Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bad Breakfast Breed Dumb Kids?... Crumpets with Blueberry Butter

Crumpet 4
Crumpet 5

Crumpet 7

I sometimes truly think that in this scientific age of ours, we analyse too much. I am guilty as charged. We whine at the calories counter, fearing that we will get fat and become unattractive. I have seen health freaks grimace at the sight of oil and salt, preferring instead to partake in bland and parched food.Also spotted were  parents who would deprive their toddlers of the tiniest grain of sugar, for reasons that I am still unclear about.

Just a couple of days ago, the headline of an article in the papers caught my eye... Bad Breakfast Breed Dumb Kids. It went on to recount how we Singaporeans or for that matter, Asians in general would eat and feed their children all kinds of food for breakfast. 5 kinds of food were identified as being especially bad for a child's breakfast :
1. Left over food from the previous night - because aged food will produce sodium nitrate which can be carcinogenic.
2. Fried dough with soya milk. (a popular breakfast choice for most Chinese in China and Taiwan) - because it is too oily.
3. Biscuits and snacks - because these are too dry.
4. Continental breakfast like sausage or bacon - because they tend to be too oily and contain little nutrient.
5. Eating on the go, in a hurry - the poor child will not be able to digest his food properly.

I rolled my eyes and wondered if the whole Asian community has bred hoards of dumb people because of the type breakfast we typically eat.

I have never liked eating cereals and bread for breakfast because they are too bland and unflavourful for me. My favourite breakfast includes Wonton Noodle, Nasi Lemak (coconut rice) , Fried Carrot Cake and congee with fried dough...  In Asia, breakfast is always colourful and can get very diverse. My colleagues in America have learnt to look forward to mouth watering hotel breakfast buffet spread when they travel to Asia. They marvel at how our buffet breakfast could double up as a very good lunch spread...An average 4-5 star hotel in Asia will normally, in addition to the boring continental spread, offer fried noodles, fried rice, congee, miso soup with rice and some meat or fish dishes.

By contrast, whenever we Asians, travel to the US / Europe, we feel gravely deprived at breakfast. What we normally get are bread, pastries (muffins, danish) and cereal. One would be lucky if the hotel has a hot food station where you can get your eggs and bacon/ham.

It is very rare that I would enjoy a Western/Intercontinental style breakfast when I travel. I eat it because I need to.  The only exception so far, is possibly Sydney where I found it thrilling to sit on the bench outside Bourke Street Bakery with my cup of coffee and a tart or sausage roll.

Bills Collage
Equally satisfying was sitting at the communal table in Bills, celebrated Australian chef, Bill Granger's hip neighbourbood restaurant, savouring his famous breakfast menu which includes the popular corn fritters with bacon, the to-die-for (according to my distributor) ricotta hotcakes and what I see alot, the simple scrambled eggs on sourdough toast.
Will these breed smarter kids? I have no idea and am not interested to find out. The photos in Bill Granger's Bills Sydney Food look so tentalising and accessible that I feel compelled to give some of them a go.
I chose to try out these Crumpets with Blueberry Butter  (Blackberry Butter in the cookbook) because I was suitably curious about what Bill Granger meant by :
"The difference between store-bought and home-made crumpets has to be experienced at least once. "
In addition, I had also wanted to try a berry butter...

Crumpet 3
For those who are wondering, the crumpet is really a sweet or savoury bread snack made with flour and yeast. The texture, unlike fluffy pancakes, is half spongy and half chewy. Characterised by the numerous pore structure throughout the little bread, this is best eaten while it is hot, with a generous slather of butter.
This is the first time I have tried a fruit flavoured butter and I must say, eaten together with the slightly salty crumpet, the combination was quite delightful. Serve this on pretty bone china with English tea and you would have a lovely breakfast fit for a Queen... but I doubt that children's food police would approve.... and if you would, pray share - what is your favourite breakfast item?

Crumpet 7 (100)
1 1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp sugar
7g           sachet dried yeast
375g       plan flour
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp    baking soda

1. Pour the milk into a saucepan and heat until just warm. Remove from heat. Add yeast and sugar and allow to sit for 10mins until milk starts to froth.
2. Sift flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the middle.Gradually add the milk to the flour and beat with electric beaters until completely smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at a warm place for 2 hours, until double in volume and full of air bubbles.
3. Mix the baking soda with 200ml of water and using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine water with dough.
4. In a griddle pan oiled with melted butter, place a lightly oiled metal ring/s . Scoop 3 tbsp of batter into metal ring and cook over very low heat until big bubbles appear on the surface and a skin is formed.
5. Dislodge ring carefully and turn over to cook the other side.
6. Serve the crumpets fresh or toasted, spread with lashings of blueberry butter.

Blueberry Butter
1 cup blueberries
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
 1/2 cup(115g) butter

1. Place berries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan over high heat and heat until boiling.
2. Lower heat and simmer for 5 mins or until syrupy. Cool down completely.
3. Place butter in a bowl and whip with a wooden spoon until light. Fold in berries to create ripple effect. Spoon butter into a ramekin and refrigerate.


  1. Shirley,
    Gorgeous Golden Crumpets...
    drooling :)

  2. Oh I am so guilty of analyzing what I eat (or don't). But I'm also one of those people who can't fathom how people can have rice or noodles for breakfast, much preferring to stick to toast, yogurt or fruits- so these crumpets are right up my alley :)

    I'm still so jealous by the way that you got to visit both Bourke Street Bakery and bills!

  3. I eat the same thing every day..with slight exceptions..being poached eggs..

    I eat a mixture of high protein greek yogurt mixed w/ Activia yogurt/ground flax seeds, and tbsp of peanut butter ,fresh squeezed clementine juice..or reg.oj.. and a cup of green tea.

    Your photos are beautiful!

    Some people don't like or eat breakfast..
    My daughter loves oatmeal..I wish I did..I love it in crumbles and bars..not hot ..

    You get to see great places!

    Crumpets here are filled with holes inside:)

  4. Monique, your breakfast would get the breakfast police's vote of approval! Very healthy!

  5. When we were young my mom used to feed all of us chee cheong fun, wanton mee, nasi lemak, roti canai for breakfast. I think all of us turn out pretty well ha ha.. I think it is more for health reason that kids now eat only certain type of breakfast. For me now every morning it is Oats. You are right the hotel here in the US don't serve you big continental breakfast like the Asian ones. All you get is pastries and coffee and if you are lucky you get some ham. I don't think I ever try crumpets before. Are they like English muffin?

  6. Gert, the crumpet originated from UK but the texture is totally different. It is distinctly chewy.

  7. Yummy breakfast treat! :)

  8. this is the first time i've seen a crumpet, and this is love at first sight! looks really delicious and yummy :)

  9. That looks so delicious Shirley!

  10. Asian breakfasts are the best! Nothing like a big plate of fried rice, fried eggs and sausages (my typical breakfast in Manila)... sadly, my breakfasts nowadays are so boring... thanks for inspiring us Shirley - this looks great!

  11. Across the straits, we have Bah Kut Teh for breakfast too !! Haha crazy but Asian breakfasts are fun! Spoilt with too much choices

  12. Ugh, I hate articles like that especially when they really have no scientific basis behind them. I say, eat what you want, as long as you eat SOMETHING. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, after all! These crumpets look just perfect!

  13. Breakfast is king over here. We would never leave the house without it. Loving these crumpets - but all about the blueberry butter!

  14. I have never tried making my own crumpets, which is my breakfast of choice with something sweet and gooey on top melting into all those little crevices. I can't wait to try. thanks so much

  15. I only ate breakfast once a bluemoon during school years, and maybe I would've been much much much much smarter if I had breakfast. Hahaha!
    Until now, I'm not a breakfast person. Prefer brunch.

  16. to me eating in any country should be about balance and this breakfast seems a wonderful one.your words are wonderfully written and thought provoking,i live in the uk and have seen the change in kids for almost the worse with the current scrimping or telling people they're fat or eat wrong,people are so obsessed nowadays,they forget to mention the many now poorly people who are obsessed unhealthy so with food and eating thanks to their nit pickings.surely we need to focus on making a happy family life or home then the food and wanting to look after yourself will come with it

  17. I'm guilty of skipping breakfast all the time. But being Indian, we have a more diverse breakfast spread than the West does too. Breakfast seems like an afterthought here in the U.S...
    Your crumpets sound very delicious, and your blueberry butter looks so beautiful - love the bright color!

  18. Shirley, my favourite breakfast items are nasi lemak, laksa, fried carrot cake, fried mee hoon with chicken wing etc... but as age catching up, I try to restrict it only once or twice during the wkend breakfast, during weekend, mostly are oatmeal, bread with cheese/peanut butter - try to eat wholemeal or 12-gains bread.

  19. That looks swoonworthy Shirley! And I admit, a continental breakfast never really does me. I like a hot breakfast. Cereal and fruit, unless the fruit is super sweet never quite do it for me :P

  20. I like crumpet for its texture. Blueberry seems to be in season again, will try out your blueberry butter. Thanks for sharing.

  21. I have never tried making my own crumpets. Like you said, have to try it at least once.

  22. Breakfast - my favorite is wantan noodle, fishball noodle, char kuey teow, roti canai and fried meehoon. I also like eggs Benedict and anything with sourdough with a runny egg. At the end of the day, both Asian and Western cultures offer something healthy and not so healthy. Have a really good nasi lemak and teh tarik at 9AM and you will start yawning an hour later.

  23. It's true! I was kinda deprived when I first moved to the US. I miss my economic beehoon, char tow kueh, bak cho mee etc. !!! :O But then I got used to it. Now I am already used to oats/cereals for breakfast.

  24. I agree with you! I'd prefer to have breakfast in my hometown in China (known for it's 200+ varieties of breakfast food, many of them unique to our city) or any other place in Asia really than eat my oatmeal, bagel, toast with jam, or cereal here. I can also personally attest to the deliciousness of Bill's hotcakes. And I only used his recipe so the real deal could only be more fantastic. Have always wanted to try crumpets and these look just fantastic. I loves me some yeast :).

  25. Shirley (Bourke St Bakery)...their blueberry muffins are to die for as well! I'll take you there next time you're in Sydney or we can go to a Japanese degustation dinner!

  26. @anonymous: are you referring to Tetsuya? Do I know you?!

  27. Hi Shirley

    May I know what type of milk do you use for this crumpets?

  28. Hi Caroline, I just used full cream milk.