How To Cook A Full English Breakfast ( My way! )May 10, 2021
I must admit to being a little anxious about writing this blog post because every B&B has their own special way of cooking a Full English/Welsh/Scottish/Irish breakfast. And I've learned that people can get terribly upset about how a full English is cooked and presented.
But this is the way I do it and I’ve had a lot of compliments on my breakfast over the years, so I must be doing something right...
I've not included many timings. This is because ovens, hobs, grills, AGAs all differ and take different times. I know that cooking a full English when we're self catering in a cottage on holiday is a completely different experience to cooking at home.
You need to practise, practise and then practise some more!
Do you have to serve a cooked breakfast?
I’ve written a whole blog post on whether you need to serve a full english or not - you can read it here
However, nearly all of my guests come to my B&B and expect a cooked breakfast. I offer freshly baked muffins, bircher muesli, porridge, cereals, fruits, omelettes and lots of other choices but 95% of people still ask for something cooked.
What’s in a full english?
What you serve in your full english will depend on where you are in the country. In Staffordshire, you may find oat cakes on the breakfast menu and in Cornwall, white pudding.
It may also depend on your guests - are they vegetarian, vegan or have special dietary requirements.
Read more about serving breakfast for guests with special dietary requirements here → Catering for special dietary requirements and restrictions
A Hopton House full english will comprise of:
- Local ludlow sausages
- Local unsmoked bacon
- Black pudding
- Eggs - fried/poached/scrambled
- AGA roast tomatoes
- Baked beans
- On request - fried bread and/or saute potatoes
How big should a full english be?
This is a bit of a polarising topic. Some guests will look at the full english you’ve put in front of them and feel short changed, whilst others will look at the amount of food you've served up with horror.
For some people, eating an enormous full english on holiday may be a badge of honour.
You’ve obviously got to balance your guests’ requirements with your own budget.
I’ve always asked guests to preorder breakfast the night before - I’m on my own in the kitchen and I serve lots of specials like eggs benedict and it would be impossible to get everyone served on time if I didn’t.
This has the huge advantage of keeping waste down to an absolute minimum.
I ask guests to tell me how many eggs, sausages, bacon etc they want on the menu so it takes out the guesswork and reduces waste. Much to the disappointment of the B&B dogs, it's rare for my breakfast plates to be returned with any food on.
What is the best breakfast sausage?
I tried many local sausages before deciding on my favourites for the B&B. I do vary them depending on what I can get hold of.
If you are cooking to order you may find it easier to serve a thinner sausage as they are quicker to cook. But the thick pork sausages are also popular at breakfast.
I don’t mind them, but in my experience most people prefer a plain sausage at breakfast, not the herby or flavoured ones.
How many sausages should you serve?
This is a question I hear an awful lot! And the answer is “it depends”
Sometimes the thin pork sausages I use end up very small so it will be 3 or just one big thick pork sausage. As I mentioned above, I think it’s best to ask.
TIP - freeze your sausages individually on a lined baking tray, then pop them into a freezer bag, You can then take out individual sausages and, either defrost them or cook from frozen.
Make sure you have a good quality temperature probe to make sure they’re cooked through.
I like to fry the sausages on a very low heat. I find this stops them going wrinkly and you get a lovely golden brown colour. I don't prick them when I do it this way. This is obviously the least healthy way to cook them & you can grill or oven bake instead.
Vegetarian and Vegan Sausages
If you’re looking for a good vegetarian or vegan breakfast sausage, there are an awful lot on the market these days. It’s a case of trying and testing for yourself.
Or you could spend a few hours on Pinterest and see if you can find a good homemade vegan sausage recipe.
A word of warning - Check with guests with special dietary requirements what they’d prefer to eat for breakfast. It might well save you a lot of time and effort.
I once found myself disappearing into a Pinterest rabbit hole researching vegan breakfasts. I decided to contact the guest to ask what he preferred for breakfast and he replied with baked beans on toast and peanut butter and toast afterwards.
Or you can try making your own cheese and herb vegetarian sausages from my recipe here → Cheese and herb vegetarian sausage recipe
Is it better to fry or grill bacon?
- Bacon is another polarising topic.
- Fatty or lean?
- Thick or thin?
- Streaky, middle of back bacon?
- Wave it in front of the grill or burn it to a crisp?
- Smoked or unsmoked?
- Fried or grilled?
- Rind on or rind off?
And you thought just offering a full english was the easy option!
I prefer to offer rind off, thin, unsmoked, back bacon. It suits most tastes and you can always keep some of the options in the freezer for special requests.
I do grill bacon. I love the taste of fried bacon but I've got to make up for the sausages & fried bread some way! Fried bacon also makes a dreadful mess.
What type of egg should you serve?
I really don’t like eggs very much. If I’m in the right mood, I can sometimes eat scrambled or an omelette, but only cooked in a certain way and with eggs from my own hens.
There’s no way I would eat fried, poached or boiled. So cooking eggs for other people has been one of my biggest challenges in cooking B&B breakfasts.
At my own B&B, I offer guests a choice of egg- poached, scrambled or fried.
How to poach an egg
Many people are very frightened by poaching an egg. And rightly so in my opinion. They are the type of egg most likely to go terribly wrong. But, because I ask guests to pre order I now find them the easiest type of egg.
Having got my poached eggs down to a tee, Guests sometime throw me a curveball and ask for a hard poached egg...my heart sinks
You can read my tips and watch my how to video for poaching eggs here → how to poach an egg
How to scramble an egg
People like their scrambled eggs in different ways - some wet, others rock solid.
I whisk my eggs, adding salt and pepper just before they’re about to be cooked. Apparently adding salt too soon can cause them to be watery. I don’t add milk or cream, unless someone has asked for the rock solid variety. I then whisk in a spoonful of double cream.
I put butter in my cheapest lightweight frying pan on a high heat. The moment it stops sizzling, I pop the eggs in and stir around quite vigorously until they reach the guests’ desired consistency.
How to fry an egg
Oh don’t ask me...I hate frying eggs, especially when I get a special fried egg request:
Snotty, hard, over easy, no yolk, yolk only, crispy, not crispy…
I think the pan is really important when frying an egg. I use one with a heavy base on a medium heat with enough sunflower oil that I can baste the top.
What’s the best way to cook black pudding?
Black pudding is another divisive subject at breakfast. We have some local black pudding that comes in quite a large round. I fry it in butter for about 6-7 minutes, turning over halfway through.
How to cook breakfast tomatoes
I do think a tomato needs seasoning. This isn’t the time to be worrying about salt intake.
I halve my tomatoes, season with flaky sea salt, black pepper, dried oregano, olive oil and a pinch of sugar, then slow roast in the AGA.
Find out more in this recipe → AGA roast tomatoes with fried halloumi
How to cook mushrooms
One thing I know is that mushrooms are far more popular at breakfast that tomatoes.
You’ve got several options from large portobello to small button mushrooms.
You have to be careful frying mushrooms as they can disappear to nothing. One tip I heard in the Facebook Group was to use mushroom ketchup instead of salt,
I slice chestnut mushrooms quite thickly, put in a large pan with a good knob of butter - you don’t want them too crowded or they’ll sweat - season with smoked sea salt, thyme and black pepper and fry till they’re nicely browned.
My herby mushrooms on toast is one of my most popular breakfast recipes → Herby mushrooms on toast
Should you serve baked beans?
When I first joined Twitter, there were some quite heated discussions amongst the B&B community about whether baked beans belonged on a breakfast plate.
I would rather not as they upset the aesthetics of a beautifully cooked breakfast! But I reckon 50% of people request them here so I do give guests the option. I always use Heinz Beans.
Another inflammatory issue is whether or not the baked beans should be served in a ramekin or just on the plate. I’ve gone back and forth on this one and have settled for the beans in a separate warmed ramekin on saucer with a spoon
What about fried bread?
I must admit I took fried bread off the menu as it was just one ingredient too many - the proverbial straw that was going to break the camel’s back.. But I do rather enjoy it myself, and my guests can still request it in the “Any special requests” box on the menu
You need white bread fried on a medium heat in bacon fat or oil till it’s nicely browned and crispy on each side.
Does ketchup or brown sauce have a place on the breakfast table?
You can keep your brown sauce, but I do love ketchup with my sausages and fried bread. But nowhere near my bacon! And it has to be Heinz.
I’ve gone through phases of either having bottles on the buffet table or bringing in tiny dishes of sauce. You decide!
Well that was a bit of a marathon. I’m on a fast day today, so writing about cooking full english has been particularly painful.
Enjoy your breakfast!
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