I am a big lover of oatmeal. I love oatmeal porridge cooked on the stovetop. I love freshly-baked oatmeal-raisin cookies. I even love instant oatmeal. Especially in the winter. There's nothing quite like a belly full of warm oatmeal to start your day on a cold winter morning!
Instant oatmeal is never as good as stovetop porridge though. Even when I make my own mixes, it still falls short. The problem with stovetop porridge though is that I'm the only one in the house who eats it. And it doesn't exactly reheat well. And I don't really feel like getting up and making it first thing in the morning most days. Enter baked oatmeal!
I'd never even heard of baked oatmeal until a friend linked me to a microwave cooking page a while back. I've tried the "baked oatmeal in a mug" recipe. It's tasty! (Although I generally put a touch more honey in than it calls for and sometimes top it with maple syrup as well.) So this planted the seed. If microwave baked oatmeal is delicious, then maybe I should look into making actual baked oatmeal. Maybe that would be a delicious way to have my oatmeal all waiting and ready for me on cold winter mornings.
Never having made baked oatmeal before, I didn't really have a convenient starting point beyond my microwave recipe so I just went to Google for answers. This was the first recipe that came up. So I went with it... almost.
I generally like to at least skim the reviews on recipe pages like this. The predominant views seemed to be that this recipe was either delicious as written or that it didn't need nearly as much sugar as called for. Now, I do enjoy sweetened oatmeal. I need some sugar in it. That said, I've been trying to scale it back a bit since I know it's probably not good to be dumping huge mounds of brown sugar into my bowl every morning.
In the end, I did make a few changes to the recipe as written, but still found this to be an excellent baked oatmeal "base". You could add all sorts off different inclusions and delicious treats to the same basic recipe for many variations on a delicious theme!
This is what I came out with in the end:
3 c. quick oats
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
1/2 c. sweetened applesauce
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1 mashed banana
Next time I'd probably also add half a cup of frozen raspberries and a quarter cup of ground flax. And maybe drizzle some maple syrup over the top as well.
I will definitely be making this again! It came out deliciously cinnamon-y and just the right sweetness. It reheats beautifully in the microwave. And, best of all, I can make a batch on the weekend and have breakfasts for the whole week!