Seb Emina is the creator and editor of the London Review of Breakfasts blog, where he writes under the brilliant nom de plume of 'Malcolm Eggs'. Reviews come in the form of poems, political musings and Freudian dreams, dispatched by Malcolm and a host of other contributors (all with equally ingenious aliases such as Tina Beans and Vita Bicks). Nobody knows breakfast quite as well as or is as passionate about the topic as Seb. Here, we present an extract and a recipe from his recently penned his debut book (co-written with himself), The Breakfast Bible:
'There is another kind of bread and butter usually eaten with tea, which is toasted by the fire and is incomparably good. This is called toast,’ wrote C. P. Moritz, a Swiss pastor, recounting a holiday to England in 1782. What’s surprising about the quote is that he seems to see toast as groundbreaking, when surely cooking bread until hot and crisp is blindingly obvious? Toast is one of the simple foods. This is why ‘toast and cereal’ are forever paired on breakfast menus in hotels, the ever-present footer with a slight air of flippancy. You can imagine a sarcastic hotelier adding, ‘and the rooms will contain beds and doors and stuff’.
When making a cooked breakfast, the simplicity of grilling bread shouldn’t be cause for complacence. Quite the opposite: toast can easily become an afterthought, and with grave consequences. For tragedy value, few things match the moment when toast arrives late, breathless, as the final bead of yolk is mopped up by that reluctant understudy, sausage. Or this: you’ve remembered to shoo it into the toaster and have removed it before it burns. Are you in the clear? No. At the very beginning, before you’d even started on the sausages, you failed to remove the butter from the fridge. Unscheduled minutes are lost as you scrape away despairingly with a knife, wondering where it all went so wrong in the world.
Is there a right way of making toast? A wrong way? Thomas J. Murrey complained in his 1885 book Breakfast Dainties that ‘many seem to think they have made toast when they brown the outside of a piece of bread’. His vision for the stuff (presented as a simple matter of right and wrong) was to both remove the crust and ‘evaporate all moisture’. Murrey is long gone and we can afford to be frank: this was just his personal preference. Toast is an individual matter. Some feel offended by anything that goes beyond warm bread, while others by that which is not only cold, but also burned. Most of us like it triangular, harvest-gold, and served while the butter’s still melting. There may be no wrong way of making toast, but there are wrong breads to make it with. Sun-dried tomato bloomers and squidgy olive breads aren’t right. And fancy Italian loaves – ciabatta, focaccia – have that slight reek, when served with eggs, of the pretentious airport brasserie. The best toast for a fried breakfast is made from bread that is soft (ask yourself honestly, will this mop up yolk?), dense and can be easily cut into stout slices. It’s a spectrum that runs from cheap white sliced at the one end (perfectly fine with real butter – always butter) to artisan sourdough at the other.
An Amazing Toast
Take a piece of rye bread, the dense Prussian kind that comes in those cuboid packets. Cut it down in half and put it in the toaster, on its highest setting. You may have wondered why the toaster goes up to 6 when anything above 3 burns conventional toast: the answer is rye bread. That stuff is so dense! Meanwhile, heat a combination of almonds and sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds in a dry pan, removing from the heat when the seeds start to pop. When the toast springs up, spread it with unsalted butter and peanut butter (crunchy) leavened with a little honey. Sprinkle with the nuts and seeds and consume immediately. You will have no need to eat until lunch.
@sebemina / @malcolmeggs
Purchase a copy of The Breakfast Bible here.