There’s nothing as comforting as starting a chilly winter’s day with a warm bowl of goodness. I’ve been a warm-porridge-for-breakfast fan my whole life. Especially in these wintery months there’s a lot of porridge experimenting going on in our house with different grains, cooking modes and toppings. A recurring favourite is this oatmeal with soft, maple-sweetened baked apple and a crumbly quinoa and walnut topping.
The combination is as simple as it is delicious. Plain, creamy oatmeal made with a plant-based milk of your choice. Lemon-drizzled apple chunks, pan-fried until soft and caramelised and then sweetened with a spoonful of maple syrup. And a crisp and nutty vanilla crumble layer to add sweetness and interest to your every bite.
The crumbs are baked separately in the oven, to be sprinkled generously over the oatmeal just before serving. They are made with a gluten free mixture of my favourite seeds, nuts and flours: almond flour for sweetness and bite, quinoa flour and quinoa flakes for their dark and nutty flavour and chopped walnuts, because they’re just so good with the baked apple. Rubbed into crumbs with vegan butter, raw cane sugar and fresh vanilla, they are baked into a crumbly layer that’s equally delicious for breakfast as it is for dessert.
If, like me, you’re not gluten intolerant and not principally opposed to the use of all-purpose wheat flour, using different flours in your baking may seem like a hassle. Nonetheless it can be worth your while, because of the extra range of flavour, texture and nutrients it offers you. In this crumble, the nutty, slightly bitter flavour of the quinoa and walnuts pairs wonderfully with the sweetness of the apple. And on top of creating the ultimate warm comfort bowl, it adds fibre, protein and healthy fat to an already healthy breakfast.
The crumble ingredients can be easily adapted to your personal taste and what you happen to have available. Instead of quinoa flour, buckwheat flour is also delicious (my youngest prefers this version, actually). The walnuts can be swapped for other nuts or sesame seeds. The addition of hemp hearts adds to the nutty flavour and protein content.
On a quiet morning, all parts of this breakfast can be whipped up within half an hour, to be enjoyed straight from the pan and the oven. But for busy days, they can also easily be prepared ahead. The crumbs keep well in an air-tight container for up to a week and the oatmeal and baked apple can be quickly reheated from the fridge. Because the toppings bring their own sweetness, I prefer to leave the oatmeal unsweetened, but feel free to add sweetener if you like. For the ultimate fresh and creamy breakfast, I like to top the oatmeal with any fresh fruits I can lay my hands on this time of year, and add an extra spoonful of almond quark or yogurt.
Have a wonderful start of your day!
And… if you’re up for more bowls of warm breakfast comfort, you may also like these:
- quinoa porridge with cinnamon, coconut and fresh fruits
- sweet-spiced buckwheat porridge with sea buckthorn sauce
- carrot cake oatmeal with blueberries and heritage carrots
- creamy vanilla and coconut rice with berries and lime
Oatmeal with baked apple and a crumbly quinoa and vanilla topping – serves 4
- 3-4 eating apples (I used organic Elstar)
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 vanilla pod
- 3 tbsp. raw cane sugar
- 3 tbsp. almond flour
- 3 tbsp. quinoa flour
- 3 tbsp. quinoa flakes
- 35 g cold vegan butter (from a block, not a tub), cubed
- 50 g walnuts, roughly chopped
- 160 g rolled oats *)
- 1 litre plant-based milk (oat milk, almond milk or unsweetened soy milk all make delicious porridge)
- 1 tbsp. rapeseed oil
- 1 tbsp. maple or agave syrup
- fresh berries of choice
- a spoonful of almond quark, almond yogurt or coconut yogurt to serve (optional)
*) Note: Oats are not always gluten free, due to contamination with wheat, rye or barley on the field or during the packaging process. If you’re intolerant, check the label and choose a certified gluten free brand.
Peel and core the apples and cut them into cubes. Mix with the lemon juice and set aside.
Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas4.
Using a sharp knife, split the vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds and mix them with the sugar. Rub the sugar and vanilla between your finger tips to separate the vanilla seeds, then stir through the almond flour, quinoa flour and quinoa flakes. Using your finger tips, rub the butter into the flour mix until the mixture resembles course crumbs. You could use a food processor for this instead and pulse the flour and butter mixture into crumbs. Mix the crumbs with the chopped walnuts, then tip everything onto a lined baking sheet. Bake the crumbs for 10-12 minutes until golden brown, then take out of the oven and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, mix the oats and three-quarters of the plant milk in a pan and bring to a boil. While stirring, leave to simmer and thicken for a few minutes. Add more of the milk if necessary, until the porridge has the consistency you like. Take off the heat.
In a frying pan, heat the oil over a moderate heat, then tip in the apple cubes. Stirring occasionally, fry the apple pieces until they start to caramelise. Add the maple or agave syrup and leave the apple to cook for a minute more.
Divide the oatmeal over four bowls. Top with a generous spoonful of the crumbs, baked apple, fresh berries and a dollop of almond quark, if using.