This festive baked oatmeal tastes like Christmas cake (aka fruit cake), but it happens to be butter-free, gluten-free and vegan.
Christmas has jumped out of the shadows and sprung up on me. Which is on of the reasons why this week’s Sunday post includes both a recipe and a review. Consider it my 2-for-1 holiday special.
Side note: Is it just me, or is everything perpetually on sale these days? I feel like I haven’t bought anything for ‘full price’ in ages. Not that I’m complaining.
Today’s theme is Christmas cake, which is basically the same thing as fruit cake (sorry, people who hate fruit cake!). Like Christmas pudding and fruit mince pies, Christmas cake is a festive British food that was invented centuries ago. To celebrate all things Christmas cake, I have a review of Donna Hay’s Christmas cake and a recipe for Christmas Cake Baked Oatmeal.
At first glance, turning Christmas cake into oatmeal may seem odd, but no! Christmas cake originated as oatmeal – as plum porridge, to be exact – back in the 16th century.
So we’ve gone from the 1500s to the 2000s and back again. You’re welcome.
Christmas Cake (by Donna Hay)
First up, the review. This was a recipe that was sitting in an old magazine of mine, but luckily it’s also online. There’s only one difference between the magazine and online versions (both authored by Donna Hay): the online recipe calls for pouring a capful of brandy on the cooked cake. Given how much brandy is already in the cake, I’m sure I’ll survive without having added that last splash of brandy.
I should also mention that I replaced some of the raisins with approximately 1/3 cup of candied (glacé) cherries (which were sliced in half). Because, to me, fruit cake isn’t the same without bursts of red candy.
Overall, the cake has been enjoyed by all! As expected, this cake is much tastier than a store-bought fruit cake. It’s very moist, has a great mix of dried fruit, and it keeps well for a long time. I wouldn’t normally mention the shelf life of a cake, but this is one enormous cake.
Also, if you like brandy, you’ll like this cake. Trust me.
The downside? Crumblyness. (Yes, I know that’s not a word).
When its’ still warm, the cake crumbles quite a lot when you cut into it (and it was left in the tin for ages). When cold, it holds together a little better, but is still pretty crumbly. In fairness, fruit cakes tend to be on the crumbly side because they’re packed with so much dried fruit.
After a few days, however, it holds together well.
Would I make it again?
Yes – next year – as my parents really like fruit cake (my Dad was born in England, what do you expect?). For now, I’ve still got two-thirds of a cake left. It’s a seriously giant cake.
The recipe can be found at Donna Hay’s website.
Now, onto this oatmeal!
Unlike the fruit cake which calls for a ton of butter, this baked oatmeal is entirely butter-free! Two of my favorite food friends – pumpkin puree and (unsweetened) applesauce – add moisture and volume to this oatmeal. There’s virtually no added sugar in this recipe either, just ¼ teaspoon of blackstrap molasses.
Because starting the day with brandy seemed a little too excessive (but don’t tell this recipe), I used brandy extract instead. Brandy extract is surprisingly good – it actually tastes like brandy, and is more pungent than rum extract (which is probably the weakest extract of them all).
For some reason, I’m all about baked oatmeal these days. So I sure hope you like it too, because I’ve got quite a few recipes coming up: Banana Coconut Bread Baked Oatmeal; Jelly Doughnut Baked Oatmeal; Lemon, Currant and Pistachio Baked Oatmeal; Banana Upside Down Cake Baked Oatmeal… so many baked oatmeals, not enough mornings.
For now, enjoy this Christmas Cake Baked Oatmeal!
And don’t worry – they’ll still be non-oatmeal recipes. Like pancakes. There’s always time for pancakes.
- For the dried fruit mix
- 2 tablespoons raisins
- 2 teaspoons currants
- 4 dried dates, chopped
- 5 candied (glacé) cherries, halved
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons brandy extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the baked oatmeal
- ⅔ cup winter squash or pumpkin puree
- ⅓ cup (unsweetened) applesauce
- ¼ teaspoon blackstrap molasses
- 1 cup rolled oats
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- ⅔ cup almond milk
- In a small bowl or dish, combine the raisins, currants, dates, and candied cherries. Add the orange juice, brandy extract and vanilla extract, and mix well. Let sit overnight, or for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease two small ramekins.
- In a large (or medium-sized) bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, applesauce, and blackstrap molasses.
- Add the dried fruit mix, oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, and stir well. Add the almond milk, and mix until completely combined.
- Divide the mixture between the two prepared ramekins. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until the tops are dry and slightly firm when touched. Enjoy!
Any other milk can be substituted for the almond milk
I used fresh puree from a (bland) yellow pumpkin. If using canned pumpkin, I suggest adding ½ - 1 teaspoon of maple syrup or brown sugar, as this balances out the 'can' taste. I also used unsweetened applesauce, although sweetened would be fine.
If you don't have blackstrap molasses, try replacing it with 1 teaspoon brown sugar (or a milder/lighter molasses)