Eat Your Breakfast (oatmeal clafoutis)
As much as I like to pretend I’m a functional adult, we all know I’m not. Every now and then I get a great burst of motivation and trudge through a normal morning routine for a couple weeks straight. You know, waking up before 8am, having some tea, reading through the important news topics of the day and munching on a healthy bite before heading out the door at 8:45. And then there’s the other 90% of my life, when I roll out of bed at 8:30 and consider it a success that I’ve brushed my teeth and thrown on appropriate clothing by the time I reach lab. I may be a little wanting on topical conversation items those days, but since I spend my day with scientists, I just mention robots or Star Trek and no one notices that I missed a declaration of war or giant volcano eruption. (I tease. I love my labmates and we actually discuss things other than space travel at least twice a week.)
So all seems well, until that first thundering stomach grumble at 10:17am. At some point I decided to enact a strict “no lunch before noon” rule, at least on weekdays. While I scoff at structure in the early morning hours, I crave it once I’m fully awake. Like a kindergartener, I become petulant and cranky if recess (i.e. lunch) and naptime (i.e. cookie time) aren’t at their appropriate times. Or maybe it’s just better for my productivity if I wait more than a few minutes between arriving and heading to the break room. Either way, without a filling breakfast those minutes until the afternoon stretch on in a brutal agony of starvation and regret.
What I needed was a solution – a way to get a healthy, warm breakfast without having to preheat the oven or grab a tasteless NutriGrain bar. And I’ve found it. Not only have I found it, I’ve found an adaptable, season-changing, whatever-I-have-in-the-pantry ‘it.’ I can imagine this oatmeal clafoutis with currants instead of cranberries. With plums on top during plum season, or fresh sour cherries! Ground peanuts and bananas perhaps? You can essentially throw whatever you want into this, bake it and have breakfast for 10 glorious, stomach-grumbling-free mornings. I can even imagine a way to work pumpkin into this, not that this tidbit will surprise anyone who has baked with me this year.
If you’re looking for a sugar bomb filled with a buttery sauce, this isn’t it. I have plenty of recipes for those mornings and I’m sure those recipes will fill the pages of this blog some day. But if we eat delicious pumpkin cinnamon rolls every day, they no longer seem like a special treat from the heavens meant just for me. And really, I’d pick this dish with it subtle bursts of fruity flavor over the giant, buttery pastry 9 times out of 10 anyway. (Don’t worry pastry, I still love you the most. We have a special thing going, and clafoutis won’t get in the way of that. I’m pretty sure we’ll get some good quality time together in the next couple of months.) The clafoutis is light and fun and the texture finds a middle ground between oatmeal and a granola bar. And when all that goodness is just a quick spin in the microwave away from your belly each morning, you’ll no longer consider breakfast an inconvenience.
Adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini
Makes 8-10 servings
2-1/4 cup quick cooking oats
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup dried cranberries (or raisins, or another dried fruit)
1 apple, peeled and sliced (or any fresh fruit)
1 pear, peeled and sliced (or any fresh fruit)
1/3 cup nuts, chopped (I used walnuts, but use your imagination!)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3-1/3 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 360°F.
Combine the oats, sugar, dried fruit, nuts, cinnamon and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.
In a medium bowl, mix together the milk, eggs and vanilla. Incorporate the wet mix into the dry mix.
Pour the mixed mix of mixes into a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Arrange the slices of fresh fruit over the surface of the mix. Nothing fancy is necessary and you can decide how much of the fruit you want around. You can see how much I added above.
Place dish in oven and bake for 55 to 60 minutes. The clafoutis should be firm, no longer look wet and the fruit should be browned around the edges. Let clafoutis cool and then either dig in, or throw it in the fridge to be devoured bit by bit over the next few mornings.
If you’re feeling ambitious in the morning, you can spruce up the clafoutis up with yogurt, fresh fruit, peanut butter, jam, and probably a myriad of other breakfast condiments. If you’re like me ‘breakfast condiments’ immediately made you think of nutella-covered clafoutis, or what I will now be enjoying for breakfast tomorrow. The clafoutis keeps for at least a week in the fridge, or you can cut it up into bar form and freeze individually wrapped bars.