I love oatmeal. I eat it almost every morning. Old-fashioned or steel cut oats, baked oatmeal or boiled, it’s all good. I have experimented with countless baked oatmeal recipes and this is a hands-down winner with everyone in my family.
When Smart Balance–a company that makes butters, oils, peanut butter, and other products aimed at avoiding trans fats naturally and reducing saturated fats, total fat and cholesterol–asked me to participate in a national recipe contest, I thought, “NO WAY!” Heck, I was only playing around with a business Facebook page when I started The Fountain Avenue Kitchen. I thought I checked all the boxes to keep the page private. I mean, people didn’t really care what I was cooking, right? Well, as you have figured out, I am not very tech-savvy and I accidentally made that page public. (My husband informed me when he noticed I had two “likes!”) So, I decided I would go with it and see what happened.
The thought of a national contest where people voted for me seemed crazy. I mean, how would I ever get votes when I hate to ask anyone for anything?? When I learned that the winner would receive TWO trips for two to Canyon Ranch Hotel & Resort in Miami Beach, Florida–one to keep and one to give away–I reconsidered. I mean, the chances of winning are slim, but if I do, I get to give away a trip! How fun would that be? (Not to worry, you wouldn’t have to go with me!)
Then I thought about my recipes. My baked oatmeals have been well received and they are healthy and delicious. Though I have made my baked oatmeals with everything from butter to coconut oil, canola and grape seed oil, my original recipe calls for butter. So, incorporating Smart Balance’s butter was a natural fit. It felt authentic. When I first cooked with this product, no one could tell a difference. Now, I felt as though I could participate in the contest and, win or lose, feel good about it. After all, if I convert a few people into baked-oatmeal eaters in the process, I will be happy. That would be like winning!
My favorite part of this recipe is the little bit of sweet crunch on top. Through much experimentation, I have created an oatmeal that is not mushy like stovetop oatmeal but can be cut and is the slightest bit cake-like. I wanted an oatmeal that was healthy, whole grain, wheat-free, slightly sweet, and could be eaten like a muffin or topped with milk and any desired toppings. I hope you approve! Oh, and I would be thrilled if you voted for my recipe!
UPDATE: WE WON!!!!! Click HERE to see the prize giveaway and thank you to all who voted. Maybe we can do this again sometime!
Overnight Crunchy Top Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal
After more than a decade of making this tried-and-true breakfast, I've made a few minor adjustments to the original recipe and have included them in the notes section for those who'd like to try.
¼ cup (56g) melted Smart Balance Original Buttery Spread (butter, coconut oil, or vegetable oil of choice work well too)
½ cup (4oz) unsweetened applesauce (I keep a pack of the individual serving cups on hand–they are the perfect size)
1 small apple, grated (fine to leave skin on)
1¼ cups (300ml) milk of choice
3 cups (270g) old fashioned oats (use certified gluten-free oats if necessary)
⅓ (66g) cup brown sugar (may use ¼ cup (50g) for less sweetness)
Combine all ingredients except the oats and brown sugar in a large bowl. Add oats and mix well.
Transfer mixture to a buttered baking dish. (You may use a 9-inch pie plate or an 9-inch square pan–or really any 2-quart baking dish–depending on how thick you would like your oatmeal. A 10-inch cast iron skillet works well, too.) Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours.
When ready to bake, let the baking dish sit on the counter while the oven pre-heats to 375℉. Uncover the oatmeal and bake for 25-30 minutes or until just set in the center. Remove oatmeal from oven, set oven to broil, and sprinkle the brown sugar over top of oatmeal. Broil for a minute, watching very closely, or until the topping is melted and lightly browned.
May serve as is or with yogurt or warmed milk, nuts, and or fruit of choice. My kids eat it plain, like a muffin; I load it up. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator. May reheat gently in the microwave.
Recipe options: •To play up the flavor of the warm spices, I now regularly add 1 teaspoon of apple pie spice (could sub a mixture of freshly grated nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon) in addition to the 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. For a slightly different yet complementary flavor profile, you could use pumpkin pie spice.
•Don’t have applesauce? Simply grate another apple for a total of 8–9 ounces (or about 1 cup) shredded apple.
•For a pretty garnish, I like to reserve some thin slices of apple and place on top of the oatmeal mixture once transferred to the prepared baking dish. •For a hint more toothsome texture, I’ve added 2 tablespoons of steel cut oats to the batter.
Prefer to make baked oatmeal muffins? In this case, I refrigerate the uncooked oatmeal in the mixing bowl and then transfer it to the muffin tin once the liquid has been absorbed by the oats. This ensures even distribution of the liquid and solid ingredients. I get 8 regular muffins or 6 jumbo and bake for approximately 20 minutes. (Because of the wider proportions of my jumbo tin, those muffins bake in the same amount of time as the muffins baked in my regular tin. Just peek a little early until you know the exact time for your oven.)
Using coconut oil? When using melted coconut oil (and butter to a somewhat lesser degree), it is helpful to have the cold ingredients come to room temperature before mixing, That way, the oil will not re-harden when it comes into contact with the cold ingredients.