When I was a kid, there were certain things that I labelled 'real treats'. A real treat, was something that shouldn't EVER be taken for granted. For starters there was the bottle of vanilla coca cola that mum would buy at the beginning of the summer school holidays. If we were super lucky there might be a packet of sour cream and chive pringles. My sisters and I would sit outside, devouring our junk food treats, bursting with excitement (and sugar) while we all took turns shaking the last third of coca cola to get rid of the bubbles so I could share. (Side note - bubbles and I do not agree with each other. Exceptions have been made later in life for Champagne.)
A real treat was when I got dropped all the way to school, rather than the bus stop, when I had a cello, school bag, swim bag, waterpolo gear, and a school hat which liked to get away. An even bigger treat was getting picked up from parties on the back of my dad's ducati. Totally won me cool points.
Treats seemed to coincide a lot with holidays. The only time we were allowed McDonalds was when we'd drive to my grandparents. We'd start the long 6 hour journey (made even longer by the numerous stops we'd have to make - let's just say car travel, nausea and me went hand in hand) and once we'd gotten out of the city we'd stop off at McDonalds and get breakfast. I would always opt for pancakes. There was something about the fake butter and the fake maple syrup and being served in that polystyrene tray which would squeak when you cut your pancakes with plastic cutlery that I just loved. Or maybe it was just the fact that to my 8 year old mind, that we were doing something naughty by eating fast food for breakfast.
I think as an adult it's easy to lose sight of these real treat moments. Because somehow we become a little too sensible, and a little too caught up doing adult things like paying car insurance and phone bills. Or maybe that's just me. So for Sunday I'm making sure it's a treat day. An hour to myself with the paper and breakfast. Or a nice bottle of wine. Or letting myself buy a new pair of boots (without having to wait until my old pair completely fall apart.) It's the weekend. So TREAT YO SELF.
Egg & Maple Bacon English Muffins
muffin recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver's
Serves 4 (with 6 extra muffins)
7g dried yeast sachet
25g caster sugar
425g strong bread flour
50g butter, melted
8 rashers bacon
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 large free range eggs
Warm the milk until lukewarm. Add the yeast and sugar and stir until combined. Set aside for 5 minutes, or until the mixture starts to froth. In the bowl of a stand mixer, with a dough hook attachment, mix together the yeast mixture, flour, butter and a pinch of sea salt until it forms a soft dough. Work the dough on a medium speed for 4-5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and sit aside for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knock back. Roll out until it's 2cm thick, and use a 8 cm round cutter, to cut out the dough. Line two trays with baking paper, and sprinkle over half the polenta. Transfer the muffins onto the trays, sprinkle with the remaining polenta, and cover with a damp cloth, and leave in a warm spot to rise for about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Heat two large non stick frying pans over a medium heat. Add the muffins in batches, and cook on each side for 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn the heat down to low, and cook for a further 10 minutes, before transferring back to the baking trays and cooking in the oven for another 5-10 minutes, or until cooked all the way through. Set aside until ready to serve.
In the meantime, brush the bacon rashers with the maple syrup, and cook under a hot grill for 3-4 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick frying pan over high heat, and fry the eggs. When ready to serve, split the muffins (toast if desired) spread with tomato relish, and top with bacon and the fried egg. Best eaten immediately. The extra muffins will keep in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to 5 days (and will toast marvellously.)