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The Joys of 'Procrastibaking' to Avoid Real Work

Procrastinate, relieve stress — and get a tasty cookie in the end

spinner image Image of Erin Gardner and Procrastibaking Book Cover
Michael Woytek / AARP

So you've been stuck at home for weeks during the coronavirus outbreak, with lots of practical projects (work related or personal) on your to-do list that you just don't feel like tackling. Well, break out the baking soda and cocoa powder, because there's a new, yummy way to waste time.

It's called procrastibaking: the term home cooks use on social media (#procrastibaking) to refer to the kind of fun, easy baking that's done to clear your head and avoid “real work,” says Erin Gardner, a cheerful, extremely accomplished baking and cake-design instructor based in Barrington, New Hampshire. She notes that she'll often pull out her whisks for a bit of procrastibaking when she wants to “take a breather and let off a little steam,” or even, as a professional baker, avoid other food projects.

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Now, Gardner, who blogs at, has come out with a new cookbook, Procrastibaking: 100 Recipes for Getting Nothing Done in the Most Delicious Way Possible (whose introduction, she claims, was written the night before it was due).

The key to procastibaking, Gardner explains, is that “it's a stress reliever, not stress inducing.” Many of the recipes, such as her easy-to-adapt Kitchen Sink Bars, are based on pantry staples and are simple to whip up when you'd rather be playing with sugary cookie dough than, say, responding to work emails or cleaning the bathroom. “I call them the counter bakes — like you bake them to sit on the counter and people pick at them all day.”

The projects toward the end of the book grow more complex, until you get to Gardner's procrasti-masterpieces, including a made-from-scratch gingerbread house and an elaborate, classic French croquembouche, which looks like the subject of a technical challenge on The Great British Baking Show ("If you're looking to create a baking masterpiece while taking up as much time as possible, there is no better cuisine to turn to than the French,” she writes).

This is Gardner's recipe for Breakfast Cookies, one of the healthier treats in the book. With ingredients that include oats and apples, she observes, “you're getting a little fruit and fiber and protein, but it's kind of fun to cook, and you feel like you're eating a cookie.”

Breakfast Cookies

Makes 18 large or 32 small cookies

These tender and delicious cookies are a nice change of pace if you're in a cereal or yogurt rut. They also make for a great 3 p.m. pick-me-up to power you through the rest of your day.

  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups grated apples (about 2 medium apples, no need to peel)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flaxseeds and water. Set aside to thicken while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.

2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and ginger.

4. In a smaller bowl or large glass measuring cup, whisk together the maple syrup, oil and flaxseed mixture.

5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir to combine. Add the apples, walnuts and cranberries, and mix to incorporate.

6. Scoop the dough into 11/2-inch balls (0.75-ounce scoop or 11/2 tablespoons) for small cookies or 3-inch balls (1.5-ounce scoop or 3 tablespoons) for larger ones. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet 2 to 3 inches apart. Use wet fingers or the bottom of a glass to press down the tops of the cookies to break up the scooped shape.

7. Bake, rotating the pan front to back halfway through, until the edges are golden brown and firm, 10 to 12 minutes for small cookies and 12 to 15 minutes for large ones.

8. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan before transferring to a rack to finish cooling.

9. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Alternatively, freeze for up to 3 months and pull cookies to thaw in the refrigerator the night before you want them for breakfast.

Copyright © 2020 by Erin Gardner from Procrastibaking: 100 Recipes for Getting Nothing Done in the Most Delicious Way Possible, published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc.

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