Rediscovering Baking


That's how I felt after the kids and I enjoyed our bites of freshly baked oatmeal cookies. It's been a while since I last baked. And the last time was a disaster.

I got into baking when I was in seventh grade, I think, and mainly because my mom was 'training' me to start helping out in the kitchen. She was not into baking at that time and she encouraged me to take baking courses or weekend cooking classes. I was so lazy then that I just got instant brownie and cookie mixes and tried them on my own. And all by manual labor!

It took a few trials for me to get a hang of some baking techniques. It also helped having a baking class in high school (the advantage of being in an all-girls school, teaching "women" skills like cooking, sewing to name a few). Eventually, I became a confident baker until I got into college. By this time, I've already been using an electric hand mixer as my trusty partner in whipping up whatever I felt like doing -- say, a blueberry cheesecake! This cheesy-creamy no-bake recipe is most-requested by friends and family. Just mix, mix, mix and off to the refrigerator. Add a spoon-full of blueberry compote and it's ready to serve. The recipe? Hmm...let me think (hard) about this one ;)

Baking was a weekend hobby for me, aside from stamp-collecting and scrapbooking. Soon, my interest waned and all the tools now rest at the back of the pantry.

Just this summer, I promised my kids that we will have a cooking or baking days at home and they can help out. I thought baking is a good, kid-friendly activity that they will enjoy. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the last attempt was not something I want to remember. This time, I got my groove back and we were all quite satisfied.

The oatmeal cookie batter, second batch, with morsels

The request was oatmeal cookies or chocolate chip cookies - I don't have time to do both yet so I decided to make the oatmeal cookie with half of the batch sprinkled with semi-sweet morsels. Now that's hitting two flavors in one mix!

I have a stack of cookbooks lying around but I got this recipe from a site that has lots of easy-to-do, yummy treats for the whole family. The cookie 'kid meter' was on a high, very encouraging, so I guess I'll have to revive this sleeping passion and get my oven working overtime, soon.

Try this and hope you'll enjoy it as much as we did.

Soft to the bite, plain or with chocolate morsels


3/4 cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup (215 grams) light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup (105 grams) all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 cups (260 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats*

1/2 cup dried cranberries, cherries, raisins, crushed nuts, or white /dark chocolate chips

*You can also use quick-cooking oats if rolled oats are not available.

You can decrease or increase the amount of nuts, dried fruits or morsels to your liking.

1 cup (110 grams) walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)

To toast nuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and toast nuts for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool and then chop into pieces. Set aside.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Non-stick baking sheets will do just fine.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer):
- cream the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth (about 2 - 3 minutes)
- add the egg and vanilla extract and beat to combine

In a separate bowl:
- whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon
- add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat until incorporated

Stir in the nuts, oats, and dried fruit or chocolate morsels.

For large cookies, use 1/4 cup of batter (I use a small ice cream scooper) and space the cookies about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
Wet your hand and flatten the cookies slightly with your fingers so they are about 1/2 inch thick. Bake for about 12 - 15 minutes at 350 degrees F (177 degrees C), or until light golden brown around the edges but still soft and a little wet in the centers.
Remove from oven and let the cookies cool a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

Makes about 20 large cookies.

Her second helping