Saturday, March 07, 2015

Baked steel cup oats with fresh berries

My introduction to steel cut oats came several months ago when I purchased a box by mistake. Steel cut oats quickly became my favorite hot breakfast cereal. After enjoying its nutty flavor and chewy texture, I thought that there had to be a better way to enjoy these oats.

Several Internet searches led me to baked oatmeal. The idea of its rustic texture, browned with molasses or brown sugar, fascinated me. Baking the oats would add interest and appeal over traditional cooked oatmeal.

Then a culinary student at the Christian Culinary Academy presented individual bowls of baked oatmeal with strawberries last Thursday. The texture was amazing. Rustic and deep brown, her dish was a welcome change from cooked oatmeal. The oatmeal resembled a moist homemade granola.

Camp baked steel cut oats will add interest to any breakfast next to a roaring campfire this summer. It's the perfect meal to prepare in the evening, rest in the cooler overnight and bake in the morning. Before retiring for the night, measure dry ingredients into a bowl. After measuring the wet ingredients, marry the two, cover and place in the cooler. Be sure to place the ice chest in a secure location in bear country.

In the morning, light the charcoal briquettes in a charcoal chimney. Remove the bowl from the cooler, stir and pour into an oiled 10-inch Dutch oven. Brew the morning coffee as the oats bake and you ready yourself for the days activities. By the time everyone awakes, you'll enjoy a rustic breakfast made for the outdoors.

My purchase goof has opened my eyes to a new flavorful way to prepare oats in the morning. I plan to bake larger quantities for Oakland Feather River Camp this summer. Testing for a 12 by 20-inch hotel pan will begin in May. In addition to baked oats in the forest, larger quantities for the camp will enhance the breakfast meal.

Baked steel cut oats with fresh berries

I adapted this recipe from a 2013 blog post at Alexandra's Kitchen. Her recipe includes instructions for baking in individual dishes. My scratch-made syrup stood in for genuine maple syrup. I used a mixture of blueberries and raspberries for the test run.

3/4 cup steel cut oats
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cups fresh berries
2 cup milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a small bowl, mix together oats, nuts, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a second bowl, whisk together milk, syrup, egg, butter and vanilla. Pour the milk mixture over the oat mixture. Stir to combine. Store mixture in refrigerator or camp cooler overnight.

In the morning, scatter berries into a lightly oiled 10-inch camp-style Dutch oven. Pour milk-oat mixture over berries. Bake with coals for 375 degrees (18 coals under oven and 6 on lid) for 60 minutes or until the oats are firm and milk thoroughly absorbed. Bake several additional minutes for a crispier crust. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Serve with fresh berries and cream or milk. Makes about 6 servings.