Christmas Day Breakfast

the party

The presents are open, the fire is roaring, and you've got to feed a full house. This sweet and savory meal (think do-ahead French toast and peppery bacon) will start the morning off right.


By PAULA DISBROWE
Photos by JEREMY LIEBMAN

Save the high heels for the cocktail parties and the hours at the stove for your big holiday dinner. A casual Christmas breakfast—eaten in pajamas amid a flurry of wrapping paper—is a refuge. Making it should be a low-key affair, too: Here, do-ahead French toast soaks overnight in a vanilla custard, so the day-of prep involves little more than baking. Then just crisp the bacon in the oven—the ultimate technique for serving all the relatives at your house—and add a bright citrus salad. The only thing left to do is cue the Bing Crosby.

Baked French Toast with Pecan Crumble

Active | 30 min Total | 3 hours 45 min

8 SERVINGS

Drying out the challah lets it absorb the custard without going to mush. You can also use brioche.

FRENCH TOAST

  • 1 1-lb. loaf challah, sliced 1″ thick
  • Unsalted butter, room temperature (for baking dish)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

PECAN CRUMBLE AND ASSEMBLY

  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 2 Tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • Blackberry Syrup

FRENCH TOAST

Spread out bread on a rimmed baking sheet; let stand overnight.

Butter a 13×9″ baking dish. Cut bread so slices are similar in size. Arrange, overlapping, in rows in prepared dish.

Whisk eggs, egg yolks, cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. Pour over bread, pressing bread to help it soak up custard. Cover and chill at least 2 hours.

DO AHEAD: Bread can be soaked 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

PECAN CRUMBLE AND ASSEMBLY

Preheat oven to 375°. Pulse pecans, butter, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor until nuts are coarsely chopped.

Scatter pecan crumble over soaked bread. Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet and cover tightly with foil. Bake until warmed through (a knife inserted into the center should feel warm to the touch), 25–30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until deeply browned, 35–40 minutes longer. Let cool slightly before serving with Blackberry Syrup.

DO AHEAD: Pecan mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Blackberry Syrup

Active | 20 min Total | 25 min

8 SERVINGS

The BA Test Kitchen likes Grade B maple syrup for its deep and rounded flavor.

  • 1 10-oz. bag frozen blackberries, thawed
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup

Bring blackberries, lemon juice, and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until berries soften and juices thicken slightly, 10–15 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in maple syrup. Let cool slightly before serving.

DO AHEAD: Syrup can be made 1 day ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.

Pink Peppercorn Bacon

Active | 10 min Total | 45 min

8 SERVINGS

It might seem like a long time, but cooking the bacon until it's well-done means it'll stay crisp at the table.

  • 2 lb. thick-cut bacon (about 16 slices)
  • 2 Tbsp. cracked pink peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp. coarsely ground black pepper

Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 400°. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil and fit with wire racks. Place bacon on racks and sprinkle with half of pink and black pepper. Bake 15 minutes, turn, sprinkle with remaining pink and black pepper, and rotate baking sheets. Bake bacon until brown and crisp, 15–20 minutes longer.

Citrus Salad with Tarragon

Active | 25 min Total | 25 min

8 SERVINGS

This no-heat method for making simple syrup also works in larger quantities. Try it using mint or lavender, too.

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup (packed) fresh tarragon leaves, plus more for serving
  • 4 blood oranges
  • 4 clementines
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 2 tangerines

Combine sugar, 1/4 cup tarragon, and 1/4 cup water in a jar, cover, and shake until sugar is dissolved. Strain tarragon syrup through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean jar or small bowl; discard tarragon.

Using a sharp knife, remove peel and white pith from blood oranges, clementines, navel oranges, and tangerines; discard. Slice citrus crosswise into 1/4″-thick rounds. Arrange citrus on a platter, drizzle with tarragon syrup (if your citrus is sweet, you may not want to use all of the syrup), and top with more tarragon leaves.

DO AHEAD: Syrup can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.