When we were in Pennsylvania, Amber served us baked oatmeal for breakfast. She’d mixed it up the evening before, after we’d cleaned up from the birthday dinner, stirring together oats and sugar, milk and eggs. She divided the batter between two pans and then grabbed a bag of blueberries from the freezer and, sprinkling out a generous amount, covered the tops of the cakes completely. The she slipped the pans into the cold oven and set it for delayed bake.
I was fascinated. The batter didn’t sour overnight? Would the blueberries sink in? What else did she use her delay bake for? Did the oven turn off automatically? Had she ever burned anything? And so on.
The baked oatmeals were delicious. Their overnight rest had softened and plumped the oats, and the cakes baked up high, the blueberries capping the cake with juicy sweetness.
Back home, my husband and I studied the oven manual, trying to figure out the fancy settings. We first set the clock and then the delay bake, and then we stood there, waiting for the oven to whoosh on at the appointed time — I certainly didn’t want to burn the house down while we slept. Satisfied that all was in working order, I mixed up a batch of Amber’s baked oatmeal and popped it in the oven.
The next morning, I was still in bed when I heard the oven peep that it was at temperature. Soon after, the smell of baking oats wafted up the stairs. By the time I walked into the kitchen, breakfast was five minutes from being done.
While similar to my standard recipe, Amber’s is a little less sweet and more cake-like, thanks to the overnight soak. In my recipe — a fast mix-and-bake affair — the oats rise to the top a little, leaving a thin custardy layer of buttery egg on the bottom. I liked that sweet layer, but the children did not. Amber’s recipe, now, they much prefered.
“It’s way better, Mom,” my older son said. “Way better.”
Also, delay bake is awesome and I love my oven.
Overnight Baked Oatmeal
Adapted from Amber’s recipe.
The first time I made this, I used rolled oats, but then I discovered a sack of quick cooking steel cut oats — they looked very similar to Amber’s hand-rolled oats — and snatched them right up. It’s funny though — Amber fusses about her hand-rolled oats. She thinks they make her granola and baked oatmeal too chewy. But the chewiness is exactly what we love! Do what you want: For a more nubbly, nutty baked oatmeal, use the Costco fancy cut oats, or regular rolled oats, and for a cakier baked oatmeal, use quick oats. Either way, it will be delicious.
Amber uses a scale to measure her oil — just plops the mixing bowl on the scales, tares it, and then glug-glugs in the oil — so she doesn’t have to dirty a measuring cup.
4½ cups rolled oats
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1¼ teaspoon salt
1½ cups milk
6 tablespoons (75 grams) oil
¾ cup (200 grams) applesauce
2 cups frozen blueberries, optional
Stir together the dry ingredients and mix in the wet (except for the blueberries). Pour the batter into a buttered 9×12-inch pan. Sprinkle the blueberries on top — I lightly stirred them into the top layer of batter, but Amber did not.
Let the pan sit on the counter, or in a cold oven, at room temperature overnight. In the morning, bake for 30 minutes (40 minutes, if using delay bake) at 350 degrees.
Serve warm, with milk. (Or, ignore the coffee shop’s “no outside food or drink” sign and eat cold, out of a tupperware box, breaking off bite-sized pieces and shoveling them into your mouth when no one is looking, shh.)