Black Forest Bircher

We made it.

Greetings from Boxing Day, otherwise known as ‘international introverts day’.

There has been much that has been magical about this Christmas. Baby Will got his first star on his Grandparent’s Christmas trees- a beautiful token from his aunt. In the days before he also had his first proper taste of food (a desperate attempt from me to help garner some additional sleep for yours truely). The first dribblings of rice cereal he was less impressed with- but sweet potato? That made him rock back and forth in his malleable green chair and grin like a monkey on nitrous. I think we have a second Hungry One in the making.

We made grand plans of how to get the best of the big day. We decided we would tackle the Sydney Fish Markets; open for 36 hours straight in the lead up to the 25th. We reasoned that everyone thinks that 5 am is a good time to go- but 9 pm? That would be our window.

We were wrong. It was still chaos. Not Borough Markets at 2 pm on Christmas Eve chaos, but still bedlam. Refusing to be deterred, I left the boys in the car and darted through Pyrmont in the drizzling rain, picking up a Hiramasa Kingfish, oysters and scallops for our Christmas lunch with my mother (served with almond cream, pomegranate and a garland of salsa verde)

– and a lobster for us- served in a tragically 1980’s inspired warm salad for Christmas eve with macadamias, mango and a ham-fat dressing.

The ham was left over from our pre-Christmas lunch in the country on Sunday- it was a beast of a thing (we realised later that our lunch weighed more than our child), glazed with brown sugar, mustard, cloves, a hint of orange zest and the spice of some ras-el hanout).

At 6 pm on the 24th we opened a bottle of Bollinger and created our own tradition- a night for just the three of us, under the tree exchanging presents. Unfortunately my one request to Santa for a little extra sleep was overlooked. As it turns out, it’s one thing for a baby to eat solids. It’s another for them to figure out how to digest them properly. And so every 40 minutes from 10 pm on Christmas eve until 7 am on Christmas Day baby Will woke and howled, stretched and splayed out his legs at awkward angles, distorting his tiny frame. Which was why when I finally made it downstairs I was very glad that all of the prep for the day was in the bag.

Christmas morning begins an hour north at my father’s, together we gathered and were thankful for many things; for health and happiness, for cavorting cousins and cobbled together clans. More bottles of sparkling were opened and we ate his classic panettone french toast (made on the barbecue) with crispy bacon and a slick of maple syrup. And we scoffed bowls of Black Forest Bircher, with berries and yoghurt.

This is exactly the sort of thing you want to have on hand both when entertaining at brunch and when you’re steeling yourself for a few big days of eating. It can be easily made the night, or days before. All it requires is some grating, mixing and stirring. The oats plump beautifully and turn a pearlish shade of pink from the juice of the cherries (which cheatingly come from a jar). And the cacao nibs- as well as being a supposed super food- they contribute a nice earthiness and maintain their crunch- unlike nuts which have a tendency to go limp when steeped in yoghurt for a spell.

Together the combination of slow release carbs from oats, the goodness of yoghurt and the sweet pop of cherries – is happy making stuff.

From there we just had two more events to shimmy through. One at home, where we hosted three courses; oysters, the Kingfish and pudding of Christmas pudding parfait with chocolate sauce- and one out- where we ate prawns and pate and a lemon scented Buche Noel. And last night, we crashed.

For some people Boxing Day is about the cricket, the sales, friends or the beach. For us, it’s about recovery. It’s lovely to be ‘on’- but on the other side, some quiet digestion is called for. There’s just one more social event to get through and then some mild and silent time with books, muesli- (and then, fingers crossed)- a nap or two beckons.

Hoping your days have been similarly blessed.


Black Forest Bircher

Serves 6-8


1x 680 g jar of morello cherries in juice, strained, liquid reserved and topped up with water or apple juice to 500 ml
300 g oats
200 g muesli
400 g natural yoghurt
2 pink lady apples, cored and coarsely grated
3 tbsp shaved coconut
60 g cacao nibs
Additional berries, cherries and yoghurt to serve

Here’s how we roll

(Begin this at least overnight, or a day or so before).

1) In a large tupperware container combine the liquid from the cherries- topped up with either water or apple juice to make 500 ml with the oats and the muesli. Stir to combine.

2) Add in the grated apple, cherries, cacao nibs, and yoghurt. Stir again and leave to absorb in the fridge over night, or for a day or so.

3) Prior to serving fold through some additional yoghurt if the texture is a little ‘tight’ and top with flakes of coconut. Serve with additional yoghurt and berries/cherries.


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