Porridge doesn’t have the best image. Stodgy, grey mush, right? Not anymore. It’s being transformed into cool gruel, as innovation in breakfast gains ground. There are not only interesting ingredients to add, but this newly pimped-up porridge is also giving consumers the healthy stuff they are looking for.
As our sister publication Restaurant magazine pointed out, Bea Vo of Bloomsbury fame (who also invented the duffin, a combination of muffin and doughnut that is baked, dipped in melted butter and then coated in sugar) set the oats rolling last year with Butterscotch Bakery in White City.
Tapping into fairy tales, Butterscotch Bakery features a Goldilocks Porridge Bar where customers pick a base, with options including organic Shipton Mill Pinhead oats with milk; activated five-grain (millet, amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa and flaxseed) porridge with home-made organic coconut milk; Greek yoghurt or chia seed pudding; or an acai smoothie bowl. They can then choose from 60 toppings like maca powder, raw date syrup, blueberries, fig bourbon compote and fudge sauce.
So why is Goldilocks’ guilty indulgence suddenly back on the food scene?
‘Build your own’ has moved on from sandwiches, salads and Buddha bowls into breakfast.
There’s Borough Market’s famous Bread Ahead, which has expanded into a new Soho café that opened last week. It has a big focus on breakfast, including a build-your-own porridge menu with toppings including cashew butter, roasted coconut flakes, quinoa, chia seeds and Manuka honey.
Breakfast has also gone big at Deliciously Ella’s three delis in London, where a long list of new dishes includes creamy porridge with slow-cooked pineapple compote, coconut chips, chopped pecans and coconut yoghurt.
And of course there is also a build-your-own breakfast bar, which includes porridge as a staple. Customers can choose from several bases (Bircher muesli, porridge, chia pudding or coconut yoghurt) and a rather large range of toppings: original or nutty granola, coconut chips, chopped hazelnuts and pecans, apple and berry compote, slow cooked pineapple compote, almond or peanut butter, raspberry chia jam and mixed seeds.
Hungry for healthy
While a bacon bap has been favoured by the Brits forever, the hunger for healthy eating is taking breakfast down this new path.
Even Leon has a pimped-up porridge offering that is dairy-free and made with cashew milk and organic oats, topped with strawberry, blackcurrant and raspberry compote and almond butter.
It’s no secret that porridge is good for the body, including the gut. It contains oat beta-glucan, which can lower cholesterol that is linked to heart attacks and strokes, and last year researchers at the APC Microbiome Institute in Cork also found it benefited microbiota, which is the bacteria in the gut.
So what does Sparkie make of this push for porridge?
Porridge and the breakfast market in general is a truly massive and burgeoning market for all categories, whether in food service or retail. Everyone is looking at, or has invested in, breakfast – and it is growing like topsy!
The breakfast market was seen as the next big meal occasion that was predominantly untapped within convenience. Around seven years ago, it was ready-meal suppliers who tried to find pertinent products to lead the way, but with the onset of health and well-being, the focus has been shifted to cereal-based offerings where free-from sensibilities have been applied to the ranges.
It's going in one direction in terms of health, and it’s here to stay.