What is the first rule of cooking from a recipe?
Read it through thoroughly before you start.
That way you can be sure you have all the ingredients and equipment you require before you start and also you get an idea of what is involved in the preparation.
Shame I don't follow my own advice really. If I had, I might have noticed that Martha Stewart's recipe for oatmeal and raisin cookies makes five dozen of the chewy, delicious babies. Five dozen.
What is a girl supposed to do with five dozen cookies on a Friday evening? When she lives alone. When she can't take them into work. When there are only so many she can force-feed to the flower-sender.
To be fair, between the flower-sender and I, we have managed to eat an astonishing number of cookies over the weekend. This is mainly due to the fact that they are seriously good. The recipe comes from my newly favourite cook book. I bought it in New York and is entitled 'Martha Stewart's Cookies'. This glorious book is packed with over 175 different cookies and is divided into enticing sections called things like 'light and delicate', 'cakey and tender', 'rich and dense' and 'crisp and crunchy'. Each divine creation is photographed in such a way that you can't wait to get into the kitchen a whip a batch up pronto. On my list to bake soon are gingersnap palmiers, chewy molasses crinkles, cashew caramel cookies, maple-pecan shortbread, brown-butter toffee blondies, earl grey tea cookies and chocolate-ginger brownies. I could easily go on.
In the back of the book you'll find tips on technique and great ideas for presenting your bakes as gifts. The only downside of this glorious book is that not all the ingredients are readily-available to the non-American cook. In most cases though, you can probably think up a reasonable substitute. And life is made easier if you get yourself a set of cup measures too- they are not expensive and it means you don't need to convert the measurements.
Oatmeal and raisin cookies have for some time been a favourite of mine. I love the chewy texture and, as these ones contain wheat germ, oats and raisins, I can kid myself that they aren't actually that bad for me. In fact, with those ingredients they are practically a health food, no? (...let's overlook the whole pat of butter and stack of sugar!!). Bake these. You won't be disappointed. You may want to reduce the quantities though!
Here is my version of Martha's recipe.
Martha Stewart's Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies
Makes approx 40 cookies!
3 cups of rolled oats
1 cup plus 2 tbsp plain flour
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
8 oz unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
1 packed cup light soft brown sugar
2 large eggs (free-range, organic if possible)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups raisins
1. Preheat the oven to 175C.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, four, wheat germ, baking soda and powder, cinnamon and salt. Set to one side.
3. Cream the butter and sugars until pale and fluffy. This is easiest in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one. Mix in the eggs and vanilla and then mix in the bowl of dry ingredients until combined. Finally, mix in the raisins.
4. Using a dessert spoon (or similar), take spoonfuls of the dough and shape into balls. Place on baking sheets lined with greaseproof paper - be sure to space them around 2 inches apart as they will spread. Flatted each ball slightly. Try to make sure that each doughball is similar size so that the cookies bake evenly.
5. Bake until slightly golden and just set - around 12 minutes in my oven. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through the cooking time.
6. Allow cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheets on wire racks for 5 mins before transferring the cookies to coo completely on the wire racks.
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.