If you love oatmeal in a bowl but don’t have the time or inclination to make it every morning, these oatmeal gem muffins might be the perfect solution. Only slightly sweet, these muffins taste like you’re eating prepared oatmeal from the palm of your hand. Best of all, you start them overnight. Then you only need to stir in a few ingredients in the morning and bake them.
Published in 1919, this recipe was called Oatmeal Gems. Gems are muffins baked in cast-iron gem pans. A gem pan could look like a muffin pan, or it could turn out half rounds of bread. Usually, a gem pan contained some kind of open area to allow air and heat flow around the individual muffin cups. If this concept fascinates you, The Cast Iron Collector web site gives more information on gem pans than you will ever need for a vintage home kitchen. After all, the well-equipped home kitchen contained one gem pan. Just one. The vintage kitchen provided no room for storing extra, unneeded utensils and pans. (Thankfully, I have a garage that I use to do just that.)
Muffins in the vintage kitchen
In the vintage home, muffins accompanied a meal, or they provided part of a teatime heavy snack. Today we eat muffins as a standalone meal replacement and although that may be a vintage reality, it was never touted as the ideal. When I made these I grabbed a couple and ate them with a fresh cup of coffee. That was breakfast.
Eaten hot from the oven, these muffins provided the cereal part of a good breakfast along with fruit, coffee or hot cocoa, and perhaps eggs. Later in the day, served at room temperature or re-warmed in the oven still hot from cooking dinner, they saved the household cook from making a second type of bread on a non-baking day. Since they aren’t very sweet they would go well with a dinner menu.
These muffins taste sweeter at room temperature, although they also go down well with a smear of butter. They are chewy, dense quick breads.
The recipe basics
The recipe starts with sour milk. You can easily make sour milk yourself by adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a cup of milk. Since the recipe calls for a cup and a half of milk you would add a tablespoon and a half of vinegar. Regular white vinegar will work, too, if you don’t have any apple cider vinegar. However, apple cider vinegar seems to produce a slightly thicker product.
The next morning you mix in some baking soda, an egg, salt, flour, and sugar. Then you bake them. I used a mini muffin pan, which helps them cook all the way through. Since this is an older recipe it offered no oven temperature outside of “hot.” I baked these minis for 15 minutes at 375º to give them a bit of brown on top. I was using gluten free flour. If you use regular flour, baking them for 13 minutes might be enough.
Whether you eat them with your morning coffee or tea like I did, or incorporate them into a proper vintage meal, these oatmeal gem muffins are good to have in your repertoire. They mix up easily, cook quickly, and need only a few everyday ingredients.
- 1 mini muffin pan
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1 ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup flour Gluten Free 1 to 1 flour works fine.
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1. Mix the apple cider vinegar and the milk. Let stand ten minutes to sour.
- 2. Place the oatmeal in a medium bowl and add the milk. Stir, cover, and set in the refrigerator overnight.
- 3. In the morning, preheat oven to 375º F.
- 3. Add baking soda, egg, flour, salt, and sugar to the oatmeal mixture. Mix well, and fill the wells in the mini muffin pan.
- 4. Bake mini muffins for 13 – 15 minutes. When they are done, the tops should pop back when pressed lightly. Or use the tried and true toothpick method to check.
If you try these, please leave a comment to let me know how you like them. When I make them again I may sprinkle a little sugar on the tops before baking, or I might stir some mini chocolate chips into the batter. This is a variation unknown in 1919, since chocolate chips weren’t invented until 1937.