Simply known as Müesli in Switzerland and southern Baden-Württemberg, Bircher muesli was developed by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner at the turn of the twentieth century. A similar dish had been a staple in the diet of the Alpine shepherds for over a hundred years before Bircher was introduced to it by an Alpine dairymaid whilst hiking in the Swiss Alps. Bircher named his dish Apfeldiätspeise (the apple diet dish).
He is said to have soaked the oats in water and lemon juice overnight and then served them with apple, nuts and sweetened condensed milk: in Bircher’s day fresh milk was still unpasturised and held too high a risk of TB.
It was in the picturesque little town of Baiersbronn in the Black Forrest on a short stopover before heading to Bircher’s homeland that Coco and Lentil had their first taste of Bircher muesli. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought to make it at home before now! It’s such a refreshing change to oats cooked in milk, their daily porridge fare. The muesli became popular in Western society in the 1960s with the focus on health and nutrition and there are so many variations of the dish today. You can add whatever fruit, nuts and seeds you like. Some serve it with yoghurt or creme fraiche, or even cream! You can add honey or more indulgent syrups: endless possibilities! I am looking forward to experimenting with different flavour combinations over the coming months! Would love to hear your favourite combinations too.
I’ve started with a simple, healthy version for Coco and Lentil, which Mr C&L also devoured. I used grape juice to soak the oats as I had some leftover from cooking another Lentil favourite – Spag Bol (click here for recipe). The grape juice give’s it a natural sweetness, which unsurprisingly went down well. You don’t have to soak the oats overnight and many recipes today suggest a little as 30 minutes, but I think overnight gives it a creamier consistency.
Makes 1 adult and 1 child portion
60 g rolled oats
6 tbsp grape juice
2 tbsp milk
4 tbsp natural / greek style yoghurt
a few raspberries
Soak the oats in the grape juice and milk overnight.
Divide the oats between your serving bowls. Add the yoghurt on top. Peel the apple and shred or thinly slice and add to the muesli along with the raspberries or any other fruit of your choosing.