Baked Oatmeal

I have implemented a new rule in the house - no meal can take longer to make than to clean up. I find that this is quite easy to enforce Monday - Friday,  but come the weekend, when any good intentions evaporate into thin air, I feel like a short order cook.  Particularly at breakfast.  But, I am delighted to say, I have stumbled upon a solution. Baked oatmeal.  Trust me.  It ticks all the boxes.

Cue Heidi Swanson, with her beautiful site, 101 Cookbooks  (plus two excellent books) and her genius idea for baking your morning oats and favourite toppings all together in the oven.  The idea is genius for many reasons - oats are a perfect way to start the day, it is all made in one dish (read: less washing up), and even those who (ahem) claim to hate porridge, devour the contents of their bowl.  And we all have the same meal. Together.

This is a very forgiving recipe and quick to throw together, but I reserve it for Sunday mornings as there is not a snowball's chance in hell that I am either up early enough or organised on a weekday morning to get it into a hot oven and bake it before everyone leaves the house.  Even if we do crave that golden crusted bowl of goodness.

Me being me, I made a few small adjustments. And, I thought I might add a few hints and suggestions:

- Make sure you use jumbo oats (rolled oats in the US) and not instant oats

- I like to use unsweetened nut milk instead of cows milk, but feel free to use any milk of your choice.  Coconut milk (the one in a carton not a can) also works extremely well (but due to its natural sweetness you may want to reduce the maple syrup slightly)

- Feel free to use toasted walnuts (Heidi does) or pecans instead of the sliced almonds

- I have tried replacing the butter with coconut oil, and while it works, I think butter is better (always, not just for this!)

- Use any fruit you like.  We are a little smoothie crazy here so I always have an abundance of frozen fruit in the freezer, but dried cherries or apricots and shredded coconut are also delicious.  I don't love it with strawberries, but that's just me....

- This can definitely be scaled up for a crowd and is perfect as part of a brunch spread - much easier than omelettes or french toast, and less mess than granola.

Baked Oatmeal

(Adapted from Heidi Swanson Super Natural Every Day)

serves 6

45g (3 tbsp) unsalted butter (plus more for greasing the dish)

200g (2 cups) jumbo porridge oats (rolled oats)

50g (1/2 cup) sliced almonds

scant 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

475ml (2 cups) almond milk

1 egg

60ml (1/4 cup) maple syrup

2 tsp vanilla extract (I have been using vanilla bean paste recently and it is wonderful)

1 ripe banana cut in half and then sliced (you can use frozen banana too)

200g (approx 1/2 cups depending on berries) frozen berries

Preheat oven to 190C (375F)

Butter a 25cm (10 inch) high sided round pie dish (or square equivalent)

Melt butter and leave to cool slightly while measuring other ingredients

Mix oats, half the almonds, salt, baking powder and cinnamon together in a bowl

Combine milk, egg, maple syrup, vanilla and half the melted butter and whisk

Slice banana and scatter over bottom of the dish with half of the frozen berries

Cover the fruit with the oat mixture

Carefully pour the wet mixture over the oats, and gently thwack the dish on the counter a few times to make sure everything is evenly distributed

Scatter remaining almonds and berries over the top and drizzle the remaining butter

Bake for 35-40 minutes until the mixture is set and has a golden crust

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before diving in

Feel free to drizzle with a little more syrup or as I love it with a dollop of plain yoghurt