I grew up with egg bread. It was a thing in my house. My sister and I would come downstairs after we had been put to bed, walking as quietly as possible to prevent our footfalls creaking on the stairs and ensuring our discovery. We knew we would be caught eventually, my father would still be awake and in the kitchen, but we didn’t want to be caught on the staircase. It was far easier to be sent back to bed if you were only part-way through your journey. Once you were passed the lounge and into the kitchen… well, you were pretty much home free. No point sending us straight back up now. The smell of frying would become stronger as we passed the stairs and into the lounge, and the sound of the spatula scraping against the pan would be more audible to us now. Those sounds and smells would act as a current, drawing us nearer to their source.
We would hover in the kitchen doorway and watch my father at work at the stove. He was probably aware of our presence long before he let it be known to us, but for a good few minutes he would carry on as if we were not there. This routine was reiterated time and again: My father would look over at us, ask us what we were doing out of bed. Our response was inevitably coy silence and he would fill the gap by inquiring if we were hungry. We would nod in the affirmative. From that point on we would be allowed to sit on the kitchen counter while my father dipped sliced bread into a rather milky and always heavily peppered scrambled egg mixture. He would fry each slice individually in hot butter, turning it several times until the edges were well browned but the middle still soft and yellowed. Ours would be cut and served on little plates but he would not do this until all the cooking was done. There was seldom any informal eating of meals in my childhood. Each one was served at the dining table no matter how impromptu the occasion, and late-night stolen suppers were no exception. So, we would sit at the table with my father and eat the egg bread with quiet interest and, when that was done, he would take us back to bed.
I recall these memories almost every time I dip bread in some form of batter and fry it. These days I don’t use egg for my mixtures but have found that there are an abundance of alternatives that actually taste a lot better. This one I’ve created to take advantage of the pumpkin season. It has that beautifully sweet and cinnamon flavour that suits the vegetable so well and makes quite a decadent breakfast or brunch for the weekend. You can also, as my father would do with his own version, have it as a late supper. The recipe itself is gluten-free but I have used a wheat artisan bread to dip into. All you have to do is change it to the bread of your choice.
Prep time: 20 minutes, including pumpkin prep and cooking. Cooking time: About 15 minutes.
300g diced pumpkin flesh, cooked and allowed to drain. (I put mine in a microwavable bowl with some water and a lid for 9 minutes on 80% power)
4 heaped tbsp gram flour
50g dark brown sugar
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground mixed spice
½ tsp salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
300ml almond milk
100ml vegan cream
1 loaf of your chosen bread (I used date and walnut)
Coconut oil for frying.
Preheat the oven to Gas 2/150C/300F
Put the cooked and drained pumpkin flesh into a mixing bowl and add the gram flour. Mix these together to get rid of all the lumps. Add the sugar, spices and salt and mix again, then use a whisk and add the almond milk a little at a time, whisking as you go. Once you have added all of the milk, whisk in the cream and then stir in the raisins. Leave your batter to rest while you cut your chosen bread into about 8 thick slices.
Heat a teaspoon of coconut oil in a non-stick frying pan until very hot. Dip one slice of bread into the batter, making sure to catch some of the raisins. Let it drain off slightly and then add it to the frying pan. You may want to add some of the raisins from the mixture onto the top of the bread at this point if you didn’t manage to scoop any up. Fry two slices of the battered bread at a time, for about 3 minutes each side, or until browned and crisp. Place the cooked bread on a baking tray and put in the oven to keep warm until all the batches are finished. Serve with extra raisins, autumn fruit of your choice and maple syrup.