Pattycake, pattycake, baker's wo-man?

For most of my culinary life, I've considered myself to be a non-baker. Though the kitchen is one of my favorite places to be, I've never been able to channel my inner Betty Crocker. Sure, I make the obligatory birthday cakes throughout the year and plenty of cookies at Christmas time, but otherwise I find baking to be overly complicated, extremely touchy (have you ever forgotten to add the baking soda to a batch of brownies?) and generally more of a hassle than it's worth.

I'm not sure why I've adopted this attitude, as my mom and grandma are/were skilled, prolific bakers--so much so that I've always felt I'm somehow letting them down by preferring roasting and sauteing to crimping and folding. But since the girls started eating solid food last fall, I've slowly started incorporating more baking into my repertoire. S-l-o-w-l-y.

It's not that I've decided to become June Cleaver, welcoming Ward, Wally and The Beav home each day with a freshly baked Bundt cake. But the quest to find snackish foods that don't come with a six-inch-long ingredient list made me realize that I'd rather make the Fig Newtons myself than buy them off the shelf. That's right, I made Fig Newtons. Once. And I'm pretty sure I'll never do it again. I have, however, found a few recipes that are pretty easy to make, use relatively standard ingredients and, best of all, the girls scarf these goodies down like a couple of squirrels preparing for winter.

So, I thought I'd share these gems with you today. I don't have any nutritional information for these recipes, so I can't prove that they meet state and federal guidelines for being deemed "healthy," but the fact that they don't contain any exthoxylated mono and diglycerides, calcium propionate or potassium sorbate must put them ahead of the store-bought competition. Anyway, here are a few of my favorites, I hope you and your kiddos enjoy them as much as we do!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies:
I found that the 3/4 tsp of salt this recipe calls for made the cookies a bit too salty for my taste, so I reduced it to 1/2 tsp and added the recipe to my all-time-favorites list. Also, if you don't like the idea of giving your little ones chocolate, you can certainly replace the chocolate chips with raisins and still end up with a very yummy cookie!

Homemade Wheat Bread:
I know, making bread seems really hard-core, but I happened to marry a man who came with his own bread machine--an unexpected perk for sure--so all I have to do is put in the ingredients, press the "wheat bread" button and let the machine do the work. But even if you don't have a bread machine, Tammy (she's the maestro of this recipe) breaks bread-making down into easy-to-follow steps that make the process much less intimidating. Really, give it a try!

Oh, and one other thing--I have absolutely fallen in love with King Arthur Flour's Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour. It has almost as much dietary fiber as traditional whole wheat flour (which seems to be the key to all things blissful and happy these days), with a flavor and texture that's pretty close to all-purpose flour. If you see it at your local grocery, be sure to pick some up. And no, I don't have a representative of King Arthur Flour standing behind me wielding a rolling pin, poised and ready to strike. I just really like their flour! :-)

I hope my new foray into the world of baking does my Richner/Terrill roots proud, but if nothing else comes from it than The Peanuts eagerly awaiting their after-nap snacks, then that's enough for me. Happy baking!

P.S. - If you really want to experience some serious baking, which I've decided I do not, here's the recipe for the aforementioned Fig Newtons. They were really yummy, but anything that requires folding dough over filling without getting fig goo all over yourself and the kitchen is waaaaaay too complicated for me. Good luck!

Homemade Fig Bars


Keri said...

I'm the opposite; I got the baking genes but not the cooking genes. I could spend hours enjoyable for me. But cooking anything more complicated than chicken, lasagna, or pasta just tires me out!

Erin H. said...

Too bad we don't live closer to each other, Keri (which is true on multiple levels)--we could set up a swap! One chicken casserole for a batch of cookies; a roast beef for a chocolate layer cake; Thanksgiving dinner for a Grand Marnier souffle. Maybe FedEx has some kind of dinner delivery program! ;-)

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