“Brunch is not a meal. It’s a state of mind.” – Sarah.
This past weekend, my favorite cooking buds and I hosted a doughnut and waffle bar brunch, inspired by Karen’s doughnut cravings. Nothing makes me happier than to have a bunch of people stuffed into my living room to feed, especially when it’s the cutest bunch of seniors from my alma mater (I met them when I was a junior and they were freshman—oh, how old that makes me feel) who will soon graduate and scatter all over the globe. #wah
Here’s what we made:
Although we considered deep-frying the doughnuts, we ultimately decided against a giant pot of hot oil in favor of baked yeast doughnuts.
I followed this recipe, though after examining multiple recipes, I found that nearly all baked yeast doughnuts derive from Heidi Swanson’s version. They puff up gorgeously and are amazing straight from the oven dipped in butter and cinnamon-sugar. They’re healthy in that they are quite low in fat (before dipping them in more fat and sugar, that is). However, I can see why some of the commenters complained that these tasted like rolls—they are fairly plain and chewy. They prompted a “what’s the difference between bagels and doughnuts?” question (answer: bagels are boiled first and therefore much chewier), so definitely don’t expect the ethereally light insides and crispy outsides of fried doughnuts.
I also tried a vegan version with whole wheat flour and they were a surprising success with significantly less sugar in the dough. Karen preferred the non-vegan version, but I couldn’t taste a huge difference between the two aside from the fact that they didn’t rise as high.
The best part by far of baked yeasted doughnuts is that you don’t need a doughnut pan! I used a glass to stamp out the doughnuts and a shot glass + a heart-shaped cutter to stamp out the center. Which meant lots of little heart-shaped doughnut holes, aka perfect portion control. I limited myself to one doughnut hole.
To make the doughnut/waffle bar, we set up an assembly line with pans of still-warm doughnuts and waffles followed by toppings:
- melted chocolate (with a little heavy cream for spreadability)
- melted butter
- cinnamon sugar
- berry compote (frozen berries + water + maple syrup + cornstarch)
- honey caramel (OMG)
- sliced fruit
PLUS! The best doughnut topping discovery came afterwards: instead of using a dip in melted butter to make toppings stick, frost with Greek yogurt + a quick roll in cinnamon sugar. Healthy doughnut bliss <3
This is the third time I’ve made Molly’s waffles. These are the chewiest, densest, most beautiful sugar-studded waffles in all the land (that will leave your waffle maker an utter mess). I always make these the night before for easy prep in the morning. (Tip: make your own pearl sugar!)
During the middle of brunch, Karen beckoned me over with such a solemn look on her face that I thought something was seriously amiss.
“Erika,” she said. “The doughnuts are poisoned.”
No, the doughnuts weren’t actually poisoned, though she managed to give me a 2-second heart attack. She really just wanted to suggest making a second batch of the eggs.
Before I tell you how fast we made the second pan of eggs, let me first say that these are the EASIEST and possibly tastiest brunch eggs I’ve ever made (and I’ve made quite a few). They are so, so good. The dish kind of bakes up like a thin, egg-heavy tart lined with slightly wilted greens that is made exponentially more exciting by a generous sprinkling of cheese, which gives a somehow unexpectedly savory, salty pop to each bite–especially where the cheese crisps onto the pan. The first time around, I followed the recipe right down to the heavy cream and buttered breadcrumbs, but the second time around, we just tossed in three ingredients and churned out another pan of perfectly cooked eggs in 15 MINUTES. Reviews included:
“I want to live an existence where someone spoons these into my mouth nonstop.”
“Remember how to make those eggs for me in the future plz.”
“Babe. These eggs are AMAZING.” <– guess who?
Even though cooking for people makes me feel like I have my head screwed on backwards, I think it went well and I loved that I got an excuse to make some of the breakfast food that I’m constantly drooling over but never make. In the future, I’d like to challenge myself to make a completely vegan brunch.
Have you ever attempted a vegan brunch before? What did you do without eggs?!
Easiest Baked Eggs
- Fresh baby spinach
- 12-16 large eggs really, however many you want--I would recommend at least 2 per person
- about 3/4 cup assorted grated or shredded cheese I used a mix of grated parmesan and shredded mozzarella and cheddar, optional (I've made it many times without cheese)
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees for firmly baked eggs, 375 for very soft eggs. Grease a 9x13 pan.
- Scatter a few handfuls of spinach over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle half the cheese (if using) on top of the spinach. Crack desired number of eggs over the top of the cheese. Top with the rest of the cheese (if using). Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until yolks reach desired level of jiggle. 15 minutes at 400 degrees yielded firm whites and semi-soft yolks; 20 minutes at 375 degrees yielded very soft (almost alarmingly jiggly) whites and runny yolks.