We may be on the cusp of a breakfast revolution in America. A growing number of chefs are getting creative with what we eat for breakfast: pancakes, doughnut muffins and even pizza frittata.
The “castle breakfast” is a traditional British dish that is made with fried bacon, eggs, and sausage. The dish is typically eaten at breakfast or as a snack. It’s also sometimes called the “sausage, egg and bacon sandwich”.
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We stagger out of bed every Saturday morning, which is wonderfully later each year as my children have become big enough to fend for themselves for a few hours, and do the following in this precise order: In the Moka pot, make Americanos. Hard-boil some eggs and immediately plunge them into icy water to ensure that they are not warm-centered (shudder) when we sit down. Then I make a simple wholegrain soda bread that I bake as scones, which takes about 15 minutes. We utilize these minutes to bring out all of the remaining fruit in the fridge and chop it up; fanning it out on a plate makes us feel elegant, rather than like it’s the dregs from the produce drawer’s bottom shelf. We juice a couple of oranges if we’re feeling adventurous. I untie the pieces of a couple grapefruit halves (I’m team grapefruit knife, not spoon, not that you asked) if we have them. In the winter, I’ve been known to slice up pears and blue cheese with walnuts, and in the autumn, I’ve been known to slice up apples with strong cheddar. In the summer, there’s an abundance of berries, stone fruit, and melon, with handmade ricotta on the side if I have some. I prefer to chop avocados when we have them. Then we urge the kids to prepare the table, which always includes salted butter and apricot jam (my favorite), as well as Nutella and raspberry jam (everyone else’s) since I don’t have any arguments left by Saturday.
We began this weekend habit when we stayed in a few of castles-turned-hotels in Ireland a few years ago, and we call it Castle Breakfast. I like posh hotel breakfasts, with their teapots and manners, bright rooms, small jars of jam, and fresh fruit, all of which are great for grazers like me. And I realized that I really wanted this to be a part of every weekend, something to look forward to after a week of cold porridge and hurried mornings. But only if I could do it in under 30 minutes. I’m neither a domestic goddess nor a morning person, despite the fact that I’m sure they frequently go hand in hand.
I started studying soda bread when we returned from Ireland, and I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that some are darker, others are lighter, some are put into loaf pans, and some are baked as boules/rounds, and I adore them all. When it came to weekend breakfasts, though, the simplicity of the traditional formula* we’d learnt in a Ballymaloe Cookery School session was ideal. There are just four ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. I use coarse wholemeal (whole wheat) flour in place of half of the white flour (more about this in a moment). I appreciate that we’re receiving a dose of entire grains in the morning and that it doesn’t have to be sweet since they’ll smother it with sugar anyhow. It’s also fantastic with a dollop of salted butter. We don’t prepare them ahead of time. If rewarmed, they should be alright the following day. But, because they’re at their finest immediately out of the oven, why deprive ourselves?
I’m preparing pancakes, crepes, Dutch babies, or one of two recipes I owe you: popovers or a new waffle, if we’re not baking brown bread scones. This is because Castle Breakfast is more of a mindset than a recipe. It’s all about making your days off seem exceptional, about feeling as relaxed and pampered at home as you would at a high-end tearoom. It’s all about feeling like a little bit of royalty, regardless of your financial situation. I’m hoping it’s enjoyable.
A few things to consider:
Ukraine I don’t think I need to tell you how bad the news from Ukraine is right now. Globe Central Kitchen’s work inspires me every day. They go on the ground as quickly as possible when there are humanitarian or environmental disasters anywhere in the world, set up mobile kitchens, and ensure that people have hot meals, which we all know is critical. They’ve been feeding individuals leaving Ukraine for the last week at various border crossing points, and although I wish it wasn’t necessary, I am glad to support their efforts. [They also have a perfect Charity Navigator rating.]]
What else have I done? London! Unfortunately, we did not stay in any castles, but we did see a lot.
Scones with Brown Soda Bread
Here’s how I substitute the Irish flour in my recipe: 3/4 cup wheat germ + 1/4 cup wheat bran + 1/2 cup normal whole wheat flour Equals 1 cup coarse wholemeal flour. Yes, this looks to be more than 1 cup, however the flour weighs considerably less than the germ. Total weight will be 145 grams. For further information on coarse wholemeal flour, see the note at the conclusion of the recipe.
- 1 cup (145 g) coarse wholemeal flour from Ireland (see Note up top for swap; see Note at end for description)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (130 grams)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 cup (225 g) buttermilk, plus a dash more if necessary
- 1 tbsp (15 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Using parchment paper, line a baking sheet. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together wholemeal flour (see Note at top for substitution; see Note at bottom for explanation), all-purpose flour, salt, and baking soda. Pour the buttermilk over the dry ingredients, then roughly shred the butter on top. Stir to incorporate into a thick, somewhat gloppy mass that is slightly moister than typical scone dough. If it doesn’t come together, add a tablespoon of buttermilk at a time until it does. (When using a thick kind of buttermilk, I need at least 2 more tablespoons.)
Place dough in four large mounds on prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until edges are just barely golden brown and dry to the touch. Split in half and spread with butter, jam, or chocolate straight immediately.
Deb is drowsy. Method: Measure 1 cup each of wholemeal and all-purpose flour using a 1/2-cup measure (twice). Use it to measure 1 cup buttermilk twice more. Use it as a scoop to loosely form the four scones into pucks, while it’s still wet from the buttermilk. It’s simpler to shake out the scone with the remaining buttermilk in the cup.
Let’s take a look at coarse wholemeal flour (whole wheat): Irish wholemeal flour is the secret ingredient in most wholegrain or brown soda breads. The coarse and gritty Irish wholemeal flour is strong in fiber and has a great nutty taste. It’s not the same as our finely milled whole wheat flours here, and I don’t enjoy the results when I use it as a complete substitute. Although I believe I’ve created a nice imitation, it needs additional ingredients, putting it out of the race for those looking for a quick morning baked treat. Here’s what I’d say: If you enjoy these scones and want to make them more regularly, prepare a jar of my Irish flour swap ahead of time and have it on hand for weekend mornings. You may also invest on a bag of foreign flour. Prices vary a lot (blame a supply chain issue), but even if it’s costly, it’s spread out across 56 scones, which is my favorite method to explain things. Amazon, Food Ireland, and Mercato are some of the online stores where you can get the Odlums brand I use. It’s available in two sizes: coarse and extra-coarse; both work. Note: I know King Arthur Flour produces an Irish-style flour, but I couldn’t test it since it was out of stock while I was working on this recipe. You’ll be fine if it’s coarsely ground.
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