Comfort and Joy

You’ve run the gamut of winter and summer entertaining. You have done dinners and lunches and brunches and cocktail parties at home. You’ve done picnics and croquet in the park. Did you do an art gallery gathering? Of course you did. Have you given lovely dinners in private rooms and on rooftops at your favorite restaurants and boutique hotels? Yes, yes and yes. Enter the holiday brunch.

Joy the Baker, aka Joy Wilson, lives in Bywater in a charming cottage, which doubles as her home and studio space. It's here that the author, photographer, baker and self-proclaimed doughnut enthusiast, gives cooking classes and workshops. Not only can you learn a skill at Wilson's workshops, but also you can meet new people, or bring your own group, and then sit down at the table and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Guests arrive and are welcomed and given aprons and a cocktail. The homey and artistic space itself is a conversation starter, and a beautifully-laid table hints of a great meal to come — but first you and your guests have to cook it. All of the ingredients are provided for a good party — you just have to show up hungry and willing. Gather around the huge open kitchen island and get your hands in the dough. Wilson guides you every step of the way. The heady aroma of delicious things baking is even more intoxicating and exciting, since you helped create it.

Brunch is the order of the day and on the menu are: grapefruit rosemary mimosas, praline bacon, very sticky pecan rolls, cornbread waffles and greens and andouille quiche.

A convivial atmosphere unfolds in the time it takes for the cooking class and food prep. There are assistants to take care of individual guidance and washing the dishes. You have an enormous sense of accomplishment turning out pecan rolls and cornbread waffles. Now it’s time to tuck into the meal and toast your good fortune in hosting another wonderful party. Wilson has provided the recipes from this brunch so you can prepare these dishes at home. Take some tips from her table setting by mixing and matching plates and glassware. Clip flowers and greens from your garden to create a “garden” running the length of the table. Use cake stands and pedestals to present the food. Colored candles are festive and cozy.

To join a cooking class or host a private event at the Bywater cottage of Joy the Baker visit

Comfort and Joy

Praline Bacon

Makes 12 slices
1 pound thick sliced bacon (12 slices)
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
¼ cup finely chopped pecans

1. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 400 F.

2. In a small bowl toss together brown sugar, pepper, and pecans until thoroughly combined. 

3. Line a baking sheet with foil and lay bacon slices in a single layer across the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. 

4. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with sugar mixture. Return to the oven and cook until browned and bubbling, about 10 to 12 more minutes. 

5. Remove from the oven and be careful not to touch the boiling sugar. Use a pair of tongs to place bacon on a platter. Serve warm. 

Comfort and Joy

Grapefruit Rosemary Mimosa

Serves 8
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus smaller sprigs for garnish
2 cups fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
1 bottle dry champagne, chilled

1. In a small saucepan, bring water and sugar to a simmer. Add the rosemary sprigs.  Stir.  Remove from heat, cover, and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Remove the rosemary sprigs and discard.

2. To serve, fill each glass just under half full with champagne. Top with about ¼ cup of grapefruit juice and 2 teaspoons of rosemary syrup. Top with a bit more juice or champagne. Garnish with fresh rosemary and serve.

Comfort and Joy

Very Sticky Pecan Rolls

Makes 12 rolls
For the Dough:
1 ¼-ounce package (2 ½ teaspoons) active dry yeast
pinch of  granulated sugar
1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large egg yolk
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/3 cup more for kneading
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 cup to 1/2 stick), softened to room temperature and cut into cubes
For the Filling:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
8 tablespoons (1/2 cup to 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
For the Topping:
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup to 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine yeast, pinch of sugar and 1/4 cup water heated to 115 F. Stir to combine and let sit until frothy and foamy, about 10 minutes.

2. Add brown sugar, milk, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk. Beat with a wire whisk until well combined. Fit the bowl onto the mixer, fitting with the dough hook attachment. Add the flour and salt and mix on medium speed until the dough just begins to come together. Turn the machine on medium-high and knead the dough for 4 minutes.

3. Add the butter in chunks and continue to knead for about 6 minutes. The dough will be slightly wet and sticky. Place the dough on a well-floured work surface, and knead about 1/3 cup all-purpose flour into the dough. Don’t worry, the dough still might be a little sticky.  It’s OK. Just set the dough to rest in a large greased bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

4. To make the filling, combine the sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and cloves in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Set aside.  

5. To make the topping, in a medium saucepan combine butter, sugar, honey, heavy cream and salt. Whisk until the butter is melted and the mixture is bubbling slightly and well combined. Remove from heat and pour half of the mixture into a greased 9-inch by 13-inch pan and tilt the pan to spread over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle 1 cup of chopped pecans over the sauce in the pan. Stir the remaining chopped nuts into the reserved sauce and set aside.

 6. To assemble the rolls, when the dough has doubled in size, dump it from the bowl onto a heavily-floured work surface. Gently knead the dough until it is no longer sticky, adding more flour as needed. Add about 3 tablespoons of flour. Work the dough for about 1 or 2 minutes. Once it’s no longer sticky, place a kitchen towel over the dough and let rest for 5 minutes before you roll it out.

7. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12-inch by 15-inch rectangle.

8. Brush the top of the dough with the melted butter.  

9. Pour the filling onto the dough. Spread evenly, leaving a 1-inch border at one of the short edges of the dough so the roll can be properly sealed. Lightly press the filling into the dough.

10. Using your hands, lift up the bottom edge of the dough and roll it forward into a tight cylinder. Place dough cylinder seam side down on a cutting board. Using a sharp, thin knife, trim off the uneven edges.

11. Cut roll into 8 equal slices. Nestle the slices, cut side up and evenly spaced, in a prepared 9-inch by 13-inch pan, atop the nuts and sauce. Cover pan with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to let rise for 30 hours. You may also refrigerate rolls overnight.

12. Heat the oven to 375 F. Uncover the rolls. If you refrigerated the rolls, let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before baking. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

13. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Carefully invert rolls (while still warm), onto a large platter. Top with the remaining pecan syrup and serve warm.

Comfort and Joy

Greens and Andouille Quiche

Makes 1 9-inch quiche
For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
1/3 cup cold buttermilk plus 1 to 2 more tablespoons  if your dough is dry
For the Filling:
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
4 large handfuls clean and coarsely chopped kale or mustard greens
6 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

1. To make the crust, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas.

2. Create a well in the butter and flour mixture and pour in the cold buttermilk. Use a fork to bring to dough together. Try to moisten all of the flour bits. On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture. It will be moist and shaggy. That’s perfect. Wrap disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour while you make the filling.

3. To roll out the dough, remove one of the pie dough disks from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into about a 13-inch round. Roll the dough a few strokes, then use your fingers to move the emerging circle around the floured surface. This ensures that the dough isn’t sticking to the work surface. The circle won’t be perfect; that’s OK.

4. Try not to get any rips in the rolled out dough, but if you do, they can be patched together with extra dough. When you roll the dough and you can see it start springing back, that means that the butter is warming and the crust shouldn’t be rolled out anymore. Gently lift the 13-inch round from the floured surface and center in a deep 9-inch round pie dish. Trim the overhang to be about 1-inch over the edge of the pie pan and fold the overhang under into the pie dish. Crimp the edges as you’d like pinching with your fingers or pressing with the tines of a fork.

5. To make the filling, start by cooking the sausage until browned. Add the chopped garlic and toss for 2 minutes. Add the greens and sauté until wilted.

6. In a medium bowl whisk the six eggs until well combined. Whisk in the milk and cream. Whisk in the salt and pepper. Now it’s time to assemble.

7. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 F. Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven to heat as the oven preheats. Sprinkle the Andouille and greens mixture over the bottom of the pie crust. Pour the custard over.

8. Place quiche on the heated baking sheet and bake until cooked through and lightly puffed, about 40 to 45 minutes. Allow to cool for about 30 minutes before slicing and serving slightly warm. To store, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Quiche will last chilled for up to 4 days.

Comfort and Joy

Cornbread Waffles

Makes 8 to 12 waffles
¾ cup coarse yellow cornmeal
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon molasses (optional)
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
4 tablespoons melted browned butter

1. In a medium bowl whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. 

2. In a separate bowl whisk together honey, molasses (if using), buttermilk, eggs and browned butter. 

3. Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir to thoroughly combine. All mixture to sit for 10 minutes while the waffle iron heats, the mixture will thicken as it sits. 

4. Dollop batter by the ¼-cup into the hot waffle iron. Cook according to your waffle iron instructions. Remove once golden brown and place on a wire cooling rack until ready to serve.

Comfort and Joy

Comfort and Joy

Comfort and Joy

Comfort and Joy

Comfort and Joy

Comfort and Joy

Comfort and Joy

Comfort and Joy

Comfort and Joy

Comfort and Joy

Comfort and Joy

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