Baked Apple Porridge

"This keeps well in the fridge for a few days and any extra can be reheated with a little extra milk in a small pan. I make a big batch of spice mix, which I keep in ajar and add to my stovetop porridge through the week too, hence this making more than you'll need for the baked porridge, but if you prefer you could add a pinch of each spice to the recipe rather than making a large batch. I make this without dairy, using almond milk and coconut oil, as that's how I like to eat it, but regular milk and butter work just as well." - Anna Jones

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Serves 6
For the spice mix:
2 tbsp ground cardamom
2 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Coconut oil or butter
3 large apples
1 unwaxed lemon
200g rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
100g nuts, toasted and chopped (I use pecans and hazelnuts)
750ml almond milk
125ml pure maple syrup, plus extra for drizzling
For the maple cream:
2 tbsp nut butter (I use cashew)
2 tbsp maple syrup
4 tbsp almond milk
Pinch of fine sea salt
Drop of vanilla extract or paste

1. Make the spice mix first by stirring the spices together in a small jar, then set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 210°C/190°C fan/gas 6. Grease a deep ovenproof dish, about 20 x 20cm, with coconut oil.
3. Grate two of the apples. Turn the last apple on to its side and slice it very thinly, so that you get a lovely star pattern. Grate the zest from half the lemon to use later, then cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice from one half over the sliced apple to stop it browning.
4. In a large bowl, combine the oats, baking powder, salt, 1 teaspoon of the spice mix, the grated apple and most of the chopped nuts (saving a small handful for the topping). Stir to combine. In a jug or separate bowl, mix the milk with the maple syrup, the juice of the remaining half lemon and the reserved zest.
5. Tip the oat and apple mixture into the greased dish, pour over the milk and maple syrup mixture, arrange the sliced apples on top and drizzle over a little maple syrup. Dot the top of the oats with little pieces of coconut oil or butter. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top of the porridge is golden brown and all the liquid has been absorbed.
6. While the porridge bakes, make the maple cream. In a medium bowl, whisk together the nut butter, maple syrup, milk, salt and vanilla. You are looking for something totally smooth and pourable. If the mixture seems too thick, add a little more milk.
7. Serve the baked porridge hot, spooned into bowls with the maple cream for pouring over.

From The Modern Cook’s Year by Anna Jones. Published by 4th Estate.