Feeding the Morning Crowd

by | Nov 17, 2022

Thanksgiving is a week away and hosting can be overwhelming. With family members coming in and all the pressure to cook, not only the most anticipated meal of the year, but others throughout the duration of the week, the stress can pile on if you don’t plan ahead.

This year during the N.C. State Fair Make-ahead Breakfast Challenge, first-place winner Lisa Jolley of Raleigh provided us with the perfect recipe to make ahead of the Thanksgiving rush. This Autumn Harvest Breakfast Bake utilizes local ingredients, like eggs and pecans, and can be made before your guests arrive. Simply follow the instructions below, place the finished product in the fridge until needed, bake when ready and enjoy!

Autumn Harvest Breakfast Bake 

Total Cooking Time: 90 minutes 


  • For the waffle:
    • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
    • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
    • 1 cup pumpkin puree
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
    • *Note* This recipe will make about 16 mini waffles (4″ diameter). If your waffle iron is larger, just make as many as the batter allows.
  • For the bread pudding:
    • 1 12-ounce package bacon, cooked
    • 6 large eggs
    • 1 cup whole milk
    • 1 cup half and half
    • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
    • Cinnamon sugar for dusting


  1. Cook the bacon however you prefer, cut the cooled bacon into different sized pieces and set aside.
  2. Make the waffles:
    1. Preheat waffle iron/maker and spay with cooking spray when hot.
    2. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt.
    3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and pumpkin puree, then alternate buttermilk and melted butter, tempering to avoid scrambling eggs.
    4. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula until moist (a few lumps are ok).
    5. Pour batter into your waffle iron (for a mini waffle maker, 3 tablespoons is plenty; for a standard sized waffle maker, 1/3 to 1/2 cups) and make as many waffles as the batter will allow.
    6. Let waffles cool.
    7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    8. Cut waffle into smaller rectangles, about 1 inch by 2 inch.
    9. Arrange pieces on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes until crispy.
  3. Make the Bread Pudding:
    1. Butter a 13×9 inch baking dish and fill with the waffle pieces and 3/4 of the bacon.
    2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, half & half, sugar, vanilla, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Then alternate milk and melted butter, again to avoid scrambling eggs, until combined.
    3. Pour mixture into the baking dish covering all waffle pieces.
    4. Top with pecans and the rest of the bacon, then finish with a LIGHT dusting of cinnamon sugar.
    5. Cover with foil and let rest in the refrigerator overnight.
    6. In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    7. Bake for 1 hour with foil lightly covering the baking dish, then turn for even heating.
    8. Bake another 15 minutes (foil still on) and then remove the foil for the last 15 minutes of cooking.
      1. Note: Check the center for doneness if your oven temperature varies
    9. Cut into squares and serve hot…or warm…or cold! With or without maple syrup
    10. Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container.

** This Home Chef Challenge at the N.C. State Fair was sponsored by Superior Sleep Experience. **