Running a B&B – 4 Tips for an Easier Breakfast Service
Unless you offer guests an evening meal, breakfast is probably the only meal that guests will experience at your B&B and the promise of a well cooked Full English is one of the reasons people choose a B&B over a hotel.
Whilst business guests may well be happy with the buffet or a bowl of porridge, my experience is that the majority of my guests, here for a relaxing few days away, want a big cooked breakfast.
I love to cook and I like to offer a bit more than just the normal full English breakfast. And I find that over 50% of my guests will choose one of the breakfast specials I offer.
So come and stay at Hopton House and you can choose from any variation of the full English, with homemade cheese and herb sausages or halloumi for the non meat eaters, blueberry or cinnamon apple buttermilk pancakes, herby mushrooms with poached eggs, eggs benedict or eggs royale or omelette with a choice of fillings.
If my guests are vegetarian or have special dietary requirements I’ll provide a few extra specials.
On the side table you’ll find homemade bread, freshly squeezed orange juice, Bircher muesli, fruit, yoghurt and some sort of baked goods.
The problem with providing this amount of choice is the logistics of preparing all this food and having it ready by 8.30 ( I serve breakfast between 8.30 & 10 ) without having to get up at 5am every day!
So I have a few shortcuts for making life a bit easier
1. Make Your Own “Packet” Pancake Mix
Rather than having to weigh out flour, sugar, baking powder and raising agents each time someone orders pancakes, I make up a big batch of the dry pancake mix and store it in a big kilner jar. Then for each person wanting pancakes I scoop out half a cup of the dry mix and combine it with buttermilk, egg, vanilla essence and melted butter. For the full recipe – click here.
2.Prepare & Freeze Your Scone Mix
I always like to put some kind of baked goods on the buffet table. But I find that they quite often don’t get eaten – this can be a bit disheartening when you’ve spent some of your valuable breakfast preparation time baking. The exception is scones – I’ve found that there’s a good chance that these will get eaten.
Scones are great for the B&B owner in the morning. You can keep the base recipe the same but vary them daily. Think plain, cinnamon raisin, blueberry, apple, almond, lemon zest, dried cranberry, ginger…
The problem with scones is that I think they really need to be eaten warm out of the oven. They’re not something that will sit around or taste good the next day or out of the freezer. But what do you do if you only have a few guests in? It can be tricky preparing scones for just 2 people.
On a course last month one of the participants shared this great tip from her brother who runs a café on Cape Cod. Make up a big batch of scone mix;weigh out flour, sugar, baking powder, lime zest ( if you’re using ) and rub in the butter. Store this in the freezer, then when you ready to cook, scoop out about 50g of mix per person and mix with buttermilk and egg until you get a soft but not sticky dough.
My favourite breakfast scone recipe is Lime and Blueberry – click here for the recipe
3. Pre Poach Your Eggs
If you struggle with cooking poached eggs ( and even the most seasoned of B&B owners can struggle to create the perfect poach egg occasionally – I speak from personal experience ), the last thing you need when you have 6 cooked breakfasts to get out at the same time, is for them to be going wrong.
One way to reduce the stress at dishing up time it to pre poach the eggs when you’re doing your breakfast prep. I poach mine in fast simmering water ( with a good slosh of vinegar ) for about 3.5 minutes, then plunge into iced water. You then just reheat for 1 min in fast simmering water. This also has the advantage of removing all taste of vinegar.
4. Taking the Stress out of Hollandaise
Eggs Benedict is probably ordered more than any other breakfast special here at Hopton House. However I have been reduced to tears by hollandaise in the past. I certainly don’t want to be preparing last minute hollandaise at the same time as cooking and dishing up 5 other breakfasts.
One method recommended by cookbooks for keeping hollandaise warm is to hold it in a bowl over simmering water. I’ve never managed to do this without ending up with a mess that resembles scrambled eggs.
So a tip handed to me by a B&B owner in the states is to use a small thermos flask to keep the sauce in. I have a small aluminium flask from Lakeland. I preheat it with some boiling water, pour out the water, then pour the sauce into the warmed flask up to an hour before serving.
Whilst my method for making hollandaise in a blender is almost foolproof, I do find it can be a little messy. As you pour in the lemon juice & vinegar, then melted butter it splatters all over the kitchen and me. If you use a small funnel in the hole of the lid of the blender this reduces the splatter and also helps you create that thin steady stream of liquid you need.
My hollandaise recipe is here
If anyone else has any tips for making breakfast service easier please do comment and share them with us all.