I like things that are clean and elegant. Life feels more manageable when you take away the fuss. Who needs bells and whistles when you can have the good stuff, the real quality.
I wish I applied this idea to all area of my life. Instead, it permeates only 8.23% of my decisions. I strive to think this way in terms of my spending habits, especially with clothing. Less is more, quality over quantity. Unfortunately, I don’t always succeed. The one area in which I can follow this advice moderately well and, gasp, even achieve great results? Baking, especially cookies.
When I was home for December, I went into Barnes and Nobles one cold cloudy day and began rummaging around the cookbooks. Admist the stacks of books about cake pops and other gimmicky desserts, I found The Art of French Baking.
The book is beautifully simple and understated, even the directions are barebones. Most of the recipes aren’t photographed and there are no descriptions. The only way to know how the dessert looks and tastes is to make it yourself.
Usually, I choose what I want to make based upon the gorgeousness of the cookbook’s photos. Don’t you? In fact, I’ve read that more and more cookbooks are being released that photograph each recipe. While I understand the appeal, I must say that there is something lovely about the surprise you get from jumping in and choosing without the perfectly styled picture on the opposing page.
Without the overly crafted descriptions to guide me, I began baking the from the cookie section. The first (un-photographed) recipe? Sweet Slices. Doesn’t the name just sound adorable?
The dough gave me some difficulty. My fear of following less-than-explicit directions got the better of me when adding the egg into the batter; I kept doubting myself. Although I’ve been improvising more and more when baking, I still feel much more comfortable with a strict set of rules to guide me. These recipes, I can tell, will be a challenge.
One that I am looking forward to overcoming.
My dough was extremely sandy, so much so that I wasn’t able to roll them out as indicated. Instead, I took a piece of dough, patted it into a rectangle and cut out the individual cookies from that. The cookies broke a bit as I transferred them onto the baking sheet, but held up just fine in the oven. The recipe also called for superfine sugar. I just used regular sugar without grinding it. This could have been partly to blame for the excess sandiness.
These cookies taste just like you think they would. Simple, but flavorful. Home-y, but with just a touch of sophistication. If this is an indicator of the other recipes lying within The Art of French Baking, then all I can say is that I can’t wait to continue baking through it.
Do you like to follow recipes when baking/cooking?