Saturday, May 28, 2016

Recipe: Seed and Oat Cakes

(Updated 10/15/16 with new photo, 10/23/16 with new archival art)

Back in February, the San Francisco Chronicle's Food+Home section had a feature article about using seeds in the kitchen. Written by Amanda Gold, the article recommends looking at seeds as a healthy and tasty addition to your diet, in savory and sweet applications.

Always looking for healthy, homemade snacks, one of the recipes caught my attention:  multi-seed cakes made from a blend of seeds mixed with oats, honey and oil, then baked into clusters.  I had all of the ingredients in my pantry so I gave the recipe a try.  The mixture didn't stick together — it was like trying to form cookies using damp granola — so I was apprehensive.  Will these hold together?  But almost miraculously, something happened during baking and cooling that turned the loose blobs into self-supporting cookie-like objects. (What exactly is happening to hold everything together? There is no egg, no water, nothing binder-like.) 

Sunflower by Anselmus de Boodt
Since making the recipe a few times, I've learned that it's essential to let the cakes fully cool on the baking sheet before trying to remove them — they firm up as they cool, turning from mush to crispy cakes. 
I imagined that I could simplify production by spooning the mix into a muffin tin. Production was certainly simpler, but the results were poor:  the bottom burned and/or stuck, while the top didn't brown properly because there was too little heat circulation to the top of the cakes.  (I haven't tried a silicone muffin container yet, which might eliminate the sticking problem, but might not improve the tops.)

Painting of flax plant and flax flowers from From Flore Médicale, Volume 4, by Chaumeton et al.
Flax from Flore Medicale
The seed and oat cakes are becoming one of my favorite snack foods.  They are healthy, delicious (crunchy, toasty, just a little bit sweet), almost of the ingredients can be bought in bulk (thus reducing packaging waste), and are proving to be highly adaptable. The last time I made them I was short on some of the seeds, so I swapped in peanuts and finely shredded coconut with great results. Now I'm adding a few tablespoons of coconut to each batch.

I like to use a scale when baking, so my key contribution to the recipe's evolution 'in the wild' is to add weights for each ingredient so that making the mixture can be a "pour and tare" operation.

Recipe:  Seed and Oat Cakes

Adapted from San Francisco Chronicle's Seed and Oat Cluster recipe (which uses the Super Seed Raw Blend)

50 g shelled pumpkin seeds / pepitas (4.5 T)
60 g sunflower seeds (4.5 T)
20 g chia seeds (2 T)
25 g flax seeds (2.5 T)
25 g sesame seeds (2.5 T)
100 g rolled oats (1 cup)
1/2 t kosher salt (2 g / 2.5 mL)
25 g oil
84 g honey
Optional: 3/4 cup dried fruit (175 mL)

Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).  Prepare a baking sheet with a non-stick liner like Silpat or parchment paper.

Stir the seeds, oats, salt, honey and oil together (plus dried fruit), being sure to fully coat oats with the oil and honey.  Spoon onto the lined baking sheet, about 2 tablespoons each. Push loose seeds and oats into the blobs, then press lightly to hold together.  Bake 15-20 minutes.  Cool completely before removing from baking sheet.

Image credits

Random link from the archive: Choc-ing the Rubicon

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