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I often refer to one of my first jobs, as a creative baker/manager at a health food store café, called Terre Etoile which lived briefly in Montreal in the mid 80’s. There was a bookstore, a stunning architecturally gorgeous sky lit café, health food ingredient store and a little nook that was my bakery. Left there, free to invent whatever I wanted, was unleashed creativity in flour that never seems to have left me. Terre Etoile was the most beautiful place you can imagine and it drew everyone from new age types, to those who knew great California styled sandwiches when they found it and city groupies, in a manner of speaking, who realized early on, this was the place to be. Not surprisingly, despite the dramas (Lawsuit Muffins et al), people I didn’t know I knew then, I became friends with later in life –never realizing we walked alongside each other at Terre Etoile. Others who worked there, I am still in touch with. Sometimes we consider having a Terre Etoile reunion. I’ve talked about Lawsuit Muffins but there were romances aplenty at TE, and other escapades that need their own book. But the cookies? Ah, those were also special.

I was asked to create David’s Style, big, chocolate chunk cookies. I did –and they sold like wildfire. I also made wonderful, oversized oatmeal cookies (wherever there is chocolate chip, one must serve oatmeal). To give us a baking head start, we began making and freezing extra batches of dough, and used magic markers to label the parchment paper packets, so we would know which doughs were which. For some reason, one batch of pens transferred their ink onto the dough. We neatly avoided any problems by just shaving off the pen marked doughs and discarding it. But one day, a few customers saw the pen marks on the dough, as it sat out on the bakery counter, prior to baking and before we had a chance to scoop off the offending black writing. “What IS that?” said one customer. Oh, I said, it’s a vegetable dye, totally edible. Nothing to worry about”. One of my bakers heard me say it and ended up on the floor, in snickers and convulsive chuckles. He’d heard my baking stories before. The other time was then the blueberries stained the lawsuit muffins and over zealous mixing turned the batter totally greenish blue. Oh that, I explained, that was organic blueberries and they react different with the buttermilk (actually, all blueberries, if you mix too much and a soda-leavened batter will stain the batter).   These days, I still wrap up packets of oatmeal cookie dough to bake when needed. I still mark the packets with big, black writing so I can see at glance what something in the freezer is. And I still smile, thinking of the infamous ‘vegetable dye markers’ I invented. Oh the stories one tells when on the spot.

This is a wonderfully, classic oatmeal cookie. Not dense or soggy soft. Not too crisp or hard. Just perfect. Golden, caramel taste with a wee kiss of cinnamon and vanilla. Like Lawsuit Muffins, this cookie helped create my baker’s legend. It also has a little story behind it

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www.BetterBaking.com

Est. 1997

 

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