Fig and plum porridge

by sophie on December 2, 2007 · 28 comments

Post image for Fig and plum porridge

Everybody has their favourite way of making porridge. Purists will tell you that porridge has to be cooked long and slow to develop the correct consistency, stirred with the attention usually only reserved for a good risotto. There’s no way I’m standing around doing that first thing in the morning, so to the microwave it is. Mind you, there is a way get some of that traditional creaminess into a microwave porridge and that trick is to soak the oats in the milk before you cook it.

Here’s how it works in our house: fall out of bed, stumble down stairs, pour oats and milk into a bowl while making obligatory cup of tea, put bowl into microwave out of way of the cats, go back upstairs and get washed and dressed, come back down, cook porridge, eat. If you are feeling crazily organised you can do the soaking stage the night before and leave the porridge mixture soaking in the fridge where it will become even creamier (I have even been known to eat this mixture cold without cooking it, on the train. Funny looks? Yes!).

Porridge is just made for experimentation and this fig and plum porridge is a joy (think christmas morning, every day). Dried figs are an excellent partner to porridge, keeping their texture better than most dried fruits because of all of those little tiny seeds (did you know that they also contain a surprisingly large amount of calcium and iron?). Allspice is this year’s winter spice of choice for me, having the requisite warm, mulled wine fragrance but with a bit more punch than cinnamon. And nutritionally there are pretty much only good things to say about oats; if you would like to read more about these good things I highly recommend Canadian Dietitian Leslie Beck’s Featured Food article on oats. Scratching around, the only thought close to a criticism I have ever managed to come up with is that oats are a little lower in insoluble fibre (the roughage sort) than some other cereals. The addition of fresh and dried fruit boosts this and I also throw in a teaspoon of flaxseeds at the soaking stage (these are also called golden flaxseed, flax and linseed). The finishing touch to the porridge is a decadent sprinkling of dark muscovado sugar crystals that melt into the top in an irrestibly fudgy way.

Because porridge itself is so easy to prepare this is a good opportunity to get in a portion of fruit or veg (yes, porridge and veg, all will become clear in just a moment!). These are some of my other favourite porridge combinations (complete with silly names):

  • The bircher – Grated apple, chopped dates, cinnamon and honey
  • The gentle start – Grated pear and honey, cooked with three cracked cardomom pods
  • The store cupboard – Dried cherries, chopped mixed nuts and flaxseed
  • The carrot cake – grated carrot, sultanas and a pinch of ground ginger topped with maple syrup (put the carrot in at the start of the cooking)

The next step in my quest for speedy porridge making perfection will be to try out cooking porridge overnight in a thermos so that it is ready to grab and go. I’m just searching for my perfect thermos, preferably one that is light and wide rimmed for eating porridge and stew type dishes, if any of you would like to offer a recommendation? Thanks to Cassie at Veggie Meal Plans for pointing me towards the thermos tip. If you have any pureed squash left over from the Butternut squash, oat and ginger cake bites check out her take on the thermos porridge recipe; Overnight Oats with Pumpkin, Raisins and Walnuts.

This recipe is for Weekend Herb Blogging, staying at home this week in Kalyn’s Kitchen, Utah, where it is seriously cold porridge-eating weather.

Recipe for Fig and plum porridge

For one
Rolled oats are easy to get hold of and cook quickly. If you are making the porridge on the hob in the slow, traditional way then try pinhead oatmeal, the Rolls Royce of porridge oats. Any milk of your choice is fine (I use organic semi-skimmed cows milk)

3 Tbsp rolled oats
1 tsp flax seeds
end of tsp of allspice powder
1 Tbsp dried figs
1 fresh plum
Half a cup of milk

Soak the oats, flax and allspice in the milk for between twenty minutes and overnight.

Cook the mixture in the microwave for two minutes.

Remove from the microwave and stir. Use a small, sharp knife to cut the plum in half and then slice chunks of plum directly into the porridge.

Cook the porridge and plum for another thirty seconds (or longer, depending on your microwave)

Stir in the dried figs. Add a splash of cold milk if the porridge needs cooling or loosening up. Sprinkle with the sugar and serve immediately.


Kalyn December 2, 2007 at 14:33

I love all your great ideas for porridge (this type of cereal is called “oatmeal” in the U.S. and it’s one of my favorites.) The carrot cake one is especially inventive. I will look forward to seeing how the thermos idea will work. I do know people who cook this overnight in a crock pot (electric slow cooker) although I haven’t tried it.

Julie O'Hara December 2, 2007 at 17:15

I eat oatmeal nearly every morning (when I’m not eating a homemade scone like today). I think we’re kindred spirits. My current favorite combo is chopped toasted walnuts and a big dollop of pumpkin puree. I work at home, so I get to cook mine on the stove every morning. I will try some of your recipe suggestions–they’re so creative!

Wendy December 2, 2007 at 17:25

I’ve been meaning to blog about porridge for a couple of months now. Will maybe keep it until next year now. Love your idea of using figs.
My favourite is with honey and sunflower seeds. Reminds me of summer on dark mornings. :)

Christina December 2, 2007 at 17:30

Hmmm … my oats + water and two minutes in the micro seems pretty sad right now. I’ll try this tomorrow morning.

kathryn December 2, 2007 at 21:16

Excellent porridge suggestions Sophie. I love porridge in winter. But I’ve never tried it with carrots in – am very intrigued by that.
My standard is banana, sultanas, mixed spice and a drizzle of maple syrup. After reading your beautiful suggestions though, I think I’m in a porridge rut. Will have to start experimenting some more.

Lucy December 2, 2007 at 22:05

Lots of fantastic porridge ideas here Sophie.
I don’t use allspice nearly enough – but it does pack a more fragrant punch.

Laurie Constantino December 3, 2007 at 05:16

This is such a healthy way to start the day, especially with the flax seeds. But what I liked the best was the description of your morning routing — I could just imagine you stumbling around the house. Great post!

Susan from Food Blogga December 3, 2007 at 12:25

Hi Sophie,
What a warm, wholesome recipe. I have a bag of dried figs in my cupboard right now that would be perfect for your porridge. You have a lovely blog–so glad I found you at WHB.

Cassie December 3, 2007 at 13:51

What a beautiful bowl of porridge, Sophie! Fig, plums and allspice…. yum! Thanks for the great suggestions, too. I like (raw) carrot muesli but never tried cooking carrots with my oats. Guess what I’ll be making for breakfast this morning. :)
Have a great week!

Kevin December 4, 2007 at 03:44

The fig and plum porridge sounds good. I will have to try soaking the oats in milk before cooking them the next time.

johanna December 4, 2007 at 19:19

i now make mine in my thermomix which cooks it slowly to perfection in just about 20 minutes while i can persue such chores as getting the kids ready for school and tidying up the bombshell that is the kitchen after a late-night dinner the night before… but porridge has definitely become a breakfast favourite, especially when it’s cold outside… and i do eat mine warm, i do.

Patricia Scarpin December 4, 2007 at 22:26

Sophie, I have just finished reading your post and my mouth is full of water, oh my!
I love the combinations you suggest for the porridge. I would love to try the carrot cake first, but since I love eating raw carrots (and the ones I have bought lately were deliciously sweet) I will add them after the cooking process.
I also happen to have a bag of wonderful cranberries a dear blogger friend of mine sent from the States – I think they would go perfectly with the porridge, too!

Annemarie December 5, 2007 at 22:55

I do like the look of your porridge. I’m not as mad-keen on porridge as you, but I do find myself fantasizing about warm farina/semolina for breakfast during winter the way you seem to for porridge…

sophie December 9, 2007 at 18:42

How fantastic that there are such a lot of porridge fans out there (or should I say oatmeal?)! That gives me nearly as much of a warm fuzzy glow as the porridge itself :-)
I’m looking forward to trying out everyone else’s favourite porridge suggestions next.

Coffee & Vanilla December 18, 2007 at 17:25

I love this picture… and porridge with figs and plums sounds very interesting!

Coffee & Vanilla December 18, 2007 at 17:25

I love this picture… and porridge with figs and plums sounds very interesting!

Coffee & Vanilla December 18, 2007 at 17:25

I love this picture… and porridge with figs and plums sounds very interesting!

Rachel Picking June 16, 2008 at 15:20

Im a student from Stokesley School in year 10. I was hoping if I would be allowed to use this recipe and picture in my ICT work for recipe cards.
If you could contact me back it would be helpful.

fluttrgrl July 13, 2008 at 23:52

I am eating your carrot cake porridge right now. I loved the sound of it when I read about it yesterday. Then as I put it on the stove I wasn’t so sure about the peachy colour it turned. But now as I eat it, it is wonderful! Thanks for the creative idea!

shauna November 3, 2008 at 10:27

hiya Sophie! I’ve been googling “porridge the night before” and look who showed up in the results! this looks so very very tasty :)
Did you ever find the elusive perfect thermos? i can only find tall, skinny latte shaped ones… oh for a stumpy fat one that you can get a spoon into!

Rachel July 3, 2009 at 17:32

This is besides the point, and I apologize for it, but what kind of camera do you have? Love the picture quality.

Sophie July 5, 2009 at 19:26

Hi Rachel, thanks for the photo compliment. I use a Canon 40D for most of my shots (probably has a different model name in the US)

Lucy July 26, 2009 at 14:24

As with most people I think the carrot cake porridge is one that caught my eye…I will have to try that one out and the apple one.
I too have eaten uncooked porridge, it’s so much quicker when you’re in a rush in the mornings. Although the same amount of uncooked porridge doesn’t feel me up as much.
I’ve had a quick look at the Thermos idea (as that might be just what I need when I’m in a rush on a Winter’s morning), there are some wide mouth ones out there, but whether they’re wide enough, without actually seeing them, I don’t know. Also on average they seem to say that they only keep things warm for 6 hours. I sleep longer than that! Although having just seen that some of these posts are 2 years old, have you found that elusive wide mouth thermos?
I was slow to come around to porridge and it’s only in the last year or so that I’ve become a big fan. My favourites include banana porridge with frozen fruit, as I just love the velvety texture the bananas give it. Or porridge with various fruit and nut combinations (cranberries, dates, sultanas, mixed nuts and coconut). Chocolate porridge if I’m feeling naughty, or a recent experiment was mocha porridge (for a much needed caffiene boost). I just love the fact that it’s so versatile.
I just wanted to say it’s a great blog and has definitely given me some good ideas to try out. Thank you.

Kerry September 2, 2010 at 12:17

I know this is an old post but I had porridge with fresh figs this morning and thought I’d google to see if anyone else was eating something similar – and your blog post came up!
I love the idea of carrot cake porridge and will certainly be trying this. My standard is like Kathryn’s: banana, sultanas, pecans, allspice, flaxseed, maple syrup. Delicious.
A tip for the addition of flaxseed – I’ve heard that flaxseed shouldn’t be cooked because it loses much of its nutritional value so I always add this at the very end. Also seeds are not easily digested, apparently, so the flax should be ground for the maximum nutritional benefit.
Great post. Thanks.

Kevin Hall February 18, 2012 at 17:55

Porridge heaven for me is a massive dollop of organic wholenut crunchy peanut butter, pop in the microwave, the peanut butter melts leaving the porridge crunchy and full of delicious flavour! Packs in some protein for you too!

Sophie February 19, 2012 at 16:13

Oh yes, a bit of nut butter is great and definitely the crunchy stuff for a bit of texture. I like almond butter for the flavour (and mainly because it’s what I tend to have in)

bridget May 8, 2012 at 17:52

Great recipe. My Dad ate oats every morning in Ireland and lived for 92

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