Porridge, 3 Ways

perfectporridgerecipe

Over the past year I’ve unexpectedly become a bit of an oats evangelist. Nearly every weekend I can be found, pyjamas on and cup of tea in hand, standing at the stove. There I’ll be slowly stirring a pan of oats, coaxing them together with milk, spices and something sweet to form a silky, smooth porridge. And I like to think, perhaps a little immodestly, that I’ve cracked it. I’ve cracked the perfect porridge recipe.  

And now I nurture a weekly obsession. Sometimes I indulge in a flashier breakfast; pancakes, shakshuka or pillowy cinnamon buns, but I always return to porridge. Why? There’s something about a bowl of steaming oats, laced with spice and laden with windfall fruits that leaves me with a complete sense of contentment. I feel nourished in both the stomach and the soul. It’s simple, unfussy food that feels special and restorative.

The recipes I list here borrow from the excellent cookbook, 26 Grains in places. The method for soaking oats comes from there, for example, as does the idea to combine berries and bay in the final recipe. If you’re a porridge fanatic, I would really urge you treat yourself to a copy of this book, as creamy oats are only the start. 26 Grains also shares recipes for rice, quinoa and barley porridges along with lunch, dinner and treat recipes too. But I digress – let’s get back to breakfast.

These recipes all start their life in the same way, 120g oats soaked in water for half an hour. From there, they vary slightly. Different spices, different fruits, different toppings, but once you master the basic method of this porridge you can customise your oats in any way that pleases you, these are just a selection of my favourites.  

These are no sad, stodgy porridges, but luxuriously creamy, ultimately comforting and completely satisfying meals that are perfect to kick off a cosy weekend, or weekday morning if you have the time. I hope you enjoy the recipes, play with them and customise them to make them your own. Enjoy.  

plumbakewellporridge

Plum Bakewell Porridge, serves 2

Perfect for the end of summer and beginning of autumn when plums are abundant and affordable. I go between serving this porridge with roasted plums (halved, de-stoned and scattered with spice in the oven for 20 minutes at 180c) or stewed plums, which make a kind of compote (again halved and de-stoned, mixed with a little spice and left to stew on the hob for 10-15 minutes until jam-like). Go for whichever method suits you time and taste.

  • 120g rolled oats

  • 400ml milk of your choice

  • ½ tsp salt

  • 1 tbsp honey or brown sugar

  • 1 tsp almond essence

To serve:

  • 2-3 plums (roasted or stewed with cinnamon, honey, ginger and star anise)

  • handful flaked almonds

  • extra honey, if desired

  1. Put the oats in a saucepan and cover with water. Leave to soak for 30 minutes.

  2. Add the milk, salt, honey or sugar and almond essence, stir together and put over a medium heat.

  3. Stir often until the porridge is silky and then divide between two bowls.

  4. Top the porridge with the roasted or stewed plums, a scattering of flaked almonds and a drizzle of extra honey, if you like.

the many faces of apple pie porridge

Apple Pie Porridge, serves 2

I feel very fondly toward this recipe as it’s the only one out of the three I put conscious effort into developing (the other two fell together as a result of a few delicious experiments). I wanted to capture the flavours of autumn in a porridge, and it just so happened that these flavours also belonged to one of my favourite childhood desserts: apple pie.

  • 120g rolled oats

  • 400ml milk of your choice

  • 2 apples, grated, chopped or stewed

  • ½ tsp salt

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1 tsp ground ginger

  • 1 tbsp maple syrup, plus extra to serve

To serve:

  • 1 apple, thinly sliced or julienned

  • handful walnuts, chopped or crushed in your hand

  • handful sultanas

  • 2 tsp almond butter

  1. Put the oats in a saucepan and cover with water. Leave to soak for 30 minutes.

  2. Add the milk, apples, salt, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger and maple syrup, stir together and put over a medium heat.

  3. Stir often until the porridge is silky and then divide between two bowls.

  4. Top the porridge with your sliced apples, walnuts, sultanas and a teaspoon of almond butter each.

bayandberryporridge

Bay and Berry Porridge, serves 2

This recipe is excellent for winter when you have a stash of frozen summer berries on hand. It’s the simplest porridge of the trio and I like to serve solely with the berry compote and a sprinkling of brown sugar. You could add nuts, seeds, additional fruit or a nut butter if you liked, but I like the unfussy simplicity.

  • 120g rolled oats

  • 400ml milk of your choice

  • ½ tsp salt

  • 1 tbsp brown sugar, honey or maple syrup

For the Bay and Berry Compote:

  • handful frozen berries

  • 1 bay leaf

  • ½ lemon, juice

  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

To serve:

  • 1 tsp brown sugar, optional

  1. Put the oats in a saucepan and cover with water. Leave to soak for 30 minutes.

  2. In a separate saucepan, gently heat the frozen berries with the bay leaf, lemon juice and maple syrup. Stir occasionally until the berries are soft and warmed through then set aside.

  3. Add the milk, salt and sugar, honey or maple syrup to the soaked oats, stir together and put over a medium heat.

  4. Stir often until the porridge is silky and then divide between two bowls.

  5. Top the porridge with your Berry and Bay Compote and sprinkle over a teaspoon of brown sugar, if you like.