Best Oatmeal Cookies in Kenya

We all love cookies and once in a while, it is alright to indulge your sweet tooth. ^_^ A great classic cookie to indulge in, one that is a personal favorite, is the Oatmeal Cookie. I like it mostly because it is also quite a healthy cookie, especially if you make some substitutes on the ingredients.

Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:
– 2 cups Self-Rising Flour
– 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
– 3/4 cup Un-salted Butter or Margarine (*if using butter; add a 1/8 tspn salt)
– 1 cup Sugar
– 1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
– 2 Eggs
– 1 cup Quick Oats
– 1/2 teaspoon fresh Rosemary 
Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and flour a cookie sheet and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, Cream margarine and sugar with a mixer. Mix in vanilla.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, until fully incorporated. Mix in oats and rosemary.
  5. Fold dry ingredients into margarine mixture until a good cookie dough is formed.
  6. Form the dough into balls, approximately 2 Tablespoons. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet and with a lightly floured spoon, spread the cookie dough balls to flatten a little. To make a pattern, use a lightly floured fork to mark the cookies with tines, vertically and horizontally.
  7. Bake until cookies turn golden, 20 – 25 minutes. Remove from oven to cooling rack. Let sit for at least 3 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a tray to cool completely.
Cookies on a baking sheet

For a healthier Oatmeal Cookie Recipe 

– Instead of Self-rising flour, use whole wheat flour. A good Kenyan brand is EXE Atta Wheat Flour. Make sure you add 1 teaspoon of baking powder to the flour and cinnamon mixture during preparation.
– Honey can be substituted in place of sugar as well – use 3/4 cup honey in the butter/margarine mixture.

Honey as a substitute for sugar
Oatmeal – Cookies!!

Enjoy your Oatmeal Cookies ^_^!!

Want to learn how to bake cookies with us? Join our Cookie Making class and you won’t regret it. Check our classes page for more details and you can also email: amaribreads@gmail.com for more information.
Call/Text: 0701796688
 

Best Practices for Storing Quick breads

On more that one occasion I have baked for my family two or more banana breads and found that as popular and delicious as they might be, some of them are left over.

Since fruit breads can be perishable if not stored well, I have come up with important tips on storing some of the popular quick breads, they will help you with any left overs from your home baking or bakery purchases to be consumed the next day or a few days later. I’m sure they’ll be very helpful ^_^

FRUIT BREADS/ MUFFINS AND CORN BREADS

If the quick bread is home-made let it cool completely before storage. Wrap tightly in alluminium foil or cling wrap and store in a cool dry place for at least two days. If available, you can also use a plastic air-tight resealable container. If you have a refrigerator, store the wrapped quick bread for at least three days. For longer storage, place the wrapped bread in a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag or container and freeze up to three months. For consumption, remove and if the quick bread is hard, don’t worry; warm in a microwave for a few minutes, it will be moist.

Quick bread in a resealable plastic container

COOKIES AND BISCUITS

If home-baked, let them cool completely and then wrap them with cling wrap. Place the cookies in an air-tight plastic container or resealable plastic bag and store in a cool dry place for up to four days. Make sure you store soft cookies and crisp cookies in separate containers. If stored together, moisture from the soft cookies will soften the crisp cookies and they will lose their crunch. For longer storage, freeze the cookies in the container or resealable plastic bag for up to three months. For consumption, thaw wrapped cookies at room temperature before frosting and serve. If crisp cookies get soft during storage, crisp them up by heating in 300 degrees Farenheit or 149 degrees Celsius oven for five minutes.

Resealable bags that can be used for storage
Cookies stored in an air tight container

CAKES

Frosted Cakes:
For a one-layer frosted cake, store in a lightly covered plastic container or cake box. For a multi-layer cake, store under a large inverted bowl. Insert a spoon handle under the edge of the cover to prevent an air tight seal for the frosted cakes to avoid retaining moisture because of the frosting getting soggy.

Unfrosted Cakes:

Tightly wrap the cake in cling wrap and store in a cool dry area for at least two days. If available, you can use a cake plastic container for storage as well. If you store the wrapped cake in a refrigerator, it can last up to 4 to 5 days. For longer storage, you can put the wrapped cake in  an air-tight container or plastic resealable bag and store in the freezer, it can last up to four months.

PANCAKES

If you and your family love pancakes in the morning for breakfast, but you are a busy person and don’t have enough time in the morning to make them. You can make a large batch in the weekend and freeze them to use all week.
When you finish cooking the pancakes, let them cool completely. Freeze individually on a long plate or a rectangular baking sheet in the freezer. When they’re frozen, place them together in an air tight resealable plastic bag or container. Freezing them individually stops them from sticking together. For consumption, reheat with a microwave oven or a toaster oven if you have one, it helps restore the crunchiness at the edges.

Enjoy your pancakes any time!

Whatever they may be, enjoy your breads at your own convenience. Do you often store your quick breads or any other baked goods for future use? How do you store them? please share your other ideas ^_^

5 things you Must know about baking

Baking is a good hobby or business to start, and to some it is quite simple, for others it may be a bit more challenging. I’ve decided to come up with a short list of five important tips that will be helpful to anyone who is baking or has recently decided to venture into home baking.

1. STICK TO THE RECIPE

Baking is an exact science, unlike cooking, reducing or increasing measurements randomly can spell disaster in your end product.

2. QUALITY MATTERS

The quality of ingredients matter. Buy the best you can afford. If it is unsalted butter, buy it from a reputable company like Brookside Ltd. If it is wheat flour, my favorite is EXE flour by Unga limited, they make quality baking flours. Your cakes and other baked goodies will always taste exceptional when made with quality ingredients.

3. ACCURACY IS IMPORTANT

When measuring dry goods like flour; spoon ingredients into the measuring cup, then with a straight-edged object like a knife, sweep away the excess. This method will save you from a ruined recipe due to less or more ingredients.

4. GET A THERMOMETER

Oven temperature dials are unpredictable and can often be wrong. If you are a passionate baker who is concerned about accuracy, invest in a thermometer that accurately measures oven temperature.

5. NO PEEKING!

Avoid opening the oven door while baking. Peeking allows heat to escape and a cake that is baking may not have formed yet, disturbing it may leading to sinking in the middle. Let the cake set for at least 20 to 30 minutes before opening the oven door once you put it into the oven.

peeking not allowed ^_^


Any other tips you might have that you use while baking at home? Please share below and let us know  ^_^

If you want to learn how to bake – check out our available short courses, click here.

Click on this link to find out the next scheduled intake

Home Baking in Kenya and a Buttercream Recipe

I was living abroad and came back to Kenya some years ago. The one thing I noticed in most homes is that not very many people do a lot of home baking. When I asked some people why; they mentioned that they may have to buy a very expensive oven to be able to bake at home. Fortunately for everyone, there are various more economical options out there for anyone who has the interest, or for some of us, the passion to bake at home.

When I came back and wanted to bake at home, my mum heard of a gentleman who makes charcoal ovens; she purchased a commercial one (36 loaf capacity) and it costed her Kshs. 30,000 (fairly decent for a commercial size oven). There are smaller sizes also available; Cookswell Charcoal ovens have a small bachelor size that is Kshs. 10,000. They also have a blog that can be very helpful if anyone wants to buy a charcoal oven or discover their benefits, you can check out Cookswell Energy Savings Jikos, their charcoal ovens are the original, energy-saving charcol ovens. So one option people could use can be charcoal ovens.

Cookswell Charcoal Ovens
Cookswell Charcoal Ovens

Another option, which I personally took when I moved to Nyeri to work after staying for a year; and I couldn’t move with my charcoal jiko, was to go searching for an even smaller alternative, I was happy to find an Electric Mini Oven, it was a Westpool model I purchased from Tuskys Supermarket and it cost me around Kshs. 5,600 – very reasonable for anyone on a budget. It served me faithfully for two years. They range from around Kshs. 8,000 to 12,000 currently.

Small & Compact-good for small scale baking

Another alternative for homes which already have electric or gas cookers is to use the oven area for home baking once in a while.

Gas oven with oven area-these are found in some Kenyan homes, but are not so utilized.

As for baking tools, such as whisks, measuring cups, mixing spatulas, mixing bowls, queen cake pans, loaf pans and electric mixers, they are readily available in most supermarkets, and are of very good quality – if you’re willing to spend a fair amount of money. You can also get those baking tools from cake accessory & supplies shops such as Topserve Ltd or vituzote.com. If you are on a slightly lower budget, loaf pans can be purchased at Jua Kali at far more reasonable prices. Check this page where we share various types of equipment required for baking.

Stainless steel mixing bowls
Set of measuring cups
simple mixing whisk
Loaf pans

When it comes to ingredients such as all-purpose and self-rising flour, baking powder, sugar, margarine, butter – to name but a few, are all readily available at any supermarket, neighborhood store or wholesale shop. Click here for information on ingredients used for baking. 

My feature recipe today is Buttercream frosting:

Butter Cream Frosting
Ingredients:
– 2 cups Icing Sugar
– 1/4 cup Unsalted butter  (you can also use margarine as a substitute)
– 1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
– 1/8 cup Milk
 *This can cover a half Kg cake
Directions:
1) In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter for about 3 to 5 minutes.
2) Add Vanilla and milk gradually and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute, add more milk if needed for spreading consistency.
Ice your cake, bread or cup cake and enjoy ^_^
Picture perfect isn’t it?

Does anyone bake at home? If so what do you use for baking? Share some of your ideas! ^_^

A Definition of Quickbreads and a Banana Bread Recipe

What is Quick bread’?
A quick bread is an American term used to describe a type of bread (or baked good) which is leavened with leavening agents other than yeast e.g. baking powder and/or baking soda. They are dense but very moist baked goods made mostly by using the all-in-one method.

Examples of quick breads:
Some cakes, brownies, fruit breads like banana bread, corn bread, muffins and pancakes.

History:
 Quick breads probably originated from the United States of America at the end of the eighteenth century. Before that, baked goods were leavened with either yeast or by mixing dough with eggs. During the American Civil War, demand for food rose and bread was therefore rapidly made and leavened with baking soda instead of yeast. That was how the name came to be – “quick breads”

My story:
I fell in love with the art of baking in my freshman year of high school. I took a “Creative Cooking” class with a wonderful and quirky teacher called Ms. Minadeo, I have been baking ever since.

The Recipe:
My feature recipe for today is my absolute favorite – Banana Bread, there are many variations of the banana bread, I will share my own version.

Banana Bread Recipe
Ingredients:
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Margarine
2 Ripe Bananas
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
2 1/2  cups All-purpose Wheat Flour
2 1/2  teaspoons Baking powder
1/2 cup     Milk
1 pce Egg
(Optional) 1/8 cup peanuts – chopped
Directions:
-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 degrees Celsius.
-Grease and flour a regular loaf pan and set aside.
-In a small bowl, mash bananas with a fork. Mix in the milk and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together flour and baking powder.
-Cream the sugar and margarine in a large mixing bowl until fluffy.
-Add the banana mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until combined; then add the egg and mix. Fold in dry ingredients, mixing just until flour disappears. If adding nuts, fold them into the batter with a wooden spoon or spatula
-Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for at least 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove pan and set aside to cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes. Remove banana bread from pan, invert onto a cooling rack and cool completely before slicing.
I can’t make just one, three will do 🙂

Enjoy your quick bread ^_^