Thursday, June 23, 2016

Buttery Snickerdoodles

Way in the way back of middle school, we had Home Ec where we had an entire unit devoted to microwave cooking. We also learned how to sew pillows in the shape of letters and pajama pants. Fortunately, we also had a unit on basic cooking like apple pie, pasta sauce, pretzel twists (with premade dough...) and snickerdoodles.

The snickerdoodles were such a success, that my friend and I decided to make them at home too. With our recipe sheet in hand, we divided the wet and dry ingredients and got to work. We immediately ran into trouble when we realized the butter was too hard to cream with the eggs. So we tried to microwave it to melt it but we had already added the eggs so the eggs got a little cooked. And yet, we persevered!

Even when the dough looked all wrong, even when we baked them and nothing happened, even when we waited 20 minutes and the dough hadn't risen or spread or moved at all, we still thought it was a good idea to try them. They were awful. Little clumps of somewhat raw dough with cooked eggs and just awful. After carefully retracing our steps, we realized that while I thought we were dividing the ingredient responsibilities by wet and dry, she was looking at it by column and lost in the confusion was a key ingredient: sugar.

Some things you can get away with forgetting: a pinch of salt, a dash of vanilla extract (purists, look away!) but sugar? No, you cannot make snickerdoodles without sugar.

So we tried again and were extremely successful. In an effort to establish myself as office baker in a new office, I volunteered to make cookies for an office function. Are snickerdoodles strictly American? I'm not sure but they are a quick and easy drop cookie (if 7th graders can make them, 27 year-olds definitely can).

Now, the issue I've run into is my recipes are all in cups which is great because I brought my measuring cups with me. But butter is sold in grams. So 1/2 cup of butter is 1 stick in the US but just about half a block in the UK (sold in 250g blocks, that's 1 cup). Not always a precise science. Also, it took me so long to find cream of tartar but when I did, I was happy to find it in small packets of teaspoon measurements. So easy!

To solidify my role as office baker in London, I made the Pioneer Woman's snickerdoodles for an office gathering. For good measure, I also made Joy the Baker's double chocolate cookies. This was a case of Goldie Locks and the butter. The double chocolate cookies had too little butter so were a bit crunchy. The snickerdoodles had too much butter and rather than being soft and pillowy, spread thin and were crispy. Still delicious and all gone by the end of the party but not quite up to my standards.

The simple answer would be to use recipes in metric but then won't I have to convert my teaspoons too? The plight is real and apparently I'm not the only one who has felt it. This article explained the differences in grams and teaspoons, various measuring techniques and all the struggles. I guess the moral of the story is, it probably won't ever be perfect--much like life--so you just gotta keep stirring.

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