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How do you make the perfect porridge? And what’s the ultimate topping?

PUBLISHED: 17:02 09 October 2018

Stewed seasonal fruit is the ultimate partner to a bowl of porridge  Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Stewed seasonal fruit is the ultimate partner to a bowl of porridge Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto


Charlotte Smith-Jarvis shares her tips for the ultimate cold-weather breakfast.

World Porridge Day falls on October 10. There’s no way I’d have eaten it as a child. Come on, if you’ve got the choice between a bowl of Coco Pops and a bowl of (what looked like at the time) sloppy gruel, what are you going to go for?

As an adult I’ve grown to appreciate the simple pleasure and hygge-like ritual of preparing a bowl of steaming hot oats and I’ve learned they’re not all that bad – and with the right topping can be exceedingly good.

If you’re cooking for four, you’re going to need around 50g of good porridge oats. For one person (I often make them for myself) a heaped tablespoon is more than enough.

Start by adding your oats to a small to medium pan without any liquid. Sprinkle over a touch of sea salt and toast them in the pan until you can smell that nutty aroma wafting your way.

For 50g of oats you’ll need to add about 350ml of liquid. Many purists insist on just water, but you can use milk, or half of each, or even an alternative milk. Despite my son’s best efforts to get me to pour in Nesquik or chocolate milk, I’ve not experimented yet.

Bring the mix to the boil then turn down to a slow, bubbling simmer and stir until satisfyingly creamy. Look out the window. Do a crossword. Read a few pages of that book on the side. The act of making porridge should be a heart-hugging pleasure – never a chore.

Once you have the consistency you like, it’s time for the fun bit – adding flavour. Here are some of my favourite toppings/fillings.

1.Secret treasure: A much-loved ‘top secret’ breakfast of my son and I’s. We pop a couple of squares of dark chocolate in the bottom of the bowl and drizzle the top with golden syrup (and I convince myself it’s healthy because of the oats).

2.Apple crumble: Stew cooking apples with a touch of brown sugar to taste, a dab of lemon juice to stop it browning, and a little cinnamon and nutmeg. Add 1tsp vanilla extract to your porridge and serve with the stewed apples over the top. Finish with a crumbled oaty biscuit or digestive.

3.Totally tropical: Make your porridge with half coconut milk, half sweetened condensed milk. Pop a spoonful of lime marmalade underneath and top with charred mango and pineapple that have been sprinkled with sugar and glazed until bubbling under the grill. Yum.

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