And about every recipe - including the one published today from Salt Lake's Normandie Cafe & Bakery for Angie McDougall - calls for "creaming" the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Many may not realize this is one of the most important steps in baking recipes, explains Sarah Phillips in Baking 911: Rescue from Recipe Disaster (Fireside Book; $14). Creaming introduces air into the mixture and makes it light and fluffy.
Phillips said it usually takes between 5 and 10 minutes on medium speed to reach the right texture and pale ivory color. Be careful not to overbeat as the butter can soften too much, diminishing its ability to hold air.
Phillips offers a few clues to determine if you have creamed properly: Volume of the butter and sugar has increased; color of the butter has become lighter, usually a pale ivory; texture becomes fluffy; the mixture has numerous ridges in it from the beaters and is sticky when they are lifted; the mixture coats the bottom and slightly up the sides of the bowl; and when touched, it will have the consistency of thick, gritty (from the sugar) facial cream.
Requests: Vickie Striegel has lost a favorite recipe for Italian cheese bread. "It was rolled like a log and filled with Parmesan and Romano cheeses," she writes.
Heather Lloyd would like a recipe for caramel coffee cake, similar to what is served at The Dodo Restaurant, which does not give out recipes. This treat is similar to a spice cake with coconut that is topped with warm homemade caramel sauce just before serving.
Requests and responses must include first and last name and a daytime telephone number. Send to Cuisine Quest, c/o The Salt Lake Tribune, 90 S. 400 West, Suite 700, Salt Lake City, UT 84101, or e-mail email@example.com.
Sugar cookies a la Normandie
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons baking powder
7 cups flour, approximately
Egg wash, optional
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time until combined. Add the milk and vanilla. (The mixture will appear curdled; this is OK.) Mix in the salt, baking powder, and enough flour to make a manageable dough that is not too sticky and can be rolled easily.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured countertop. Cut into desired shapes. Place the shapes on an ungreased baking sheet.
In a small bowl, combine the egg and water, if desired. Brush the tops of the cookies with egg wash.
Bake the cookies for 8 to 12 minutes or until the bottom of cookies just begins to turn brown.
Frost with favorite buttercream frosting.
Makes about 5 dozen, medium-sized cookies.
- Janet Andrew, Normandie Cafe & Bakery