Break the Rules (If You Know How)

I have been trying to write a final Food It Yourself Garden 2018 wrap up for weeks. However, it keeps raining and I can’t get pictures of the current state of the garden (s). If it stops raining before it starts snowing I’ll get to that post.

In the mean time, I have been quite busy. Among other commitments, I have jumped into the rotation of Fellowship Hosts at church; I serve coffee and sweets while we chitchat after worship. This Sunday, it is my turn to serve and I decided on the perennial favorite and consummate classic: snickerdoodle cookies. I first thought to call my sister and ask her for our Gammy Ceddia’s recipe. Then I remembered that I do not need a billion cookies. King Arthur Flour has this recipe that claims to make three and a half dozen, which is much more the quantity I need. 

D0ttMatriX was oddly fascinated by my baking.

Snickerdoodles are a very basic cookie.  You sift together flour, baking powder and a little salt. In another bowl, you smash some butter and sugar together (a process the cheffy types call “creaming”) then mix in one egg and some vanilla…but I’m out of vanilla. And it is raining and I don’t want to go back out. DIYet skills to the rescue!

Yes, your home economics teacher may have told you (as mine did) that you can not change baking recipes as the results can be unpredictable and lead to all kinds of terrible results. That is not totally true though. You just have to know how to bend the rules.  Although lacking in vanilla, my pantry had a plethora of sweet spices. Brown sugar goes well with sweet spices… here is what I did.

One and one third cup of flour stayed the same. So did the quarter teaspoon salt and teaspoon of baking powder. I added one half teaspoon allspice, one teaspoon of cinnamon and one tablespoon (yes, the big one) of ginger.  Yes, those spices count as extra dry ingredients. No, my cookies will not be dry and tough because I know what I am doing.

No change to the half cup (or eight tablespoons, or one stick) of butter, but I used three quarters cup of brown sugar instead of white. The extra moisture in the sugar will help off set the extra volume of dry ingredients from the spices. Like I said, I know what I’m doing.

For the coating, I kept the two tablespoons of white sugar, but used a mix of spices instead of just the snickerdoodle standard cinnamon. I used one half teaspoon allspice, and a teaspoon each cinnamon and ginger. My one cup measure seemed just the right size for the coating. Why dirty up another vessel?

I rolled bits of the dough into balls and tossed each in the spicy, spicy coating. Just in time, the oven hit the prescribed 375˚F. I used a silicone mat on my baking sheet, just in case. If my calculated risk taking does go horribly wrong I will be able to remove the wreckage more easily.  King Arthur’s recipe requires 8-10 minutes of baking, Mine might take more, might take less. I turned the oven light on so I could monitor things.

It took 15 minutes to get cookies that were done but not burned. That is okay. I tried one, and it tasted delicious, to me. We will see what the After Worship crowd thinks. (I will keep you updated, DIYeters.)

I like my cookies enough to give them their own name. Mr. Food It Yourself suggested Dune cookies, because the spice flows in them. I was thinking I might call them Zappa-doodles, as necessity is the Mother of Invention. (Ask a Baby Boomer if you don’t understand why that is funny.) The main idea I hope you take away is that you can not be afraid to mess up. It is true in cooking and it is true in life in general. Once you can make an educated guess about how recipes will react to changes you should try changing your recipes. Yes, even baking recipes. You might just discover a delicious new dish!

What is the best (or worst!) alteration to a recipe you have ever tried? Share in the comments!

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