Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Plain and simple

Folks, this is a lesson on how you should never say never. 

It wasn't too long ago that I declared my dislike for baking cookies. Too time consuming, I said it was. Tedious, even. Besides, I didn't have the patience or the knack for making cookies. 

Well, guess what? I'm now hooked on baking biscuits. What happened? Well, it started with a batch of chocolate chip cookies I baked some time back. They were an experiment: a challenge I posed to myself after watching an episode of Throwdown With Bobby Flay on the Food Network. The cookies turned out great. Everyone I offered it to love it. In fact, my nephew asked for more. My sister-in -law even. My husband too. 

I was on cloud nine. Suddenly, baking cookies didn't seem tedious anymore. Instead, it was strangely satisfying. 

I'm easy, aren't I? (you can't see me but I am cowering in shame).

Encouraged by the success of the choc chip cookies, I recently tried making a batch of Toasted Almond Sables. The French butter cookies turned out great too. Oh my. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it wasn't so difficult. 

I was inspired. More. I want to make more cookies. I settled on making Rachel Allen's basic cookie recipe next. I love watching Rachel Allen's Bake on the food channel. Her cookies always look so yummy and not at all daunting. 

While the basic cookie tastes good in itself (soft, not too sweet or crumbly), it's actually a blank canvas that can be the basis for a variety of flavour combinations: you can add nuts, lemon zest, orange zest, candied peel, dried fruit, spices ... anything you wish, to add flavour and texture to the cookie. 

I decided to jazz my cookie up with lemon zest.  Lemon in any dessert is a winner in my book. 

The cookies turned out well. They were light, buttery but not too much. The lemon added a sparkle to the cookie. A tangy pop. Next time, I'm going to try adding some nuts. 

Yes, next time. I'm hooked!

Basic Cookie (with lemon zest)

225g unsalted butter, softened
110g Castor sugar
275g all purpose flour
2 tbsp lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Cream the butter in the mixer until, well, creamy. Add the sugar and mix till light and fluffy. Gradually add the flour and zest till a dough forms. Be gentle. The gentler you are, the more tender your cookie. 

Spoon walnut sized portions of the dough on a lined baking tray and flatted the balls with the back of a spoon. To avoid the dough sticking to the spoon as you do this, coat it lightly with flour. 

Bake for about 13-15 minutes. The cookies will be soft when you take the out but fret not, they will harden as they cool. 

Sprinkle some snow sugar/icing sugar over the cookies. Don't worry, they won't be too sweet. 

To eat? These babies are best dunked in a hot cup of tea. Or coffee, I suppose. I wouldn't no, cos I never drink coffee.

Oh there I go again: never say never I say!

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