Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

On some days…

A warm piece of baguette with butter and apricot jam is actually nicer than a croissant. Don’t know how it happens, but it does. Today was one of those days.


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Nik says I just like getting parcels. He says that’s why I keep ordering stuff off the internet. Me, I say internet shopping is simply the bomb. You can spend as long as you like finding exactly what it is that you want, then buy it in a few minutes, and a day or two later it arrives at your door. So it was with my handheld blender. I was a little suspicious of it at first, as it came with about five different blades, so it wasn’t as straightforward as the Braun blender I was used to. But it’s won me over. And this, my friends, is because it can do what no man can do: it can blend up ice to a thick smooth crush.

I found this recip e at MadCapCupcake’s blog. Like her, I was a little tentative about the idea of a spinach smoothie. It sounds like something only hardcore vegans would like. And despite a foray into veganism some years ago, I no longer count myself among the ranks of what Anthony Bourdain calls “the hizbolla-like splinter faction of vegetarianism”.

So gone are my days of crushing linseeds to make egg substitutes and whipping tofu into sauces. Why, then, would I fill a cup with blended up spinach and ice? Only one, reason, friends, and I ask you to trust me on this one. It’s goddamn delicious. The spinach is mellow and sweet – even sweeter if you add banana as I like to do. Oh, and it uses up the glut of spinach from the allotment.

Spinach smoothie

a cup of spinach leaves, torn up

a few ice cubes

a banana

some milk, just enough to cover (dairy or soya, whatever takes your fancy)

You’ll need a blender that can crush ice. Blend it all up til it’s smooth and green. It will make you feel virtuous!

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My newly acquired allotment plot has a large rhubarb plant growing on it. Thankfully one of my neighbours at the site pointed it out to me, or I would’ve yanked it out with the rest of the weeds, as I had no idea what rhubarb looked like. Or what it tasted like, even, as I’d never encountered such a thing before. Nik’s sister Katya advised simmering it with tons of sugar and eating it with yogurt, which was nice. And pink. Then I found this recipe from Veg Box for an upside-down rhubarb cake, yet another utterly easy, not-too-sweet cake that falls into the category of wonderful things you can eat for breakfast. With or without a large dollop of greek yogurt.



200g rhubarb
75g brown sugar


175g self-raising flour
175g butter, softened
3 medium eggs
175g caster sugar


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190 C. Grease and line a 7-inch (18 cm) deep-sided cake tin. (I used a loaf tin).
  2. Trim the leaves and bases off the rhubarb stalks. Chop the stalks into 2 cm chunks. Place evenly over the base of the lined cake tin and sprinkle the brown sugar on top.
  3. Beat together the butter and the sugar until they are creamy and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, with a tablespoon of flour. Beat well to combine at each stage.
  5. Fold in the rest of the flour, so you don’t lose the air from the cake.
  6. Spoon the cake mixture on top of the rhubarb and even out the top of the cake, making a small well in the middle. (This means it should rise evenly, rather than with a dome in the middle).
  7. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and springy. A sharp knife or skewer inserted into the middle will come out clean.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 15 minutes. Turn the cake tin upside down onto the serving plate and gently remove it from the cake. The cake is literally served “upside down” with the rhubarb on the top.
  9. Allow to cool before serving.

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Cinnamon date buns



For those who’ve read this blog before, you’ll know that my idea of the ultimate baked breakfast food is something that fits somewhere betweeen bread and cake. I grew up in Cape Town with a Jewish grandmother who made legendardy challahs and orange cakes each Friday, and I’ve never really lost the sense that a weekend is somehow more complete when the house has been filled with the sweet fragrance of baking bread.

“Recipes do not belong to anyone – given to me, I give them to you. Recipes are only a guide, a skeletal framework, to be fleshed out according to your nature and desire. Your life, your love, will bring these recipes into full creation. This cannot be taught. You already know. So plunge in: cook, love, feel, create. Actualize breadmaking itself.” (Edward Espe Brown)

So, setting aside the sourdough non-starter, for a bit, I decided this morning that it’s been far too long since I did a good, sweet breakfast bread. The very first book I ever ordered off Amazon was a little book called The Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Espe Brown. It was first published in 1970, and I notice with interest that the copyright is assigned to the Chief Priest, Zen Centre, San Francisco. Edward Brown is a Zen priest who lives in San Francisco, and the book is suffused with a gentle, meditative and loving approach to bread-baking.

I’ve used this book so often that it has the look of an old schoolbook handed from one generation to the next. The page with the classic Tassajara Yeasted Bread recipe is literally worn through (fortunately the recipe is repeated in various forms elsewhere in the book, and by now it’s etched in memory too).


As the author says, though the recipes all lend themselves to creative variations. I love the Tassajara Yeasted Breakfast Bread Dough, which forms the basis of cinnamon rolls or coffee cakes or other breakfast breads with sweet fillings.

Note: Most bread recipes will divide the breadmaking process into two parts: making the sponge, and then turning it into dough. This is followed by rising and baking stages. With fast-action or instant yeast, you can conceivably leave out the sponge step. I still like letting the sponge develop. If you’re a fan of less kitchen time, mix up the whole thing in one go. It’ll still work.

Date and cinnamon buns

Part I:

2 packages dry yeast

1 1/2 cups unbleached white or wholewheat flour

3 tablespoons honey or sugar

1 cup lukewarm water + 1/3 cup dry milk OR 1 cup of warm milk (can be soya)

1 egg, beaten (vegans can leave this out)

1/2 cup raisins or chopped dates

zest of 1 – 2 lemons

Part II: 

3 tablespoons butter or oil

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1 – 2 cups more flour


1/2  to 3/4 cup chopped dates

1/4 cup butter, softened/melted

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

For baking: 

egg, beaten with about 2 tablespoons of cold water for brushing onto dough before baking (vegans can use soymilk or margarine, or leave this bit out)

1.   Mix up the dry ingredients from the Part 1 list. Stir in the wet ingredients and beat it well – about 100 strokes. Leave it somewhere warm for about 10 to 15 minutes, til it’s bubbly and puffy.

2.    Fold in the oil and salt. Then mix in 1 more cup of flour till the dough starts coming away from the sides of the bowl. I like adding the rest of the flour by hand, as it gradually forms an elastic dough.

3.    Turn it out of a board and knead it for 5 to 10 minutes. The dough should be soft, smooth and encouraging, and shouldn’t tear easily.


4.    Leave it in an oiled bowl in a warm place to rise for 30-40 minutes.

5.    Roll it out on a floured board to a rectangle of about 30 by 35 cm (12 x 14″).

6.    Spread the butter onto the rectangle, and sprinkle the rest of the filling ingredients onto it too.


7.    Gently roll it up into a long log shape, and slice it into sections about 2 to 3 cm (1/2 – 3/4 inch) thick.

8.    Place the sections flat on a greased baking sheet, leaving a bit of space around them for rising and spreading out. At this point, you can freeze them if you like – I froze half the batch for another morning! If you’re baking them now, them rise for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

7.    Brush them with the egg solution, and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown.


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