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 eatenwith tea, which is toasted by the fire and is incomparably good. This iscalled toast,' wrote C. P. Moritz, a Swiss pastor, recounting a holiday toEngland in 1782. What's surprising about the quote is that he seems to seetoast as groundbreaking, when surely cooking bread until hot and crisp isblindingly obvious? Toast is one of the simple foods. This is why toast andcereal' are forever paired on breakfast menus in hotels, the ever-presentfooter with a slight air of flippancy. You can imagine a sarcastic hotelieradding, and the rooms will contain beds and doors and stuff'.
When making a cooked breakfast, the simplicity of grilling breadshouldn't be cause for complacence. Quite the opposite: toast can easilybecome an afterthought, and with grave consequences. For tragedy value,few things match the moment when toast arrives late, breathless, as the finalbead of yolk is mopped up by that reluctant understudy, sausage.Or this: you've remembered to shoo it into the toaster and have removedit before it burns. Are you in the clear? No. At the very beginning, beforeyou'd even started on the sausages, you failed to remove the butter from thefridge. Unscheduled minutes are lost as you scrape away despairingly witha knife, wondering where it all went so wrong in the world.
Is there a right way of making toast? A wrong way? Thomas J. Murreycomplained in his 1885 book Breakfast Dainties that many seem to thinkthey have made toast when they brown the outside of a piece of bread'. Hisvision for the stuff (presented as a simple matter of right and wrong) was toboth remove the crust and evaporate all moisture'. Murrey is long gone andwe can afford to be frank: this was just his personal preference. Toast is anindividual matter. Some feel offended by anything that goes beyond warmbread, while others by that which is not only cold, but also burned. Most ofus 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 breadsto make it with. Sun-dried tomato bloomers and squidgy olive breads aren'tright. And fancy Italian loaves ciabatta, focaccia have that slight reek,when served with eggs, of the pretentious airport brasserie. The best toast fora fried breakfast is made from bread that is soft (ask yourself honestly, willthis mop up yolk?), dense and can be easily cut into stout slices. It's aspectrum that runs from cheap white sliced at the one end (perfectly finewith 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 thosecuboid packets. Cut it down in half and put it in the toaster, on its highestsetting. You may have wondered why the toaster goes up to 6 whenanything above 3 burns conventional toast: the answer is rye bread.That stuff is so dense!Meanwhile, heat a combination of almonds and sunflower, sesameand pumpkin seeds in a dry pan, removing from the heat when the seedsstart to pop. When the toast springs up, spread it with unsalted butter andpeanut butter (crunchy) leavened with a little honey. Sprinkle with thenuts and seeds and consume immediately. You will have no need to eatuntil lunch.