Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Maple-roasted oats & spiced prunes

Perhaps I am far too motivated by food but I find it much easier to get out of bed if I know there is something nice waiting to be eaten for breakfast. Make these roasted oats and spiced prunes over the weekend and you'll have the makings of a beautiful breakfast you'll want to get our of bed for on Monday!

The oats are based on a recipe from the beautiful Modern Pantry cookbook for "Honey-roasted oats, seeds and nuts"with a few minor tweaks. "Honey-roasted oats, seeds and nuts" is really just a pretentious name for muesli but whatever you want to call it, it makes a delicious start to the day. I came very close to eating at the Modern Pantry on almost exactly this day last year. I made it as far as the front door... just as they were closing early for a bank holiday. Disappointing but a good reason to make another trip to London one day.

The recipe below is as I made it - with maple syrup instead of honey and rice bran oil instead of extra virgin olive oil. I did intend to make honey-roasted oats, seeds and nuts as per the recipe but after scraping together 75 grams of honey from various sources I proceeded turn it into a toffee-ish mass by heating it for too long with the oil and sugar. I started again using real maple syrup and it was lovely.

Feel free to use EVOO if you prefer, I just thought it odd to use a distinctive flavoured (and expensive) oil in a muesli so I used the more neutral-flavoured (and cheaper) rice bran. And change the mix of nuts and seeds to suit what you have in the cupboard and like to eat.

Maple-roasted oats, nuts and seeds
Adapted from Anna Hansen's The Modern Pantry

75g maple syrup
60mls rice bran oil
40g brown sugar
250g rolled oats
250g jumbo oats
50g coconut threads
75g hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and lightly crushed
140g pumpkin seeds
140g sunflower seeds
1 Tbsp black sesame seeds
1 Tbsp white sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius.

Gently heat maple syrup, sugar and oil in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool. Mix the oats, seeds and nuts together in a bowl and pour over the syrup mixture. Stir thoroughly.

Divide the mixture between two baking-paper lined trays and spread evenly. Bake for 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture is golden, remove from the oven and leave to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to a month.

Now for the best part... the tea-soaked spiced prunes!

Becs starting making these prunes after we enjoyed Nikau's gorgeous tea-soaked prunes a few weeks ago. They're not quite the same but we think they're equally good. And we're not the only ones who think so. Becs has been serving these up to lots of fellow prune-lovers on Saturday mornings at her Posh Porridge stall the Christchurch Farmers Market.

This method of preparing prunes comes from Nigella Lawson's How to Eat (she called them "muskily spiced prunes"). It's such a delicious treatment for prunes - the prunes become more tender and the liquid more syrupy with each day. After three or four days of steeping in the sweet, spicy syrup the prunes absolutely explode with deliciousness as you eat them. When I was at high school I worked in a kitchen at a rest home on a Saturday morning. One of my jobs was to "mouli" up prunes in an industrial food processor and divide it into little silver dishes for residents. If I ever reach a stage in life where I need my prunes "mouli-ed" I would like them to receive this treatment first please.

You could change the tea you use for a subtle variation. I use English breakfast because that's all I have but the original recipe calls for Earl Grey which would lend a floral, fragrant flavour. I might try a mix of English breakfast and lapsang souchong sometimes for a little smokiness.

Marsala is the perfect addition to the syrup - sweet and lightly spiced but not so alcoholic it burns your throat on the way down. Important if you're going to be consuming these prunes for breakfast! But in saying that, don't feel limited to eating these prunes at breakfast time - they'd also be lovely for dessert with something like rice pudding or homemade custard.

Spiced prunes
Adapted from Nigella Lawson's How to Eat

500ml tea (I use English breakfast)
150ml Marsala
100g brown sugar
Zest of one orange
1 clove
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
250g prunes

Put the tea, Marsala, sugar and spices into a saucepan. Peel the zest from the orange with a potato peeler in one long piece and add. Bring to a boil and add the prunes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow the prunes to poach for 20 minutes.

Once cooled remove the orange zest and spices and store in the fridge.


  1. I just noticed the cooking conversions link. Thankyou-thankyou-thankyou!

  2. Yum, I'm going to make a Clafoutis with those prunes

  3. Wow! I've been looking for a tea-soaked prunes recipe after the ones at Nikau, too! These look delicious, will be giving them a go! They'd be beautiful with rice pudding.


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