High Country Baking: This recipe is for cookies in a hurry (column)
High Country Baking
High altitudes makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
Need a cookie in a hurry? Here’s your answer: Make a dough that serves as both a crust and a topping in about three minutes in a food processor, spread most of it in the bottom of a pan, add a layer of preserves or jam, and crumble the rest of the dough on top.
It’s in the oven in 10 minutes. No pre-baking the crust, no separate preparation of a topping, and no homemade filling. The result? A lovely bar cookie with pleasing tastes and textures. The soft, sweet filling plays nicely against the crisp, crunchy topping and the addition of oats, orange and cinnamon creates an unusually flavorful dough. It’s good enough to serve as a casual dessert if you cut it into larges squares, warm it and add a scoop of ice cream.
Almost any preserves/jam can be used for the filling. The cookies in the photo were made with strawberry preserves, but I often choose blackberry and blueberry because they create a dark ribbon in the center of each cookie that looks great sandwiched between the golden crust and topping. Select whatever you like, just make sure it’s thick and flavorful.
If you opt to use orange zest rather than orange oil when making the dough, then you don’t have to finely grate it by hand. Instead, cut 1-inch long slivers of peel from half of an orange (take just the thin orange layer, avoid the white pulp underneath). Before adding the other ingredients to the food processor, put the slivers in the bowl with about ¼ cup of the required flour, and pulse until they’re chopped into small pieces. Add the remaining ingredients, following the directions below, and, by the time the dough has formed, the peel should be finely grated.
Food Processor Oatmeal Jammies
Make in an 8-inch-by-8-inch shiny metal baking pan
½ cup plus 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, spoon and level
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
¼ teaspoon orange oil or finely grated zest of half an orange (see last paragraph above)
1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
½ cup plus 1/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats
¾ cup thick fruit/berry jam or preserves
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. Line your pan with non-stick aluminum foil or regular foil, extending it several inches beyond two opposing sides of the pan to use as handles when removing the baked cookies. Generously grease any exposed parts of the pan and the regular foil with a baking spray that contains flour.
2. Add the flour, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the stainless steel blade and pulse to combine them well. Cut the butter into small pieces and add them with the orange oil and vanilla. Use long pulses to blend the ingredients until moist clumps form and no dry ingredients are visible Add the oats and pulse only until they blend into the dough.
3. Dump about two-thirds of the dough into the prepared pan and press through a sheet of plastic wrap or waxed paper until it forms an even, level bottom crust. Spread the preserves/ jam over the crust. This is easily done if you warm the preserves/jam briefly in a microwave oven and give them a stir or two so they’re soft and spreadable. Sprinkle the rest of the flour-oat mixture evenly over the top, squeezing it into little clumps with your fingers. It should cover almost all of the jam.
4. Place the filled pan in the oven and bake until the jam is bubbly and the top is golden, about 25-30 minutes. Remove the pan to a rack to cool completely. Use the foil handles to remove the cooled slab from the pan and cut it into squares with a sharp, thin-bladed knife. Serve, or store in the ‘fridge for a day or two. These can also be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to a month. Serve at room temperature.
Vera Dawson is a high-altitude baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks (available at The Bookworm of Edwards). Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at email@example.com.
Chris Anthony’s documentary film project chronicles post-war activities of the 10th Mountain Division.