I’m not a breakfast person. I always eat breakfast; in fact I can’t function without food to ‘break my fast’ in the morning, but it’s a simple bowl of muesli or granola with fruit and yoghurt and then I like to have coffee a little later, and maybe a pastry with it if my willpower is functioning on low. I’ve upset Sawdays recommended B&B owners in Cornwall by refusing their famous Full English Breakfasts.
I’ve never been much of a cook at breakfast time. As soon as my kids were tall enough to reach a bowl, cereal from a cupboard and milk from the fridge, they had to fend for themselves in the morning and get their own breakfast before school. I can only excuse this by saying that I made up for it big time later in the day: homemade banana bread for tea when they came home and always proper, freshly cooked meals and absolutely never something from a ready-made packet.
If my now grown-up kids, along with my daughter-in-law, were surprised by my untypical breakfast efforts this morning, they didn’t show it but were only hugely appreciative. It had turned out Sunday breakfast was the only time we could all get together while my daughter was down in London from Birmingham for the weekend. So … breakfast it was. And, with my Single Gourmet Traveller hat on, I thought I should make a good effort.
A large part of the breakfast was bought. I went to Ruben’s Bakehouse yesterday morning and bought a brioche loaf, croissants and a large sourdough loaf. Ruben doesn’t open on Sundays but I knew the pastries would warm and freshen well in the oven. Ruben’s on a Saturday morning is a hive of lively, friendly activity. Everyone is talking to one another, there are bread tastings and Igor is fantastic at remembering who has been before or knowing who is in the shop for the first time and welcomes them. If you’re brave enough you can practise your Italian as Igor and most of the other staff are Italian. Nearly everyone manages at least a ciao. By the time you come out, it’s inevitable you’re going to be smiling.
With Italy in mind, I bought some Italian blood-red oranges to make spremuta d’arancia for the breakfast.
And I got out my old but lovely juicer that hadn’t seen a fresh orange in a while.
Freshly squeezed oranges are served in nearly every cafe in Italy. Squeezed to order and very often these blood-red variety. When it comes to orange juice, no bought carton compares to the real freshly squeezed version.
But first off, once I’d descended the stairs this morning and got cooking, I made the batter for the pancakes. The recipe for these American style pancakes is from one of Jamie Oliver’s first books, Happy Days with the Naked Chef, and are a family favourite. But, given all said above you won’t be surprised to hear it’s never before been me making them! Given my son and daughter’s perfection of the recipe, I felt under a little pressure to get it right!
Put 4oz plain flour, 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder, 3 egg yolks and 5 fl. oz. milk into a bowl and whisk to a smooth batter. Whisk the 3 egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff and gently fold into the batter. When ready to cook, heat a non-stick frying pan and then drop some of the batter into the hot pan. You can make them whatever size you like but we always keep them quite small (about 8cm). If you want to add any flavourings – I added blueberries but Jamie also suggests corn, crispy bacon, banana, grated chocolate or stewed apple – this is the time to do it. Drop them on and then flip the pancake over to the other side. When both sides are golden brown remove to a warm plate.
I also griddled some gorgeous rashes of a sweet-cured bacon to serve with the pancakes, with maple syrup.
I just love these pancakes. The whisked egg white makes them so light and fluffy and the bacon went really well with them. There were also lovely croissants from Ruben’s.
And Nicola sliced the brioche loaf – a delicious tasting sweet bread that brought exclamations of how good it was!
There was a large cafetiere of coffee, a jug of warm milk, French butter and my favourite damson jam. I really don’t know why I’ve been so against making an effort for breakfast. It was a wonderful way to start the day, sitting round the table together with lovely food and rich, dark coffee and having a laugh or two – especially with Jonathan and Lyndsey’s puppy Zeph excitedly looking for Bella my cat who had gone into hiding! As we all said goodbye at my door, we agreed that we must definitely do another family breakfast soon.