I saw the coolest display the other morning at a surprisingly pleasant breakfast function. It was fun, colorful, clever and all-around brilliant. I'll tell y'all more in a moment, but first a disclaimer.
Breakfast functions, whether work or social, are not something I often enjoy. In the first place, I'm not a big breakfast guy. One of my creeds is "eggs are an ingredient-not a separate food item," so I'm never really stoked at the thought of breakfast or brunch.
I'm sure most of you have attended multiple breakfast functions or meetings, often held in a conference room at your workplace or a hotel or myriad meeting rooms in schools. These events usually leave me with a headache and heartburn! Most breakfast meetings go like this: old, bitter coffee with non-dairy creamer, insipid boxed grocery store or franchise doughnut chain "pastries," maybe a granola bar, or yesterday's mushy fruit. Then there's the fancier social breakfast functions, starring lukewarm pancakes from a room-temperature chaffing dish, fake butter, imitation maple syrup, maybe some greenish scrambled eggs, old dry biscuits, instant grits ... OK, got it?
Happily, these weren't what I experienced at this recent breakfast. Not at all! I walked in with very low expectations, only to be shocked. The usually spartan room was brightly decorated. There were real tablecloths, two nicely arranged beverage stations, a tasteful buffet lined with well-thought-out platters of fresh fruit, skewers of berries, several chaffing dishes whose contents were actually hot and-the most amazing thing I've seen in quite a while—A DOUGHNUT WALL!
Yes, doughnuts are super-trendy right now, with specialty bakeries opening on the regular but, boy, did the caterer hit it out of the park with this Cheffed-Up display.
It was a large, brightly painted board with "Donuts" painted across the top in multicolored block lettering at least 120 points, with wooden dowels holding the tempting round goodies. Like a delicious tool rack in a garage. Outstanding! It sure beats the typical shoemaker-style display of a doughnut box on a table by a stack of napkins.
I doubt few of you want to make doughnuts at home—I know I don't (I stop at the Donut Shoppe on University)—I've shared a Spanish Almond cake recipe this week. It's not a doughnut but, ¡caramba!, does it pair well with espresso! It's a breakfast even I would enjoy.
Chef Bill's Torta de Santiago
1-3/4 cups almond flour
6 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar, minus 2 tbsp.
1 orange, zested
1 lemon, zested
1/4 tsp. amaretto
1. Beat egg yolks with the sugar in a mixer bowl on medium speed until pale yellow and smooth. Beat in the zest and the amaretto.
2. Turn mixer speed to medium-low, add almond flour, scrape the sides and incorporate completely. Scrape all into a large mixing bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites to a stiff peak.
4. Fold the whites into the flour mixture in two batches.
5. Scrape into a buttered 10-inch pan (I use a cast-iron skillet). Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.
6. Let cool for several minutes, then sprinkle with powdered sugar or have a side of Chantilly cream.
Email Chef Bill Thompson, owner of Fernandina's Amelia Island Culinary Academy, for inspiration and to get Cheffed-Up!