BAKING is the least of my skills. I’m a boil, fry and grill guy. Baking?
Let’s just say, yes, the least of my skills and yet bake I did all week long with my nephew, Pannon. My Aunt Tita Blitte, cousin Dona and Peetong, her husband, provided me with “cookies” of wisdom from failed attempts at making sugar cookies.
RECIPE. The ingredients for sugar cookies look tame and uncomplicated. What could go wrong with the chemistry among common kitchen elements such as butter, flour, sugar and vanilla? But before I get lost in my meandering thoughts, here’s the recipe from Two Sisters: 3 c. all-purpose flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1 c. butter, 1 c sugar, 1 egg (beaten), 1 tbsp vanilla. Oh yes, preheat the oven to 350F.
I’m weak in the science of baking, so I halved the recipe to be safe. I was still in the experimental stage.
BALANCE. Many websites say baking is an exact science and art, so that adding more or less than required can alter the outcome. The bread turns out rock hard or cooked outside but still doughy inside.
The same is true with cookies.
This is Peetong’s cookie of wisdom: In all you do, aim for balance. Obey instructions, especially when it comes to baking.
Wanting more of that buttery taste, I used more butter than needed. My cookies were spread too much, baked too fast and still raw at the center. Pannon and I had a great time nibbling the edges of the cookies. Next day, we were ready to start again.
My next error was rolling out the dough too thinly. I ended up with fragile cookies that everybody in the house enjoyed anyway. But they were not Baking Show beauties.
TOO THINLY. Dona said we tend to spread ourselves too thinly with work or duties at home for example.
Don’t spread yourself too thinly. You will end up having too little or nothing for yourself, becoming fragile in body and soul. Be kind to yourself.
No “me time?” Sure you do. Take mini-vacations or what Dona calls small breaks. Close your eyes for five minutes to visualize a dream vacation spot. Enjoy a cup of coffee with a virtual co-worker or just sit on the porch to watch the world go by.
Aim for 1/4 inch right thickness when rolling out the cookie dough. This tiny detail makes a huge impact on the outcome of the cookie. And on life.
SIMPLE. I used fancy cookie cutters, ending up with unevenly baked cookies. My Aunt told me the “Golden Rule” is simplicity.
The Pandemic has taught us to value what is essential: food, shelter, good health and family.
Round is a good cookie shape. Embellish it later with frosting, nuts or whatever you want to gain a fancy look.