Yesterday, while three movers packed away our lives into boxes, I snuck one last dish into the oven, a mixture of steel cut oats, cinnamon, maple syrup, and coarsely chopped almonds, a dish I have been addicted to in some form or another since March.
For months, I made this baked oatmeal using rolled oats and, as suggested, always mixed up the dry ingredients the night before baking, which allowed for easy preparations in the morning. But about a month ago I discovered that when steel cut oats replace the rolled oats, the morning effort disappears altogether: the entire dish — egg, milk, melted butter, baking powder and all — can be assembled the night before baking.
I love this oatmeal. When it bakes, the mixture separates into distinct layers, the nuts forming a crisp-like topping, the berries bobbing underneath, the creamy oats and custard forming the foundation. The steel cut oats, flavored with cinnamon and maple, remain firm and chewy, which along with the nuts offer the loveliest texture throughout. I could eat the whole pan in one sitting.
I love these oats with berries. I love them without. I love them freshly baked. I love them cold, straight from the fridge. I like them with walnuts. I love them with almonds. I could eat them at every meal. I like them so much that when Ben tells me he can’t make it home for dinner, I think, “Yes, I get to eat my oats!” And while these oats are the perfect kind of thing to make for a crowd, at the moment I’m not at all upset that my children don’t like them. This is the kind of dish I hope so very much you will all whisk up tonight before hitting the hay, so you, too, have something to savor, with friends or without, all Saturday morning long.
Yield = 1 8x8-inch pan (or something similar); or 6 individual servings (6 6-oz ramekins)
As I noted, I like these baked oats both with berries and without, so don't hesitate to make them if you don't have any berries on hand — they are so good on their own. I have used both almonds and walnuts. I do toast the walnuts. I don't toast the almonds — it doesn't seem to matter.
The mixture can be assembled the night before, though it doesn't have to be.
<strong>Update, Oct 2014:</strong> Almonds are my preference. Often, I make this without any berries, and I omit the cinnamon. I love adding sliced apples.
- ¾ cup steel cut oatmeal
- ½ cup (60 g) almonds (sliced, untoasted are great) or walnuts halves, toasted and chopped
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¾ to 1 ½ cups (90 to 185 g) blueberries
- 2 cups (475 ml) whole milk
- ⅓ cup (80 ml) maple syrup
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- In a small bowl, mix together the oats, the nuts, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
- In another bowl, whisk together the milk, maple syrup, egg, butter, and vanilla. Pour the milk mixture over the oat mixture and stir to combine. Store mixture in fridge (if desired) overnight. If you are making individual portions, I think the easiest method is this: mix dry ingredients as instructed in step 1; spoon about three tablespoon of the dry ingredients into each ramekin; then pour liquid overtop. The liquid will reach the top of each ramekin. I was worried it was going to overflow, but it didn't. To prevent a catastrophe, I suggest lining a 9x13-inch baking dish with parchment paper and placing the filled ramekins in the dish to bake.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the top third of the oven. (Note: I have baked this both in the top third and in the middle and don't seem to notice much of a difference.) Give mixture a good stir. Scatter berries (if using) into an 8-inch square baking dish. Pour milk-oat mixture over the berries.
- Bake for 55 to 60 minutes (Note: Several commenters have had issues with browning too quickly, so I advise checking after 30 minutes, and if it looks as though it is browning quickly, turn oven down to 350 and check periodically for doneness), or until the top is golden and the oat mixture has set. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.