The snap of cold that comes at the start of the year is perfect porridge weather. I’ve never understood those who eat it like clockwork, regardless of the temperature. I love the warmth of it on a cold day, a bowl in my hands like a morning hot-water bottle, the quick but nourishing time spent stirring at the stove a welcome interruption to the busy rush of the morning and a few minutes to let my mind wander at the start of the day.
This porridge is a bit different in that it is baked so the edges crisp and the starry apple slice on top soften and burnish. I top it with a maple cream so good it’s hard not to spoon it all straight from the dish before the porridge is ready. It takes a little longer to make than a regular porridge – it’s a weekend one.
I make it to feed a crowd, or on a Sunday with intentional leftovers so that I know we have a good breakfast in the fridge to start the week. This keeps well in the fridge for a few days and any extra can be reheated with a little extra milk in a small pan. I make a big batch of spice mix, which I keep in a jar and add to my stovetop porridge through the week too, hence this making more than you’ll need for the baked porridge, but if you prefer you could add a pinch of each spice to the recipe rather than making a large batch.
FOR THE SPICE MIX
2 tablespoons ground cardamom
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
coconut oil or butter
3 large apples
1 unwaxed lemon
200g rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 tea spoon fine sea salt
100g nuts, toasted and chopped (I use pecans and hazelnuts)
750ml almond milk
125ml pure maple syrup, plus extra for drizzling
FOR THE MAPLE CREAM
2 tablespoons nut butter (I use cashew)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons almond milk
a tiny pinch fine sea salt
a drop of vanilla extract or paste
Make the spice mix first by stirring the spices together in a small jar, then set aside.
Preheat the oven to 210°C/190°C fan/gas 6. Grease a deep ovenproof dish, about 20 x 20cm with coconut oil.
Grate two of the apples. Turn the last apple on to its side and slice it very thinly, so that you get a lovely star pattern. Grate the zest from half the lemon to use later, then cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice from one half over the sliced apple to stop it browning.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, baking powder, salt, 1 teaspoon of the spice mix, the grated apple and most of the chopped nuts (saving a small handful for the topping). Stir to combine. In a jug or separate bowl, mix the milk with the maple syrup, the juice of the remaining half lemon and the reserved zest.
Tip the oat and apple mixture into the greased dish, pour over the milk and maple syrup mixture, arrange the sliced apples on top and drizzle over a little maple syrup. Dot the top of the oats with little pieces of coconut oil or butter. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top of the porridge is golden brown and all the liquid has been absorbed.
While the porridge bakes, make the maple cream. In a medium bowl, whisk together the nut butter, maple syrup, milk, salt and vanilla. You are looking for something totally smooth and pourable. If the mixture seems too thick, add a little more milk.
Serve the baked porridge hot, spooned into bowls with the maple cream for pouring over.
Recipe taken from The Modern Cook’s Year by Anna Jones.
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