Baked Oatmeal

At least once a week we eat oatmeal, whether or not the kids want it. Kirk always makes it with milk and regular oats (not the quick or instant kind), which is so much better than oatmeal made with water. In fact, we think oatmeal made with water is pretty non-edible. And oatmeal made with quick or instant oats tastes like glue. 

When Kirk was in Scotland last fall, he brought home a spurtle, or traditional oatmeal stirring stick and used it to cook the oatmeal since then, though there isn't a difference in taste. However, the challenge he finds is spending the time stirring the oatmeal while trying to get everything else ready for the morning. Hence, my quest for baked oatmeal.


Baked Oatmeal

You can use regular rolled oats (quick and instant oats don't work) or this recipe for steel-cut oats.

Remember the basic rolled oats to liquid ratio is 1:2. (See here for a complete hot cereal cooking chart.) You can estimate 1/2 dry rolled oats per serving, though if you have kids, 2 cups of dry oats makes at least 6 servings. If you are using steel cut oats, the oats to liquid ratio is about 1:4 (though some recipes have it as 1:3). There, you can estimate about 1/4 cup steel cut oats per serving.

The night before, mix:
1 cup rolled oats
2 cups milk or juice (or combination of the two)
1/4 tsp. salt
2-4 Tb. brown sugar, or to taste
Any spices or fruit you might want to add, such as cinnamon, raisins (if you like them rehydrated), peaches, berries, etc.

Let the mixture sit in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour the oatmeal mixture into an oven-safe container or pan that has been lightly greased. (If you are really planning ahead, you can mix it in the oven-safe pan the night before.) Bake for 25-30 minutes. If you are using steel-cut oats, bake for 45-60 minutes. Pull out of the oven and serve. Oatmeal will thicken as it cools.

If you use rolled oats, then you can actually mix all the ingredients and put it in the oven without letting it soak overnight. The overnight soak just makes the oatmeal more creamy. Some baked oatmeal recipes put in a little bit of melted butter and an egg, but still maintain the basic 1:2 ratio. If you want to try that, though the taste isn't any different, put a beaten egg and 2 Tb. of melted butter in a 2-cup measuring cup. Then fill up to the 2-cup mark with milk. Mix the liquid with the oats and continue with the recipe. A few other baked oatmeal recipes decrease the liquid slightly, add an egg, more butter, and baking powder, and basically make an "oatmeal cake" that can be sliced. We haven't tried that variation.

So, we get up, put the oatmeal in the oven first thing, and by the time people are dressed and ready for breakfast, the oatmeal is ready. It isn't burned to the bottom of the pan and we have more time to get other things done.

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