Starting the day the Swiss way: Bircher muesli

We’ve had a brief hiatus but we’re back on our culinary journey and have reached Switzerland. (Top marks to anyone who is thinking, ‘Hang on, they said they’d be going to Poland next.’ If that’s you, you’re quite right, but we’ve changed the route for a variety of fairly boring reasons. So, Switzerland it is.)

Switzerland is somewhere that reminds you on first glance just how beautiful this world is. Miranda visited Interlaken and Basel in 2007 and was struck by the fact that all you need to do is look out the window and you’re faced with majestic mountain scenery and a whole spectrum of vivid blues in the sky and the water. Walking around in that country – Interlaken in particular – could certainly never be boring. And then there’s Europe’s highest point just around the corner to add even more of a sense of wonder.

Interlaken

In terms of food, Switzerland must be most famous for its chocolate and its cheese. Toblerone, Lindt, fondue and raclette all scream ‘Switzerland’ as loudly as that cartoonish cheese with the holes in it (also known as Emmental) does. However, for our Swiss dish we’ve opted for an equally well known but perhaps less obvious traditional delicacy: Bircher muesli.

A summery version of porridge, Bircher muesli was originally invented by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner in the early 1900s, in an attempt to create a dish to help his patients. He was going against the norm of the time by advocating the benefits of raw food. It probably didn’t cure cancer as intended, but he did nonetheless formulate a meal that is healthy, refreshing and covers three food groups (four, if you include the natural sugars in the fruit). The beauty of it is that you can put whatever you want in it, as long as it has a base of oats that are soaked in juice (or water, or milk) overnight. The original recipe only called for 1 tbsp of oats, but given that we were aiming for a breakfast that would fill us up for more than five minutes, we’ve played with the quantities and made our own version of this Swiss classic.

Bircher muesli

Ingredients
1 cup oats
1 cup apple juice
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and grated (not peeled) (reserve a few thin slices for a garnish if desired)
1 cup natural yoghurt
1 tbsp ground almonds
Handful of raspberries and flaked almonds, to serve

Method
1. Mix the oats and juice together and leave to soak overnight.
2. The next day, stir in the grated apples, yoghurt and ground almonds. (It doesn’t look very appetising at this stage. It doesn’t look all that appetising at any stage, actually, but it does taste good.)

Mixing the bircher muesli

3. Serve in a bowl with the apple slices, raspberries and flaked almonds on the top.

Bircher muesli

Simple as that! Variations are endless: you could use a different flavour of juice, tropical or winter fruits, dried fruits, different nuts (ground or whole), seeds, cinnamon, vanilla… Anything at all really. The original recipe even had a tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk. Miranda has muesli for breakfast most mornings and can’t believe we’ve never made this before. We will certainly be doing it again – especially if the weather stays nice enough to enjoy this summery start to the day outdoors!

Roses in the garden

All going according to plan, next time we will cooking Italian. How one chooses one iconic dish from Italy is anyone’s guess… but we’ll be publishing the results of this decision soon!

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