Fast and slow
Oats contain gluten. Confusingly, it’s not the same as the gluten found in wheat, barley and rye. Its structure is a little different and for this reason most coeliacs don’t react to it (though in some it triggers the same immune response as any other gluten-containing cereal). Fortunately for me, I don’t seem to be sensitive to oats, but there is still the problem of cross-contamination. Oats are often grown alongside other cereals and processed in plants where wheat and barley are used in large quantities. As a result most commercial oats on the market actually contain quite high levels of gluten. Luckily it is possible to get gluten-free oats though, produced in dedicated factories, and they can add so much to a diet nearly bereft of cereals. Apart from the obvious advantages of porridge, and its warming and filling properties in the depths of winter, they can be used to add nutritional value to a wide variety of biscuits. Full of protein and fibre oats are a relatively low GI (glycaemic index) food. This means that unlike pure sugar, which sends your blood sugar levels rocketing before slumping just as quickly, oats release their energy over a longer period of time so you feel fuller, longer. Or in my case, you don’t get a headache from eating too much sugar too quickly.
These biscuits perfectly combine the fast-release, instant-energy hit of, well, lots of sugar and some chocolate chips with the slow-release energy from oats. On the plus side this means they have the chewy, soft texture of very sugary cookies. And on the plus side (that’s the other plus side) they are quite filling, because of the oats, so you can stop at just one. If you want to. Even those who mock your strange eating habits will unreservedly declare these delicious. And given they take but a few minutes to throw together and scoop out onto a baking sheet, I think these are going to become my go-to cookies for most occasions from now on. Fast to make, fast to eat, slow to linger in the memory.
Oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies
From The Baking Beauties
Personally I found the recipe just a touch on the sweet side, and next time would reduce the sugar by an eighth or so, to about 375g. Any less and I think the lovely chewy texture would be affected.
1 cup (230g) butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar (375g) – I used a mix of white and demerara
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups (280g) gf flour blend
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 cups (180g) gf oats
1 cup (200g) dark chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 170 C.
2. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and add the vanilla.
3. In a medium bowl mix together the gf flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Fold these into the butter and eggs mixture, and stir well. When completely mixed in, add the oats and finally the chocolate chips to the mixture. The dough should be quite stiff and you should be able to form balls quite readily with your hands.
4. Using your hands shape the dough into balls about the size of a golf ball; place on a parchment-lined baking sheet a couple of inches apart and flatten slightly with the heel of your hand. Bake for 12 minutes, until they have spread out, are going brown at the edges and still soft in the middle. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Makes 36 cookies.