Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pumpkin Apple Spice Baked Oatmeal (Plus Lots of Flavor Variations)

It's that glorious time of year when people are eating and drinking pumpkin spice everything...and this fall I decided it was time to pumpkin-spice-ify one of our favorite breakfasts: baked oatmeal.

Don't judge a baked oatmeal by its photo...oatmeal is difficult to photograph attractively! I don't have the skills but I promise it is DELICIOUS!

My boys eat oatmeal nearly every day of the week, but I would really rather not touch the stuff. It's a texture issue. But baked oatmeal? LOVE. Especially the edges where it caramelizes a little...

I'm not gonna lie, it's way more of a pain than cooking up plain old oatmeal for my boys--which is why if I'm going to the trouble, I always double it and bake two pans side by side. It freezes beautifully--just cut it into squares and spread them out on a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat (or parchment or wax paper). Freeze them on the cookie sheet, then once frozen, transfer the squares to a ziploc bag. Super easy to pop a single serving out of the freezer in the morning--two minutes in the microwave and you've got a hot, delicious, nutritious breakfast! I actually did this in advance for our beach vacation last summer, which meant we got to start each day with a cheap + wholesome + effortless meal.

Baked oatmeal can run the gamut from "fancy name for cake" to "tastes like health food." This one is  pretty low in sugar, but still has great flavor. I'd *like* it to be sweeter, since I have a raging sweet tooth, but I still very much enjoy it. And my boys are used to eating oatmeal sweetened only with fruit, so they think this is a huge treat. 

I love how forgiving this recipe is--you don't have to be a pro in the kitchen. This past time, I accidentally had the oven cranked to 425 for the first 20 minutes and it still turned out beautifully. My next goal is to convert it to a crockpot recipe and see if I can get it to cook overnight so we can wake up to that delicious smell and a hot breakfast with zero morning effort!

We've tried many variations and loved them all. Spiced cranberry-apple; peach; blueberry; blackberry-apple...and now, pumpkin apple spice.

FYI: There are a lot of explanations out there for why soaking grains is important. I actually haven't delved into that aspect of traditional cooking much; 99% of the time, I don't bother to soak. But this recipe calls for it, so I'm glad to just follow along and do it (lots easier than learning new methods and recipes for things I already knew how to make in a non-soaking way).

Baked Pumpkin Apple Spice Oatmeal
{adapted from Just Making Noise}

The day before:
Combine 4 cups regular rolled oats + 1/3 cup raw apple cider vinegar (or whey or lemon juice) + 6 cups water in a large bowl. Cover and soak at room temperature for up to 24 hours.

1/3 cup melted coconut oil or butter
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup maple syrup*
2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 apple, peeled and diced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 13x9 baking dish.

Drain the oats in a large strainer (with fine holes) and rinse. Leave them to drain while you prepare the other ingredients.

In the large bowl that held the oats (no need to dirty more dishes, just rinse it out well), whisk together coconut oil, milk, eggs, syrup, vanilla, spices and salt. Stir in oats and fruit.

Pour mixture into a greased 13x9 baking dish, smoothing it evenly into the pan. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the baked oatmeal cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving.

We like to eat this in a bowl with milk--but you can eat it with a fork on a plate, either plain or drizzled with butter and more syrup.

*Note: If your family is accustomed to sweeter oatmeal and breakfast foods, you may want to increase the sweetener. And if you use sugar instead of maple syrup, you'll have to increase the volume anyway--start with 1/2 - 3/4 cup if you're using brown sugar or sucanat.

Flavor Variations:

Berry-Apple Baked Oatmeal
1/3 cup melted coconut oil or butter
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 eggs

1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 apple, peeled and diced
2 cups berries (blueberry, blackberry, or cranberry)--no need to thaw if frozen

Notes: The spices for the pumpkin spice recipe are great with cranberry, but for blueberry or blackberry, I leave out all but the cinnamon. I cut blackberries in half if they are large ones (but you wouldn't have to--it just spreads them out in the batter more). If you use cranberries, chopping is important--they are too sour to make a bite of a big, whole cranberry appealing! I throw the still-frozen berries in my blender or food processor to chop them up pretty finely.

same as berry-apple, but omit sliced apple and berries and add
1 lb sliced frozen peaches, chopped
1-2 tsp nutmeg


emily said...

Yumm! Thanks for this. Confession: was reading this on my phone in bed and just hopped up to soak the oats :) yay. Used to make baked oatmeal a lot and sort of forgot about it. Thanks for the inspiration!

Briana Almengor said...

WIsh my family enjoyed baked oatmeal as much as I do. I'd love every combination, but alas I usually only make it for others to enjoy.