1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats, uncooked
1/2 cup Scottish oatmeal
½ cup Steel Cut Oats
1/2 cup flax meal
¼ cup dry, shredded coconut
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or equivalent in Panela or Jaggery pieces)
¼ cup honey
6 ozs dried Medjool dates, chopped
9 ozs dried mission figs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons allspice
1 ½ teaspoon ground cardamom or about 5 whole cardamom pods
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups milk
1 ¾ + 1/3 cups half and half
2 teaspoons pure orange extract or vanilla, depending on your preference
1. In a large bowl, combine the oats, spices, oatmeal, chopped dates and figs, walnuts, coconut, chopped nuts, flax meal, baking powder, and salt.
2. Mix the honey, brown sugar, cardamom pods (if using), steel cut oats and orange or vanilla extract, with the milk and 1 ¾ cups half and half. Slowly bring to below boiling, stirring frequently to prevent it from burning. Stirring frequently, partly cook the oats by simmering for 20 minutes. Watch carefully so that it does not burn. Remove from heat, and allow to cool to lukewarm temperature. The mixture will be very thick, almost the consistency of porridge.
3. Heavily grease a 8x8x2 inch baking tin or Pyrex dish (If I’m using Pyrex, I put about 1-2 tablespoons of butter in the dish, microwave to melt, then swirl around to coat the bottom and sides just like you would do when making a bread pudding).
4. Whisk the eggs, and add the lukewarm milk mixture to this.
5. Pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients, and mix well. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to distribute the solids evenly. Pour the remaining 1/3 cup half and half over the top and using a wooden spoon, make channels in the mixture so that the liquid can be absorbed. Refrigerate for a few hours (6 hours at least) or overnight for the dry ingredients to absorb the wet mixture.
6. Before putting in the oven, peel and core half of a granny smith apple, and slice thinly. Arrange the slices as shown in the photograph, embedding each slice deeply in the mixture. Top with an additional tablespoonful or two of dark brown sugar. Bake in a water bath for 1 hour to 1 hour and twenty minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, until the center is set, firm to the touch, has a golden color, and a cake tester inserted comes out relatively clean (I use a food thermometer to make sure that the center temperature is 164 degrees Fahrenheit or just above).