Holiday breakfast done right

Easy but elegant recipes, including Alpenglow’s famous coffeecake

By Alison Highberger / For The Bulletin

Alpenglow Cafe’s Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Makes 3 to 4 loaf pans.

2 C sour cream

1 tsp baking soda

2½ C cake or pastry flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

3 C white sugar

4 lg eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 C melted butter (1 lb, or 4 sticks)

4 C peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples

1 tsp cinnamon

Canola oil spray

Topping:

1½ C brown sugar

2½ C old-fashioned oats

¾ C vegetable oil

½ C cake flour

In a small bowl, mix sour cream with baking soda, and let stand for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325.

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together (cake or pastry flour, baking soda, salt and white sugar). Add the eggs, vanilla extract, melted butter and chopped apples, and mix by hand thoroughly. Fold in the sour cream mixture.

Grease 3 4-by-9-inch loaf pans, and pour in batter, three-quarters full.

Bake for about an hour and 15 minutes, then spread the topping over the top of each loaf and bake for another 5-10 minutes (don’t bake it longer than that, or the sugar in the topping will burn).

Cool on a rack in the loaf pan, then remove from pan. (Alpenglow cools it overnight before they cut it. If you cut it while it’s warm, it’ll crumble.)

— From Alpenglow Cafe, 1133 N.W. Wall St. (on the corner of Wall and Newport), Bend, 541-383-7676, www.alpenglowcafe.com. Open every day (except Christmas Day) from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m.

If you have company visiting over the holidays or folks staying with you for a ski weekend this winter, you may want to impress them with a homemade breakfast or brunch.

Funny how cold cereal just doesn’t seem right when company’s around.

Something special in the morning says “welcome,” and encourages people to linger at the table and chat, and isn’t that what having houseguests is all about? Eat, talk, drink, hang out, repeat.

Since we don’t want you to stress out about cooking, we found some easy and impressive food ideas for you to try. You have enough to do to get ready: clean the house, find the nice towels, make beds and hide the clutter.

‘Incredible’ coffeecake

If, on the other hand, you enjoy taking visiting friends and family out to eat, there are many Central Oregon spots that specialize in breakfast and brunch.

The Alpenglow Cafe has been a Bend breakfast institution since it opened in 1994. It’s famous for eggs Benedict with hollandaise sauce from scratch, seasonal fruit-stuffed French toast (like fresh banana and Nutella), biscuits and gravy and homemade English muffins.

Owners Kimberly and Daniel Gregg were happy to share their popular Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake recipe with us (see recipe). It has been on their menu since the beginning. One of their waitresses suggested it, and it was a hit from day one.

“We call it ‘incredible.’ I just know we sell a lot of it, and people are excited to see it on the menu when they come in,” Kimberly Gregg said.

Daniel Gregg does the cooking at Alpenglow, and said a commitment to fresh ingredients and scratch cooking makes it all taste good.

“The coffeecake has the apples, sour cream and butter. It makes a big difference when you put fresh product in there. It’s moist, and you can’t go wrong with that flavor combination,” he said.

A brunch expert

For more recipes that will impress company, we checked in with Betty Rosbottom, who knows how to whip up a morning meal that’s both easy and memorable.

Her cookbook, “Sunday Brunch: Simple, Delicious Recipes for Leisurely Mornings,” (Chronicle Books), includes all you need to know in order to pamper house­guests when they rise. “Sunday Brunch” has chapters on eggs, one-dish wonders like gratins, flans and tarts, pancakes, waffles and French toast, baked goods, fruit and festive drinks.

Rosbottom’s Best-Ever Scrambled Eggs (see recipe) will change your life. It has an ingredient that takes a simple recipe from good to “Oh my goodness!”

“That little bit of cream cheese melts while you’re cooking. I don’t think I’ve ever served them that someone hasn’t asked for the recipe,” Rosbottom told us in a phone interview from her home in Amherst, Mass.

She said that many people have a tendency to overcook scrambled eggs.

“Better to stop when they’re glistening and moist. The other thing about scrambled eggs is, make more than you think you’re going to need. This recipe calls for eight eggs for four people, but eight don’t scramble up to make that much. Do 12, and it’s fine. They’ll almost all be gone. I know this is a good dish because my grandchildren eat it, and they’re picky eaters,” Rosbottom said.

Rosbottom is also the author of “Sunday Roasts,” “Sunday Soup” and the forthcoming “Sunday Casseroles,” among other titles. You’ve gotta love a cooking teacher, former food columnist and PBS host whose golden rules of entertaining are “Keep it simple and make it ahead.”

Her Gratin of Eggs, Leeks, Bacon, and St. Andre Cheese (see recipe) is good for a holiday morning like Christmas Day or New Year’s Day because it can be assembled one day ahead and kept in the refrigerator. Just preheat the oven in the morning and pop it in to bake.

“I call it a ‘dressed up strata’ with more interesting ingredients. You don’t use regular bread, although you could. You use a baguette, and St. Andre cheese (or a triple cream Brie), leeks instead of onions. I’ve been making it for at least 10 years, and it’s often my default dish for brunch because it has the trinity of breakfast foods: eggs, toast and bacon,” Rosbottom said.

For guests watching their weight, Rosbottom said she always has Greek yogurt on hand, along with granola and fresh fruit. Her recipe for Poached Apricots and Greek Yogurt with Pistachios is light and fresh.

Apricots aren’t in season now, so dried apricots may be substituted.

“If you use dried apricots, remember that they’re sweeter than fresh, so taste them after they’ve been in the sugar syrup, and if they seem overly sweet, add some lemon juice and lemon zest to counteract the sweetness. This recipe has a real Mediterranean feeling. I think it works as a side dish for brunch, or as a dessert with homemade holiday cookies,” Rosbottom said.

The staples

Rosbottom obviously loves food and loves to cook, but she admitted that having guests is tiring as well as wonderful, so she always has the same things on hand for breakfast or brunch when company is coming. Her list might help you the next time your houseguests are on the way.

“I have packages of good smoked salmon. I always have capers and lemons on hand and red onions. I serve it all with bagels and cream cheese or butter. It’s my go-to dish for any time of the morning.

I usually have a basket with a napkin in it for the bagels, smoked salmon on a platter, and ramekins with chopped onions and capers. I put lots of cracked black pepper and lemon juice on the salmon,” she said.

Rosbottom gets croissants at the bakery or her farmers market and freezes them. She always has a variety of homemade jams on hand, “but not homemade by me,” she said.

“Put the croissants on a baking sheet in a 375 degree oven, and they get crisp again. This all makes a nice breakfast for people. They can come down to eat and get anything they like,” she said.

Rosbottom also buys eggnog at the grocery store at this time of year, and makes French toast with it, substituting the eggnog for eggs and milk. Fry up the eggnog-soaked bread or bake it in the oven.

In addition to always having Greek yogurt, honey or maple syrup, and granola on hand, she said she always has a variety of fresh fruit, too.

“I usually have ruby red grapefruit, or the pink grapefruit already cut into segments. When I’m in a jam, I’ll pick up grapefruit and orange segments, and sprinkle them with mint and a drizzle of honey,” she said.

As for morning beverages, Rosbottom has a Nespresso coffee maker and a selection of nice teas. People make their own drinks.

“I try to have what I think guests would like, but when it boils down, we’re not a restaurant. We want people to feel welcome, and coffee, decaf coffee, tea and decaf tea will cover most people, but not my grandkids — I have cider for them,” she said.

— Reporter: ahighberger@mac.com

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