Monday, January 27, 2014

Adventures in Baking

I mentioned on Friday that I'm not a baking aficionado.  I made my first ever pie back in October with the help of David and I've assisted my mom in making her famous chocolate cake in the past, but when it comes to baking cookies, my abilities have never really extended past Break and Bake.

I jumped at the opportunity to try my baking hand and offered to make the cookies for my sister's bridal shower.  Not only that, I was going to make both gluten free and regular cookies since there are several gluten intolerances in my family.

I did a lot of research trying to find the perfect recipes, and I ultimately settled upon a Betty Crocker gluten free sugar cookie recipe, and the Pioneer Woman's Favorite Sugar Cookie Dough recipe.  The gluten free cookies were made first so that the flour of the latter recipe wouldn't contaminate the kitchen.  I was especially nervous to make the gluten free cookies though because I wanted to make the cookies in the shape of J's and C's (the initials of my sister and her fiance), but the recipe called for forming the dough into balls.  I went out on a whim though and gave it my best shot.

Overall, the recipe was ridiculously easy.  However, the only wet ingredients were an egg, a teaspoon of vanilla, and a stick of butter.  The dough was too crumbly though, so I added a half teaspoon of water at a time until the dough began to take shape.  I added about 2-3 teaspoons in total.  Then I chilled the dough for an hour before rolling it out.

I rolled out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and proceeded to stamp out the cookies.  The dough was really hard to work with, and the letters had to be reshaped before being put on the cookie sheet, but eventually, it worked out.

The cookies baked for 6-7 minutes before they were taken out, and although they morphed in shape a little bit more than intended, they tasted amazing.  They did not taste gluten free at all

I recommend using butter cream frosting for the sugar cookies--it added the perfect touch!
After the gluten free cookies were done and put away, the regular cookies came next.  I used the recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays recipe book, but I altered it somewhat.  First off, I halved the recipe, and that worked great.  Secondly, I decided spur of the moment that I wanted to make lemon cookies instead of just plain sugar cookies.  I made the following substitutions: the original halved recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon orange zest; I used the zest of one whole lemon (not entirely sure how many teaspoons that came out too).  Also, the halved recipe called for 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon whole milk.  Instead, I used 5 teaspoons of lemon juice.

Thus, my lemon cookies were born.

After the dough was complete, I chilled it in the freezer for half an hour before rolling it out.  It was much easier this time to use the cookie cutters, and these cookies also cooked in the oven for 6 minutes exactly.  They maintained their shape much better than the gluten free cookies, and they tasted just as delicious.  They had just the right amount of lemon-iness, and they ended up being a huge hit at the bridal shower.  Many people said that they were very good!

Lemon cookies with cream cheese frosting--the frosting was a great complement to the lemon without overpowering it.
Overall, I'd say that I had a great first foray into the world of cookie baking :)

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