Autumn has arrived in England – we know this because it’s suddenly sunny and warm outside, unlike in Summer, when it was rainy and miserable for most of the time. Autumn means shorter days, giant spider webs, yellowing leaves and, for me at last, a change in my daily breakfast routine.
Whereas in the summer I like all sorts of flakes or crunchy cereals, with the colder weather I crave a more comforting fare, such as this traditional Bircher Müesli. It differs from porrige, (which I like in Winter) in that the oats are not boiled, but instead soaked overnight in fruit juice. Maximilian Oskar Bircher Brenner, the Swiss doctor who is generally credited not only with making this dish popular, but also with starting the entire wholefoods movement in the early 20th Century, came across the dish when hiking in the Swiss alps. He was desperate to get his patients to consume more raw apples, which he believed to be the superfood of all superfoods. He knew he had found the solution when he was served the mash of oats, grated apples and chopped hazelnuts in a small hut in the mountains.
Over the years Bircher Brenner’s dinner has become a successful breakfast dish: the condensed milk he favoured has since been replaced with milk, yoghurt or even cream, and it’s really up to you what fruit you want to use, or whether or not to sweeten it. Honey is quite common, but I could imagine maple syrup, too. I don’t use either as I don’t really like anything too sweet in the morning.
The word ‘Müesli’, by the way, is the Swiss diminutive for mash, ‘Mus’. In Swiss German you can make anything smaller by adding ‘li’, and by adding the ¨ or ‘Umlaut’ to the previous vowel. Thus a man, ‘Maa’, becomes a ‘Männli’ and a mouse, ‘Muus’ a ‘Müsli’. The latter illustrates why it is quite important you spell your ‘Müesli’ with both an ü and an e, especially when you’re talking to Swiss people; last thing you’d want them to think is that you’re serving them small mice!
Bircher Müesli (serves 2)
- 1/2 cup porridge oats
- 1/2 cup apple juice, orange juice or even Bircher Brenner’s lemon juice
- 2 apples, grated
- 2 tbs chopped hazelnuts, almonds or other nuts
- raisins or other dried fruit, to taste
- fresh fruit, such as bananas, berries, grapes etc, to taste
- 5 tbs natural or Greek yoghurt
- some milk, to taste
Ideally you should soak the oats overnight in the juice, especially when using the larger, coarser oats. Most ‘normal’ oats can be soaked for half an hour in the morning as they are smaller and finer.
I hope you enjoy this healthy breakfast treat! I brought it along to this week’s Fiesta Friday – as I am already more than fashionably late I hope Angie and her co-hosts, Kaila @ GF Life 24/7 and Jenny @ Dragonfly Home Recipes, won’t mind me bringing the morning-after dish …