When people come to visit, it’s always nice having some baked goods on hand. Here are four that never fail to please.
- Granola. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t welcome a bowl of homemade granola with milk or yogurt topped with fresh berries or sliced banana first thing in the morning. This also is my go-to gift for a host or hostess and my most-often requested recipe. (Note: I’ve made a few changes, which are listed below. It’s now much less fussy, a teensy bit less sweet, and still just as delicious.)
- Biscotti. I’ve never had anyone pass on a homemade biscotti with their morning beverage. These are perfect with coffee, tea, hot chocolate, chai … anything really.
- Salted Oatmeal Cookies. While I consider numbers 1 and 2 to be essentials, it doesn’t hurt to have a jar filled with these salted oatmeal cookies on hand either. I’ve been making this Washington Post recipe since 2007, when my teensy grandmother snipped it out of her Wednesday paper and saved it for me. She was so wonderful. A perfect balance of sweet and salty, these cookies are one of my favorites. Your guests will adore them (and you), too. (Recipe below)
- Honey Whole Wheat Toasting Bread. Finally, if you’re feeling particularly domestic, it’s especially nice to have a couple of loaves of honey whole wheat bread kicking around. Made with leftover coffee, this good-old-fashioned recipe — no no-knead-super-slow-rise tricks here — hails from the Bakery Lane cookbook. I wish I had a photograph of my mother’s copy, now held together by rubber bands and twine. It’s filled with goodies. (Recipe below)
Source: The Washington Post, June 13, 2007
Notes from the Washington Post:
This cookie is all about the oats, without much spice to interfere with their earthy taste.
For best results, make the dough at least 24 hours in advance and up to 1 week.
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 2 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Sea salt, for sprinkling
- In a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for a few minutes on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the stand mixer bowl and add the sugars, beating until the mixture is well blended.
- Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs and vanilla extract, mixing until incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and table salt. Stir in the oats, and set aside.
- Add the dry ingredients to the stand mixer, reduce the speed to low, and mix just until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Optional: I like to portion my cookies before chilling the dough because the dough is easier to work with when freshly mixed. I also weigh my cookies — I know, it’s totally anal — but doing this does ensure even baking of the cookies. I portion this dough into 1.25 oz balls and then chill all of the balls for at least 24 hours before baking. If you don’t feel like portioning ahead of time, do chill the dough for at least an hour but preferably 24 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Form the dough into golf ball-size balls and place about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. (I bake 6 at a time and flatten the balls slightly when placing them on the cookie sheet.) Sprinkle sea salt generously on top of each ball of dough. Bake 1 sheet at a time for 11 to 15 minutes or until the cookies are puffed and beginning to turn golden, being careful not to overbake. (Notes: Bake one batch and let cool completely before deciding on the time. I find that these cookies really continue cooking (like most cookies) once they’ve been removed from the oven, and these really are best when the center of the cookies is on the chewy/doughy side. I find 13 minutes to be about right.) Place the cookie sheet on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Category: Cookie
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: oatmeal, cookies, salted
- 2 + 2/3 cups coffee (or a mix of whatever leftover coffee you have on hand + water)
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 T. kosher salt
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- Combine coffee, the 2/3 cup water and the honey in a large bowl or in a large bowl of a stand mixer. Stir yeast into 1/2 cup of lukewarm water. Let stand until dissolved then add to coffee mixture.
- Whisk together salt, cornmeal and flours. If using a stand mixer, add all of the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Knead for about 8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and wrapped around the dough hook. If kneading by hand, stir in about half of the dry mixture. Add more and more of the mixture until you need to turn the dough out onto a work surface to get it all incorporated. Knead for about 8 minutes or until the dough is smooth.
- Place dough in a large bowl greased with a light layer of olive oil. Turn dough to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel (run a tea towel under hot water, ring it out, then place on top of bowl) and let rise until doubled in bulk (this may take as long as 2 hours). (Tip: If you are looking for a warm spot to let your dough to rise, turn your oven to its highest setting and let it warm for 1 minute. Turn off the heat, place your tea towel-covered bowl of dough inside and close the oven door.)
- Once dough has doubled, punch it down. Grease two standard sized loaf pans generously with butter. Divide dough into two equal portions. Quickly shape each portion into a loaf-like mass and plop into prepared pans. Let rise until dough reaches just below the top of the pan. This may take as long as 45 minutes. (I like to place my loaf pans on top of the oven while it preheats. This usually speeds up the second rising.) Preheat oven for 375ºF.
- Bake loaves for 45 minutes. Turn loaves out onto cooling rack. If you can refrain, let cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting.
- Category: Bread
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: bread, whole wheat, honey, bakery lane