Freelance writer from the northeast coast of England with a fondness for vegan food and punk rock.
The Full English Breakfast
When I was young, a phrase my mother often aimed at me was your eyes are bigger than your belly, the meaning of which is that I would take more food than was needed. It was certainly true in my omnivorous days, when I worked as a roofer.
There was one particular construction site I worked on as part of a squad of three. Every morning the driver would stop off at a transport cafe that was close to the site, and they would order fried breakfasts. I would join them, even though I would probably already have had a bowl of cornflakes or some toast, or even both. But my mother’s saying rang true and I joined them in their repast, not through need, but through greed. I enjoyed eating the breakfast, but usually regretted my decision immediately after the meal had sunk, as I was more in the mood for a doze than carrying concrete tiles up a ladder all day. These days I'm happy with a bowl of porridge with fruit.
In popular culture, the full English breakfast is seen as a construction workers’ favourite, but the origin of the meal goes way back in time—it was originally enjoyed by the English gentry in the 1300s. Of course, the full English is not considered a healthy breakfast by any means, but that doesn’t detract from its popularity. This TV ad for a brand of muesli parodies the full English breakfast, using Swiss builders who are trim and healthy, and who talk about skiing, rather than football.
Vegan Dippy Egg Yolk
Some time ago, on a vegan food Facebook page I frequent, there was a flurry of activity over so-called dippy egg yolk. I was quite sceptical when I read of it, but I decided to give it a go and I was pleasantly surprised. I followed the recipe on a blog called "It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken," so it’s only right that I give Sam the credit.
While this recipe does give a fair representation of egg yolk, it is quite rich, having two tablespoons of oil in each batch (but no cholesterol), so I keep servings minimal, using an otherwise redundant eggcup for my dipping delight. Here is a list of the ingredients:
- Nutritional yeast
- Kala namak
Kala namak is a black Himalayan salt that is widely available in supermarkets. It has a high sulphur content, which gives it that unmistakable eggy flavour. Be careful not to overdo it though, as too much will have your mixture less like egg yolk, and more like those stink bombs we all made in high school science class.
My Vegan Full English
These days there are many products available that can add meatless meatiness to a vegan version of the full English breakfast. In the photo at the top of this article there are sausages, rashers and slices of black pudding. Here is the full list of my veganized breakfast:
- Richmond meat-free sausages
- THIS isn’t bacon rashers
- The Bury black pudding slices (blood sausage)
- Dippy ‘yolk’
- Fried tomato
- Fried mushrooms
- Fried potato cakes
- Baked beans
And, of course, a large mug of tea.
Potato Cakes Recipe
One night, my (then) wife and I were at the home of good friends from Ireland, where we were treated to a huge batch of homemade potato cakes, or spuddy bread, as they called it. In came huge platefuls, hot from the pan and slathered in butter. They were deliciously moreish, despite the dripping butter signalling a high calorific count.
I've made these many times since then, more recently adding nutritional yeast to give an umami kick and cutting out the butter. Here's how I made those in the photo above.
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- 1 cup mashed potato (leftovers are fine)
- 1/2 cup plain/all-purpose flour
- 1 heaped tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 or 4 tablespoons unsweetened soya milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Place the flour, baking powder yeast extract and salt in a bowl and dry whisk to incorporate everything.
- Stir in the soya milk until everything comes together like a bread dough.
- Turn out the dough onto a clean floured surface.
- Roll the dough to a thickness of about half an inch.
- Using a pastry cutter or a knife, cut out your potato cake shapes.
- Fry in a lightly oiled pan over medium heat for about 2 minutes per side.
A French Toast Alternative
In the spirit of the French/English collaboration that brought us the supersonic airliner Concorde, here is a photo of French toast sitting cordially on an English breakfast. If you don't much fancy toast and dipping yolk, then French toast is a great, and filling alternative for your full English breakfast. Alongside the French toast in the photo are sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes and a brace of burgers. Here's how to make the toast.
Tip: The same recipe can be used for sweet toppings, just like regular eggy bread.
Vegan French Toast Recipe
Here's how I make vegan french toast.
- ½ cup gram (chickpea) flour
- 1 cup unsweetened soya milk
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon cornflour/cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon ground kala namak (Himalayan black salt)
- 4 slices of your favourite bread
- Oil for frying
- Place the flour, cornflour/cornstarch, nutritional yeast and kala namak in a bowl, and dry whisk to incorporate the ingredients and disperse any clumps of flour.
- Stir in the soya milk and whisk till a smooth batter is formed.
- Pour the batter into a shallow bowl or baking dish.
- Put a small amount of oil on a frying pan over medium heat.
- Dunk a bread slice into the batter, making sure it is well covered.
- Lay the bread in the pan, and fry for about 1 minute.
- Carefully flip the bread over and cook the other side for 1 minute more.
- If your French toast is crisp and golden, remove it from the pan. If not, continue frying for 1 more minute or so.
- Repeat with the remaining slices of bread.
Full English Prep Playlist
A lovely song and some fantastic hairstyles from a bygone age.