Monday, January 21, 2008


Yes, these cookies scoff at you. Or at me, that is. The marriage of cinnamon and sugar seemed just right for a desire to bake born of a day off work (Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed of cinnamon sugar. A little-known fact.) and *just* enough time having elapsed since the last baking disaster. At the risk of sounding like Rachael Ray, I seriously cannot bake. When I bake, things turn out fine. Or, as you will see here, about 50% fine. But never ... transcendent. That's ok, because I'm not really crazy for sweets. Still, try Giada de Laurentiis' florentines some time. I guarantee yours will be orange-scented, almondy doilies of deliciousness. Mine were soppy nut-butter pancakes.

So, with baking amnesia firmly in place, I embarked on this snickerdoodle recipe. For one thing, it's Cooking Light: no guilt. Secondly, I had all but one of the ingredients (the egg ... after some mental anguish, I decided to take "'Best by December 30" on the ones in the fridge at its word) already on hand. So after a quick run to the grocery store, I was ready to doodle. Note: If you are anywhere near the Woodside, and think it is advisable to go to the Bruno's because the desperate state of that store means that is where your bra-less-ness will have the least likelihood of being noticed, you are correct. However, the aforementioned desolation attracts crazies of all shapes and sizes, and I can't promise a stringy-haired man? Maybe? Won't make a noise in your direction that's something between a groan of appreciation and a burp. You have been warned.

Into the pretty stainless bowl went two sugars (granulated and light brown) and some lightly microwaved butter. I don't have the time or patience for "softening," my friends. Which may be at the root of my remedial baking skills and a harbinger of things to come.

Then the egg and the vanilla get a whirl. Isn't she a lovely mixer? Her name is Coppertone, and she was a gift from the father figure. He will have to partake of the doodles for this contribution. She is the most beautiful appliance in all the Woodside.

Dry ingredients go in the tub. I don't understand all of the panic about over! mixing! because I've never tasted anything, even from a novice, that made me think, "Oof. CLEARLY mixed for four hours instead of 30 seconds. What a shame." I just mix it until it looks ... mixed. There were some careful words about flour measuring, too, involving spooning flour into the measuring cups and leveling with a knife. I was as consistent as I could be, but the clean measuring cups I have go from this:

to this:

which seems kicky, but really just makes me skeptical. I recently discovered I have been feeding J less than his allotted amount because the 1-cup measure had half collapsed and I didn't notice. Well-intentioned technological failure, or chronic attention-paying problem? We may never know. Also, Dear Santa: I need a new whisk. I don't know what this shady piece of worthlessness is, but it sucks.

After the dough had quickly mixed, I set to forming it into balls. The recipe said it should form 30, and of course I came up with ... 29. So these are all 1/30th bigger than they ought to be. See that strange little white dish? That's full of cinnamon sugar. It's a completely pointless yet somehow irresistible piece of china, which has no match in my kitchen and virtually no use. It's small, and it has a silly handle. But it was perfect for this purpose. All those little dough boys got a liberal dunking in cinnamon sugar and then plopped onto two baking sheets.

And into the oven. Which is where the problem developed. They only have to cook for eight minutes (awesome!) or, the recipe says, "until tops crack." As you will see, my tops never cracked, but that was the least of my worries. The top pan came out beautiful and golden, but not cracked, while the bottom pan came out ... billowing smoke. These are moderately acceptable snickerdoodles:

These, it takes no expert to note:

are not. So there you have it. From 29 snickerdoodles to 14. Well, technically, 13. I had to eat one. Here's how they looked on my modified cookie rack (otherwise known as that stupid "browning rack" that came with my microwave and officially browns nothing).

Pretty, no? You'd never guess that the smell of warm cinnamon and sweet sugar was overwhelmed by the rankness of char. The other 15 took a swift trip to garbage town. Next time, I'll probably take the oven liner out from under the second pan. Or ... put the racks further than 1 inch apart. Or ... use cinnamon that's not six years old (it smelled fine, but had lost most of its punch).

Or maybe I just won't bake again until I forget this experiment. That's a pretty safe bet.


Unknown says:
at: 3:18 PM said...

I think that there are several ways to have 30 (count 'em,30) lovely cinnamon-y snickerdoodles, but alas, you would then end up with a much more boring blog, not to mention a few extra calories consumed. first of all, I saw nothing wrong with your mixing technique, but I would suggest losing the foil on your pans (lazy girl--don't like to clean up,huh!) in favor of Silpat, the modern silicone marvel which turns out perfect cookies every time! Also, take the extra time (eight whole minutes, for crying out loud) to bake the pans one at a time on the appropriate (NOT bottom) rack. Try again and I'm sure you'll be delighted, not to mention amazed at the improvement. And I'll be glad to help you eat the extra 16 cookies!

K. says:
at: 3:39 PM said...

parentheticals (and) name-calling (are) too (confusing) for (this) forum!!



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I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. I'm totally devoted to my remarkable nieces and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.