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What's Up Magazine

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Aug 29, 2013 01:06PM ● By Cate Reynolds

By Kimberly Cooper // Photos by Tony Lewis, Jr.

Evergrain Bread Company
201–203 High Street, Chestertown
410-778-3333
evergrainbreadco.com

When it comes to flaky treats and crusty breads, residents of Chestertown turn to Douglas Rae. Head baker and owner of Evergrain Bread Company, Rae knows a thing or two about making bread, pastries, and delectable desserts from scratch. Discovering his passion for baking as a teen, Rae opened Evergrain Bread Company in 2010 and has never looked back. He clues us in to his baking philosophy and offers a fantastic recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

What prompted you to open Evergrain Bread Company?

I started Evergrain because I wanted to provide an authentic European food experience to the Eastern Shore of Maryland and, in particular, to my hometown of Chestertown. I knew from experience that it is hard to find outstanding bread and pastry outside of major cities. So I thought, why not introduce them in a smaller town? Since creating Evergrain, my interest in providing high-quality products has expanded from bread and pastry to include coffee, espresso, and lunch items.

As a bread maker, what are your thoughts on gluten-free products?

My opinion is that gluten allergies and intolerances are largely caused by the overbreeding of wheat in industrial agriculture and the astronomically high protein levels associated with that. Traditionally, European bread was made with low protein or low gluten flours, coupled with long fermentation processes, which is what we do at Evergrain. This combination contributes to a more digestible loaf that is easier for the body to process than mass-produced breads like what you might find in a grocery store.

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What do you prefer: sweet treats and pastries or savory croissants and breads?

I definitely prefer bread. Bread that is made with a long fermentation processes, high quality flour, and natural leavening has wonderful flavor without the need for extraneous ingredients like eggs, sugar, or even nuts or fruit. This type of bread is very versatile and can be a great accompaniment for any meal. I love bread paired with anything from a simple butter spread to a beautiful steak.

What kind of advice can you offer readers regarding bread making and working with yeast, something that can be intimidating?

In order to be the best baker, you must have access to the best knowledge and find the best books on bread baking. Two books that I highly recommend to get started are Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson and Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread. The biggest factor in producing high-quality bread is managing the fermentation. A common misconception is that more yeast is better when, in fact, less is more.

What is your most important kitchen tool?

My digital scale. It is crucial for consistency and much more accurate than volume measurements for any venture in the kitchen.

Tell us a little about the dish. What kind of drink would you pair with it?

This recipe is for the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had! One secret is to use high-quality chocolate like Valrhona and high-quality butter like Trickling Springs Creamery butter, which has a higher butterfat content because it’s made with Jersey cow milk. I’d suggest pairing these cookies with a glass of Trickling Springs Creamery grass-fed Jersey cow whole milk, which we sell in glass half-gallons at Evergrain. Your milk and cookie experience will be raised to another level!

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: Makes about 30 (3½-inch) cookies
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes


INGREDIENTS:

2½ cups rolled oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
Valrhona or another high-quality chocolate preferred
4 ounces milk chocolate chips
Valrhona or another high-quality chocolate preferred
1½ cups chopped walnuts

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Blend the oats in a food processor or blender to a fine powder. In a medium bowl whisk together the blended oats with the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, 3–4 minutes. Scrape down the sides and beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. On low speed gradually mix in the flour mixture, beating just until incorporated. With a rubber spatula fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

4. Roll the dough into 2-ounce balls (or about 2 heaping tablespoonfuls worth) and place about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Cookies should be lightly brown and set on the outside but still look a little undone in the middle. That’s okay—they will finish setting after you remove them from the oven. Let cool 2–3 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.