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)
Thank you so much for posting this delicious recipe!! I have made it several times and it is one of the few things that actually helps me get out of bed in the morning — I’m looking forward to breakfast! I add a little unsweetened coconut as well and it’s fantastic!
I am so happy to have found your blog, and book, too. My family loves the Glo Bars and every breakfast I’ve tried has been fantastic. This week we’ll be making the hummus and kale chips. Thank you for all of your inspiration and delicious, healthy recipes!! They are absolutely wonderful!
How many calories to you estimate to be in one serving?
Just made this! Absolutely delicious! Had it for a lunch dessert after we had the Empowered Noodle Bowl (orange maple miso) which was also really tasty. Will be eating both again tomorrow!
thank you :)
I made this carrot cake baked oatmeal over the weekend. It is soo good! I’ve had it in the fridge for three days now and it is still moist. I love how the raisins plumed up and are so juicy.
Thank you Angela for all of your hard work and open sharing. I am falling in love with whole foods-based vegan cooking and it all started with buying my sister your cookbook for Christmas. It shipped to my house after it was released in March and I asked to borrow it for a few weeks. Since then I’ve made so many of your recipes (from the book and your blog) that I have lost count. Each one has been simple, filling and satisfying. And there’s so much more I want to try!
I’ve made this multiple times now. It’s amazing! When I’m out of almond milk, I’ve used the leftover coconut water from the coconut whipped cream. Or even plain water. Any way I make it, it’s scrumptious!!
Love, love, love this recipe!!! I make a double batch and keep the extras in the frig so I can eat it all week. Unfortunately my teenager usually gets to the leftovers before I do. At least she’s eating healthy, right? I have replaced the maple syrup with about 1/4 c agave nectar and the walnuts with almonds or pecans. Super yummy! Thank you so much.
Can regular milk be used instead of almond milk?
This was incredibly easy to make and it smelled delicious while it was baking. My ten year old son even asked, “What smells so good?” I was expecting it to taste a tad sweeter, so next time I’m going to try adding more raisins and pineapple as other posts suggested.
THANK YOU for this amazing dish. I made this but only used 1/8 cup of maple syrup and added 1/2 tsp of nutmeg and it came out great. It’s almost hard to believe you aren’t eating cake for breakfast!!!
Amazing! I made this for a dessert and am now making it for breakfast. It was really easy to make. It required about 10 minutes longer in my oven, but that always varies. Thank you!
My wonderful daughter made this for my for brunch today using hemp milk, and it was fantastic! You’ve got a new blog fan and follower here – thank you!!
This morning I tried replacing the carrot with shredded, peeled apple to see if it would get The stamp of approval from the rest of my family, and it passed with flying colours! So yummy!
I made the carrot cake baked oatmeal morning. My husband and I both loved it! I plan to try it with the addition of flaked coconut next time. I attempted to make the coconut whipped cream, but it didn’t turn out. I’ll try again next time with another brand of coconut milk and see if that makes the difference.
So, Ang – I have a terrible, terrible confession to make. I’ve pretty much never properly used a recipe in my life (because I consistently mess them up so badly!) but I’m officially going turn over a new leaf and try to perfect some of these baby’s in the upcoming weeks so I can not only reap all this goodness, but also so participate in conversations about how your dishes turn out when I try them since everyone in my family now has the book and everyone is talking about it (literally…everyone!). I might have to start here…or the kale chips..I have REALLY messed those up before! lol. I was checking out GF oatmeal today and thinking…I could really go for some of this! This looks freakin’ awesome!
hah you sound a lot like Eric! Everyone’s gotta start somewhere. ;) Sending you positive kitchen vibes!
Is the baking powder necessary?
Thanks so much for this recipe! I prepared it this morning, only I exchanged the raisins with goji berries, exchanged the Agave nectar (I believe you should discourage people from using it, as it has a number of troublesome short-term and long-term side effects) with Trader Joe’s organic honey, and blended the walnuts with 1 small green apple and a little bit more milk, for a smooth spread over the oatmeal. Everyone loved it! My only after thought was to remind myself to double the quantity of apples I use for the top spread, as my family is not avid to use whipped cream. Overall, I am very pleased, though. I doubled each ingredient, so I look forward to another lovely breakfast, tomorrow. I look forward to using more of your recipes in the future. I plan on making your tofu quiche tomorrow, actually! I’ll review how that turns out for me, as well. It’s how I found your website, actually. I needed a good tofu recipe, found one, and wandered through other parts of your site. Another suggestion I would make is, if possible, if you could give a rough estimate of the calories in one serving (in cups) of the dishes you prepare. I’m sure it would benefit many of your readers, as I assume most of your readers are also very health conscious.
This recipe calls for pure maple syrup, not agave nectar. I also considered using honey instead because it is my go-to baking sweetener, however the maple syrup gave the dish an amazing flavour.
Could you do this with quinoa?
I wonder if these would be good as muffins? By the way, I absolutely love your cookbook. I got it from my boyfriend for my birthday because I had talked about wanting it for months. Once I got it, I started cooking from it right away and loved everything I made so far! Everyone in my family has loved the recipes, and they aren’t particularly into eating healthy or vegan/vegetarian! Even my parents who love a good beef burger have asked me for the recipe for the portabella mushroom burgers with sun dried tomatoes! My family can’t even tell the dishes I make from the cookbook are vegan, and when I tell them, they don’t even care! They used to cringe when I would tell them the meal was vegan, and make fun of me. Thank you for turning things around for me!
Wahey! Carrot cake for breakfast has been officially approved!! I can’t wait for brekkie! I have seen recipes like this around, but your pictures are tantalizing as usual. I can’t resist any longer, even if I have had proper carrot cake for 3 days running now! (Gotta love dinner party leftovers..)
I made this last night for breakfast this morning, and a third of it was eaten before we went to bed. It is amazing! Such a quick, delicious and nutritious breakfast. I used maple syrup roasted almonds instead of walnuts, mixed the raisins in as opposed to sprinkling on top (with a couple extra tablespoons), and used nutmeg instead of ginger. I will be making this very often, thank you for the great recipe!
Sounds totally nutritious, Angela! Another healthy dish with baked oatmeal(never tried baked oatmeal before) I should give a try.
Hi! I just made your ‘on the mend Lentil soup’ (love) and i’m making this tomorrow since I’m obsessed with baked oatmeals lately. The apple one In your book looks to die for as well!
I’m wondering if the texture of this one is soft like bread pudding or cakier? Whenever I add a flax egg replacer to the milk mixture I find it makes the oatmeal softer/fluffier and easier to reheat (for texture) but I’ve never tried no egg or flax replacement at all. Any response is appreciated.
Love your book! It’s definitely my favorite on my shelf! Thanks for putting out solid recipes!
Thanks for a perfect recipe! I have only recently turned vegan and this was pretty much the first recipe I have tried from a vegan blog -SO TASTY and easy to make <3
I just wanted to say thank you. I recently began my journey back to veganism after taking a year break. I discovered your blog two days ago, ordered your cookbook (just arrived and is stunning). Your recipes make me extremely hopeful that I can get back on track, living the lifestyle I felt the most beautiful and healthy in. I just baked the above recipe and…wow. I missed this. Thanks again :)
Definitely going to make this sometime next week! Not sure it will look as good as the pictures you’ve posted haha.
Hope you can check out my stuff over @ veganbreakfast.co.uk
Thank you :)
Can I replace the maple? Not eating sugar etc!
Hi! Love the recipe and I also purchased a copy of your book. Can I use minute oats in this recipe? It have a lot in my cabinet and would like to use them.
Hi Megan, I’m not too sure as I havent tried it before. My guess is they would be quite mushy (regular rolled oats have such a great texture!)
Just wondering what I can replace the raisins with? We have a spoiled pup at home, who eats anything that falls on the floor! So always worried about accidentally dropping raisins
would cranberries/blueberries work? I also love Dates.
Thanks…cant wait to try this!
Is there any reason not to use regular milk, if one doesn’t have problems with dairy products?
Feel free to use whichever kind of milk you prefer Charlene…I would guess they would all work!
Thanks for the quick reply!
Oh my goodness, I don’t really like oat meal (usually I force it down because it is good for me). This is seriously amazing! I love it! I reduced the maple syrup a little, and it still came out delicious! I also have to say that my husband and I follow a vegan mostly gluten free diet lately and we have used many of your recipes and they are seriously fantastic! Thank you!
I made this! It was pretty easy to make and understand all the ingredients usually that’s a deciding factor for me if I don’t know what some things are but everything here was self explanatory :) the hardest part was trying to grate the ginger but I managed. To take bake time was 32 min I turned it around halfway to make sure it cooked evenly. Meanwhile I did make the coconut whipped cream too which was pretty good first time I’ve had it. I think I may want to try adding pineapple to the carrot cake recipe to make it even more like it. Overall it turned out pretty good I’m happy :) thanks for the recipe, I made in a 10×10 pan about 9-12 servings because it was not cut the same.
This oatmeal was easy to make and had a nice flavour, however I found it to be very spongy. I much prefer overnight oats versus baked oats.
Thank you for the recipe. This was good even cold the second and third day. It makes enough to serve a crowd.
This recipe is amazing!!! I even got a co-worker hooked on it now. Thanks Angela! :)
Just wanted to pop you a note to say that I made this for my wife and I this morning and it was incredible. A well-balanced breakfast!
Best ever oatmeal breakfast recipe! Added fresh pineapple & coconut the second time.
I made this tonight and it came out amazing!! I’d never have thought to use almond milk but it added a great depth! ☺
This is the best – THE BEST – oatmeal I have ever eaten. I baked it and then put it in the fridge for breakfasts during the week. I heat it up and drizzle it with a little extra maple syrup and almond milk. It’s my new favorite breakfast. Well done.
Just made this this morning – absolutely loved it! I used agar syrup instead of maple syrup, and it tasted great! I’m trying not to eat a second slice now..
Making this for the holidays. Thought about frosting them as bars. Might make two batches. Thank you for this yummy take on a breakfast staple.
Made this for Christmas morning breakfast and it was soooo good! The night before, I mixed together the dry ingredients; then separately mixed together the wet ingredients & stored in the fridge overnight; in the morning, mixed together the wet & dry then topped with the raisins & nuts, popped in the oven, and was ready after gift opening. Loved it!
This is a great idea! I made it this morning with some modifications. It’s delicious and hearty. I subbed a 1/2 cup of the milk with egg whites (adds protein and a more solid texture). I also added a scoop of protein powder. I didn’t have any maple syrup, but I don’t like adding much sugar to my baked stuff so I used only 3 TBSP of some agave honey. The protein powder had sweet already in it so leaving out the maple syrup in total was fine.
Do you have the nutritional value with calories per serving? I like to keep track of my daily intake. Made the Carrot Cake Oatmeal, it was awesome!! Might try adding a variation in the future such as cranberries, etc.
I’m a personal trainer and I’m always looking for ways to spice up my pre workout oatmeal. This looks heavenly, can’t wait to whip up a batch!
I’m not sure if it is the combonation of ginger and maple syrup, or what, but this tastes very decadent! And I love that about this oatmeal! I make it the night before and have it for the next few days for breakfast – such a quick and easy way to feel like you are eating something special in the mornings!
I made this for a breakfast potluck and several asked me for the recipe. I think the fresh ginger gives it a nice zing, and putting the walnuts and raisins on top ensure that every bite gets that chewy/crunchy goodness.
I made some for just my husband and I, because I love carrot cake, and this did not disappoint. The flavor gets even better overnight in the fridge after baking.My husband and I meant to heat it back up when we took it from the fridge, but it tasted so good cold, we never ended up heating it up! Thanks for this easy, healthy recipe! I love I can bake once and have breakfast for 2 days. I would say three, but it doesn’t last…
Can I use steel cut oats? Would I prepare them and then reduce almond milk? Very excited to make this for my 3 and 6 yr old boys! Great recipe!
Thank you for creating this recipe. I’d never baked oatmeal before but my first try with this recipe worked out excellently – really enjoyed it. The flavours of the spices and texture of the nuts and raisins all work perfectly. I’m am trying to maximise the amount of vegetables I eat (I’m not vegan or vegetarian currently) and beefed up the carrots a little to just over 2 cups – this worked out fine – loved it – and leftovers reheat up nicely in the microwave with a splash of almond milk in a bowl – thank you!
Just made this tonight, and it was delicious…thank you!! I thought I had maple syrup at home but didn’t, and was not about to trudge through bad weather to get it. I substituted agave syrup for it, and it tastes just fine to me!