Monday, August 30, 2010
Happy Monday, folks!
Back in the kitchen today baking cookies. After all the cake, frosting and fondant I was working with last week, simple cookies sound wonderful. In fact, perhaps I'll make a theme of it this week. Nothing but cookies.
I can do that and recharge my exhausted baking batteries.
So this recipe is an adaptation of one of the first cookies I ever baked. A basic Snickerdoodle recipe from my ancient, tattered Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Mother Humble taught me how to make cookies with this recipe, demonstrating that how you make and bake cookies makes all the difference in the end result. She taught me to use high quality ingredients, how to properly cream butter and how to aim for slightly under-baking chewy cookies to give them the best texture when fully cool.
When my own batch of the ubiquitous Better Homes and Garden's recipe took a place for best in show for baking at the state fair when I was seven or eight, it cementing into my child-brain that good technique and quality ingredients are key to baking well.
Today we're taking that same old recipe, and putting a citrus twist on it. These lemon snickerdoodles are fragrant with lemon, soft and chewy, yet pack a big sugar crunch.
Simple and delicious.
Ms. Humble's Lemon Snickerdoodles
yields 3 dozen cookies
adapted from BH&G New Cookbook
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, room temperature (but still firm)
1 cup granulated sugar
zest of two large lemons
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup coarse sugar or sanding sugar for rolling
Zest your lemons over your mixing bowl to capture any of the oils released. Be careful to remove only the lemon's zest and not the bitter white pith. A microplane makes easy work of this and produces very fine zest.
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or hand beaters, cream together the butter, lemon zest and sugar on medium-high speed for several minutes until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and mix in the egg and vanilla. Add the cream of tartar and baking soda then the flour, mixing until it forms a uniform dough.
Turn out the moist dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, form into a rough rectangle and wrap in plastic. Place the dough into the refrigerator and allow to chill for several hours or over night. This will make the dough easier to handle and will prevent the cookies from melting too quickly (resulting in flat crinkly edges) when you put them into the oven.
When you're ready to roll and bake, pre-heat your oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment or silicone baking mats.
Roll your dough into one inch balls and then roll each in a bowl of sanding or coarse sugar.
Arrange the balls on your pan, giving them plenty of room to spread.
Bake the cookies for approximately 10 minutes on the lower-middle rack of your oven. Remove from the pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.