I know the secret to fame and fortune doesn’t involve giving away your talents for free, but I can’t help it: I love baking cakes. I bake so many cakes that one of my friends only titles the subject of her emails to me as “cake lady”, even if she’s not emailing to ask me to bake her a cake.
Sometimes I get commissioned to bake a cake (like, for actual money), but usually I find myself being volunteered or outright offering to bake a cake as soon as I hear there is any sort of birthday or special occasion coming up. Of all the people I bake for, my sister Heather’s coworkers have to be the most enthusiastic about my cakes. At this point, I send in a cake for almost everyone on her team’s birthday, and sometimes they want a cake just because. In my professional cake opinion, just because cake is the best cake.
Although her team of coworkers love every cake I bake them, one cake flavor rises above the rest, and is requested again and again: carrot cake. Specifically, the carrot cake I’ve been making them for a few years that has an entire crustless cheesecake sandwiched in between the cake layers and an orange zest-spiked cream cheese frosting on top. As if carrot cake could get any better, I had to go and stick a cheesecake inside of it. I’m telling you: my gift is my curse.
Don’t start feeling too badly for me, though. Like I said, I really love baking cakes. The only downside is that I rarely get to eat an actual slice of the cakes I bake. I might skim off a tiny layer of the cake and dip a spoon into the frosting to make sure everything tastes right, but I can’t exactly send people their cakes with a slice missing.
I found myself craving carrot cake recently, but lacking the ingredients and ambition to bake an entire cake for just the two of us. Instead, I decided to capture all the key flavors of carrot cake and tuck them into a pan of baked oatmeal as part of my meal prep for the week. For me, the nonnegotiable ingredients in carrot cake are:
walnuts or pecans (I love them both- either works)
cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger
Yes, pineapple. The extra tangy-sweet flavor of pineapple sends regular carrot cake into heavenly carrot cake territory, and I’ve never loved a carrot cake that was made without it. So, I added all of those ingredients to my baked oatmeal, plus a little almond butter to make the oats taste extra cake-y. I don’t know what it is about almond butter in baked goods, but it always brings out the cake batter flavor I’m looking for.
Since I wasn’t frosting this oatmeal, I knew it needed a special topper. I mixed walnuts with coconut flakes (though all walnuts/pecans/coconut would work) and some maple syrup for a sweet, caramelized, nutty topping. Seriously, don’t skip that topping. It is golden carrot cake BLISS.
I made this recipe on a day that I was baking and photographing several others, so I was too full to sample it when it came out of the oven. I had my sister Heather sample it to make sure it was actually reminiscent of the carrot cake she knows and loves, and her reaction let me know I was definitely on the right track. Her three words?
If that’s not a winning review, I don’t know what is. This recipe is not only packed full of carrot cake flavor, it’s also full of healthy ingredients and couldn’t be easier to make. Other than shredding the carrots, you just mix everything up, dump it into a baking dish, and bake. Be warned: my status as the cake lady will likely lead to me baking you other cake-inspired recipes. That is, when I’m not baking actual cakes.
I hope you love this recipe as much as I do! It makes the perfect weekend breakfast, and would be great for feeding a crowd. Or, if you’re like me, just make a batch on Sunday and breakfast is sorted out for the week ahead. This tastes great at any temperature, and is the perfect vehicle for whatever oatmeal toppings you love like maple syrup, a dollop of yogurt or whipped cream, sliced bananas, a splash of milk, etc. If you make this recipe, let me know how it turns out! Leave a comment below, or take a picture and tag me on Instagram or Facebook. Happy oatmeal-cake baking!
- 1 1/2 cups milk of choice (coconut, almond, cow's, etc)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup almond butter
- 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups oats
- 2 cups grated carrot (from about 2 medium carrots)
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh or frozen pineapple (unsweetened canned would work, too)
- 3/4 cup walnuts or pecans
- 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (or 1 1/2 total cups of either nut)
- 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- a pinch of salt
- 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a large oven-safe dish (ideally at least 9x9 or a 10+ inch round/oval pan) with nonstick spray or butter. Set aside.
- 2.Put milk, maple syrup, almond butter, melted butter, and egg into a large mixing bowl, and whisk to combine. Add all remaining ingredients, and stir.
- 3. Transfer oatmeal mixture to the prepared pan. Then, put all topping ingredients into your empty bowl. and stir. Spread the nut mixture evenly over the top of the oatmeal.
- 4. Bake for 35 minutes, or until nuts on top are golden. Serve immediately by the large spoonful, or let cool completely and cut into squares. Top with extra maple syrup, yogurt, milk, etc, as desired. Leftovers keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days.