There are those mornings where everything is awesome, then continues to be awesome throughout the day. Example: I woke up early! I went for a long run! I sat down and studied! I made/wrote/published my awesome Breakfast Tuesday post! Yeah! Ready for the day! (Cue variation of the ready-for-the-day dance.)

Then there are those mornings where everything seems awesome, then something goes horribly wrong, points out all the other failings of the morning, and then you have to stifle tears of frustration all throughout the day. Example: I woke up early! I went for a run! I took out my books to study! I made my breakfast and… burnt it to crisp! I didn’t even wake up that early! I whined inside my head the entire time I was running! The thought of studying made me so nervous I almost had a minor panic attack! I can’t do this! (Cue laying on the carpet and staring at the ceiling.)

Wanh wanh.

If you haven’t guessed by now, this morning was more the second than the first. I thought everything was good, and if not good than pretty standard, and then I destroyed my breakfast and couldn’t help but look back on the morning and begrudge myself for everything. Seems dramatic because it totally is. I realized how very dramatic it all was just before I resorted to spending my day off curled up, most likely in the fetal position, on my carpet. I took a breath and sat down, looked out the window and watched the sun bounce on and off the leaves. Enter perspective. I’m only human, and if burning my breakfast is the worst thing to happen all day then it’s a darn good one. Still hungry, I got up and went to work on a second pancake. The only thing I had to do differently was lower the heat. That’s it. Problem solved and breakfast on the table. Can I apply this reasoning to everything else today? Who knows. For now, enjoy a skillet apple pancake and say “Hello” to fall!

Skillet Apple Pancake

(Recipe adapted from delish.com, originally “Puffy Apple Pancake”)

Yields one 8 to 9 inch pancake, perfect either for yourself, if you’re also a breakfast monster, or two people

Notes: I substituted oat flour for all-purpose and brown sugar for granulated, so I imagine this recipe is ripe for any number of flour-sugar combinations. My only concern is that I didn’t add any baking soda to balance the acidity of the brown sugar, though I’m not sure it’s important when the quantities are this low. I could be wrong! I used a Cortland apple instead of Granny Smith, so it seems like you could use any apple that you would use in an apple pie or crisp – one that will retain its shape and texture when baked. As for the slicing, you can dice the apple as well. I made some slices thicker for varied texture, but none of the slices were over half an inch thick.

Ingredients:

1 medium to large apple (see note), cored, peeled and sliced

2 teaspoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup oat flour (see note)

2 tablespoons brown sugar (see note)

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 egg, beaten

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup milk

Optional (but delicious): Powdered sugar for serving

Method:

1. In medium mixing bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt together. Whisk in egg, vanilla, and milk until just combined. The batter will probably be lumpy, which is totally fine.

2. In an 8 or 9-inch skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. When butter is melted, add apple slices. You don’t have to do any meticulous apple slice arranging, just make sure the apples are distributed as evenly as possible over the bottom of the skillet. Pour batter evenly over apple slices. Cover skillet with lid or aluminum foil.

3. Bake pancake, covered, over medium-low heat 10 to 12 minutes. Keep an eye on it after 8 minutes though, as it seems like this pancake wants desperately to burn.

4. When top of pancake is dry and puffy, and edges are golden brown, take off the heat. Put a plate, large enough to cover the skillet with room to spare, upside down over top of skillet. Using potholders, flip skillet upside down over plate, so the apple side of the pancake is now the top.

Serve immediately!

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but my mother is not a baker. Her idea of freshly baked cookies is, to this day, those refrigerated pull-apart dough balls you find amongst the cheese and sour cream in grocery stores. Once a year, though, she would get together with her mother and sisters for “cookie day”. Cookie Day was full of frozen dough, eggshells, maraschino cherries, cookie cutters, cocoa powder, parchment paper, and was, basically, my favorite day of the entire year. Hard to imagine, I know.

And my favorite cookie of them all? Thumbprints. For some reason, though, they were voted off the Cookie Day island and we didn’t make them for years. No one had the recipe; it, somewhat mysteriously, disappeared off the face of my planet. I ended up curbing my homemade thumbprint cookies with the store-bought variety all through high school and up until about 2 years ago, when I started the search for a thumbprint recipe that reminds me of the good ol’ (few) days of rolling dough balls and stepping in flour with my mother. I think I found the recipe, and the only embarrassing thing I can admit this afternoon is that these almond thumbprints not only remind me of the beloved Cookie Day but also remind me of the store-bought thumbprints. Even though I started eating them as a substitution for the “real deal”, those cookies became some of my favorite snacks. It’s kind of an interesting thought, how a food can remind you of a warm, cozy, family activity while simultaneously reminding you of late-night grocery store runs and post break-up cookie binges. Life, memory, nostalgia, all pretty crazy things.

Today, Variety Flour Thursday is all about the oat flour. It’s whole grain, which is awesome for someone who uses a ridiculous amount of all-purpose flour in a week, and fairly versatile. The number of oat flour recipes is enormous and you don’t have to adapt all-purpose flour recipes too much to incorporate it. The oat flour in these thumbprints, along with the almond meal, gives the cookies a hearty crunch while letting be crumbly, like shortbread. You can use any jam you like, I just happened to have raspberry in the fridge.

Almond Oat Flour Thumbprints

(Recipe adapted from the back of Bob’s Redmill Oat Flour bag)

Yields 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup oat flour

1 cup almond meal

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

6 tablespoons light brown sugar (I’ve also used white, granulated sugar with good results)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy. Add almond meal and oat flour, and mix until dough sticks together.

3. Roll dough into 1 ½ teaspoon-size balls and place cookies on baking sheets about two inches apart.

4. Bake cookies for 30 minutes. At 26 or 27 minutes, working quickly, oven open and make thumb-size indents in the center of each cookie, using either your thumb or the butt-end of a wooden spoon. You want to make the indentation as deep as you can without destroying the cookies (for the maximum jam experience). Close the oven and continue baking until cookies are slightly brown around edges.

5. When you take the cookies out of the oven, make another indentation. The cookies will have puffed slightly since making the first indentation. Fill holes with a half-teaspoon of jam, and then let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Remove cookies to cooling rack to cool completely.

Keep cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

We all have foods that we consider our comfort food, the refuge we have when the world around us keeps changing and throwing us for loop after loop after loop, ad infinitum. You’ve seen two of my major comfort foods this week, chocolate chip cookies and grilled cheese, and now you’ll see my favorite comfort food, pancakes. When something big is going on, you can bet your bottom I’m either thinking about pancakes or eating pancakes. This is why, instead of a baked good on Variety Flour Thursday, you are getting a recipe for pancakes. (Sometimes I think that I just should have started a pancake blog, because of all the pancake recipes thrown in here. But if I ate pancakes all the time, where would I go when I needed a meal to make me feel warm and safe?)

Today I’m baking with oat flour for the first time, which is yet another reason why you are seeing pancakes today. Pancakes have the remarkable ability to take on any sort of flour you thrown at (in?) it, helping you understand flavors and how the flour itself bakes up. I wasn’t going to post this recipe and just use it as a trial run and a way to fulfill my pancake craving, but was really impressed with everything about the final product. Cooked oatmeal makes the pancakes denser than normal, but keeps them most and gives you a neat, chewy texture that you’re not accustomed to with pancakes.

I didn’t mess around with the recipe, being the first time I’m using oat flour, except for my carelessness in adding equal amounts oat flour and all purpose. To make up for it, I added two tablespoons milk and crossed my fingers. Luckily for me, the pancakes still turned out amazing; just what I needed today.

Oatmeal Pancakes

(Recipe adapted from Good to the Grain)

The book says recipe yields 18 pancakes; however mine yielded 14 using a ¼ cup ice cream scoop.

Ingredients:

¾ cup oat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated or light brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 ¼ cups milk (recipe calls for whole but 1% worked)

1 cup cooked oatmeal

1 tablespoon molasses, preferably not blackstrap

2 eggs

Butter for greasing skillet

Method:

1. If using a cast iron skillet, preheat over medium heat. In a large bowl, whisk dry ingredients.

2. In a separate, medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, milk, oatmeal, molasses, and eggs until completely combined.

3. Gently fold wet ingredients into dry, taking care not to over mix but making sure there aren’t any hug flour streaks.

4. When skillet is preheated, coat bottom with butter (half a tablespoon, thereabouts) and scoop batter into skillet using a ¼ cup measuring cup, ice cream scoop, or ¼ cup guess-timation.

5. Once bubbles have formed on top side of pancake and batter looks a little dry around the edges, 3 to 4 minutes, flip pancakes. Cook pancakes until golden brown on bottoms, about another 5 minutes, and make sure to grease pan with extra butter when necessary.

It is recommended you serve these pancakes immediately, however I usually store pancakes refrigerated in an air tight container up to 3 days. To reheat, I wrap them up in tin foil and heat them in the oven. The quality of pancake decreases with each passing day, but I’m not all that picky, especially when it comes to having an easy, homemade breakfast to go before work.