Christmas dinner is a wonderful tradition but, trust us, holiday brunch is the wave of the future. It works equally well for Christmas morning and New Year’s Day and you get to eat before everyone gets restless. You can also prepare a lot of the recipes, including the one I’ve included below, the day before—then if your family will let you, sleep in. I’ve entrusted one of the best baking books of 2015 for this special occasion: Food52 Baking: 60 Sensational Treats You Can Pull Off in a Snap (Ten Speed Press, September 22, 2015). This unique collection of sweet and savory dishes is a must-have for your kitchen; it includes recipes that anyone can master.
For my Food52-inspired brunch, I would start off with the Savory Galette with Greens and Gruyère – a flavorful vegetarian tart filled with kale, shallots, mustard greens and Gruyère cheese. I’d pair this with the 15-Minute Olive Oil and Sesame Seed Crackers and some homemade edamame hummus. The crackers in this baking bible are easy to make. Another addition to my very merry Christmas brunch would be the luscious Overnight Orange Refrigerator Rolls (recipe below) and Baked Cardamom French Toast with Syrupy Meyer lemons. A nice green salad made with arugula, oranges and fennel would add a fresh touch. Last but not least, you can’t forget a nice bubbly drink to pair with your brunch plate.
Forget the joy of unwrapping gifts. Nowadays, nothing gets me out of bed faster on Christmas morning than a bubbly refreshing holiday Bellini. This year I’m thinking a crisp pear puree with Prosecco or a delicious jewel-toned cranberry pomegranate. You can also bring pear and cranberry together for a tart concoction with sweet and subtle pear undertones.
Overnight Orange Refrigerator Rolls
MAKES 24 ROLLS
While you may think that having fresh-from-the-oven yeast rolls before noon is out of your reach, it can be done. Just mix the dough in the evening, then roll, shape, and bake the buns in the morning. Altogether, the recipe requires only about 15 minutes of hands-on time, and baking the rolls in muffin tins with paper liners makes the process especially easy (and mess-free).
1 cup (240ml) water
1⁄4 cup (60g) unsalted butter
1⁄4 cup (50g) shortening, preferably butter-flavored
7 tablespoons (85g) granulated sugar
3⁄4 teaspoon salt
2 1⁄4 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour, or as needed
8 tablespoons (100g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1⁄2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 1⁄2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
2 cups (250g) confectioners’ sugar
1⁄4 cup (60ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
1. To make the dough, boil 1⁄2 cup (120ml) of the water in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the butter and shortening, and stir until melted. Add the granulated sugar and salt and stir until combined. Let cool until lukewarm.
2. Heat the remaining 1⁄2 cup (120ml) water until it is between 105°F (40°C) and 115°F (45°C). Pour it into a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the top, and stir to dissolve the yeast. Stir in the sugar-butter-shortening mixture and the egg. Add the flour and mix thoroughly. If the dough is still sticky to the touch, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough is smooth and no longer tacky. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 10 hours, until doubled in size.
3. Meanwhile, make the filling. Stir together the butter, granulated sugar, and orange zest until completely combined. Set aside.
4. About 2 hours before serving, line two muffin pans with paper liners or butter three 8- or 9-inch (20 or 23cm) square baking pans.
5. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface, divide it in half, and roll out each portion into an 8 by 12-inch (20 by 30cm) rectangle.
6. Spread half of the filling over each piece of dough. Roll up each rectangle to make an even, firm log, then slice each into 12 equal rounds. Put each round in a lined muffin cup, or arrange them in the prepared pans. Let rise for 1 1⁄2 hours, until they’ve doubled in size and a finger indentation bounces back slowly but remains visible.
7. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes if using individual muffin cups and 20 minutes if using square baking pans.
8. Meanwhile, make the glaze. Stir together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the warm rolls.