my life mean that I can only do a regular, sit-down style hot breakfast on rare occasions.  Work starts too early in the morning on the weekdays and weekends are often too busy to take the time.  Hot breakfast is usually relegated to vacation time or the occasional breakfast for dinner (which I do enjoy almost as much).

Such was the case last week.  We were off to our annual late summer vacation.  Since our daughter isn’t old enough for school yet, we can still take advantage of a vacation the week after Labor Day while the weather is nice but the crowds have died down a bit.  I usually try to find a place for us to stay where I’ve got a fully functional kitchen.  For me, vacation is not just a time to get away from the usual rigors of life, but a time when I can spend a bit more time preparing meals or baking some recipe I’ve wanted to try.  Since this was vacation, and I had the time, it was hot breakfasts every day. 

One of the recipes I’ve had my eye on for a long time is the puff pancake.  I had a recipe by Gale Gand that I got from the Food Network called ‘Big Apple Pancakes’.  They sounded really good and I’ve been waiting for a chance to try this.  This pancake gets baked in the oven and looks really cool when you pull it out.

Puff pancakes have a flavor and texture that makes them part omelet and part pancake, though this is definitely a sweet rather than a savory dish.  Puff pancakes are often served on a large plate with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a dusting of powdered sugar and may contain (or not contain) a variety of different fillings.  I chose apple for my pancake as I happened to have them on hand and because I love just about anything apple.

Typically, these pancakes are prepared in a cast iron skillet and then tossed in the oven to finish baking, where they experience a big rise, thus giving them the ‘puff’ appearance in the finished pancake.  I didn’t have an oven safe skillet with me on vacation, so I precooked the apples in a regular skillet and finished the pancake in an 8×8 Pyrex baking dish.  Everything went of without a hitch and my square pancake came out of the oven much taller than when I put it in.

I didn’t have any lemon to finish the pancake, and I decided not to sprinkle it with powdered sugar as there was already plenty of sugar in the base recipe.

How was it?  Very good. The apples were cooked all the way through and it had a good balance of tart and sweet with the apples paired with a very delicate and tasty batter.  There was enough here to feed 4 people (or 2 if they’re hungry).  This is definitely a recipe I’ll be making again when I have time for another hot breakfast.  Want to give it a try yourself?  I’ve posted a copy of the recipe here.  Click on any image below to get a closer look at the step by step photos.


Read Full Post »


Baking in Oregon.  Today, that has a dual meaning.  It’s hot.  We’re not only baking in the kitchen, we’re baking in the living room, baking in the den, baking in the bedrooms.  You know, nothing can kill the desire to work in the kitchen over a hot stove like a scorching, sticky, summer day.  We don’t get a lot of really hot days here in Oregon, but we’re just coming off a run of 5 really hot days, 3 of which were over 100°F and rather humid.  These are the kind of days that just wipe you out, sapping all desire to do just about anything right out of your system.  Still, you gotta eat, and on days like these, quick, easy and cool are the way to go.

Not too long ago, we had some family over for an informal gathering.  We kept the menu pretty simple, with a few cool drinks to go along.  I made up a batch of my Strawberry Lemonade, which has been very popular in the past.  I started with a gallon, but it became apparent very soon that it wouldn’t be enough.  I whipped up a second gallon and it too, was quickly wiped out.  I threw together a third gallon and finally managed to quench everyone’s thirst.  Thankfully, I can prepare this simple recipe in just a matter of minutes.

The next day, I found at least 1/2 gallon remaining in the refrigerator.  Since my wife and I don’t drink the stuff too often, I wanted to put some of it to good use.  Looking around the kitchen, I noticed I had some fruit and yogurt I needed to use.  The fruit was just starting to look a little less fresh.  In the heat of the summer it wasn’t going to last too much longer.

So, I concocted a smoothie which I based on the Strawberry Lemonade and a few more items I had on hand. The result?  Thick, cool and refreshing as well as filling, but in a good way.  This was a tasty treat that made a warm day a bit more enjoyable.  The next day I tried a different variation, but stayed with the Strawberry Lemonade as my starting point.  Want to give it a try?  I’ve listed my recipe for Strawberry Lemonade as well as my 2 versions of fruit smoothies here.  Enjoy!

Read Full Post »

Orange Pecan French Toast

Orange Pecan French Toast

I love breakfast.  Just about any breakfast food will grab my attention and make me stop whatever I’m doing so I can dig in. Hot breakfasts particularly.  Sweet, savory, it doesn’t really matter.  If it makes up that wonderful food group known as breakfast, I’m in.

I had recent occasion to prepare breakfast for a small group, but my time was very limited.  We had to be on the go fairly early in the morning, so I wasn’t going to have time to prep and cook the same morning.  I thought about a variety of prepare ahead breakfast dishes, but I wanted to try something I hadn’t done before.

Searching through my archives of many, many unused recipes I’ve collected from recipe and blog sites.  I had a collection of recipes filed as Breakfast Casseroles, so I drilled down deeper.  I was thinking about a savory type casserole – something with hash browns, eggs, cheese and some kind of meat, but I had made that recently and it didn’t fit my desire for something different.  Then, I happened across a group of recipes that I’d forgotten about – Baked French Toast.  I must have at least 10 different recipes for some kind of Baked French Toast.  There are a number of variations of this recipe, including some that are really more like a baked bread pudding, all of which looked mighty tempting.  As I perused the virtual stack of culinary deliciousness, my eyes locked on one I had picked up from Allrecipes.com some time back. 

Now, I can sometimes be an Allrecipes.com junkie.  There are quite a few good recipe sites out there, and some even more amazing foodie blogs, but Allrecipes is definitely in the top 10 as my go to source for recipes.  What I like best about Allrecipes, besides the very large database of recipes, the great photos that often get posted, the good looking and easy to navigate site and the nice printing options, are the reviews and ratings from readers.  While I can usually find reviews and ratings on other sites, Allrecipes consistently seems to get loads of good feedback from people who have tried and modified the recipes.  Some of these recipes have hundreds of reviews from folks that have taken the time to give their suggestions on how to tweak a recipe to make a good recipe great or a bad recipe better.  That feedback helped me to make my choice:  Orange Pecan French Toast

Rated 5 out of 5 stars, it just sounded (and looked) too good to pass up.  I read at least half of the 60+ reviews to get some ideas on how or how not to modify the recipe.  In the end, I decided to stick pretty close to the original.  I used thick cut french bread from the bakery aisle that did not have a crunch crust.  I added more pecans than noted, mostly because I like pecans and I happened to have quite a bit on hand.  I also used 5 whole eggs instead of 2 whole eggs and 3 egg whites as another reader suggested it and I didn’t have any use for 3 egg yolks in the near future.  I whipped up this easy recipe and put it in the refrigerator overnight.  In the morning, I tossed it in the oven, and voila – out came a masterful piece of oooey-gooey uber-sweet nutty and hearty French toast. 

Actually, it’s really a bit more like a sweet roll than French toast.  That’s okay, once I got a taste, I could have eaten the whole pan – but that wouldn’t have been fair to anyone else (can’t say it didn’t cross my mind though….).  This stuff is awesome.  Seriously.  You need to make this – people will thank you.  Significant others will kiss you.  Non-significant others will kiss you.  Strangers on the street will kiss you.  On second thought, don’t make this, you’ll just be mad at me for getting you addicted to this little slice of breakfast ‘crack’.  Want to live on the edge (of breakfast)??  Here’s the recipe, you’ve been warned.  (BTW, I hope the folks that host ‘Sugar High Friday’s’ don’t mind my nod to the name of their event.)

Read Full Post »

Homemade English Muffins

A few weeks back, while we were on vacation in Central Oregon, I took the opportunity to try out some new recipes, particularly some things I wouldn’t normally take the time to bake at home.

I had been curious about making my own English Muffins for the last year or so after reading an article on the process.  It took a post on the King Arthur Flour ‘Baker’s Banter’ blog to get me to finally take the step.

The process wasn’t too complicated, though the dough was substantially ‘wetter’ and ‘looser’ than I would have expected.  The recipe directions say to form the dough by hand before placing it in the rings – that wasn’t going to happen.  No matter, I used a 1/2 cup measuring cup to handle the batter and it worked out just fine.  As for the muffin rings – well, I was on vacation and didn’t own any, so I ran to a nearby kitchen supply store and picked up (4) 4″ diameter round metal cookie cutters for $2 – they were a bit flimsy, but worked great – you don’t need heavy duty for this recipe.  If you want to buy ‘official’ muffin rings (which work for pancakes and for eggs as well), you can get them at King Arthur Flour, or a number of other online stores.

The only thing that didn’t work well for me was the cooking temperature.  As you can see in the photo, these turned out pretty dark.  My Calphalon square skillet did a great job, but I just didn’t need as much heat as I thought – medium low seemed to be plenty of heat.  These little guys need to sit on the grill for awhile, so it’s best not to get things too hot.  I did 2 batches, but by the time I finally got the temp dialed in, I was out of batter.

The final product was fantastic – the texture and taste were better than any I had ever bought in a store.  I made them into breakfast sandwiches using ham, provolone and egg – they got gobbled up by the anxiously awaiting diners.  One thing I will do differently next time is buy more rings – these take quite awhile to cook, so I would rather do a whole batch on a big griddle at one time.  This is one recipe I will definitely make again, when I have the time.  Click here for a copy of the recipe.

Read Full Post »