6 Brilliant Cooking Tips We Learned During Brunch Fest

published May 6, 2021
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bagels with cream cheese and salmon topped with onions and cucumbers on a table
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Pearl Jones; Prop Styling: Vanessa Vazquez

Brunch Fest is our day-long virtual food festival full of pancakes, eggs, games, and fun, starring many of our favorite cooks sharing their essential brunch recipes and tips. Watch the event live at @thekitchn on Instagram May 2 (or check back here if you miss it).

After a year of small, subdued celebrations, many of us are ready to start gathering again safely. With warmer weather here and vaccination rates rising — not to mention Mother’s Day and graduations right around the corner — it’s likely that brunch is on your mind.

It certainly was on ours last Sunday during Kitchn’s first-ever Brunch Fest! The virtual food festival, hosted by Editor-in-Chief Faith Durand, was a jubilant tribute to all the things that make our favorite mid-morning meal so great: supersized sticky buns, dim sum rice rolls, and (of course) the ultimate mimosa. Here are some helpful tips from our talented hosts to help make your next brunch a smashing success.

1. Keep a can of biscuit dough in your fridge.

Perhaps our biggest takeaway from the day was the magic of canned biscuit dough. As Alejandra Ramos and Ruth Tam proved in the Brunch Fest edition of What CAN You Do?, the supermarket staple is the secret to baked goods with far less work. You can go in a sweet (like Ruth’s blueberry bubble bread) or savory (a la Alejandra’s chorizo breakfast empanadas) direction depending on what your brunch menu is missing. And the ideas don’t stop there: Canned biscuit dough is also the key to easy air fryer doughnuts, muffin pan breakfast sliders, and so much more.

2. Cutting up dough? Use kitchen shears.

Ruth’s biscuit dough showstopper is a fun baking project for kids and adults alike, and she shared this nifty trick for splitting them into smaller pieces: Use your kitchen scissors! It’s not only speedier this way, but also doesn’t require getting out a cutting board, which means one fewer thing to wash.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Ben Weiner; Prop Styling: Stephanie De Luca

3. Cover your casseroles.

We’ve all been there: You pop a casserole in the oven and come back to one that’s perfectly browned on top, but still raw in the middle. The solution? Brandi Milloy opts for the aluminum foil method. Cover your pan for half the time to keep the top from scorching too quickly — no one likes a burnt casserole! — then remove to let the top get to a beautiful golden finish.

4. Rest French toast on a baking rack.

If you’re making French toast for a group, using an electric or stovetop griddle will help cook more slices at a time, but may leave you wondering how to keep them from getting soggy. Kate Wood’s trick is a simple one: Instead of piling the prepared pieces on top of each other on a plate, place the individual slices on a baking rack.

Try the recipe: Savory French Toast

5. When cooking eggs for a crowd, use the sheet pan method.

While no brunch would be complete without eggs, getting them ready one by one — whether you’re frying or poaching — may be our least favorite hosting task. In her Breakfast Showdown, Studio Food Editor Amelia Rampe found a method that solves this dilemma: sheet pan fried eggs that cook a dozen (yes, a whole dozen!) at a time.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Ben Weiner; Prop Styling: Stephanie De Luca

5. If baking makes you nervous, go for an oil-based cake.

Jocelyn Delk Adams revealed in her Secret Family Recipe video that there’s one additional ingredient she’s added to her grandmother’s cake recipe to help make it extra tender: oil. It not only helps keep the crumb moist and light, but also makes the cake a tad more foolproof for novice bakers. 

Try the recipe: Cinnamon Roll Pound Cake

6. Tiny sheet pans are more versatile than you think.

In her Breakfast Superstars segment, Kristina Cho showed how easy it is to get creative with kitchen tools we already own — and reminded us to get more tiny sheet pans. She repurposed her eighth sheet pans for steaming rice rolls, but these little guys are also great for meal prep and cooking small portions.

Try the recipe: Cheung Fun

Missed any of the Brunch Fest segments? Head over here to watch all the videos and try the recipes!