Miss Lily was desperate to get one of these freshly baked oatmeal raisin cookies. She loves crunchy cookies, and occasionally I give her a bite, but not this time.
These were too good. Crisp, tender and raisiny, they were exactly what I had been craving.
I came across the recipe in "Baking Basics and Beyond" by Pat Sinclair (Agate Surrey, $19.95), a book so full of tips and tempting baked goods that there may be more fights with my rapacious cat.
Seriously, the book is a wonderful guide for those who think baking is too difficult to attempt. Sinclair writes as if she were standing in your kitchen, telling you exactly what to do so your cakes, pies, brownies, pizzas, coffee cakes, scones and muffins turn out right.
You've read baking guides with long, detailed passages about the basics and recipes that you can't make without going back and scanning those sections with your sticky, buttery, flour-coated hands.
''Baking Basics'' isn't like that. Sinclair, a food consultant and cooking teacher, does provide instruction on techniques, equipment and ingredients. But the necessary tips are provided in each recipe and so painlessly that you may not realize how much you are learning.
You'll also learn things you never remember, or never knew, like bittersweet chocolate has more cocoa solids than semisweet chocolate and so has more chocolate flavor. And to make really good pie pastry, you should put in butter, for flavor, and solid vegetable shortening, for flakiness.
The oatmeal cookies were so simple they didn't need any special advice, other than the comment that using baking soda instead of baking powder makes them crisp.
This is the second edition of Sinclair's book, redesigned and updated. "Learn These Simple Techniques and Bake LIke a Pro," the cover promises.
No book may turn you into a pro--that takes training and experience--but this one will make you confident enough to pass up storebought goodies and make really wonderful baked goods at home.
CRISPY OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIES
From "Baking Basics and Beyond"
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
Heat oven to 350 degrees with oven rack in middle.
Mix flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl.
Beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in bowl of a heavy-duty mixer on medium-high speed until creamy, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice. Add vanilla and eggs and mix well.
Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat until dough forms. By hand, stir in oats and raisins.
Drop dough in rounded tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are browned on edges. Let cookies stand on cookie sheet for 1 minute before removing them. Cool on wire cooling rack.
Store loosely covered at room temperature.
Makes 3 to 3 1/2 dozen cookies.