Spreading Joy with Quick Breads: Cookies, Muffins, Brownies

We spent the last two days finishing off our survey of quick breads with muffins, cookies, and Betty Crocker’s favorite, brownies.  Though I’m not yet a patissier, I’ve already learned a couple of valuable lessons.

Blueberry muffins and brownies

First, don’t trust a partner to measure your ingredients.  We worked in pairs to prepare an entire sheet pan of brownies.  While I was off carefully melting our unsweetened chocolate and butter mixture, my partner, who is ordinarily pretty Sharp and is one of my culinary buddies, measured our dry ingredients.  Professional bakers measure by weight on a scale, not by volume in cups, so it’s a little trickier at first.  Somewhere along the way we messed up, because our brownies were dense and dry, not the gooey chocolatey goodness they were supposed to be.  Personally I think he added too much flour but it’s still a mystery that not even our instructor could unlock.  Sorry pard’ner, I’m blaming you for this one.

My blueberry muffins, which I did all on my own, turned out fluffly, light, perfect.

Chocolate chip cookies

Yesterday we moved on to cookies, where I learned my second imporant lesson.  Cooking in a professional kitchen is not like cooking by myself in my kitchen at home where I control everything.  For one thing, it’s about 30 degrees hotter in LCB’s kitchen.  That means your butter melts faster, a bad thing when it comes to cookies.  More often than not we need to stop to chill our batter before baking.  For another, I need to share an oven with about 5 other people.  We haven’t yet mastered working together to put our trays in at the same time so oven doors are constantly opening and closing, letting the precious heat escape.  Cookie rule number 1: when you put your cookies in an oven that’s not up to temperature, this happens:

Peanut butter cookies for evaluation

Spread.  Oh death.  (Side note 1: I don’t know why, but every time I think about spread this song pops into my head, replace “sprawl” with “spread.”  Could be because I LOVE that song, it’s a personal mantra of sorts.)  If spread has happened to you, you know how frustrating it is.  (Side note 2: the divine David Lebovitz, a blogger favorite, has a helpful post detailing why cookies spread and how to prevent it, here.)  My chocolate chip cookies otherwise turned out fine, and upon tasting them my instructor gave me a thumbs up despite the dreaded spread, which happened to nearly everybody on cookie day.

By my second batch of cookies, peanut butter, I had learned my lesson, and waited patiently until others chose their ovens before I found one that everybody else forgot existed.  And wouldn’t you know it, perfect!  I’ve never been a fan of peanut butter, but if you are, then this one’s for you: Peanut butter cookie recipe below.

Peanut butter cookies and milk

Today in baking class: yeast breads (baguettes!).  How French!  More soon…

Peanut butter cookies

Serves 12-20
Prep time 1 hour
Cook time 12 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 12 minutes
Meal type Dessert

Ingredients

  • 12 oz Butter, unsalted (Cold)
  • 8 oz Brown sugar
  • 8 oz Granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 12 oz Peanut butter (Smooth is preferred)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
  • 16 oz Pastry flour ((you can use all purpose too))
  • 1 teaspoon Baking soda
  • Extra sugar (to top cookies)

Note

Adapted from Le Cordon Bleu's recipe

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. In a mixer, add cold butter in chunks along with and brown and granulated sugar. Mix on low until butter is creamed together.
3. Add peanut butter and mix until just combined.
4. Add eggs and mix on low until just combined.
5. In a separate bowl, sift flour, salt, and baking soda together.
6. Add flour mixture in thirds to sugar mixture, mixing on low speed to incorporate 1/3 at a time, or by hand until just combined. DO NOT OVER MIX (or your cookies will spread).
7. Chill the batter for 20 minutes (important to prevent spread).
8. Scoop out 1/4 cups of batter and roll into balls. Roll the balls in some granulated sugar until they are coated with a fine dusting of sugar all around. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat and press down lightly with your palm. Take a fork and press into the batter slightly once with the tines, then change direction and press twice to get a cross hatch pattern on the top of the cookie. Sprinkle the top with a little brown sugar or sugar crystals if you have them. Place prepared cookie sheets in the refrigerator again and chill for 30 minutes (again, to prevent spread).
9. Bake for 8-12 minutes until cookies are lightly browned.

Comments

  1. Am I alone in WANTING my cookies too spread? Haha I love flat, soft, cookies and just my luck, most of my cookies turn out thick and puffy :)

  2. to*
    Sorry about the typo!

  3. I love that. If spread is your bag baby, then by all means, just keep creaming your batter and cool down your oven and spread will be yours! ;-)

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