Friday, April 20, 2012

Oatmeal-raisin-nut cookies

Oatmeal-raisin-nut cookies

Y'know, nobody told me that wedding planning would take all of my free time. But it's ridiculous how booked my calendar has gotten -- and when you're this busy, there's not enough time to contemplate fun hobbies like baking. I'll need to change that, though, if for no other reason than that there are a few events coming up soon for which I'm obligated to bake something.

Alright, confession time: I did bake one thing since the last time I posted. It was an orange angel food cake for Easter, and it proved disappointing -- while it tasted alright, the texture was just off, the crumb too uneven and a bit too chewy. This experiment taught me that if you already have a good recipe for something, you probably shouldn't reinvent the wheel. I might make an orange angel food cake again, but next time, I'd just modify this recipe to add orange flavor.

That failure sort of reminded me of my mission when I started this blog, though. It wasn't about making whatever fancy or trendy recipe I came across (though there's nothing wrong with that necessarily) -- it was about establishing a baseline, finding good, solid recipes for basic things that I (and you) can turn to again and again whenever I need to make a cake, or some cookies, or what have you. And while I've found a few good ones, there are still a lot of basic things that I don't have my own recipes for -- like pound cake, and great biscuits (not just passable ones), and really good white bread.

And oatmeal cookies. Yes, those, too. I have plenty of cookie recipes, some of them old standbys by now, but the one basic cookie I hadn't made yet was oatmeal.

The hardest part of making these was deciding where to start, what sort of cookie I wanted to end up with. A chewy oatmeal cookie was a given, but aside from that, the options were dizzying: oatmeal raisin? Oatmeal chocolate chip? Oatmeal peanut butter chip? Oatmeal-pecan-white chocolate-coconut? Ultimately, I decided to stick with a classic, or close to it, anyway -- I went with the standard oatmeal-raisin, but as luck would have it, the recipe I ended up basing mine on included walnuts, which I'd already been thinking of throwing in.

These came out pretty good, though a bit small (you'll want them small so you get a decent number of them and so they cook properly all the way through). Also, I discovered that while warm chocolate chip cookies are great, warm oatmeal cookies fall flat -- they were vastly better the next day than fresh from the oven.

Oatmeal-Raisin-Nut Cookies
Adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe

1/2 c butter, softened
2/3 c light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon (I scaled this back a bit 'cause I was using strong Tung Hing cinnamon; next time, I'd use more)
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c rolled oats
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c chopped walnuts

1. Beat together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until thoroughly combined.
2. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir into the butter mixture.
3. Stir in the oats, raisins and nuts.
4. Form into medium-sized mounds (mine were maybe an inch and a half or so wide -- I don't own a cookie scoop, so I just sort of made what looked like a reasonable size to me) and place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, until the edges are browned but the centers still look underdone. Let sit on the pan for 5 minutes, then remove to a rack and cool completely.