For some reason, when I think about what I want for my child in life, it always involves baking cookies. It’s possible that I’ve internalised the association of motherhood with cookie making, or else I just this have Pavlovian reaction to cookies whereby if cookies are present, something is going right in the world of your home. My sister was a day student at a boarding school (long story, which I’ll save for my memoir) where the girls were given fresh cookies every day at 10am. By contrast, I went to a Catholic school, so the closest we got to cookies was communion wafers and the cigarettes we smoked behind the music caravan. Not good.
Personally, I think the secret to the most delicious cookies is melted fat or oil. A great many cookie recipes call for the creaming together of fat and sugar, but that takes way too much effort, and the handheld electric whisk I got at Aldi just isn’t up for it. Moreover, and I do take issue with this, the act of creaming introduces air into the dough, and that can lead to a dry, bloated, cake-like cookie. Maybe you like that? You do you – not judging! But you will find no creaming here.
I especially like this recipe because it’s quick and it can be altered in any number of ways. The speedy version does use separate vessel to melt the butter, but if you’re keen to reduce your washing up, there’s a method for one bowl that’s detailed below. The addition of oats makes it especially suitable for a gluten-free cookie as the delightfully chewy and fibrous oats mitigates the grainy, mealiness that you get with some gluten free flours. It’s also very easy to make it vegan! Or partially vegan. Or dairy free. It’s an all around solid base for experimentation.
These date and oat cookies are extremely forgiving, and if you burn the first batch, there’s enough dough for another. If you run out of time, stick the dough in the fridge for up to three days and bake as needed. Or freeze it! Just portion it out into little dough balls, stick them on something flat, and when they are frozen, transfer to whatever container you have on hand. If you are trying to re-use plastic, frozen cookie dough stores well in yogurt tubs and ice cream and takeaway containers.
Democratic Oat Cookies
Time: Highly variable, but not less than 30 minutes to hot fresh cookies.
Makes: 18 cookies
115 g butter or vegan alternative, melted
115 g brown sugar
110 g caster sugar
120g plain or gluten free flour
1 egg, slightly beaten or 1 flax egg
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt and a little extra for luck
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract. Or ½ tsp of each
125 g dates, chopped. (Note: the date version is EXTREMELY tasty, but if you don’t have the time or inclination to chop, see our ‘Democratise’ options below.)
Melt butter on the stove or in the microwave. While it is cooling, chop your dates and measure out your flour, oats, bicarb, baking powder and salt. It’s a good idea to sift the bicarb and baking powder to eliminate any lumps. When your butter is cool, add both sugars and almond and/or vanilla extract and stir. To this add your egg. Add these wet ingredients to dry ones and fold together, gently. When combined, add chopped dates. Portion out tablespoons of dough onto a baking sheet. Bake at 180 for 10-12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through if your oven is anything like mine.
One bowl method: For this, you need a flat kitchen scale and a large glass or microwave safe plastic bowl. Melt the butter directly in the bowl you intend to mix it in. When butter is cool, add sugars, extract, then egg. Measure in the dry ingredients. Proceed as above.
Instead of dates add:
50 g chopped apricot and 50 g white chocolate.
125 g sultanas and 1 tsp cinnamon for a classic oatmeal raisin cookie.
Chopped nuts are always nice. How about chopped walnuts?
Or 30g pumpkin seeds and 50g chocolate chips.
Try adding a couple of tablespoons of coconut or ground almond or extra ground flax for a slightly different texture/nutritional profile. There’s not much that can go wrong with this one.
Have you found the best variation? We want to hear about it! Contact us!