Thursday, December 20, 2007

I am a Master Baker

So I put off making my Christmas cookies until the last minute yet again. I like to lay claim to the theory that the closer to Christmas and their shipping dates I bake them, the fresher they'll be -- you can't work too far ahead with cookies. But really, I was just doing other stuff. I did get them all baked off over the weekend, which was a start.

But the gingerbread cookie contest over at Baking Bites lit a bit of a fire under my ass. The deadline was the 18th, so Tuesday night I dutifully left a boringish work party early and came home to frost cookies. Frosting cookies... it's both rewarding, creative work and a deeply onerous, endless slog that hurts my back, dries out my fingers, and puts me off sugar for days. But: rewarding and creative, yes, and people do love them. They're a very personal gift that takes a lot of the guesswork and frivolity (not to mention the spending of money) out of the holidays.

And whereas production-lining anything gets old after the first ten or so, the dancing dog cookies modeled after my sweet little Milo somehow never get tiring in the same way. There's a devotional aspect to them, certainly, and watching the cheerful little guys take form, and -- sorry, this is corny -- their personalities come out, never seems to get boring.
But damn they do take forever. I finished up and the cookies were dry enough to photograph at 15 minutes to midnight. Talk about cutting it close.
And... I won! A copy of The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion, which yes I have coveted, and a groovy t-shirt. But also, you know, the recognition and the props and that happy feeling that no matter how minor an achievement it is in the greater scheme of things, it's still my achievement. It was a blip on my radar, not to mention an excellent compliment from Nicole, who is a hell of a baker in her own right. I've gotten many fine recipes and ideas off Baking Bites.

So, because I know y'alls are going to ask me -- yes it's my own recipe and no it's not a secret and here you go:

(amounts for doubling (red) and quadrupling (green) are in parentheses -- I have to color-code them because I'm easily distracted and tend to screw up. I usually use a double recipe, but sometimes a smaller or larger batch is appropriate)

1-1/3 cup all-purpose white flour (2-2/3) (5-1/3)
2/3 cup whole wheat flour (1-1/3) (2-2/3)
1 tsp. baking soda (2) (4)
½ tsp. baking powder (1) (2)
4 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature (8) (16)
1 cup packed brown sugar (2) (4)
2 tsps. ginger (4) (8)
1 tsp. cinnamon (2) (4)
¼ tsp. cloves or allspice (½) (1)
½ tsp. salt (1) (2)
chopped zest of 1 lemon (2) (4)
1 egg, room temperature (2) (4)
3/8 cup molasses (¾) ()

1. Sift together white flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, & baking powder.
2. Cream together butter, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves or allspice, salt, & lemon zest.
3. Add egg & beat well.
4. Add molasses & beat well.
5. Add dry ingredients in 3 batches, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
6. Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour.
7. Bake cookies at 325° 5-7 minutes (check after 5).

2 egg whites (4) (8)
2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar (4) (8)
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar (¼) (½)
½ tsp. vanilla extract (1) (2)
food coloring or paste colors
lemon juice for diluting

1. Beat egg white to soft peak consistency – use copper or stainless steel bowl, glass if you have to, but not plastic!
2. Add sugar, cream of tartar, & vanilla. Beat to stiff peak consistency.
3. Add coloring in small amounts. Dilute, if necessary, with small amounts of lemon juice to achieve flowing consistency.



Blogger Rooie said...

And a well-deserved win. The Milo cookies are adorable!

7:24 AM  
Blogger nbm said...

you and Milo continue to be a team. congratulations. there were some nice cookies there, but none so witty or so heartfelt as yours.

7:29 AM  
Blogger Cara deBeer said...

dang, lady, that's some impressive baking. All your cookies are belong to us!

10:29 AM  
Anonymous bookowl said...

I thought the recipe for these gorgeous cookies was "call Lisa and be her bestest friend in the whole world," then I realized that you already live with him :)

Thanks for the recipe, and congratulations on a well-deserved win!

12:11 PM  
Blogger Kaethe said...

It would never have occurred to me that it was possible to imortalize a beloved dog in cookie form. You are THE Master Baker.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Miss T said...

Congratulations! Much deserved--you're a Cookie Goddess. Of course, Milo was there, too. What judge wouldn't pick Milo?

4:32 PM  
Anonymous NancyS said...

Oh, Lisa, congratulations! The cookies are absolutely beautiful. Truly art.

xoxo NancyS

9:42 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

THANK YOU, good buddies. I only wish all my cookies were belong to you. You guys have all moved up to the top of my Future Cookie Recipient List.

And Chris, I have room for lots of bestest friends, never fear. But that was pretty sweet.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Maia said...

Oh! You posted them! Yay! So cool! Those are just ridiculously awesome. Congratulations on winning?

Did you adopt anything off Petfinder yet? I've got an query in about a 125 lb. rottie who likes babies! (To snuggle with, not eat, I assume!).

4:48 PM  
Blogger Kitt said...

Ooooh, those are lovely. Milo lives on in your heart and your art.

Merry, merry Christmas to you.

12:23 AM  
Blogger Kitt said...

I have a request: Could you please post your favorite food links in your sidebar? Not that I really need more blogs to follow, but I've liked the ones I've gotten from you before, and I'm sure you have more!

7:31 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Absolutely. Just give me until tomorrow to collect myself [sober up] [where the hell is the strikeout formatting on this thing?] and I will do just that.

12:14 AM  

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