Monday, January 23, 2012

Heidi Swanson's Baked Oatmeal

Sometimes things don't turn out the way they are supposed to. (Like publishing this post back in mid-December when it was written.)

For example, when I set the intention of running a full practice I didn't think it would mean I would be dropping hours at the clinic I currently co-own and picking up hours at somebody's clinic across town. But that is what is happening, and to tell the truth I am pretty excited about it.

Another example: I made this Baked Oatmeal this morning (December 17, 2011) for a potluck brunch. However everybody bailed on the brunch and the oatmeal was left ignored on the counter until 10:30 pm when it became dessert. And what a delicious dessert it turned out to be.

baked oatmeal

December 17, 2011
Name of desserty breakfasty thing: Probably about the healthiest thing featured on this blog
Occasion: Failed potluck
Constituents: rolled oats, pecans, bananas, cranberries baked in a custard with muscovado, vanilla, and cinnamon

I have Heidi Swanson's book Super Natural Everyday on loan from the library, because I am a cheap bastard and refuse to buy any book without first checking it out for free. Naturally, the first recipes to catch my eye were those that involved baking, and with a potluck looming and fresh cranberries waiting to be used, the baked oatmeal was a prime candidate.

Joelf is in town for a quick weekend, so Cookie came over this morning for breakfast. Yes, I was going to a brunch potluck today but not until noon so there was plenty of time for the Stooges to enjoy a nice 10 am. After breakfast was consumed I went back to the kitchen to make the baked oatmeal, which was assembled in a matter of minutes. Heidi Swanson deserves huge props for listing her recipes in volume and gram measurements. I LOVE YOU, HEIDI SWANSON.

The recipe gives the baker the option of using white sugar or maple syrup to sweeten the dish, but since I was using fresh cranberries and their bitter/tart flavor might ruin the entire dish, I opted for light muscovado. I mean, c'mon, brown sugar oatmeal--pretty classic right? Plus the extra sweet kick did take the edge off the fruit, hooray. I also chose toasted pecans over toasted walnuts because pecans and cranberries are practically the mascots of the holiday baking season, and rightfully so.

baked oatmeal

The rolled oats, nuts, sugar, salt, and cinnamon are tossed around in a bowl and set aside. The custard base--milk, egg, vanilla, melted butter--are stirred together in another bowl. The 8x8 baking dish is heavily buttered, and couple of sliced bananas are layered on the bottom of the pan. Or, if you have a couple of frozen bananas, their defrosted mushy insides can be spread over the bottom of the pan like a hidden layer of frosting. 2/3 of your berries or other fruit are sprinkled over the bananas, the oat mixture layered over that, and the custard base poured into the pan. The remaining fruit dots the top of the oatmeal like little juicy jewels, and into the oven it goes. This needs to bake for about 35 minutes.

When you pull the oatmeal from the oven, the top is drizzled with a little more butter and, if you like, more sugar or maple syrup. I opted for a muscovado sprinkle and it was quite nice.

Then, if your potluck gets cancelled and you get a call from a past patient who woke up with back pain and wants a treatment and you're feeling like doing a little work on your day off, leave the oatmeal on the counter for about 11 hours while you go about your day, which will turn out to be full of pleasant surprises. Then feeling like a little late-night snack and curious about this baked oatmeal you abandoned, heat up a serving in your toaster oven.

It would have been great for a brunchy potluck, but it makes a really delicious dessert. The custardy oatmeal still has some tooth to it, and the brown sugar and cinnamon are the perfect accompaniments. Yes, the cranberries are puckery-tart and a tad bitter, but I wouldn't want my cranberries any other way.. I wish I had toasted the nuts a little longer, and what is extra special nice is a drizzle of hot cream. But really, this baked oatmeal is wonderfully good and deliciously wholesome. A winner, no matter what time of day you eat it.

baked oatmeal

Note: this recipe is all over the internet, but here's the epicurious link so you can make it too. the book!

And...check out Heidi's website/blog, 101 Cookbooks.


  1. Our great minds are thinking alike again! A friend gave me this recipe from memory a couple months ago, and I made it and loved it (w/blueberries and huckleberries). However, her memory did not include the baking powder. When I saw the actual recipe I tried it again exactly as written, with the baking powder. I thought the bp gave it a wretched taste. maybe because I didn't use aluminum-free bp? I don't even know where to get that. But I didn't think it gave it any leavening, so I don't see what the purpose of it is anyway. So my conclusion is: fantastic recipe if you leave out the bp!

  2. ב''ה

    Looks pretty good.

  3. I always check out cookbooks from the library before buying it. It's list test-driving a car!

    This looks good. I have the book but haven't cook much from it. I'm gonna have to change that.

  4. So sad you had to delay brunch by yourself.
    I think I would like this. I had some fresh cranberries from Christmas still and today I made them into a cranberry-orange bread. I couldn't bear the thought of them being wasted. (And no, I won't blog it, but it was good.) If I'd checked your post earlier, I would probably would have decided to use them in this! Darn!
    Glad to hear you are doing well. x

  5. Amanda, so funny! Are you baking Nigel Slater's beet-chocolate cake? Mine is cooling on the counter right now. Not sure what the baking powder in the baked oatmeal is for; I'll make a note to skip it next time.

    Mendy, thanks, dude.

    Jenn, exactly! Gotta test-drive the cookbook before buying it.

    Melinda, it turned out okay. We are still trying to reschedule that brunch! You can use pretty much any fruit in this recipe, so you can try it out anytime. The hot cream is important otherwise it is a little dry.
    hugs to you, my friend. xo

  6. Amanda, forgot to add: i can find non-aluminum baking powder at the new season's and whole foods, plus even the QFC has it. the brand i use is called rumford and comes in red cans.

  7. I am not making a beet chocolate cake right now...but maybe I should be! Sounds kind of a breakfast cake :) I wonder if the aluminum is what contributes a funky flavor in the oatmeal. however I don't know why it needs leavening anyway, so I think I'm not going to bother with new bp.

  8. amanda, your baby! SO cute!! the beet-chocolate cake may be healthy, but texture and taste is 100% rich, dense chocolate decadence. so worth it! i'll post the cake prob next week...but in the meantime look for nigel slater's moist chocolate-beet cake.

  9. Thanks..she's all growed up and toddling now! OK, I will try to find that recipe...I like decadent chocolate that I can justify eating for breakfast. Antioxidants in the chocolate AND the'll be my new diet food! :)

  10. Hmmm, I have so cranberries in the fridge that never made it into a holiday baking project--this might be just the recipe for them! I love oatmeal and brown sugar!

  11. This looks good--but almost too healthy. I confess that when I've tried Heidi's recipes, they always seem like they could use a little more self-indulgence.
    I have a friend who orders oatmeal every time we go out for brunch. Her husband says she goes to all the nicest restaurants in town and orders gruel.
    But this is at least a few steps above gruel, right?

  12. Sarah, do it! I am thinking about making it again, just for me :)

    Marie, this is a slightly fancier gruel, for sure. That is funny; there have been times when I've wanted to order oatmeal at breakfast but just can't justify it. However once it was marketed as oatmeal brulee and came with all sorts of fruits and nuts plus a side of cream and the brown sugar brulee...I went ahead and ordered it. It was awesome.

    And yes, this baked oatmeal needs a pour of hot cream to really be worthwhile.

  13. That looks so comforting and beautiful. Love how you decorated it with cranberries. I too like to check out books in the library first, and books with weight measurements have an upfront advantage with me already. I just put my request in with my library. Wow, popular book!!! I'm number #51 in the list, ha ha. Thanks for including the link to this recipe. While I wait for the library copy, I'm glad I can still try this recipe.

    And congrats on your new business adventure. Best of luck to you!!!

  14. OK, I need to share a non-oatmeal related anecdote. The last THREE times I have tried to make angel food cake using Rose's wondra flour recipe, it has fallen right out of the pan when cooling. Never had that problem until I tried the wondra recipe. Anyway, today I tried it again, determined to cook it a good long time and get it right. Cooling on the bottle, and it didn't fall...yay!! I was prepping some carrots for dinner, I just proceeded to knock over that damn bottle so that the cake goes flying onto the floor. *&^&%*!@@!! I think I've got the Angel Food Cake Curse.

  15. I finally made this over the weekend. I loved it!!!! I used a mixture of golden raisins and dried cranberries instead of the blueberry/huckleberries, and almonds instead of walnuts (and olive oil instead of melted butter). Yum!

  16. My sis would love this, she's into oaty dishes. I'd love if you could check out my blog, I love to bake but I'm really a beginner!