Tag Archives: holidays

Baking day

So... much... sugar...

So… much… sugar…

Today is baking day with Marc’s mom, in preparation for the Jewish holidays. It’s early in the day yet: there are only 6 types of cookies made so far. We’ve still got plenty more to go, not to mention some bar cookies and maybe some cakes.¬†(*dies of sugar overdose*)

Holiday baking 2012

Holiday cookies for everyone!

Holiday cookies for everyone!

It’s that time of year again… time for more holiday baking! This year we had chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, gingerbread teddy bears, sugar cookie stars, and dark-chocolate cranberry icebox cookies. About 20 recipients got nice, full tins as their holiday presents. And now I’m wiped. Excuse me while I go collapse.

 

Holiday Baking: round four

Man, was I a klutz tonight. If a thing could be dropped, spilled, knocked into something else, or used to cut my hand open, it was. (Don’t ask about that last one. Just trust me.) Thankfully, that didn’t seem to affect the outcome of the cookies, which all turned out fine.

On tonight’s agenda was supposed to be one batch of spritz cookies (out of two), but Marc was around and willing to help, and they actually went pretty fast because you can fit a whole lot of spritz cookies on a baking sheet at once. (They don’t spread; I think we were able to fit about three dozen per sheet.) So, as per last year, I made up the batch and manipulated the cookie press, and Marc put the sprinkles. Working at a moderate pace, we were able to get everything done (including cooling and putting away) in about two and a half hours, which I think is pretty darn good. I think in the end we have 12-15 dozen. I didn’t count precisely. (Too much happening too fast.)

It’s good that Marc was home too, because I needed his manly hand strength to open the cookie press a few times. I don’t know why it sealed so tightly, but it did. (And before anyone asks, yes, I did use the “wrap a towel around it” trick. No dice.)

Of all the cookie doughs I’ve made so far, these were probably the easiest, and aside from putting on the sprinkles, the fastest to prep. They were also fastest to cook, though this was a bit trickier. For some reason, all the batches took different amounts of time. Some were overbaked at six and a quarter minutes, others were underbaked at seven and a half. Still, they all came out fine, and none were burnt, so all’s well.

And that, I think, is that. Unless I want to do my super-secret special project, I’m pretty much done until I have to package everything up. I’ve got twenty or so recipients, who should be receiving about 30-32 cookies each. Which is pretty good for a Christmas present, I think.

Excuse me while I collapse now.

Holiday Baking: round three

Yet again, another day without a major catastrophe. The plan today was to bake the four batches of snickerdoodles I prepped yesterday. I had a suspicion, though, that it would take me longer to roll out a dozen balls, coat them in cinnamon-sugar, and squish them down than I’d have available to me if I were going full-tilt in baking. I did a timed test run around 10:30, and, indeed, it took too long. (About 3-4 minutes, when I’ve only got two and a half.) So I spent an hour rolling seventeen dozen dough balls, all ready to go. The dough softened up quite a bit over the course of this, so I put all the dough balls into the fridge to cool down for a while.

It took me a while to figure out the right timing for these cookies. Eight minutes was clearly too long, seven just a touch too short. I wound up settling on 7 minutes and 15 seconds, which worked out okay. I think the sugar on the bottom of the cookie was throwing me off a bit, but I sampled two (for science!) and they taste great, so I’m not too worried.

In any case, the first batch went into the oven around 11:30 the last came out around 2:00. Given another 15-20 minutes to cool off the last batches, and I figure I’ve been in the hot kitchen about four and a half hours today. I have no idea how Marc’s mom manages her 9-hour baking marathons. I’m pooped!

Thankfully, no prep to do now. I’m off tomorrow — I’ve got D&D, and one must have priorities in life — and then Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll be making spritz cookies, which don’t need a long chill time.

My mom will be over shortly to pick up all the cookies I’ve made so far to store them at her house. She’s got a large freezer and I’ve got a teeny-tiny one. Thanks, Mom! So that’s it for now.

Holiday Baking: round two

Today’s baking was long but thankfully uneventful. I realized last night that I was running low on quite a few things, or at least would run low if I made four batches of snickerdoodles as opposed to the three I was planning. So my wonderful, wonderful mother came over this morning with a bagful of baking staples (flour, sugar, vanilla, butter, wax paper, etc.) and also some large containers I could put the finished cookies in.

I started baking around 10:00, and finished around 1:30. The bigger cookies (and bigger here, obviously, is only comparative) took about 9 minutes each; the smaller ones somewhere between 7 1/2 and 8. Which pretty much meant I got 2-3 minutes of free time per cookie batch, all things considered. But thankfully there were no disastrous events, no injuries… just lots and lots of time. Twenty-five dozen chocolate chip cookies. Whew!

Then I made up two double-batches of snickerdoodle dough, to bake tomorrow. And now I’m done. Time to play Game of Thrones.

Holiday Baking: round one

Today’s game plan (slightly modified from originally intended): prepare chocolate chip cookies batch #2 and #3, roll all chocolate chip cookies into dough balls.

The first part of this plan was quite simple, actually. Learning from Wednesday’s minor inefficiencies, I made sure I had the eggs at room temperature, the butter nice and soft, and the big bowls out and ready to go. I had to refill the flour container and open a new bag of chocolate chips, but everything went pretty swimmingly.

My original plan had been to bake a batch of the chocolate chip cookies tonight, but since I have a few hours more tomorrow than anticipated, I decided to put it off. Instead, I chose to roll all the dough into balls so that I could just put them on the baking sheets tomorrow and go. (Because of the relatively short baking time, the need to turn them midway through, and the fact that I only have two good baking sheets and am constantly in motion while baking, I like to have the dough in ready-to-go balls beforehand.)

This, my friends, took time. A lot of time.

The dough that had been sitting in the fridge since Wednesday (batch #1) was quite hard and required a bit of force to pry apart with a spoon in order to roll. Batches #2 and #3 went smoother, having only been in the fridge an hour or so when I took them out to roll them.

The good news is it’s all done. The bad news is I think I may have messed up the sizes. I was anticipating (based on past results) that this dough would give me 5-6 dozen per batch. The first batch I rolled out gave me 10 dozen. (!) Deliberately rolling larger balls for the other two batches, I got slightly more than 7 dozen for each of them. So this means that instead of the intended 15-18 dozen cookies, I’ll actually have about 25 dozen. Which is great in that my cookie recipients get more cookies each, and bad in that I have to sit around and bake them all tomorrow.

As I recall, these cookies don’t spread too much. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to fit more than a dozen of the smaller ones on the tray at a time. Oh, well. We’ll see what happens.

The plan for tomorrow (round two): Bake all 25 dozen chocolate chip cookies, prep 3-4 batches of snickerdoodles. Also: send Marc out for more sugar, because I think I’m going to run out. For now: sleep, glorious sleep.

Holiday Baking: Pre-game warmup

I’ve got six days of holiday baking scheduled this year, not counting tonight. This is partly because I learned my lesson about 6-hour baking days last year, and partly because I simply don’t have time to do very much baking on any given day, between work and various social commitments. I was getting so stressed for a while — 40 dozen cookies in two weeks, with tons of other time commitments! — that I made up a schedule of what I had to do on each day. Today’s task: prep the first batch of chocolate chip cookies and get them chilling so I can bake them on Friday.

As I did last year, I’m prepping all the dough by hand, which takes a little longer but requires far less cleanup. (I truly hate cleaning my food processor, and I don’t have a stand mixer of a hand mixer.)

In the end, it took me 25 minutes from the time I walked into the kitchen until I put the dough in the fridge. Not bad, all things considered. I was very smart and took the butter out of the fridge this morning, so it was super-soft and easy to work with by the time I came home this evening. Definitely gonna do that again. Sadly, forgot to take out the eggs when I started prepping, so I lost a few minutes bringing them up to room temperature. (Put eggs in large glass, put warm water in glass, swish eggs around a while, dump out water and replace with more warm water, repeat.)

I used smaller mixing bowls than usual (my 2nd and 3rd largest, instead of my two largest), which was a mistake. It works for other, smaller cookie recipes, but this one is too big. For the next two batches of this dough, I need the big bowls. In the end, I did the final mixing of the dough with my bare hands — the wooden spoon wasn’t getting the little flour bits off the bottom of the bowl. I mixed in the chocolate chips the same way.

So anyway, I’ve got dough in the fridge. It’ll be baked on Friday and replaced by two more bundles of dough, etc ad nauseam for the next week and a half. And, yes, I’m going to be posting about it every time I bake. For posterity. If you don’t like it, no one’s forcing you to read.

For now, shower and bedtime. It’s gonna be a long couple of weeks.