So I’ve been attempting to find some uses for the freshly stoneground oats I got the other week from Lode Mill (Food Miles: Grown at Wimpole’s Home Farm, ground in a water driven mill about half an hour before I bought them. nice.)
Which has lead me to brushing up my cookie making, specifically working on two variables:
1) How to best make them crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside (Armadillos!)
2) How large a proportion of oats can you get away with before you break things.
I should state that I have no aversion to cheating at any point in the process, I don’t think my results will bear too much resemblance to what Granny used to do 🙂
My base recipe so far:
100g butter at room temperature (margarine / lard / whatever)
100g sugar (mid flavour level, I use Billington’s soft brown)
150g self-raising flour
1 beaten egg
1 tablespoon syrup (<= Dav’s armadillo hack. could be Honey, Maple, Golden or Malted Rice, depending upon the major flavour component)
Preheat oven to 180C
Use an electric whisk to mix the butter and sugar together until they’re ‘creamed’
Keep the whisk going whilst you add the egg, syrup and sieve in the flour
Take an oven tray and put a sheet of greaseproof paper on it
Put dollops of about a tablespoon of cookie batter on the paper, well spaced out. Don’t worry about them being tall, they’ll melt down in the oven.
Bake for 8 minutes until just starting to go brown.
When you take them out of the oven, they will still be soggy. This is normal, leave them to cool and set for about 5 minutes.
This is where the fun begins. There are 3 key things I mess about with:
Some people prefer a pure approach, I happen to like the taste and texture from oats, so I’ve tried
swapping some of the flour out for ground oatmeal. If you take it as high as 40% oats, then you get a crunchy biscuit. If you go for 20-35% then you just get a mess that falls apart and you can barely taste anything less than 10%. Which leaves about 15% as being a good target.
For me, that’s vanilla extract or essence (not “Vanilla Flavour” that hasn’t even got a photo of a vanilla pod on the label), but only when it isn’t drowned out by the major additions to the cookies. You can swap out some of the flour with 20-30g cocoa powder if you’re making a “double chocolate”.
This is the major component of the cookie.
My personal favourite (although my dentist might have a differing opinion) is date & cherry, roughly chop about 50g of good dates and glace cherries into the mix.
Oat and Raisin is a good combination, although
crap cheap raisins don’t go juicy quickly enough so you need good quality fruit. Honey and Raspberry works surprisingly well, although raspberries are better in muffins.
Chocolate is a perennial favourite choice. You can’t really go wrong here, but the choice of which choc to add is crucial, I do have a favourite but I can’t remember for the life of me what it’s called.
I find that for the best effect you don’t want to make the pieces of choc too small, just break it up in your fingers into 1 to 2cm chunks and it’ll be fine. The oven will round off any sharp edges that stick out of the finished product. Don’t forget that the chocolate will remain fluid after the cookie is cool enough to eat, which can make an amusingly sticky mess..