Before the brambles completely go, I thought I would slip this under the seasonal food wire. No sweet breakfast in autumn can be truly complete without something darkly juicy mixed in. And freshly foraged brambles (small wild blackberries) fit the bill nicely.
Right now I am in the Lake District of England, reviewing a cottage for cottages.com, and mostly we are driving and walking to places with great food and even better views.
On many of our walks, vines filled with tiny jewel-like brambles reach out with thorny paws begging to be picked. So I know they are still around. But if not, frozen berries of any hue will do. I have also added frozen sour cherries to amp the flavour and nutrition credentials, so feel free to do similarly.Classic Bircher muesli is the creation of Swiss doctor Maximillian Bircher-Benner, consisting of just a little soaked rolled oats, quite a lot of finely chopped homegrown apples, some lemon juice, and unctuous, thick, unpasteurised yellow cream. This late-19th century healing concoction fell out of favour when mass-produced cereals came along. But as anyone on Instagram knows, Bircher muesli is now the early morning choice of millions of healthy types – when they are not eating avocado toast.
Although this simple mix is absolutely fine as is, with homemade granola replacing at least some of the oats, this comforting and filling breakfast bowl may, to some, be even better. No need to add that sneaky blob of honey (you know you do it) as the sweetness is built right in. And it might be an easier way to convince children to try a healthier breakfast.
Although it tastes almost of dessert (Scottish cranachan to be precise), the ingredients are emphatically breakfast. The quickly made compote adds a sucker-punch of sour, while the yogurt adds a little of the creaminess perhaps missing from using granola. It is pretty balanced in taste and texture, I think.
After five days of eating for Britain around the Lake District, I really should clean up my act by mixing up a bowl of this Bircher Granola. However, tofu, soba noodles and the freshest sushi in the world beckon. Follow my food adventures in Tokyo and Kyoto on Instagram. As I am there for work I possibly won’t be posting about my trip. But you can bet I will be eating. Oh yes. And not an oat in sight.
Do you eat Bircher muesli? Are you a traditionalist with it, or do you- like me – play with your food?
Bircher-style Granola with Berry-Cherry Compote
Make your homemade granola into a stunning autumn Bircher-style breakfast, adding homemade berry compote for extra colour, nutrients and tangy flavour. You will have enough berry compote for several bowls of soaked granola, or to swirl into yogurt.
1 tbsp rolled oats
25-30g homemade granola or lower-sugar granola (preferably with no dried fruit)
70ml almond milk (or whatever milk you like)
Compote (makes one jar)
100g fresh or frozen (sour) cherries, pitted
200g fresh or frozen brambles, blackberries or blackcurrants
5-6 drops of pure organic stevia or about 1 tbsp maple syrup (sweeten to taste really)
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp coconut, soy or other yogurt
1/2 dessert apple
1 tbsp hemp seeds or other seeds
1. Mix the oats, granola and milk; leave covered for half an hour, or up to 8 hours.
2. Pop the cherries, berries, sweetener and water into a saucepan and slowly bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer very gently until everything breaks down and melds together. Mash lightly with a spoon or potato masher. Scrape into a clean, lidded jar. If you wish to keep this for longer than a week, be sure to sterilise the jar. But as it is low in sugar it will not last as long as something like jam.
3. When you wish to eat, finely chop the apple and mix into the soaked oats and granola, along with the yogurt. Top with a good dollop of the compote and sprinkle over the hemp seeds.
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