May 27th, 2024

The Kosher Gourmet

A memorable Mother's Day brunch: Blueberry Lemon Muffins & Cinnamon Raisin Bread Custard with Fresh Berries

Diane Rossen Worthington

By Diane Rossen Worthington

Published May 8, 2015

 A memorable Mother's Day brunch: Blueberry Lemon Muffins & Cinnamon Raisin Bread Custard with Fresh Berries

Many food-related books cross my desk each week. When "A Well-Seasoned Kitchen" arrived, I thought it was a general recipe cookbook. After dipping into its pages, I realized this was unlike most cookbooks I review. This is a book about mother-daughter love. As Sally Clayton grew old and began to lose her memory, her daughter Lee Clayton Roper wanted to find a way to engage with her mother, as well as to chronicle the dishes she grew up enjoying.

Lee completed the manuscript after her mother passed away, and the book is a touching testimony to this close mother-daughter relationship. It is also replete with simple recipes that have stood the test of time.

In honor of Mother's Day, I selected two excellent recipes that would be perfect for any brunch with loved ones. Lee says that the Cinnamon Raisin Bread Custard was one that her mother loved most to be served. I was taken with the Blueberry Lemon Muffins, which would work well for an afternoon tea as well. Whichever you choose for your brunch menu, I guarantee it will be memorable, especially if you share this mother-daughter story with your mom.


Excerpted with permission from "A Well-Seasoned Kitchen," by Sally Clayton and Lee Clayton Roper


A few tips to make it easier:

Using good quality raisin bread is key. I look for breads that have a strong cinnamon flavor (smell them!).

This tastes best if you let it rest 24 hours before baking.

When putting the water in for the water bath, put the pans on the oven rack, then add the water (as described in the recipe). It's easier than trying to move them. Be very careful when removing from the oven as the water will be very hot.

You can serve this at room temperature and it will still be very good.

  • 8 slices good quality cinnamon raisin bread

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

  • 4 eggs

  • 2 egg yolks

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 3 cups whole milk

  • 1 cup whipping cream

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 3 cups mixed fresh berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)

  • Powdered sugar

1. Brush both sides of the bread slices with the melted butter. Line a 13- by 9- by 2-inch glass baking dish with the buttered bread slices. Set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolks. Add the sugar, milk, cream and vanilla, and whisk until well mixed. Slowly pour through a strainer over the top of the bread slices, covering them evenly and completely. If the bread slices float to the top of the egg mixture, gently push and hold them down with your finger. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

3. If refrigerated all day or overnight, about 1 hour before baking take the baking dish out of the refrigerator to bring it to room temperature.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

5. Place the baking dish on a large baking sheet with sides on the middle rack of your oven. Pour 2 cups hot water into the baking sheet (around the baking dish). Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and eggs are cooked (it should spring back when you push lightly on the top). Cool slightly, sprinkle top with fresh berry mixture and sift powdered sugar over the top. Cut into 12 pieces and serve.

Note: Baking time should be increased 5 to 10 minutes if you do not use a glass dish.

Make ahead: Can be assembled but not baked up to 24 hours in advance. Bring to room temperature before baking.


Excerpted with permission from "A Well-Seasoned Kitchen," by Sally Clayton and Lee Clayton Roper

MAKES 16 muffins

A few tips to make it easier:

Always fill empty muffin tins part way with water (this is mentioned in the recipe). The water will keep them from burning and also provide humidity in the oven, ensuring your muffins come out moist. (This is especially important in high altitudes.)

Also mentioned in the recipe, the easiest way to fill muffin tins is to use a spring-loaded ice cream scoop (larger size).

Always zest your lemon before juicing it! Sounds kind of basic, but it's a lot harder to zest a lemon that has been cut in half and juiced.

Always let the melted butter cool a bit before you whisk it into to the egg mixture, otherwise you might end up with cooked bits of egg in the dough.

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1 cup sugar, divided

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Zest from 1 lemon

  • 1 egg

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly, divided

  • 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen, but the latter needs to be thawed and drained)

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 16 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. (Fill empty cups halfway with water so the pan doesn't burn.)

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, 1/2 cup of the sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Set aside.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg; whisk in the milk and 1/2 cup of the melted butter. Stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients just until mixed (batter will be lumpy). Gently fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full (I like to use a large spring-loaded ice cream scoop). Bake for 20 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean.

4. While the muffins are baking, make the topping: Combine the remaining 1/4 cup melted butter and the lemon juice. Put in a shallow dish. Put remaining 1/2 cup sugar in another shallow dish.

5. When the muffins are slightly cooled, remove from the pan and dunk the tops into the lemon-butter mixture, then into sugar. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.

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Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including "Seriously Simple Holidays," and also a James Beard award-winning radio show host.