Story, Recipe, and Photos by Kaitlin Hill 

Festive, family and friend-filled, and full of jolly, Christmas is undeniably one of the most magical times of the year, and arguably the most hectic.

Between decorating, shopping, wrapping, and loitering under the mistletoe, opportunities for nourishment may seem few and far between. Not to fear, my No-Fuss Christmas Brunch menu can be on your holiday morning table in under an hour and is the perfect way to wind down after a morning of gift opening and carol singing.  

My Gingerbread French Toast is a festive twist on a classic breakfast indulgence. Thick slices of baguette are soaked in spiced custard and fried until crisp on the outside and spongy on the inside. A simple drizzle of maple syrup or a snow-like dusting of powdered sugar is all you need to take this already decadent dish over the top. 

Serve the French toast with my Spicy Brown Sugar Bacon. It is sweet and smoky with a kick of heat from cayenne pepper. You just need two ingredients to give store-bought bacon a holiday-worthy upgrade. 

For the adults at the table, wash it all down with Cranberry Mimosas. Fresh orange juice and tart cranberry juice are topped with champagne for an easy yet elegant cocktail perfect for toasting the Yuletide. Have your little elves help you whip up this delicious brunch for a holiday memory you may want to make an annual tradition. 

Spicy Brown Sugar Bacon 

Serves: 4 | Time: 40 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 8 pieces of thick-cut bacon 
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of brown sugar 
  • ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a large cookie tray with aluminum foil. 
  2. Place the bacon strips on the cookie tray in one even layer and transfer to the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes. 
  3. Mix the brown sugar and cayenne pepper together in a small bowl. 
  4. After 20 minutes, remove the bacon from the oven. Flip the bacon and sprinkle with the sugar and spice mix. Return to the oven to bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes until crispy.  
  5. Remove the tray from the oven and transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve immediately. 

Gingerbread French Toast 

Serves: 4 | Time: 15 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • French baguette cut into inch-wide slices (about 12 slices)
  • 2 eggs 
  • ¼ cup of heavy cream 
  • ¼ cup of whole milk 
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger 
  • ⅛ teaspoon of ground cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon of nutmeg 
  • 3 tablespoons of butter, additional for serving 
  • Maple syrup, optional 
  • Powdered Sugar, optional 

Directions: 

  1. Whisk the eggs, heavy cream, whole milk, and spices together in a shallow dish. Set aside. 
  2. Place a large cast-iron skillet or sauté pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the butter. Let the butter melt. 
  3. Dip a few slices of the baguette into the egg and milk mixture, flipping to coat both slides. Transfer the bread slices to your skillet and cook for 2 – 3 minutes per side until golden brown. 
  4. Repeat the process in batches, adding a tablespoon of butter to the skillet and allowing it to melt before adding the dipped bread. 
  5. Serve the French toast immediately with more butter and a generous drizzle of maple syrup or a sprinkle of powdered sugar. 

Cranberry Mimosas 

Serves: 2 | Time: 2 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 4 ounces of cranberry juice, chilled 
  • 2 ounces of fresh orange juice or orange liqueur 
  • 6 ounces of champagne, chilled 
  • Fresh cranberries, for garnish 
  • Rosemary, for garnish 
  • Orange slices, for garnish 

Divide the cranberry juice evenly between two champagne flutes, 2 ounces per glass. Add an ounce of fresh orange juice or orange liqueur to each glass as well.  Top off each glass with champagne, about 3 ounces each to fill the flute right to the top. Add a few fresh cranberries, a sprig of rosemary, and an orange slice for garnish. Serve immediately. ML

This article first appeared in the December 2019 issue of Middleburg Life.