Buttermilk oatmeal bake is like crisp and spiced baked porridge. My favourite breakfast treat prepared the night before.
Breakfast like king
Breakfast used to be the most revered meal of the day. For years if not centuries we’d been told that it was the key to good health, the one you should eat like a king (lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper).
We were encouraged to go to work on an egg, to just do it with Weetabix and to crunch like Honey Monster.
That principle launched thousands of greasy spoons, sold millions of cereal packets and spawned weird things like turmeric soy latte ristretto.
Breakfast used to be the top commandment for weight loss, for healthy lifestyle, even for clean eating.
It was one unquestionable axiom that Mosley, Atkins, Dukan and Pollan all agreed on. It staged the porridge comeback (good) and gave birth to the chia smoothie (possibly not so good).
Breakfast: a dietary no-no
And now what? It has become the bogeyman, the killer, or at least the scourge of diabetics; particularly the sugar-loaded options of course.
According to Terence Kealey, ‘Breakfast is a Dangerous Meal’ and fast is healthier than breaking it as it stops glucose levels from going sky-high and, conversely to age-old wisdom, aids everything from weight loss to reduced blood pressure.
Tim Spector, of COVID Zoe fame and author of at least two good books on nutrition, agrees. He recommends fasting for at least 12 hours between your last meal of the day to the first the following morning (I call that sleep).
As usual, scientists get bored and come up with revelations that totally break the status quo and the beliefs heretofore.
Breakfast the way you like it
My view is, do as you feel is better for you. Some people wake up hungry: telling them to starve till the clock strikes eleven is cruel. Others naturally take nil by mouth before lunch apart from possibly black coffee.
I have gone through various phases. Sometimes I skipped breakfast for months on end, other times I nibbled a piece of cake or an apple before going to work.
There was the muesli period, then there was the scrambled eggs time.
I discovered overnight oats for a spell but some time later I found I didn’t fancy anything at all except a cup of hot water with lemon.
These days I prefer to have breakfast rather than skip it, mainly because I am otherwise ravenous at lunch and end up overeating. It’s usually either eggs of some description or oats of sorts.
And the baked buttermilk oatmeal is a firm fixture: a weekly or fortnightly treat. I usually double the amounts and make up two dishes: one for the next morning and one for the freezer.
How to make buttermilk oat bake
It is a treat: it has a secret, delightful lick of jam at the bottom of the dish. Which obviously is completely optional but why would you not?
Even with that jam it is still a much healthier breakfast than a sugary avalanche of cereal poured out of a packet eaten with, incongruously, skimmed milk.
It’s a good idea to brush the dish with butter before making the bake, otherwise the oats and jam might stick to the bottom and sides, making washing up impossible.
Then smear the base with your favourite preserve, three spoonfuls is about right for a small gratin dish, 18 x 13cm (7 x 5 inch).
The oatmeal itself is a doddle: just stir together the oil and sugar with the cinnamon, salt and the bicarbonate of soda in a medium bowl. Mix in the buttermilk and then fold in the oats so they are thoroughly coated and moistened. Spoon the mix on top of the jam and smooth the surface.
The oatmeal bake needs about half an hour in the oven.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a programmable oven, it’s bliss: set it to come on half an hour before your breakfast time, plop the dish with the oatmeal in and wave it goodnight; it will be perfectly fine sitting in the switched off oven overnight.
And then in the morning you will come to the kitchen to be welcomed by the nicest smell of warm, spiced oats. No better wake up than this!
You can swap half the sugar amount for honey or date syrup. The bake will then be stickier and chewier.
Maple syrup is a possibility but it will make it soggier and not as crisp, while the crisp edges and top of the bake are what I adore the most about it.
You can top it with plain yoghurt or fresh fruit, or both. For extra sweetness, drizzle it with honey.
Add some cardamom or mixed spice, for a Christmassy vibe.
And you can call it a buttermilk oat bake or baked oatmeal, porridge bake or breakfast oat casserole, a buttermilk oat crisp or as it is the custom in my house: The Bake.
More oat recipes
Homemade granola, easy and healthy with just the fruit and seed mix you like; only waiting for milk, yoghurt or fresh fruit. Take back control of your breakfast!
Healthy homemade cereal bars made with oats and plenty of dried fruit and seeds. Cereal bars or granola bars? Either way they are much better than shop-bought bars.
Porridge oats and banana super-smoothie with chia seeds and almond or coconut milk, dairy free and gluten free. To prepare chia seeds, soak them in water in a 1 to 4 ratio.
More breakfast recipes
Cheese and mushroom omelette is a quick and easy breakfast or lunch dish. Beat the eggs well and work quickly for a perfectly fluffy omelette.
Fried sliced mushrooms, cooked in butter and a little oil, perfect for breakfast or as a side to steak. Cook them for 10-15 minutes until caramelised and crisp.
Ciambella, Italian breakfast lemon cake shaped like a doughnut, with an occasional berry, is the Roman way to meet the day. With a cappuccino and a smile.