Discover more from The Breakfast Club
As winter knocks on the door, we make a toastie to rule them all, ham it up, and eat cake for breakfast…
Hello, breakfast eaters!
Did you stay up to see the super blood moon last night? The late night has us appreciating this morning’s cuppa that much more – thanks Flight Coffee!
Some breaking news with this month’s dispatch… the ball is finally rolling on country of origin labelling! The regulations require that country of origin be provided for fresh regulated products from 12 November this year, while frozen products come into effect on 12 May 2023. Woohoo!
Read on for some excellent breakfast-eating ideas… including cake for breakfast!
Don’t forget to check out the wee competition below to win a pack of Freedom Farms Bacon, Eggs and Sausages! That’ll make for some delicious Queen’s Birthday weekend eating.
Have a great day!
Anna, Hilary, Gregor and Cameron
If you’re not familiar with Freedom Farms… we’re a 100% NZ-owned company that set out over a decade ago to bring you bacon farmed the Freedom way… from NZ farmers who care about the same things we do. Simply put… farming that is kinder for farm animals, and takes it easy on the environment. When you buy our bacon, eggs, pork, sausages and ham you are supporting a wonderful little group of NZ farmers… and for that we’re really really grateful!
Q: What’s better than a ham and cheese toastie?
A: A croque monsieur – a sandwich of ham and cheesy mornay sauce that’s topped with more cheese and grilled.
Q: What’s better than a croque monsieur?
A: A croque madame – a sandwich of ham and cheesy mornay sauce that’s topped with more cheese, grilled and topped with a fried egg.
The original croque monsieur (the name translates to ‘Mr Crunch’, how cute is that?!) was a hot sandwich served alongside a glass of wine or two at a French bar or café...no doubt followed up with a Gauloise. Mrs Crunch takes all Mr Crunch’s attractive features and adds an egg on top which cooks as the top of the sandwich grills. Here in Aotearoa it’s become a winning brunch offering. Here are some tips for creating croque magic in your kitchen:
Start with a soft white bread. Traditionally pain de mie is used – a perfectly rectangular loaf with a soft crumb and crust. It’s similar to, but importantly less rich, than brioche. Look for pain de mie at French bakeries or opt for a plain white sandwich bread, sliced thickly. For a truly decadent twist, start with a croissant.
Freedom Farms Shaved NZ Champagne Ham is the perfect posh pick – top grade leg ham smoked just so. Add a generous couple of layers! If it’s festive season and you’ve got thick slices of Freedom Farms Champagne Ham to play with, go for gold!
The sauce – some cooks may opt for a straight bechamel but most enrich it with grated cheese, which makes it a mornay. Experiment with adding garlic, herbs, or your favourite mustard of the moment.
The cheese that goes into the mornay and is piled on top to ooze down the sides as it melts under the grill, like a cheese curtain, is traditionally nutty and slightly sweet emmental, gruyère or comté. Don’t be afraid to try other varieties to find your favourite blend – mix in a little vintage Cheddar (we love Barry’s Bay Wainui Special), Parmesan, or maybe a little chèvre (we love Belle Chévre Creamery) or blue for a smooth finish.
A couple of other great ways to enjoy shaved ham breakfast time:
Ready-rolled butter puff pastry topped with a thin layer of Dijon mustard, cracked eggs, ham, snipped chives, and baked until puffed and golden.
Folded layers of ham delicately sandwiched between two toasted English muffins, along with a fried egg, a handful of rocket leaves, and drizzle of Hollandaise or a dollop of aioli – an eggs Bene sandwich of sorts.
Make a basic waffle batter (omitting all or just some of the sugar depending on your feelings about salty-sweet combos) stir in chopped shaved ham, grated Cheddar, a little salt and pepper. Additions like spring onion, crushed garlic are good too. Cook in waffle iron till golden and crisp. These are wonderful as a base on which to pile poached eggs and sauteed mushrooms...but they’re also a meal in themselves – and entirely snackable on the go if you’re running late!
Let them eat cake (for breakfast)
With our country’s nod to the Queen’s Birthday round the corner on June 7, now is a grand time indeed to be thinking about celebrating it with cake for breakfast. Specifically, Victoria Sponge Cake, named for the 19th Century monarch who favoured this type of cake, with a hot cuppa. Queen Vic may not be caught eating cake outside of afternoon tea time (or would she?...) but we have to say the Victoria Sponge does make the perfect breakfast – a fluffy, buttery cloud bedecked with whipped cream and jam… perfect to ease you into a winter’s day.
Sponge cakes have been around since the Renaissance, but the invention of baking powder in the 1840s gave rise (see what we did there) to a new formula of cake batter – one that could be enriched with butter and yet still manage to inflate in the oven.
Eggs also help the batter lift – enthusiasts may like to weigh their eggs to ensure a consistent result, while our top tip is to use Freedom Farms Size XL eggs, which give you a consistent weight and more generous ratio of whites that’s perfect for sponges. Go for fresh eggs, which will whip up better.
Here are a few more tips to help you on your way to breakfast cake bliss:
Take the eggs out of the fridge and bring them up to room temperature, ditto the butter. If It's a cold day you may need to soften the butter a little further in the microwave – only to soften it a touch – do not let it melt, it needs to be still holding together or you will likely end up with a dense cake.
Weigh out and have ready all the ingredients first, as well as preparing the tins (greasing the base and up the sides with butter, then lining with paper). Timing can be vital with any cake-mixing, it’s never ideal to leave too much time between one step and the next.
Experiment to see whether you prefer a creamed butter and sugar method, a one yolk at a time method, or the simplest method, the all-in, quick mix. The latter has been, rather surprisingly, espoused by British baking doyenne Mary Berry. Even more controversial, Berry also reckons that rather than faffing with softening butter, scooping in spreadable marg straight from the fridge will give you perfectly good results. We can’t comment on that because mmmm...pure butter is just better.
Bake the cakes in the middle of your oven and don’t be tempted to open the door to check on them!
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