How Not To Bake Cookies & Other Kitchen Lessons Learned the Hard Way
"Why is baking so ?#&*@$! hard?!" I had the phone cradled between my ear and the crook of my shoulder, my (brand-new) rolling pin in hand trying to roll through rock solid cookie dough.
"Baking isn't hard. It's precise." My best friend replied. She has a very matter of fact way of speaking and a culinary queen. And whenever I have a kitchen question, she's the first person I call.
A few weeks ago, I hosted a party and I had this idea to bake sugar cookies. I've never baked any kind of cookie from scratch before but figured, how hard could it be? I'm not much of a baker. My skills are pretty basic. But every so often, I go through a phase where I decide I'm going to embrace my domestic diva and go crazy in la cocina. Hence - my desire to bake cookies from scratch.
Needless to say, it was a cookietastrophe and two hours later I called my BFF back and asked her to bring cookies to the party. Precision isn't my thing.
But out of every kitchen fail comes a lesson learned!
7 Kitchen Tips Based on Mistakes I've Made in the Past
Baking Sugar/Cut Out Cookies.
1. When you take the cookie dough out of the fridge, let it sit out for a while before attempting to roll out. BUT don't let it sit out too long, otherwise it will get all gooey and gross and impossible to cut out.
2. Apparently, cookie cutters only work with a sugar cookie recipe. Never attempt using with an oatmeal cookie mix.
Wax Paper vs Parchment Paper.
3. They are different. Do not attempt to use wax paper to bake anything. On Thanksgiving I made sweet potato wedges in honey and other gooey goodness. In an attempt to make my clean up easier, I lined my baking sheet with wax paper assuming it was the same as parchment paper. The wax paper melted all over the baking sheet and well, the clean up wasn't that easy.
Since then, I've stuck to using wax paper for cold/room temp stuff and parchment paper for baking stuff.
When Trying a New Recipe for the First Time.
4. Read - don't skim - the instructions. And then reread them. A few weeks ago, I attempted to make cilantro rice. I skipped the step where it said to blend the cilantro before adding to rice. And that's why my cilantro rice did not turn green.
5. Never make a something for the first time for an occasion when you're in a rush. See lessons 1 - 4.
6. I like brown sugar. I use it for baking and cooking. But every time I go to use it it's hard as a rock. Thinking it's gone bad - I toss the box and send my husband out for a fresh one. But did you know you can soften it in the microwave? I literally just read this on the box the other day. You know how many practically full boxes of brown sugar I've thrown away? It's embarrassing.
There are 2 ways to soften brown sugar.
Microwave: Place hard brown sugar in microwave safe bowl. Cover with damp paper towels. Tightly cover bowl with plastic wrap and heat for 30 second intervals until soft. Use immediately.
Overnight: Place hard brown sugar in bowl. Cover with two damp paper towels. Cover with plastic wrap or foil. Let stand over night at room temperature.
7. NEVER use a paper towel as a pot holder. Not only did I burn my hand but the paper towel caught on fire.
I think it's pretty obvious that I make dumb mistakes in the kitchen. But to my credit, I never make the same mistake twice. What valuable lessons have you learned from your kitchen fails?