By Request
Betty Shimabukuro

Oat cuisine recipe
quest continues

I've been trying to understand the gravitational attraction of oatcakes, gravity being an apt word as these baked items are dense, heavy and as solid as planet Earth.

They are also irresistibly chewy and so full of fruit and oatmeal that they reek of good health. Although, how healthy they really are depends on how much butter, sugar and/or eggs have been added to make all those dry oats palatable.

The center of the oatcake universe is the low-fat version made by Honolulu Baking Co. for Starbucks and sold only on Oahu. Over the years, that recipe has been one of the most sought-after by readers of this column.

Back in January, I attempted to put the issue to rest by a) explaining that Starbucks will NOT give out that recipe, and b) offering a very palatable alternative developed by Sandy Stenen of Hawaii Kai.

The response was immediate and continues to this day. "Can I substitute real sugar for the sugar substitute?" Well, yes, but the calories will go up. Or, "I lost my copy!" (Find it on our Web site at this link: https://archives.starbulletin.com/2005/01/26/features/request.html).

And the saga continues. Today, I offer two oatcake recipes. One is from another Hawaii Kai baker, Margo Lynn, who loves the Starbucks oatcake and was determined to duplicate them. The second is not at all like Starbucks' -- in fact it's a cookie -- but given the heated desire for this type of treat, I figure there's a market for it. The baker is Joan Fukumoto and the cookie was the runner-up in a baking contest held at the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin.

"I like to bake and try out different things," Lynn says in explaining her quest for the oatcake holy grail. "I like to take a recipe and lower the fat and sugar content as I adore my sweets, but am constantly trying to loose weight."

To develop her copycat recipe, she collaborated with a friend, retired nutritionist Ruth French, who lives in California, but was conveniently visiting in January. The two went to work, making several batches, always going easy on fat and sugar.

"The challenge was in trying to come as close as possible to the original," Lynn says. "I might not have completely hit the mark, but husband loves them and they are very filling."

They have come pretty darn close, and whatever's different is for the better. I baked up a pan the other day and brought it to the newsroom, where all the cakes were gobbled down and three people asked me for the recipe.

Their oatcake is not as thick as Starbucks', which allows for more even baking. It also has more fruit. And theirs has no fat (applesauce fills in) and uses Splenda sugar substitute.

They even got close to the funky gray color of the Starbucks' version, through a blueberry puree. "Both Ruth and I are sure it is the blueberries that give them their unusual color," Lynn says.

The nutritional comparison favors Lynn's: Half of a Starbucks oatcake (yes, you are only supposed to eat half at a time) contains 258 calories, 3.3 grams of fat and 4.5 grams of fiber. One of Lynn's oatcakes, which is about half the size of Starbucks' to begin with, is 220 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 6 grams fiber.

Margo's Low-Fat Oatcakes

Two cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup dried blueberries
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup Splenda (or 1/2 cup brown sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup Egg Beaters egg substitute (or about 3 eggs)
1 cup dried cranberries
1-1/2 cups raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13-by-9-inch pan.

Sift together flour and spices.

Put warm water and dried blueberries in a blender and purée (depending on the strength of your blender, you might want to start with 1/2 cup water until the berries are pretty well chopped, then add the rest). Add blueberry purée to oats.

Beat together applesauce, Splenda and vanilla. Beat in Egg Beaters. Stir in oats and flour mixtures. Fold in cranberries and raisins. Press mixture evenly into pan. Sprinkle raw oats on top. Bake 30 minutes, or until cake is cooked in the center. Cool, then cut. Makes about 20 squares.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per square, using Splenda and Egg Beaters: 220 calories, 2.5 g total fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 140 mg sodium, 47 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 19 g sugar, 6 g protein.

Joan Fukumoto's oatcake cookies may require a trip to a health-food store for turbinado sugar (raw sugar) and carob powder. You could substitute dark brown sugar and cocoa powder and save yourself the trouble, but there will be a taste difference.

Oatcake Cookies

1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 block butter
1 cup turbinado sugar
1 egg
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1-1/2 tablespoon carob powder
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup sunflower kernels

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease cookie sheets.

Cream oil and butter with sugar. Beat in egg. Add flour, soda, cloves and carob; mix well. Stir in oats. Add coconut, dates, raisins and sunflower kernels.

Drop dough onto cookie sheets. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until dry. Cool on racks. Makes 3 dozen.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per cookie: 135 calories, 8 g total fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 70 mg sodium, 15 g carbohydrates, 1.5 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 2 g protein.

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