Sunday, December 20, 2009

Making cookies and measuring up

The thing that stresses me out about the holidays?

It's the baking.

I suck at it.

But I try every year. I want to have some traditions to pass on to my kids, so I make three kinds of cookies. One is an Italian cookie, a dry vanilla or anise based recipe that gets dipped in sugar. Tasty and fun for Girlie to help with. One is an almond cookie, round and coated with powdered sugar. I've heard them called wedding cakes or almond balls. The third cookie alternates and this year it will be an Italian oatmeal with cinnamon and cherry juice.

While my girlfriends are banging out homemade limoncello and a croquembouche, I am toiling away at three kinds of cookies. Should be simple enough, but it never is.

I blame it on my math deficiencies. On the almond balls, for example, I had to sift 3/4 cups of powdered sugar with 4 cups of cake flour. Of course you can't sift that much flour at a time, so I measured it out in 4 batches, and divided the powdered sugar accordingly. Except halfway into it, I notice that I picked up the 1/3 cup and not the 1/4, but I've already put 2/3 of the powdered sugar in.

Then I spend a full fifteen minutes trying to figure out if 2/3 is greater or less than 3/4. By the time I get it right, I have forgotten how much flour I put in. Was it 2 cups or 3 already? And the mixture is sifted, so I can't start over. So it's the math thing, and possibly the short attention span.

The womenfolk in my family were master bakers and maybe that is what I am trying to measure up to. My grandmother's two sisters used to make handmade chocolates at easter - crosses, bunnies, and little egg nests made of coconut. They probably whipped out twenty varieties of cookies at Christmas.

My mother in law, also a great baker, says I need a stand mixer. I usually do everything with a hand held fifteen dollar whiz bang that we got as a wedding present.

Maybe the mixer would help, but I can't see spending hundreds of dollars on one just to whip out crappy cookies a few times a year. Kind of like buying some fancy skis when you spend most of the time of your every other year ski trip on the bunny slopes. You buy skis when you're good, until then you make do with the busted up rentals.

Anyway, I need to run because the oven is chiming and my last batch of crumbly almond wedding balls are ready to come out. I should start on the oatmeal next, but I'm not going to.

I'm going to take a nap instead.

1 comment:

latisha said...

i hate it too. its the chemistry. the right amount of sodas and powders and such. good luck. drew's forcing me to do it this year. he'll be doing much of the work...i'll be sneaking a little pepermint schnapps in my cocoa and supervising.

good for you for trying.