I keep thinking about why I’m so enamored with Sarah Kieffer’s books. Is it because I feel a culinary kinship with Kieffer? In her latest book, 100 Morning Treats, I feel like I can relate when she talks about how that early morning time in the kitchen is hers. In the introduction she talks about arriving at the little shop she worked at in Minneapolis at 5 o’clock to start her day, “With most of the city still asleep, those dark hours were mine, and I spent them in solitude, quietly whisking, mixing, and stirring.” (11) For me, spending a peaceful, quiet morning in my kitchen feels calming because I can contemplate the recipe at hand or my day ahead. Sometimes, with the radio playing, my kitchen is not-too-quiet, yet quiet enough to carefully bring a recipe together without distraction. For this reason, mornings are one of my favourite times to bake!
That said, I feel as a morning baker I am rewarded with the recipes in this book! 100 Morning Treats offers home bakers breakfast/brunch recipes to make and enjoy. Aside from the recipes, another thing I appreciate about 100 Morning Treats is how it is designed. In keeping with her previous two books – 100 Cookies (review here) and Baking for the Holidays (review here) – the design and dimension complements the previous two books. They look like a lovely trilogy sitting on the shelf. I am also delighted at the choice of bookmark for the book – a jaunty bright-yellow length of ricrac helps to keep things marked.
Kieffer is a skilled and technical baker, which is evident in how she develops her recipes. As I make my way through the book, I feel so pleased with how the recipes are turning out. Kieffer knows how to help home bakers be successful. She offers us ingredients measured in both volume and weight (although she would advise bakers to use the latter). I like that her recipes are clear and instructive – again, this helps with how the final product looks/tastes. She also offers useful “process pictures” so that home bakers can see each step of certain recipes (such as for cinnamon rolls or pull-apart bread).
The recipes themselves are organized into 7 chapters: 1) Muffins, Scones, and Quick Breads, 2) Coffee Cakes and Bundt Cakes, 3) Sweet Yeasted and Fried Treats, 4) Laminated Pastries, 5) The Weekend, 6) Base Doughs and Breads, and 7) Extras. The recipes offer a good balance between sweet and savory breakfast options as well as a nice range of bakes for any skill level – a little something for everyone. While I was excited to see that Bundt cakes were included, it should be noted that Kieffer offers an alternative to using a Bundt pan or fluted cake pan. As in her other books, she mentions that a tube pan can be used and, she’s even photographed a few of the cakes that have been baked in a tube pan.
I was lucky enough to receive a copy of 100 Morning Treats early (and in time for the Easter long weekend). I sincerely tried to convince my husband and daughter that they would love to share the Giant Carrot Cake Cinnamon Roll for Easter Sunday breakfast but, they both informed me that they preferred not to share – everyone wanted their own roll to enjoy! So, I ended up making a tray of Kieffer’s Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls – made with her Buttermilk Dough, these rolls baked up light and so fluffy! I loved the slight tang the buttermilk imparted to the dough too.
100 Morning Treats isn’t just a special occasion or weekend book – I baked a big batch of her Granola recipe, which I’ve enjoyed daily for breakfast. Her method for making granola is a bit different in that the oats are mixed with the liquid (maple syrup, oil, sugar, water, vanilla, salt), then baked. Once baked, things like toasted nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc. are then tossed with the cooling toasted oats.
Since my birthday also fell during the past month, I took the opportunity to bake myself the Everything Bundt Cake using the Confetti variation she offers. Being it was a birthday Bundt, full of rainbow sprinkles, I used the recipe for Confectioners’ Sugar Glaze from her first book (The Vanilla Bean Baking Book) to glaze the cake. In a bit of a shocking twist, my husband (who is very particular about his mantra: If it’s not chocolate, it’s not dessert), claimed that this Bundt was “his favourite” and he would rate it: 10 out of 10! For those that know him, he doesn’t make these pronouncements lightly, so it is safe to say this was his favourite bake from the book. Another notable bake from the book is the Popovers w/ Fig Butter, which achieved a spectacular “pop” from the pan and looked quite lofty as they sat on plates awaiting a good swipe of the fig butter. I also appreciated that these popovers were savoury-leaning with the addition of parmesan cheese. That cheesy umaminess paired really well with the sticky-sweet fig butter. My daughter and I enjoyed this for brunch one weekend with some warm cups of tea.
Kieffer is particularly good with scone recipes and her recipe for Banana Bread Scones (full of toasted pecans and drizzled with a rum-butter glaze) were fantastic! I was even able to share them with some of our faraway family too (for those curious – they made an airplane trip with my husband, carefully wrapped in a container without being reduced to crumbs).
The Good Morning Berry Crisp had some lovely dessert-for-breakfast vibes – 2.5 pounds of berries (a mixture of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and black berries) covered in a Whole-Wheat Streusel. I used a combination of both fresh and frozen berries for the crisp and I served it with some of her Yogurt Whipped Cream. Crunchy, sweet, and tangy – this breakfast checked all of the boxes. Since there was leftover crisp, we enjoyed it for breakfast the next few mornings! The House Pancakes were another recipe which made eating leftovers at breakfast a joy! I liked that these buttermilk pancakes were fluffy yet not dense. I served them with maple syrup and fresh berries – we took Kieffer’s advice and reheated the leftover pancakes in the toaster the next day.
As always, Kieffer has given home bakers another book to love and treasure with her latest, 100 Morning Treats. Even though my review is complete, I’ve still got many recipes bookmarked (the doughnuts and crullers are calling my name!!). In my mind, Sarah Kieffer works hard to build up the trust between her recipes and the home baker. With such well-developed and equally well-tested recipes, home bakers can be sure of the results. From her humble heart to our kitchens, Kieffer offers another 100 reasons to find joy in baking.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Raincoast Books and Chronicle Books for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.