Monday, March 18, 2013

Easter Brunch Ideas

Time to put a spring in your step if you're planning brunch for your family bunch this upcoming Easter.  The morning should be simple, sweet, and oh so savory to welcome the longer days and warmer sunshine!

When I think of what to make for Easter Brunch, my go-to is Lemon Blueberry Bundt cake. I first found this gem on the cover of the Family Circle many moons ago.  This recipe is definitely in the book (Secret Ingredient Is Love) and has been much loved in our house by many friends and lots of family.  This is so not your grandmother's hot cross buns! 
photo source:

Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake
(can be made 2 days ahead, covered, and chilled if there's room in the 'fridge)
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/4 cups blueberries, tossed with 1 tablespoon flour
Glaze: (Note: I skip this step and just sprinkle a dusting of confectioners sugar, adding a little zest for color) 
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 6 - 7 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • Lemon zest for garnish, optional


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. In another large bowl, beat butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla and beat until combined. Beat in flour in three additions, alternating with buttermilk. Beat for 2 minutes on medium-high. Fold in blueberries. Spoon into prepared pan.
4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a sharp knife around edges of the pan. Turn out and cool completely.
Glaze: 5. In a small bowl, mix together confectioners sugar, lemon juice and corn syrup until smooth. Drizzle over top of cake and let it roll down the sides.

Next up, quiche!  If you've never conquered a quiche, you'll  be amazed at the ease and find a taste that's sure to please.  This can be made 1-2 nights ahead, and kept covered, chilled, and reheated until warmed through.  A quiche also allows you to get creative with contents. Basically, anything goes as long as it tastes good with eggs. Some of my favorite add-ins are onion, cheese, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, cheese, bacon, peppers, sausage, any combination of these, and of course, more cheese.
photo via  Flickr by cardamom at
Basic Quiche
  • 1 frozen pie crust
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 pint (16 0z.) half and half
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • add-ins of your choice 
  • salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Place pie crust into glass pie plate.
3. Whisk together eggs, half and half, and spices.
4. Place 1 cup of cheese in the prepared crust.
5. Layer add-ins of choice.
6. Cover layers with sprinkling of 1 cup of cheese.
7. Pour liquid mixture over the top, slowly, allowing it to fill the crust.
8. Create tasteful presentation of final top contents (see photo above).
9. Bake for 1 hour, remove, and allow it to cool and set up a bit before serving.  

Fresh baked Apple French Toast creates a wonderfully warm blend of sweet caramelized apples and moist, spongy French toast that's a snap to put together the night before your guests arrive.  This is a comfort food worth savoring each bite!
photo via
 Apple French Toast
recipe courtesy of LuAnn Trombly, chef
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 Tb light corn syrup
  1.  In a small sauce pan over low to medium heat, cook the above ingredients until thick (5-7 minutes), stirring as needed. Pour the mixture into an ungreased 13x9 in. glass baking pan.
  2. Next, mix the following:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
     3.  Slice (peel first if desired) 2 large tart apples (granny smith, gala, or macs).
     4.  Cut 10 slices of thick bread (Texas toast, or similar) in half, corner to corner.  Dip the bread into the egg mixture for 1 minute.
     5.  Assemble: Layer bread into the baking dish, point side up.  Place an apple slice in between each layer.  Chop any remaining apples and sprinkle over the top.
     6.  Place in the refrigerator overnight.  In the morning, take out the dish and allow it to rest for 30 minutes while the oven preheats to 350 degrees F.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow the dish to rest on a cooling rack (see photo) until ready to serve.  
    7.  Consider toppings!  This is beautiful served alone, with a simple sprinkle of confectioners sugar, along side maple syrup, or with a special glaze as follows:
  • 1 jar (10 oz.) apple jelly
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
*Heat in a sauce pan until a warm liquid forms, and drizzle over the French Toast right when it comes out of the oven.    Yum!

Got more eggs?  Of course you do, it's Easter!  Another dish that's best prepared the night before and baked at 350 degrees F, right along side your Apple French Toast while you hunt for eggs is a Strata.  This is another easy breezy beautiful brunch item that stretches the budget and pleases the crowd. Strata is a bread pudding-like layered comfort food casserole made with eggs, cheese and stale cubed bread.  To the basic recipe, you can add infinite combinations of vegetables, fish or meat. Eat this warm, and stay full all day!
photo via
  Bacon, Egg, Cheese (+/- veggie) Strata
recipe derived and modified from
  • about 12 slices of thick bread, cubed (enough to cover the bottom to middle of a 13x9 inch glass baking dish)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup crispy cooked bacon
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • vegetable of choice
  • 9 eggs, wisked
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1 cup of milk
  1. Toss cubed bread with bacon, cheese, and vegetable of choice (I used tomatoes, but you can invent your own), and pour into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Whisk together eggs, half-and-half, and salt/pepper until smooth, then pour evenly over cubed bread. Cover dish with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  3. Remove plastic wrap from the baking dish, and bake strata in preheated oven until the top is golden brown, and the eggs are set, about 1 hour. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
To balance out all the eggs and cheese, I like to serve some salads to lighten the load.  A chopped salad of romaine lettuce, cucumbers, dried cranberries, and feta is bright and bold with balsamic dressing.   A fruit salad is a treat, and brings to mind the berries that are soon to be springing from the garden beds.  Some roasted potatoes can be prepared a day or two ahead and reheated in the oven while another dish cooks to perfection. The following carrot salad is terrific, especially when you need to do something with all those carrots you bought to lure the bunny to your door!
photo via
Maple Carrot Slaw
recipe derived and modified from Family Circle
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 Tb cider vinegar
  • 3 Tb maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 packages (10 oz. ea.) shredded carrots
  • optional: 1 Tb. finely chopped crystallized ginger +/- 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  1. In a medium sized bowl, stir together mayo, vinegar, maple syrup, salt, pepper (+/- ginger).  Stir in cranberries and carrots.  
  2. Refrigerate 2 hours to overnight.
  3. If using almonds, toast before sprinkling over the top.
  4. Serve cold and enjoy! It's every-bunny's favorite!
Brunch can also involve a featured meat, if you're the carnivorous type like us.  We usually do a spiral ham, which serves a crowd and usually leaves plenty of left overs.  I follow the directions on the package, pretty it up with some orange slices and a special glaze (warm apricot preserves or orange marmalade mixed with orange juice), and serve this warm.  It's super easy and hardly any work, but you just have to keep yourself organized with oven temps and times when considering cooking the meat just right, and getting your other dishes finished at the same time.  
My spiral ham ready for the oven, 2011
I will admit to one big mistake I've made in the past.  I saw my ham spiral out of control the one time that I tried to be extra fancy and put fresh pineapple slices in the layers while cooking.  The enzymes in the pineapple broke down the meat as it cooked, and made for a mushy mess!  Not recommended- it wasn't pretty!

So, other than the wine and dessert (which your guests can be invited to provide), your table is set and you're ready to eat.  Enjoy the hunt this year while you search for the perfect recipes to make your morning relaxed and your menu renewed.  Good luck!

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