Cashew Cardamom Brioche with Orange French Toast: Mother's Day

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It's the glory of second trimester, while Spring is bountiful with early sunshine & late sunrises whispering of Summer on the move.  While the majority of the nation has seen weeks upon weeks of high temps, it is our little Pacific Northwest corner still bundled, crossing fingers that the sun will stay out long enough for temps reaching the 60s (yes, that's considered warm).  This week we have been blessed with just that, and eating lunch on the front porch is a must as I don my burgeoning belly in summer dresses found consignment.  I'm eating these moments up.  

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V comes up & rubbing my belly asking, "Are you ready to come out baby?"  Both girls searching out names they like for the baby, things like 'Pinkalicious, Rosa, Laura, & Molly,' which is an improvement from Princess Snooglebeak.  My heart just two weeks ago was reminded how this baby is different from my other babies.  The baby we lost in September would be greeting us this month.  I didn't realize till that moment, that it is possible to mourn a loss while greeting a joy at the same time.  

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It was in these words by JJ Heller's song, I Get to be the One: 

How does someone so small

Hold my heart so tightly

I don't even know you

I love you completely...I get to be the one to hold your hand

The secret part of my heart not able to convey what it is inside, which is making it hard to attach to this little one in me...is coming to light.  In part, it's the flood of reality that there was a home for the baby we don't get to greet, while a lot of my friends welcome their May babies.  I'm allowed to mourn that even amidst the gift. So God speaks as if he's sharing coffee with me, "that I get to be the one making a home for this baby in my belly."  That I get to be the one, so incredibly broken & incomplete, he chose to be the mama to this third child we welcome in our home.  

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Who am I that I would be given this gift when I know of story upon story of the closed womb, the bleeding womb, and the never touched womb.  I don't know.  I do know that it's Mother's Day on Sunday, where I am blessed with my little gifts of life.  I also know that it's Mother's Day, which is yet another reminder to some of those hidden hurts.  My friend Denise puts is so eloquently when writing on the hurt of Mother's Day.  

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Can I invite you to open up your heart & your table to one of those who is hurting?  Can you write a note to the woman who has never been able to conceive?  Can you bring flowers & hug to the woman who has no mother?  Can you invite the single woman who longs to be a mother over for a meal?  

I offer you a wonderful grain-free french toast to make for the mother, motherless, or mother at heart woman in your life.  This Cashew Cardamom Brioche French Toast with Orange reminds me of the sweet & slightly bitter life we endure.  Sweet from the cashews & orange, while cardamom bitterly lingers just a bit to be swept away by the rich, creaminess of butter & treacly maple syrup.  

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A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them.

~Victor Hugo

Cashew Cardamom Brioche with Orange French Toast (printable recipe)

The cashew brioche is just slighty changed from Coco at Roost, where she creates mouthwatering lovelies.  The addition of orange & cardamom are dear to my heart and nostalgic for a little cafe overlooking La Jolla beach in San Diego.  

Cashew Cardamom Brioche Ingredients:

3 cups cashews

4 eggs, separated

16 cardamom pods, seeds removed & ground

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup whole milk yogurt with live cultures

1/2 Tb raw apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup unpasterized apple juice

Directions:

Add your cashews to a blender.  Blend them until they resemble a fine flour.  I use the medium setting, in order to avoid making cashew butter.  I also utilize the pulse setting toward the end.  Empty the cashew flour into a bowl & set aside.  Add the baking soda, cardamom, & salt to the cashew flour, mix.

Next, add the egg yolks, raw apple cider vinegar, yogurt, & apple juice to the blender.  Puree the mixture until blended well, about 20 seconds.  Place the dry ingredients back into the blender (cashew flour, baking soda, salt, & cardamom).  Puree the mixture till the dry ingredients are nice and wet & combined, about 30 seconds.

In a clean, deep bowl, add the egg whites (room temperature).  Whisk & whisk until you beat them into submission, which means wet stiff peaks form.  Pour the cashew batter into a medium or large bowl.  Take your beaten egg whites and pour them a top your cashew batter and fold them in gently.  Don't overmix or overfold, as you want the air from the egg whites to lend to the airness in the final baked brioche.

Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch pan, or a parchment lined pan.  Bake for 60 to 70 minutes in a 315 degree oven.  

French Toast Ingredients:

one loaf of cashew cardamom brioche

3 eggs

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

zest from one orange

Juice from one orange

2 tsp vanilla

unsalted butter

maple syrup or honey for drizzling

Directions:

Slice your brioche in 1/2 inch slices.  You should get about 9-10 slices out of the loaf.  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat, add your fat of choice (butter, ghee, coconut oil are great choices).  

In a bowl, combine heavy whipping cream, orange zest, orange juice, eggs, & vanilla.  Whisk together till combined.  Once your skillet is nice & hot, add your slices of brioche to the eggy custard, coating both sides really well.  Add the coated brioche slices to your skillet and cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on how well you like your french toast cooked through.  I love the crispy edges.  Before adding new slices, add more fat to grease pan and continue cooking.

Serve hot with butter & maple syrup or honey.  Enjoy!