If, like me, you always wish there were more topping in fruit crisp, you should get to know oatmeal shortbread. Other recipes I've seen involve oat flour or ground oats, but this one, which my family has been making since it appeared in Martha Stewart's Quick Cook in 1983 (!), gets right down to sweet, buttery business with ingredients that are almost certainly waiting in your refrigerator and pantry.
Technically this is, I suppose, a kind of bar cookie, but the last batch I made struck me as being a candidate for the world's most delicious breakfast cereal—Cracklin' Oat Bran goes to charm school. Chopping it up and dousing it with milk might set a bad precedent, at least for those of us who already have trouble resisting cereal, but crumbling a little bit over plain yogurt and serving it with fruit would be entirely within reason. You might also cut a batch into bite-size squares and put them out for guests to nibble before or after any brunch you have in mind. Unlike my bannocks, which required a bit of jam or cream, oatmeal shortbread is perfect even in its naked state.
- 3 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl. Use fingers or a wooden spoon to work the butter and vanilla into the oat mixture until crumbly and uniform.
Press into a buttered 9-inch square dish and bake 20-30 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool in the dish before cutting and serving or the shortbread will disintegrate into a (delicious) pile of crumbs.