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.

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.”

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.

Rolled oats mix

And now from the 1960s comes a homemade mix to use for baking biscuits, muffins, and cookies. This is from the USDA booklet published in 1962. It’s title is Family Meals at Low Cost. I have substituted butter for the shortening. Some of the recipes call for canned meat and dried eggs. Mom would send off for booklets like these from the state’s university agriculture extension center. I do not know if she made this mix. She did make the biscuit mix as her notes on the changes she made to the ingredient amounts are in here.

I made half the recipe and was able to use my KitchenAid stand mixer.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (just because!)
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon salt
  • 3/4 cups butter, slightly softened but not too much

First I stirred the dry ingredients together and then the butter until it looked crumbly. Store in closed container in the refrigerator. Supposedly this will keep for one month. I immediately used half to make oatmeal cookies. I will most likely try the muffins next. For biscuits one adds water, for muffins add egg and water, and for cookies add egg, water and sugar. See below.

  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats mix
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg, beaten (or not!)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips and 1/3cup raisins

Combine all ingredients and stir just enough to moisten dry ingredients. This was a wet cookie dough. Drop dough in teaspoonfuls on a greased baking sheet for 12-15 minutes at 375 degrees F.

This made exactly 24 cookies. I used a medium cookie scoop to portion out the cookies. I baked 12 and put the other 12 cookie dough balls in a freezer bag to bake later. This makes a very tasty oatmeal cookie.

Lemon Bread

This weekend’s treat from Mom’s green recipe notebook is lemon bread. The clipping is from the back of a Kroger flour bag from who knows when? Mom collected a lot of these recipe clippings and sometimes hand wrote and/or typed them out in red or black ink with her own adjustments. I don’t know how many of these she actually made. So this journey is for her. Thanks Mom for all the baked goodies that you did make and the ones you may have hoped to bake.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk, I used unsweetened almond milk.
  • Grated rind of one lemon, it’s juice, and additional 1/3 cup sugar

This apparently doubles as bread or cake according to the recipe. We ate it almost all in one day; it was so tasty!

Preheat oven to 325 but I put it at 350 degrees F. Grease 9 inch x 5 inch loaf pan. I put a piece of parchment paper lengthwise to aid in removing loaf from the pan after baking.

Mix dry ingredients together in medium bowl. Cream butter and sugar then add eggs one at a time beating well each time. Here is where I added the lemon extract. Add dry ingredients alternately with the milk. I forgot to add the lemon rind. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes.

At this time warm the lemon juice and dissolve the 1/3 cup sugar in it. Here is where I added the lemon zest. This works nicely in a 1 cup Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Pour this over the loaf and return to the oven for 5-8 more minutes.

Scones and the plan for 2022

Happy New Year!

I wanted a theme for my blog writing this year and wanted one that I would follow through with. I had tried writing through Betty Crocker but found the main dish recipes basic and bland, or more exactly, not exciting nor creative. Well, after all that cookbook is for basic cooking anyway. I have a number of cookbooks and would like to cook through them but commitment is the issue. I like to cook/bake what strikes my fancy. I thought of going through the recipe notebook of my collected recipes but then the thought “I could go through my mom’s green notebook” popped into my mind and stuck.

I got it out and read through the pages. She has put these in sections but the labels are faded and not easily read. I picked out several recipes in each section that are of interest. This is her baking collection. Although I did find in here a small booklet from the USDA on “Family Meals at Low Cost” using pantry staples published in 1962. These menus and recipes are to feed a family of five for three meals a day. No snacks included! These often use “canned chopped meat” which I do not have or buy or plan doing so! Lard and shortening are in most of these as well. In 1962 Mom was feeding a family of six on the minor salary of my Dad who was a social worker at the Children’s Home. Mom was by default a home economist, otherwise known as a homemaker. Erroneously described in some circles as “non-working”.

Today’s recipe is from the first section of the notebook which appears to be “breads and muffins”. I have chosen “raspberry jam scones” but will make them with blackberry fruit spread. I have altered the recipe slightly but not by much. This is a fancy scone recipe.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon each baking powder and sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • butter: 1/2 cup cold for the dough and 1 1/2 Tablespoons, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used unsweetened plain oatmilk)
  • 1/2 cup thick jam (I used fruit spread, about 1/3 cup)
  • sugar

Mix the dry ingredients together and cut in the 1/2 cup of butter. Being a more modern baker I took the lazy way and actually used my KitchenAid mixer to do this. Beat eggs slightly with the milk and add to the dry ingredients and mix until a soft dough forms. Turn this out on a floured surface and divide into two. Roll each section into a 10 inch circle. Place one half in a cake pan or baking pan. I used a 10-inch spring form pan. Brush with the softened butter and spread the jam on top. Place the other circle on this and spread the top with the rest of the softened butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a hot oven at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Notes for future reference:

  • this recipe could be easily halved and made as a single layer scone, perhaps in an 6-8 inch circle.
  • any kind of jam can be used, obviously.
  • possibly reduce the salt to 1/2 teaspoon
  • cinnamon sugar for the top might be a nice taste treat especially if making this in a single layer.