December is certainly a sneaky month. Hitting the half-way mark makes the whole month feel nearly over. Today, the third Advent, is a serious reminder that I need to frequent more Christmas markets, bake more cookies, and drink more mulled wine before January shows up.
Just like the Christmas markets, fresh cranberries will vanish with the start of the new year. The dried version is always hanging out in my pantry, but like most other dried fruits they feel like a distant relative as opposed to a sibling when compared to its fresh counterpart. Although dried cranberries are wonderful in rice and cookies, with yogurt and lentils, they just can't do the things that fresh cranberries can. Fresh cranberries love meat (beyond the usual suspect that is cranberry sauce and turkey, fresh cranberries are just as good with slowly braised beef). And as we all know, they are pretty wonderful in everything baked.
I've written about baked oatmeal before, but that recipe feels quite sober compared to Winter Baked Oatmeal with Cranberries and Pear. It actually did include both cranberries and pears; however, the cranberries were dried and the pear was cut into thin, humble matchsticks. That recipe also only served one. This one, however, has more fruit than oats and serves plenty (and even more if you double it). It feels like more of a celebration of winter fruit as opposed to an effort to jazz up your regular morning oatmeal.
Cranberries and pears are a classic pairing, and one that I am not going to try to come in between. Cranberries are the sour to a pear's sweetness.
This baked oatmeal has everything going for it - it is a little sweet and a little salty, it is custardy, but also crunchy. Thanks to the cranberries, it is also a little sour, but just a little. So, sweet, sour, salty, creamy and crunchy - is there anything else you could possible want from your breakfast oatmeal? I think not. Hell, this is so good you could even serve it for dessert - just call it a Custardy Cranberry and Pear Crumble.
Although this might seems like a weekend breakfast, you can bake it, save the leftovers in the fridge and then simply reheat it in the oven the next day, or even the next, next day, thus making it the perfect breakfast to make on a Sunday and then enjoy during the week.
Also, if your making this for a festive morning with friends and family (which you'll probably want to do), you can easily double the recipe.
Winter Baked Oatmeal with Cranberries and Pear
150 g fresh cranberries (1 1/2 cups)
2 large pears, chopped into cubes
1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup + 1 tbsp
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 tsp coconut oil, room temperature + a knob for greasing the dish
Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C / gas mark 4.
Grease a baking dish with coconut oil and in the baking dish, mix together the cranberries and chunks of pear.
In a small bowl, mix together the rolled oats, a pinch of sea salt, baking powder, and ground ginger.
In another bowl (or measuring cup), mix together the milk, egg, vanilla extract and 1/4 cup maple syrup.
In a third small bowl, mix together the walnuts, coconut oil, 1 tbsp maple syrup and a large pinch of coarse sea salt until the walnuts are well coated (use your hands if you like).
Pour the rolled oat mixture over the cranberries and pear and make sure it is spread evenly. Next, pour the wet mixture evenly over the oats. Finally, top the oatmeal with the sweet and salty walnut mix.
Place the dish in the oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes. The walnuts should be lightly golden and crispy and the oatmeal should be set. Underneath the layer of oats, you should see the cranberries bubbling very temptingly. Let cool slightly and then serve.
If you have leftovers, cover the dish and store in the refrigerator. The oatmeal keeps for about four days in the fridge. To reheat, preheat the oven to 275 F / 135 C / gas mark 1 and bake for about 10-12 minutes.