When the sun rises in Tucson, it cracks through a few stray clouds hovering out past the Rincon mountains. It shatters the light from pink to gold to blue, and finally it pours through the east-facing door the leads from my backyard to my kitchen, where I’m stirring together orange, cinnamon, and almond milk for this morning’s breakfast.
I’ve said before that we eat a lot of oatmeal in my home, and while we’ve lately been enjoying chocolate steel cut oats with berries, I’m mixing up our usual with more seasonal flavors like this pumpkin orange baked oatmeal. Because it’s just about orange season here and I’ll soon be bringing home bags and bags of Arizona sweets, I added some orange zest to this one for a bright, citrusy flavor. Chocolate chai sauce brings a spicy warmth to grace the top. The steel cut traditional oatmeal is great, but there’s something about a baked oatmeal that just makes you feel like you’re eating cake for breakfast, in a really good way.
I love being up early and whipping breakfast together, but I don’t love to spend a lot of time cooking and cleaning up in the mornings. I’m most productive first thing in the morning, so I try to save that mental energy for more intense tasks like grading…or at least tasks that require a lot of mental motivation (like grading).
Oh, grading. Too bad I don’t drink coffee.
So you know I’ve got a trick for making this oatmeal easier to put together in the morning.
You can mix everything together except the egg and baking powder the night before. Stir it in a bowl and cover the bowl with foil (or a lid, if it has one) and pop it in the fridge overnight. Then in the morning, stir in the beaten egg, the almond milk, and the baking powder and make sure it’s really well-mixed. It’ll be all ready to pour into a dish and bake. While it’s in the oven, I like to finish up a tall glass of hot lemon water to get my system moving and hydrate my body after 8+ hours without anything to eat or drink. They don’t call it break-fast for nothing! When it’s done, you’re in pumpkin orange baked oatmeal heaven with fall and winter flavors galore: cinnamon, ginger, allspice…
Now, about this chocolate chai sauce: it’s sweetened with only a small amount of maple syrup, so while it looks like something you’d drizzle over a sundae, it really isn’t any less healthy than drizzling maple syrup on your oatmeal–and yet it tastes so decadent! But I really do think this oatmeal is still delicious without the topping, so consider it optional if you just plain don’t want any more sweetener than is necessary.
For a weekend or holiday breakfast, this is a lovely treat that’s still full of nourishing ingredients and warming spices.
Delicious hot baked oatmeal with pumpkin, orange, and warming spices like cinnamon and ginger. Serve it with an optional chocolate chai sauce.
- 2-1/2 cups rolled oats, certified gluten free if necessary
- 1 cup almond milk, orange juice, or half and half
- 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
- 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated or powdered ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1-3 teaspoons water (depending on how thick or thin you want your sauce)
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
Preheat oven to 350F.
If you're preparing the batter the night before: mix all of the dry ingredients EXCEPT the baking powder in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients EXCEPT the egg and almond milk. In the morning, beat the egg and add it in along with the almond milk and baking powder, and give it a good stir.
If you're making all of it the morning of: mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients one by one, stirring to combine and beating the egg in last.
Allow the batter to sit for 10 minutes. This is an important step! The oats need to absorb some of the liquid.
Bake at 350F for 60 minutes. While it's baking, mix up the chocolate sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk with a fork until smooth.