Tag Archives: breakfast

Chocolate brioche

20 Jun

Dark and moody, buttery and decadent chocolate brioche with Nutella (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Dark and moody, buttery and decadent chocolate brioche with Nutella (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

My sister is a keen baker. She specifically loves baking ciabatta loaves for her family and for dinner guests, and uses great quality stone ground flour for her bread. They also have a beautiful little outdoor pizza oven at the farmhouse where they live in Somerset West, which bakes amazing pizzas in just 2-3 minutes – fantastic.

My sister also loves baking cakes and pastries. She has dozens of little colourful page markers inside her food magazines that she uses as recipe references, and have passed quite a few of her favourite recipes on to me.  Last year, she gave me a 10 page spread from Rooi Rose of July 2013 featuring amazing bread recipes and baking tips. I use it as a reference often!

So when I got the idea of baking a chocolate brioche, I first consulted my sister’s baking references, then my trusted range of recipe books at home. Strangely, none of them contained a recipe that I liked. I was looking for a dark brown all-chocolate loaf, not a white loaf with a chocolate filling (which can also be amazing, by the way). In the process I came across Herman Lensing’s recipe for a chocolate brioche that he did for Sarie Kos – a rich buttery loaf with a chocolate filling and a chocolate sauce drizzled over the top. I decided to adapt Herman’s recipe for what I had in mind, and serve it with lashes of Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread.

Herman’s recipe makes 2 large loaves, which I found can sometimes be a little too much for a small household. I halved the recipe, but kept some more yeast in the list of ingredients for the smaller mixture to rise as well as the large mixture does.

This is a recipe that I’ll be passing back to my sister for her collection – such an indulgent treat, especially for breakfast on a rainy Winter’s weekend. Enjoy!

Note: The dough needs to rest overnight in the fridge, so remember to start the process the night before if you want to eat it freshly baked for breakfast.

Ingredients: (makes 1 large loaf)

  •  450g cake flour
  • 50g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder, sifted
  • 50g (60ml or 1/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 15g instant dry yeast (1 and a half sachets)
  • 10g (10ml) salt
  • 6 XL eggs
  • 250ml butter, cut into small blocks
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked


  1. Using a stand mixer with K-beater attachment, place the flour, cocoa powder, caster sugar, yeast, salt and eggs in the bowl of the mixer and mix on medium speed for 8 minutes. You should have a stiff dough mixture.
  2. Now add butter a bit at a time, mixer running, until all the butter has been incorporated. You should have a smooth sticky dough.
  3. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover, then refrigerate overnight to rest.
  4. Turn the mixture out on a floured surface, then roll it out to a thickness of about 1cm. Fold the dough and repeat 2 times. Now roll it up and place inside a greased bread tin, OR cut into 3 strands and plait for a different look (place on a greased baking tray). Leave the dough in a warm area to rise for 60-90 minutes, until double in volume.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 180C for at least 15 minutes, then brush with the whisked egg and bake for about 30 minutes until done. Serve warm with lashings of Nutella spread.


This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

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Nigella’s rum & raisin banana bread

3 Mar

Toasted slices of banana bread, topped with thick cream and berry coulis (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

For one of our monthly food shoots last year at Tasha‘s house in Elgin, she greeted us with the seducing smell of something exotic yet strangely familiar. It was a loaf of freshly baked banana bread with added rum and sultanas. It was so moist and delicious that I had to ask for the recipe.

Tasha found it in Nigella‘s “How to be a Domestic Goddess”, but changed it slightly to include desiccated coconut instead of walnuts, and salted butter instead of unsalted. This is honestly one of the best recipes for banana bread that I have tasted, and I can strongly recommend it. Nigella says on her website that you can add some cocoa powder and chocolate chips, which would make it darker and even more heavenly. But the choice is yours.

I love serving this bread thickly sliced topped with double cream (or clotted cream or mascarpone) and some kind of berry coulis or good quality runny berry jam. It is an excellent choice for breakfast in bed for your lover on Valentines Day or on a romantic weekend, might I add. Decadent, indulgent, utterly delicious.

I celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary on the 14th of February this year. I’m a very, very lucky girl to be married to Schalk. He is kind, honest, an amazing father, and the best friend I could ever wish for. Did I mention he is tall, dark and dangerously handsome? Here’s to many more breakfasts in bed for the two of us!

Freshly baked rum and raisin banana bread (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)


  • 100 g sultanas or raisins (both work very well, but I prefer sultanas)
  • 75 ml dark rum
  • 175 g cake flour
  • 10 ml baking powder
  • 2.5 ml bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 2.5 ml salt
  • 30 g (125 ml) desiccated coconut
  • 125 g salted butter (melted)
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 small ripe bananas (or 3 large, about 300 g mashed banana)
  • 5 ml vanilla extract


  1. An hour before you start baking, place the sultanas/raisins and rum in a small saucepan and heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from the heat immediately, cover with a lid, and leave to soak for an hour.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 170 C.
  3. Sift all the dry ingredients together and add the coconut.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the melted butter and sugar. Now beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the bananas, sultanas with rum, and vanilla. Don’t worry if it looks like the mixture has “split”.
  5. Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, and stir well after each bit.
  6. Pour into a loaf tine of about 23 x 13 x 7 cm (9 x 5 x 3 inches) and bake in the middle of your oven for 50-60 minutes. The outside should be a nutty brown colour.
  7. Remove from the oven and let it cool in the tin.

Tip: You can also make beautifully soft muffins from the same recipe, just bake them for about 20-25 minutes.



This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

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Nutty cranberry breakfast bars

18 Nov

Soft and chewey breakfast bars with nuts & cranberries (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

When I was in primary school, there were a handful of kids whose lunch boxes looked very different from the rest of us. They had these amazing treasure chests filled with biltong, individually wrapped cheese blocks, boxed juice and – behold – granola bars. We envied them at each break time when they casually grazed on their royal snacks. I sometimes tried to swop my very average brown bread sandwiches with them (sorry Mom), with no success, obviously.

Now that I’m a fully grown adult, I still think of granola bars or breakfast bars as a royal snack. They are so luxurious, and I absolutely love making them at home. This specific version is not the hard and crunchy type, it is a soft and chewy version filled with amazing goodies like mixed nuts, cranberries, seeds, honey and banana. It contains no flour, no butter, and no added sugar, believe it or not!

Because this bar is so soft, I dip the bottom in chocolate to provide extra support when it sets, and to add some of that royal touch that I loved so much as a child. I can guarantee some serious envy from your colleagues when you’ll open this snack at tea-time. Jealousy, to be exact.

Enjoy every bite – it’s so delicious you won’t believe that it’s a healthy snack!


  • 100 g mixed nuts
  • 2 cups all bran flakes, crushed to a volume of about 1 cup
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 100 g dried cranberries (make sure they don’t stick together)
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 80 g dark chocolate


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. Roughly chop the nuts, then spread them out on a baking tray. Toast in the oven for 10 minutes, then set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add the toasted nuts, crushed all bran flakes, oats, sunflower seeds, cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix well.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, mix the mashed bananas with the honey, then mix this with the rest of the ingredients in the large mixing bowl.
  5. Line a 23 x 23 cm baking dish with baking paper, then spread out the mixture in the lined baking dish. Smooth the surface with wet hands, pressing down on the mixture to compact it gently. Bake for 20 minutes at 180 C.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the tin. Remove the uncut slab with lining onto a wooden board, then cut in bars and discard baking paper.
  7. Melt the chocolate carefully over a bain marie or in the microwave, then dip the bottom of each bar in the chocolate (or use a brush to “paint” the bottoms with chocolate). Place these on a clean sheet of baking paper to set. Transfer them to your fridge if you want it to set quicker.
  8. Store in a closed container in the fridge for up to a week.


This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

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Eggs benedict royale

23 Jul

The ultimate Eggs Benedict! (Photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

I’m not a huge breakfast person during the week – I usually prefer some rooibos tea with home-baked rusks when I’m on the go. But give me a lazy late-morning brunch over a weekend and I’m in heaven!

Brunch is not something that you can rush. It should be approached with no regard for time. Take your time to lay the table beautifully, or if you are going to eat in bed, make sure you are going to be extra comfortable with a tray on your lap or a side table. I usually love having baskets full of muffins, scones and croissants for my guests to choose from, with various jams and cheeses and farm butter. For the warm course of the feast, I like to serve really soft scrambled eggs with parmesan shavings and a very small drizzle of truffle oil. I also like extra crispy fried streaky bacon, and sometimes some pan-fried tomatoes.

But for the really special occasions, I love to serve eggs benedict – my favourite breakfast of all time. This is my “royale” twist on the classic eggs benedict: I serve the softly poached eggs on a sliced croissant instead of an English muffin, with loads of smoked Hickory ham, topped with smoked mozzarella. I then grill the lot before I add the poached eggs and warm hollandaise sauce. This is quite a rich breakfast or brunch meal, but the flavour combinations are superb! Serve individually plated servings to a small group of 1-4 guests, not a huge crowd – you need to time your eggs and grilled cheese to be ready at the same time. Your guests will feel really special to be served such a treat!

PS: For the Hollandaise sauce, I take a shortcut and whizz it up in a blender, using warm melted butter. No need to whisk anything on the stove over a double boiler. It makes you want to eat eggs benedict everyday. 🙂

Ingredients for 2 portions:

  • 2 croissants, sliced open lengthways
  • 4 slices of smoked Hickory ham (or a smoked ham of your choice)
  • 100-150 g smoked mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 4 free range eggs, as fresh as possible
  • 30-45 ml white vinegar, for poaching
  • some chopped fresh parsley for serving (optional)

Ingredients for Hollandaise sauce:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 15 ml water
  • 15 ml lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 125 ml butter, freshly melted and very warm


  1. For the sauce: in a small blender, blend/process/whizz the egg yolks, water, lemon juice and pinch of salt for a minute. With the motor running, add the warm melted butter in a very thin, steady stream. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Sauce will thicken on standing – add a teaspoon of warm water and whizz again just before serving, if necessary (I always make this just before serving, it is really best served when freshly made!)
  2. Pre-heat grill of oven and set baking tray 2/3 to the top. Arrange sliced croissants on another baking tray, then top each with 2 slices of ham and enough smoked mozzarella. Grill
  3. While grill is heating up, heat some water (about 5 cm deep) in a small sauce pan on the stove top. Add vinegar and bring to a very slow simmer. With a spoon, stir the simmering water for a few seconds to create a slow whirlpool. Gently break the eggs in the middle of the whirl, only 2 at a time. Simmer very slowly for 3-4 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and briefly blot the spoon with the egg on a piece of kitchen paper to remove excess water before arranging on top of the grilled croissant. Top generously with hollandaise sauce.


This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius & Tasha Seccombe.

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“His and hers” flapjack stacks with caramel sauce

19 Mar

Flapjack stacks, big and small, with berries or bacon, covered in thick caramel sauce (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

Do you ever make a special breakfast for your loved one on a Saturday morning? I must confess: I rarely do. I usually just relish the idea of not getting up too early over the weekend, planning a day of leisurely Winelands drives with my family or maybe a visit to a market involving minimal effort. Or maybe just a day away from the stove (although the stove is my other longterm lover…).

But wouldn’t it be nice to wake up to the smell of a really special breakfast, made by your loved one? Or better yet: waking up your loved one with a really special breakfast that you made yourself? We don’t need to have special days like Valentines Day to spoil our better halves. I promise you: taking the initiative to treat your guy/girl to a special wake-up treat just might score you the kind of serious brownie points you need. It’s on the same level as surprising him with tickets to the game, or pitching up at her office with a bunch of fresh flowers.

So, whether you are a really hungry bacon-kind-of-guy, or a more dainty blueberry-kind-of-girl (or vice versa), everybody loves flapjacks and no-one can resist thick old-fashioned caramel sauce. This light flapjack batter can make the smallest of Russian blinis, or the largest American pancakes – it is really versatile and easy enough for even an inexperienced cook. All you need is a non-stick pan and a stove-plate on medium heat. The rest is elementary, my dear.

Man-size flapjacks with crispy bacon and thick caramel sauce (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

PS: The caramel sauce is great on EVERYTHING (even on it’s own, eaten with a spoon from the jar). So store it in the fridge and it will keep for at least 2 weeks. Actually, I will be surprised if you have the willpower to keep it that long.

Flapjack batter: (recipe from The A-Z of Food & Cookery in South Africa by Sannie Smit & Margaret Fulton)

  • 500 ml (2 cups) self-raising flour
  • 2,5 ml (1/2 t) salt
  • 10 ml (2 t) sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 450 ml milk
  • 60 g butter, melted


  1. Sift flour and salt together in a bowl, then sprinkle sugar over.
  2. Lightly whisk eggs with milk, then pour over flour. Stir until all the flour is moistened, but still lumpy.
  3. Lightly stir in the melted butter.
  4. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and spray once with non-stick spray (or lightly wipe with oil). Pour in batter to make pancakes: 15 ml at a time for small flapjacks or roughly 50 ml for large flapjacks. Tip: for large flapjacks I gently spread the batter into a circle just atter pouring it into the pan.
  5. Cook until bubbles start to form on the top, then flip over and cook on the other side until golden brown.
  6. Serve stacks of flapjacks with caramel sauce (or maple syrup) and bacon, or blueberries and whipped cream.

My favourite caramel sauce:

  • 125 g butter
  • 250 ml (1 cup) firmly packed treacle sugar (or soft brown sugar)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) cream


  1. Melt butter on medium heat on the stove top, then add sugar and stir until dissolved.
  2. Bring to the boil, then boil for 3 minutes (it will look “foamy”) while stirring well.
  3. Remove from heat, then stir in cream. Stir very well until fully incorporated and glossy. Serve hot or at room temperature (sauce will thicken on standing). Store in the fridge.
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Poached summer fruit with spiced yoghurt

28 Feb

Poached nectarines, pears and strawberries with cardamom and cinnamon spiced yoghurt (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

While the days are getting slightly shorter as we move towards the end of February in the Cape, the bountiful summer fruit harvests are almost beyond their peak. I love buying large lugs of locally grown fruit from Blue Jay Farm Stall around the corner from where I live. For a small household, it is almost impossible to eat all the fruit while it is still at it’s freshest, so it is time to make one of my ultimate breakfast treats: poached summer fruit with spiced yoghurt.

It is amazing how the colour of fruit change when you poach them – some intensify, like peaches, while others become a softer shade of pink, like strawberries. I just adore the texture of poached fruit when they are truly poached to perfection: not mushy, but soft and evenly delicate. I serve them for a real breakfast treat with double-cream greek yoghurt, lightly spiced with cardamom, cinnamon and honey. You can also serve them for dessert, with spiced mascarpone or thick cream.

It is always best to use fresh vanilla pods in your poaching liquid, but if you – like me – don’t always have access to the beautiful yet expensive real vanilla pods, just use a teaspoon or 2 of vanilla essence.

There is no need to skin your fruit – the skins are really good for you, and it means a lot less effort!

Ingredients for poached fruit:

600 ml water

375 ml (1 and a half cups) sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla essence (or seeds of 1 vanilla pod)

3 peaches, 3 pears, and a cup of strawberries (ripe, fresh fruit)


  1. In a medium-sized pot on the stove top, heat the water, sugar and vanilla and bring to a simmer.
  2. Half the large fruit and remove the pits/stones. Remove green tops from strawberries and keep them whole.
  3. Start with the larger fruit, and cook them in the liquid in batches, about 3-5 minutes at a time, untill just tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Cook the strawberries last, for just 1 minute, remove and set aside. Reserve the cooking liquid.
  4. Cool the fruit and liquid slightly, then return the fruit to the liquid to cool completely in the fridge.

Ingredients for spiced yoghurt:

  • 250 ml (1 cup) double cream greek yoghurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of fine cinnamon
  • seeds of 3 cardamom pods (remove husks and use a pestle and mortar to pound the seeds to a fine powder)
  • 2 teaspoons honey


Mix all of the ingredients for the spiced yoghurt together. Taste, and add more spices if desired. Serve with the poached fruit and a little of the poaching liquid.

Tip: the poached fruit will keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for a few days. Serve cold or at room temperature.


This post was written especially for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe development and preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photographed by Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius, Ilse vand der Merwe and Tasha Seccombe

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