Today I’m writing about how to make the best dairy free porridge, topped with delicious spiced apples and pears and drizzled with a sweetener of your choice, or none at all, which makes this a no added sugar recipe. It’s the perfect bowl of hot wholesome goodness for your morning’s chow during this cold snap.
It’s cold. Really cold. Every morning I sit patiently in my car and watch the heating create a lozenge shaped vignette through the thick frost on the windscreen. Bernard patiently sits in the back seat, waiting for that moment when he can sprint across Wanstead Flats, unburdened by his leash and the noisy confinement of pavement walks.
The temperature has been regularly below 0ºC and consistently around -4ºC when I get to the flats. Some will laugh at this, for instance I have relatives who live in Calgary, Canada, where it regularly hits -20ºC. Now that’s cold. However, I was basking in mid thirty degree heat two weeks ago, so you’ll have to excuse me, but coming back to a wintery England is a bit of a shock.
It’s a Beautiful Day.
However, there is also sheer joy in this cold weather. Last Saturday morning I cycled to the Courtauld Gallery to see the Rodin and Dance exhibition before it closed. If you’ve never been to the Courtauld Gallery then you should go, it houses a remarkable collection of famous artworks, from some of the world’s most distinguished artists, in a beautiful location. That morning, it was very cold, frosty and icy, with a bitter snap in the air that left my nose, fingers and toes numb. The sky was clear blue and the sun shone brightly, casting a subtle warmth across my body at each opportunity it had to peak out from behind a building. It was actually a glorious, beautiful day. This is when there’s joy in the cold weather.
I Can Afford Cold Weather.
The late American comedian Bill Hicks talked about his love of British weather when he performed in the UK. He said that great weather isn’t about being hot every single day, unless you’re a reptile. We have access to warm coats, hot drinks, nourishing food and the childish joy of seeing my breath billow through the air as I huff in the frozen morning sunlight. UK weather is constantly changing and that’s why we talk about it, because we have lots of it, which changes day to day, or even hour to hour.
…hot and sunny, every single day, hot and sunny. And they love it. “Isn’t great, every day, hot and sunny?” What are you, a fucking lizard? Only reptiles feel that way about this kind of weather. I’m a mammal, I can afford coats, scarves, cappuccino and rosy cheeked women.Bill Hicks
He’s right. Because on that cold, cold Saturday, I got off my bike, ran into a coffee shop and grabbed a quick, hot coffee (I’ve been drinking coffee intermittently again. I couldn’t resist it’s dark, shadowy charms. I’m simply trying to avoid becoming dependant on it to start the day, as I was previously. We’ll see how that plays out). ANYWAY. I ran into a coffee shop and felt my soul melt into the comfort afforded by a hot coffee. It’s like the yin and the yang, the lightness and the dark, you have to experience pain before you can fully understand pleasure. How can you truly appreciate a hot drink, unless you’ve got frozen fingers and a nose that Rudolph would be proud of? After quaffing my steaming beverage, I popped next door to buy a USB lead and was told I looked like Mick Jagger “or some kind of rock star” by the sales assistant, which frankly, made my day.
The Most Important Meal of the Day.
Back to food. Hot food on cold days. I am an unashamed porridge fetishist. I adore porridge. I’ve been eating it for about six years on a daily basis, with only a few periods of infraction during this regime. Sunday mornings are given over to granola (with tropical fruit and greek yoghurt) and I will have a speedy muesli if time is at a premium, or the weather is ridiculously hot (rare, I know). Today’s recipe is delving into the wholesome, nourishing world of porridge; dairy free porridge in particular.
A few months ago I spoke of my admission that I am lactose intolerant. It’s taken me quite some time coming to terms with this, I still find myself eyeing up ice cream sundaes with reckless abandon, showing little concern to the wellbeing of my stomach. At the beginning of my porridge habituation, I realised that cow milk wasn’t going to cut the mustard for my digestive system, because I’ve simply never enjoyed consuming any quantity of it. Hence I explored the options available, to find the best dairy free porridge recipe.
Over these years I’ve made porridge using all of these milks:
Some of the plant based milks stuck to the pan like a revolutionary adhesive that 3M would be proud of. Any of the animal derived milks were too rich for me or too lactose-y. One of these milks stood out as having an incredibly complementary flavour and wasn’t too rich, nor did it adhere to the pan. Guess which one?
The Best Dairy Free Milk Is…
Oat milk. It’s obvious really, it makes a fine bowl of porridge. I previosuly swore not to degrade myself by resorting to clickbaitish titles claiming things are ‘the best’, ‘will change your life’ etc. However, in this instance, I genuinely have tested every option and I’ve found what I believe to be the best recipe for porridge. I’m saying it’s the best because I utterly believe it. This is no snap decision or time pressured test, these have all been trialled over many years, there’s been plenty of time to reflect.
…Plus the Best Porridge Topping.
Today I’m also giving you one of my favourite toppings. It’s simple to make, especially if you eschew things like peeling the apples, plus it’s got no added sugar, unless you want to add some. I often make a pan full of this on a Sunday night, to be kept in the fridge so it’s ready to spoon out a portion into my bowl every weekday morning. It’s a mixture of apples and pears, cooked down with warming, comforting spices whose flavour alone shine a gentle winter warmth on parts of your body which the sun can’t reach. It’s so lovely that when I had a pan full of it left over from making it for this blog, at breakfast each day I found myself savouring each mouthful and spending twice as long eating my breakfast. I was gently enjoying that warming bowl of goodness spoon by spoon, post-frozen-dog-walk, for every precious moment it could offer. It was bliss.
The Best Spiced Apple and Pear Dairy Free Porridge
By Gavin Wren
Uses 2 saucepans
160g jumbo rolled oats
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
400ml oat milk
Apples and Pears
2 apples, cored, quartered then chopped (leave the skin on, I don’t have time for peeling as well)
2 pears, cored, quartered then chopped (skin on)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
0.25 teaspoon ground cloves
0.5 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons water
A small handful of pecan nuts
Optional: Maple syrup or another sweetener of your choice
Place all of the ingredients in a saucepan, covered. Bring to a gentle simmer, turn the temperature down to low and leave to cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The fruit should have softened to the point it breaks up when you stir it. Leave to cool.
The best, thickest, creamiest porridge is created if put all the ingredients in the saucepan, cover it and leave them overnight to soak until the morning. It also makes your morning routine quicker, as you don’t have to measure anything out.
Place over a high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and gently simmer, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.
Pour the porridge into bowls, then top with the apple and pear mix, a few pecans and then drizzle with syrup if you wish!