Full disclosure: I don’t like oatmeal. I really don’t understand why so many people automatically categorize it in the breakfast-of-champions category (my first and only choice for breakfast of champions? Beer.) Most supposedly healthy and nutrient-packed bowls of oatmeal just translate to cold, lumpy spoonfuls of goop in my mouth and it seems to me that nothing – absolutely nothing – can distract me from the fact that it essentially tastes like soft brains with a smattering of sugar on top (as the metaphor should imply, I am not a fan of eating brains). But apparently there is a way to make oatmeal a touch more palatable and that is by incorporating it into a baked good. The funny thing is, what I hate most about oatmeal is its texture (or lack thereof – didn’t the brain reference tip you off?). But when you bake it into cakes, cookies or bars, that’s exactly what it lends to the entire affair: a lovely, chewy texture and slight nuttiness in taste. I know there’s this huge, healthy, get-on-the-nut-oils bandwagon thing going on, but most of the time I think oatmeal goes best with brown butter: smoky, dark, caramel-colored brown butter, which – in this recipe – you stir into a base of oatmeal and wholewheat flour. The whole thing is topped off with some sugar, spices and pecans and then baked. When you slice bars off the finished product, they will crumble slightly and smell really fragrant because of the spices – not in the lush, decadent way that some desserts do but as a sweet, snacking option that isn’t altogether too unhealthy. Makes: One 9 inch-by-6 inch baking dish of bars Time:
Prep (20 mins) + Cooking Time (15-20 mins)
1 cup of wholewheat flour
1 cup of raw oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp powdered cinnamon
1 tsp powdered nutmeg
1/2 cup pecans (whole or chopped)
Pre-heat your oven to 350 and grease a 9 inch-by-6 inch baking dish.
In a shallow pan, heat the butter until it melts. Continue heating until it turns a dark shade of brown, bubbles slightly and smells nutty. Keep this aside to cool.
In a large bowl, sift together the wholewheat flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the oats and keep aside.
Pour the cooled brown butter into a bowl and add the egg and vanilla extract. Beat until all three are well combined. Make a little well in the bowl with the dry ingredients and pour the butter-egg-vanilla mixture into it in three batches, beating in between.
Empty the batter into the greased cake pan – it shouldn’t be too runny. In fact, it should be fairly on the dry side. Press the pecans on to the surface of the batter and bake for 15-20 minutes, until done. Once it’s out the oven, let it cool before slicing off bars.
Perfect for late afternoon snacking and maybe even a picnic?