Oats are a type of cereal grain that you’re probably used to eating for breakfast. Oatmeal is delicious, nutritious and filling, but oats are great for more than just porridge. They are extremely versatile, making a great base for savoury and sweet recipes. For bakers, oats are a staple of their pantry since they can use them in just about everything! But oats come in various forms, each best suited for a different purpose.
Let’s explore this gluten-free whole grain and how you can make the most of oats in baking.
Oats are incredibly healthy whole grain food that are a source of protein, fibre, and carbohydrates. They include vital vitamins and minerals, including:
Studies have shown that oats can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and support a healthy gut by promoting good bacteria growth. Because of the beta-glucan fibre, oats can make you feel fuller for longer, aiding in weight loss. Oats are even good on the outside of your body, which is why you find them in many skin products.
When shopping for oats, you’ll notice three primary varieties: rolled oats, steel cut oats and instant oats.
Instant oats are a form of rolled oats, but made slightly differently. For baking, avoid using instant oats. Before these oats are cut, they are cooked and dried. Then, after cutting, they are rolled out thin to help them cook faster. They are so thin that they get soft and mushy when cooked. That’s great for porridge, but not so great for baking. Also, many brands of instant oats may have flavours, sugars or salts added, so they are typically less healthy than the others.
Rolled oats maintain more texture than instant oats, although they are processed similarly. The grain is first steamed and then rolled with steel rollers until the oats are flattened. The difference is that rolled oats are not dried before they are pressed, meaning they retain more volume.
Steel-cut oats are not processed using steel rollers and are instead sliced up with steel blades. They are not as thinly sliced as rolled oats, so they take longer to cook and absorb less water. As they are slightly less processed, they retain more nutritional value, but there isn’t a significant difference.
Rolled oats are the best to use in baking as steel-cut can often be too chewy and mess with the texture of your recipes.
Here are some of our favourite ways to use oats in baking:
Sourdough bread is notoriously one of the healthiest bread options, with higher levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals than other types of bread. But you can up the nutritional value even more by adding some oats. Sourdough is classically a crusty bread, but with the addition of oats, it becomes more tender and soft, with earthier flavours. That’s because the oats trap and retain a lot of moisture. The best way to make oat sourdough is first to use a food processor to chop up your oats, making them finer and easier to incorporate into the dough. You’ll want to prepare your oats in water first to help them soften before adding to the rest of your ingredients. The rest of the process is the same as making any other sourdough bread, but with a little sprinkle of oats for aesthetics.
Oats make a fantastic gluten-free base for delicious cookies. We’ve all had grandma’s Oatmeal Raisin cookies, but there are more innovative ways to use this ingredient. How about a Dark Chocolate, Coconut, Oat and Sea Salt Cookie? Oat crisps up nicely on the outside while staying chewy and soft in the centre – the perfect combo. The oats help balance the sugar in the cookies, so they aren’t overwhelmingly sweet like typical cookie recipes. Try these cookies, which include only a few primary ingredients like red spring wheat, organic oats, flaked coconut, ground coffee, cinnamon, sea salt and vegan butter.
Always use large rolled oats when making cookies to get the best results.
By grinding up whole oats into a fine powder you are left with the perfect gluten-free flour alternative. Not only is it much more gentle on the stomach for people who suffer from gluten intolerance, but it is also really high in nutrients, making it a much healthier option than your traditional wheat flour.
We use oat flour to make our Mountain Loaf which you can pre-order on our online shop here.
Instead of reaching for a chocolate bar, bag of chips or candy when you’re feeling peckish, grab a granola bar instead! Granola bars are a nutrient-packed snack for when you’re on the go. They don’t need to be refrigerated, so you can take them with you hiking and camping or for something to munch during a work break. Pre-packaged granola bars often contain high amounts of sugars, preservatives and other processed ingredients. But they are very easy to make yourself. And the star of the show is oats!
The base of your granola bar recipe will be rolled oats, but you can add just about any other ingredients you’d like. We’d recommend a mix of seeds, nuts, dried fruits and a natural sweetener for a balanced, slow-release snack that will keep you full for hours. Best of all, you can batch-make them and freeze them so they will keep for months.
Mmmmuffins, like mini-cakes but healthier! You can’t get better than a warm muffin, fresh out of the oven with some vegan butter melted over. Oat muffins are easy to make and great with breakfast, as a snack or as dessert. They only take about 10 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to bake, so you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen to create something delicious. Adding banana to your oat muffin recipe means you don’t need to use extra sweeteners, as the banana is sweet enough already! Plus, it makes them taste just like banana bread. But you can always add vegan coconut sugar if you have a sweet tooth. Similar to the granola bars, you can add extra ingredients you like to oat muffins, such as chocolate chips, nuts or seeds.
Always use rolled oats when making oat muffins as steel-cut are too dense and chewy for muffin recipes.
The sky is the limit when it comes to adding oats to your favourite baking recipes. Baked goods can be a healthy addition to your diet when you use wholesome ingredients like oats to boost the nutritional value of your recipes. We’re always finding fun new ways to add organic oats to our bakery’s recipes. Pop in and see what we come up with next!