I’m pretty certain that I’ve had this exact breakfast every Christmas morning for the past 30 years. I’m not exactly sure when my mum started the tradition of making it, but I’ve had it for as long as I can remember.
This breakfast casserole made of bread, ham, cheese, and a mixture of milk and eggs was developed in the late 70‘s by a Canadian group of women who wrote a series of recipe books called ‘The Best of Bridge’. Shortly after it was first published it became hugely popular, gracing the Christmas breakfast tables of thousands of Western Canadian Families. Over the years it’s popularity has spread across Canada, and down into parts of the United States.
It’s officially named ‘The Christmas Morning Wife Saver’ for it’s time saving ability to allow mum to enjoy the festivities of Christmas morning without having to get up and attend to breakfast. Prepared on Christmas Eve, it’s ready to be popped in the oven on Christmas morning to bake unattended for an hour while presents are unwrapped and family photos are snapped.
Once baked, everyone can sit down to a stress free breakfast with layers of bread, gooey cheese, and delicious smoked ham. My favorite part has always been the crunchy golden topping made with crushed cornflake crumbs.
Mum would serve it up in big slices (kind of like a breakfast lasagna), along with fresh fruit, orange juice, and thick toasted slices of Panatone (which only made it’s way onto our island home in the late 90’s). I still serve it this way, and we continue to enjoy it as leftovers on Boxing Day (that’s the day after Christmas if you’re American).
Christmas Morning Wife Saver
This recipe makes 8 good sized portions, so I halve it and bake it in a smaller dish since there’s only two and a half of us in our house. We still have 2-3 leftover slices to enjoy the next day.
- 16 slices white bread, with crusts removed
- 16 slices ham, or enough to cover the bottom layer of bread
- Sliced cheese, enough to cover the bottom layer of bread
- 6 eggs
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
- 1 - 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 3 cups (750ml) whole milk
- Dash Tabasco sauce
- 1/4 cup green pepper, finely chopped (optional)
- 1/4 cup minced onion (optional)
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 4-5 cups cornflakes
- Butter a 9×13 (35x23cm) glass baking dish.
- Line the bottom of the pan with half of the bread slices, cutting pieces to size in order to cover the entire bottom of pan.
- Cover the bread layer with slices if ham (I use several layers of ham)
- Lay slices of Cheddar cheese on top of the ham.
- Cover with more slices of bread so that it's similar to a large sandwich
- In a bowl, beat eggs, salt, pepper and dry mustard. Stir in milk, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco sauce
- Pour the egg/milk mixture over the top of the bread
- Sprinkle the green pepper and onion (if using) over top of the sandwiches.
- Place the Cornflakes in a zip lock bag and gently crush them. Pour in melted butter, and shake until the cornflakes are lightly coated in the melted. Spread a layer of Cornflake crumbs over top of the bread
- Cover with plastic wrap, and leave in fridge over night
- Bake, uncovered for 1 hour at 350ºF (175ºC)
I hope you all enjoy the Christmas Morning Wife Saver, and make it for your own Christmas breakfast this year. I’ve also known friends who’ve also made a tradition of it for other holidays such as Easter. If you do make it, please drop me a comment below and let me know what you thought. I’d love to know that I helped introduce this Canadian breakfast tradition to the UK, and other parts of the world.
Seeing as we’re on the topic of breakfast, you may have noticed that the monthly Breakfast Club linky I co-hosted with Sarah from Maison Cupcake has been missing for the past few months. Unfortunately Sarah is no longer able to co-host it, so I’ve taken the opportunity to re-launch it with a fresh new name – ‘Brilliant Breakfasts’.
I’d love to see all of your delicious breakfast recipes, so please grab a Brilliant Breakfasts badge of your choice below, and link up your posts here. As with before, there is no monthly theme to stick to, so anything goes. Just as long as you’d eat it for breakfast (within reason – no cold pizza or leftover curry allowed!).
*A big huge thank you to Lucy from Super Golden Bakes for helping me with the badge.
In addition to my own Brilliant Breakfasts, I’m sharing my Christmas Morning Wife Saver to a few other blogger link ups:
Simply Eggcellent hosted by Dom over at Belleau Kitchen
Bake of the Week hosted by Casa Costello