This sounds like a job for Guardian perfectionist Felicity Cloake, who has been working her way through a buffet of breakfasts in the name of research for her latest book, Red Sauce, Brown Sauce: A British Breakfast Odyssey (out this summer). “Beans on toast, obviously,” she says. “Quick, filling and delicious.” Cloake might customise the tinned stuff with Worcestershire or chilli sauce, or smoked paprika or wilt in a handful of baby spinach. “Or make your own baked beans from tinned beans [eg, haricot] with a glug of extra-virgin olive oil, a spritz of lemon juice and some chilli flakes or chopped herbs.”
If oats float Sarah’s boat, but porridge doesn’t, Cloake suggests stirring in some spiced stewed apples or rye flakes the night before. Alternatively, use oats (plus chopped nuts and cinnamon, say) in pancake batter, or sprinkled over morning muffins. Guardian baker-in-residence Benjamina Ebuehi is partial to an apple, cardamom and buckwheat number, for which she sifts 130g buckwheat flour, 75g caster sugar, a teaspoon of baking powder, half a teaspoon of bicarb and a pinch of salt into a bowl. In a separate bowl, she whisks an egg, 60g melted unsalted butter, 100ml milk, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, a half-teaspoon of crushed green cardamom pods and a grated peeled apple. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, then dollop into a muffin tray lined with paper cases. “Top each one with a cube of apple, pushing it into the batter a little, and add a sprinkling of oats, pumpkin seeds and demerara sugar.” Bake at 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7 for eight minutes, then turn down to 180C (160 fan)/350F/gas 4 and bake for eight to 10 minutes until risen. You’ll then have breakfast sorted for days.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that most breakfast binds can be solved with eggs. Omelettes, Cloake says, are “quicker than porridge, and infinitely customisable”, while chef Josh Katz favours shakshuka. “It’s a dish rooted in simplicity, but you can play around with it,” says the chef-owner of Carmel in London. “At its core are lots of garlic, onions, peppers and spices [paprika or cumin, say] softened in olive oil, then [add] tomatoes, be that puree, tinned or fresh. Reduce, then balance with sugar and season.” Make some wells, crack in your eggs, then pop a lid on the pan and, once cooked, top with chopped coriander, spring onions, yoghurt, tahini or whatever else you fancy and have got to hand.
Alternatively, turn dinner into breakfast. If you’ve got any leftover mash knocking about (and didn’t overdose at Christmas), there’s bubble and squeak, which should be topped with an obligatory fried egg. “Or cook extra rice when you’re making dinner and turn it into fried rice the next morning with an egg and some chopped veg,” Cloake adds. “All of these things feel like a big hassle, but actually can be on the table in 10 minutes, and – bonus! – a frying pan is a lot easier to wash up than a porridge pot!”