cereal mixology – tips for perfect overnight oats and bircher muesli

Bircher muesli and the Swiss method of soaking oats overnight have taken Canadian breakfast tables by storm – here’s the Cereal Mixologist’s guide to making perfect ‘oats on the slow’…

Luxurious, zingy, melt-in-the-mouth creamy… Bircher muesli is so delicious it’s hard to believe that it was originally invented not by a chef but by a Swiss doctor.

Yes, Dr Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner created it in the 1900s, as a way of cramming more raw fruit into the diets of the patients at his sanatorium in Zürich. He soaked rolled oats in water overnight and mixed them with chopped-up apples and other fruit and fed it several times a day to his poorly charges. And to be fair, given that they were not allowed to consume alcohol, coffee, chocolate, or tobacco and were forced to take regular cold baths, they probably really appreciated the treat.

For a treat it surely is. Dr Bircher’s great discovery was that soaking oats overnight brings out their inner creaminess, and also plumps up any fruits or other ingredients you’ve mixed in.

So, what fruits and flavours do work best with soaked oats? At Dorset Cereals we settled on two bircher mixes.

Raspberry and blackcurrant is a slightly sharp, tangy flavour, so is ideal for fruit lovers. The ‘classic’ method for this one is pretty simple: mix four tablespoons of the bircher mix with 700mL of apple juice, dollop three tablespoons of yoghurt on top and leave it to soak in the fridge overnight. Then when you wake up in the morning just stir in the yoghurt and enjoy.

Meanwhile, the almond and honey mix is a creamier, cosier, more subtle muesli – and it’s perfect for those who like to take add their own unique twist.

Because one of the great joys of bircher muesli – and overnight oats – is that you can experiment, play around, take some time to have fun and make infinite varieties to suit your mood.

As Cereal Mixologists, we’ve discovered all sorts of fantastic combinations – so here are some ideas for your Bircher breakfast inspiration…

1. try the 30-minute soak

You don’t have to soak oats overnight. With our Bircher cereals, 30 minutes is just fine to allow the oats to still have a little bite without being too soggy. So stick them in the juice of your choice (see below) when you get up, and by the time you’ve hit the shower and got dressed, your oats will be good to go.

2. cut loose with the juice

Apple juice gives a sweetness to the oats, and raspberry-and-apple juice is very good for that too. But If you like things a little more tart, give grapefruit juice a try – or just have fun experimenting with whatever interesting flavours you can get your hands on…

3. go nutty with the milk

Our mixologists have found that using almond milk gives a really nice overall nuttiness to bircher muesli, particularly the almond and honey recipe. And if you’re a real ‘nuts nut’, why not throw in a handful of cashews?

4. spice it up

Add a pinch of cinnamon for a lovely warm, Christmassy feel – or give your muesli an exotic twist with mixed spices or cardamom.

5. go veggie

We’ve found that grating vegetables into your mix can work fantastically well – and taste wonderfully virtuous too. Grated carrot and pumpkin are brilliant – while ‘zoats’ are made by adding grated zucchini (courgette). That’s black belt-level cereal mixology, there.

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