Thursday, 15 February 2007


Lately, I’ve been on a breakfast mission. I’m not talking about long, lazy, relaxing weekend breakfast or brunch but rather the hurried weekday ‘oh no I’m going to be late for work why didn’t I get up earlier’ breakfast. Getting thoroughly fed up with eating the same muesli every morning, I decided to embark on a quest to assemble a breakfast repertoire of all things healthy, filling (so I’m not starving at my desk come 11 am), interesting and, oh yes, delicious.

Toast, yoghurt, jam, granola and fruit all passed the revue, in various combinations. Banana-walnut loaf (or cake, or muffins) I’m undecided about; while it has all the goodness of fruit and nuts, it also has a lot of sugar and fat. Earlier this winter I ‘discovered’ porridge, which is apparently the best breakfast one can eat. Low GI and slow-release energy and takes you right through to lunch. Porridge being a quintessentially British breakfast staple, and my being not British, it took me some time to getting used to, but now I really love it. Especially on a freezing cold and crisp winter day, then it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I prepare mine in the evening (allows me some extra time in bed in the morning) with organic oats, milk and a drizzle of honey, and reheat it in the microwave.

Another new addition to my breakfast menu is pignola – a sweet, Italian breakfast bread which gets its name from one of its ingredients: pine nuts (pignoli in Italian). How authentic this is, I’m not sure – my Italian boss had never heard of pignola and a quick google search didn’t return any results. Incidentally, I left out the pine nuts, so I’m probably not allowed to call it pignola any longer. But hey, it’s my blog and my bread and I can call it whatever I like. In any case, my pignola turned out to be utterly delicious. A wonderfully fruity nutty loaf, crumbly yet not at all dry, it goes well with butter, jam or lemon curd and of course that essential first cup of coffee of the day.

Adapted from Linda Collister "Bread. From Sourdough to Rye."

2 3/4 cups wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 stick of butter, diced
2 large eggs, beaten
1 packet of yeast
1 cup raisins, dried apricots and goji berries
juice of one two small oranges
1 cup hazelnuts and walnuts, lightly toasted
icing sugar, for dusting

Put raisins, apricots, berries and juice in a bowl and leave to soak overnight. The next day, mix flour and salt in a bowl, rub in butter with fingertips until mixture resembles breadcrumbs then add yeast. Make well in centre, add beaten eggs, raisins, apricots and berries and mix everything together. Turn out dough on floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes. Return dough to bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size (about 3 hours). Turn out risen dough onto floured work surface and work in nuts until evenly distributed. Shape dough into ball then disc and set onto baking sheet. Slip tray into large plastic bag, inflate slightly and let rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour). Bake at 375˚F for about 35 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to wire rack to cool and dust with icing sugar. Enjoy.

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