First published October 2015

The addition of barley and rye flakes offers a deliciously nutty texture and fits with the typical diet of the time. Buttermilk gives a creamy texture with a sharp aftertaste that balances wonderfully with the natural sweetness of the topping. In addition to honey I have finished the porridge with the nuts likely to be available to our Viking ancestors foraging around 9th century York. Dates and figs also work extremely well; as does a sprinkle of cinnamon, ground ginger or cardamom.

Barley, rye and oats each contain their own set of micronutrients along with heart healthy beta-glucen; making this a healthy and filling breakfast alternative for the winter months. The addition of native elderberries adds a boost of vitamin C and a dash of black blue colour. If you can’t find wild elder in your local hedgerow there is still time to replace them with the last of the picked over blackberries.

Ingredients

Serves 4

For the porridge

  • 1 cooking apple
  • Small handful of elderberries
  • 2 cups of barley flakes/rye flakes/oat flakes combined
  • 3 cups of water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 tablespoons of buttermilk

The topping

  • Combination of hazelnuts and walnuts
  • Honey

Peel and chop the apple. Rinse the elderberries to remove dirt and insects before pulling from the stalks with a fork. Any excess berries can then be frozen until required. Place the fruit and a drizzle of water in a small pan. Cook until the apple is soft but still whole and the elderberries have broken down.

Roughly chop the nuts and toast carefully in a dry, non-stick frying pan. Place on the table alongside a pot of honey and extra buttermilk.

Choose a pan with plenty of room. Combine your mixed grains and water before bringing to the boil.. Stir well, reduce the heat and simmer gently until cooked through. Stir regularly to create a thick, creamy texture. If the porridge is too solid for your liking add more water. Season with a pinch of salt.

Remove your porridge from the heat. First stir in the buttermilk and then the cooked fruit. Return to a gentle heat to ensure your porridge is piping hot. I like taking the steaming hot pan to the table so that guests can take ladlefuls of porridge before adding their own nuts and honey.

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