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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Tom Hunt

How to turn stale rye bread into porridge – recipe

Tom Hunt's thrifty øllebrød – Danish rye bread porridge.
Tom Hunt's thrifty øllebrød, or Danish rye bread porridge. Photograph: Tom Hunt/The Guardian

The chef and food writer Trine Hahnemann grew up on øllebrød, a traditional Danish rye bread porridge. Her mother would save old rye bread, dry it out to preserve it, then use it in this breakfast staple by soaking it in beer overnight. “Øllebrød comes from a food culture where all kinds of porridges are made from all the grains available, including leftover bread,” Hahnemann says. “In the UK, you have bread-and-butter pudding, but all our stale bread goes into porridge.”

Before freezers, people would dry out excess bread so it would keep for a very long time, and it’s still my favourite way to preserve bread: cut up any stale rye bread into cubes and leave them to dry out in a cloth bag or bowl covered with a tea towel. Once completely dry, store in a jar or sealed container for a year or more.

This porridge is just as, if not more satisfying than oat porridge, with the rye bread giving it a sour twang and earthy depth of flavour that’s lifted by the final flourish of fresh lemon juice.

Øllebrød (Danish rye bread porridge)

Even without any of the optional extra ingredients, this porridge is super-simple and delicious, but by all means primp it up with your usual favourite toppings – I like it with a compote made with surplus fruits or with crushed nuts and seeds, and even grated chocolate.

Serves 2

250g rye bread, ideally stale, cut into cubes
500ml water, stout or beer
Zest and juice of ¼ lemon
50ml honey, maple syrup or golden syrup
¼ tsp cardamom (optional)
¼ tsp cinnamon (optional)
½ tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Optional serving suggestions
Cream, yoghurt or milk, fruit compote, grated chocolate, nuts, seeds

Soak the bread overnight in 500ml water or malty beer. Tip the mix into a pan, bring to a simmer, then, after a couple of minutes, whisk to break up the bread into a smooth but textured porridge. Whisk in the lemon juice and zest and the honey, maple syrup or golden syrup to taste. If you wish to add more flavour, stir in a quarter-teaspoon of cardamom and/or cinnamon and half a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Serve warm with cream, yoghurt or milk, and extra lemon zest.

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