Oats so simple


Just because I can I like to have something different for breakfast every morning of the week. And it’s got to be homemade.

So as I often bake my own bread and always make my own jams and marmalades that takes care of a couple of days. Bacon sandwich? It’s no problem turning a kilo of pork belly into bacon. It’s easy-peasy. And I’ve plenty of homemade brown sauce and Sheffield (Better Than Hendo’s) Relish.

But my secret weapon is oats. This grain is at the heart of three different breakfasts and with oats at £2 a kilo at Down To Earth on Sharrowvale Road I’d be daft not to. There’s porridge for a start but for a change try soaking the oats in water overnight. You get a softer result, a bit like congee (rice porridge) and need to use less milk.

Whizz some of those oats up in a blender and you’ve got oat flour, ideal to use in breads or to make Derbyshire oatcakes which always go down well, either with a fry-up or griddled, spread with butter and jam and rolled up and eaten like a pancake.

Bake ‘em and you’ve got granola. You can’t miss it any farmers’ market, where there are umpteen stalls selling it. Now it’s obviously better than the shop-bought stuff but why would anyone want to buy it when you can make it so easily for yourself?

There are recipes galore. Mine is from the Daily Telegraph of a few years back which works well although I doubt if the writer had ever tried it because she puts dried fruit in from the start. Anyone who has made granola knows the fruit bakes hard and horrible. Add it afterwards if you want although I prefer to use whatever fresh fruit is going that morning.

I stick more or less to this recipe but it is so adjustable: four tablespoons each of butter, brown sugar and honey are melted gently in a pan, to which you add 9oz (250g) of porridge oats and about 4oz (110g) of nuts and seeds. It’s best to crush them first. Last time I made this I used peanuts, walnuts, flaked almonds and roast hazelnuts, some sunflower seeds and dried and roasted butternut squash seeds I save in a jar.

Sprinkle in a little salt if you’re not worried about the sodium police, some cinnamon, mixed spice or nutmeg. Once I absentmindedly added ground pepper and was pleasantly surprised at the taste.

Make sure it is all mixed together then scrape into a baking tray and cook in a medium (160C) oven for about 15 minutes until brown but not too much. Stir up the oats halfway through to ensure even browning. Don’t be worried if it’s not crisp when removed from the oven. It will be when it cools.

There is one extra ingredient you might want to add and it really does make the world of difference: an ounce or two of desiccated coconut. Stick it in a posh jar and it will look good as well as taste good.

Now what’s for breakfast tomorrow?

Granola baking in the pan

Granola baking in the pan