By Cynthia Clark, Smarty Cooking School Mama
Alright, I have a confession to make – I, Cynthia Clark…can’t bake worth.a.spit. There, I said it! It’s true. As much as I LOVE to cook and feel like I have that particular area of food preparation down…baking, not so much. I honestly don’t know why, since my family is full of amazing bakers. Is it all of that annoying measuring and the exactness of it? Maybe. Is it dirtying up like a bijillion different bowls, spoons and measuring cups? Perhaps. Or is it that I simply don’t have what I think is an innate “feel” or “knack” for it. Ummm, could be…but whatever the case, my baking just never quite turns out awesome and that’s not ok with me. So you can imagine that when I find a recipe for a BAKED good that I made and turned out scrumptious…well that my friends, is something worth sharing.
I have been making this (crazy easy) recipe for years!! A friend of mine gave me a tweaked version of her friend’s recipe, and I have since (shockingly) tweaked it to my family’s tastes. With only a few simple ingredients (most of which you probably already have on hand), you can have a perfect accompaniment to your morning cup of coffee (seriously, this is was made to be enjoyed with a piping hot cuppa’ deliciousness) right out of the oven, or better yet, room temp with a tall ice cold glass of milk right before bed…ummm, yes please!
Ladies and gentlemen, if you have company staying over (like we do for my daughter’s First Communion), this is one you’ll want to keep in your arsenal of, “what in the heck am I going to make for breakfast” file. I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as my family has over the years.
Reduced fat crescent rolls, Neufchatel (fancy for “reduced fat cream cheese”), sugar, eggs, light brown sugar, vanilla and the STAR ingredient…an orange, or rather, it’s zest.
I like to bring the cream cheese to room temperature before making this (makes for a smooth creamy filling) so I do what Ina Garten does and literally take the blocks out the night before and leave them on the counter (if I know I’m making it in the am).
Meanwhile, add the cream cheese, regular sugar, vanilla, egg YOLK and the zest of one large orange. If you don’t own a microplane, you could use the finest part of your box grater but you won’t get as much of the zest. I have to say, I use mine a TON! Everything from grating cheeses to fresh garlic (buh-bye big ole’ chunks of garlic in my food!)…the list goes on and on. Please don’t skip this part – the orange zest really makes this a treat that stands out. TIP – don’t zest all the way to the pith (super white part of the citrus) because that can make it a touch bitter. Just a light scrape all over the orange and you have the most fragrant part of the fruit!
Use a handheld mixer (or a strong whisk and put some muscle in it ;o) and cream the ingredients together. If you taste it at this point, it will taste a ‘hella sweet – don’t worry! When that mixture bakes with the crescent rolls…marriage made in heaven and NOT overly sweet…I promise!
Sprinkle the whole thing with brown sugar and bake! When I use my convection oven, I bake it at 375 for 25 minutes. If I use the regular oven, I bake it at 350 for 30-35 mins. Keep your eye on it as every oven time seems to vary. You want it to be golden brown and yummy…
Crispy, crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside – this is a treat you and your family will love…you know, if you like cream cheese…and oranges ;o) Now don’t go wasting the rest of that orange! Cut it up and serve it along side your “coffee cake”!
Orange Scented Breakfast Bake
2 cans reduced fat crescent rolls (I like Pillsbury)
2 – 8oz blocks of Neufchatel
½ C sugar (sometimes I use all sugar, sometimes I use the sugar-splenda blend, it just depends who I’m making it for.
1 egg, separated
1 tsp water
2 heap TBS light brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
the ZEST of 1 large orange (I used a navel orange)
* Place one can of rolls in a 9×13” glass pan, pinching all of the seams – cover the bottom of the pan completely.
* In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese, WHITE sugar, vanilla, egg YOLK, and orange ZEST, and spread the mixture evenly over the roll. (I don’t scrape the pan clean, I probably end up leaving a few TBS behind, but that’s just my preference).
Seam the 2nd can of crescent rolls and then lay over top the cream mixture, covering it completely. Beat the egg white with 1 tsp of water, and brush over the entire top, then sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar (this is difficult to do if your brown sugar is hard. If that’s the case, throw a piece of regular sandwich bread in a bag with the sugar and it will soften it beautifully!
Bake in a PRE-heated oven at 375 for about *25 mins (see my notes about cooking time above). Turn the light on in the oven and take a peek right around minute 23 if you’re using convection since all ovens vary. Remove from oven once a golden brown, and let sit for about 5-10 mins to let it set . Enjoy!!!