Thursday, December 23, 2010

The bakery.

Baking, at Christmas time, is what keeps me going: it's the star, shining from a long way off, that calls me to the birthplace of a little thing we call winter break. When I'm grading, it's baking that awaits me at the end of my labors. It is my reward.

Today--the 23rd of December--is when the baking commenced this year, which meant that I had a lot of time to think fleeting thoughts about what I would bake, once I could bake. One scheme I cooked up included using a pan I have that holds nine tiny loaves to bake teeny tiny chocolate babkas. Remember babka? Wouldn't that have been clever?

Then I looked at the chunk of Caillebaut chocolate I had in my pantry and thought, (a) I am not grinding that up with sugar and cinnamon, and (b) if I were to grind it up, and all that that implies, I would not give it to random strangers, aka neighbors, because . . .

. . . what? you say that's kind of un-Christmas-y? You're probably right. But in defense of my Grinchy, it's possible I haven't had a very good run at Christmas yet. Anyway, back to baking:

Will there be sugar cookies? I don't know. Just like grinding up the chocolate for the theoretical babka, chilling the dough and rolling it out and cutting it and decorating it--the basic Nine Labors of Sugar Cookies--sounds hella arduous in the darkest hours of the year. So as of now, there is no sugar cookie on deck, though this decision could be revisited at the least provocation.

I have likewise deleted the Date Nut Pinwheel, venerable among the cookies of my people, from the roster. Two words: Pin Wheel. This is a cookie with a filling, the people. A cooked filling, which must be cooked and cooled and then spread on the delectable yet somehow always very soft and thus tear-able dough. Nix.

So today I made the Oat Shortbread of my friend Lis, which is delicious but turned out very fragile. Not a good giving away cookie, therefore. Also, I made Maple Sugar Shortbread. Not yet baked, so we'll see how it fares.

In cookie innovation--or, if you like, on the cookie frontier--I have made Ciambelle, which I believe must be an Italian cookie, or else a European fake of an Italian cookie. I got the recipe from Martha Stewart, who put out another special cookie issue; this magazine consoled me in the dark hours before I could actually start baking. I recommend these cookies. They are lemony, as they have finely grated lemon zest in them and lemon juice in the glaze. I happened to have some Meyer lemons lying around, which made them all the better. They are shaped like wreaths and thus look festive and clever.

The picture in the magazine had them decorated with white non pareils, which looks very suave, but in my book, if you're putting on sprinkles, why shouldn't they be in color? Answer: they should be.

4 comments:

Amelia said...

I am glad the baking has been so successful. I am girding up my loins for round two of baking and cleaning today!

Nik said...

I am in awe. Although I've made a couple of savory dinners, no cookie dough has passed through my hands. Perhaps that's what's not quite right about this...

Emma J said...

There are many reasons I love reading your blog - among them
that everything you write is delicious . . .

Have a very merry Christmas, dear Lisa B.

Dr Write said...

We made our sugar cookies on Christmas eve, which seems wrong. I made only three cookies this year, which seemed sufficient.
I think I need a cookie.

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