One of my favorite childhood memories is waking up to intoxicatingly delicious scents wafting from the kitchen as breakfast was being prepared: the smell of bacon frying, coffee brewing, pancakes, er, pancaking(?!)… it always takes me to a place of nostalgic comfort. My mom made the most amazing french toast, and there was little in the world that could top the experience of laying in bed on a chilly winter morning with my nose poking out of the covers just enough to inhale the aroma of french toast on the skillet downstairs. When Emma woke up this morning with a huge smile on her face telling us that she could smell waffles cooking, I knew she’d been brought to that same happy place (although what she thought she was smelling was not at all what I was making, but that’s all minor details).
I love when the air becomes colder and the leaves start to change colors. For many it ushers in the beginning of a season full of cozy sweaters and fires in the hearth. For me, it signals the beginning of baking season. I will dust off the recipe box full of bread and brownie recipes, shake out the apron wrinkles, and crank up the knobs on the oven. Despite an unseasonably warms stretch of weather this past week, I’m done teetering on the edge in anticipation and am ready to get crackalackin’ in the kitchen. So without further ado, I give you our inaugural autumn breakfast: baked oatmeal (what Emma was really smelling when she woke up).
Baked Oatmeal – serves 8
- 3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2-3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons milk (any kind)
- 1/2 cup applesauce
*Read the “tips” section below for how to make this dish the night before. 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray with cooking spray or grease a 2-quart baking dish (I use an 8″ x 8″ glass dish).
2. Combine the baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl combine the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, milk and applesauce and mix well. Add the spice mixture to the wet mixture and combine thoroughly with a whisk. Make sure that there are no clumps of spices in the wet mixture.
4. Add oats to the wet mixture and stir thoroughly with a spoon. Pour oat mixture into the baking dish.
5. Place the baking dish on the middle rack in the oven for about 40-45 minutes. When done, place on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Serve in bowls with milk, maple syrup or whatever else you might fancy!
(This recipe was updated on 12/11. The original recipe included 1/4 cup of melted butter, and did not include the ginger or ground cloves. )
A few tips and tricks:
* This recipe is a combination of probably 8 or 9 different recipes. The great thing about this dish is that it isn’t that scary intimidating kind of “baking-science” baking. It’s pretty forgiving. You can add more eggs and milk if you want a more custardy baked oatmeal. Sprinkle in a few tablespoons of flour if you’d like it to resemble a more muffin-y consistency. Adjust and/or add spices to your taste. Throw in some nuts, raisins, or chopped fruit into the oat mixture before baking.
*If you don’t do dairy, swap out the cow’s milk for a non-dairy version like soy, almond or rice milk. I’ve also used apple cider instead of milk for a super tasty autumn treat. I imagine that if you’re trying to eat on the cheap, water could be a viable substitution as well (if anyone tries that, let me know how it works out!).
* I usually start checking after 35 minutes, it’s done when a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
* If you don’t want to wake up redonkulously early to get breakfast on the table (you know, before the kids start to whine that they’re dying of hunger) you can prepare it all the night before, cover the baking dish with saran wrap and place it in the refrigerator. The next morning take the dish out of the fridge and let it de-chill a little on the counter as the oven preheats to 350, pop it in to bake (you might have to let it bake just a few minutes longer than called for), and voila! Less dirty dishes to combat, less brain work before the caffeine kicks in. Make-ahead meals are a glorious thing!
* Baked oatmeal is totally leftover friendly! I throw our leftovers in little on-the-go containers that my husband can take to work or the kids can grab for an easy no-fuss breakfast on days when I’m too lazy to engage in morning meal prep.
I’m curious, what were your favorite childhood breakfasts? Tell us yours in the comments section below!