strata: plural of stra·tum
A layer or a series of layers of rock in the ground; a thin layer within any structure.
That’s the first definition of strata, according to most dictionaries, but I prefer this definition:
Strata: “a delicious baked brunch recipe made with bread, cream, cheese, bacon, ham or sweets.” Yeah, that’s more like it.
It’s not that often you can create a beautiful recipe with leftovers. In this dish, you can combine the leftover day-old challah bread with the remaining cream cheese in the fridge. Add to that a cup of jam, a few other ingredients and, voila! You have the perfect strata for Sunday brunch.
I got the goat’s milk creamy cheese from Trader Joe’s (the texture is just like cream cheese) but you can use any goat cheese, softened. Enjoy!
- 1 loaf day-old challah or similar egg bread, halved lengthwise and cut into ½-thick slices
- 6 large eggs, divided
- 1¼ cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 Tbsp. sugar, divided
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- 8 ounces goat’s milk creamy cheese
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup raspberry jam or preserves
Preheat oven to 325°. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange half the bread in dish, overlapping and wedging pieces to cover the bottom.
In a large bowl, whisk together 5 eggs, then add milk, cream, 2 Tbsp. sugar, vanilla, and salt and whisk again. Pour half of custard over bread in dish, letting it soak in thoroughly. Set remaining custard aside.
To make filling, use a handheld or stand mixer to beat together goat’s milk creamy cheese, cream cheese, butter, remaining egg, and remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar in a large bowl until soft and fluffy, about 1 minute. Drop half of filling over bread in large spoonfuls, gently spreading it out with the back of the spoon. Repeat process with half of jam. Arrange remaining bread in a layer, then repeat process with custard, goat cheese filling, and jam. Swirl a butter knife through the top layers of cheese and jam to create a decorative design. (You can either bake the strata immediately or cover it and refrigerate overnight.)
Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the strata is puffed, firmly set, and golden brown. Set aside to cool 10 minutes, cut into squares, and serve.
Barely adapted from Faith Durand, Oprah Magazine, May 2012