A lot of my posts on this blog are going to be baking based. There’s a simple reason for this; I’m a baker. I actually bake cakes for a living. Someone pays me (weekly as well!) to make cakes, and other things like flapjack and shortbread, but mostly cake.
Its a pretty sweet job (excuse the pun) but it can take the joy out of baking sometimes when you’re repeating the same thing day-in day-out so I don’t bake as much as I used to at home. In fact if I wasn’t selling cupcakes for sponsorship towards my Race for Life I would rarely bake at all. I do love baking though! When I get some free time. It’s the reason I became a baker, funnily enough, and I do pretty well at it, within the first 6 months of becoming a baker I had won a National competition for concocting a Mulled Wine cupcake, met Mary Berry and got a trophy ‘n all! I’ve been on holiday from work for 2 weeks now and if it wasn’t for the fact I was out of the country for the first week then I would probably be having a bake sale right now in my front garden with the abundance of treats I’d made – light bulb moment! I have managed to get in the kitchen every day since though.
I had a fear of cookies. No, let me re-phrase, I’ve always feared making cookies. I tried a few times but they never came out of the oven as I was hoping they would. So I stopped trying. I wanted chewy cookies like you get from the supermarket ‘bakery’ section. But they ever were! (You’d be excused for thinking a baker could make cookies but the bakery I work for don’t make them so I’ve never been taught) So anyway on day two of ‘Lauren in the Kitchen’ I was using up some egg whites from day one and made some meringues. I’ve made meringues before, always use a pretty staple recipe of about 50g caster sugar to each egg white, but I remembered how one time I had been instructed, in a recipe for a pavlova, to add a teaspoon of corn flour and a teaspoon of vinegar. So I added some corn flour and vinegar to my meringue, piped them into nests and baked (or rather ‘dried’) them at a low temperature. When they came out of the oven and were cooled I dug straight into one… it was gooey and light, crisp on the outside fluffy like marshmallow on the inside, just divine. I noticed how the additional ingredients had somehow altered the end product of the meringue.
Of course for most professionals and even non-professionals this is obvious. I, however, don’t make meringues at work, that’s a different section (as is choux pastry, another tricky bake) and have not studied food technology past GSCE so my knowledge of cornflour stretched as far as ‘it thickens stuff up-duhhh’. Since I practically thought I was Eisenstein I went online and printed myself off the first cookie recipe I could find. My basic knowledge of a biscuit recipe could have sufficed but I needed the safety net of a tried-and-tested recipe. I altered it a bit that night scribbling across the piece of paper, a little less flour here, a little more vanilla there until I had what I thought would make the perfect chewy cookies.
Heres how it went.
Day 3 of ‘Lauren in the Kitchen’
Yield:16 (Depends on desired size)
- 280g Plain flour
- 1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of soda
- 1 teaspoon Corn flour
- 175g Butter, melted (It must be real butter, salted/unsalted doesn’t really matter, if you use unsalted just add 1/2 teaspoon of salt)
- 250g Caster sugar
- 1 large egg & 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon Vanilla extract
- 185g Chocolate pieces (chips/chunks etc I used M&M’s)
Begin by sieving the flour, bicarb, corn flour & salt (if necessary) into a large mixing bowl, set to one side.
In another bowl take the melted butter and whisk in the sugar (a hand whisk is sufficient so no need to get the electric mixer out) once you’re confident no lumps of sugar remain whisk in the eggs & the vanilla.
Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients and with a wooden spoon or spatula mix together slowly.
Fold in your chosen ‘chip’ (as I mentioned above I’m using M&M’s). If the ‘chips’ don’t stick very well don’t worry, try to evenly distribute them throughout the dough and once the mixture is chilled they should stick like glue (the pritt stick kind).
Cover the dough and chill for an hour.
Take your chilled dough and on a lightly floured surface (only enough flour to ensure the dough wont stick to the surface) roll it into a ball. Wrap the ball in cling-film and pop back into the fridge for another hour.
At this point the butter should have cooled completely and your chips should stay well put within the dough. Lightly flour your surface again and roll the stiff dough out in front of you like a sausage. How thick you roll it is up to you, the wider they are the wider they will spread in the oven but you will get less out, the thinner they are the smaller they will be but you may get 20-25!
Wrap up your dough once more and place back in the fridge for another hour.
Right before you take the dough out of the fridge set your oven to 180oc (160 for Fan assisted ovens). Prepare your baking trays with grease proof/parchment paper and remove your rolled dough from the fridge. Chop your dough into pieces (again size is completely dependable on what you want, a thicker piece of dough will have more to melt and spread out but might also be a thicker cookie where as a thin piece will spread out quickly and may not take as long to bake). Space them out on your baking trays giving plenty of room for them to spread out and pop them in the oven.
They take about 13 minutes to bake, less if you’ve cut thin pieces, more if you’ve cut thick pieces. When you come to taking the cookies out they will look and feel uncooked in the middle. They’re not, they’re perfect! Leave them to cool on the trays for 10-15 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely before scoffing.
The cookies will last a day or so before someone eats them all.
In all seriousness though, they’ll be good to eat for about a week after baking.
You can freeze the cookie dough but because it contains egg you cannot defrost it and re-freeze. If you intend to freeze your dough I suggest you chop it into pieces beforehand that way they’re easier to pries apart from one another and you can have them as and when you require.
Try experimenting with different ingredients! I know I will be doing.