A Book Club Brunch: My Low-Stress, Make-Ahead Brunch Timeline

Gatherings from The Kitchn

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When I entertain, I almost always devise a menu of food and drinks that can be prepared hours, days or even weeks before. Not only does this mean less stress for me on the day of the party, it also fits better into my busy work and school schedule. This approach is especially helpful when hosting a morning party, since you have just a few short hours between waking up and the arrival of your first guest, and I was happy with how it all came together for the weekend brunch I hosted for my book club.

Looking to host your own make-ahead brunch in the coming months? Here is the timeline that works for me:

First, a very important tip: Make a prep list!

Having a list of every recipe you plan to make and the work each recipe requires is so helpful in making sure you use your time efficiently and don't forget anything.

Up to 3 Months Ahead: Fill Your Freezer

There are plenty of brunch-friendly baked goods that can be made up to three months ahead of the party and frozen. I usually roll and freeze dough for quiches and tarts — like the roasted tomato quiche I made for the brunch — weeks or months before the gathering. Other brunch treats like cinnamon rolls, scones and sweet breads also freeze well. (I could have baked and frozen the cake I made for my brunch, but the timing worked better for me to make it the day before and keep it wrapped on the counter.)

Up to 1 Week Ahead: Drinks

Homemade flavored syrups are an easy way to make a special soda or sparkling cocktail for a brunch. I made a double batch of strawberry-basil syrup about one week before, so all I had to do on the morning of the party was mix it with sparkling wine and slice a few strawberries for garnish. Any fruit- or herb-infused simple syrup can be used in the same way.

Yesterday I shared my my method for making coffee concentrate, which keeps in the refrigerator for up to one week. Just add boiling water on the morning of the brunch for a pot of excellent, no-fuss coffee!

2-3 Days Ahead: Chopping & Prepping

I roasted the tomatoes for the quiche a couple days before the brunch and stored them in the refrigerator. You can do a lot of prep in the days leading up to the party, such as cubing bread for a savory bread pudding, chopping and cooking vegetables for omelet fillings, shredding cheese, and making dressings.

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The Day Before: Salads & Casseroles

I assembled the crunchy spring salad and refrigerated it, without dressing, about 24 hours before the brunch. Heartier salads like grain, bean or kale salads can be dressed and refrigerated overnight.

Many breakfast casseroles and bread puddings can be assembled the day before and go straight from the refrigerator to the oven in the morning.

The Morning of the Brunch

The day of my brunch, the only major task left to do was finish the quiche: blind-bake the crust, mix the filling and bake it for about 45 minutes. I did this as soon as possible after waking up, then warmed the cooled quiche in the oven right before the party. The only other kitchen work I had to do that morning was make the dill vinaigrette and dress the salad, which I finished just before guests started arriving.

During the party, I had just a few last-minute things to do: mix up the strawberry cocktails, boil water for the coffee and whip cream for the cake. All of these were low-stress tasks that took me away from the party for just a few minutes, which I think is the ideal at any gathering. You put so much work into hosting a great get-together — don't you deserve to sit back and enjoy it too?

Do you have any tips for making a brunch party easier and less stressful?

Photography: Bethany Nauert
Styling: Beth Liebetrau

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Gatherings from The Kitchn: A Book Club Brunch

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