Friday, March 02, 2018

Best Oatmeal Cookies

I have a very thoughtful daughter. She knows that I love to bake. For my birthday she gave me the Zingerman's Bakehouse Cookbook and it is a treasure. The book combines great recipes, both sweet and savory, excellent baking tips and instructions, and an overview of their company both the people and the philosophy.

Finally had some time today to try a recipe from the cookbook. I chose to start with their oatmeal cookies, which they call the Big O Cookies. I'm past the time when a big-o should mean anything other than the best oatmeal cookie ever...and these really are. They are a generous size (although I was baking mine in my countertop oven, so I made them smaller than the recipe called for. They have chewy old-fashioned oats, a nice mixture of brown sugar and maple for sweetness, plus lots of raisins. There is just enough cinnamon and nutmeg and they are almost the right thickness.

I made half the recipe and couldn't figure out a way to halve an egg, so I added a little more flour...about 2 make up for the added liquid. Turns out I should have only added 1 tablespoon or maybe none since they were slightly more cakey that I had been expecting. However, even with that they were the best oatmeal cookies that Sweetie has ever had (according to him) and I just loved them, too. I did stray from the recipe a tiny bit...I used a bit more cinnamon and used golden raisins instead of flame variety, plus I used less raisins. Of course also I used non-dairy margarine instead of butter.

Thank you K for this great book and thank you to my dear sister G and niece T for letting me know about Zingerman' Ann Arbor, MI institution.

Big O Cookies
From Zingerman's Bakehouse Cookbook, slightly revised by me

Notes: There are both cup measures and weights here. I used the weights as much as possible because bakers find that this works better. If you have a scale, please use the will be glad. Smaller amounts don't have weights. Brown sugar is always packed if measured.

margarine, room temperature          1 cup + 2 tablespoons        250 g
brown sugar                                     3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons     154 g
maple syrup                                     1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon       172 g
large egg                                           1
vanilla extract                                  1 teaspoon
all-purpose flour                              1 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon  255 g
baking soda                                      1 1/8 teaspoon
sea salt                                              1 1/8 teaspoon
ground cinnamon                             1 1/8 teaspoon
ground nutmeg                                 1/4 teaspoon
old-fashioned rolled oats                  3 cups                                 300 g
flame raisins (I used golden)            2 3/4 cups                           390 g

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180C).

Prepare a couple of cookie sheets by lining with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl use a wooden spoon or stand mixer on medium speed to cream the margarine (or use unsalted butter which will be even better) and sugar until light and fluffy. Add maple syrup in thirds to keep batter from curdling permanently. Add maple syrup slowly to blend it in easily.

Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg...I used a whisk to mix it all together. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixer. Stir with wooden spoon or with electric mixer on low speed until evenly combined. Add the oats and raisins and mix to distribute evenly.

Scoop about 3 tablespoons of dough, or use a 1 1/2 oz.(48 ml) scoop (disher) onto the prepared cookie sheets, spacing far apart to allow for spreading. Press down so that dough rounds are about 1/2-inch thick.

Bake cookies for 15 -17 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and just set in the middle. Cool on a rack to room temperature.

Tip: Dough can be refrigerated uncooked and kept a week. Bake cookies right from the fridge. Expect to bake for and additional 2-3 minutes since they are cold.

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