The Clara Project: old-fashioned oatmeal cookies.

When I met with Clara Shenefelt Williams and her daughter Jan last week, I knew I had to bring a batch of cookies with me. I had set Clara’s old-fashioned oatmeal cookie recipe aside, and that’s the recipe I decided to make.

First, a couple of updates to this old recipe: Note that it calls for sour milk. As we’ve discovered, it’s easy to make soured milk by adding a squeeze of lemon juice; this acidifies and thickens the milk. (Recipes that call for baking powder often include buttermilk, lemon juice or some other acidic ingredient, as the acid activates the baking powder.) Too, the recipe called for a “moderate oven,” which translates to 350 to 375 degrees. (As I didn’t have ground ginger in the pantry, I omitted it.)

Wow, are these good! Soft and puffy with an almost muffin-like texture, these oatmeal raisin cookies aren’t too sweet. I’d never seen a cookie recipe that called for chopping the raisins, but I love how that distributes the fruit evenly throughout the cookie. If you can judge a cookie recipe by how much dough you eat right out of the mixing bowl, then this one’s a true hit. This will be my best oatmeal cookie recipe from now on.

In the future, I might play with adding chocolate or butterscotch chips, or walnuts or pecans—or maybe some of each to make so-called monster cookies. Feel free to experiment with your own add-ins.

recipe for old-fashioned oatmeal raising cookies

old-fashioned oatmeal raisin cookie recipe

(makes about 46)

1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups rolled (quick or old-fashioned) oats
1 cup raisins, finely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a glass measuring cup, stir together the milk and lemon juice to make "sour milk"; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl using a hand mixer, whip the butter until it's light and fluffy, a minute or two. Add the sugar and cream together with the butter. Add the eggs, mixing after each one. Mix in the oats and chopped raisins, then the sour milk. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger; add to the butter mixture and stir slowly to combine. Drop the dough in generous teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until cookies are set and light brown around the edges.

About The Clara Project
Once a week, I’ll make and share a recipe from a collection of vintage recipe cards that were written in the 1930s by Clara Shenefelt. See all the Clara Project recipes.

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