Strawberries and Cream Baked Oatmeal
Yield: 8-9 servings
This delicious breakfast began as a prep-at-night, bake-in-the-morning recipe, and it works quite well that way. Over the years, however, I've discovered quite a few adjustments that can successfully be made, both in terms of baking method and flexibility of ingredients.


Ingredients

  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk (I use light; could substitute milk of choice)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup (80g) pure maple syrup (could use honey)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup (60g) coconut oil, melted (could substitute melted butter or vegetable oil of choice)
  • ½ cup applesauce or one small apple, grated (may leave skin on)
  • 3 cups (288g) old fashioned oats
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup sliced or chopped strawberries, plus a few sliced berries reserved for the top
  • ¼ cup (48g) lightly packed brown sugar
  • Optional: ½ cup or so of unsweetened shredded coconut or slivered/sliced almonds (or chopped nuts of choice)

Instructions

  1. Grease a 9-inch square pan or 10-inch ovenproof skillet and set aside. (Alternatively, a 2-quart round casserole dish may be used. These are typically deeper, so the oatmeal will likely take an additional 5 minutes, give or take, to bake. An 8×12 Pyrex also works well, but a 9×13 is too big.) See notes for muffin adjustments. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the oats and the brown sugar. Stir in oats and combine well. (If using optional coconut or nuts, add them now. Optionally, you may simply sprinkle ¼ cup or so over the top before baking.) Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and spread to evenly distribute. Place the sliced, reserved strawberries on the top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for as little as an hour or two, or as long as overnight. (It’s not a deal breaker if you bake immediately, but this gives the oats time to absorb the liquid and plump up, which slightly enhances the finished baked oatmeal.)
  3. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375℉. Allow the oatmeal to sit on the counter while the oven is preheating. Unwrap the oatmeal and bake for 25 minutes, give or take 5 minutes depending on oven and baking dish variances, or until just cooked through the middle. (Tip: start checking for doneness at 20 minutes until you know how long this takes in your oven.)
  4. Remove from the oven, switch the oven setting to broil, and sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the top. Broil the oatmeal for about one minute, watching very closely so as not to burn, or until the sugar is melted and the top is golden.
  5. Serve and storing: The baked oatmeal may be served hot, room temperature or cold from the fridge. You may eat the oatmeal as is or drizzled with milk, additional fruit, and/or nuts. I usually bake the day before for an at-the-ready breakfast the next morning and like to gently reheat individual pieces in the microwave. The oatmeal will keep for up to a week when tightly covered and refrigerated. It freezes well, too.

Notes

When making muffins, refrigerate the uncooked oatmeal mixture in the mixing bowl, and then transfer it to the muffin tin once the liquid has been absorbed by the oats. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until cooked through. Often, I will top the muffins with a teaspoon of brown sugar, some sliced almonds, and a slice of strawberry prior to baking instead of following the broil step. The recipe yields 8 regular muffins or 6 jumbo.

Helpful hint: If I’m making muffins and want to bake them sooner than later, I reduce the milk to 1¼ cups, as it’s difficult to evenly distribute a soupy oat mixture to the muffin tins. This isn’t necessary with the baking dish version, and I do ultimately prefer the recipe with the higher amount of liquid.

A few more things:
For a slightly less sweet topping, you may reduce the brown sugar topping by a tablespoon or two.
Fresh, seasonal strawberries provide the best flavor and natural sweetness, but I have made this oatmeal many times with frozen berries, and it still tastes quite good. In this case, don’t thaw the berries. You will be able to slice them easily with a sharp knife once they have sat at room temperature for just a few minutes.


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