In this adaption of a classic Baked Oatmeal Squares Recipe from AndreAnna at Life As A Plate, oats are soaked overnight to reduce phytic acid and increase the nutrient availability. Thanks, AndreAnna!
I developed this Baked Oatmeal Squares recipe a few years ago to be able to make versatile breakfasts for myself and my husband when we both worked in an office. It makes a lot of servings and I’d make this batch on a Sunday and it would feed us both all week. I’d cut off a square, stick it in a Tupperware bowl and with a 20 second stint in the microwave would have a healthy breakfast. Except back then I used quick oats and no soaking. Recently, as I’ve grown and learned and researched my way into the Real Food World, I’ve learned the benefits of using whole steel cut oats as well as why it’s so important to soak them.
From Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions:
All grains contain phytic acid (an organic acid in which phosphorous is bound) in the outer layer or bran. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron especially zinc in the intestinal track and block their absorption. This is why a diet high in unfermented whole grains may led to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss. The modern misguided practice of consuming large amounts of unprocessed bran often improves colon transit time at first but may lead to irritable bowel syndrome and, in the long term, many other adverse effects. Soaking allows enzyme, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralize phytic acid. As little as seven hours of soaking in warm acidulated water will neutralize a large portion of phytic acid in grains. The simple practice of soaking cracked or rolled cereal grains overnight will vastly improve their nutritional benefits.
So this recipe for baked oatmeal calls for you soaking your steel cut oats for 24 hours following her method. For each cup of oats, I use 1 cup of warm water and 2 tbsp of whey (I have a lot leftover from making my raw milk yogurt so this was perfect). You can also use buttermilk or yogurt.
I also bake this slow at a low temperature for an hour and it lets the oats soak up the milk and cook slowly. I used raw milk, cinnamon, and raisins but the possibilities really are endless: you could use almond milk and cranberries, coconut milk and dried mangos, etc. You could add sliced nuts, fresh fruit, or – gasp – whipped fresh cram – when it’s done, hot and piping out of the oven.
Baked Oatmeal Squares Recipe
- 3 cups steel cut oats (Because we’re a gluten-free family, we get the certified GF kind) (find steel cut oats)
- 3 cups of water
- 6 tbsp fresh whey or buttermilk
- 4 cups raw milk
- 2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg, beaten
- 12-15 drops liquid stevia (can sub 1/4 c. honey or sweetener of your choice)
- 1 tsp. cinnamon (where to buy authentic, fresh, out-of-this world cinnamon)
- 1 c. raisins
1) Pour the oats in a large bowl and pour in the warm water and whey. Stir gently, cover, and let sit for 24 hours.
2) After 24 hours, pour off the soaking water.
3) Add in the 4 c. raw milk, beat egg, and the other ingredients you’re using: in this case, the vanilla, cinnamon, stevia, and raisins.
4) Pour into 13X9 baking dish. It WILL not be a batter and will be liquid. Don’t worry; it’ll cook up in the oven.
5) Bake on 325 for 45-60 minutes until firm.
6) Cut into squares and serve with your choice of toppings.
Enjoy your baked oatmeal squares!
Rachel Roland via Facebook says
Rebekah Randolph says
This looks really good! My baked oatmeal recipe uses a lot less liquid because it has rolled oats. 🙂 But I’d like to try steel cut oats soon.
I was just wondering where you get GF steel cut oats. I’ve looked for them but haven’t found them. I’ve seen on line that Bob’s Red Mill makes them, but I haven’t seen them. Is that the brand you use?
The recipe looks good! And if I leave out the raisins I can have it on my fructose friendly diet. (I also have fructose intolerance.)
Yeah, we used Bob’s Red Mill certified GF oats. I find it in my local health section of my supermarket (HyVee). You should also be able to find them at Wegmans or Whole Foods or any health food store.
Mia Reiter via Facebook says
Oh yum! I will be making this today. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
That looks so good! I’ve been needing a break from eggs and bacon or smoothies every morning. Can’t wait to try this!
When substituting yogurt, am I just using the 2 TBSP or is it a cup of yogurt?
Just a few tablespoons per 1 cup of oats and 1 cup of water
Jackie @ Crest Cottage says
This sounds great! I usually just stick my oats in a jar with raw milk yogurt overnight, and then throw in some peanut butter and/or raisins and/or fresh fruit in the morning. This sounds like a GREAT alternative!
Wow this looks amazing. I also have just recently learned about soaking rolled oats from food renegade and have noticed a significant difference. I soak my oats w/ water & kefir in the refrigerator over night, should I be storing this on the kitchen counter instead? And what other grains should I be soaking? Thanks again for the recipe.
It’s better to soak in a warm environment. I usually do my counter top.
Valerie Mints via Facebook says
I hope to make this for church snack next week – now to get a decent source of buttermilk.
I’m not sure about the temperature and its effect on the soaking. I left mine in the counter, loosely covered. Maybe Kristen has some insight?
If using regular, old fashioned oats, would you want to decrease the amount of milk? Thanks for the wonderful recipe!
Yes, Esther, definitely. Steel cut oats soak up way more liquid. I don’t know the exact ratio though as we don’t eat rolled oats but I would surmise it would be around 1/2. You could always test out a small batch and report back!
I checked back in my old recipe index for when I did use the quick oats and these were the ingredients: Hope this helps!
3 c oatmeal
1 t cinnamon
½ t nutmeg
2 t baking powder
¼ c brown sugar
½ c applesauce
½ c vanilla yogurt
2 eggs (or the equivalent)
1 ½ c lowfat milk
Dash of vanilla
I just realized I copied it from my “dark days” when I used lowfat milk – ugh! Please use raw milk if possible, if not use organic whole!
Is there a reason you don’t use lowfat milk anymore? and other then being GF, do you consider rolled oats to be less nutritional? Its just that a lot more recipes call for them then steel cut oats and I have steal cut oats but I never cooked with them before.
Low-fat milk is unnatural and highly processed. Vitamins A & D are fat-soluble vitamins, so they need to be taken in with the fat naturally present in whole milk in order to be assimilated by the body. Furthermore, our bodies need fat (particularly if we’re women; we need fat to make all those wonderful hormones!).
I don’t thin rolled oats are any less nutritious than steel cut oats. I just like the texture of steel cut oats better.
M.E. Anders says
This recipe will be a beneficial variation on my traditional oatmeal at breakfast. I like the idea of a big batch for the family, too.
These sound great but how would I serve them later if I don’t have a microwave? I got rid of it years ago 🙂 Just curious if they are any good not heated back up?
I would re-heat them in my toaster oven.
My mother was eating her cold the other day, ha! I personally have no issue with the microwave but for those that do, you can use a toaster oven for this. I’d just put it in an oven-safe dish with maybe a little extra splash of milk to prevent it from drying out.
Just curious…do you still use a microwave? Hah. Just thought it seemed funny that a food renegade such as yourself would use one. Of course I know the jury is still out on whether it is really bad for you. I went ahead and gave mine up a while back but my husband still wishes we had it. Thanks for the recipe. We love oatmeal here at my house but with five little ones I am desperate for a quick alternative to processed cereals.
I do have a microwave, but I rarely, if ever use it. I went for more than a year without one when when I lived at my last place, but when I moved this past January I got one since this house has one built in.
As a rule, I don’t use the microwave to cook food. But I allow my boys to reheat their own food with it because it is so much safer than a stove and well within their capabilities. My oldest child (6 years) is *almost* mature enough to learn how to use the stove to cook some of his favorite easy meals, but not quite. I think he could do it without hurting himself, but I’d be afraid that he’d leave the burner on! So, for now, he’s got permission to microwave his food for 30 seconds to a minute so that he can prepare his hot snacks himself.
Very delicious! I halved the batch and used maple syrup as the sweetener. I had to bake it for more than an hour and it was still quite soft, but so good! We topped it with butter and raw cream.
Awesome, Tara!!! Glad you liked it!
I am wondering what I have done wrong. I followed the recipe (and have checked and rechecked and re-re-checked just to be sure) and after two and a half hours, they are STILL in the oven and are still near-liquid (about the consistency of a bowl of milky oatmeal, not like a baked good and I certainly couldn’t cut anything yet). Everything smells yummy, but we still are not at a breakfast square stage.
The only thing that seems “amiss” is that I had no liquid to pour off after the soaking process. I even dumped the oats in a colander to drain them.
Yes, I was wondering the same thing. I made this recipe this morning after soaking it last night before bed. I put it in the oven at 8 this morning and it is now almost 10:30 and it is nowhere near “baked”, still just milky oatmeal. I even increased the oven temperature to 350 for the last hour. Any clues as to what I have done wrong?? Like Holly, the only thing that seems to be “amiss” is that there was no water to pour off this morning. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know because this recipe looks so good!
Are the 4 cups of milk too much? For anyone this worked for, how much milk did you use. My oats are currently soaking but I want to make sure I end up with oatmeal breakfast bars, not milky oatmeal. I’ll drain in a sieve to make sure all the extra water is gone but does anyone have other suggestions?
Are you sure you’re using Steel Cut oats and not regular? As mentioned in an earlier post, regular oats will not soak up as much liquid.
I tried it earlier in the week and used the wrong oats (it came out like bread pudding sort of. kids still liked it…)
But I retried today and it was really, really gooey again. I used the steel cut oats.
I just looked around the internet: everybody else makes theirs with half the milk this recipe calls for.
Expensive recipe to be so off! I love this site but maybe you could update the recipe?
After I commented I had to feed my daughter something, so gave her some of the gooey oats. I then stirred it– the liquid congealed on teh top, the oats on the bottom — and rebaked. I think maybe now they’ll be sqares? Do you have some stirring step after, say, twenty or thirty mintues?
What happens when you drain the soaking water off?
I’ve never had this recipe fail me, so I’m curious as to whether or not it has to do with the original moisture content of the steel cut oats. It seems like a few people have commented that their oats completely soaked up the water/whey the night before, without having any leftover to drain off, and that those same people are the ones who had difficulty getting their recipe to bake up nicely.
I had a lot of water to drain off today. Stirring did make a difference — they turned to squares. Gooey squares–that’s how they’re supposed to be though, right? I’m not sure why my oats fall to the bottom and don’t mix (it was like pudding on top, oats on bottom).
This looks absolutely fabulous, I have all the ingredients, and I approve the ingredients! Yeah. Will try it soon! Thanks – D
I used to make a version of this into a cookie and give it to the children I nannied for. They never knew the difference and loved that they got “cookies” sometimes for breakfast. : )
Has anyone considered using a crushed banana to sweeten? in lieu of honey or stevia…. That is what I do when I make stovetop almond butter oatmeal, and it is delish!! The kiddies ask for seconds and thirds :-)). I’ll try these squares with the banana.
WOW this looks awesome. Been wanting to try something like this for a while, will work great for a camping trip this weekend.
Does anyone know of an alternative to whey/buttermilk/yogurt? Would natural apple cider vinegar (with the mother in it) work? Or even some acidophilus capsules opened up. We have dairy allergies. 🙂 Thanks!
Beth, I have an allergy to dairy as well. I have not made this recipe yet, but I’m going to use yogurt made with coconut milk. I love it. You can get it at Whole Foods.
Mary Rebekah says
Could I substitute raw milk kefir for the buttermilk/whey?
definitely. I use kefir all the time for soaking grains.
Laura Williams says
I really love the site and am soaking some steel-cuts oats this very minute to try this recipe! (My opinion of Sally Fallon as any scientific expert, however, is diminished if she really refers in her book to the intestinal “track.”)
That was a typo on this website. Her book says, “intestinal tract.” The missing “and” in “copper, iron and especially zinc” was also a typo only on this website, not in her book.
Kara R. says
Can you leave this sit on the counter overnight even if using store-bought refrigerated buttermilk? I only have access to organic store-bought buttermilk that says “keep refrigerated”…am tempted to leave on my counter for 24 hours but worries about the buttermilk spoiling! Is the “leave on the counter” method only for raw milk or whey? Thank you!
I made my batch two days ago. It tastes great! However, the top came out crunchy like a granola bar (which I love!), but the bottom came out mushy and it was like the milk and most of the oats went to the bottom. Is there a way to fix this? I also was wondering about what Kara R. wrote. Do we have to keep it refrigerated? I used raw milk.
We really like your Baked Oatmeal Squares, I just add a little raw cacoa powder and extra honey. Hope you don’t mind but I linked to this recipe for my Winter Picnic post.
I noticed you used leftover whey from yogurt to soak your oats. I have leftover whey from making cheese. Would this be okay to use? Does it make a difference?
Jennifer S. says
I have read in a few places that it is necessary to add 1T of whole wheat flour per 1 cup of oats when soaking to help break down the phytic acid. Perhaps this would also help thicken it up for those ending up with a runny concoction. I am just about to follow the recipe myself, adding the whole wheat flour and chopping up an apple or two instead of raisins. I hope mine turns out as yummy as yours look!
Doesn’t make sense to me to use raw milk and raw honey if I’m just going to cook it anyway. Has anyone tried using water instead of milk or putting the honey on top after cooking? Or other “milks” (coconut, almond, etc.) or cream. Thanks for any comments.
I made this today, and it was delicious. I forgot to drain off the whey, since it looked like all the liquid had been drained off until I poured it into the pan. It still tasted good! It did separate. The oats sank to the bottom and the custard rose to the too. I blame it on not draining. Also, I used some rolled oats, since I underestimated the amount of steel cut that I had on hand. Way too much liquid, but it was my fault for following the directions well.
I will make this again!
I’m quite stunned that you would be concerned about nutrient absorption and then use a microwave? Any food you put in there becomes void of any nutrition. Thoughts ?
Greg F. says
Do I need to soak my oats if I have sprouted oats? Can I skip the overnight soak and simply use dry sprouted oats, since sprouting and soaking are designed to accomplish the same task?
Recipe sounds really good and a time saver, but I am in agreement with the previous comments regarding the microwave and also am wondering if you still use the tupperware for reheating the Oatmeal Squares,or if this was just a part of the original recipe and you now have switched out the plastic for something better healthwise?
Christina Warrington says
Hi, I thoroughly enjoy your weekly posts. Thanks for sharing all your knowledge. I made the squares, but wanting some clarity as mine were still watery after 50 min so I cooked I until it was absorbed. I soaked as directed but when I went to pour off liquid, it was most difficult to separate form the oats. So I reduced the almond milk 1/4 cup. I have to admit to that I only soaked them 16 hrs. Could that have been part of the issue, I wouldn’t have been able to cook them till 29 hrs so I took the early time. The taste is good, & the steel cut oats have a bitey / chewy texture as when I boil them for oatmeal. I also just read a post about not combining dairy & fruit. I love yogurt & fruit together. Is it a problem for digestion? Sorry for the long questions. Thanks again for sharing.
Sheila Webster via Facebook says
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Melissa Kuhn Thomson via Facebook says
Colleen Coyne via Facebook says
What about using almond milk instead of raw milk? Is that a healthy option? Almond milk is much easier on my stomach.
Greg Fly says
This looks great, and I certainly appreciate the tip on soaking the oats… but do you have any worry about eating grains? There are so many articles out there saying I shouldn’t eat oats, and then I see health blogs saying it’s ok, I’m not sure what to do sometimes, I just end up eating what feels right for me!