Plan a St Stephen’s Day brunch: Crunchy granola and freshly baked muffins

How to make a family breakfast spread inspired by Ballynahinch Castle’s lavish buffet

Everyone can graze on this St Stephen’s Day breakfast-cum-brunch spread in their own time.

Everyone can graze on this St Stephen’s Day breakfast-cum-brunch spread in their own time.

 

Chances are St Stephen’s Day will be a quiet one this year. A day for a family walk perhaps or maybe just for staying cosy in your pyjamas and curling up with a good book or movie. After the big day’s feast, consider a St Stephen’s Day breakfast/brunch spread that everyone can graze in their own sweet time.

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to stay at Ballynahinch Castle in the heart of Connemara, you’ll know what a joyous sight their breakfast table is with its honey-glazed gammon taking pride of place among Irish farmhouse cheeses, freshly-baked breakfast muffins, crunchy home-made granola, tea-poached prunes and seasonal cooked fruits. The beauty of a continental-style spread is that you can lay it out the night before, perhaps with a pan and eggs on hand if a hot component is in demand.

Crunchy home-made granola with pumpkin seeds, desiccated coconut and pecans.
Crunchy home-made granola with pumpkin seeds, desiccated coconut and pecans.

BALLYNAHINCH CASTLE GRANOLA

Makes 15-20 servings

Stored in an airtight container, this holds perfectly and is also delicious for healthy snacking or as a topping on desserts, crumbles or ice-cream sundaes.

Ingredients

720g oats
240g flaked almonds
200g pecans
160g desiccated coconut
120g whole almonds
120g pumpkin seeds
70g sunflower seeds
120ml sunflower oil
120ml honey
20ml maple syrup
2 drops vanilla essence
200g dried fruit (golden and/or regular raisins, apricots, cranberries)

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Line two baking trays with parchment.

2 Keeping your dried fruit separate, mix all the other wet and dry ingredients in a large bowl. Divide between the two baking trays and spread evenly.

3 Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until caramelised and golden brown, removing from the oven every five to eight minutes and lightly stirring to break up the mix before returning it to the oven. This repeated step is essential for even caramelisation and crunch.

4 Once cooked, add the raisins and allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.

Breakfast muffins topped with muscovado sugar, sunflower seeds and rolled oats. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy
Breakfast muffins topped with muscovado sugar, sunflower seeds and rolled oats. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

BREAKFAST MUFFIN BUNS

Makes 12 muffins

These muffins can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container, where their flavour will improve overnight. Alternatively, you could prepare the dough and topping in advance and bake them first thing on St Stephen’s morning.

Ingredients

For the dough
300g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
4 eggs
160ml sunflower oil
2 tsp vanilla essence
280g caster sugar
220g carrots, peeled and grated
200g Bramley or Granny Smith apples, roughly chopped
100g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
100g sultanas
50g flaked coconut

For the topping mix
75g plain flour
50g cold unsalted butter, chopped
25g light muscovado sugar
50g rolled oats
25g pumpkin seeds
15g sunflower seeds
15g black sesame seeds
1½ tbsp honey
1 tsp sunflower oil
1 tsp water

Method

1 To make the topping, mix the flour, butter and sugar together in a food processor until it forms a crumbly texture. Mix in the oats, seeds, honey, oil and water and transfer to an airtight container until ready to use.

2 To make the muffin dough, sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into one large bowl and stir to mix well.

3 In another large bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, vanilla essence and sugar and then whisk in the grated carrot and apple. Gently fold in the pecans, sultanas and coconut and then the sifted flour mixture, taking care not to overmix. Transfer to a piping bag and refrigerate until ready to bake.

4 Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.

5 Fill each paper case with dough and scatter the topping over each muffin. Bake for about 25 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

6 Remove the muffins from the tins when they are just warm and allow them to cool before serving.

The delicious spread has been inspired by chef David Bodas’s breakfast buffet at Ballynahinch Castle in Connemara, Co Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy
The delicious spread has been inspired by chef David Bodas’s breakfast buffet at Ballynahinch Castle in Connemara, Co Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Complete your breakfast spread

A luxurious breakfast buffet is all about the details – here are  some Ballynahinch secrets to make yours shine.

1 Glazed gammon: Paint the boiled gammon with equal parts honey and Dijon mustard, top with muscovado sugar and roast at 160 degrees for 30 minutes.

2 Fruit compote: Simmer seasonal fruit, such as quince, apples, pears or cranberries, in their own juice with a little sugar (50g of sugar per kilogram of fruit) until they reach the desired texture.

3 Caramelised apples: Bake some peeled and diced red apples with brown sugar and a knob of butter until caramelised – about 30 minutes. Then spread on a cold tray to cool them quickly.

4 Poached prunes: Bring a litre of water to the boil with 1kg of white sugar, two tea bags, two star anise, a cinnamon stick and a lemon, quartered. Then add the prunes and simmer for 20 minutes.