Oatmeal is not something I enjoyed as a child. My memories of porridge is that it was quite thin and watery and not very tasty at all – which is quite at odds with the delicious food I grew up with. When I began baking in my teens, I found that oatmeal was brilliant to make chewy chocolate chip cookies with. I also discovered those packets of flavoured instant oats which bolstered me up during what felt like endless sessions of binge revision. As a mother of a school age child, I knew how nutritious and sustaining porridge is for those dark, cold, wintery school mornings and set about making it delicious as well. I don’t know if this is how you make it but I put a cup of oats in a pan and toast them slightly, I then add 2 cups of milk and one of water and stir over a medium low heat until thick and creamy. I ladle a portion into a shallow rimmed bowl, shake over some cinnamon and sprinkle it with 1 dessert spoonful of Demerara sugar which goes syrupy. I peel a tangerine or a clementine and arrange the segments around the lip of the bowl like chubby rays of sunshine. Sometimes, I add some frozen blueberries to the bottom of bowl before ladling in the porridge. By the time my son gets to the table, dressed for school, the porridge has cooled down sufficiently to not delay him and I am quietly smug in the knowledge that he’s not going to be experiencing that mid morning sugar crash AND that I’ve managed to get 1 or 2 portions of fruit in him already. At the weekends, breakfasts are a more leisurely affair; eggs and sausages or french toast or pancakes but oatmeal doesn’t figure.
Until now, that is. I saw a photo for Oatmeal Casserole (which sounds a little grim, don’t you think?) on Pinterest and then surfed through several recipes for Baked Oatmeal, many of which included chocolate. This is my version which is full of healthy ingredients and tastes absolutely delicious. It’s warm, fruity, nutty and chewy. It takes about 15 minutes to put together and needs half an hour in the oven, filling the kitchen with gorgeous aromas as it bakes. It is ideal for a weekend breakfast. Left overs can be taken into to work or frozen in portions and warmed up in the microwave. You can chop and change the fruit and nuts to suit your palate or take into account what is in your cupboards. This is also something that you could bake in the evening during the week, to effortlessly have ready for the following morning.
Place the oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, walnuts, dried fruit and half the blueberries in a large bowl.
Grate in the orange zest and mix thoroughly.
Slice one banana and arrange on the bottom of the oven safe dish. Cover with the dried mixed ingredients (which I forgot to photograph!)
Juice the orange.
Whisk the wet ingredients together in the same mixing bowl you used for the dry ingredients. (If you want to substitute honey or agave syrup for the sugar, add it now, to the wet ingredients.) I find that it is best to “temper” melted butter by slowly whisking in a little cold milk into it and then adding it to everything else. Otherwise, the melted butter just solidifies into fat globules that float on top.
Slowly and gently, pour the wet mixture over the oatmeal mix.
Scatter over the remaining blueberries and the coconut flakes. (If you wish to use desiccated coconut instead, mix it in with the dry ingredients.) Slice the second banana and arrange over the top and bake for half an hour. (A scattering of pumpkin or sunflower seeds would be nice too.)
Serve warm with a dollop of yoghurt.
I have included some vegan options for the dairy and egg but these are untested by me. Thanks to Susan Edelman of watchhatchfly for the information!
Baked Fruit and Oatmeal
- 2 cups oats (anything but instant or quick cook)
- 1/4 cup muscavodo (or brown) sugar plus enough for a sprinkle later
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- zest of 1 orange
- ½ cup walnut pieces – broken up to make them smaller
- ½ cup dried mixed fruit like cranberries and cherries or apricots and raisins or dates
- 1 cup of blueberries divided into two portions
- 2 large ripe bananas
- 3tbsp/45g melted butter (or vegan soy spread/coconut oil)
- 2 cups milk ( or soy milk/almond milk/rice milk)
- 1 large egg ( or applesauce/mashed banana/vegan egg replacer/ground chia and flax seeds)
- Juice of one orange
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup coconut flakes
- yoghurt to serve (or coconut milk or soy milk yoghurt)
- Pre-heat the oven to 190C/375F.
- Butter or oil an oven safe dish (mine is 28 x 20cm/11″x 8″).
- Thoroughly mix the first 9 ingredients (using only half the blueberries) in a large bowl to distribute everything evenly.
- Slice one banana and arrange on the bottom of the dish.
- Cover with the dry mixed ingredients.
- In the same bowl that you used for the dry ingredients, lightly whisk the egg.
- Slowly whisk a a cup of milk into the cooled butter to amalgamate it and pour it and the second cup of milk onto the whisked egg together with the vanilla and the orange juice and whisk again.
- Slowly and evenly pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients.
- Scatter over the remaining portion of blueberries and the coconut flakes (some seeds would be nice too).
- Top with the slices from the second banana.
- Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until bubbling and golden brown.
- Sprinkle a little more brown sugar over the top and leave to cool a little.
- Serve warm with yoghurt.