One of my favourite spots in the south west of England is Bantham, Devon. The surrounding countryside is topped only by a fantastic beach at the mouth of the River Avon. When it comes to surfing, I’m no pro, far from it in fact, but occasionally it works for me and due to lack of fitness and riding a long board, I tend to like the smaller waves. With the forecast showing a nice 2 foot wave with a gentle offshore wind it was an opportunity that couldn’t be missed.
Although it would have been nice to stay the night in Bantham, especially as there is a great little camp site just up the road from the village where I’ve stayed before, it’s sometimes more economic to take a day trip when getting in a surf session, particularly as I can share the fuel costs with my mate Dave (aka David as he prefers to be called). It just means the day needs a bit of planning and getting everything ready the day before so I thought I would add this post to show how a day trip can pan out and share a recipe that is brimming with comfort and easy to cook up and eat when out for the day. Of course, any part of the recipe provided can be replaced, I doubt I’ll go to the trouble of baking my own rolls again, but the relish is a definite for the future.
Being that Bantham is over 100 miles from home, it’s worth starting out early so we were on the road by 7.30am and heading off down the A303. Breakfast was simple, just a bowl of porridge before leaving home. Part of the reason for the early start was not just to get in the water as soon as possible, the plan was to be out of the water and eating lunch when the big game between Manchester United and Liverpool kicked off at 1.30pm.
So, after a stop off at Exeter services on the way, we arrived in Batham at around 10.15am and the sun was shining. After parking up at the beach car park we had a quick peak over the sand dunes and it was looking good, perfect for our longboards.
It wasn’t long before we were in the water, hooded up with boots and gloves too as the water is still only around 10°C. Personally I started out pretty poorly as I have been a lot lately, I couldn’t get on any waves but as time went on we started finding a few nice spots and I had a few good rides in. The waves were only 1–2 foot, with the odd 3 foot coming through so it was relatively tame. Towards what would have been the end of our session is when things got a little more interesting. We were grouped up with a few other surfers on what seemed to be the best spot at the time but suddenly we were all took off away from the beach, caught in a sudden rip which I don’t think anyone expected on a small wave day. I think it had something to do with the low spring tides, just 0.8m and it was nearly at it’s lowest point. I’m guessing all of the water in the bay was trying to get out through a relatively small area and unlike usual, the rip was going off down the coast, not back into the bay which meant a few of us had a long paddle back. After what seemed like ages paddling across the bay to get out of the rip I was approaching a group of kayaks, one had already helped another lad back so as I was pretty much spent I thought I’d swallow my pride and ask for a cheeky tow and thankfully it got me back to the breakers (little peelers really), thanks again whoever you are. Once I got to my feet we got out and called it a day, besides, we had burgers to eat and the football was about to start.
The problem with watching the game is that there is no 3G signal at Bantham so we went over to Slapton Sands, I watch TV when I’m away on my iPad over the Internet with various Apps, I was lucky to get one of the only available unlimited Internet packages with full tethering too so can use my iPhone as a kind of router for my iPad and Laptop if I take it. Slapton Memorial car park is right on the beach in a beautiful spot beside the Slapton Ley. With the iPad set up, it was time to relax, have a coffee and hopefully see Utd bring home the 3 points they so needed. The original plan was to have the burgers before the game but as we ended up running a bit late we decided to wait until after, that gave us a chance to chill out for a bit too, though not much chilling watching that game, lol.
Result! Though not a very convincing win, Utd got the 3 points by beating Liverpool at Anfield 2–1. We had now recovered from the surf/paddle session and were ready to eat. Being this was a day trip, with little time to prepare and cook in the van the food was prepared the day before and what better than the comfort of a big fat burger! I’m no contender for the Great British Bake-off and not that great with baking buns, but these actually tasted fine. I have included the full recipe I used below which is plenty enough for 4 burgers, but the two of us could only manage one each as they’re really filling once you add the bacon and salad. They were definitely worth taking, they tasted great and set me up for the rest of the day. I could have probably presented better for the photo’s below but we were hungry,
Once we had eaten our burgers we got set for the journey home, it was now late afternoon so we wouldn’t be back until evening. Despite it only being around 8°C, we couldn’t resist an ice cream from the resident ice cream van before hitting the road, for a while heading along the coast which has some great views.
Burger aprés le surf
Classic burgers in sesame seed buns, served with a sweet caramelised onion and tomato relish
[tab title=“Equipment Required”]
- Small bowl
- Large bowl
- Measuring spoon
- 2 shallow baking trays
- Cling film
- Pastry brush
- Wire rack
- Greaseproof paper
- Mixer (optional)
- Kitchen scales
- Small storage container for relish
- Frying pan
- Cooking utensils
In the van
- 1 large frying pan
- 1 hob
- 2 plates
- Knife for slicing buns and tomatoes
- Wooden skewers
- Kitchen towell
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 8 cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
- 50g demerara sugar
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 50ml red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons of tomato purée
- 150ml warm water
- 14g dried yeast
- 2 tablespoon of milk (warm)
- 2 tablespoons of caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 325g of strong flour, plus a little extra for dusting
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
- 2 medium eggs, plus 1 beaten egg for glazing
- Sesame seeds, for sprinkling (optional)
- 500g lean minced beef
- 70g fresh white breadcrumbs
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium egg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 beef tomato, sliced
- 1 iceberg lettuce, leaves separated
- Cheese slices
- Bacon rashes (smoked)
- 1 red onion, sliced
[tab title=“Cooking Method”]
- Heat a little oil in a small pan and cook the onions for a few minutes on a low heat until softened, stirring occasionally.
- Add the tomatoes and garlic, mix well. Then add the sugar, tomato purée and vinegar and bring to the boil.
- Simmer for 20–30 minutes until the mixture is thick like a paste, stirring more towards the end to avoid the mixture sticking to the pan.
- Season to taste with a small amount of salt and set aside to cool.
- Add to small storage container for use later. The relish contains vinegar and sugar to preserve so it will be good got quite a while in a sealed container
- Mix the warm water, yeast, warm milk and sugar in a bowl and leave to stand for 5 minutes. The mix should become frothy, this is how you know the yeast is working.
- Pour the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and add the butter, rubbing together with your fingertips until the mixture is like fine breadcrumbs.
- Form a small well in the centre of the buttery flour and add the warm yeast mixture and eggs.
- For the purist, using your hands, mix into a sticky dough. If it feels wet, it will come together when kneading. When done, tip the dough onto a floured work surface. I personally cheat at this point and transfer to my bread maker on dough making mode for around 30 minutes which is a lot less messy on the hands, then skip to step 6.
- Knead the dough for 10 minutes, stretching it on the work surface. Note, it will still be sticky at this stage but don’t be tempted to add too much flour.
- When done, the dough should feel soft and have a bounce to it. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with cling film or a tea towel, then set aside to rise for 1–3 hours or until it is double the original size. Timing will vary depending on the temperature, if your kitchen is not very warm, perhaps make space in an airing cupboard.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, knock the air out and knead again for 2 minutes. The dough should now be much less sticky, but may need a little flour added.
- Divide the dough into 6 even pieces and flatten each piece like a pancake on a floured surface, turn in each corner to the centre until the ball is sealed, then flip it over and use your hands to gently roll into a smooth ball.
- Add the greaseproof paper to a baking tray and place the dough on the tray. Loosely cover with oiled cling film and leave for about 1 hour or until doubled in size again. Then, heat the oven to 200°C (180°C for fan ovens) / gas 6 and place a shallow baking tray at the bottom.
- Pour a cup of water into the baking tray at the bottom of the oven to create steam before the buns are put in. Remove the cling film, brush the buns with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until golden in the centre of the oven, then remove and leave to cool on a wire rack.
- In a bowl, mix the mince, egg, onion, bread crumbs and salt until well blended.
- Divide the mixture into four equal portions and shape each into a patty about 10cm wide.
- Place the patties onto a tray that wil fit into your van’s fridge and cover in cling film.
- To cook burgers, remove from tray and heat a little oil in a frying pan. If using bacon as a topping, add a little oil to a separate pan and cook until golden-brown.
- Turn the burgers once only, cooking for about 5–6 minutes each side. (Alternatively if you have the luxury of a grill in your van, you can cook them under a grill for the same time turning half way through).
[tab title=“To Serve”]
Toppings (all optional)
- Cheese slices
- Sliced Beefsteak tomato
- Iceberg lettuce
- Red onion, sliced
- Bacon rashes
To serve, slice the buns in half and hover over the flame of the hob to toast a the inner side a little, being careful not to burn yourself. Place the buns toasted side up onto serving plates and add some of the relish, then the burger patties, top with a little more relish and your additional choice of toppings. Cover with the top side of the bun and pierce through with half of a wooden skewer, perhaps topped off with half a cherry tomato.