Amazing Brummie bacon cakes to be sold at new Birmingham cafe – as chef brings back old war recipe

A World War II cook who passed down his old recipe books to his grandson is being honored at a new city center café. Chef Lee Hollington is using his grande Maurice Williams’ traditional Brummie bacon cakes recipe at B: Eats, a new restaurant in the Symphony Hall, so that diners can enjoy the savory snack that Maurice made for hungry troops in the 1940s.

B: Eats opens to the public on July 18, serving breakfasts, lunches and dinners from inside a transformed space within the Symphony Hall. The new food spot – right by the entrance – has been created by B: Music, the charity responsible for the Symphony Hall and Town Hall.

Chef Lee, from Wolverhampton, found the bacon cake recipe while looking through his ‘inspirational’ grandad’s old books. Maurice, who is now 96, made the traditional Birmingham breakfast cakes while serving in World War II.

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Brummie bacon cakes, a cheese and bacon scone served hot with butter, was a Birmingham breakfast favorite in the 19th century, though Lee is hoping to bring it back into popularity in the city. Made with ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, the cakes will be served throughout the day when B: Eats opens to the public next month.



A Brummie bacon cake, available at B: Eats at the Symphony Hall
A Brummie bacon cake, available at B: Eats at the Symphony Hall

Speaking to BirminghamLive, Lee said: “My grandfather was a chef in the army for 30 years and he was my inspiration – he’s why I wanted to be a chef in the first place. When I was a kid, I’d read through his recipes, that listed tons of potatoes and gallons of milk, and found it really fascinating.

“I’m not 100 per cent sure of where my grandad served, he’s 96 now and so it’s not easy for him to call things to mind, though we understand he was in France for a while. It was such a cool thing for me , as a kid, to think of grandad feeding the troops, seeing all of the huge recipes designed to feed hundreds of people.

“I always wanted to replicate what he did and, since the age of 16 I’ve been working in food and I’ve never looked back. He’s the reason why, he’s been the biggest inspiration that I’ve ever had in my life . “



Maurice Williams was a chef in the army during World War II
Maurice Williams was a chef in the army during World War II

When Lee was tasked with creating a menu for B: Eats, he knew that he wanted to include one of Maurice’s recipes. He said: “I wanted something that was very Birmingham but that was also unique to us. So I flicked through the recipe books and saw a version of this Brummie bacon cake! I started playing around with ingredients and created our own special version, based on my grandad’s recipe. “

Some of his most precious memories are of cooking with Maurice. Lee recalls: “Every Sunday, my sister and I would go round for my grandad’s Sunday roast. My nan didn’t do any of the cooking, grandad would set everything out, washing up as he was cooking. I’d help him peel the potatoes and with the washing up. I have such fond memories of that time in my life. “



Chef Ben is cooking his grandad's Brummie bacon cakes recipe at B: Eats
Chef Ben is cooking his grandad’s Brummie bacon cakes recipe at B: Eats

As well as breakfasts (big full English and vegan options), the restaurant will serve mains like buttermilk fried chicken wings, Middle Eastern lamb tagine and a range of sandwiches including a classic club dubbed The Ensemble, a Reuben and toasties. There’s a Vegan Gatsby too, a plant-based twist on a Philly cheesesteak.

But it’s the Brummie bacon cake that is Lee’s crown jewel: “To continue on something that my grandad started in the 40s is special,” he said. “I want to make this dish popular, and make us famous for it, so that a little bit of my grandad is there to continue on.”

B: Music designed the restaurant as a place for diners to enjoy food to a backdrop of music. Local performers and artists will play acoustic sets each lunchtime on the first week of opening, including pop acoustic artist Gaby K, acoustic artist Ben Drummond, soul artist Liv Campbell and soul and jazz artist Isabel Abbott.

It will open Monday to Saturday from 10am until 5pm. Food service will begin at 11am each day, with coffees and pastries served from 10am – 11am. For more information, visit the B: Eats website.

For the latest on events and attractions, food and drink, and things to do around Birmingham, Wolverhampton and the Midlands, visit our What’s On home page. If you’re on Facebook, you can find our City Life page here.

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