Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Breakfast At Home

Before I had kids, one of my favourite indulgences was weekend brunch.  I loved going to those small, hip brunch spots with my friends, so we could chat about this and that, while eating a greasy plate of eggs and home fries.  After brunch, I would usually talk a leisurely walk around the neighborhood for some good ol' people watching and to poke my head into a few shops.  It all felt so footloose and fancy free.

These days, going out for brunch poses some interesting challenges: getting the kids ready and out the door, finding a neighborhood place with good food and no line-up, and scoring a big table that will seat ourselves and our friends.  That's why I'm quite happy having breakfast at home.  If we do a bit of advance planning, we can cook and serve up a good breakfast before 9am (hangry hour).  Unplanned breakfast is usually toast, sunny side up eggs, and a banana.  Nothing too exciting.  But when we put in some time and thought the night before, breakfast can be great, even on a time-crunched weekday.  Like this family favourite: an apple crisp baked the night before.  It has only a touch of sweetness and a ton of fruit so it still feels healthy, but it's sweet enough to keep everyone asking for more.

Breakfast Apple Crisp
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.  Makes 4-6 servings.

Fruit crisps are very forgiving; you can easily substitute the ingredients and it will still turn out delicious.  Berries for apples, whole wheat flour for ground almonds, milk for orange juice, butter for coconut oil, maple syrup for brown sugar, pecans for sunflower seeds... I can go on forever.  I've made this breakfast crisp over a dozen times last year, and the below permutation is my favourite.  I like to leave the skin on the apples; it lends a nice texture, colour, and a bit of extra fibre.

This crisp just happens to be gluten-free and vegan.

6 medium tart apples, such as Cortland, cored and cut into thin chunks (approx. 2 lbs)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp brown sugar

3 tbsp (45 g) coconut oil, warmed slightly to liquefy
3 tbsp (45 g) olive oil
3 tbsp (40 g) brown sugar
1/2 cup (50 g) ground almonds
2 cups (180 g) large-flake oats
1/4 cup (20 g) unsweetened flaked dried coconut
1/4 cup  (35 g) raw sunflower seeds
1 tsp whole brown flax seeds
1 generous pinch of kosher salt
Juice and zest of 1/2 an orange

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Grease an 8x8" square glass baking dish with coconut oil.  Put the apples in a large bowl, and add the other filling ingredients on top.  Toss together, and dump into the baking dish evenly.  Set aside.

In another large bowl, use a wooden spoon to mix the liquid coconut oil, olive oil, brown sugar, and ground almonds into a slurry.  Stir in the oats, coconut, seeds, and salt.  Pour in the juice and zest, and mix well.  Spread the topping over the apples, pressing it lightly and smoothing it out to ensure even browning.

At this point, you can cover with plastic wrap, and keep it overnight in the fridge to be baked in the morning.  Or, you can bake it straight away - at 400F for 30 minutes, or until the apples are bubbling and the top is golden brown.  Serve warm, or do what I do: cool to room temperature and cover with plastic wrap, and store it in the fridge until the next morning.  Pop it in the microwave for a couple of minutes, and serve with a scoop of plain yogurt.


  1. I totally know what you mean about breakfast and planning!
    Just wondering, does the coconut oil taste much better than using butter?

    1. Very good question. I used to use butter, but then recently started using coconut oil only because I have a jar of it. I'm not sure if there's really a taste difference... there's shredded coconut in it, so it's hard to tell where the coconut flavour is coming from.

    2. Right, I think the shredded coconut would be more prominent. Haven't used coconut oil in baking yet but it definitely makes for a good vegan option!

  2. You know, I actually wrote a comment using Comment as Anonymous three times and the comment never appeared. GRRR. Anyways, I recently made a crisp too but it was a very basic one as I wanted a quick and easy dessert. The great thing is that they are so tasty and so easy. Yours sounds much healthier and hearty. I particularly like the added sunflower seeds and coconut flakes.

    1. Blogger has a mind of its own sometimes. What do Australians put into their crisps? I'm guessing mango.