Baking Season

Ahh… Fall.  The time of year when you can unearth your stylish jackets, scarves, and hats, and march through leaf-littered sidewalks kicking up those boots you haven’t seen for almost a year.

Also the time of year for profuse baking, otherwise known as heating your entire apartment by baking, baking, baking.  Last year, I made around 500 cookies in the month of December alone. No joke.  Instead of material gifts, I collected cookie tins and put together packages upon packages of cookies to bestow upon my favourite people.

Russian tea cakes, snickersnaps, pistachio white chocolate biscotti, chocolate crisps, ginger molasses cookies, earl grey sables, and maple shortbread.

The baking starts in the Fall, because recipes have to be picked, tested, and tweaked; for not only taste and texture, but also how those variables are affected by time passing, being frozen, and aired out.  Each year I like to include cookies that are all-time favourites (like Russian tea cakes and maple cookies) but also unique Momo cookies (like snickersnaps and earl grey sables).  The whole process from planning, testing, to packaging and delivery takes a few months.  It’s all worth it though.

The testing this year has already started.

Today was Take 1 in trying to replicate the most delicious oat cookie I have ever tasted.  While I was in Washington D.C. a few weeks ago, I discovered Teaism, a local chain that sold healthy vegetarian-friendly hot foods, loose leaf tea, and their famous “Salty Oat” cookies.

It’s a large, thick cookie (about 12 cm diameter and 1.5 cm thick), with a delicate crumble but considerable heft.  The version I tried was the Ultimate Salty Oat, which had pecans and chocolate.  It had the crunch of a butter cookie and the denseness of oat soaked in buttery goodness… Oh and let’s not forget the salt.  It was noticeably salty which really elevated the experience.  I was addicted.

My last meal in DC at Teaism: portabello and barbecued tempeh sandwich and a refreshing ginger limeade.

Upon return, I did some research.  Finding Teaism’s recipe for the Salty Oat would have been too easy.  Indeed, their recipe is apparently a closely guarded secret!  It was, as legend tells, developed by a east-coast baker and exclusively made and distributed by Teaism’s team.  Denizens of the internet who bake and blog have tried to replicate this cookie, but to no avail.  Teaism’s website even lists the simple ingredients!

For Take 1, I used a recipe that seemed the closest.  DCist’s Salty Oat.  With some adjustments (adding oat flour and reducing the sugar) the result was… meh.  They just weren’t oaty enough.  I also didn’t heed the warning of only using the 2nd top level of the oven so one batch got burnt in the bottom.  Hew.  Lessons learned.

Next time, I shall try a bigger cookie, with no oat flour.  I added the oat flour to get somewhat of a Scottish bannock effect (mmm… bannock) but in hindsight, I should always try recipes as they are written for the first time.

Here’s the story about a Washington Post writer’s quest to find the Salty Oat recipe.

The fabled Salty Oat eludes me.


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