It’s a breakfast puff

Warning: this is a puff piece about puffs. Breakfast puffs.

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Read Time: 9 minutes

What are we doing?

This week I am making and writing about how you can make wonderful breakfast puffs for your next breakfast or brunch that might need a bit of crispy crunch to accompany the eggs, cheese, and breakfast protein of your choice.

But what is a breakfast puff?

Oh yeah, I guess we got ahead of ourselves. A breakfast puff is a pizza puff that contains no pizza ingredients. Instead, it holds breakfast ingredients.

Ok, but what is a pizza puff?

I guess I need to explain that too.

The gist of a pizza puff is that it’s pizza sauce, cheese, and optional other pizza-like ingredients that are wrapped up in a tortilla and then deep-fried until crispy and golden brown. You can find pizza puffs at many Chicago area hot dog stands or independent—typically economically priced—fast-casual restaurants.

Basically, if a Chicago-land restaurant serves fries, chicken tenders or onion rings that they purchased from their restaurant provider in the frozen format, there’s a good chance they might have pizza puffs on the menu. These pizza puffs aren’t fancy things from fancy restaurants.

There are frozen versions of pizza puffs that you can get at most Chicago-area grocery stores. I don’t think these are very good. Just buy Hot Pockets.

A pizza puff may sound like a hot pocket or pizza rolls or something else that you might have purchased before, and you’re right. But the main difference is that pizza puffs are wrapped in a tortilla and if you get them at a restaurant they will be deep fried.

What is this sandwich handheld?

This is egg, bacon, and cheese stuffed inside of a tortilla that has been folded up and fried until everything is melty, golden brown, and crispy, and then we’re going to serve it with a great green salsa that’s perfect for dipping or spooning on top of the crispy breakfast puff.

Maybe one day I’ll write about and make homemade pizza puffs, but for now, let’s get started on my breakfast puffs.

Extra large tortillas

The regular pizza puffs sold in Chicago eateries show up at the restaurants already wrapped up and ready for the fryer. You can buy the frozen version of these at a lot of Chicago area grocery stores and if you have no problem paying shipping you can order the original sausage flavor of pizza puffs directly from Iltaco Foods.

If you buy a Pizza Puff from the store and check out the ingredients, you’ll see that the first thing mentioned is the tortilla or tortilla dough that is used to wrap everything up. This means we should be able to replicate pizza puffs in our kitchen as long as we can find tortillas large enough to work with.

The first ingredient in a pizza puff is “tortilla.”
This is one of my favorite flour tortilla options in the Chicago area. They are local so not available everywhere.
These are the big tortillas. The 12 or 13-inch style.
The official burrito rolling instructions are really the same as the breakfast puff instructions.

This size of tortilla is probably not in every grocery store. I am able to find a few options online that are more than 10 inches in diameter like Mr. Tortilla brand Big Big Burrito Wraps. In my area, Jewel-Osco and Kroger carry the brand that I purchased as well as the smaller more neighborhood-focused stores.

If you can’t find extra large or burrito-sized tortillas, you can still make a similar version with a smaller 8 or 10-inch-sized “large” burrito but you will likely have to prepare your eggs slightly differently (we’ll cover the eggs in a bit; keep reading).

Warm the tortilla first

This is an important tip. Just like with other types of bread, age makes tortillas stiffen up. The older the tortilla is, the stiffer it will be. If you try to roll a burrito—or in our case a breakfast puff—without warming the tortilla first, the tortilla will likely crease and break along the seams of the folds.

You need to warm the tortilla for around 20 seconds in the microwave or you can even put it in a dry (no oil) pan on the stove over medium-low heat for just a minute or two and the tortilla will be much more pliable and ready for burrito or breakfast puff folding.

Now that we know how to handle the tortillas, we can get to the eggs.

Baked squares of egg

You can simply scramble eggs for this recipe if you want and just pile them up and wrap the tortilla around them. But I think this egg technique works well in this application. For one, it leads to a breakfast puff which is square just like the original pizza puff.

The technique I’m talking about here is my soft-baked square egg recipe which makes an 8 x 4-inch rectangle of eggs that can easily be turned into two squares. Each square holds its shape and each square can be cooked, placed in the fridge, and reheated easily in a pan, under the broiler, or in the microwave. Texturally, these eggs are soft, so if you require your scrambled eggs to be cooked hard you might not like the texture. For me though, it works in a breakfast puff.

Five eggs are required for my soft-baked egg recipe.
You do not have to strain these eggs, but I do suggest that you do so in the recipe.
Adding the pan of eggs to another pan containing hot water creates a bain marie which cooks the eggs softly and consistently.
Covering the egg with aluminum foil will make sure that the eggs steam inside the pan and cook properly.

Every oven performs differently so there’s a chance that you might need to cook for a bit more or a bit less than my recipe says. If you remove the pan from the oven and uncover the aluminum foil and the top of the eggs still looks wet or super jiggly, it will be a sign to cook the whole thing for a few more minutes. When the eggs are fully cooked they will wiggle a little when shaking the pan, but there should be no visible moisture on the top.

4 x 8-inches by 1-inch of soft baked egg, ready for sandwiches or stuffing in a breakfast puff. A 4 x 4 square is almost the perfect size for a typical piece of store-bought loaf bread.
The end result of this recipe is two 4 x 4-inch squares of consistently cooked egg that you can store in the fridge for a few days.

Half-sized breakfast puffs?

A 4 x 8-inch soft baked egg is the equivalent of 2.5 eggs. This turns into a formidable breakfast puff when you add protein and cheese. If you would like a smaller size you can cut the soft baked eggs into four equal-sized pieces and use smaller tortillas to create a smaller version. Just buy the much easier-to-find 8-inch flour tortillas and do everything else the same while scaling down the amount of bacon and cheese to what looks like the right amount.

Reheating square eggs?

This egg cooking technique makes 2 or more portions which works great if you’re serving two people. But if you don’t need all of the eggs, they will keep in the fridge for 2 or 3 days and heat up to pretty much exactly as they are when they come out of the oven. I use the following techniques for reheating a cold square of eggs.

Microwave: you can reheat the egg patty in the microwave for 30 seconds, flip the patty, and heat for another 30 seconds. Add cheese for the final 30 seconds if you want melty cheese on top. 

Broiler: place the egg on a piece of aluminum foil that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Broil for 1 minute, flip the egg, add any cheese, and broil for another 1 minute.

45 minutes
Soft baked egg squares

Want a perfectly square, super soft, and custardy egg for your next breakfast sandwich? This foolproof recipe allows you to bake the eggs in the oven so they can be prepared in advance and reheated easily when it's sandwich time.

Get Recipe

Bacon or other breakfast proteins

The deal is, it doesn’t really matter how you cook your bacon or what breakfast meat you choose for this handheld puff. The idea of this breakfast puff is just like a breakfast burrito in that you can choose to add crumbled sausage, mushrooms, or whatever you want as long as it isn’t a whole lot bigger than the base of square eggs.

This is a pan with four slices of bacon on it.
This is also a pan with four slices of bacon on it but from a different angle.

Cheese options?

I used blocks of cheddar that I shredded myself in my breakfast puffs, but any shredded or even sliced cheese would work here. Use whatever cheese you think pairs well with eggs and bacon.

Roasted tomatillo salsa

This is a great salsa to snack on. Since a breakfast puff is very similar to a breakfast burrito, I figured a fresh and tart salsa like this would be perfect to serve on the side for dipping. You could put salsa inside of a breakfast puff, but because of how you can stash them in the fridge or freezer, it’s not the best idea. It’s also a much better experience to have fresh salsa cool instead of hot inside of a fried puff.

The base of this salsa consists of tomatillos which typically have a husk that needs to be removed before roasting.
Jalapenos, tomatillos, and skin-on cloves of garlic can all be roasted together before being blended into a smooth salsa.

This salsa requires three ingredients to be roasted under a broiler and the other ingredients are added to the blender or stirred in after all the blending happens.

The peppers, tomatillos, and garlic are roasted to soften and add extra flavor.
Once blended we have some beautiful salsa with a little tartness to give your snack time a bit more excitement.
26 minutes
Roasted tomatillo salsa

A bright, tangy, and fresh salsa that's perfect on a chip or as a sauce on your next chicken biscuit.

Get Recipe

Packing and folding process

Like most of my sandwiches, I filmed the process of making these breakfast puffs and will share it on my Instagram account. Using still frames from those videos, I have created these two simple slideshows that display the building and the folding process for a simple breakfast puff.

The packing process

The folding process

Refrigerate until ready to use

Once these breakfast puffs are wrapped inside a tortilla, you can then wrap them again in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store them in the fridge until ready to use. I would try to use them within 2 or 3 days, but they could also be frozen, and since there’s no liquid they should thaw and be ready to fry at a later date.

Frying process

I have deep fried these and shallow fried these and it’s a whole lot easier to fry a breakfast puff in about 2 to 3-inches of oil than it is to fry them in a much deeper pot. In the deep frying method, there is a good chance that the tortilla will open up and unfold itself. Keep an eye out for that.

You can deep fry or shallow fry breakfast puffs. But you should always put them into the pan with the folded side down.
Fry until both sides are golden brown. You might want to use two spoons or spatulas or a combo of the two for flipping.
Fry on the second side and remove when the color is to your liking. Everything inside is already fully cooked, just trying to warm and melt the cheese.

Breakfast puff photos and recipe

This is the breakfast puff prior to entering the hot frying oil.
After frying, the tortilla should be crispy and golden brown.
My breakfast puffs are on the large side. You can make smaller versions by using a smaller-sized tortilla.
Fried flour tortillas crisp up really nice.
This is like a breakfast burrito with a bit more structure and a crispy exterior.
Because there’s no sauce inside of these breakfast puffs you need something on the outside. That’s why my tomatillo salsa works so well.
So crispy. So crunchy. So breakfasty.
These breakfast puffs are perfect for dipping in salsa.
So cheesy and perfect for handheld action.
You could scramble the eggs for this breakfast puff, but have you ever heard of consistency?
Crispy breakfast puff view printable page for this recipe

Just like a Chicago pizza puff but totally different. This version is packed full of eggs, bacon, and cheesy goodness inside a crispy, fried tortilla wrapper.


Ingredients:

Soft baked egg squares
  • 5 whole large eggs
  • 14 cup milk (plant based milk works as well)
  • 34 teaspoon salt
Breakfast puff construction
  • 1 large burrito shells (12 to 13-inches diameter)
  • 14 to 12 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg square (from above)
  • pinch of ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 slices of cooked bacon
  • hot sauce (optional)
  • Neutral oil for frying 2-inches deep in your pan (like vegetable or peanut)

Directions:

Soft baked egg squares: preheat oven to 300 F (150 C). 

Beat five eggs in a bowl until they are fully combined. 

Using a strainer, strain the eggs into another large bowl and add salt and milk. Mix the mixture until fully incorporated. 

IMPORTANT: spray an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan (sometimes called "Medium" - an 8.5 x 4.5 pan will also work) with nonstick spray and set the loaf pan into a larger baking pan.

Pour the egg mixture into the loaf pan. Take note of the height of the egg mixture for the next step.

Cover the loaf pan with aluminum foil and fill the larger baking pan with warm water. Make sure the water is higher than the height of the egg mixture. This is known as a bain marie and cooking the eggs surrounded by warm water will allow them to cook very gently. 

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until eggs are fully set. 

Allow the egg patty to fully cool before handling. See notes for reheating instructions. 

Breakfast puff construction: microwave a large tortilla for 20 seconds to make it more pliable. 

Lay the tortilla down on a large plate or cutting board. In the middle of the bottom half of the tortilla place half of the shredded cheese. 

Top the cheese with an egg square and add a bit of black pepper on top of the eggs. 

Break the bacon slices in half and place them on top of the eggs. Cover the bacon with the second half of the cheese. 

Fold in the sides of the tortilla on top of the egg/bacon/cheese. Then from the bottom, fold everything over on top of itself until you have a nice package. (See the folding slideshow in this blog post if you need a visual).

Once the breakfast puff is folded, it's time to fry.

Breakfast puff frying: bring a large skillet or pot full of vegetable or peanut oil about 2 inches deep up to 350 F (176 C). 

Once the oil is hot enough, carefully add your breakfast puff to the pan. Try to add it so the folds are on the bottom. The frying process will make sure nothing opens up. 

Fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side of the breakfast puff, or until both sides are nice and golden brown. 

Remove to a paper towel-lined plate or a cooling rack placed over paper towels. Allow to cool for 3 or 4 minutes before biting because the insides will be really hot. 

Serve and enjoy.

Non-fried breakfast puff

I had some leftover 13-inch tortillas, bacon, and enough eggs so I wanted to make more breakfast puffs but I didn’t want to go through the trouble of deep frying or even shallow frying so I decided to make a couple more with just a tablespoon of oil in the pan.

Cooking the puffs this way removes most of the crunch from the tortilla shell, but they are still good. There’s way less hassle in disposing of the oil and when cooking with so little oil, you have a lot less splatter to clean up on your stove/counter.

Cooking this way still melts the cheese and heats up all the interior bits but the cleanup is much easier and the exterior of the resulting breakfast puff isn’t as oily.

This breakfast puff is almost as good as the fried version.
The pan-fried version of a breakfast puff is still really good and the cleanup is so much easier than a deep-fried version.
I ate a lot of eggs, bacon, and cheese this week.

Check back next week

I might be making a salad. Or possibly a sandwich. Only one way to find out.


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