Practice, Practice, Practice


I’m pretty sure I’m suffering a mild case of early-onset strata anxiety.

All the signs are present: shortness of breath, heart palpitations and insomnia.

Saturday morning, 40 or so bridal shower attendees will be at my doorstep expecting brunch – and I’m so afraid I’m going to disappoint.

After all, I’m one woman with one oven with one 9 x 9″ egg bake under my belt.

I know my anxiety is triggered by egg bakes because they are one variable I can’t control Saturday morning.

I can bake muffins and assemble fruit kabobs to my heart’s content in the days leading up to the shower. I can go to sleep Friday night assured that my house is clean and tables are set.

If I wanted to, I could wake up at 4 a.m. Saturday morning and set up the entire brunch buffet (sans stratas, of course). That way, when guestsbegin to arrive at 10 a.m., I can stand in the entryway, greeting each woman with a mimosa and a smile.

Except I can’t. Becuase I have egg bakes to keep my eye on. In addition to tasting good (which – sorry ladies – can’t totally control!) my stratas need to be timed appropriately. It’s hard to synchronize any baking schedule when you have no idea how much time each needs to bake.

In order to eradicate as much uncertainty from Saturday as possible, I did a practice run on mini versions of each egg bakes.

I assembled the egg bakes a day ahead of time. That was easy enough. Now for the tricky part: timing the baking process.

Can two stratas share one oven simultaneously and finish baking in the time indicated on the recipe? If I double the recipe of a 9 x 9″ baking pan for a 9 x 13″ do I simply double the baking time?

These were the questions I hoped to answer with my trial run.

I invited my husband’s family over for a taste-test brunch. Before they arrived I put both egg bakes in the oven. As per my husband’s insistence, I turned on the oven’s convection feature.

Within minutes of baking my stratas were puffing. I had set the timer for 50 minutes, but both stratas appeared to be done with 13 minutes remaining.

I figured the convection would speeed up the process, but I had no idea it would shave that much time considering the oven had to work twice as hard to bake two stratas at once.

We pulled out both stratas and let them set up. I kept my fingers crossed my stratas would take the hint and form appropriately. I’ve been let down in this process too many times to be fooled by this last step.

Both recipes I found from the American Egg Board web site: ham and asparagus strata and eggs benedict strata.

They both sounded tasty. Simple, yet unique. Appealing to many palates. Few ingredients. Minimal Cheese.

That’s right – minimal cheese. Have you ever heard of such a concept for an egg dish? The eggs benedict strata had no cheese while the ham and asparagus strata used 1/2 cup total.

Another special agent was pullling the weight: lemon juice and zest.

Yum! And I think my test kitchen guests that morning would agree.


Ham and Asparagus Strata: (so easy!)

 12 1/2″ slices Italian of French bread (I found Vienna bread at the grocery store, so German bread does the trick, too.)
1 C shredded Italian cheese
1 C cooked ham
2 cups chopped fresh asparagus cut into 1″ pieces
6 eggs
1 C milk (I used skim and the dish turned out fine)
2 T lemon juice
1/2 t garlic powder


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Place 1/2 of the bread in single layer in greased 9-inch square baking dish. Top evenly with layers of 1/2 of the cheese, ham and asparagus. Cover with remaining bread, placing slices flat or in shingled pattern. Repeat layers. cheese, ham and asparagus layers.
  2. Beat eggs, milk, lemon juice and garlic powder in medium bowl until blended. Pour over layers in baking dish.
  3. Bake in 350°F oven until puffed, golden and knife inserted near center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes.

*I assembled my strata and let it set overnight in the refridgerator. On my convection setting, the dish only took about 30 minutes to cook through.





2 Responses

  1. mlgauer

    I enjoy your writing style. When you use your convection oven feature, turn your temperature down by 25 degrees. So if your recipe calls for 350 degrees, use 325 degrees in your convection. This will allow for the recipe to be fully cooked without overcooking or drying out the exterior of your recipe. With some recipes you can get by with leaving the temperature and shortening your bake time. In most cases you want to turn the temperature down. Hope that helps.

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