The Business of Baking

Oatmeal Raisin Scones

They were supposed to be cookies, a quick and dirty way for me to use up an overripe banana while the chicken finished roasting in the oven. They were also my key to ten minutes of quiet. Nicholas had been begging me for another cookie, gummy or “ga-rola” bar. He didn’t care which, really, so long as it was sweet and filled his stomach before dinner.

“If you go play with Mikey for ten minutes, I will make you both cookies.” He went and played with Mikey, but for no more than three minutes.

I decided on the Banana-Maple Oatmeal Cookies by Susan of Fat Free Vegan and adapted the recipe to accommodate my bare cupboards. The chia seeds I replaced with one egg, the lemon juice with apple cider vinegar, and the white wheat flour with whole wheat pastry flour. I didn’t have enough maple syrup.

The pastry flour was the death knell. I remember reading somewhere that you should decrease the amount of regular flour by a tablespoon or two when you substitute it for pastry flour. Working in reverse, I decided to increase the amount of pastry flour in the recipe by two tablespoons, which somehow turned into 1/2 cup. The recipe said to avoid overworking the dough, but I beat it with the strength of a thousand men. I never did make up for that missing maple syrup. Oops.

Before we sat down to dinner I dropped the cookies on the silpat and tossed them into the oven. They emerged 10 minutes later looking the same only darker, as if they had just returned from a week-long vacation in Cancun. I touched one gingerly. It was very, very hard.

They were supposed to be cookies, but these weren’t cookies. Doorstops, sandbags, pucks, bricks, discs, patties, heels, blocks, ingots, and maybe even stones. But not cookies.


“Mama!  Is it time for cookies now?”


“We ate all our dinner!”

Stones.  Stones?  Stones!

“Uh, I changed my mind about the cookies.” This I said while I slathered them in butter and drizzled honey over the top.

I returned to the table with two plates of scones.

“Mama, what are scones?”

“Granola bars.”

Ten seconds later, Nicholas pronounced them delicious ga-rola bars. He choked and threw up the second one, but only a little so I took it as a compliment.

You should always substitute your ingredients precisely. If you don’t have enough of a wet ingredient, be sure to add moisture any way you can. Don’t ever overwork your dough and add enough maple syrup. But even if you don’t heed this advice it’s okay. There isn’t a poorly baked item a solid marketing plan can’t repair.

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. says

    Hahaha! This is so cute! I can see this acting out clearly in my head as though it were a script for a performance.
    And the photo of the “ga-rola” bars looks awesome! So crisp and clear with lovely lighting!

  2. says

    This is so great – and is exactly how I bake. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and I have to say, while I’m not a mother, lawyer or homeowner, your writing never fails to connect. Thank you for sharing such funny human stories with the internet.

  3. says

    Hysterical. I used to be a really great baker, having more time, following recipes. Everything came out great. Then I started experimenting. Decreasing and substituting and trying to making things healthier. Well, let’s just say “rock cakes” lived up to their name more than once. Nice photo.

  4. says

    There are many professional savory chefs who r.e.f.u.s.e to bake for this very reason. Not only is it a tricky business scientifically to experiment and substitute but to add insult to injury, it takes 15-30 minutes (on the short side) to find out that the experiment didn’t work! *sigh*

    Excellent point on the marketing plan though… so true.

  5. says

    Oh yes, you are Eloise young lady. Scones. I love that boy, he is a good eater and willing to try a scone? Why you must be a magic mom. Kudo’s to you for just going for it and working out the math in your big brain, I am sure they were as delicious as he noted.

    P.S. I’m with Ani, nice photo toots!

  6. says

    that is just hilarious — i made those cookies last night also — i didn’t substitute quite as much as you did, but i did my fair share — they were pronounced as “breakfast cookies’ at our house or as my husband called tonight and said — im having a little cookie with my frosting — apparently also quite edible with cream cheese frosting piled on top.

  7. says

    This is hysterical. I love the extra butter and honey part–this is a fool-proof way to mask any failed kitchen experiment 😉 I’m glad your ga-rola bars were well received in the end. Kudos!

  8. says

    The funny thing is that normally I am completely opposed to tinkering, substituting, you name it. WON’T HAVE IT. (My friend, Kara, a notorious “recipes are nothing more than guidelines” tinkerer, will back me up on this.) But, I was feeling saucy and decided I don’t always have to follow the rules and that ONE TIME in my life I should live wild and substitute. What happens? Ingots. Baked ingots, that’s what happens.

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