Porridge is our go-to weekday breakfast. We cook the rolled oats simply with water and a pinch of sea salt, and serve them with a splash of milk and a dollop of raw honey. We find it to be one of the only breakfasts that powers us through the first half of the day until lunchtime. For workdays, we have designed the porridge making process to be as speedy as possible. As such, a huge glass jar of organic oat flakes sits permanently on the kitchen worktop next to the honey jar, and in close proximity to the cutlery draw. In the mornings, we grab a bowl from the cupboard upon entering the kitchen; open the jar and pour roughly the right amount of oats into the bowl; sweep along the work surface to the tap and cover the grains with water; then carry on along the worktop to the microwave, where the mixture is set to cook for 2 minutes. With the ping we add milk and honey, and eat it as fast as we can before heading out of the door.
On the weekends, however, breakfast (or, more commonly, brunch) is a much more interesting affair and, if we choose to have a bowl of porridge, we make it rather differently. We cook the oats slowly on the Aga top in a little saucepan, stirring the mixture gently with the end of a wooden spoon (we are yet to get ourselves a porridge spurtle), until they are soft and creamy. On the other Aga ring will sit a stove top coffee maker, it’s lower half filled with water and it’s middle with freshly ground coffee beans, the espresso slowly percolating through to the top. We find a strong cup of coffee is a very good follow up to a warming bowl of porridge.
This recipe is for our favourite Christmas-time porridge. It uses a handful of the bumper crop of cherries that we dried back in July, and some of the pink apple crisps that we made from some of our Discovery apples in early autumn, but it is also pumped full of Christmas spice in the form of cinnamon, nutmeg and a dash of vanilla. There are toasted poppy seeds and almond flakes to join the apple crisps in providing a crunchy topping for the soft oats below. It is best eaten on the frostiest of December mornings.
Spiced Christmas Porridge with Cherries and Apple Crisps
- ½ tbsp poppy seeds
- 1 tbsp almond flakes
- 100 g porridge oats
- 50 g unsweetened dried cherries
- 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- a small pinch of sea salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 550 ml cold water
- whole milk to taste
- 2 tsp demerara sugar
- two small handfuls of apple crisps (ideally homemade – see previous post)
Start by gently toasting the poppy seeds and almonds one after the other in a skillet or small pan, until the poppy seeds are fragrant and the almonds are lightly browned. Then set aside to cool.
Next, put the porridge oats, dried cherries, cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt and vanilla extract in a small saucepan and cover with the cold water. Warm to a gentle simmer over a medium heat and cook for around five minutes, stirring almost continuously, until the oats are soft and creamy. You'll find that the cherries will rehydrate a little as the porridge cooks, absorbing some of the spices as they do so, which will make them delicious to eat. Finish the oats by stirring in enough whole milk to loosen the porridge a little and add some extra creaminess.
Serve immediately, by dividing the porridge between two bowls and topping each one with a teaspoon of demerara sugar, a scattering of the toasted almonds and poppy seeds, and a handful of apple crisps.