Baking

Cookie Baking Secrets

There’s one thing I know and that is how to bake a cookie. Actually, at this time of the year I usually bake hundreds of cookies and over the years I’ve learned a thing or two. Today, in preparation of the cookie baking season, I’d like to share with you some of my tips.

#1
Chill It Baby
Chill cookie dough for rolled, shaped and dropped cookies. And because your cookie dough is probably large you’ll want to divide it into batches so that you’re always working with chilled dough. If you need to roll your dough for your recipe, be sure to divide into disks, roll, then chill.

#2
Soften Just Right
To cream butter perfectly for your recipe you need to begin with soften butter. Lightly press your index finger into the stick of butter. Your finger should just start to indent the surface. If that occurs, you’re good to go. If you’re butter is too soft it will cause the dough to spread, if it’s too firm it will hinder the creaming process.

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#3
Keep It Uniform
One of the best tools you’ll add to your kitchen will be a cookie scoop. These scoops make cookies perfectly portioned which will result in same size, evenly baked cookies every time.

#4
Timing Is Everything
Don’t forget to set your oven timer and it’s a good idea to set it a couple of minutes earlier than instructed on the recipe because each oven is different. Until you know the exact baking time for that cookie in your oven it doesn’t hurt to take this extra step.

#5
Cold Sheets
Use cold or room temperature cookie sheets for baking. Don’t put cookies on warm or hot sheets because if you do the cookie dough will spread and you won’t get the cookies you are hoping for.

#6
Just A Dusting
Use as little flour as possible when you are rolling out cookie dough. You don’t want a tough cookie.

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#7
Measure, Measure, Measure
Use dry measuring cups not liquid measuring cups when measuring out the dry ingredients for your cookie dough. Be sure to level off your flour with a straight edge utensil.

Simple, quick tips that will make cookie baking so easy. We all have tips in the kitchen and this time of the year we all can appreciate a little help, so what’s your best, favorite, go-to tip for baking?

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Baking

Irish Soda Bread

This weekend I have one main objective – baking Soda bread for friends and neighbors. I love this time of the year. The days are getting longer, spring is just around the corner and it’s time to make Irish Soda Bread. I love, love, love this bread. Simple, rustic and every bite is a little reminder of my great-grandparents who came over here from Ireland to start a new life here in America. The simplicity of this bread makes it convenient to have on a regular basis but I usually keep it for St. Patrick’s day and maybe a couple more times throughout the year because I cannot stop eating it. Did I say that I love this bread?

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Once all the ingredients are mixed together, I turn it out onto the counter to form into a loaf.

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Right before you put the loaf into the oven, you need to cut a cross in the top of the bread. It has been said that by cutting the cross you ward off the devil, or you let the fairies out, or you are blessing the bread. Oh, legend and symbolism. But I think the real reason is to let thickest part of the bread expand as it rises. I admit, when I cut the bread I did tell the pups, Susie & Billy, that I was letting the fairies out. What? It’s a cute story.

Irish Soda Bread

I always make this bread on a pizza stone. I find the crust turns out perfect every time. I love the contrast between the crustiness and the slightly sweet, moist interior. I also love being able to whip several loaves in one day because it’s so easy to make. After I have my loaves cooled, I make my rounds to deliver soda bread to my neighbors and co-workers. When I’m carrying one of these loaves, my neighbors and friends are very happy to see this Irish-American gal. 🙂

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Nothing is better on a chilly March day than a slice of Soda bread slathered with some Kerrygold butter. And now it’s time to share my family’s recipe.

Soda Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbs unsalted butter
1 cup raisins
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg

Directions

Preheat over 400 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine the first five ingredients and stir to mix well.

Add the butter and combine until the butter is well blended into the dry ingredients.

Stir in the raisins.

In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk and egg together then mix into the dough mixture with a spatula.

Turn the dough on on a floured work surface and fold it over (do not knead) several times, shaping into a round loaf. Transfer the loaf to a baking sheet covered with parchment and cut a cross in the top.

Bake 15 minutes on 400 degrees. Then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 15-20 minutes longer, until browned slightly and a toothpick poked into center of loaf emerges clean.

Cool the soda bread on a rack then serve.

Enjoy!

Baking

A Tasty & Healthy Cookie

What do get when you add pumpkin, spices and dark chocolate chips together? One tasty cookie! Last fall I stumbled upon this recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies and knew I had to make them for Thanksgiving. Christmas. And recently for a friend’s birthday.

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There are a few things to love about this cookie. First, it’s healthy. Who doesn’t love a guilt-free cookie? Whole-wheat flour, pumpkin (naturally packed with benefits including Vitamin C, Vitamin A and fiber to name a few) and dark chocolate all mixed into one cookie (or two…three). Second, they are light in texture. Third, they don’t trigger a sweet attack. You know, where you eat one and before you realize you’ve cleaned out the whole cookie jar. And one more thing, this recipe is easy to make. Healthy and easy and tasty. What more could you ask from a cookie?

Since this recipe isn’t my own you’ll have to visit the Culinary Institute of America for the recipe.

Lets have one more look at these cookies. 🙂

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Happy Baking!