Monday, January 15, 2007

The Trials of Baking

Original posting date: January 12, 2007

Ever since mid-December, when my coworker Kate gave me her old, unwanted Kitchenaid mixer, I have had the biggest urge to bake. To date, I have used the mixer a handful of times to make cranberry and chocolate scones, butterscotch blondies, chocolate mousse, pate sucree (pastry dough), and maybe one or two other things that I have now forgotten.

After work today, I decided to make both sweet and savory foods using my mixer. For Christmas, Annie gave me a gorgeous red tin of sugar cookie mix from Williams Sonoma, so I mixed up a batch of sugar cookie dough which looks good enough to eat already but must be refrigerated for four hours before being rolled out. I also tried out the dough hook attachment for the first time, using it to knead a dough for pull-apart garlic bread. I'm rather disappointed though - I forgot to add 3 tablespoons of sugar, which may prevent the yeast from doing its full duty. In addition, the dough seemed a bit dry and did not roll into a ball easily, so I'm skeptical as to its outcome.

Results: As usual, Tom and I made too much food for dinner so we didn't have room for the sugar cookies. Good thing the dough can stay in the fridge for up to 3 days. We'll roll it out into cute shapes tomorrow and drizzle them with melted chocolate when they're done. As for the bread, I was a little worried when it came out feeling quite hard, but the middle was still soft and chewy and it had a fairly decent savory flavor. The sugar may have helped give it more depth but it still wasn't bad for my first attempt at bread-making!

More results: I made the sugar cookies the day after whipping up the batch of dough. After letting it rest for half an hour on the counter, I rolled it out to about a 1/4" thickness, cut it into circles with a small water glass, and cut delightful little shapes out of the centers using mini-cookie cutters that Annie got me along with the sugar cookie mix. Baking at 325F for 12 minutes resulted in slightly too-crisp cookies that I let cool and drizzled with melted chocolate/milk. Next time I think I'll make them a little thicker and bake them for less time. Oh well, lessons learned!

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