Apple Pie Porridge

Saturday, 24 September 2016


I start to smell Autumn before I start to feel it. I long for the turn of the season since mid August, wishing away the warm weather in favour of cooler, crisper mornings and darker, cosier evenings.

I find it quite frustrating if, on the 1st of September, the pavements aren't scattered with dry, orange leaves and the weather isn't that irresistible combination of blindingly bright and lung-stingingly crisp. Come September 1st, I was frustrated with the Indian Summer that had lingered on. No sign of Autumn yet. Thankfully I had one sense I could rely on to bring me Autumn, no matter how much the sun shone.

I start to smell Autumn before I start to feel it. 

If I catch a lungful of woodsmoke on my way home from work, or am engulfed by the sweet scent of cinnamon lattes as I walk past a coffee shop, my mind, no matter the weather, starts to dream about thick socks and wood-burners and conkers and stew. It starts to plan winter hibernation, fantasise about making pots of pickle and jam and even think about Christmas presents. And that's it - Autumn has arrived for me. The weather follows, eventually, but I've already got the feeling. All thanks to inhaling great lungfuls of any of the the following: 

Woodsmoke 
Stewing apples scrumped from a hedgerow
Cinnamon (in any form, latte, Yankee candle, snapped sticks) 
Roasting squash
Early morning chill (I know this isn't technically a smell, but is there anything sweeter than crisp air sharp in the lungs on an early September morning?)

I try to inhale all of these scents in like liquid, like a soup or tea that's able to nourish my soul thoroughly dried out by summertime. 

In part, this porridge is a tribute to those deliciously autumnal scents, bringing them alive over breakfast, but it's also about something more than that (and you thought you were just here to get a new breakfast recipe). The reason it had to be a porridge recipe, rather than say a pie or a coffee, was largely thanks to my recent discovery of hygge. 

Hygge (pronounced 'hue-gah') is a quality of presence and an experience of togetherness. It is a feeling of being warm, safe, comforted and sheltered. (source). 

Really, discovery is the wrong word as I've been enjoying hygge without realising it for years. But I've found that this porridge can be a mindful and deliberate pursuit of hygge in cooking. The combination of the slow stirring of oats, seasonal apple pie flavours and reviving over a bowl on a chilly morning spent in soft pyjamas and thick socks embodies comfort and cosiness. 

I have 26 Grains to thank for the official introduction to hygge and for the inspiration to explore the potential of porridge. If you're at all interested in cooking with grains or are in pursuit of a book to help you slowly, peacefully stir your way to comfort food you should take a look at this book. 

I also have soaked the oats for 30 minutes in this recipe, inspired by a 26 Grains method. I've since tried recipes with soaked and un-soaked oats and I can't describe how valuable that 30 minutes, if patience or foresight allows, is. Soaked oats are unimaginably creamy, soft and almost luxurious. After soaking, it's as if they're almost coaxed lovingly and gently together in the cooking to form a smooth and silky porridge. I'm a convert, can you tell? 

I feel it's time to go onwards with the recipe. But know that I truly love this one. It really does nourish the body and the soul so completely (and is damn delicious, too).

For Apple Pie Porridge (serves 2):

2 bramley apples, peeled and chopped (or approx 200g apple compote)
100g rolled oats
500ml milk
2 tsp cinnamon, plus extra for serving
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla essence
2-3 tbsp maple syrup, plus extra for serving

To serve:

handful of walnuts, chopped
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
1 braburn apple, thinly sliced

Instructions:

  1. Start by making your apple compote. Place the bramley apples into a saucepan with a splash of water and cook on a medium heat until soft but still holding their shape. Set to one side (this can be done in advance and either stored in the fridge or freezer). 
  2. Meanwhile soak the oats by just covering them with water and setting aside for 30 minutes.
  3. When ready to start cooking the porridge, combine the soaked oats, apple compote, milk, cinnamon, ginger and sea salt together in a saucepan. Stir together over a medium heat until well combined.
  4. When the porridge comes together to a silky consistency (this will take about 10 minutes on a medium heat) remove from the heat and add the vanilla essence and maple syrup to your taste and stir together.
  5. Portion into two bowls and layer on the apples and sprinkle over the walnuts, coconut and finish with an extra swirl of maple syrup and pinch of cinnamon. 
  6. Cosy up with a blanket and tuck in. 

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