There’s a little sweet, a little savory, and a lot to love in this brunch or breakfast indulgence.
We got this year’s batch of dark amber maple syrup this week! Thank you to our friend Greg and his little sugarhouse for the sweet that lasts us all year.
With the arrival of the new syrup, packed in canning jars of course, I had to make one of our guests’ favorite breakfast and brunch items –– eggs baked in maple and butter soaked bread. It may sound strange to some, but it is one of the wonders of the breakfast world. The sugaring season was a little short this year with our late spring, not quite as bountiful as last year, but the flavor is superb!
Start with maple, add cheese, perhaps local bacon…
Maple and cheese are some of our best flavors in Vermont, and this recipe is a little sweet, a lot savory, and is very satisfying! It makes a fun Sunday breakfast or holiday brunch, and you can make 12 (or 24) at a time and place them on a large platter of spicy greens if you are doing a buffet.
Different variations of these lovely treats have been around for a while, but I like my addition of the cheddar cheese and the crème fraîche. You can use local smoky bacon, sausage, (I actually love this using a soy sausage), and I always look for local first. It is also delicious with finely chopped cooked asparagus or tomatoes if you don’t want to use the meat.
The best eggs
Use the best free-range eggs you can find (thank you Carolyn and Ed), the taste really is better, and avoid large or jumbo eggs in this particular recipe ––you might have trouble fitting everything in the cups! The eggs I get from my friends vary greatly in size because their flocks have all ages of chickens. This is a great use for the smaller ones.
The bread needs to be a soft variety, this is not the place for a hearty sourdough boule. I use a soft whole wheat or oatmeal bread and press it as flat as I can get it with a rolling-pin so it will fit nicely in folds in the muffin cup.
Use the real stuff please!
At the risk of being considered a maple snob from Vermont, which I am, please don’t even think about using “pancake syrup” which is just sugar, water, chemicals, preservatives, and artificial flavor. No real maple at all. Just sayin’. Real maple syrup does have tons of carbs and should be used sparingly, but unlike pancake syrup has some nutritional benefits. It is also a good source of manganese (a third of your daily requirements), calcium, riboflavin, thiamin, potassium, and copper. If you are looking for something to sweeten that homemade energy bar, maple syrup is the sweetener for you.
Maple Baked Egg Cups
To make six cups:
3 strips good quality local uncured bacon, apple wood smoked if possible
(OR, use something else savory, soy sausage, finely chopped vegetables, sausage, etc.)
¼ cup melted unsalted butter
¼ cup dark amber maple syrup
6 slices white or soft oatmeal bread, you can use a soft gluten-free as well
3 ounces Gruyère cheese
6 small or medium organic free-range eggs
1/3 cup crème frâiche
1 tbsp. chives or minced parsley
Preheat your oven to 375. Butter muffin cups well.
If using, cook your bacon or sausage until crisp and drain on a paper towel. Crumble, and set aside.
Flatten the bread slices with a rolling-pin. You’ll want them thin. I used to take the crusts off, but that is not necessary.
Mix the melted butter and maple syrup together, and spread liberally on both sides of the bread. This is messy, you are forewarned! You can cut off the crusts to make them neater, but I don’t bother.
Place the prepared bread slices into the prepared muffin tins, with the pointed edges sticking up. Sprinkle the bacon or other savory item evenly on the bottom and sprinkle that with a little cheese.
Crack the eggs into the bread cups. If your eggs are really large, it will overflow, and the whites might not cook all the way before the yolk gets overcooked. I’ve tried many baked egg recipes, and this is a perennial problem, so removing some of the whites is usually the answer; crack your egg with the smaller side up, letting some of the white run out. Save this for another purpose of course! If your eggs are really fresh, dividing the whites might be a bit more difficult, but it is worth the couple of minutes effort.
Sprinkle with some salt and pepper, then top with a tablespoon or so of the crème frâiche. Bake for 10 minutes and check, you will probably need more time. If you want the whites to be set, but the yolk soft and runny, this should be about the right time but everyone’s oven is different. If you want firmer yolks, cook them longer, but check at five-minute intervals.
Embellish with a few chives or parsley, and perhaps a little sliver of hot red pepper.
Here are the different maple syrup grades:
Grade A Light Amber has a mild maple flavor and color. This used to be called “fancy” and was used as a substitute for sugar.
Grade A Medium Amber has more maple flavor and is golden in color. This looses most of its flavor in cooking and baking if used only as a sweetener.
Grade A Dark Amber has strong maple flavor, the best for pancakes! It is dark in color and pretty good in baking.
Grade B has an even stronger maple flavor and is perfect in baking and cooking because it looses less flavor when heated. It has a strong and pronounced maple taste, perhaps too much for those used to table syrup. The color is dark.
Grade C has a deep caramelized maple flavor and is used primarily in commercial applications.
© Copyright 2019 – or current year, Dorothy Grover-Read, The New Vintage Kitchen. All rights reserved.