Jumbo Raisin Nut Cookies

I had a hankering to bake cinnamon rolls. I mentioned this to Hubby and he said “can we make cookies?”. By “we” he meant me. So what type of cookies? He likes oatmeal but asked if we had chocolate chips. I told him I was not going to make his “loaded oatmeal cookies” but proceeded to do so anyway. I went to my mom’s recipe notebook and there I found a recipe to try. This comes from the back of a C&H sugar bag from way back. Mom has typed a note saying one can substitute 2 cups of oatmeal for 2 cups of the flour. Supposedly this will make 6 dozen cookies. I don’t need six dozen cookies; we’ll eat them all!

I figured I would make ordinary sized cookies using a cookie scoop which I believe is the medium sized.

First of all I saw no reason to boil the raisins. I also did not want to use 2 cups of raisins. I put 1/2 cup raisins and 1/2 cup Craisins in a measuring cup and filled it with water. The soaking water is needed in the recipe but in future I would leave this out. I added walnuts, mini chocolate chips, and ginger bits to equal another cup. Those are the additions. I used 2 cups oatmeal and 2 cups all-purpose flour. I made Hubby grind the nutmeg. I almost forgot the spices and added them to the finished dough before putting in the fridge to chill. In general I followed the directions above using butter instead of shortening.

I did not expect the dough to spread out so much. I baked three batches with different amounts of chilling times, with and without parchment paper. Same result. It was a very wet dough.

The name of the cookie is “Jumbo”. These are cakey but tasty and easy to eat. Too easy to eat!

Testing one, two, three

How does one make a birthday cake for a sugar-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free dietary need? Luckily for me the particular family member is a grown adult who is open to experimentation in recipes and not a small child who doesn’t understand why they cannot have cake.

Looking into gluten-free flours it seems important to get the 1:1 product that contains Xanthem Gum. I looked at the Xanthem Gum and it was not inexpensive and why would I need that much anyway? Oh, and the gluten-free flour must also not contain any almond flour. I found a small bag and purchased it with the intent of experimenting on my standard cake recipes.

Sugar-free is a challenge. Approved sweeteners are honey, dates, and maybe, coconut sugar. I found a small bag of coconut sugar as well.

Dairy-free is simpler as there are so many dairy-free “not milk” products out there. I like oat milk which is better for the planet than almond milk. Soy has a mixed reputation but would more closely match the protein in cow’s milk. Plant-based butters are available but if you read ingredients carefully you can find margarine that is completely lactose-free. An olive oil cake won’t need butter at all.

I have a Betty Crocker snack cake recipe from the back of an ancient flour bag which I have used for almost 40 years. This recipe is actually vegan. I have chosen the first cake experiment for this recipe as it will only need two substitutions: flour and sugar.

  • 1 2/3 cups flour (Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 GF flour used)
  • 1 cup brown sugar (coconut sugar used here)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (why is vanilla used in chocolate cakes?)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray or oil. I do this even though the original recipe does not direct one to grease the pan.

Whisk all dry ingredients together and then stir in the wet ones. Mix thoroughly and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes until done.

Thoughts: coconut sugar is brown in color with a vague caramel aroma. It also does not hold moisture as well as brown sugar (according to the internet). I was concerned the cake may be dry, but it was not. It may have been done just earlier than 35 minutes though. It did have a hint of a caramel/”burnt-but-not-really” flavor. Coconut flavor was not detected. And the texture was good and cake-like, spongy. Perhaps some espresso powder to enhance the cocoa would not go amiss.

Fresh Yeast

I store my instant yeast in the refrigerator and had paid no attention to the length of time it has been there. A thought came to me out of the blue that perhaps it is past its prime even though the breads and rolls I have been baking over the past few months do rise some. “Some” is what was concerning me. Why did not my bread rise to the heights above the bread pan as shown in recipe books?

for example

I truly have no idea how long that yeast I have has been. It has been there throughout the course of the pandemic and before. I looked on the internet for information on how long instant yeast should be stored. I found information that recommended anything from 4 months to one year. Then I went and purchased a new batch. And then made a loaf of bread.

What a difference the new yeast made!

This particular bread was flour, salt, water, and yeast with a touch of milk. The dough rose significantly higher than my recent bread endeavors. The baked bread was above the rim of the loaf pan.

I have put the date on the container that the yeast is in and will endeavor to use this up within a year’s time. Now that I am retired I will have more opportunity to bake bread and other goodies.

Blueberry Buckle

I had blueberries of the grocery produce aisle variety that needed to be used before having to send them to the compost bucket. Unfortunately I waited too long to use the broccoli and it had to be sent to the compost. How sad! I have been trying not to bake too much due to overeating but what else to do with them?

I remembered a recipe for blueberry buckle given to me by a lady from the church I attended way back when my kids were in youth group. It made a 9×13 inch coffee cake so that is what i did with these blueberries. I had twice the amount of berries that the recipe called for and used them all.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour (I used 1 1/2 cups all-purpose and 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1 cup blueberries (I used 2 cups)

Make the streusel topping.

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2teaspoons cinnamon

For the cake, butter a 9×13 inch pan and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix sugar, butter, and egg. Stir in milk. Whisk dry ingredients together and mix in. Then carefully fold in blueberries. Sprinkle with topping and bake 35-45 minutes.

Nicely moist and tasty!

So I was attempting to prepare the bowl for the streusel at the same time I was putting together the dry ingredients for the cake. So I inadvertently put the cinnamon in the cake batter. So my cake and the streusel have cinnamon. That is okay, cinnamon is supposed to be anti-inflammatory which is probably helpful to our aging bodies.

Brownies?

I was visiting with my daughter and several times throughout the day “brownies” were mentioned. The issue with brownies is the dietary restrictions needed to maintain the well-being of all who are present. More power and kudos to all parents, spouses, etc. who research and experiment and provide nutritious and enjoyable foods for family members who cannot “just eat whatever”. So Daughter and I were faced with attempting to find dessert which would be sugar-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and gluten-free! And I found a brownie recipe in one of the books she got from her local library. I just can’t remember the name or author.

After reading the ingredient list we find that Daughter has all the ingredients, so we proceed. The alternate ingredients are dates for sugar, coconut oil for butter, and coconut flour for all-purpose. We omitted the walnuts. This is made in a blender.

We first processed the dates in the blender, added the eggs, oil, and vanilla, and lastly the dry ingredients. It was a thick batter and took some time to spread in the 9-inch square pan. We baked it and voila, brownies. Well they did not look at all like the picture in the recipe book.

They also did not have the texture of “ordinary” brownies. They were neither chewy nor cake-y. They had a distinct coconut flavor which Son-in-Law liked. The mouthfeel was more of a coconut-textured, nougat-y type such as a Mounds candy bar insides. But it was a little bit of chocolate for the day!

Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Frosting

I was thinking that I could make one dessert for the week and that should satisfy my sweet tooth and love of baking. Well, that might be the case for reasonable people who don’t eat half a pan of brownies in one sitting or cut nibble size pieces from cake as one walks through the kitchen. I am not necessarily one of those reasonable people all the time. But here I am hoping that will work this time.

I have selected this recipe from a clipping in my Mom’s recipe notebook. this one appears to have been from a newspaper. It sounded interesting and relatively healthy, if cake can be healthy? And oatmeal is good for one, so here goes!

  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar (Oops! I accidentally omitted this!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg (I added a shake of allspice as well as I was not sure if I grated enough nutmeg to equal one teaspoon.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Pour boiling water over oats and mix well. Cream butter and sugar and then beat in eggs. I timed this for 3 minutes. Stir in soaked oatmeal. Sift or whisk the other dry ingredients together and add to batter. Pour this into a greased or buttered 13×9-inch pan and bake in 350 degrees F oven for 30-35 minutes. Cool in pan.

Make broiled topping.

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped nuts; I used walnuts but pecans would work here too.
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup light cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Heat all the ingredients in sauce pan until bubbly. Pour over cake. Broil in oven for about 5 minutes. Technically one should stir in the vanilla after the concoction comes to bubbly.

When this came out of the oven, my first thought was “this didn’t rise like a cake.” Then I thought that maybe it is more like a bar cookie. After letting the very hot topping cool slightly we tasted this. It is good and not too sweet. It is more of a spice bar than cake in texture. I have “hidden” this pan in the bread box to prevent “drive by nibbling”!

Boston Cream Pie

This is really cake. This one is from a recipe clipping in Mom’s recipe notebook and looks like it came from a magazine. There is no reference on the clipping. Did Mom make this? I’m not sure. I know she used to make a poppy seed cake with pudding filling and chocolate glaze, so maybe she did.

I read and re-read this recipe before proceeding. As I was making the cake I realized this is a hot milk sponge cake. I proceed hoping for the best and reasonably confident that the past two hot milk sponge cakes I baked were successful but not this recipe. Re-reading helped me see that this called for two 8 inch round cake pans. I recently bought nice 9-in pans. The amounts of the ingredients also seemed scant for two pans, so I doubled the recipe and am very glad I did. The recipe is almost exactly like the one from my previous blog entitled Hot Milk Sponge Cake so I will not reprint it.

I made the filling and the chocolate glaze from the recipe clipping. Making a pudding or cream-custard can by a little tricky and, I admit, mine had a bit of scrambled egg to it, but not much so you noticed.

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs (okay so the original called for 1 egg and 1 egg yolk but why?)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir dry ingredients together in medium saucepan and slowly add the milk and cook over moderate heat until boiling, stir and cook 2-3 minutes longer. Meanwhile have your eggs slightly beaten in a bowl or measuring cup. Pour some of the hot milk mixture into the eggs and then pour it all into the saucepan and cook and stir until returns to boiling. Add vanilla and let cool.

When cool and set beat until smooth and layer over one cake layer. Top with the other.

Make the glaze by heating one ounce unsweetened chocolate with 1 Tablespoon butter until melted and add one cup powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. I did this in a microwave safe measuring cup and not on the stove. Blend in 1-2 Tablespoons boiling water until drizzling consistency. Pour over top of cake.

“This elegant company dessert combines three American favorites–cake, cream-custard, and chocolate.”

Peanut Butter Hearts

I wanted to use this heart pan and thought a moldable fudge would be just the thing. There are several no-cook fudge recipes in my Mom’s recipe notebook. This one is from a booklet from the Woman’s Day magazine from December 1959. The magazine would have a The Collector’s Cook Book series of different categories that one could cut out of the magazine each month. This is #35 on candy.

There are handy hints printed throughout and the one that caught my attention was “For best results, don’t double any of the recipes or make substitutions of ingredients.” LOL might be the modern phrase to utter here!

I chose a Peanut Butter Fudge recipe and made only half the recipe. Halfway trough it occurred to me there is no chocolate so I added cocoa. When making half of a recipe it is important to do a mise en place otherwise one might put in the original amount of salt instead of half. These turned out a bit salty.

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter; the recipe calls for smooth but I used chunky.
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (should have used 1/2 teas.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt; I accidently put in 1/2 teas. (To be fair, I was interrupted in my candy making by having to go spot the Hubby who was out on the roof fixing shingles and flashing that had come loose.)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa (my addition to substitute cocoa for some of the powdered sugar)
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar

Mix the first five ingredients well. Then beat in the cocoa and powdered sugar. Knead until smooth. I then stuffed my fudge into the heart pan and set it in the refrigerator to chill and set before unmolding.

The hearts only used half the half recipe so I rolled the rest up in a log and stuck it in the freezer for later use and nibbling.

No food, just thoughts

I am retired. I sit in my kitchen and at 8:30 AM I announce to no-one in particular “I am not at work!”

Structuring my day will be the challenge. A few years ago I went through my multiple cookbooks, there were 50+, and now I may just do so again. I love cookbooks. I enjoy flipping through the pages. There is something very satisfying that is not matched by finding recipes on-line.

Today I need to use up 4 apples and will bake them into a small apple pie or tarts. I have planned supper and will start on my 30 minutes of housecleaning a day soon. And perhaps if it warms up a bit I’ll have a walk around the block.

The next chapter of my life begins! Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

Somersault Cobbler

I prepared this as a coffee cake for a Sunday morning treat. This one is in my Mom’s handwriting.

I used butter instead of shortening. I greased a 9-inch round cake pan for this and used a 350 degrees F oven. I liked the idea of cinnamon sugar topping which is why I thought of this as a coffee cake and not a cobbler. However, I remembered I had a can of pear halves and cinnamon would complement pears. I did add the egg.

It makes a nice light cake-y batter. Chopping the pears or slicing them might be better next time but it was a lovely light cake to go with our morning coffee.