I feel like I’ve been heavy on the updates and light on the how-to’s lately. I’d like to tip the scales a little, starting with this – a recipe for the best breakfast creation I’ve found in a long while.
Vanilla. Browned butter. Steel cut oats. Throw in the cinnamon and nutmeg that I left out of that already long title, and a pile of fresh summer berries, and you’ve got the most decadent breakfast that makes your body feel as good as your taste buds.
This recipe came out of my search for a good steel cut oats bake. Food fads typically make me roll my eyes, but the idea of bubbling, caramelized, baked oatmeal had my mouth watering. It sounded like everything that oatmeal could be but almost never was.
And so I started searching, adamant that the oats be steel cut, not rolled, and that fruity, pumpkin-y, who-knows-what-y flavors would not be admitted to the party. I wanted an oatmeal that would complement a pile of fresh fruit, not compete with it for flavor.
And I’ve finally found it. I did quite a lot of tweaking to the recipe that inspired this dish, and I’m very happy with the results. The strongest flavor here is the rich nuttiness of the browned butter, followed closely by the vanilla. Cinnamon and nutmeg add pleasant background flavors, and a light touch of maple syrup gives just enough sweetness.
I haven’t even mentioned the best part of this recipe – it can be almost completely prepared the night before! Meaning that all you have to do in the morning is stir in the baking powder, pour the mixture in a pan, and go drink your coffee and wait for your oven to stop torturing you with amazing smells.
And then you can do this:
Vanilla Browned Butter Steel Cut Oats
Yields about 8 servings (it re-heats well the next day)
If you’ve looked at baked oatmeal recipes before, you may have noticed that a lot of them include eggs as a binder. Mine does not. Adding an egg to the mix might work well with rolled oats, which have a quicker cooking time (I’ve never tried this), but steel cut oats take quite a bit longer to bake. Long enough that any eggs you add turn into this weird custard-y layer at the bottom of the pan with the texture of overcooked scrambled eggs. Yuck.
This is my very favorite way to eat blueberries in the summer. Seriously, I think it even rivals blueberries and whipped cream. It certainly leaves me feeling better afterwards! It works great with other fruit too. Strawberries go well, and blackberries or peaches would be fantastic here.
6 T butter
4 C milk (I use whole or 2%)
1/3 C maple syrup
1/2 t kosher salt
1 T vanilla extract
1 1/2 C steel cut oats
1 C roughly chopped nuts (I typically use a mix of almonds and walnuts)
1 1/2 t cinnamon
3/4 t nutmeg
2 t baking powder
Preheat oven to 350°
In a saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter and allow it to bubble vigorously. Meanwhile, measure out your milk and have it ready. The brown butter is ready when the bubbles start to subside, and the butter turns the color of honey and smells deeply nutty. At this point, turn off the heat and add the milk quickly to keep the butter from overcooking. Stir in the maple syrup, salt, and vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Pour in the liquid mixture, and stir to combine. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan, and bake for 50 minutes, or until the liquid is mostly absorbed and the top turns golden brown.
To Prepare Ahead
Follow the above instructions, but leave out the baking soda, and stash your bowl of milky oats in the fridge overnight. The next morning, preheat the oven to 350°, stir the baking soda into the oats mixture, and bake as usual.