Oats are a great addition to any baked good, providing texture, substance, and a unique flavor. Because it’s a whole grain, oatmeal is a healthier ingredient than most others Plus, oats are both vegan and naturally gluten free (but check the label, because there is a high risk of cross-contamination in the growing and harvesting process) But since they are such a unique ingredient, sometimes baking with oats can be tricky.
Here at Whisked, we’ve learned the ins and outs of baking with oatmeal over the years. Try some of our favorite cookies, the Salty Oatmeal or Vegan Chocolate Chip Oatmeal, and find out for yourself!
Here are our top 5 tips for baking with oatmeal:
Rolled oats and quick oats work differently in recipes.
Most recipes call for a variety of rolled oats, usually old-fashioned oats or quick oats. Because rolled oats are less processed, they absorb less moisture than quick oats. Quick oats act as a binder in a cookie or cake batter, absorbing moisture and building structure. But rolled oats act like a mix-in, similar to a chocolate chip or a nut. They won’t help your dough bind together, but they will add flavor and texture to a baked good.
Use Quick Oats if You’re Substituting Oats for Flour
Using oatmeal instead of flour in a cake or cookie recipe is an easy way to increase the whole grain and fiber content of a baked good. You can sub in an equal weight of quick oats for flour. We recommend starting with substituting half of the flour with quick oats in a given recipe, to see how you like the change. Just remember to use quick oats instead of rolled oats. Because rolled oats don’t absorb as much moisture as quick oats, they won’t bind your dough together and can’t be used as a flour substitute. We found this out the hard way when creating the recipe for our oatmeal cookies - when we used rolled oats they didn’t absorb moisture quickly enough and our cookies were too thin. Using quick oats solved the problem.
Weigh Your Oats
At Whisked we weigh all our ingredients to make sure that all our cookies and pies come out perfectly every time. When baking with oatmeal, consider using a scale to weigh your ingredients. Because rolled oats and quick oats have different volumes, a cup of rolled oats is 90 grams, but a cup of quick oats is 81 grams. Meanwhile a cup of flour weighs 130 grams - so you can’t just substitute a cup of oatmeal for a cup of flour. However, you CAN substitute 130 grams of quick oats for 130 grams of flour - weighing the ingredients means the amounts are exactly the same. Using a scale means you get the right amount every time and your baked goods will be more consistent.
Use Steel Cut Oats with Caution
Many people like the flavor, texture, and enhanced nutrition of steel cut oats. Steel cut oats are less processed than rolled or quick oats, so they absorb less moisture than rolled oats and take much longer to cook. Because of this, steel cut oats are tricky to bake with - they will stay hard and gritty if added to a cookie or cake. If you’re determined to use steel cut oats in a baked good, try grinding them in a food processor before adding to your batter. Grinding steel-cut oats begins the process of breaking them down, making them more likely to soften and cook through in a baked good.
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment with Oats
Once you get the hang of baking with oatmeal, there’s lots of ways you can experiment with them. Try substituting part of the flour in your pie crust, or adding rolled oats as a mix-in to a chocolate chip cookie. Maybe try some oatmeal in your pancakes and waffles. Oats are so much more than a breakfast cereal, and can add texture, flavor, and fiber to your everyday baked goods.
Use these tips when baking your next batch of oatmeal raisin bars, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, or oatmeal cake. Or, skip the work and try our perfected oatmeal recipes. Find your closest Whisked location here!