Sunday, 25 June 2017

Baked Oatmeal with Dates and Brown Sugar (Jaggery or Panela)

I love the combination of dates, brown sugar, spices and walnuts. This baked oatmeal may not be for everyone as the background tartness from the Tamarind may not appeal to every taste. It is very moist. While not very sweet, the buried “islets” of caramelized brown sugar in the mixture is a nice reward when eating. It goes well with yogurt and fruit for a satisfying breakfast. 
1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats, uncooked
1 cup Scottish oatmeal
1/2 cup flax meal
¼ cup dry, shredded coconut
1/2 cup brown sugar (or equivalent in Panela or Jaggery pieces)
2 tablespoons Tamarind concentrate
1 cup dried Medjool dates, chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 ½  teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons allspice
1 ½  teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs
1 medium Granny Smith or other slightly tart apple, peeled and coarsely shredded
2 cups milk
1 1/3 cups half and half
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1.      In a large bowl, combine the oats, spices, oatmeal, chopped nuts, flax meal, coconut, baking powder, and salt. 
2.      Mix the tamarind concentrate, chopped dates, walnuts, and vanilla, with the milk and half and half. Slowly bring to below boiling, stirring frequently to prevent it from burning. The milk will thicken since the tamarind concentrate is acid, and does cause it to curdle slightly. Remove from heat, add the shredded apple to this,  and allow to cool to lukewarm temperature.  
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. Make small holes in the mixture and bury the pieces of Panela or Jaggery at regular intervals. If you use brown sugar, put about 1 teaspoon in the holes and then cover it up with the mixture. If you want to make it sweeter, increase the sugar to 3/4 cup, and place the "holes" a shorter distance from one another. Use a wooden spoon to distribute the solids evenly. Refrigerate for a few hours (6 hours at least) or overnight for the dry ingredients to absorb the wet mixture. 
6.      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). For a nice “crust”, broil for a couple of minutes, watching carefully that it does not burn). Serve warm, or let it cool before freezing. Wrap for freezing as indicated in the previous recipe, using plastic wrap and foil. To freeze, wrap each square in plastic wrap, then wrap in aluminum foil, sealing well, then put all in a plastic freezer bag. Alternatively, foil alone may be used. To defrost, do so by putting it in the fridge overnight, then warming up in the microwave AFTER removing the foil and plastic wrap. I eat a square with freshly cut fruits, and a tablespoon or two of plain Greek yogurt.

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