Wednesday, April 30, 2008

WTSIM breakfast

Breakfast on a school day is a bleary-eyed assembly of cereal packets, a 2l milk container, with maybe some raisins and banana for embellishments. We've always been a family that collects an extensive assortment of different cereals, each one of us having a different preference and some, like me, combining four of them in a very specific formula. When I'm breakfasting against the clock, with one eye seeing that the children eat something, one hand hurriedly spooning yoghurt into Youngest's bowl after she's spent ten minutes making up her mind what to have, I don't need the burden of any decision making process on my part - I can cope with the exact same breakfast every day, as long as I do have some. Going out to do the school run on an empty stomach would be unthinkable, put the day on emergency adrenaline mode ever after.

So when Johanna announced a WTSIM breakfast theme, it was hard to know what to write about. The full English breakfast fry-ups are my South African sister-in-laws' domain - once in a while we are invited to one or other house on a weekend morning to overindulge in bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and fried potatoes.

I have fond memories of breakfast in Italy on days off, when we'd saunter down to a bar in Siena, that was merely functional looking but well known for its pastries, and slowly down a couple of cappuccinos accompanied by pastries from an enticing range of flavours that always had you wanting to try the next one and the next. In the end I settled on a favourite which had a tang of orange zest and sprinkling of raisins.

I could of course depart from my normal breakfast pattern and experiment with a brand new recipe, wowing my family with muffins or a fancy bread, but with us only just crawling out of the flu slump, last weekend went by un-embroidered with culinary adventure.

Sometimes the children beg for pancakes for breakfast and occasionally I give in, in the hope of earning a few brownie points to start the weekend off. So I thought I'd give it another go tomorrow for the May Day holiday.

It usually ends up with me slightly frazzled at the edges with so much pre-breakfast activity, eating one or two pancakes hastily at the stove while the children douse theirs with cinnamon sugar and apricot jam and scoff them as fast as they're cooked. Tomorrow I resolve not to get flustered when the first pancake sticks irrevocably to the pan. I will just ditch it and the rest will turn out perfectly. Of course writing about these before I've made them this time round means that I haven't yet got a photo to illustrate the post with, but if I sneak it in belatedly tomorrow morning I can still make today's deadline for the WTSIM event!

The nicest, easy recipe I've found is of course one of Nigella's from her book Feast, for banana and buttermilk pancakes:

Banana and Buttermilk Pancakes

1 ripe banana
150g/6oz plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 egg
250ml/ 1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon caster sugar
30g/ 1 ½ oz butter melted

Liquidize all the ingredients except the butter to a smooth batter in a food processor.

Stir in the melted butter when you are ready to start frying the pancakes.

Use a heavy bottomed non-stick frying pan or griddle.

Heat it to medium hot and dollop tablespoons of the mixture on to it. I usually fit four at a time on my biggest pan. (They turn out like what we called drop scones in England, not like the sort of pancakes that we had on Shrove Tuesday)

Flip them after about a minute, once the underside has set and allow to cook on the other side - check after half a minute.

Pile them onto a warmed plate until you have cooked the rest or serve straight into the mouths of the hungry hoards. Mine like these with cinnamon sugar.

I mix a teaspoon of cinnamon with a tablespoon of caster sugar and they just sprinkle it over the pancakes. Apricot jam is good or honey too. This recipe makes enough for three hungry kids and two abstemious parents.

Of course if I were breakfasting at the Nelly here in Cape Town my unswerving cereal habit would be abandoned in a flash. The tables piled high with every sort of breakfast food imaginable, cornucopias of fresh fruit, encyclopaedias of pastries and baked goods, as well as a hot counter where the eggs are freshly cooked in front of you however your whim dictates, not to mention the stunning setting of old world grandeur and lush gardens, would rather dim the appeal of corn flakes, oats and rice krispies and lead to scenes of over indulgence too painful to contemplate! Just as well that it's my husband that contrives breakfast meetings there occasionally rather than me!

I have to say that my mouth is drooling at some of the breakfast recipes I've seen on everyone else's blogs so far, almost enough to convert me to cooking weekend breakfasts properly ... !

Edited to add: Well if I thought I got frazzled just making pancakes on an empty stomach, adding a camera into the mix didn't really help to make a serene start to the day! It nearly did go into the mix and get sprinkled with cinnamon sugar! And the pancakes disappeared mid-photo session. Still you get the idea and the sun was slanting in through the window for a true South African autumn morning scene.


  1. Breakfast is usually a hurried rush of various cereals here too. I think I might spoil my family with pancakes tomorrow too. Thanks for the inspiration, Kit!

  2. Thanks for popping by - hope it goes smoothly next week, we'll be thinking of her...and you!

    We have two sorts of breakfast -
    weekday - grab anything quick
    weekend - full english or pancakes and bacon with maple syrup.

    We always use the Nigella scotch pancake recipe from Domestic Goddess - and do them straight onto the hotplate of the Aga.

    I love Nigella, but I think I'm fonder now of Jo Pratt - have you got her book?

  3. oh yum! i want some of these RIGht NOW! i usually have bananas on, not in, my pancakes - and same as you, don't make them nearly often enough. with all those fabulous breakfast recipes trickling in, i will be having a very indulging bank holiday weekend ;-) thanks for taking part in WTSIM!

  4. Oh those look lovely.
    We have quick-n-easy weekday breakfasts too, but the children insist on special Saturday breakfasts. Their current fav is French toast (I do make decent Fr toast, she said modestly) with some sort of berries. Fresh strawberries are in now, but in winter I'd buy frozen raspberries and make a sauce. Serve with real maple syrup. There are definite advantages to this year in the US ;)

  5. Hey :)
    these are lovely. And a great idea to blitz everything up before cooking. Must try that.
    By our WTSIM entries it seems that we share the taste in pancakes :)

  6. My girls love it when I make pancakes, but we usually eat cereals or ready to eat pastries...

  7. I guess breakfast has always been a hard sell on me, although I occasionally indulge. I do remember learning what a "full English breakfast" included when I lived in England...I think that is an acquired taste for us Americans. But, hey, the majority of us won't think twice about stopping at a fast food joint.

  8. I do love a good pancake breakfast ... but not when I have to do the cooking :)

  9. Those look exactly like the ones my mom used to make, and that I'd douse with butter and honey. Mmmmmmm! You are right - weekday breakfasts and weekend breakfasts in our house also bear no relation to one another!! Thanks for takign part in WTSIM :)

  10. When I see your photo of the pan and steam, I also get aromas from my childhood kitchen days...and knowing it is from a South African kitchen, makes it closer to home!


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!