Philippa Vine rustles up three breakfasts that are worth waking up for
I might as well give this to you as to anyone else," said "young" Roger in the office at Hailsham Market as he handed over a misdirected envelope to Mr V. The mystery letter turned out to be a promotional circular for Farmhouse Breakfast Week, which is taking place this month (20-26 January in case you want to put it in your diary).
"Have you ever done anything about breakfast food before?" asked Mr V as he handed over the letter. And so a chance encounter at the local market sowed the seed of this month's column.
They say you should breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and have supper like a pauper, which has some physiological basis as our digestive system is naturally most active in the morning. The reality is that some of us skip breakfast, have a light lunch and then a big meal in the evening, which is the opposite of what we should be doing.
Of course, as a mother of young children (and yes, not always practising what I preach) I do try to encourage them to have a filling and varied meal of protein, carbohydrate and fruit before school, although sometimes that's easier said than done. We expect to see a full fry-up on a hotel breakfast menu, but it is not always something we have time for at home, despite the fact it's always well worth the effort. So along with Irish soda bread and Scotch pancakes, let's celebrate the great British farmhouse breakfast.
The Great British Fry-Up
This is more a list than a recipe. Choose what you like or cook the whole lot.
- Sausages the best you can lay your hands on
- Back bacon smoked or unsmoked, dry cured
- Mushrooms big, dark, flat ones
- Black pudding good-quality, big slices
- Fried bread use the soda bread recipe, not white sliced
- Eggs free range, naturally, and very fresh
Other things at your discretion: kidneys, steak, lamb chops, fried potatoes and fried onions. I prefer to grill bacon and tomatoes and fry the sausages, mushrooms, black pudding and the bread. Eggs as you like them: sunny side up, cracked and turned or scrambled.
Irish Soda Bread
- 250g (9oz) white bread flour
- 200ml (7fl oz) buttermilk
- Half a teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 level teaspoon salt
- A little water
Preheat the oven to 200C (400F, gas mark 6). Place the flour, salt and soda into a bowl and add the buttermilk to form a dough. A little water may be needed if the dough is a little dry. Shape into a round, place on a greased baking sheet and cut a cross in the top. Cover with a large cake tin (to prevent from over browning) and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for a further 10 minutes to colour the crust.
Scotch Pancakes with Apple, Soured Cream and Maple Syrup
For the pancakes
- 125g (4oz) plain flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
- Half a teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 100ml (4fl oz) milk
- Clarified butter for frying
- 2 Cox's apples
- Clarified butter for frying
- A tub of soured cream
- Maple syrup
Separate the eggs. Place the flour in a bowl with the egg yolks, sugar, a pinch of salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Whisk to a smooth batter with the milk. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and fold them into the batter. Using a griddle or frying pan, fry spoonfuls of the batter in a little butter turning them as the first side becomes golden. Keep warm.Peel, quarter and core the apples and cut into slices. Fry them in the clarified butter until they start to brown then remove from the pan. To serve, place a pancake on each plate, spoon some apple and syrup on to each one and place another pancake on top of this with some more apple and syrup. Top with a final pancake, drizzle over more syrup and finish with a spoonful of soured cream.