Saturday, 13 November 2010

Amy's Bread and Cranberry Cookies

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I bought a new cookbook a couple of weeks ago, on a whim.  My sister has it, and she showed it to me when I was last in SF, and I was taken by a photo of an adorably pink layer cake that I haven't been able to get out of my head since.  So I bought the cookbook, The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread.  And it came.  And I put it on the coffee table, and then I sat down on the sofa and flipped through it.  And I sighed and bookmarked and planned and plotted.  And then I put it down again, and didn't pick it up for two weeks.


The thing is, I've got this new job.  And I love this job, and more importantly I love my office-mates.  But... well, I don't have a lot of time for baking anymore.  I know, I know.  The grass is always greener.  In fairness, I have been baking (well I didn't want them to regret hiring me!), but I've been falling back on old favorites like banana bread and pumpkin pie bread.  I haven't really had the time to do the kind of baking that Amy requires: weighing, measuring, sifting, using 6 bowls– this lady's not fooling around.  Her recipes aren't difficult, exactly, but they are certainly exacting

Nonetheless, I was determined to make something from the book– especially after we went to Amy's Bread in NYC and scarfed an entire loaf of her sourdough in one sitting!– but I needed to ease into it.  So even though I was drooling over the pink cake (someday, I swear I'll make it.  Maybe for my birthday), I rolled up my sleeves and went for something less time consuming: White Chocolate Cherry Chunkers.

Well.  Cranberry chunkers.  Because even the first recipe from a new book, bang out the starting gate, isn't safe from my whims and cravings.  And I was craving cranberry, don't ask me why.

I will say this: they weren't easy.  And by that I mean, they took longer than I would have liked and they weren't an immediate success.  The first batch was horribly dry (although in fairness to Amy, I didn't weight my dough balls before baking), and the next two weren't much moister as far as I was concerned.  I also thought they were a bit bland.  That said, everybody at work loved them, and the bf ate a bunch too, and it's not like I abstained, so maybe they weren't so bad after all.

What I'm saying is they didn't wow me.  Which sucks.  But they wowed other people, so maybe I was just having a cranky week.  I guess I'll just have to make that pink cake and get back to you!

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
     barely adapted from Amy's Bread

Note: Amy gives her ingredients in grams, ounces, and volume for each recipe, which makes this a great book for an intercontinental nomad like me who uses volume for most things and weigh for random ones (like butter).  I'm only putting the measurements I used here (volume, with butter in grams in parentheses as usual), because I'm lazier than Amy.  Sorry.  However, I've also amended the recipe to only use 2 bowls instead of four, because, seriously, FOUR BOWLS?  Who even has that many bowls??

Position oven racks in thirds, and preheat oven to 350F/175C.  Line baking sheets with parchment.

In a bowl, whisk together:
     1 2/3 c flour
     2 1/4 c oats
     1 1/4 tsp baking soda
     1/2 tsp kosher salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together:
     1 c (227g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
     1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
     5/8 c sugar

Beat butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Scrape down sides of bowl and mix in:
     2 eggs, beaten
     1 1/4 tsp vanilla (preferably stirred in with the eggs, but I won't tell)

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in stages, mixing just until combined.  Don't overwork.  

Add a mix of:
     1 c dried cranberries or cherries
     3/4 c white chocolate chunks or chips

Mix on low speed (or with a wooden spoon) until everything is combined.

Scoop balls of dough and place on cookie sheets, 2 inches apart.  flatten the balls a bit, then bake for 10-18 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies (Amy's are scooped with an ice cream scoop, and she suggests 18 minutes, but mine were smaller than hers and only took 11 minutes before they started to dry out).  Rotate the baking sheets halfway through baking time to ensure even cooking.

When cookies are golden brown, remove from oven and cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely.


  1. oh i love oatmeal cookies with a passion....but havent found a 'wow' recipe yet too! do share with me when you find one :)

  2. hi vivienne,

    i looooove oatmeal cookies– the best ones i've had yet are from a cafe in san francisco... i'll try to find the recipe and post it. until then, this one from the joy of baking is really delish (just eliminate the chocolate and cherries if they're not your bag, and replace with raisins if they are):

    thanks so much for stopping by!


  3. great book review! this book has been catching my eye lately too, but it sounds like too much work now, :(

  4. hi tia!

    in fairness to Amy's Bread, i should say that i don't think the recipes are hard, and the instructions are extremely well written and thoughtful, it's just i think you need a lot of time and a desire to pay attention to detail, and i'm a notoriously lazy, sloppy cook!

    my sister bought this book when whe was still a stay-at-home mom, so she kind of had all the time in the world to bake and make jam while my nephew was at school or in bed at night. i don't know how many recipes she's tried since she got a part-time job...

    thanks for stopping by, and don't write amy off just yet– i'll let you know how the next one goes!


  5. Thanks for the cranberry cookie recipe, can't wait to try.


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