I can't remember when I took the last Labor Day off ... I mean truly off. Like most hard-working Americans, for me it has really just been another day that I could get something accomplished. I would go in to work anyway because to not go in (in my case) meant to not get paid. And that's just un-'Merican to me.
Circumstances are different this year and since you only live once, take advantage of those days when you can break from labor. Read something. Prune something. Cook something. Bake something!
On days I do head to the office, I rarely cook and eat breakfast at home. I'll make a quick egg and rice bowl (over easy egg, rice, sauteed mushrooms and spinach, a dash of soy sauce and furikake) and I'm stuffing into my pie-hole in front of my computer while I work through my morning emails. I enjoy breakfast but for some reason enjoying it languidly with a hot cup of coffee and a good book makes me feel the day is getting away from me.
Not this morning. This labor day morning I decided I'd make my favorite breakfast of all time: eggs and toast. Eggs and toast is probably my favorite meal ever. I will eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It will be my last meal before they lead me down the green mile to old sparky (should I snap someday and become a serial killer). It is so simple, yet so satisfying and comforting.
It is so simple that it doesn't need a recipe, obviously, so this is not an eggs and toast recipe, but I am including my sister Jenny's Bread recipe because eggs and toast is even better with homemade bread and this bread recipe is solid. It's easy and it's fail proof. I figured if I was going to enjoy a relaxed breakfast on labor day, I might as well go all out and bake bread the day before.
I am not a great baker, or even a good baker, really. But Jenny's bread was so good I made her take me through all the steps and found I could replicate everything quite easily. I've blogged about Jenny's bread recipe before. We made it a lot for my mom in the weeks before we lost her, which will be three years now in just a few weeks.
The great thing about eggs and toast is that there are no rules. Well, there is ONE rule that I think everyone should abide by: no matter how you like your toast, "blonde-brown" like my Momma did, medium brown and crunchy or burnt to a crisp, THE BUTTER SHOULD BE SPREAD END-TO-END, CORNER-TO-CORNER. Not one tiny inch of toast surface should reach the table unbuttered. That would just be wrong.
I like my eggs sunny side up with salt and pepper and a little kiss of spicy Aleppo pepper. I've never liked my eggs super-fried so they have crispy edges. Lots of people do (crazy people) and you might be one of them. Do it your way. Over medium, poached, scrambled ... the goal is to get a fresh egg on top of a buttery piece of toast.
I personally like mine over-easy or sunny side so I can spoon mouthfuls on top of my toast and let the oozy yellow yolk soak into the buttery bread. My goal is to use one piece of toast to serve as the bed for my egg, and the other piece of toast to mop up all the yolky goodness.
If you're lucky enough to have some bread leftover, a schmear of good jam to finish it off.
I swear, I had this for breakfast but I'm thinking of having it again for lunch ... and dinner?
Here's Jenny's Bread Recipe. No special ingredients or equipment, but I do like to use bread flour because it has more protein in it which I think makes for chewier bread. All purpose is just fine.
Makes 2 loaves
*Kitchen Note: I cannot stress enough here how important it is to know the mind of your oven. You should know if your oven cooks "hot" or "cold" and if it has hot spots, etc. Adjust accordingly. My oven bakes hot so I actually bake this bread recipe at 325 and check on it after 20 minutes.
2 cups warm water
2 1/4 tablespoons active yeast
1 tablespoon + 3 tablespoons raw honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups bread flour + up to 3 more cups bread flour + more for kneading
Warm the bowl of a Kitchen Aid (or similar) mixer. Add two cups of warm water, the yeast and 1 tablespoon of honey. Stir to incorporate, then cover the bowl with a warm, moist towel and let sit for 5 minutes for the yeast to bloom.
Using the paddle attachment, add the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, 3 tablespoons of honey and two cups of flour. Mix with the paddle attachment until the dough comes together. Scrap down the sides of your bowl, then switch to the dough hook. With the mixer on low, add the remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, but only up to 3 cups total. The dough will begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl but it will still be just a tiny bit sticky which is okay because you're going to add just a little bit more flour when you knead the dough.
Remove the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface. Sprinkle the break with a bit of flour and knead, rotating the dough quarter of a turn and turning it over onto itself for about 10 minutes until it begins to look shiny. You'll know it's done when an indentation from your finger bounces back.
Clean out your mixing bowl and coat it with either olive oil or butter. Place your dough in the bowl, rotate it around so it's covered in the fat, then cover the bowl with a warm, moist towel and set somewhere warm until the dough doubles in size (check on it after 30 minutes).
Preheat your oven to 350 and coat two loaf pans with cooking spray or butter. Beat the risen dough down, divide it in half and place each half in a loaf pan. Cover again with the warm, moist towel and allow to rise again for 30 minutes to an hour.
Bake the bread for 20-25 minutes. When the bread comes out of the oven, remove the loaves from the loaf pans immediately and cool on a cooling rack. Brush butter on the tops of your loaves and sprinkle with sea salt if desired.