09 December 2020

Baking Tips and Tricks from an Indie Author

The Christmas cookie baking season is in full swing. Whether you're a first-time baker or an experienced pastry chef, I have answers to some of the most common questions about baking holiday cookies.

Many of us play into the dramatics of baking the perfect Christmas cookies and cakes just to wow family members and friends when, in reality, things don't need to be nearly that complicated. Delicious cookies don't have to be difficult to make. 

What would the holiday season be without Christmas cookies? Nothing completes the most wonderful time of the year like the scent of oranges, cinnamon, and vanilla beans, and the enjoyment we get from biting into one of those crispy cookies.

The cold winter days just before Christmas are ideal for baking those delicious treats everyone seems to enjoy. So, spoil your loved ones with the finest baked goods. Tempting recipes for luxurious cookies with rich chocolate and nuts will delight some, while others will be thrilled to munch on goodies filled with candied fruits and seasoned with exotic spices. But no matter their preference, everyone will agree when it comes to classic Christmas cookies: They are a must during the holiday season, as they are linked to those precious memories of Christmas' past. Cookies naturally turn the holiday season into bite-sized moments of pure bliss. 

A. Piper Burgi's Christmas recipe book is available
exclusively at www.blurb.com

In our efforts to socially distance and help stop the spread of COVID-19, many of us will be skipping big family get-togethers and bake our own treats for the first time. To help readers who are taking on this task solo, I've collected some of my most commonly asked questions about cookie baking and complied my responses in the Q&A below. 

Almost every baker has experienced these kinds of dilemmas: The dough is made, but when it's time to use it, the rude awakening comes. The mixture crumbles, sticks to everything, can't be rolled out, or the cookies end up burnt. But with these little tips and tricks, you should be able to salvage the situation or avoid these mishaps altogether.

What to do when...

...the shortcrust dough just falls apart?

This often happens when the dough was kneaded too long. Add some egg white. 

...the beaten egg white won't form stiff peaks?

A pinch of salt or a squirt of lemon juice should remedy the situation.

...the dough is sticky and can't be rolled out?

Put the dough into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to half an hour. It's always easier to work with a properly cooled dough.

...the dough sticks to the cookie cutters?

Keep a shallow bowl of flour or sugar nearby and dip the cookie cutters into it before every use. Remove any dough remnants with a pastry brush. 

...the cookies bake to varying degrees?

It begins when you roll out the dough. To ensure you roll it out evenly, place two sticks on either side of the dough to guide you. If the cookies still don't bake evenly, take the baking sheet out of the oven halfway through the baking process, turn it 180 degrees, and put it back in the oven. 

...the cookies stick to the baking sheet and break?

Put the baking sheet back in the oven for a couple of minutes. Warm cookies are easier to remove than cold ones. And next time, don't forget to line your baking sheet with parchment paper!

...the sugar glaze doesn't stick to the cookies?

Add a few drops of lemon juice or water to the glaze. It's also helpful to remove any remnants of flour from the cookies by carefully brushing them off with a small pastry brush.

How to avoid baking mishaps in the first place!

The Perfect Shortcrust Dough

All ingredients should be at room temperature, even the butter. That way, the dough can be kneaded quickly, which will prevent the dough from turning crumbly. 

Silky-smooth Melted Chocolate

Chocolate must be tempered correctly to ensure it won't turn crumbly or form gray streaks. If you're in a hurry, you may add some coconut or peanut oil. Never add water or milk to the melted chocolate to ensure it stays fluid.

Separate Eggs

It is best to separate eggs individually over a cup. This prevents any yolk from ending up in the egg whites, which won't form stiff peaks when whisked. 

Impeccable Cookies

When working with cookie cutters, one of the greatest challenges is moving the cookies onto the baking sheet in one piece. That's why it's a good idea to roll out the dough directly on the parchment paper, press the cookie cutters into the dough, and then remove the excess.

You can find more baking tips and tricks in my book:

Wishing everyone a merry holiday season and Happy Baking!


Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added five historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her MajestyThe Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, The Perpetual Traveler, and Excerpts from the Imperial Diary. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebookInstagram, and Goodreads.

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