I love breakfast food and often find it difficult to decide what meal I want when we go out for brunch. It is always a toss-up between ordering eggs, like Eggs Benedict or in the pancake / french toast category. Breakfast meals are sweet and savory comfort foods that just make the day start off on a happy note. French toast made with good quality bread soaked in a light vanilla custard always makes me happy. Yet today, I wanted to do something slightly different with some make in advance options and fruit topping. Baked French Toast with Apple Cranberry Compote, is a special occasion breakfast or brunch with easy do-ahead preparations.
Baked French Toast
The type of bread is the first key ingredient. I recommend a Country White Boule or Country White Sourdough Boule. The bread is sturdy and will hold up to an overnight soaking without falling apart. I bought my Country White Sourdough Boule at Whole Foods. It does not have a thick crust which is better suited for french toast. Challah or Brioche are other good choices, but I have yet to test them in this recipe. I do not recommend using regular sandwich bread as it will just fall apart before you start.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I make french toast by the time I get to the last 4 pieces the egg and milk custard is used up and I need to make more. The first slices of french toast soaked up more than their fair share of custard leaving none to spare for the last few slices. In this recipe, you soak all the bread slices at the same time overnight and every slice gets an even soaking of vanilla-nutmeg custard.
Another advantage of making baked french toast, is you bake the slices of bread at the same time in the oven. This frees up the cooks’ time to enjoy a cup of coffee or make the compote. At first, I was doubtful that baking the french toast would produce browned slices of french toast, but it does. Baked french toast has a great texture with crispy and buttery browned edges and soft and tender insides.
Apple Cranberry Compote
The compote combines fresh apples and cranberries with a spiced apple cider reduction. The fruit is gently cooked in butter until the cranberries start to pop. For this recipe, I reduced the amount of sugar, so you can taste the fruit and not the sugar. The cranberries are tart and contrast with the sweet apples. If the cranberries are too tart feel free to add more sugar a tablespoon at a time but make sure all the sugar dissolves before you remove the compote off the heat.
I made the compote with Fuji apples because they were on sale, but any apple that keeps its’ shape will work. Golden Delicious apples, Granny Smith apples, or Gala apples are all good choices. If you use Granny Smith apples, then you may need more sugar.
Use real apple cider and not apple juice. It just does not taste the same using apple juice. The apple cider reduction is flavored with cinnamon and fresh ginger, that steep in the apple cider while it simmers. Real maple syrup and orange juice add natural sugar to sweeten the compote giving the compote extra flavor the highlights the fruit and not the sugar.
This recipe is inspired by and adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine, December 2001, Eggnog French Toast with Cranberry Apple Compote. I love the idea of using eggnog for the custard in French toast, but I decided to tone down the amount of sugar in the compote, and over-the-top sweetness in store-bought eggnog. In this recipe, I use half-and-half and milk in the base with eggs, and flavor the custard with vanilla, sugar and freshly grated nutmeg. If the eggnog custard appeals to you, substitute the milk and half & half with 4 cups (1 quart) of eggnog and only use 4 eggs instead of 7. Also, do not add sugar to the mix.
Transferring the saturated bread slices from the baking dish to the sheet pan, and turning them over to brown, requires a thin and flexible spatula. The best tool is a fish spatula and is the most versatile kitchen tool I own. The flexible and thin metal base easily slides under all types of food and does not stick to the surface like with most spatulas. I own the Victorinox one, but the Wusthof fish spatula is highly recommended by America’s Test Kitchen.
More Breakfast Love
More Cranberry Love
This recipe is part of a collaborative social media project featuring the beloved fall fruit, cranberries. This collaboration would not exist without the efforts of Ruth and Rebecca of @squaremealroundtable and Annie Garcia of @whatannieseating. Thank you, Annie, Rebecca, and Ruth for all your efforts and keeping the seasonal collaborative projects going. Check out what all the food bloggers and Instagramers have created by following #yesyourcranberry on Instagram or click on the links below.
Baked French Toast with Apple Cranberry Compote
I deliberately used less sugar in the fruit compote and custard, because every baked French toast breakfast I’ve eaten is cloyingly sweet. I like the tartness of the cranberries to counter the sweet apples. Add more sugar, either in the egg custard or fruit compote to your taste, but please use restraint. Or, pass some maple syrup around with the french toast and apple cranberry compote if you prefer the compote with a more syrupy consistency and sweeter.
This recipe is inspired by and adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine, December 2001, Eggnog French Toast with Cranberry Apple Compote.
- 1 ¾ - 1 lb. (350 - 450 g) loaf of Country White Boule
- 7 eggs
- 2 cups (500 ml) half and half
- 2 cup (500 ml) whole milk
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 TB (24 g) sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 4 TB (56 g) melted butter divided for the baking pan and top of French toast during baking
Apple Cranberry Compote
- 2 cups (500 ml) apple cider
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 2 1/4-inch (.5 cm) slices of fresh ginger
- ¼ cup (60 ml) real maple syrup
- ¼ cup (60 ml) orange juice
- 6 TB (74 g) butter divided
- 3 apples cut into ½” pieces
- 2 cups (500 ml) fresh cranberries
- 2 TB (24 g) sugar
Prepare the French Toast
Cut the boule in half across the equator, then cut each half in 1-inch (2.5 cm) slices. Arrange the bread slices on their sides, equally divided between two buttered 9 x 13 xx 2 inches (23 x 33 x 5 cm) baking dishes. Set aside.
In a medium-size bowl, beat the eggs with a fork or wire whisk until blended. Add the milk, half and half, vanilla, nutmeg, and sugar and whisk until combined.
Pour half of the egg-milk mixture into one baking dish with the bread slices, then pour the remaining in the second baking dish. Cover each dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Bake the French Toast
Preheat the oven at 450°F (230°C / Gas Mark 8) with rack in the middle position.
Melt the butter then use half of the melted butter to baste a rimmed sheet pan, large enough to hold all the slices of french toast. Arrange the bread slices, on their sides, on the sheet pan. A thin flexible spatula is the best tool or an offset spatula. Baste the remaining melted butter to on the top of each slice.
Bake for 10 minutes. Carefully turn the bread slices over then continue to bake 10 minutes more, or until each slice is golden brown with crispy edges and soft in the middle.
Serve the baked French Toast with Apple Cranberry Compote
Apple Cranberry Compote
Make the apple cider reduction
Add the apple cider, cinnamon stick, slices of ginger, maple syrup, and orange juice to a medium saucepan on medium-high heat. Bring the cider to a boil then turn down the heat slightly to keep a brisk boil. Cook until the cider reduces to 1 cup, (250 ml), about 20 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and ginger slices. Whisk in 2 TB of butter.
Meanwhile, melt 4 TB of the butter in a large pot like a Dutch Oven. Add the apple pieces and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cranberries and sugar, stir then cook until the cranberries pop and the fruit begins to soften but maintains their shape.
Add the apple cider reduction to the apples and cranberries, stir and cook at a simmer for 3 minutes.
The compote can be made up to two days in advance, stored in an airtight container and refrigerated until ready to serve. Heat up on the stove, then serve.
Serve with the Baked French Toast.
What Annie’s Eating Cranberry Mojitos
Square Meal Round Table’s Cranberry Orange Streusel Pie
Easy and Delish — Avocado Cranberry Hummus Dip
Flottelottehaan Buchteln with Cranberry Oranges Jam
The Cooking of Joy’s Cranberry Curd Tart
Jessie Sheehan Bakes – Cranberry Buckle
Ciao Chow Bambina – Cranberry Pecan Cracker Spread
Baking The Goods – Cranberry Apple Brown Butter Crumble Pie
Katiebird Bakes – Cranberry Sauce Breakfast Rolls
Crumb Top Baking’s Cranberry Orange Overnight Oatmeal Muffins
The Baking Fairy – Vegan Cranberry Apple Bundt Cake
You Can Live Rich On Less – Cranberry Cherry Tarts
Sift & Simmer – White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
Bappy Girl – https://bappygirlyum.blogspot.com/
Ronnie Fein – Baked Goat Cheese with Honey Sauce and Cranberries: http://www.ronniefein.com/blog/on-hanukkah-lets-not-forget-that-a-woman-played-a?rq=Cranberries
Lemon Thyme and Ginger https://lemonthymeandginger.com/baked-french-toast-apple-cranberry-compote
Cranberry Agua Fresca with Mint and Lime: http://www.holajalapeno.com/2016/11/cranberry-agua-fresca.html
Cranberry Pie with Dried Figs and Cashews: http://www.ronniefein.com/blog/honey-cashew-pie
Susannah Chen’s Cranberry Pico de Gallo
Katherine in Brooklyn: Cranberry Cinnamon Buns
Pie Girl Bakes: Dark Chocolate Chunk Cranberry Cookies
Clean Plate Club: Glazed Cream Puffs with Cranberry Buttercream
Tiny Kitchen Capers: http://www.tinykitchencapers.com/white-chocolate-cranberry-oatmeal-cookies/
Le Petit Eats: Dark Chocolate Tart with Cinnamon Sugared Cranberry
Prickly Fresh’s: Cranberry Crostini with Prosciutto & Port Salut
Zestful Kitchen: Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Curd
Simple and Sweet Food: Fresh Ricotta and Spiced Cranberry Crostini
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
It is amazing to realize no matter how much time goes by, special memories remain as vivid as if it happened a day ago. Even if it is just a portion of the memory, a picture of that moment develops like a photograph creating a snapshot of time. Such is the case of my childhood Halloween memories. What I remember most about Halloween is Mom making caramel apples and popcorn balls for trick or treaters brave enough to walk up our steep and dark road. Mom was not crafty and rarely made homemade gifts or treats, but every Halloween she spent the day dipping apples in sweet caramel and forming popcorn balls like it was her mission in life.
Our house was situated on a side road up a very steep hill. The surrounding houses in the neighborhood were scattered around the hill, in valleys, and down along the bay. It was steep territory to traverse and the neighborhood kids cleared trails from house to house creating shortcuts, so we could easily walk from one friend to another with the purpose of climbing up and/or down the hill only once in our travels. Walking up to my house was a steep hike and Mom believed that anyone who was willing to walk up our hill on Halloween deserved a reward for their efforts.
On Halloween, we traveled in packs, so mom could expect at most three groups of trick-or-treaters from the neighborhood. She bestowed upon her Halloween trick-or-treaters with not one, not two, but three treats: caramel apples, popcorn balls, and hot apple cider. We could sit and eat our treasure right there in the comfort of our kitchen or continue on our costumed journey. I am not sure if we timed it so we would stop at my house midway on our travels to warm up and take a break. Often, we paused only long enough to drink our hot cider, and then went on our way seeking more candy treasure. Mom was always so happy to see everyone dressed up in their costumes, and those caramel apples never tasted so good.
Despite my vivid picture of Mom dipping apples into caramel, I have no memory of how she made them or what recipe she used. Additionally, I cannot remember ever seeing a recipe for caramel apples in her recipe file either. Chances are she got the recipes from either Joy of Cooking or Sunset Magazine, but after a couple of years making them she knew the recipe by heart.
My lack of family recipes from Mom left me to figure out how to make caramel apples on my own. I did not keep up her Halloween tradition, but I love caramel apples and want to bring them back into my life. Over the years I tried a couple of different recipes and I found two options producing delicious caramel for apples. You can choose to go all out and make your own caramel for dipping. Or, you can go the semi-homemade option and melt soft caramel candies for your caramel sauce.
Tips for making caramel apples
Making caramel apples is
easy, temperamental and I learned some helpful tips the hard way from my mistakes and triumphs.
First, make sure there is no wax on the apples. The wax just creates a slippery surface on the apples and the caramel will slide right off. This is one reason why making caramel apples with freshly picked apples is ideal.
All apples bought at a grocery store are coated with wax. To remove the wax, drop apples one at a time in just boiling water for less than a minute. Make sure the apple’s entire surface area gets a good soaking from the boiling water. Be careful with the amount of time the apples spend in the hot water because you do not want to cook them.
Remove the apples from the hot water and rub them with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel. You can also add apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to the boiling water. The acid helps break the bonds of the wax. Before you dip each apple in the caramel, make sure the apple is dry.
Another method to remove wax from apples is to wash the apples and rub super fine sandpaper over the apples being careful not to break the skin. Rinse off and thoroughly dry the apples. (Full disclosure, I have never tried this, but I am very tempted to for the next time I make caramel apples.)
Second, firmly secure each stick, popsicle stick, or lollipop stick inside the apple. However, do not push it all the way through the apple. The juices from the apple will leak out and weaken the caramel.
Third, chill the apples for 30 minutes in the refrigerator before you dip them in the caramel. Cold apples will set the caramel faster.
Fourth, if you do not make your own caramel, use the best quality soft caramel candy you can buy. The better the quality of the caramel, the more reliable it is for dipping. Do not use store-bought caramel sauce.
Fifth, less is more. Allow the excess caramel to drip off. Aim for a thin even layer around each apple. This will help prevent the caramel from sliding down and pooling around the base of the apple. The pooling caramel is often unavoidable. You can fix it by pressing on the caramel and pushing it back into shape over the top of the apple.
Sixth, refrigerate the caramel apples until the caramel sets. Once set, serve them or dip them in melted chocolate, then chopped nuts or candy if using. Refrigerate the chocolate dipped caramel apples until the chocolate sets and gets hard.
More Apple Treats
If you have leftover caramel apples, slice them up and briefly sauté them in butter. Serve the sautéed caramel apple slices over vanilla ice cream, french toast, waffles, or Dutch Baby pancakes.
Classic Caramel Apples
- 8-10 medium tart apples like Granny Smith
- 8-10 handles like lollipop sticks popsicle sticks or clean tree sticks
- 1 recipe of caramel sauce
- 8 oz (200 g) pistahios, or other nuts like walnuts or pecans, chopped fine (optional)
Caramel Sauce from Tartine
- 1 cup (225 g) sugar
- ½ cup (133 g) unsalted butter (one stick)
- 2/3 cup (150 ml) heavy cream
- ¼ cup (60 ml or 85 g) light corn syrup
- 2 TB (30 ml) maple syrup
- 1 TB (15 ml) Blackstrap or dark molasses
- ¼ tsp (1 ml) real vanilla extract
- Pinch of Kosher salt
Caramel Sauce Using Store-bought soft Caramel Candies
- 1 lb. (500 g) 500 g soft real caramel candies
- 3 TB (45 ml) heavy cream
- 1 TB (15 ml) real maple syrup
- 1 TB (15 ml) dark molasses
Prepare your apples
Wash and dry the apples. Remove the wax from the apples before you start. See the Caramel Apple blog post for wax removal instructions.
Secure the handle into the apples. Pierce one stick into the stem end of each apple. Do not push the stick all the way through the apple because the juices will leak and weaken the caramel.
Place the prepared apples on a tray and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. If using parchment paper, lightly spray it with cooking oil. Set aside.
Make the caramel sauce
Tartine caramel sauce
Add all the ingredients into a heavy-duty saucepan with a minimum of a 3-quart capacity. Place the pot over medium-high heat. Occasionally stir the ingredients to prevent the sugar from burning on the bottom of the pan. Bring the caramel to a boil and cook the caramel until it reaches 236°F (113°C), about 7 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and rest the caramel until it cools down to 180°F (82°C).
Continue to Make the Caramel Apples.
Caramel Sauce Made from Soft Caramel Candies
Add water to the bottom portion of a double boiler filling the saucepan until it reaches shy of 2-inches up the side of the pot. Place the top portion of the double boiler on top then add all the ingredients to the pot. Turn the heat to medium-high and melt the caramel. Occasionally stir the ingredients to incorporate the ingredients and promote even melting. Once the caramel is melted, turn down the heat to low and begin making the caramel apples.
Make the Caramel Apples
Remove the chilled apples from the refrigerator and bring near your saucepan with the caramel sauce. Position the prepared rimmed sheet pan at the opposite side of the caramel sauce.
One at a time, dip an apple into the caramel, turning it over to get an even coating of caramel. Lift the apple out of the caramel and let the caramel drip back into the pot. Turn the apple around to encourage the caramel to evenly drip off and not collect over one spot. Turn the apple right side up and hold it upright for 30 seconds.
If you are dipping your apple into chopped nuts or candies, turn the apple upside down and dip the apple into the bowl filled with nuts or candy.
Place the finished apple on the prepared sheet pan. Once you are done with all the apples. Place the sheet pan in the refrigerator and chill the apples until the caramel firms up.
Once set, serve immediately. Store the caramel apples uncovered in the refrigerator for up to three days.
After you dipped all your apples and notice caramel pooling at the base of the apples, you can press the caramel back into place with your fingers.
Many different types of nuts and candies taste great with caramel apples. Sprinkles, Heath Bar Crunch, Chocolate Chips, and or any nut will easily stick to the caramel if chopped in small size pieces.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
One project of mine is to develop my knowledge and skills for baking with less sugar and develop recipes using no refined sugar. The challenging part of baking without refined sugars is, often sugar has more than one function in a recipe, especially in baked goods. Sugar not only adds flavor, it helps develop the structure and texture in desserts. Whipping sugar and butter together makes cakes and cookies that are tender, light and airy as well as tasting sweet. So, when baked goods do not contain refined sugar it is easy to create a dense and dry muffin, cake or cookie. I believe I averted that challenge and created my first low sugar / no refined sugar muffin with my Good Morning Glory Muffins. These muffins are loaded with healthy and fresh ingredients, and naturally sweetened and moist. They are tender without being weighted down from all the fresh ingredients. A great breakfast to start your day.
Traditional Morning Glory Muffins are easily adapted to a no refined sugar recipe because the grated carrots add a subtle sweet flavor. It also combines all-purpose and whole wheat flours in the recipe. For my recipe, in addition to using grated carrots, I added grated zucchini, grated apples, apple sauce and Medjool dates. The grated carrots, zucchini, and apples I used for texture and flavor, while the applesauce and dates help sweeten the muffins. Apples and dates have a lot of natural sugar and melt when baked into muffins and cakes. They also have a lot of fiber. This helps slow down the digestion which is important to anyone who is counting carbs or watching their blood sugar.
The grated zucchini, grated apples and applesauce provide a lot of moisture. To prevent the muffins from getting soggy, I recommend squeezing out some of the water in the zucchini and apple. You do not have to squeeze them dry but getting rid of most of the water is helpful in creating a tender muffin.
Good Morning Glory Muffins
What I like about these Morning Glory Muffins is they are moist without being heavy and have subtle flavors including the sweetness. You definitely will taste the wheat, but it is not dry tasting. How sweet the muffins tastes depend on how well the chopped dates are incorporated throughout the muffin batter. I do not believe they need more dates in the muffins, otherwise they would be too sweet. Also, Good Morning Glory Muffins are hearty muffins without being heavy, so they won’t weigh you down.
Normally I love bold flavors, but with this recipe the spices create a deliberate subtle flavor profile. Even though I believe there is no such thing as too much fresh ginger, I wanted that flavor to come intermittently between bites like a surprise citrusy-ginger wake up call. The cinnamon is subtle as well, so it won’t over take the muffin flavor. However, each spice is easily adjusted to suit your taste. Often, cinnamon and fresh ginger contribute a sweet flavor in baked goods even though by themselves they are not sweet at all.
Switch it Up
When I first taste tested my Morning Glory Muffins, I thought they needed extra sweetener, so I added a small amount of honey. However, if the dates are evenly mixed in the batter, each muffin should taste sweet without the extra honey. I do not recommend adding more honey as the flavor will overpower the muffins. You can substitute the honey with maple syrup or agave syrup. If you want less sugar, please feel free to omit the honey or, keep the honey and reduce the amount of dates to 3.
Also, to keep these Morning Glory Muffins in the low sugar category, I did not add raisins. Like dates, raisins contain a lot of natural sugar and I was concerned adding them it would make the muffins too sweet. If you are not concerned about the amount of sugar in your muffin add no more than a 1/2 cup (125 ml) of raisins and you will enjoy a sweeter muffin more characteristic to a traditional Morning Glory Muffin.
Grated unsweetened coconut is also a nice addition adding another element in texture and flavor. Add up to a 1/2 cup (125 ml) unsweetened flaky coconut.
Determining when the Good Morning Glory Muffins are done
The hardest part about making these muffins is determining when they are done. Because of the amount of vegetables in the recipe and all the moisture from the zucchini, apples and eggs the traditional toothpick test is not reliable here because the batter does not cling to the toothpick. However, I still recommend using a toothpick to check for doneness. Instead of looking at the toothpick to see if there is any wet batter clinging to it, touch the end with your finger tips to feel if it is sticky and moist. If it is, the muffins need to continue baking. When the tooth pick feels on the dry side of moist and is not sticky, the Morning Glory Muffins are done.
Additional clues the muffins are done baking are the color and if the muffins spring back when you lightly touch the muffin tops. They should have a nice golden brown color and spring back into shape after you touch the muffin tops.
Nutritional Information for Good Morning Glory Muffins
According to My Fitness Pal calorie and nutrition calculator, when made according to my recipe each muffin has 203 calories. Has 7 grams of fat (11% DRV), of which 1 gram is saturated fat, 4 grams are monounsaturated fat and 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat, plus 0 trans-fat. Each muffin has 31 grams of cholesterol (10% DRV) which comes from the eggs. All other ingredients do not contain any cholesterol. Other nutritional points of interest are: Sodium 143 mg (6% DRV), potassium 217 mg (6% DRV), total carbohydrates at 34 g (11% DRV), with dietary fiber at 7 g (30% DRV), and sugar at 10 g. Also, each muffin contains 4 g (8% DRV) of protein, 41% Vitamin A, 16% Vitamin C, 15% Calcium and 10% Iron.
Because of the power of the sugar lobby, nutritional labels do not show the Daily Recommended Value (DRV) for sugar. If must be a concerning percentage if the sugar industry does not want us to know. I was hoping to get these muffins in the single digits, but with 7 grams of dietary fiber I believe they are relatively low in sugar.
More recipes using no refined sugar or less sugar.
Low Fat Granola you can adjust the amount of sugar in the recipe by reducing the amount of dried fruit. Using fresh ginger instead of crystallized ginger is also a great way to cut back on the sugar.
Good Morning Glory Muffins
This muffin recipe is my adaptation for a low sugar Morning Glory Muffin. There is no refined sugar and are loaded with lots of fresh ingredients like apples, zucchini, sweet carrots and Medjool dates. These muffins are not sweet but will contain some sweet bites depending on how many dates are scattered about in each muffin. They are a delicious and healthy choice for breakfast.
For extra protein, serve with ½ cup (66 ml) low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt. Or Laban a Lebanese cheese made with yogurt.
Best served warm and the day it is made. Serving size =1 muffin.
- ½ cup 43 g shelled walnuts
- 1 ¼ cup 179 g all-purposed flour
- ¾ cup 120 g whole wheat flour
- ½ tsp 2 g Kosher salt
- 2 tsp 10 g baking powder
- ½ tsp 1 g ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg less than a gram
- 1 ½ tsp minced fresh ginger 7 g
- 4 Medjool dates 62 g minced
- 1 zucchini 8 oz / 239 g about 1 2/3 cups grated
- 2 carrots 6 ½ oz / 185 g 1 packed cup grated
- 1 apple 6 ½ oz / 185 g ¾ cup grated
- ½ cup 125 ml apple sauce
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- 1/3 cup canola oil or 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 TB honey
Preheat the oven to 375°F/ 190°C / Gas Mark 5 and place the rack in the middle position. Spray each muffin cup with cooking spray. Soak up any excess oil with a paper towel. Or fill each muffin cup with a paper liner.
Toast the walnuts
Heat a small skillet over high heat for 4-5 minutes. Add the shelled walnuts to the skillet and shake the skillet to move the walnuts around the pan. Keep the walnuts in motion by moving the skillet back and forth, shake the skillet or toss with a spoon. The walnuts are toasted when you begin to smell a nutty scent, about 30 seconds. Do not let the walnuts brown or burn.
Immediately turn off the heat and pour the walnuts onto a cutting board to cool. Chop the walnuts to small bite size pieces. Set aside.
Prepare the Zucchini and Apple
Place the grated zucchini in a fine mesh strainer and squeeze out most of the excess water. Squeeze several times to get as much water out. Place on a plate and reserve.
Add the grated apples to the fine mesh strainer and squeeze out some of the water from the apples. Place on the plate with the zucchini. Add the grated carrots to the plate. Set aside.
Make the batter
Add the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, Kosher salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, minced ginger to a large mixing bowl. With a wire whisk, stir until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
Add the minced dates into the flour and toss the dates around to coat with flour. Use your hands to separate the clumps of chopped dates to get them evenly distributed in the flour.
Slide the grated zucchini, grated carrots, grated apples, and chopped walnuts into the flour mix and stir to mix.
Add the applesauce, canola oil, eggs, vanilla, and honey then stir to mix. Carefully stir until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated. You want to be careful to not over mix the batter, but it does need to get all mixed together. It is a thick batter.
Scoop up a heaping ¼ cup of batter with a dry measuring cup and pour the batter into a muffin tin. Repeat to fill all 12 muffin cups. Divide any remaining batter around to even out the muffins.
Bake in the oven for 35– 40 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown and the top of the muffins spring back when touched. Also, when a toothpick is no longer sticky to touch after it was inserted into the center of a muffin.
Remove from the oven and cool the muffins in its' pan placed on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, cool in the muffin tin, or remove each muffin and cool on the rack.
Best eaten the day they are made, but will last for 2-3 days stored in an air tight container. Reheat in a microwave or oven.
Can be frozen individually wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in a Ziploc bag in the freezer for up to one month.
Because there is a lot of fruit and vegetables what have a lot of water it creates a very moist muffin. The traditionally reliable toothpick method of checking to see when a baked good is done, does not work here. No crumbs and batter cling to the toothpick even when they need more baking.
I still recommend using a toothpick, but in a different way. After 30 minutes, insert a toothpick into the middle of a muffin and take it out. Pinch the end of the toothpick that was inside the muffin, if it feels very moist and sticky, the muffins need more time. The muffins are done when the toothpick feels on the dry side of moist, plus is not sticky. These muffins take longer to bake because of the amount of moisture in the batter, anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Sometimes when I try something new, I scratch my head and wonder, “Where did that come from?” One never knows where inspiration lies. Such is the case with my recipe for Smoky-Maple Apple Dutch Baby. Far in the reaches of my subconsciousness came an idea about getting apple slices infused with a light smoky flavor. I am still pinching myself and asking, “Did I really make this?” Yes, I did. I can’t deny it.
During the month of October, I wanted to feature apples in a new recipe. Over a couple of weeks, I tested different flavors to find a combination highlighting apples in a new way. It occurred to me, sweet, caramelized and smoky accents are wonderful flavors with crispy apples. So, instead of using butter and brown sugar, I sautéed apple slices in rendered bacon fat and maple syrup to develop the smoky-sweet flavor I was looking for. To my delighted surprise, it worked.
I did whaat? I sautéed apples in bacon fat. Ever so clearly, I can hear in my mind two opposing reactions to my confession. One, “OH man, that is so good.” The other being, “Nooo. You did what? Bacon fat? Really?.” Admittedly, I am split on both sides of the fence. However, I am moving forward and not looking back. Unanimously, my quest for flavor overruled all other concerns. It is funny because I never cook like this. Don’t get me wrong I love bacon, but bacon fat is something I freeze then throw away, not cook with. Cooking with bacon fat was a no-no in my childhood home and a lesson I learned early in life. Regardless, using the rendered bacon fat, instead of butter, added the natural smoky accent I wanted. No apologies.
Call this a rebellion from my upbringing, but these apple slices cooked in bacon fat and maple syrup are addictive. The smoky-maple flavors are subtle, but work well against the light-custard foundation of the Dutch Baby Pancake. It is not too sweet or too rich, which sometimes occurs when using brown sugar and butter. A light sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg adds a little warm spice. Fresh rosemary and lemon juice brighten all the flavors and bring them together. Since a light hand is used for seasoning the Apple Dutch Baby, all the flavor accents behave and work harmoniously together. The apple is the star, with the pancake and everything else the supporting actors.
More Breakfast Recipes:
This recipe is part of a collaborative apple recipe project with other food bloggers on social media. The tag, #aisforalltheapples, is going live on October 25, 2017, and you’ll find over 70 photos featuring the best apple recipes on Instagram and other social media platforms. Additionally, you can visit their websites using a direct link to each apple recipe. Please note, at the time of my publication, some of the links below will direct you to a 404 page. Please, don’t get alarmed. All the posts publishing on or by October 25th, but not at the same time. The 404 page will redirect you to the home page and you can search for the recipe. I will update my post as everything gets published. Thank you for your patience.
Hope you enjoy #aisforalltheapples, and my Smoky-Maple Apple Dutch Baby.
Smoky Maple Apple Dutch Baby Pancake
For the Smoky-Maple Apples
- 1 medium crispy apple like Honey Crisp or Yellow Delicious
- 2 TB (26 g) bacon fat*, or butter (31 g)
- 2 TB (38 g) real maple syrup
- Freshly grated nutmeg
For the Smoky-Maple Apple Dutch Baby
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) milk
- 1 tsp vanilla or 1 TB Apple Brandy (Calvados)
- 1 TB (13 g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (74 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 2 TB (31 g) butter
- Smoky-Maple Apple Slices
- 1 tsp or less minced fresh rosemary plus more for garnish
- Optional- 1 slice bacon cooked and crumbled
- Fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Powdered sugar for garnish
Pre-heat the oven to 425°F (218 °C)
Prepare the apples
Peel and core the apple and slice into rounds, 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick.
Heat a large 10-inch (25 cm) skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Once hot, add the bacon fat and maple syrup. Stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to combine. Arrange the sliced apples in a single layer around the skillet. (You will need to cook the apple slices in a couple of batches.) Grate nutmeg over each slice of apple. Cook undisturbed for about 2 minutes. Turn the apple slices over, grate more nutmeg and cook until the apples are softened, but still firm and hold its shape, 1-2 minutes. Place the cooked apple slices on a plate and continue with the remaining apples. The glazed apple slices could stick together so do not stack them on the plate. You may need more than one plate to hold the smoky-maple apple slices.
Make the Smoky-Maple Apple Dutch Baby Pancake
Clean the skillet and place in the pre-heated oven.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla or Calvados. Add the flour and whisk until completely combined and there are no lumps.
Add the butter to the skillet in the oven.
When the butter is melted and stopped bubbling, remove the skillet from the oven then tilt the pan to make sure the melted butter is evenly coated across the bottom and sides of the skillet. The butter may brown a little but that adds more flavor. You don't want the butter to burn so watch it carefully.
Pour the batter into the center of the pan. Layer as many apple slices around the pancake batter as you like. It is ok to overlap the apple slices here. Sprinkle the minced rosemary over the apple slices. If you are adding crumbled bacon, sprinkle it over the apples now. Return the skillet to the oven.
Bake the Dutch Baby pancake for 20 minutes. Don't open the oven door until at least 15 minutes goes by. You can check the pancake through the lighted window in your oven. The Apple Dutch Baby won't rise and bubble until it gets sufficiently hot. The pancake is done when the sides have risen, and the surface is golden brown.
Remove the Apple Dutch Baby from the oven and lightly garnish with some minced rosemary if needed. Squeeze lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon) all around the Dutch Baby.
Serve immediately for breakfast garnished with a light coating of powdered sugar and bacon on the side. Or, for dessert with ice cream and caramel sauce.
* If you are like me and don't save your rendered bacon fat, cook at least 4-6 slices of bacon in the skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Use the same skillet you plan to use for the Dutch Baby and sautéing the apples. It all depends on your bacon, but you should get plenty of rendered bacon fat to cook the apples with. Or cook enough bacon for your whole family or friends to enjoy with their Apple Dutch Baby and reserve 2 tablespoons of rendered bacon fat for the apples.
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© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
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.
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.
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?”
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 haven’t 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.
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 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.
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
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bake for 35 – 45 minutes until it is golden brown on top and looks set in the middle.
Remove the baked oatmeal from the oven and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
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.
Store in the refrigerator covered for several days. Re-heat in the microwave in a glass container covered with a paper towel.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.