Tuesday, 31 January 2012
A proper British winter has descended. Grey, damp, and bone-chillingly cold.
If you do want to venture outside for a walk, as I did this Sunday, you'd better take a thermos and a snack. Nothing like a cup of tea to breathe some life into frosty fingers.
The first time I tried to photograph these cookies, they refused to play game. I was just on the edge of giving up and scrapping the post when I realised I should push myself forward instead.
So I baked up a new batch from the freezer, wrapped a few in a piece of cloth, make some tea and ventured out to the park for a picnic.
Living in a big city, I miss the silence. I grew up in the countryside, taking long walks most days through the fields and wild woods, by the rivers and over the bleak moors. The mountains we visited and lived in are quiet, majestic and full of crisp, clean air.
Even though there are green spaces here, they are hemmed by noisy roads and filled with families, cyclists, dog walkers, skate parks, shouting footballers, joggers. Sometimes I want to escape to a space that doesn't bear the touch of humanity.
Besides the silence, it would also be nice as then nobody would be there to look at me like I've gone totally batty because I'm standing on a park bench (/mossy boulder) taking pictures of a cup of tea and some cookies.
I'm on a dried cranberry kick at the moment so I adapted the recipe to include them. The cookies taste of nutty oats rounded off with brown butter, brown sugar, a touch of spice and salt - all offset by the fruity, slightly sharp cranberries. Rustic and satisfying.
The dough freezes beautifully - you can just take however many out want out of the freezer and bake them. Delicious, warm cookies in 15 minutes flat.
Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
(adapted from Erin C. Weber in Remedy Quarterly Issue 6, who adapted from Deb)
115g unsalted butter
85g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
120g light brown sugar*
1/2 tsp vanilla paste/extract
135g porridge/rolled oats
100g dried cranberries
Melt the butter in a wide pan. Keep heating as it foams up. When the foam starts to reside, rusty brown flecks appear and it starts smelling fantastic, scrape all the butter and flecks into a bowl to cool.
In another bowl, whisk the sugar, egg and vanilla together until smooth. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and nutmeg together. Once the brown butter is down to body temperature, whisk into the egg mix. Gently stir in the flour mixture until everything is combined. Finally fold in the oats and cranberries. Cover the bowl and put into the fridge to chill. Leave for at least an hour - I left mine overnight.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Scoop out tablespoonfuls of dough onto a sheet - if baking immediately, leave a few inches gap. If freezing, place closely together then freeze on the sheet before putting in a bag the next day. Place into the oven and bake for 10 minutes from the fridge, 12 from the freezer - they should be golden and crisp on the outside. Cool on a rack.
*I used 60g dark brown sugar and 60g white caster as I had run out of light brown.
(Makes about 30)