Breakfast has remained pure amid all the food trends. The honest simplicity of breakfast is so captivating. The most delicious breakfasts usually derive from the humblest ingredients (money alone does not buy good food).
~ Marion Cunningham
I have some news. There is a wonderful recipe down below – yes, yes – actually, there are two! But there is also something else. It is a book. It might even be a book for you.
Let’s back up a minute. For the next six weeks, I’m going to start each week with a recipe from one of my favorite and most-used kitchen books – and then, one lucky reader each week will win their very own, brand spanking new copy! I’m super excited. I think we’ve picked some great books – ones that inspire, ones that intrigue, ones that introduce new ideas and ones that instill confidence in old techniques. Ones that you can dream over, but ones that I hope you will also turn to time and again, to actually cook from.
I have been so excited about this selection process that I have actually had a hard time sleeping. Really! Insomnia has plagued me these past weeks as we debated which books to include, which most-loved volumes would make the cut.
I couldn’t decide where to begin – and then suddenly as I sat looking at my list, it was obvious. We should begin with breakfast, of course.
Marion Cunningham’s Breakfast Book has all those things that make cookbooks stick with you: delicious recipes, good tips, funny lists, thoughtful quotes. Marion’s own introductory statement makes the best case for why a breakfast book is such a good idea. She writes simply, “I often ask people what they think of breakfast, and most reply instantly that it is their favorite meal.”
The Breakfast Book is new (to me), but it is already stained, already spine-broken – and, most importantly, I have already made half the recipes in it (including here and especially here). Some of you might have been reading back when I first decided to order it for myself. You might remember that I was not always a believer. But Molly’s version of her risen waffle recipe made me reconsider her, and now Marion is an important friend in my kitchen.
Here’s what we will do, then: you tell me in the comments about your favorite breakfast food, recipe, book or story. On Monday the 28th we’ll do a random drawing for the winning comment number. For fairness’s sake, only your first comment will count for the drawing … but please, feel free to comment more than once if you have more than one favorite!
While we all wait with baited breath for the random drawing, I will tell you about some orange-rye rolls that I made, inspired by two of the recipes in this wonderful book. The two original recipes happen to live side-by-side, on pages 14 and 15, and an initial mix-up while gathering ingredients inspired me to combine them into a third recipe: the Orange-Rye Roll of Bliss.
And down below the rolls, for those who don’t have time for dough to rise this morning, you’ll also find a little orange-and-rye pancake recipe …
And so it begins :)
Orange-Rye Rolls of Bliss
The Oatmeal Orange Bread (page 14) and the Orange Rye Bread (page 15) in The Breakfast Book both look really delicious. But I cannot vouch for either of them because I accidentally made these rolls instead. And we love them too much to go back. The food-processed whole orange from the Oatmeal bread meets the dark rye flour from the Orange Rye bread and as Marion herself says, “Rye and orange go together like ham and eggs.” Roll them up and sprinkle with a tiny pinch of sugar, and then skip around your house and smell them while they bake. Or sit next to your oven and smell them while they bake. Either way, really, is fine.
3 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (body temperature)
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
3 1/2 cups dark rye flour
3 1/2 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 orange, quartered and seeded (but not peeled!) and ground in the food processor or finely chopped into about 1 cup of orange-chop-stuff
1 cup additional flour (all-purpose or rye or a mix) for dusting and kneading
2 tablespoons sugar, for dusting tops before baking
Place warmed water, 1/4 cup milk, the yeast, and the first tablespoon of sugar in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Stir together, then let stand 5 minutes so the yeast dissolves.
In a large mixing bowl (or your stand mixer bowl, if planning to use your bread hook to knead), whisk or sift together the flours, salt, and brown sugar. In a separate bowl, mix the egg, milk, and butter. (The butter will be chunky and that’s okay, it will work itself out in the kneading).
Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture and stir. Add the remaining liquids and mix everything together – you should have a dry but manageable dough. Add the orange and mix that in – you will now have a stickier dough. Knead by hand for 1 minute, then let the dough rest for ten minutes. Resume kneading, either by hand or with the bread hook in your stand mixer. Add additional flour if needed to make it workable. Knead for ten minutes by hand, or five or so in the mixer, until the dough is very workable. It will still be shaggy – Marion says “Rye dough never gets smooth and elastic the way wheat flour does, so don’t worry about the dough remaining a little tacky.”
Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a damp towl or oiled plastic wrap, and let it rise 1-2 hours, until doubled. Punch down, then divide in half. Divide each half into ten pieces (or more – we made ours small – they can be most any size as long as they are equal). Roll the pieces into snakes, then coil them into roll shapes. * * Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, cover, and let rise about an hour. (You could also make two loaves in standard loaf pans, if you don’t feel like making rolls).
Preheat oven to 375 F while the rolls are doing their second rise. Just before baking, sprinkle the rolls with the remaining two tablespoons of sugar. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. (Loaves would need to bake for about 45 minutes).
* * My friend Joanne was eating a toasted orange-rye roll with ricotta and honey with us for lunch one day, and innocently asked “So, did you roll the dough into a log and then slice them for baking?” Ack. No I did not. But I totally could have! And now you can. Thanks Joanne :)
Marion suggests that if company is coming you could try making a quick orange marmalade (cook one cup orange pulp with one cup sugar for about five minutes, or until shiny), and then glazing the top of the bread about ten minutes before it is done baking. I suggest that you could alternately get decadent with these by rolling a little melted butter and sugar into them, making them almost like sweet rolls. The dough itself would still be orangey and not-to-sweet, but with a little sweet-sticky-goodness inside, it would transform into a real treat … remember though, we’re talking breakfast here, not brunch, so don’t get too carried away :)
Orange-Rye Pancakes of Bliss
This is adapted from the Classic Griddle Cakes recipe in The Pancake Handbook from Bette’s Oceanview Diner – my favorite adaptable pancake recipe. Kyle’s Uncle Mick gave us this book many years ago, and since then I have replaced the all-purpose flour in this recipe with all sorts of things (spelt, cornmeal, buckwheat, oat flour, whole cooked oats, even ground hazelnuts!) and have always gotten good results. After making the rolls above, I decided to try an orange-rye version. I count on having at least half my pancake batches to freeze for later in the week – but these disappeared. Something about that orange-rye combo really is magical … You can absolutely go all-in with the rye flour here. Your pancakes will still be light and fluffy and wonderful, even without any white stuff.
2 cups dark rye flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter (half a stick), melted
Zest from one orange, plus two tablespoons juice
In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and butter. (Make sure that the butter doesn’t cook the eggs and the milk doesn’t harden the butter :) ) Add the orange zest and juice to the liquids. Stir well. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ones, all at once, and stir just to blend. The batter will be a little lumpy.
Let the batter rest 5-10 minutes while you heat your largest cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. (My skillets are well seasoned, but I still lightly oil them with canola oil before making these). Once the pan is hot, turn the heat back to medium. Pour scant 1/4 cups of batter onto the hot pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the edges are set (these pancakes don’t always clearly bubble over the entire surface, so just keep an eye on those edges). Gently turn and cook 2 minutes more, until lightly browned on both sides.
I cool these on wire racks because my kids eat them plain, out of hand. You could also keep them warm in a low oven and serve the lot at the table. They are wonderful smeared with butter, spread with a little tart-orange marmalade (or fukushu kumquat marmalade!), sprinkled with cinnamon (or cinnamon sugar if you must), or of course dipped into maple syrup …