Beads of sweat build up on your forehead; your pulse races and your breathing is shallow and gasping. If this is your reaction to the thought of spending a weekend baking in your kitchen, rather than what you look like after a workout, here are a few tips from the pro to help make this holiday activity a bit sweeter.
November is always a challenging month: clocks are turned back an hour, days start to get shorter and cold mornings begin with scraping frost off the car windshield.
I love to start planning for the upcoming holiday season to help brighten the gray days. Magazine racks showcase the holidays with decorating, baking and gift-giving ideas. I love to see what new holiday baking is on-trend for the season and what traditional recipes are still the highlight.
My family has a pretty traditional take on each of the holidays, and, even more so this year as tradition seems to bring comfort and normalcy to the season. Starting each November, I like to make a variety of cookies. This typically includes a favourite for each family member that will be joining us over the holidays. I create a few family favourites, then search magazines and online blogs to see if there are a few more recipes that could become a new favourite.
Most cookies can be frozen for up to two to three months, so starting your baking in November is a great way to get started on your holiday to-do list.
- Use room temperature butter
Butter should be soft to the touch, creating a light indent when pushed with your
finger. If you forgot to take the butter out of the fridge early to let it soften, cut it into chunks and leave on the counter for 30 minutes to soften.
- Measure dry ingredients correctly
The best way to make the perfect cookie is to accurately measure the dry ingredients. Yes, there are dry measuring cups and liquid measuring cups. Dry measuring cups allow you to level the top for an even measure. Spoon the flour loosely into the measuring cup, don’t SCOOP! Ultimately, the most accurate way to measure is with a scale.
- Add flour in batches
Adding the flour all at once can cause you to overmix your batter, creating a dense, dry cookie. Adding dry ingredients in batches along with liquids allows easier mixing, incorporating all the ingredients quicker with less mixing.
- Line the pans with parchment paper
Lining your pans with parchment paper helps to keep cookies from spreading more than they should. The cookies will slide off the paper easily. When cutting bars, leave an overhang of parchment to use as handles to remove the bars from the pan for cutting. All said and done, parchment makes clean up a breeze.
- Use a cookie scoop
A cookie scoop creates uniform portions of cookie dough. This will help with even baking, prevents the cookies from spreading and will keep all your cookies the same size.
- Space cookies evenly apart
Space cookies about two inches apart so they don’t spread into each other as they bake.
- Know your oven
All ovens are different. Some are too hot, others not hot enough. Always have an oven thermometer in your oven to ensure you know the exact temperature. Some ovens have hot spots. Rotating your pans halfway through the baking with ensure even baking.
Now that you know it is ‘no sweat’ to create great cookies, I hope these tips have encouraged you to get back into the kitchen and bake up a storm. If you put on some music, you can boogie around and make it a great workout, too.
We would love to know your favourite holiday cookie, so please share in the comments below.
Also, we love to drool so please share your photos with us!