Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Adventures in Baking Part 1

So the morning starts out and I finish the first stages of my baking tear. That's right, I occasionally bake. Want to make something of it? While my cooking skills are generally solid, I pride myself in being a pretty good baker when I apply myself. So around the holidays, in addition to other gifts (and sometimes in lieu of them), I'll put together some baked goods for friends and family (and of course for myself).

I spent the better part of the morning working with the sugar cookie dough that I had made and chilled the previous night. In truth I could have rolled it then, but it was getting late, and I didn't feel like staying up just to bake cookies (go figure). My first endeavor into cookie-making this week left me with a drier dough than I wanted and resulted in more of a shortbread than the true cookie I aspired for, so I had to go back to formula (and yes, I did spend part of the morning scowling, "Back to formula?!" ala Mr. Dafoe...) and hit up a new recipe.

Luckily for me, the fine people at Crisco have a good handful of sugar cookie recipes to choose from (why I'm not sure), and I went with one that was more egg and more sugar (also more flour and more overall yield, but you don't really care about that, and it doesn't sound nearly as awesome as more sugar does...). This left me with a considerable amount of chilled dough, and a rather large round of baking to do. I could have just took my time and done it little by little, but since I was up early I decided I might as well knock it all out this morning. One less thing to do tomorrow morning.

This gave me time to goof off in general, but since I was working I spent most of it watching TV and clearing my DVR of West Wing reruns (why I let that show drag me in, I'll never know). At some point I run out of stuff to check out on my DVR and I end up watching/listening to Comedy Central. Gary Gulman's stand up special is on, which I find disturbingly amusing (the disturbing part being that I find it amusing... an actual funny comic that was on Last Comic Standing? What are the odds?). Anyways, he starts to go into the cookie portion of his routine, which is funny because it covers something I was thinking about just an hour earlier: how the sugar cookie isn't a real cookie.

Now, I have to admit that for the longest time, I was in this camp. Until I really fooled around with them, the sugar cookie to me was just what I assumed was the result of not finding anything worthwhile in your cabinet. "No chocolate chips, no nuts, no oatmeal, not even any peanut butter? **** it. I'll just make sugar cookies..."

But once you get into cookie baking for a while, you get to realize that most basic cookie designs can all be made from the same base. And that base, more often than not, is just a modified form of... you guessed it: the sugar cookie. So the sugar cookie isn't really the red headed stepchild of cookies so much as it is the grandfather of all cookies. Or maybe the godfather of cookies, collecting the goodies of the other cookies to make its own. I'm losing the point, here...

So I go through about 4-5 dozen cookies, including the last of the, ahem, weaker batch (in my opinion) from Monday. For some reason, I dyed this bunch red ('tis the season, I guess), which for the record makes it that much harder to figure out when they're done. A good baker will tell you that cookies are more about timing than checking for browning, but it doesn't hurt if you can see it happening. At this point, I decide to screw around with making some frosting. I figure it can't hurt, and most people will let you get away with baking cardboard so long as you slap some frosting on top of it.

The cookie recipe I was using just happens to have a frosting recipe (which I don't get since the cookies are so freaking great on their own), not that you really need a recipe. Powdered sugar plus a little milk plus random ingredient will net you frosting on a good day. I throw some together, and I openly admit that I think its just okay (really, is anyone that much of a frosting guru...?), but I figure it will dress up the cookies just fine. I pull off a few spoonfuls (there's practically a tub for the recipe) and play around with some green food coloring because I figure it will go well with the red cookies ('tis the season or whatever). I toy with a drop of blue or two since the frosting ended up a little yellow, then a little green to end up with a light lime of a frosting. I wasn't thrilled with it, but it did go okay with the red cookies (especially after adding some candy sprinkles). I throw the rest of the green machine on some regular cookies just to use it up, and because I paid money for these sprinkles, so I'm gonna use 'em.

So in all, I'm left with 4 varieties of the same cookie:
1 dozen (more or less) red with green frosting
1 dozen plain with green frosting
2 dozen (more or less) plain w/red and green sugar sprinkles, and
3 dozen just plain sugar cookies

Not a bad haul for a few hours work. That's more than enough to give out to my family tomorrow, to have for gifts to others as need be, and to make unfortunate snacks out of. Now to answer the greater questions, like did I remember to add vanilla to the dough mix? And what will I do with all of this leftover frosting? Clearly, more baking is in order...

1 comment:

Sam said...

Dude, I got nothing against you baking and stuff. I mean, you work for the fire department and you should get the hook up, just in case.

Trust me, if I had the patience, I'd do it myself. I'd rather wait until someone sends me a tin from Byrd Cookie Company though. I do so love the Key Limes.