Seriously, no one knows how to make a strata. Every recipe I read has different ratios and ingredients. Here on this blog, we love riffable recipes, but for stratas it’s too much even for us.
I started thinking of making a strata after seeing Lucy Waverman make one. It seemed perfect for me: full of yummy ingredients, low cost, looks fancy…I had to make one.
Once I decided that, I set out to get a recipe for 1-2 people because I don’t want to make too much strata. 1-2 people meant scaling down most recipes. Now here’s where it gets tricky. I have seen the ratio of milk to egg to bread to cheese all over the map. This recipe in Epicurious had the easiest ratio of: 1 part milk + 1 part eggs + 1 part cheese + 1 part add-ins (optional) + 2 parts bread (where 1/4 cup = 1 egg).
Simple right? 1 cup of milk, 4 eggs, 1 cup of cheese, 1 cup of stuff and 2 cups of bread. But then I see other recipes with 3 eggs to 1 cup of milk, or 1 cup of milk to 1.5 cups of bread. This has 4 cups of milk to 2 cups of cheese and 6 cups of bread. Sheesh. This one has 1/4 cup of milk to 2 cups of cheese to 3 eggs. That seems crazy. And did I mention some recommend 10% vs milk? And Lucy — who knows her stuff — uses cream.
Here’s my thought, as a non strata expert. Start with the Epicurious ratio because it is simple. Futz with the amounts depending on what you got/want. Want it to be more cheesy? Use more cheese and less add ins. Want it to be less eggy? Use 3 eggs to 1 cup of milk. (I did this.) Want it more moist? Use more milk. (Or add some chopped tomatoes and let their juices blend with the other liquid ingredients.)
Also, there is a whole school of thought on torn vs untorn bread. Personally I say: don’t be so lazy and tear the bread. But hey, it’s your call.
Two things most people agree on: toss the ingredients overnight and in the morning pull out of the fridge and bake at 350F for 40-60 or so minutes until it is puffy and brown then let it rest for 5 minutes before eating. (You may want to cover it first and then uncover it so it cooks without browning too dark. I did 40 minutes covered then 20 minutes uncovered until it was set and brown).
A strata is a great brunch meal. Serve alongside a tart green salad with thinly sliced onions or shallots and have bloody Caesars or bloody Marys or OJ and coffee and you have a feast.