Make Breakfast in Advance for Downtime on Christmas Morning

  • Holiday Stollen. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post.

  • Mini Christmas Frittatas. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post.

  • Glazed Orange Sweet Rolls. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post.

The Washington Post
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

If I had to pick a favorite holiday movie, it would probably be the 1945 classic, Christmas in Connecticut, in which Barbara Stanwyck plays a Martha Stewart-like character who cannot actually cook. She’s terrified when she is asked to make pancakes — and flip them artfully in the air — for Christmas breakfast, all in front of her rapt houseguests.

I might be terrified, too, if only because I would have to mess up my kitchen on Christmas morning. Luckily for me, the lessons I learned growing up have evolved over the years into easy recipes for Christmas morning that are delicious and hassle-free. I credit my mom for the inspiration.

Busy with a full-time career and a growing family, my mom figured out how to catch a little extra shut-eye on Christmas morning while still providing a special breakfast treat that did not involve cracking open a box of Pop-Tarts. Her solution: a buttery Christmas stollen that actually tasted better when it had been made a couple of days in advance.

In the pre-dawn hours of Christmas morning when I was a child, I would wake to find a stocking full of goodies at the foot of my bed. I figured out later that this move from Santa kept me so busy pulling small toys and treats out of the stocking that my parents were able to sleep until a reasonable hour — and there was always the stollen to keep hunger at bay.

Do you know stollen? The traditional Christmas bread dates to 15th-century Germany and bears some similarity to fruitcake. Its dried fruit is sometimes soaked in liquor, and a cylinder of marzipan is often baked into its center. The recipe my mother used came from The Gourmet Cookbook, Vol. 2, published in 1957; over the years, she made adjustments, adding golden raisins, which she soaked in rum, plus candied pineapple and cherries. She never made it with a marzipan filling (which turned out to be a good thing later when my brother got married, because his wife doesn’t care for almond paste).

Tiptoeing out of my bedroom just after sunrise, I would find the stollen waiting on the kitchen counter, snowcapped with a light coating of powdered sugar. My Christmas morning taste memories often revolve around toasting thick slabs of it, liberally slathering them in salted butter and dusting them with cinnamon sugar. Late in the morning, after a couple cups of coffee, my mom might fry up bacon and corn cakes — my dad’s favorite breakfast. But the stollen was always the star.

It was so popular in our family that my half brother, while stationed in the Army in Germany as a young man, reportedly didn’t win any local friends when he derided their stollen as not being as good as my mom’s. Still, my own version is not exactly the same as the one from my childhood. But the basic recipe is the same, an uncomplicated blend of flour, yeast, butter and milk, which I make in a dairy-free version for vegan friends.

I have begun adding make-ahead eggs to my repertoire, for those in the family who, inexplicably, eschew carbs. Baked in muffin pans, mini-frittatas can be stuffed with chives, spinach, red peppers or sun-dried tomatoes for a Christmas-y appearance, then frozen for several weeks until you’re ready to pop them in the microwave.

Christmas Mini-Frittatas

6 servings (makes 12 mini-frittatas)

Whisk together a few eggs, milk and some fillings, pour it all into a muffin pan and you’ve got breakfast. Not only that, you can make these tasty little frittatas weeks in advance and pop them in the freezer. Just warm them up in the microwave for a couple of minutes.

Baking with a small ball of mozzarella or other type of cheese inside makes for a nice, gooey surprise when you cut into them.

Make ahead: The baked, cooled frittatas can be individually wrapped and frozen for up to 2 months.


8 large eggs

¼ cup whole or low-fat milk

4 teaspoons seeded, minced red bell pepper

2 teaspoons finely chopped chives

½ teaspoon celery seed

½ teaspoon sweet paprika

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Twelve 1-inch mozzarella balls (plain or marinated)

Small sweet or hot peppers, for garnish (optional)

Small basil leaves, for garnish (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard-size, 12-well muffin pan with baking paper or silicone liners.

Whisk together the eggs and milk until well blended, then mix in the bell pepper, chives and spices. Place a mozzarella ball in the bottom of each muffin cup, then evenly distribute the egg mixture among them, so that each cup is about three-quarters full.

Bake (middle rack) for about 30 minutes, until the frittatas are puffed and set; they will deflate a bit as they cool.

Serve right away, garnished with the peppers and basil, if desired. Or allow them to cool to room temperature before storing. If freezing, place the frittatas (unmold them first from the silicone liners, but paper liners can stay on) on a baking sheet and set them in the freezer until frozen, then you can place them in a plastic zip-top bag or other freezer-safe container.

Holiday Stollen

12 servings (makes two 9-inch loaves)

Here’s a stollen recipe that’s easier than most; instead of candied fruit, this features dried cranberries, Amarena cherries, sliced almonds and chunks of dark chocolate.

Make ahead: The stollen can be made at least a day in advance and frozen for up to 1 month, tightly wrapped.

Jars of Amarena cherries are available in Italian markets and some grocery stores as well as gourmet purveyors online.

Based on a recipe from The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook, by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez and Julia Turshen (Clarkson Potter, 2015).


For the dough

½ cup almond milk, warmed to 110 degrees (may substitute regular or low-fat milk)

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast

2 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour, plus more for the work surface

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest (from 1 orange)

teaspoon ground ginger

teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons vegan butter substitute, such as Earth Balance, at room temperature (may substitute salted butter; coconut oil is not recommended)

2 tablespoons dried cranberries

3 tablespoons quartered Amarena cherries (see headnote)

cup raw sliced almonds

cup coarsely chopped dark chocolate

For the topping

2 tablespoons vegan butter substitute, such as Earth Balance, melted (may substitute salted butter)

½ cup granulated sugar (optional)

1½ cups confectioners’ sugar (optional)


For the dough: Pour the warmed milk into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and sprinkle the yeast over the surface; stir slightly and let stand for a few minutes until bubbles begin to form. Add 2 cups of the flour, the granulated sugar, orange zest, ground ginger, nutmeg, salt and butter substitute to the bowl; beat on low speed for about 3 minutes, until a sticky dough forms. Increase the speed to medium-high; beat for about 4 minutes, until the dough is smooth and has pulled away completely from the sides of the bowl.

Combine the dried cranberries, Amarena cherries and a tablespoon of flour in a small bowl, until well coated.

Reduce the speed to the lowest setting. Add the fruit mixture, almonds and chocolate; beat until incorporated (if you mix in the fillings too fast, then the dough can discolor). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place for 1 hour. The dough may not rise much, but should be soft to the touch.

Lightly flour a work surface. Uncover and turn out the dough there, then divide it equally in half. Pat each piece out into a rectangle, about 8 by 6 inches; For each one, using the long end, fold 2 inches of the end facing you toward the middle, then fold the top end just overlapping the middle (like folding a letter). Flip over gently and pat the whole top down gently with your hands, pinching the ends together slightly and forming an 8-by-3 inch log with rounded ends.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the two loaves on it, spacing them at least 3 inches apart. Then cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place for 1 hour. The loaves will be slightly puffed, but not doubled in size. Uncover.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake (middle rack) the loaves for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan from front to back (to ensure even baking), and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes.

For the topping: Brush the warm loaves with the melted butter substitute. At this point, you can leave the loaves as they are, or you can mix together the granulated sugar and ½ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and dust the tops of the loaves. For a heavier coating, let the bread cool completely after this step and dust the loaves with the rest of the confectioners’ sugar a second time — Hot Bread Kitchen advises that the sugar will stick better with this two-step process, and it does really create that pretty snow-covered effect.