PB & J French toast bake

Slow cooker breakfasts: 3 warming recipes to upgrade winter mornings

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In the pursuit of hearty winter breakfasts that won’t eat up precious morning hours, a slow cooker is our secret weapon.

Our overriding breakfast philosophy is that winter requires a switch-up. A bowl of granola and a banana is fine in milder months, but the impending threat of freezing cold mornings is making us crave something warming. Duvet unfurled, dressing gown and slippers on – what we really want is a hot drink and pot of something bubbling to tuck into in lieu of central heating. The thing is, commuting to the office doesn’t necessarily lend itself to labouring over a breakfast feast.

PSA: if you’re time-pushed, but still want to eat a hearty breakfast, a slow cooker will cleverly create a warming potful in a couple of hours, even overnight. Happily, new recipe encyclopaedia The Slow Cooker Bible: Super Simple Feasts For The Whole Family includes a wide-ranging selection of tasty hot breakfast recipes. All made in a slow cooker, they’re guaranteed to provide low-effort, high-impact results that will improve chilly mornings no end. Ready to upgrade your current breakfast routine? Below are three warming recipes you’ll want to tuck into…

If French toast is your ultimate Sunday brunch, you’ll want to try the peanut butter and jam-flavoured vegan version. To make it, you need only coat cubes of sourdough in a mixture made with peanut butter and spices, then leave to cook for an hour and a half until the bread is springy. Top with a dollop of jam, and you have a brilliantly flavoursome start to your day.

If savoury breakfasts float your boat, make the tofu shakshuka, complete with homemade fennel flatbreads. First, you’ll slow-cook a saucy tomato and pepper mixture for two hours, then roast chunks of tofu in the oven until they’re crispy to stand in for the traditional egg component. Top with chilli flakes for a punch of fiery heat, and offset with cool chunks of avocado.

Finally, if you’re a porridge fiend, but struggle to find time for it on weekday mornings – prepare to discover the perfect solution. For this slow cooker version, you throw all of the ingredients together in the evening, including turmeric for added colour and flavour, then cook overnight and enjoy the next morning. Genius. Now all that’s left to do is clear some cupboard space for said slow cooker…

  • PB & J French toast bake

    PB & J French toast bake
    Slow cooker breakfast recipes: PB & J French toast bake

    “Take the base formula for this French toast bake and experiment with different flavour combinations – swap the peanut butter and jam for melted vegan chocolate or go down the savoury route with some vegan cheese.”

    Serves 4

    Prep: 15 minutes, plus standing

    Cook: 1–1½ hours

    Cook temperature: high

    Ingredients

    • ½ tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil, for greasing
    • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
    • 50g vegan butter, melted
    • 200ml unsweetened almond milk
    • 3 tbsp smooth peanut butter
    • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
    • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
    • ½ tsp baking powder
    • 250g stale sourdough, cut into large cubes

    To serve:

    • icing sugar
    • 3 tbsp jam of your choice or blueberry jam (recipe below)
    • roasted, unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped

    Method

    Preheat the slow cooker if necessary. Grease the slow cooker pot with the oil.

    Put the ground flaxseed, melted vegan butter, almond milk, peanut butter and spices into the slow cooker, use a whisk to break up the peanut butter and whisk until the mixture is emulsified. Leave to stand for 5–10 minutes until slightly thickened.

    Stir in the baking powder, add the bread cubes and toss until well coated in the mixture. Place a tea towel or kitchen paper underneath the slow cooker lid, cover the cooker and cook on high for 1–1½ hours until springy but firm to the touch and the remaining liquid is thickened, golden and bubbly.

    Serve immediately, dusted with icing sugar, drizzled with jam – try the homemade blueberry jam, if you like –and scattered with chopped roasted peanuts.

    Homemade blueberry jam

    For homemade blueberry jam, to serve as an accompaniment, put 500g fresh blueberries, 4 tablespoons lemon juice and 2 tablespoons water in a large saucepan and cook gently for about 8–10 minutes until the blueberries are soft. Stir in 450g preserving or granulated sugar and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and boil for 10–15 minutes until setting point is reached. Ladle into sterilised jars, put the lids on and label.

  • Overnight turmeric porridge

    Overnight turmeric porridge
    Slow cooker breakfast recipes: overnight turmeric porridge

    “Start off your day on the bright side with this sunny yellow porridge, topped with colourful mango and pomegranate seeds or you can opt for the spiced plum compote below.”

    Serves 2–3

    Prep: 5 minutes

    Cook: 4–6 hours

    Cooking temperature: low

    Ingredients

    • 100g rolled oats
    • 700ml almond, soya or light coconut milk
    • 2 tsp ground turmeric (optional)
    • 2 tbsp demerara sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
    • pinch of salt

    To serve:

    • slices of mango
    • pomegranate seeds
    • toasted coconut flakes

    Method

    Preheat the slow cooker if necessary. Put all the ingredients into the slow cooker, cover with the lid and cook on low for 4–6 hours. If your slow cooker has the function to switch over automatically to ‘keep warm’ once the slow cooking time is up, leave to cook overnight. Alternatively, set a separate timer to make sure the porridge doesn’t overcook and burn.

    Give the porridge a good stir before serving, as it will probably have a slight crust on top. Loosen with a dash of water or extra dairy-free milk if it seems dry.

    Serve warm, topped with sliced mango, pomegranate seeds and toasted coconut flakes, or with spiced plum compote (see below).

    Spiced plum compote

    For spiced plum compote, to serve as an accompaniment, place 500g halved and stoned plums in a saucepan with 200ml orange juice, 2 tbsp soft light brown sugar, 1 cinnamon stick and 2 star anise. Cook, uncovered, over a low heat for 10 minutes or until the plums are tender. Remove the cinnamon stick and star anise and serve dolloped over the porridge or dairy-free yogurt.

  • Tofu shakshuka

    Tofu shakshuka
    Slow cooker breakfast recipes: tofu shakshuka

    “For a super-healthy brunch option, opt for this low-fat, nutrient-packed combination of fish, eggs and spinach. Good for you and delicious, it’s a win-win.”

    Serves 4

    Prep: 15 minutes, plus pressing

    Cook: 2 hours

    Cooking temperature: high

    Ingredients

    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 400g can chopped tomatoes
    • 2–3 roasted red peppers from a jar, drained and chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1 tsp sweet paprika
    • 350g firm tofu
    • salt and pepper

    To serve:

    • 1 avocado, peeled, stoned and sliced
    • small handful of coriander and flat-leaf parsley
    • chopped chilli flakes
    • flatbreads

    Method

    Preheat the slow cooker if necessary. Put 1 tablespoon of the oil, the onion, tomatoes, red peppers, garlic and spices into the slow cooker and toss until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover with the lid and cook on high for 2 hours until the mixture is slightly reduced. Check and adjust the seasoning.

    Meanwhile, drain the tofu well, sit on a sheet of kitchen paper and top with a second piece of kitchen paper. Place a heavy bowl or chopping board on top and leave to press for 20–30 minutes, replacing the sheets of kitchen paper if they become over-saturated in liquid.

    Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Cut the tofu into 2.5cm cubes, toss with the remaining tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 25–30 minutes until golden and crispy.

    Serve the shakshuka topped with the roasted tofu and sliced avocado, sprinkled with the chopped herbs and a few chilli flakes, with the warm shop-bought flatbreads or homemade fennel flatbreads (see below) on the side.

    Homemade fennel flatbreads

    For homemade fennel flatbreads, to serve as an accompaniment, put 200g self-raising flour and ½ teaspoon baking powder in a large bowl. Add 1 teaspoon fennel seeds that have been roughly crushed in a pestle and mortar and a little salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, then gradually mix in 6–7 tablespoons water to make a soft dough. Cut the dough into 4 pieces, then roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface until it is a rough oval shape a bit bigger than your hand. Cook on preheated griddle pan for 3–4 minutes each side until singed and puffy.

    The Slow Cooker Bible: Super Simple Feasts For The Whole Family (£18.99, Octopus Books) is out now

Photography: Pyramid

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