This is the time of year that I always want to sit on my hands and hide at the back of the room for the shame. And why? Because it's baking season. Everybody is talking about starting their baking now and freezing their piles and piles of wonderful baked treasures for Christmas time. The grocery stores have special display cases out in the middle of the aisles to store all the extra icing sugar and brown sugar and decorations and dessicated coconut and candied cherries. I just drop my head down and try to slink through baking aisle unnoticed.
It's no secret that the Ladygirls and I don't bake. Bailey downright puts an angry disclaimer on all things having to do with baking. And Kelly blithely turns a blind eye to it completely. They think they just don't have the sensibility for it. And possibly that's true. To really bake well, you must have been exposed to generations of wonderful recipes to share and to have helped your grandma bake pies and squares and cakes and you name it! Baked treats have to be a part of your world. You have to know all the little tricks about dough and batter to really excel.
Unfortunately for us, the timing has been all wrong for the past two generations. 3 for the girls really. My grandmother raised 11 children during the 1930's and the Great Depression when butter and eggs were such a luxury item that you would never waste them on a dessert. And then my mom raised her family in the groovy 1960's when Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines came out with the cake in the box. Sixties moms were all about convenience, so in their mind, only a fool would bake a cake from scratch when you could just buy a boxed mix and add eggs and oil and voila! And not having been exposed to desserts in her lifetime, dessert was never a part of my life. We got cake in a box whenever anybody had a birthday, and if she was in a really fantastic mood, there would be Jello with Cool Whip topping, or those Pilsbury cookies in a tube that you slice and bake. The end. So there was never any inspiration for me to bake. Other than the odd Snack"N Cake, but we all know what we did with them. Hahah. And I don't think I even tasted a coconut macaroon until my own baby shower.
When I had Bailey and Kelly, I really had that Supermom drive in me that they now call Extreme Parenting. So I had a go at baking all sorts of things. I always felt like I had cookie dough up to my elbows and a sink full of bowls and pans and measuring cups and at the end of the day, neither of the girls could care less about it. They were much happier with an ice cream cone for a treat. Who do you think ate all the goods? So I retired from baking altogether. I don't miss it at all until this time of year, and something compels me to buy cocoa powders and custard mix and things that will sit in the cupboard for years to come, untouched. I was even thinking of buying some measuring spoons. But for cooking, as opposed to baking, the palm of your hand is the best measuring spoon going.
So last year, I found a really easy shortbread recipe and made cookies to take to an open house. I bought a festive cookie tin to put them in and everything! And guess what - I got compliments on them!! So now this is my go to recipe for all things to do with baking. Except my Nanaimo Bars which are killer. But they aren't baked. But I'll share them with you on my next post.
1/2 cup of cornstarch
1/2 cup of icing sugar
1 cup of flour
3/4 cup of room temperature butter
Sift all your dry ingredients together, stir them around and blend in your butter with a wooden spoon until your dough is nice and soft. Shape them into little balls, about half the size of a golf ball and flatten them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, with a fork or the bottom of a glass. Bake at 350 on the middle rack for about 15 -20 minutes. Let them cool before you take them off the parchment paper. You can add sprinkles or icing or those really amazing little silver balls that could break your molars in half, but it's worth it because they are so beautiful! These cookies will melt in your mouth and they are delicious and easy, and that's my kind of baking!
Editor's note: We just added these photos! We also added a teaspoon of rosewater and a tablespoon of lavender to these cookies for some extra flavour!