Sunday, March 15, 2009

Back To Baking: Oatmeal Quick Bread

March 15, 2009

Since living alone in a new location, I pretty much stopped my practice of baking. If you read much of this blog, you'll have noticed a recurring theme of dieting and worrying about my middle-age weight gain. Removed from family and old friends with whom I could always share baked goods, I refrain from baking on a whim for fear I'll eat it all myself and regret it later. I call the condition "eater's remorse," and it's a terrible feeling.

A few weeks ago, I noticed Irish Soda Bread at the local A & P. I just couldn't resist, and the product was tasty, so I boought another when the loaves were marked down to $1.99. I loved the bread, but was all too aware that they were made with white flour and more sugar than should be in the authentic version.

So I broke down and bought myself some buttermilk, whole wheat flour and unbleached white. I had some raisins, so I went to my own recipe on this blog, and made a batch of the genuine article. In two days the loaf was gone and I was yearning to bake something else, to use up some of the flour and buttermilk. The obvious course would be to make pancakes or biscuits, both of which would use the ingredients. Again, I could bake lots of fattening and delicious things, but to justify baking just for myself I decided to use some of the other leftovers in my pantry in something that would be nutritious as well as creative and tasty.

What I came up with, having about a cup of steel-cut oatmeal on the shelves, was an oatmeal quick bread. I also had a softening banana (and I don't like overripe bananas except in breads), so I put together my own recipe. I had to climb on a ladder to find my old loaf pan, which had been waiting patiently in a box of kitchen miscellanea I had stored away for the future. (The future has arrived!)

I checked The Joy of Cooking which advised that I pour boiling water over the oatmeal and let it steep for ten minutes. For quick-cooking oatmeal, you could skip this step.

Oatmeal Banana Quick Bread

1 Cup Steel-Cut Oats
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 Cup Unbleached White Flour
2 teaspooons Baking Powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 banana, mashed
1/2 to 3/4 Cup Buttermilk
1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit (I used dried cranberries), if desired
1/2 cup chopped nuts if desired (I desired, but didn't have any on hand)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Soak the oats in 2 cups boiling water for ten minutes. Prepare the loaf pan by greasing and putting a greased and floured sheet of parchment paper on the bottom for easy removal.

Mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt together with a whisk. Drain the oats but keep wet; add to dry mixture. Add buttermilk to make a stiff batter. Mix in the mashed banana and any of the optional choices.

Bake for one hour. Let it cool slightly before removing from the pan. I just had my first slice, and it's excellent with a little butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar. Of course, if you want to avoid eater's remorse, you could eat it plain.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


What a great name for a cookie--almost as much fun to say as it is to eat 'em.

A few months ago I sent this recipe to my friend Nan who has a blog describing her idyllic life on a farm in Vermont (luckily she loves cold weather!) I just heard from her that she tried the Snickerdoodles and loves them!

Here's how to do it:

1 stick butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk 3 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon mixed with 3 tablespoon sugar

Beat the butter with 1 1/2 cups of sugar until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated. Add milk and stir. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, soda, cream of tartar, salt and nutmeg. Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar and stir thoroughly. Chill this dough for at least 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 350ยบ. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Shape dough into large, walnut-sized balls and dip tops into cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place galls about 3 inches apart on baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes. Cookies will appear undercooked when removed form the oven; the centers will be very moist and light. As they cool, the cookies will firm up and be delicious.

I realized when I sent Nan the recipe that she might not have cream of tartar, and suggested that she just increas the baking soda to 2 teaspoons. (One of its principle ingredients is cream of tartar; this is an old recipe when the cook sometimes made her own baking powder, half baking soda, half cream of tartar. Actually I got the recipe from the wonderful Christopher Kimball's Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook.)

Have a cookie and a glass of milk!