Monday, January 07, 2008

Cookie Rules

I made five batches of cookies over Christmas this year. That may not seem like much baking to you foodies out there, but for me (and the family) it was quite the feat. I'll bet I haven't made homemade cookies in, like, ten years. So this divergence into nostalgia was met with much glee, especially from DH.

Of the five batches, three were good, one was edible (barely - see below) and one I dumped in the garbage it was such a failure. I can hear you gasping out there - believe me when I say that this cookie was un-salvageable. It was supposed to be one of those little, round, confectioner's sugar-covered job-ies. The kind that melt in your mouth. Well, these melted all over my cookie sheet. What a mess!

Unlike riding a bicycle, baking is not one of those activities that you never forget once you've learned how. It was like I was 12 years old again and didn't know how to turn on the oven! I did learn several things though and I'm going to list them here so I NEVER MAKE THESE MISTAKES AGAIN!!!

1. Not all butter is created equal. I know some of you have written about how wonderful European butter is compared to ours (something about the fat ratio, or was it cream ratio.. whatever) and you should only use the best in your baking. But, hey - I'm Scots-Irish. I go for the cheap stuff. And what I learned is that one of the cheap brands (Fareway's or Hy-Vee's - not sure which) tastes greasy. It's just yuck! That was the first cookie I made and it was scarfed down almost immediately despite it's greasy taste. I think for cooking it probably doesn't matter, but it definitely does in baking. So, the lesson here - get Land O' Lakes butter for baking!

2. I know our mothers always used Crisco for baking. My girlfriend uses the butter flavored Crisco in all her cookies. But I've learned that I should never use Crisco for cookies. Use butter - the good stuff.

3. Don't bother soaking your raisins in brandy for making oatmeal cookies. The flavor gets lost and you just waste the liquor. Save that little trick for your bread pudding!

4. Even though the recipe might not specify it, when it calls for oatmeal they mean the quick cooking kind. The other just gets chewy. And hard.

So that's it. That's my list of how NOT to bake cookies. I know, I know. I've been told all of this stuff in the past. I just forgot - so sue me!


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Hey we all need reminders from time to time.
Ah butter, nothing like it!

Sally said...

Amen, Tanna. Amen.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

I agree, butter rules! I love to bake cookies, in fact almost every weekend, I mix up a batch and bake them the following weekend. I have found that cookies bake better when the dough has been chilled at least overnight.

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

If a cookie goes into the trash~ it must be bad.
Thanks for the reminders =D

Sally said...

Hi Jenny - That's waaaay too organized for me!

Morning Sandi - Trust me - it was bad.

A wildlife gardener said...

I wonder if your cookies are what we, in Scotland, call scones, Sally? They are my favourite thing to bake. They take about ten minutes to prepare and ten to cook.

I used to always make them by hand, but now I use my machine and makes batches for the freezer. I prefer the ones with cheese, whereas my hubbie likes the ones with I make both as well as plain ones.

Once they are defrosted from the freezer, I heat them for a few moments...and that makes them taste as if they are newly baked again :)

Happy New Year to you, dear Sally! I hope all your dreams come true :)

Sally said...

Ahhh... thanks W.G.! I used to make scones too. And I liked the ones with cheese in them the best as well.

Terri B. said...

Well, I'm so glad I'm not the only one who has forgotten some things about baking.

I'm like you and haven't baked any confectionary goodies in quite a while. So a couple of months ago I decided to make cupcakes as a b-day present for someone at work. "Something" happened and they came out really chewy and kind of short. I couldn't figure it out since I followed the instructions faithfully and I know I didn't overbake. All I could figure is that I'd forgotten how to bake.

I sucked it up and decided to try baking again last month and made a pumpkin roll for Christmas lunch with the family. The same thing happened. Too chewy and the darned thing didn't rise enough. What did these two items have in common (besides me)? Baking powder.

Did you know that baking powder expires?? I didn't. Well, I just about died when I found out HOW old it was. That can of b.p. had an expired in 1991!

So now I have renewed confidence that I'm not just a bad baker ;o)

Sally said...

Holy cow, Teri! 1991? Guess it has been a while since you baked. I knew that stuff like that expired. I wonder if that's what happened to my cookies. I'd better go check my baking powder. Thanks for the heads up!