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There's something absolutely wonderful about waking up to a breakfast that's ready to pop in the oven while you're having your first cup of morning coffee, particularly when you have company and want to serve them something deliciously yummy. I've made French toast casserole for as long as I can remember, but recently came upon a recipe for pancake casserole that sounded very intriguing. It piqued my curiosity, so I had to give it a try when I had a company for the weekend recently.

On one hand, it was so wonderful to have a houseful of company again. My family is scattered from here to California, so getting everyone together at the same time is no easy task. So when it happened again after the past couple of pandemic years, it was a true blessing. On the other hand, I was a little worried with the thought of serving breakfast to a tableful of family when I knew without a doubt we'd be sitting up talking until the wee hours of the morning.

A make-ahead breakfast casserole was the answer. Think of this one as a cross between a stack of flapjacks and a creamy spoonful of bread pudding. It's a little bit of both, but, most importantly, it's an easy fix when you're in need of the perfect dish to serve overnight company.

You can most certainly use pancakes from your grocer's freezer case, but if you plan ahead you can make your own pancakes and freeze them. Homemade pancakes, like most every food, are so much better than those you can buy in the store. Use your favorite recipe or this one, which is my go-to recipe when I'm hungry and craving pancakes for breakfast or want to make breakfast for dinner. Serve it with some fresh fruit, like local strawberries, kiwi and mandarin oranges. Your presentation will be colorful and beautiful.

You'll need 40 to 45 pancakes to make this breakfast casserole, so double or triple your pancake recipe, as needed.

 

Easy Vanilla Pancakes

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar, optional

2 eggs

1 1/2 to 2 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons melted butter, cooled

Neutral oil or melted butter

Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-low heat. In a bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Beat eggs into 1 1/2 cups milk, then stir in vanilla and 2 tablespoons melted cooled butter, if using it. Gently stir this mixture into dry ingredients, mixing only enough to moisten flour; don't worry about a few lumps. If batter seems thick, add a little more milk.

Place a tablespoon of butter or oil on griddle or skillet. When butter foam subsides or oil shimmers, ladle batter onto griddle or skillet, making pancakes of any size you like. Adjust heat as necessary; usually the first batch will require higher heat than subsequent batches. Flip pancakes after bubbles rise to surface and bottoms brown, after 2 to 4 minutes.

Cook until second side is lightly browned.

Note: If freezing, allow pancakes to come to room temperature on a cookie sheet, then place cookie sheet in freezer for a couple of hours. Remove from freezer and place pancakes in resealable bags.

 

Pancake Casserole

Cooking spray

40-45 (3-inch) pancakes

6 large eggs

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole or evaporated milk

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Cinnamon sugar (optional)

Butter and maple syrup, for serving

Lightly coat a 13- by 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange pancakes in baking dish in three rows, overlapping slightly, starting at one long end of baking dish.

Whisk together eggs, cream, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt in a bowl. Slowly pour mixture over pancakes. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle casserole lightly with cinnamon sugar, if using. Bake, covered, in preheated oven 25 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until center is set, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Dot with pats of butter; drizzle with syrup. Serve extra syrup on the table for guests.

Contact Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com or annebraly.com.

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