I’ve always loved the concept of brunch. It speaks of having the freedom to get up late, fix a leisurely meal, and take so long eating it that you run into lunch time. It speaks of holidays, vacations and quiet Sundays. And for me, it also speaks of my dad. My dad worked in the restaurant industry for most of his adult life, and sometimes, particularly during the busy holidays of mother’s day or Easter, he would have to work on a Sunday.
There was one restaurant in particular that had him working more often on Sundays. But when he did, that meant we got to join him at his restaurant after church for Sunday brunch. It was a very fancy restaurant called the Rose Room, and it was located on the top floor of one of the nicest hotels downtown. As a little girl, I remember the enormous feeling of importance I would get as we entered the elevator and fought over who got to punch the button for the top floor. And then we would step out into the lobby of the restaurant, which was all decorated in soft rosy pinks and sparkling crystal.
We were always made much of when we came. Six little girls in their sunday best trooping behind their mother was always a sight to see, and heads would turn as we found our way across the room to our table. Dad would come out, beaming with pride, and introduce us to some of his regular diners. He would pick up his baby and show her off as he visited different tables, and then, we were allowed to order our drinks. This was always an exciting thing, even though we invariably ordered the same drink every time- a Shirley Temple with a maraschino cherry on top.
On one memorable Sunday, before we even had a chance to order, six waiters, dressed in their crisp black tuxedos, came gracefully out of the kitchen doors, each bearing a tray held conspicuously high, with a single Shirley Temple in the center of each tray. They took a long time to reach us, winding their way through all the tables in a dignified parade, dipping and tilting their trays without spilling a single drop and drawing every eye in the room. They finally delivering our drinks individually with a bow and a flourish. We were delighted.
Then we would take our plates and move through the buffet line, skipping the cold salmon and caviar and moving on to the fruit and pastries. What can I say, my eight year old palate was not so well developed as it is now. But those were good memories, and I try to find an excuse for brunch whenever I can.
Thanksgiving works fairly well, since we don’t usually sit down until 2 or 3, but it is such a busy cooking day, that a simpler brunch is sometimes called for. I used to make the french toast casserole that can be made the night before and thrown in the oven in the morning. But then I found a recipe for blueberry pancakes that you bake in a casserole and I was intrigued. I tweaked it here and there and it quickly became a family favorite, and so, without further ado- Blueberry Buttermilk Pancake Cake.
While you make the pancake, get your butter melting. Turn your oven to 350 and throw about six Tablespoons of butter into a 9×13 pan. Put this in the oven. You want your pan hot and your butter sizzling by the time the batter is ready.
The cake itself is incredibly easy. Just
2 cups of flour (I used one cup of all purpose and I cup of whole wheat here)
1 Tablespoon of baking powder and a pinch of salt.
To the dry ingredients, add
2 cups of buttermilk