Category

Oats

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A visit to Smitten Kitten always leaves me enamoured and charmed. Deb’s always got something that holds my attention. It’s often simple comfort food. Beautiful brownies, awesome cakes, or then something as simple as these thick, chewy granola bars. The beauty of her posts is the passion she does them with. She bakes from scratch, her commentary is engaging, and her posts have brilliant photographs. These granola bars, adapted from King Arthur Flour, had her readers, including me, quite smitten. For me, the bars scored a 10/10 in every aspect – health, taste, looks, versatility. Above all they were kid friendly too… very Ten in 10!

I had to make them soon because I identified with the immense possibilities and substitutions at every level that Deb offered. If you didn’t have this, then you could use that, that, or that. The recipe below is what I did with what was available in my larder. Do check Deb’s post for more  options! Almost everything was optional, and the recipe can be tailored to suit individual tastes. How often do you find something so good?

In her words … This is probably the most flexible recipe I’ve posted. When it comes to granola, what you’re looking for is a basic proportion of chunky (nuts, dried fruit) to sticky (syrups, sugar, butter or oils) and from there, you can really go to town. The vanilla is optional. The cinnamon is optional. You can use no dried fruit or you can use all dried fruit in your 2 to 3 cup mix. You can toss in things like puffed rice cereal or flax seeds. In the comments, I’d love to hear what mix you came up with and how you liked it. I can only imagine the possibilities.

I loved how the bars came out. Made a couple of errors, the primary one getting anxious to see how they baked and urging them to jump out of the tin while very warm. I put them right back instantly realising my folly, and saved the bars. They won’t stick to the paper, so leave them be. Let them sit for at least 20 minutes, and then if you still want to, take them out, lining paper and all, let them cool on the rack. Cut them up only when they are cold. They behave beautifully!
I also added something that the kids didn’t take to very well. I read someone had sprinkled sea salt on top, and I was very taken in by the idea. So I added a light sprinkling of sea salt on top. While it was a good idea for adults, the kids became very iffy about it. It seemed to take the snack monster joy away from them. I really should have experimented with just a 1/4 or 1/2 surface wth the sprinkling. 
Thought hard as I didn’t want the kids to have these bars sans enjoyment. Suddenly, I had a flash of brilliance … chocolate would bring the mojo back! Chocolate makes everything better and I just knew it would fix this problem too. Woohoo… it sure did. I coated the sea salt topped bars with melted dark chocolate, and let it set in the fridge for a bit. I won the kids back! They were smitten!

Thick, Chewy Granola Bars
Recipe minimally adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

Of note: The original recipe calls for something called “sticky bun sugar” which can be made at home with sugar, butter and corn syrup. It is for this reason that corn syrup is listed within one ingredient but also separately, and I used all butter rather than two different fats. Whether the corn syrup can be entirely replaced with honey or maple syrup or the butter can be entirely replaced with a healthier oil is worth auditioning, I just didn’t. Yet. I can tell you this: as is, this is the best granola bar I’ve ever eaten.

Ingredients:
1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts
1/3 cup peanut butter
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (see note above)
1 tablespoon water

Method:

Preheat the oven to180°C. Line an 7″ x 11″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.
Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter, syrup or honey, and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan.
Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on them. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked in the center when you take them out but do not worry, they’ll set completely once they cool.
Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way.)
Once cool, a serrated knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars into squares. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.
Suggestions: Dried cranberries, apricots, pecans, sunflower seeds, coconut, walnuts, sesame seeds, pepitas, dried pples or even chocolate chips. My mix: 1/2 cup wheat germ, 1 cup dried cherries, 1 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup pecans and 1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes.
 

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“Sometimes me think what is love, and then me think love is what last cookie is for.
Me give up the last cookie for you.”
Cookie Monster
I love making cookies, and I love making scones. This time I decided to combine my love forthe two, using a recipe I turn to often. It’s one I use from  Romney Steels cookbook My Nepenthe that was reviewed on Heidi’s beautiful blog 101 Cookbooks. These are the best I’ve ever made, and oh-so-accomodative. What I like about them is the ease with which the recipe embraces different ingredients. Had posted the scones over Christmas ‘Orange & Oat Scones‘. My nephew who was visiting then, quite the fussy eater, loved them! Each time I make these, I think of him!
This time I tried making them into sconey cookies. Rolled them out thinner than scones and baked them a bit longer. Got me nice sconies, packed with yummy chocolate, walnuts and cranberries in every bite, crisp from the outside, ever so slightly chewy from the inside. The daughter who is also now a little fussy especially when it comes to oats and walnuts, asked me to make them again. BOW SCRAPE … did I feel honoured or what? 
They really are NICE! 2 batches later, I’m here to post them. I cut out a few hearts too, so it seems the right time to blog about them! In any case, I ♥ healthy cookies, and it gives me pure joy to see the kids enjoy these so. I got about 3 dozen cookies from the cookie dough. The recipe is simple enough for kids to make as well. It’s a great kitchen activity with little ones, and fun to see the things they want to add to the basic dough.
These sconies have a generous helping of oats. Play around with the other ingredients as you like. I love zesting some fresh orange peel into the flour. I think pistachios, dried apricots and chocolate, maybe white too, will taste pretty yummy in there. I’ve done a walnut, crystallised ginger and chocolate chip version in the past with great results. I find that these make great gifts too!

Chocolate chip, Cranberry & Walnut Sconies (Scones+Cookies=Sconies)
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks adaptation from My Nepenthe by Romney Steele
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour (or whole wheat pastry flour if available)
1/3 cup vanilla sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cups rolled oats
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/8 cup coarse vanilla or demerara sugar, for sprinkling
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, 1/2 cup of vanilla sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse 15-20 times or until it looks like sandy pearls. Transfer the dough to a bowl and stir in the oats, cranberries, walnuts, chocolate chips and zest.
Stir in the buttermilk until just moistened. Bring the dough together with your hands. If the dough is still too crumbly, stir in more buttermilk a tiny splash at a time, but try to avoid over mixing.
After bringing the dough together, gently divide into 2, and roll out about 1/2 inch thick. Cut shapes if you like, or pat it into an 8-inch round. Cut into triangle shapes if you are patting the dough into a circle. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet with some room between each scone. Sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar. Bake for 15 minutes or until the bottoms are deeply golden.
Cool completely on racks.
Makes 2 1/2 – 3 dozen 2.5″ hearts
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“Ooh, with a little luck — December will be magic again.”

Kate Bush

There’s something about scones. Quintessential, charming & endlessly enjoyable. A classic holiday platter ‘cookie’ of sorts that brings cheer to the table. I saw the recipe on my google reader a while ago & it was instantly love at first sight. What’s not to love about orange and oats in a scone? I made them recently, on my return from the FBC09, twice in fact, and both times they disappeared rather quickly.

One lot was with pistachio nuts & craisins with a demerera sugar topping, and the other a walnut & craisin batch with a vanilla sugar topping. Both delicious!


You might wonder what with this little sprig of holly, constantly floating around my blog. Actually this is a twig that I picked off a tree while walking down to Oxford Street while we were in London for the FBC09. Pam & me were walking by Hyde Park & I suddenly stopped short & stared at the tree in amazement, shrieking with delight. She thought I had lost it, but I was completely fascinated by the tree & the huge squirrels merrily chomping away on the berries! I had a carry a twig back… it connects me to the trip!

Reading about these scones from Romney Steels new cookbook My Nepenthe on Heidi’s beautiful blog 101 Cookbookshad them gently calling my name with urgency. I could barely wait for these bright hybrid oranges to show up in the market. Keenu as they are locally called, make an appearance on the shelves in early November, but were delayed slightly this year due the late onset of winter. ‘Keenus’ are are a cross between an orange and a tangerine, and are very sweet & juicy.

I made much smaller portions of the scones after reading Heidi’s comments on her post, and find that did work really well. The house smelt wonderful & warm while the scones baked, and it was difficult to resist nibbling a corner as soon as they were done. Gorgeousness in every crumb, fresh exciting orange flavour, teemed with the depth of walnuts & the tang of craisins. I managed to let them cool for a bit. Half the portion was nibbled away warm by the family. As Heidi says, the taste does indeed mature as time goes by, and I am sure they keep well for 3-4 days in an air tight box. I still have to get there because both times I made them they disappeared far sooner than that. These are nice healthy cookies to leave out on the platter for a passing nibble, and you can easily play around with flavours.

You can pat them into rounds and cut them into triangles like plump pretty scones, or you can even lightly roll the dough out & cut 2 inch circles … either which way a pretty wholesome scone! I might make these again with fresh ginger, orange and chocolate chips … just saying!Even ginger cranberries and white chocolate chips might work some magic into them! Immense possibilities….
The scone is a small British quickbread of Scottish origin. Scones are especially popular in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Canada, but are eaten in many other countries. They are usually made of wheat, barley or oatmeal with baking powder as a leavening agent.  The scone is a basic component of the cream tea or Devonshire tea. The original scone was round and flat, usually the size of a small plate. It was made with unleavened oats and baked on a griddle (or girdle, in the Scots language), then cut into triangle-like quadrants for serving. Today, many would call the large round cake a bannock, and call the quadrants scones.

Orange and Oat Scones
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks adaptation from My Nepenthe by Romney Steele
( This is half the quantity of the original recipe)
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour (or whole wheat pastry flour if available)
1/3 cup vanilla sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cups rolled oats
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/8 cup coarse turbinado, vanilla or demerara sugar, for sprinkling
1/2 cup dried craisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, 1/2 cup of vanilla sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse 15-20 times or until it looks like sandy pearls. Transfer the dough to a bowl and stir in the oats, craisins, walnuts and zest. Stir in the buttermilk until just moistened.Bring the dough together with your hands. If the dough is still too crumbly, stir in more buttermilk a tiny splash at a time, but try to avoid over mixing. After bringing the dough together, gently pat it into an 8-inch round. Cut into triangle shapes (see photo) and transfer to the prepared baking sheet with some room between each scone. Sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar. Bake for 12 to 15 minute or until the bottoms are deeply golden.
Makes 12 to 16 medium scones, or 8 extra-large ones.

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