This months daring cooks challenge was something that I don’t normally give much thought to – porridge, also known in my world as oatmeal. Specifically, Ruth from Makey Cakey invited us to start the day with something filling, warm and nutritious. We got to experiment with different techniques and flavorings to create our own perfect personal porridge. The goal was to make at least two different kinds of oatmeal that were different, in an attempt to find your favorite flavor.
Now I don’t know about you, but oatmeal is something I grew up with. My family generally made it in the microwave (just rolled oats and water), because that’s much faster than the stove top version. And you topped it with whatever was in the kitchen. Some of my favorite toppings include brown sugar, sunflower seeds, coconut, walnuts, and raisins, though recently I’ve become quite fond of honey with a little cinnamon and some milk. This method also made it really easy for a family with three kids who had very different tastes to get breakfast out of the same bowl and change it individually. It’s now one of my go to comfort foods when I get sick (easy to swallow, easy to make, and it feels like home). However, I was intrigued by a recipe Ruth posted for oven baked oatmeal – according to the pictures it comes out of the pan like a bar/piece of coffee cake and you can pour milk over it on a plate. I was a little dubious of this method, but I like my oatmeal thick, so I decided to go for it.
The ingredients for baked oats are really easy:
1 cup oats
3/4 cup milk (I used almond and it turned out fine, water would probably work too if you’re out of milk)
2 spoonfuls of honey (or jam or molasses)
1 small banana (mashed fruit)
1 heaped teaspoon ground flax seeds
1 greased pan (the quantities listed above make a thin layer in a 9×9)
Putting them together is even easier:
1. Mash the banana (fruit, though if you’re working with berries I probably wouldn’t smush those to much)
2. Add the honey and milk, mix until well combined.
3. Stir in the flax seeds and oats.
4. Pour into the pan and bake at 350 for 30 minutes, until firm and browned on top.
5. Serve with a splash of milk.
I tried this recipe on a Saturday and it came out perfectly. I Think that the flax seeds aren’t really necessary, and probably more trouble than they’re worth – I couldn’t find preground ones so I got whole seeds then ground them in a pepper mill which was likely wasted effort. But the dish was wonderful, and gone in moments. It was a little hard to wait for it to bake, but would probably would have been perfect when I was little – you could put it in the oven, then get everyone up and ready, and breakfast would be done about the time they made it downstairs to the table. And as you may have noticed above, there are a lot of substitutions that could be made to make this perfectly tailored to your tastes
Despite the long (compared to a microwave) wait time, this dish was such a big hit that I decided to try it again on Sunday. Originally I was just going to change the fruit/sweetener but as it turns out I had used the last of the rolled oats. However, my boyfriend loves steel cut oats and for some strange reason, keeps a bag of them next to the stove. So oven baked steel cut oats it was. From the very few times (2?) I’ve cooked steel cut oats my main take away has been that these things need considerably more liquid than rolled oats. So I used a slightly different recipe for version 2.
1 cup steel cut oats
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups milk
1 banana, mashed
2 spoonfuls maple syrup (I’d also used the last of the honey)
1 greased pan
Putting it together:
1. Melt the butter in a pot.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients
3. Pour into your greased pan.
4. Bake at 375 for 1 hour – check at the 40 minute point to make sure it’s not browning to fast….though I had the opposite problem and ended up leaving it in for closer to an hour and a half before the rest of my group decided it was time for breakfast and they didn’t care about the consistency as long as it was on the table.
As you can see, the consistency was indeed weird, and when I scooped it out I found that the oats had cooked but were only on the bottom of the pan and covered in liquid that hadn’t yet been absorbed. So, it wasn’t the prettiest dish, BUT, it did taste delicious when all stirred together – hints of sweet with the slightly nutty steel cut oats and was definitely something I’d want to make again…maybe using a steel cut oats crock pot method so I didn’t have to wait so long in the mornings.
I hope you try oatmeal if you have’t before, or that this post gives you new ideas on ways to eat an old classic. It’s healthy, filling, and a wonderful anytime food in my opinion.
My tasters decided to get in on the action after finding out that I needed to make multiple kinds of oatmeal and requested refrigerator porridge – a no cook version.
It’s really quite an easy recipe:
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons chia seeds
1/3 cup milk
Toppings and sweeteners of your choice.
1. Put all ingredients in a half pint mason jar and shake until combined.
2. Refrigerate overnight (or longer)
3. Stir and enjoy!
We tried mixing in raspberries with a splash of vanilla, blueberries, pineapple, and raisins with coconut and cinnamon. My favorite was the raisin/coconut/cinnamon variation – tasted most like what I expect from oatmeal. I thought that the overall product was nice (a wonderful version for summer and super easy to customize) but the oats tasted just a little raw to me. I might try zapping them for a few seconds in the microwave with the milk, then adding the other ingredients and refrigerating. I also can’t wait to try this with applesauce mixed in.