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Company is coming and it's safe to bet that whenever you have a house full of guests, everyone gets up at a different time. Perhaps you'd like to sleep late or take a brisk morning walk without jumping up early just to prepare the perfect breakfast. Well, help is on its way. Now morning meals can be a relaxing experience for everyone.
Here's the strategy: Extend hospitality in ways other than just being there in person. In advance, dress up the simple items you need at breakfast. Transfer store-bought orange juice into a ceramic pitcher, spoon a couple of jellies into good-looking bowls, pour cereal into a canister, spoon granola into a large ceramic bowl, put an unwrapped stick of butter on a small dish and arrange thin slices of assorted cheeses on a serving platter (then cover with plastic wrap, of course).
On a nearby counter, stick the silverware in a small basket next to the plates and napkins. A thoughtful gesture is to clear off a shelf in the front of the refrigerator to make room for the juice, jelly, butter, cheese platter, and the grapefruit and kiwi fruit compote.
Then guests need not guess which food is for breakfast. Scribble "good morning and help yourself" on paper, slip it into an unused picture frame, then prop it against a small vase of fresh flowers on the table.
Now you are ready to announce before bedtime, "Sleep as late as you wish; breakfast will be waiting for you whenever you want it."
Then, take the all-time favorite cinnamon buns from the freezer to defrost
overnight. And don't forget to set the automatic timer for the coffee before you retire.
Pink Grapefruit and Kiwi Fruit in Orange Juice
4 large pink grapefruit
3 kiwi fruit
1 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons sugar
Peel grapefruit. Using a small paring knife, cut each section away from membranes that separate them. Place sections in a bowl. Peel kiwi fruit and cut each into 8 wedges. Add to grapefruit sections. Mix orange juice and sugar; pour over fruit. Serve immediately or cover, refrigerate and serve chilled.
1 cup very warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
Topping and filling:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cool
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Combine water (105 to 115°), yeast and sugar in a medium mixing bow; let stand 2 minutes. Add dry milk, butter, salt and 2 cups flour. Mix smooth, then beat for 2 minutes.
Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface (use some of the remaining flour) and knead for 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic, adding only as much flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking.
Place dough in a greased bowl; turn once to bring greased side up. Cover and let rise in a warm place (80 to 85°) until doubled, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, generously grease a 9-inch square layer pan.
To form the buns: Mix brown sugar and milk; spread over greased pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the nuts. Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a rectangle 7 by 12 inches. Brush with melted butter to within 1/2 inch of edge.
Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over dough. Sprinkle with remaining nuts. Starting from one 12-inch edge, roll up dough jelly-roll fashion; pinch seal to seal, cut roll into 12 1-inch-thick slices. Place cut side down on top of sugar-nut mixture in pan.
Press each lightly in center. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes. Position oven rack in middle of oven; heat oven to 350°. Bake about 30 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven, invert pan onto a serving plate and cool 5 minutes before lifting cake pan.
Flo Braker has been teaching baking techniques and her sweet miniatures across the country for twenty years and is the author of several cookbooks.