Baked Oatmeal

Baked Oatmeal

I woke up shivering this morning, and smiled. Overnight, fall had arrived. I snuggled up against my husband, pulled the covers up to my shoulders, and drifted back to sleep, dreaming of warm, comforting breakfasts.

S and I first tasted baked oatmeal at the Brook Farm Inn, back in February. I had meant to get the recipe, but never bothered to ask. Spring came, and then summer, and all thoughts of oven-based breakfasts fell by the wayside. And then today, finally, I woke up shivering. I wanted to welcome the cooler weather with a breakfast we could wrap around ourselves like an afghan, something with hints of cinnamon and soft, warm insides. Baked oatmeal fit the bill.

A quick google gave me some basic guidelines—most recipes called for eggs, which we just ran out of, so I wound up winging things for the most part. And in a last-minute fit of inspiration (literally—the oatmeal was in the oven and I was washing up when it occurred to me) I dotted the dish with slices of slightly overripe nectarine—the last gasp of summer, atop the first breakfast of autumn. Sweet.

Baked oatmeal has a different consistency than the stove-top version, though the flavor is very similar. It’s got a mix of textures—there’s a slightly firmer, almost crusty part, and then a meltingly soft interior. Cooking it with milk also makes it more substantial and filling—the ingredients here are basically the same amounts I use when making it on the stove, but I do that with plain water. As much as we enjoyed our baked oatmeal this morning, I was surprised but we ended up with leftovers—we were both completely satisfied with a smaller serving than usual. That’s not a bad thing, eh?

Baked Oatmeal with Fresh & Dried Fruits
Serves 2-3

2 cups lowfat milk
1 cup water
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. almond extract
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 ½ cups rolled oats
½ cup dried fruit of your choice [I used raisins and cherries]
½ cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped [or walnuts, or almonds]
1 t. cinnamon
1-2 pieces fresh fruit, peeled, pitted, and sliced [I used a nectarine, but this would work equally well with plums, apples, pears, apricots…]

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a small rectangular baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

Combine milk, water, extracts, and sugar in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, combine oats, dried fruit, nuts, and cinnamon. Pour in the liquid and stir, then pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with the sliced fruit and sprinkle with additional sugar, if desired [I didn’t, but I think it might look pretty]. Bake for ½ hour, or until all liquid is absorbed. Serve with additional milk.