Christmas morning holds a special place in my heart. As a child, I’d wake up in the middle of the night and tip-toe out into the living room to see what Santa brought me. I’d gently shake every present and lovingly run my hands over the pretty wrapping paper, eager to rip it off and unveil my new toys.
While I no longer wake up at 3:00 AM to keep vigil over my presents—nor hover over my parents, breathing heavily on them, until they finally give in and admit they’re awake—Christmas morning still excites me. There is such joy in the air. It is also a tad bit crazy.
One needs proper fuel to power through the rest of the festivities. Unfortunately, time can certainly be an issue, so I chose a breakfast that can be made in advance. While you open presents, this lovely rich and decadent caramel apple strata bakes to perfection.
The bottom layer turns into a gooey custard while the top layers gets crunchy and brown. Pour some thick caramel sauce over it to make the dish over the top. I confess that even though it’s billed as a breakfast, it read more like a dessert to me. Granted, my sweet tooth is wimpy, but this is a rich breakfast.
I suggest serving scrambled eggs, ham (more salty) and some fresh fruit to round out your morning meal. The good news of offering a slightly sweet breakfast is the sugar-high should carry you through the rest of the day and all your festivities!
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Caramel Apple Strata
Adapted from Taste of Home Favorite Holiday Recipes
Caramel Sauce Ingredients:
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp butter
Apple Strata Ingredients:
- 3 large apples, peeled and chopped
- 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon all-spice
- 1/8 teaspoon cardamon
- 1 loaf (1 pound) day-old cinnamon bread
- 10 eggs
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- FOR CARAMEL SAUCE: In a 2-quart saucepan, pour in water. Pour sugar into the middle of the pan and DO NOT STIR. Cover and cook over high heat until it comes to a boil. Once the sugar water is boiling, stick a candy thermometer in it and continue to boil until it reaches 300 degrees and turns a pale amber. At 300 degrees, turn down the heat to medium and boil until it reaches 350 degrees and is a rich amber hue. Remove from heat. In the meantime, pour cream into a small saucepan and warm over medium heat. Add a little of the warm cream to the hot sugar, about a quarter of it. It will bubble wildly, so be careful. Add the rest of the cream slowly, and when the bubbling subsides, whisk gently to incorporate. Add butter and whisk until everything is combined.
- Combine apples, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, all-spice, cardamon in a small bowl.
- Arrange half the bread slices in a greased 13×9 baking dish.
- Spoon apples over break and drizzle half the caramel sauce over the apples. Top with remaining bread.
- Mix eggs, milk, salt and vanilla in a large bowl. Pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Remove strate from fridge 30 minutes prior to baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake, uncovered for 55-60 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.
- Microwave reserved caramel sauce, uncovered, for 1-2 minutes until heated through. Drizzle over individual pieces of strata.
- I used cinnamon raison bread as I couldn’t find cinnamon bread.
- You can make the caramel sauce a few days in advance.