I’m still digging up cookbook recipes that I didn’t include in the final book. It’s like finding buried treasures in my Google document! The beauty of all the recipe testing that went down over the past 2 years is that I have so much inspiration leftover to tweak and share here – such as this baked carrot cake oatmeal. It was a big hit with my recipe testers, but ultimately I decided to go with the baked apple and pear oatmeal for the book, knowing I would eventually share this version on the blog anyway. My stove-top Carrot Cake Oatmeal has been popular over the years, so this baked version was a natural next step. And boy, is this baked version incredible. It tastes so much like carrot cake I almost thought I was eating the real thing. Add a dollop of coconut whipped cream on top and you are well on your way to breakfast nirvana. I’m thinking it would be a great addition to an Easter brunch too!
/ Behind the Scenes: Cookbook, Part 1: Recipe Testers /
I haven’t written much about the behind the scenes of cookbook creation, but I thought I would share the process a bit more now that I’m not juggling both things at once. Initially, I wanted to share the process in real time, but I quickly realized that I needed to get through it once before I felt like I could share anything helpful. It took a long time before I felt like I had a good system in place. I felt like a crazy person most of the time. Lots of trial and error. If I write a second cookbook, I hope that the organizational flow goes a bit more smoothly. Wishful thinking, maybe!
Anyway, I’m going to first tell you about my cookbook angels, otherwise known as my recipe testers. Writing a cookbook is much different than blogging, I soon found out. On the blog I have immediate feedback (some of you make my new recipes within the hour and let me know how it went!) and it’s easy to know if I’m on the right track, but with a cookbook there’s always that sense of unease and doubt. I felt like I was blindly trudging along each day hoping my instincts and taste buds were not leading me astray. I always asked myself, “Would my blog readers enjoy this? Would someone who’s not into vegan cooking enjoy it too?” And once it’s in print…well, it’s in PRINT! An intimidating thought. Two and a half years proved to be a very long time to wait for feedback from you (and other vegan-interested/healthy food/glow-seeking peeps!); that’s why my recipe testers are so important. They let me know if I was on the right track or veering off course; at least, when it came to the recipes. My editor helped me with the written portion of the book (intro, chapter openers, headnotes, and overall flow) and pushed me to keep digging deep to allow my story to flow into words.
At first, I felt overwhelmed because I didn’t know how I would find the time to organize a recipe testing group while doing everything else, but we eventually came up with a system that worked for us. Eric created a private blog just for my recipe testers. Once I gathered my group of recipe testers (family, friends, and blog readers/bloggers), I gave them the password to the private blog. I started posting potential cookbook recipes 2-3 times a week (with a photo for each) to the site for over 6-8 months. The recipes took a long time to get through as you can imagine. Even though my posts on the blog dropped a lot some weeks, I was actually posting double or triple the content than what you saw here. In the comment section of each post, my recipe testers responded to a series of questions after they made the recipe. I wanted to know everything from recipe clarity to enjoyment rating (on a scale of 10) to whether their kids or husbands approved. And, of course, I only wanted honest feedback! No sugar coating. The beauty of using a private blog is that everything is in one tidy spot and all of the feedback for each recipe is posted directly below it. Anything that makes life a bit easier is a plus in my books.
Here are some of the questions I asked my recipe testers:
How long did it take you to prepare the recipe (prep time)?
Rate this recipe on a scale of difficulty (1 – Easiest, 10 – Most Difficult)
Were the directions clear and concise? If no, please describe.
Did you do something different from the directions? If so, what did you change?
Were the ingredients readily available?
Were the “number of servings” correct? If no, please describe how many servings you got.
Rate how much you enjoyed the recipe on a sale of 1 to 10 (1 = didn’t like it at all and 10 = best recipe ever)
Is this kid/partner approved? (Yes/No/Not applicable):
Would you make this recipe again (yes or no) and why?
I’m sure these questions felt tedious to answer over and over and over, but it was personally so helpful, and it let me know if I needed to re-vamp a recipe or move forward.
When I dug up this oatmeal recipe and re-tested it recently, I thought it would also be fun to share some of the comments my recipe testers left about this carrot cake baked oatmeal. These comments are from over a year ago in February 2013!
“Grandpa liked it and even helped me make it (he grated the carrots). This recipe is a breakfast dish, but I think it is so tasty that it could be a pudding/cake dish too!”
“I’d say the number of servings is 6 because it’s the kind of recipe you can’t stop eating.”
“Healthy enough for breakfast, but tasty enough for dessert!”
“Yes, good variation on oatmeal. I would increase the raisins in my kid version to increase the sweetness for them.”
“My 9-month daughter seem interested in trying this and she loved it!”
Thank you, my dear recipe angels. And that goes for all of you who leave valuable feedback here on the blog each week! Your comments are not only helpful for me, but for others thinking about making the recipe or adapting it in various ways.
Here is the photo that I originally shot for the cookbook. At least, it gets to see the light of day! I’m glad this recipe does too. It’s a good one.
Heavenly Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal
6 large servings
Carrot cake lovers, this one is for you! Refined-sugar free and packed with carrots, this baked oatmeal has all the taste of the popular dessert with a healthier whole-grain twist. Try it for a lazy weekend breakfast and enjoy the leftovers in the days to come. I love this served with a dollop of my coconut whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Heck, it even makes a nice snack or dessert too. Actually, there isn't a time of the day when I won't eat this oatmeal. Baked oatmeal isn't just for mornings anymore!
- 2 1/4 cups (225 g) gluten-free rolled oats
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups (130 g) lightly packed grated peeled carrots*
- 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
- 1/3 cup (80 mL) pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger (or 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
- 1/4 cup (36 g) raisins or pitted chopped dates
- 1/2 cup (35 g) chopped walnut halves
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) and lightly grease a 10-cup/2.5 qt. casserole dish. I use an 8" x 11" rectangular casserole dish.
- In a large bowl, mix together the rolled oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: shredded carrot, almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and fresh ginger.
- Add the wet mixture to dry mixture and stir until combined.
- Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish and smooth out with a spoon. Press down on the oatmeal with a spoon (or your hands) so the oats sink into the milk. Sprinkle on the walnuts and raisins (or dates, if using) and press down lightly again.
- Bake, uncovered, for 32-37 minutes until lightly golden along the edges. The oatmeal will still look a bit soft or wet in some spots when it comes out of the oven, but it will firm up as it cools.
- Let cool for about 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with Coconut Whipped Cream, a drizzle of maple syrup, or some vanilla non-dairy yogurt. When the baked oatmeal is fully cool, it will firm up enough to be sliced into squares.
- Leftovers should keep for 3 to 5 days in the fridge or 3 to 4 weeks in the freezer. Enjoy it warm or chilled straight from the fridge!
* If you don't mind visible, chewy strands of grated carrot in the baked oatmeal feel free to use the standard-sized grate hole. If you want the carrot to be virtually undetectable (this is sometimes a nice thing when feeding picky eaters), then use the smallest grate hole size.
For a nut-free option, replace the almond milk with a nut-free non-dairy milk, such as coconut milk. Also, omit the walnuts (you can try sunflower seeds or pepita seeds for a crunch).
If you'd like to save time in the morning, this can be prepared the night before. Simply cover the casserole dish with foil and place it in the fridge overnight. In the morning, remove the foil and bake. I find it needs about 5 minutes LESS bake time when the mixture sits overnight in the fridge.
Nutrition Information(click to expand)
/ OSG Virtual Cookbook Tour Reviews /
Lastly, I have more cookbook reviews to share with you. Thanks again to all the lovely bloggers who took part. You can find the full list of reviews on my book page.
Emily @ The Kitchn (review)
Canadian Gift Guide (review, giveaway)
Erin @ Erin’s Inside Job (review)
Nikki @ Food Riot (review)
Sarah @ My New Roots (recipe, review)
Gena @ Choosing Raw (review, recipe, interview)
This looks wonderful– is it a dish one could prepare the night before and then stick in the oven the next morning?
Yes, i totally think you could! It might need 5 mins. less baking time or so because it will absorb some milk overnight. let me know how it goes!
Angela, I mixed this up and put it in the fridge the night before and then added the walnuts and raisins right before cooking. It cooked in about 25 min and worked great! Oh, and I added fresh pineapple before cooking too, you have to try it!!! This was amazing and my 2 year old gobbled it up. I wrote a blog post about my version of this recipe on my site: laughingfoxcrafts.wordpress.com/2014/03/23/springtime-joy-and-carrot-cake-baked-oatmeal/
I can’t wait to get your cookbook! How can I sign up to be a tester for your next cookbook? I’ve been making so many of your recipes for years now!
Take care and love to Sketchie.
Can you use agave instead of maple syrup for this recipe?
Hi Rochelle, I don’t see why not! A few readers have made the swap, and very much enjoyed the results.
I just showed this to the Mr. I guess, I’ll be going to the store today. :-)
Very interesting! This recipe looks delicious too. I’ve definitely never tried carrots in my oatmeal:) Pinning ASAP!
Looks really delicious! I’m in the UK and am currently a meat-eater who became ‘vegan-curious’ 2 months ago, and am so glad to have found you and your blog! Your book arrived yesterday which is my first ever cookbook(!) and a vegan one to boot. So excited to make recipes that are packed full of healthy ingredients :)
Thanks for the link! I just mailed out a copy of your cookbook to my giveaway winner this morning. Everything you make is so great and I want to share it with as many people as I can!
This oatmeal would be great on this cold rainy morning. I’ll have to add this to my list :)
I’ve never eaten baked oatmeal before–I guess I’ll have to try it now! This looks scrumptious, and it doesn’t hurt to get in a serving of vegetables during breakfast too. I’ll bet I could try a sweet potato baked oatmeal version, too, since I tried your sweet potato chocolate oatmeal and that was quite the blissful breakfast.
I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for your all your wonderful recipes! They’re amazing, I’ve been a huge fan of the blog for a while and never really commented, I got the recipe book as soon as it was available to ship to the UK and have already made so many recipes from it and they’re all delicious.
What I love most is that they are simple, quick and easy to cook with fantastic delicious results! I also like that I have most ingredients at home all the time, that there’s no need for spices that you’ll only use once etc.
I’m looking forward to trying more recipes, your cookbook made me really excited about cooking because I always know the result will be great! I’m going to make the chocolate-espresso torte this weekend and I bet it will be amazing (I can also already bet on what my partner will say about it “it’s really good, but not as good as the peanut butter and jam nanaimo bars” which are his favourite).
Thanks again, you’ve definitely improved my cooking (and eating) and most of all just made me really excited about cooking again!
Well I have to thank you for this lovely comment and all your support! I’m so happy to hear how much you are enjoying the recipes. Thank you for putting a big smile on my face! Good luck with the chocolate torte too…it’s a fav of ours.
Can.I replace the maple syrup to artificial sugar? Ty
Love hearing you share some of the cookbook process. That is such a great idea to have a separate blog instead of dealing with a million emails. I adore baked oatmeal and love this version!
I just so happen to love carrot cake, so carrot cake in oatmeal form sounds absolutely divine! Already pinned and will be trying asap! I can’t wait!!!
It’s so interesting to hear about the process. This looks delicious, I’ll look forward to giving it a go :-)
I am so making this for breakfast tomorrow! If it had popped up in my feedly 30 minutes earlier it would have been made today. I was seriously at a loss for breakfast mojo this morning.
Mmm and most certainly will finish with a healthy glugg of maple syrup!
Aw, I love the second secret blog idea! Putting carrots in oatmeal has just never seemed right to me, but I have way too many carrots in my fridge right now and I do have to admit that this looks delicious, so maybe I should try! Hope to see more almost-cookbook recipes (:
Looks amazing. I love recipes that add veggies to breakfast. Love those plates too!
“If” you are going to write another cookbook? If?! I can tell you now that you will write another one. For sure! And I will be the first one to order it :).
Thank you, Angela, for all the work that you do to keep us nutritionally well-fed!
Will substituting steel-cut oats change the cooking time or milk amount?
that’s a good question! I don’t believe I’ve made baked oatmeal with steel-cut oats before. I would yield to the directions and liquid amounts on the package (I think they take a while to cook right? 45-50 mins if I recall?) let me know how it goes!
I just made this recipe, it is very tasty, but not quite carrot cake. I believe the tendency of steel cut oats to congeal would give this recipe more of a bar/square consistency. Now I’ll have to create this carrot oatmeal bar recipe. Thank you for the inspiration,
carrot cake baked oatmeal what is a serving?
how many calories?
carrot cake baked oatmeal
what is a serving size?
How many calories ?
Bookmarking this now!! It looks delicious!!!
I love the texture of baked oatmeal. The flavors of carrot cake can only make it better!
Gosh I bet the taste testers had so much fun tasting and testing your recipes! What a neat ideal to keep it all a secret from us and use a private blog!! That is so creative and I love the colors in this carrot cake oatmeal!!
Hi! I bought your cookbook the day it was out and I’ve already made two recipes from it that were FABULOUS. The goddess bowl and the cream of tomato soup. My friend (who is actually a vegetarian, I am not) made the bars with chia seeds and the donuts. We both love your cookbook. I only dabble in vegan cooking but I’m majorly impressed!
Holy carrot cake Batman! I love love baked oatmeal. I can pop a bit into a dish and cart to work each morning. Breakfast to go is a thing with me. I have the ingredients for this at home, so I’m thinking this will happen tonight. Loved the insight to the cookbook process…so laborious but we love you for it. Made the sweet potato/black bean enchiladas last night (and posted on Instagram)…omnivore hubby is already asking me to make them again soon. SOOOOO good. As always…thanks for all you do!!
This looks delicious! My fiance loves carrot cake…maybe I’ll make this for a weekend treat for him :) It looks like it would also be perfect for an Easter Brunch, right? Carrots, bunnies, etc.?
Thanks so much for sharing!
Just received the book!! :-)
Can’t wait to try everything!
I need to get on the baked oatmeal train like 10 minutes ago ;) Oatmeal is my go to and favourite breakfast in the morning and this looks fantastic! I loved reading about how you went testing your recipes – very creative and efficient [and some very lucky and happy taste testers I imagine!] :D
Finally got my cookbook from Amazon!!! I am preparing a birthday dinner from it this weekend- someone told me to not try new recipes for such an occasion. I assured them that NOTHING I have ever tried from your blog has failed me, and I know it will be a success!!
Baked oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow.
The Baked Oatmeal was good (I used quick oats). Also made the red lentil kale soup from the cookbook last night- DELISH!
thank you for sharing your process with us! the cookbook photo is gorgeous and this recipe looks absolutely amazing. i am definitely going to try it.
This looks absolutely delicious and so original! I’m going to buy a copy of your book as soon as I’ve got my salary for this month!
I was so thrilled to be a recipe-tester for you! I absolutely loved doing it! I am so happy for you and all your success with the cookbook. You deserve it. :)
This was fascinating Angela. Thank you for sharing how you tested the recipes! I received my copy of the book Monday and have already made and LOVED the metabolism boosting green citrus tea, out the door chia power doughnuts, and life affirming warm nacho dip. My husband has already requested I make the broccoli and cashew cheese quinoa burrito for dinner :)
Yum! We make carrot cake oatmeal all the time but haven’t tried baking it yet. Thanks for another lovely idea Angela!
Can’t eat oats! I think white rice might be good. Trying to figure out the amounts needed?
Kind of like rice pudding carrot cake.
hmm interesting idea! You could probably get away with using 1.5-2 cups cooked rice? just guessing though!
Costco now sells quinoa flakes and I find very little difference in the taste.
What a very, very smart process for keeping all comments in one place! This recipe looks divine and fun to know how much love it got even before getting here :D
Thanks for the shout-out to Food Riot!
So exciting! It’s fun to hear about how you go about testing the recipes and all the work that goes into it :) You’re awesome. This is such a creative recipe, by the way!
I’ve never tried baked oatmeal before but this looks delicious! I eat stove top oatmeal every morning but think I will give this a shot soon :) I love the idea of having it as dessert, I can seriously eat oatmeal as any meal!
So cool to hear what happened “behind-the-scenes” with the cookbook. I bought the e-book version the other day, and am LOVING working my way through the recipes. Seriously, the book is awesome. Looking forward to the next one!!
this sounds so good! i’m currently munching on a carrot cake luna bar so clearly i need to make this :)
Oh My Yessss!! Anything with “carrot cake” in the title has me sold! I love making dishes like this on Sunday and then having it for breakfast all week long.
P.S. I got your cookbook for my birthday! I’m so in love. I’m making the Glo Bars first because I was so sad when you closed your bakery down. I can’t wait to have them again!
I definitely want to make this soon!
I think I just died and went to heaven. This recipe looks absolutely delicious! I am currently studying abroad in Spain so this is definitely going to be one of the first things I try upon returning home! I simply just can’t resist anything with carrot cake in the title!
I’m salivating just looking at this post – can’t wait to try it for my husband and little girl this weekend x
This looks delicious! I’ve been trying to come up with new breakfast recipes that my husband will enjoy (he’s not much of an oatmeal fan) and I think this might just fly!
What a cool ‘behind the scenes look’. I glad you posted this recipe; it its anything like the baked apple and pear oatmeal in the cookbook, I know I’ll love it :)
Oh wow!! This look amazing!! And healthy!! YUM!! :) I love carrot cake-y things!! have you ever tried LUNA carrot cake bars?! So delicious!
Can you substitute the non-dairy milk for using regular or skim or would that not work out well? Thanks for sharing! Look forward to hearing from you!
Love the baked oatmeal!! I have never tried baking carrot cake oats-but will need to do that soon! When I make “carrot cake oatmeal” on the stovetop, I love to add a little coconut cream, and some toasted coconut flakes. I just love the coconut and carrot! And come to think of it, fresh pineapple would be great in a carrot cake-themed oat dish, too, since it is a staple ingredient in my carrot cake muffins!! Yum!
“Writing a cookbook is much different than blogging,”
I think it’s the difference between stage acting & movie acting. In stage acting, you get one take, whereas with movies, you get lots of edits. This is one reason I love blogging. At any time I can tweak a recipe based on a reader’s feedback…or delete it entirely!
Writing a book versus a blog post is also a different ball game. Blogging is a great way to test the waters, but as you point out, once it’s in print, it’s in print! I can imagine how that must have been a bit stressful.
i got your cookbook from barnes and noble just about a week ago. i’ve already made the chia donuts, the tomato soup with the chickpea croutons, and the sweet potato enchiladas are next on my list this week. i actually had some people ask if they could taste the chickpea croutons today. i kept them frozen and reheated in a toaster oven we have at work per your cookbook advice and they made the faculty room smell wonderful. i am not vegan but i love dabbling in cooking all types of food. …just have to say, your recipes are always outstanding! every single recipe of yours that i have made has been a crowd-pleaser and that compliment comes from all non-vegans. i took your peanut butter cups to our holiday luncheon and several people begged me for the recipe. keep up the great work!
This recipe is definitely going on the list of things to make this weekend ! Delicious Xx Elle
hey, I’m just starting on the road to a healthier lifestyle, slowly switching to a vegan, gluten, free diet. I’ve been working through some of the recipes in your book :)
I’m wondering which you find the most useful for this type of diet, a blender or a food processor. From what I’ve read it’s worth spending the extra for the most expensive models, but then I can only afford one and I’d like to know which you think I’d get the most mileage and flexibility from.
Oh, that’s a tough one! I think I use my blender more often, but just by a little bit maybe. I’m a bit smoothie person and usually make one a day. The processor is great for making nut butters, no bake desserts, or things like falafel or veg burgers too. I know some people make nut butter and hummus in Vitamix blenders, but I find it hard to scrape out of the container so I tend to use my processor for that. I def. think investing in good quality is a good idea. I went through a few blenders and food processors that broke before I finally saved up and purchased some better models.
Glad to hear you are cooking through recipes in the book! Hope you enjoy :)
I am so glad we get this recipe now! Better anytime then never, as it looks delicious.
I haven’t ever made baked oatmeal, but I wanted to try the one in your cookbook and this carrot one looks just as amazing! Especially with the coconut whipped cream! I might also add some diced pineapple, because I love pineapple in carrot cake :)