Michelle Darmody: Baking cosy breakfasts to keep the cold weather at bay

AS January slips by there tends to be nights in, on the couch, in our house. This allows for earlier rising on weekend mornings and more time to laze over a long, luxurious breakfast.

During the week it is a scramble to simply make a slice of toast or pour a bowl of cereal, but on certain weekend mornings I can take time and create a hot breakfast in a more leisurely fashion.

First things first, a pot of coffee on the stove. Its smell wafts through the kitchen, perking up the cold winter morning.

French toast is convenient as it uses up stale bread from the week before and usually I have eggs and milk on hand. It is a quick and tasty option in comparison to baking scones or whipping up the batter for pancakes. I added cinnamon and vanilla in this recipe as I think they are warming and comforting spices for crisp, cold weather.

The recipe included for pancakes takes a little more time but the results are delicious, particularly with the blueberry and maple syrup compote. I use frozen blueberries at this time of year. They are plump and taste great when stewed. The maple syrup adds a nice rich flavour but you can use honey if you do not have syrup to hand.

A few rashers can be added to either. I love the saltiness with the sweet and it tops off a lazy morning with the paper and coffee.

Caramelised banana and cinnamon French toast

For the French toast

3 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tsp of ground cinnamon

1 tsp of vanilla essence

150 mls of milk

1 baguette, sliced, or 4 slices of bread — it can be a little stale

Sunflower oil for frying

For the banana

3 tsp of runny honey

1 tsp of vanilla essence

10g of brown sugar

1 tbsp of hot water

2 bananas, peeled and sliced

A knob of butter

Beat the eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, and milk together. Pour into a flat dish so the bread can steep easily.

Lay the slices of bread into the dish, turn them over after about 10 minutes to ensure they are well soaked.

While the bread is soaking, caramelise the banana by mixing the honey, vanilla, and sugar into the warm water.

Heat the butter in a pan and fry the bananas until they are golden on each side. Add the honey mixture and allow to bubble gently for a minute or two then remove from the pan and set aside.

Heat the sunflower oil in a large heavy base pan over a medium heat.

Fry the bread until golden on each side.

Serve hot with the banana and some natural yogurt.

Pancakes with stewed blueberries

Stewed blueberries

100g of blueberries — I use frozen

1 tbsp of maple syrup

Pancake batter

130g of plain flour

1 tsp of baking powder

2 tbsp of golden caster sugar

130 mls of milk

1 tsp of vanilla essence

1 egg

Sunflower oil, for frying

Heat the blueberries and maple syrup together and set aside.

Sieve the flour and baking powder together and stir in the sugar. Whisk the milk, vanilla, and egg together. Whisk the two mixtures together until smooth.

Heat the sunflower oil until hot in a heavy based frying pan.

Spoon the batter into the pan. Once small bubbles start appearing on the surface, turn the pancake over, making sure it is golden on each side. Repeat until all of the batter is used.

Serve the pancakes warm with the stewed blueberries.

Blue cheese scones

125g of self raising flour

100g of wholemeal flour

1 tsp of baking powder

55g of cold butter, cubed

50g of cream cheese

50g of blue cheese, crumbled

80mls of milk

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees and line a baking tray with parchment.

Sieve the baking powder through the flours and add the cubed butter. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like rough breadcrumbs.

With a fork add in the cheese to the mixture until well combined. Make a well in the centre and add the milk. You may not need all of it so hold a little back. Mix the milk in with a fork until combined, then bring the dough together with your hands. It should be a soft dough but not too sticky.

Lightly flour a surface and tip the dough onto it. Press it down and cut out about 12 scones. Place them on the tray and bake for about 15 minutes until golden.

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