Holiday mornings were special in all ways to us kids. My sister and I would see who got the most presents. We would try to bargain stocking treats (candy and the like) off our innocent younger brother. And we would eagerly await the special breakfast soon to come from the kitchen.
Highlighting the breakfast was something sweet, usually a coffeecake, sometimes scones or the sweet biscuits that reminded us of our family’s Southern roots.
Popovers and biscuits are my two favorite holiday quick breads. Recipes for both traditionally require plenty of fat, and it’s usually quite a trick to scale them down. Biscuits get light and flaky from shortening or butter, and popovers need the fat of plenty of egg yolks to cook through inside while they puff and brown.
A recent article in Eating Well magazine shared a technique for low-fat popovers that were baked 25 minutes, then slit and baked an additional five minutes. This allowed the interior to cook. Preheating the muffin pan as well as the oven helps these low-fat popovers to rise well and hold their shape. Your family will love them at your special holiday breakfast.
Sweet Potato Popovers
1/4 cup pureed cooked sweet potato
3 large eggs
2 cups evaporated skim milk
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups whole-wheat pastry or unbleached white flour
Dash ground nutmeg
3 large egg whites
Lightly coat a 12-cup nonstick muffin pan with nonstick spray. Place in oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Meanwhile, combine sweet potato, eggs, evaporated milk and oil in food processor or blender; puree until smooth.
Stir together flour, salt and nutmeg in medium bowl. Add sweet potato mixture to dry ingredients and stir well. Beat egg whites to soft peak stage and fold into batter.
Divide batter equally among muffin cups. Return pan to oven and bake 25 minutes or until popovers are puffy and golden brown.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and remove muffin pan from oven. Using sharp knife, poke 2 to 3 small slits in each popover. Return to oven and bake 5 to 7 minutes to finish cooking interior. Serve immediately.
Yield: 12 popovers.
Nutrition information per serving: 159 calories, 3.84 grams fat (22 percent fat calories), 8 grams protein, 23 grams carbohydrate, 55 milligrams cholesterol, 104 milligrams sodium.
Maple-Pumpkin Buttermilk Biscuits
This low-fat buttermilk biscuit is flavored with real maple syrup - a hit at our holiday breakfasts.
2 cups unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash ground nutmeg
1/4 cup butter, chilled
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
Scant 1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add pumpkin, maple syrup and extract and enough buttermilk to make kneadable dough.
Turn dough out onto floured board and knead lightly. Roll into 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Using round biscuit cutter, cut out 2-inch biscuits. Place on nonstick baking sheets. Bake at 450 degrees 12 minutes or until golden brown and flaky.
Yield: 12 biscuits.
Nutrition information per biscuit: 118 calories, 4.2 grams fat (32 percent fat calories), 3 grams protein, 18 grams carbohydrate, 11 milligrams cholesterol, 252 milligrams sodium.
Whole Wheat-Cinnamon Bread
This all-time favorite quick bread is studded with fruit and aromatic with spices. Try one of the new white wheat flours, which have the bran removed but not the vitamin-rich germ, yet bake up as light and fluffy as unbleached white flour.
1-1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry or white wheat flour
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt or herbal salt substitute
1-1/2 cups mixed chopped fresh fruit (pineapple, apple or pear) or chopped dried fruits
1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup shredded bran cereal
2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup safflower oil
1 large egg
1/3 cup apple juice concentrate (undiluted frozen juice)
Spray 1-1/2-quart loaf pan with vegetable spray and lightly dust with flour. Shake out excess flour.
Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add fruit, dates and cereal and toss to coat. In separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil, egg and apple juice concentrate.
Combine contents of both bowls, folding until just incorporated. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake at 375 degrees 25 minutes, then lower heat to 300 degrees and bake 15 minutes more or until wood pick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean.
Yield: 1 loaf, about 10 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 129 calories, 1 gram fat (7 percent fat calories), 3 grams protein, 27 grams carbohydrate, 22 milligrams cholesterol, 205 milligrams sodium.