With Christmas right around the corner, I just had to bake cookies. It’s like an itch that has to be scratched. Cookie baking is a tradition I grew up with, Christmas baking with my mom. Must bake cookies. And here is this year’s Christmas cookie recipe: Gluten-free oatmeal cranberry cookies.
My New Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies
I knew what I wanted. Something a little sweet, soft and chewy, and it had to be oatmeal. But eating gluten-free means none of my traditional recipes would work. After days of baking and six test batches – drumroll please – I am happy to share my new recipe for oatmeal cranberry cookies. With sweet dried cranberries, crunchy walnuts, bright orange zest and coconut they are impossible to resist. It’s hard not to just eat all of the batter. Well, if you like cookie batter, that is, and who doesn’t?
Baking gluten-free is different than baking with the good old all-purpose white wheat flour most of us grew up with. The flours are very different. One bite of these cookies will make you a believer that gluten-free can be good.
While it’s easy to use one of the many good gluten-free ready blends to replace white flour, even that has changed for me. I recently found out I am also sensitive (really, something else?) to sorghum, commonly used in gluten-free flour blends. This recent news forced me to come up with my own blend for these cookies. And it was actually fun. But before you run away, you can use a ready made blend until…until you are convinced the GF baking is worth doing your own blends.
Creating a Gluten-Free Flour Blend
Gluten-free flour blends work nicely when you use 70% protein and 30% starch. So whipping out my calculator (and you only thought I was crazy), I calculated down to the gram what I needed in overall weight, then started experimenting with blending flours according to protein levels.
After many test batches, I settled on using brown rice flour, certified gluten-free oat flour, a little sweet rice flour and cornstarch.
- Digital scale – The best way to make these cookies is using a digital kitchen scale to weigh the flours. Weighing is fast and accurate. Digital scales are a tool I could not live without. They are inexpensive and a good investment. If you don’t have one, I’ve provided dry measurements.
- Rimmed baking sheets – I bake on rimmed baking sheets lined with parchment.
- Buy parchment in stores next to the foil and plastic film. Reynolds is a common roll brand, or buy package of pre-cut sheets at cooking stores and online (which is what I do as they are so handy). Parchment not only makes for easy clean up but protects the cookies from the direct heat of the metal baking sheet. They bake up nicely on parchment, golden and not overly baked on the bottom.
- Disher – While it looks like a small ice cream scoop, the professional term is a disher. I have these in about five sizes. Great little gizmo! It makes portioning dough, batter and lots of stuff easy and accurate. For these cookies I used a #40. You can also use a tablespoon.
- Zester – to get finely grated orange zest, use a microplane zester.
About butter – After testing coconut butter and vegan buttery sticks, I settled on using dairy butter for these cookies. If you are a non-dairy person, I think they will work fine with something like Earth Balance but I have not tested the final recipe with this instead of butter.
About sugar – after using varying levels of sugar and stevia, I went with 3/4 cup of sugar overall. I used sucanat, a natural, unrefined brown sugar and a little natural, organic sugar (instead of white refined sugar). I did test using 2 tablespoons of granular stevia instead of the blonde sugar, but did get just a little bitterness at the back end of the taste. Sometimes only real sugar will do for a treat.
Still, if you are reducing sugar in your diet, stevia is a good option to help achieve that goal. Sweetleaf stevia seems to have no bitter aftertaste. As it is a powder not granular, you need even less. For a half cup of sugar, I use 1/3 cup of this stevia. I’ve used it in other baking but not these cooking yet and look forward to experimenting with it.
About gluten-free flours and oats – I used all Bob’s Red Mill. This brand is available nationally and online.
So bake them and share them. No one will ever know they are gluten-free.
Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies|Gluten-free
Gluten Free Flour Blend (OR use a ready made blend such as Bob's Red Mill)
- 53 grams brown rice flour 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons
- 53 grams oat flour 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon
- 26 grams sweet rice flour 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon
- 56 grams cornstarch 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons
Rest of Ingredients
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature 6 ounces
- 1/2 cup natural, unrefined brown sugar Succanat
- 1/4 natural, unrefined sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 2 teaspoons fine grated orange zest 1 large orange
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut thread
Pre-heat oven to 325º. Line a rimmed baking sheet (half sheet size) with parchment paper. Start by blending the flours and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Add baking soda and salt and whisk to combine.
- Add butter and sugars in another medium bowl. With an electric hand mixer, beat until well combined and fluffy (start slow and build up speed). Add eggs, vanilla and orange zest and beat until incorporated. By hand, mix in cranberries, walnuts, oats and coconut.
Using a tablespoon ( or a #40 disher), drop rounds of batter about 1 1/2" around onto the baking sheet. Bake cookies for approximately 14 minutes (convection) or until golden brown. Remove after baking with a metal spatula to a wire rack to cool.