(Mis)Adventures in Baking

Howdy, folks.

It’s the end of the semester and the holiday season, and that can only mean one thing – baking. My mom has always baked up a storm in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and now, as an adult, there are certain cookies I have to make or it just won’t feel like Christmas.  I’ve found this is even more important to me this year now that we’re so far away from family.

So, holiday parties were coming and I was itching to make some of these cookies. Here’s how it went down.

Act I – Sunday Evening:

Mom makes these great “christmas tree cookies” – as far as I can tell they’re spritz cookies, officially. Of course, living at altitude now means I have to alter the recipes anyway, so I went to my trusty pal Google in search of a cookie press recipe that might work over 7000 feet. I found one, and set about my business.

We got a Kitchen-Aid mixer and a cookie press for our wedding. I’ve used the mixer a bunch but not the press at all, so I was excited.  Too excited? Maybe. I measured out the sugar and butter and put them in the mixing bowl, then “locked” the bowl into the mixer’s base by turing it to the right. If you aren’t familiar with Kitchen-Aids, there’s an important detail here. You have to turn the bowl to the LEFT to lock it. But I swear to you, I checked to make sure it was locked.  So, I lowered the beater into the bowl and turned it on.  A split second later there was a large crash followed incredibly quickly by chunks of butter and sugar flying freaking everywhere.

I managed to recover from that disaster (though I am still finding chunks randomly around the kitchen), finished the dough, and loaded it into the press with the fun little Christmas tree cutout thing. I set up my cookie sheet, pressed the trigger, set the press down on the cookie sheet, and lifted it up, expecting a cookie to be on the sheet. Except it wasn’t.  I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure my mom doesn’t peel each cookie individually off the bottom of the press. Not to be deterred, I placed a call to the Great One and asked her advice. She suggested it might go better if I refrigerated the dough, and so I did. It’s still in there while I try to build up the courage to try again. The dozen or so I had peeled off the press tasted ok, but they were deformed. It was disappointing.

After the cookie press incident, it still didn’t feel like Christmas.  And so I bring you…

Act II – Tuesday night:

Snickerdoodles are another Christmas favorite. Again, I was concerned about altitude so I googled for a good recipe that was as close to my mom’s as possible. Satisfied I had found one, I marched into the kitchen to start.  The glass jar I keep the sugar in doesn’t have a very wide neck, so I couldn’t use the 1 c measuring cup to measure out the 1.5 c of sugar called for. So, I grabbed what I thought was the 1/2 c and measured out three scoops.  Next was the stick of butter, and I blended the two together (this time with the bowl locked – success!). Next, I added the egg, vanilla, and other ingredients, all in their proper quantities. Then, it was time for 2.75 c of flour.  I picked up my trusty measuring cup – the same one I used for the sugar – and scooped out 5 scoops, which I thought would give me 2.5 cups. Then I reached for the 1/4 c to measure out the last little bit….and my hand fell on the actual 1/2 c…as yet untouched.  Genius over here then just assumed she’d been using the 1/4 c the whole time.

I walked back into the living room and explained what i had done and what I planned to do to fix it to Adventure Guy. He thought my plan of just repeating what I had done with the sugar and flour was good, and so I went back to the kitchen to fix my mess.  I picked up the original measuring cup and measured three more scoops of sugar, now thinking I had the 1.5 cups the recipe called for.  Not wanting to have to do tons of scoops of flour then, I picked up the actual 1/2 c and calculated, in my head, how much I needed to fix my mess. As I scooped and the mixer did it’s thing, it became clear that there was not enough liquid in the bowl, but I knew the butter and egg were right. It was then that I looked down at my used measuring cups and saw that I had never used the 1/4 c at all. The whole time, I’d been using the 1/3 c.

Tears in my eyes, I walked into the living room and explained what I had done.

Adventure Guy looked at me sympathetically and said simply “throw it away and start over.”

And so I did, very carefully.  And the second time I got it right. But the cookies weren’t as chewy as my mom’s and I wish they weren’t so crunchy, though Adventure Guy tells me they’re good and they were a hit at both his work and my work party.

But they aren’t like Mom’s.  It’s hard to be away from home at the Holidays. And apparently it’s hard to bake and deal with fractions while pregnant.

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