2016 has been declared the Year of the Pulse. But will 2016 also be the year of the scale?
Fannie Farmer published the Boston Cooking School Cookbook over 100 years ago and Americans have practiced her sifting, spooning, and leveling technique ever since. But things may be changing. Consider this. A prominent New York blogger starting adding weights to her recipes back in 2010. And as each year passed since then, the buzz has gotten louder. More books and articles and food writers are including weight measures in their recipes, especially for home baking.
Most professional bakers and pastry chefs already use weight and most food service recipes are written with weigh measures. A recent check of The New York Times recipe box, a collection of over 17,000 recipes, showed more and more recipes with weighted ingredients. Most of the rest of the cooking world already writes recipes by weight and I am wondering if 2016 could be the year the practice goes mainstream in this country.
My interest in the measurement protocol is personal. I have been developing my own recipes with grams and liters ever since I lived in France. So I am thrilled to find a growing number of cooks and bakers out there who are coming around to my side of the table. I am also thinking now is the time to start sharing my expertise. Weight based cooking is not hard. It just requires a change in habits and how we go about doing things. But if the thought of using a scale sounds foreign to you, here is a step by step guide on how to use a kitchen scale to make my healthier, cheaper, better rolled oat and walnuts cookies.
ROLLED OAT, WALNUT, AND APPLESAUCE COOKIES
Ingredients for about 25 cookies:
100 grams unsalted butter (7 tablespoons)
100 grams turbinado sugar (1/2 cup)
100 grams canned unsweetened applesauce * (scant 7 tablespoons)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract **
100 grams walnut (1 cup chopped)
100 grams white whole wheat flour (generous 3/4 cup fluffed, spooned, and leveled)
100 gram rolled oats (1 cup)
100 gram raisins (scant 2/3 cup packed)
Besides the scale, you will also need one larger mixing bowl, a couple of smaller bowls, an electric mixer, and baking sheets. Remember to remove one 4 ounce stick of butter from frig or freezer a couple of hours before starting so the butter comes to room temperature. Also remember to preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit at some point before starting to bake.
Turn on the scale. Place one small bowl on the scale, zero out, and weigh sugar. Place another small bowl on scale, zero out, and weigh applesauce*. Set both sugar and applesauce aside.
Place the larger mixing bowl on scale, zero out, and weigh the butter. Remove bowl from scale and cream butter using the electric mixer. Add sugar slowly to creamed butter and continue to mix until thoroughly blended. Then add applesauce, eggs, vanilla, and just a dash of salt (optional). Mix thoroughly and set aside.
Place smaller bowl on scale. Weight walnuts and remove. Chop walnuts and set aside. Return bowl to scale and weigh flour, rolled oats, and raisins, zeroing out after each addition. Add the dry ingredients from the smaller bowl plus the walnuts to wet ingredients, folding in gently with a spatula.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper or use silicon liners. Form the raw dough into little balls about the size of a rounded tablespoon and arrange these rounds on the baking sheet leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) distance between each one. Flatten each cookie before baking. Place cookies in oven and bake until cookies start to darken, about 17 minutes. Cool on rack. Store in air tight container. Or freeze for long term storage.
* Applesauce comes in individual 4 ounce / 113 ml serving sizes. Using these little cups means you don’t have to buy a whole big jar for a small amount. Each individual cup contains just a little more than 100 grams applesauce. The extra amount is not going to ruin the recipe, but for those of you who are nerds like me, just remove about a tablespoon.
** I use imitation vanilla for cooking. The delicate flavor profile of real vanilla does not survive the high heat of the baking process, so I bake with artificial vanilla and save real vanilla for smoothies and ice cream.
Deciding to bake my own cookies was an easy decision. They are better, healthier, and cheaper than the competition. My cookies are better because I can control the sweetness and if you’re like me and do not like your cookies too sweet, you can adjust any recipe to just enough. My cookies are healthier because I source really good quality ingredients like whole grains, whole nuts, and seasonally dried fruit. And my cookies are cheaper. Each pound costs me a little over $6.00. And those are New York City dollars. Prestigious artisan cookies say from a farmers market or pricy bakery boutique cost as much as $20 per pound here in the Big Apple. And even more, sometimes a lot more.
Yes my cookies are healthier, I can’t label my cookies “healthy” because they do not meet the nutrient profile required by the FDA for a healthy nutrient content claim. And maybe that’s just as well. An indulgence is an indulgence. They are certainly not junk, but aren’t all cookies an indulgence?
Allergen Alert: Wheat, Gluten, Tree nuts, Eggs
Nutrients per one cookie serving: 120 Calories, 2 grams Protein, 14 grams Carbohydrates, 7 grams Fat, 1 gram Dietary Fiber.