When I challenged myself to bake every recipe in Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery cookbook I fully expected to learn some new things. After all, that’s kind of the point to this whole thing, right? When I turned the page on the first chapter titled cookies and saw Oatmeal Raisin, I figured I had this one in the bag. After all, I’ve made oatmeal raisin cookies dozens of times! Surely I could follow this recipe and conquer Keller’s oatmeal raisin cookie recipe. Well….
I borrowed my sister’s food scale. Thank god we had one in the house because I kind of forgot about needing a scale when I was looking over the ingredients and buying stuff from the store. The scale was in working order, but it didn’t take things down to the .10 degree. It rounded up. I thought to myself, ok, here’s the first challenge. Even though the teaspoon, cup, etc. measurement is right next to the grams, I really wanted to tackle the skill of measuring and bake exactly as it was intended when following the recipe. As I measure my flour, cinnamon, soda, and salt into the bowl I try to put in just enough to get a .5 gram and I realize that the scale has a couple of blips. Sometimes it doesn’t measure the weight properly. I tried to adjust accordingly but wrote myself a note. BUY A NEW SCALE.
This is also where I accepted the next challenge. When reading the recipe I saw that it called for Kosher salt. I could’ve sworn I had kosher salt in the house, but alas, I did not. I did have Mediterranean Sea Salt.
It’s coarse like kosher salt, so I figured why not? What I didn’t take into account is that first, again, the scale wasn’t working properly, and second, sea salt is a LOT more salty than kosher salt. So, I overdosed the cookies. Not to a drastic uneatable degree, but they are definitely a tad salty.
When I got to the creaming of the butter and sugar I saw the words “Turn to medium-low speed and cream the butter, warming the bowl if needed (see Pommade, page 190)”. Pommade? Warm the bowl? What’s this all about? I turned the page to 190 and read about how if you warm the mixer bowl with the butter in it, over an open flame, like on your stovetop, when you beat it, the butter will turn into the consistency of mayonnaise. This process is called Pommade. More excited at the process of turning butter into a mayo like cream, I flipped on the gas burner and lightly warmed the bowl. I should mention that I was working with a glass mixing bowl so was able to control the temperature. I put the bowl back onto the mixer and beat the butter. Low and behold, it worked! I was so excited, I dragged my sister into the kitchen to show her and got a raised eyebrow of praise. I then added in the two sugars and turned on my stopwatch app to cream them for 3 to 4 minutes until nice and fluffy. Along with measuring on a scale, I was also determined to pay more attention to the timing of the mixing process. This seemed to work well because I got a cloud like sugar butter mixture that I’d never seen before! I, of course, forgot to take a picture of it. But, lucky you, I did take a very blurry picture of the mayo like butter below.
When I was prepping for baking I tried to find vanilla bean paste at my local Kroger and needless to say, was not successful. I picked up a jar of actual vanilla beans instead. When I got to this point in the recipe where I’d add in the eggs and vanilla I saw I’d need 7.7 grams or 1 1/4 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste and saw my maybe 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla scrapings wasn’t going to get me there. Google is my best friend and I got on my phone for help. I found this great article from kitchn.com. https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-vanilla-extract-vanilla-bean-vanilla-paste-169336 It was very helpful in giving me the differences between all of the vanilla types but it was also too little too late. Deciding a mixture of two would be better than none, I scooped in my vanilla bean goop (pulp?) into the bowl and then added in 1 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract. You can’t have too much vanilla, right? Note: buy VANILLA PASTE. Who knows how many more recipe’s in this book will call for it, right?
I add in my dry ingredients, oats, and raisins and mix them all in my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer. If you don’t have one, go out and buy a mixer. I only use mine for baking but you can make pasta, grind meat, and so much more. They are awesome and except for the fact they are heavier than a, well, I don’t know what, but they are danged heavy! AND they are wonderful.
With the exception of being just a touch too salty, I could already tell this was going to be a great cookie. The batter was fluffier than any oatmeal raisin cookie that I’d baked previously. Excited, I measured out each cookie with a scoop and baked. Again, using my trusty stopwatch on my phone.
C’est Voila! They looked truly delicious! Not sure why my cookies turned out so much darker than the Bouchon Bakery picture maybe it was my high quality cinnamon, but otherwise looked identical. I’d only messed up a couple of times but learned a LOT!
What I learned: 1) You really need a good scale. 2) Pommade! 3) The type of salt does matter. 4) Vanilla comes in all shapes and sizes but they don’t all measure in the same increments.
Purchase list: 1) Scale 2) Vanilla paste
Would I make this again? YES. I think my mom would cry if she couldn’t lick the mixing blade clean. Seriously, I had to lightly tap her hand with my spatula. LOL
Next week I jump to the Scone and Muffin chapter so I hope you’ll come back for the next dish!
To find the recipe for the above Oatmeal Raisin Cookies check out the book Thomas Keller | Bouchon Bakery at your local library or click this link to purchase the cookbook.* Bouchon Bakery (The Thomas Keller Library)
*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.