Recipe: Oat Cookies

Oat Cookies v2It seems that yet again the media is full of scare stories about the dangers of a diet high in processed foods. They’re hard to avoid, everything we buy is processed in some way, as the food industry seeks to find ways to sell us solutions we don’t need to problems we don’t have. Even chez Todhunter isn’t immune to the convenience of ready made food (and we cook from scratch every day), open the freezer or cupboards and you’ll find loaves of sliced bread for Mr T’s sandwiches, granola, “fresh” pasta and crisps. These are all things I could make from scratch (and frequently do), but it’s easy to make excuses and feel buying ready made buys us time to do more fun stuff.  Every now and again I need to stop and remind myself that eating real food, made at home is quicker, cheaper and more nutritious, I can control how much sugar goes in my biscuits, how much salt and “improver” I add to my bread and I can add extra choc chips to my cookies!

Simple home baking is about routines. As I write this, a batch of cookies is baking in the oven (they’ll be ready before I’ve finished this post, a sourdough loaf is proving and the greenhouse is filled with seedlings that will give us delicious salads all summer. Domestic Goddess? No, not me. I’ve just built a few  habits into my routine –  even when I was a full time working Mum, I still baked all my own cakes and biscuits – and had numerous arguments with teachers about how “unhealthy” my chocolate cake was compared to the discount supermarket cereal bar the school recommended (for info, that “cereal bar” had twice the fat, salt and sugar as my home made snack).

Anyway, enough grumbling. Here’s the recipe. You’ll need a wooden spoon, a set of scales, a large saucepan and a bowl. I’m sure most of us can lay our hands on those? You’ll need a couple of baking trays and some greaseproof paper too.  You’ll find a “shopping list” of ingredients at the end. Remember, these biscuits are a treat, if you’re hungry, don’t fill up on sweet or salty snacks. But, one biscuit with a morning cuppa or a late afternoon treat with your caffiene fix? Well, I tell myself that’s OK. Everything in moderation eh?

I know this recipe seems quite “wordy”, and recipes are usually just sparse lists of ingredients and culinary terms. It’s aimed at those of you who might not spend hours in your kitchen, who might be nervous about baking because you’ve watched too much “bake off” and it all looks so hard. Home baking is easy, I promise. It just takes a bit of practice and organisation.

Method

Put 100g of butter (real butter, not low fat spread please) and  2 tablespoons of maple syrup, golden syrup or honey in a large saucepan. Warm the pan gently while you gather the dry ingredients in a bowl (50g each of sugar, porridge oats, desiccated coconut and 100g of plain flour). As soon as the butter has melted, take the pan off the heat,  stir once and add 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, the mixture will froth immediately (kids love watching this, they’ll think you’re amazing!) Pour the dry ingredients into the pan and mix well. The mixture will be quite wet, but don’t worry, you won’t be rolling it out.

Drop dessert spoonfuls of the mixture onto lined baking sheets (they’ll spread as they cook), bake at gas mark 5 for 10 – 15 minutes (depending on your oven, they’re ready when they turn golden brown). Leave them on the baking tray to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack (if you haven’t got one, just put them on a cool surface, a plate or wooden board will do or use the metal tray from your grill pan).

Try to resist them until they are cool. They’ll harden up, but will still be soft and chewy. Store in an airtight tin and don’t eat them all at once! This recipe makes about 18 biscuits, if you want smaller biscuits next time, adjust the size of your spoon, and remember smaller biscuits cook more quickly!

Shopping list

If you don’t have all the tools or ingredients you need, get together with a friend and pool your resources, make two batches of biscuits and share them. Cooking with friends is great fun and saves money too.

You’ll need

100g plain flour

50g sugar (any will do, but not icing sugar!)

50g desiccated coconut (don’t like coconut? try replacing them with chopped nuts instead)

50g porridge oats (not the instant kind, the sort you mix with milk and cook on the hob)

100g butter

1tsp bicarbonate of soda (cheap to buy, lots of uses, not just cooking, use it to make eco friendly household cleaners too – I’ll write a post about them another day).

2 tablespoons of Maple syrup, golden syrup or honey (if you stocked up for pancake day, here’s your chance to use up those tins and jars).

You can find almost all of these ingredients in supermarket own brand basic ranges. If you prefer (and can afford to “trade up”, look for local raw honey, organic flour, unbleached sugar and local butter, but in my mind, home baked beats factory made regardless of where you buy your raw materials).