Porridge morning

Nigel Slater has just the answer to warm us up on a cold blustery winter’s morning.

It is early, the sky is the colour of lead and the birds are still asleep. I have been woken by the wind from the storm something-or-other thundering down the chimney in the bedroom. It is what I call a porridge morning. A cold Sunday morning in winter can only ever mean porridge. Fancy porridge, with butter and stewed fruits, with seeds and a thick slice of butter, its edges melting on the surface.

Apples — "cookers" stewed to a fluff — introduce a pleasingly tart edge to your oatmeal, but a quicker, almost instant, alternative are the blackberries and blueberries you can tip into a pan, add a splash of lemon and then in seconds spoon them steaming over your porridge. I keep currants, damsons and gooseberries in the freezer specially for this purpose. Without a stirring of bright fruit, warm oats can be too soporific, eaten with the risk of being sent back to sleep.

Rising early also gives me the chance to bake. A simple loaf or a batch of buns, the most foolproof of doughs enriched with egg and milk and a little sugar, to be baked, torn open and stuffed with jam and whipped cream. Treats such as this are a reward for a morning’s gardening, an afternoon pick-me-up between raking fallen leaves from the paths and repotting some of the winter herbs. The buns are good split and toasted, too, perhaps with ricotta and marmalade or crushed raspberries and clotted cream. — Guardian News & Media

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Oat porridge with blueberries, honey and butter

Serves 2

Ingredients

100g rolled oats

250ml water

250ml oat milk

sea salt

For the compote:

200g blueberries

2 tbsp honey

1 lemon

4 tbsp rolled oats

1 tbsp sunflower seeds

1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

30g butter

Method:

Put the rolled oats into a medium-sized mixing bowl, pour over the water and leave them to soak for 30 minutes. During this time they will soften and your porridge will be creamier.

Make the compote: put the blueberries in a medium-sized pan (you will use it later for the porridge), add the honey and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and let the berries cook for 3 or 4 minutes until their skins burst, then squeeze in a few drops of lemon juice. Set aside.

Prepare the topping: in a shallow pan toast the rolled oats for 5 minutes or so over a moderate heat, moving them round the pan so they brown evenly.

Remove them from the heat when they are the colour of toast and smell of flapjacks. Stir in the sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Tip the oats and their water, the oat milk and a generous pinch of sea salt into a medium-sized pan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and let them simmer for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring almost continuously, until they are thick and creamy.

Once cooked, beat the porridge firmly with a wooden spoon — this will give you a creamier texture.

Pour the porridge into bowls, spoon the compote over the surface (it will sink into the porridge as you eat), then scatter the toasted oats and seeds. Place a slice of butter on to each and let it melt.

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Sweet buns with cream and jam

Sweet bun doughs, especially those enriched with both milk and eggs, rise less dramatically than a plain flour, yeast and water dough. I like to make 12 small, elegant buns from the recipe below, but you could make 9 larger ones if you wish.

Makes 9 large buns

Ingredients

500g strong, white plain flour

7g dried yeast

1 tsp salt

45g caster sugar

200ml full-fat milk

2 eggs

50g butter, at room temperature

A little beaten egg and milk to glaze

1 Tbsp poppy seeds

To serve:

Jam and lightly whipped cream

Method:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, stir together the flour, yeast, salt and sugar.

Pour the milk into a small saucepan and warm over a moderate heat. It shouldn’t get hot, just warm. Add the milk, lightly beaten eggs and the butter to the flour, then mix together using the paddle beater. You can do this by hand, too, squishing everything together.

On a lightly floured board, or with the dough hook of an electric mixer, knead the dough until it is smooth and somewhat sticky. (About 5 minutes with a mixer, 10 minutes by hand.) This will take longer than with an unenriched bread dough, but don’t be too rough with it. When you have a smooth dough, cover with a tea-towel and place somewhere warm for a good hour to rise. Your dough should almost double in size.

Remove the dough from the bowl and tear or cut into 9 equal pieces. Roll each one into a ball, then pack loosely into a 24cm round roasting tin or baking dish. They will be just touching one another. Cover with a tea cloth and leave in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180degC. Brush the buns lightly with the beaten egg and milk, then sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake for 20-25 minutes until puffed and golden. Remove from the oven. Leave to settle for 5 minutes, then turn out on to a cooling rack. When they are cool, stuff them with jam and whipped cream.