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Breakfast for Houseguests

Joggers are running across covered bridges, families are arriving to celebrate graduations, goldfinches are swooping from branch to branch and, in a couple of weeks, our village green will be filled with the bright colors of hot air balloons. Houseguest season has begun. When we have houseguests, we love to start the day with slow conversations over long breakfasts, but flipping pancakes, poaching eggs or making omelets to order keeps me in the kitchen. Rather than missing the conversation, I rely on the oven to make breakfast with minimum supervision. When our friends Annie and Andre came to visit on their annual New England sweep, we talked late into the night about Annie’s current theatrical role, Andre’s newest architectural project, my husband Charles’ writing, my blog, and shared the latest news about children and grandchildren. Bleary eyed, we agreed to continue our conversation at breakfast.

We began with cups of tea and coffee and considered how we would spend the day. Breakfast was a cooperative affair — Annie set the table, Andre worked a Sudoku puzzle, Charles cleaned the strawberries and cooked the sausages, and I made the sweet Yorkshire pudding.

It was easier than making a traditional breakfast of eggs and bacon, pancakes, or omelets, and more festive than bagels and cream cheese. The batter, a combination of eggs, milk and flour, is similar to crepe batter and is not temperamental. It will wait patiently to be put into the oven until everyone is awake, showered, coffee’d and ready to eat. Half an hour later — breakfast is served.

Here’s how I made it:

Sweet Yorkshire Pudding

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter

6 large eggs

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 Tablespoons slivered almonds

2 cups strawberries, sliced

2 cups yogurt

I began by pre-heating the oven to 425. When the oven was up to temperature, I put the butter into a 2-inch deep, 9-by-13 inch ceramic baking dish and put it into the hot oven. Any pan will work for this pudding as long as it will hold 5 quarts and is not more than 3 inches deep. A shallow pan lets the pudding rise and brown as it cooks.

While the butter melted and began to brown, I made the batter. I used a blender to whirl the eggs for one minute and then, with the motor running, I gradually added the milk and flour. I whirled the mixture for 30 seconds more until the batter was smooth and free of lumps. I removed the baking dish from the oven and poured the batter into the melted butter. After baking for 25 minutes, the pudding was spectacular, puffy and well browned. I topped it with a generous sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar and the almonds.

With everyone at the table, I brought the golden pudding in and we watched it collapse like a souffle. Cut into four generous servings and topped with strawberries and creamy yogurt, it was scrumptious.

Fresh peaches, blueberries, blackberries, stewed rhubarb or jam are delicious toppers. Sauteed apples, pears or bananas make great toppings when berries aren’t in season. Sour cream or flavored yogurt can be substituted for plain yogurt; warm or cold honey or maple syrup work instead of fruit. Bacon, sausages or ham add a savory note. The possibilities are endless. To adjust the number of servings, use a quarter of a cup of butter, flour and milk for each egg.

When I am more organized, I make the batter for the Yorkshire pudding the night before and keep it in the fridge until I am ready to bake it. When I was visiting my son, I made the batter with an electric mixer rather than a blender without difficulty.

Carol Egbert lives in Quechee, where she paints and cooks. Her food blog can be found at www.carolegbert.com.