This is the season for baking. Even those of you who seldom bake may wander into the kitchen, recipe in hand, revved up and ready to stir up a favorite batch of cookies, banana bread or other treat that makes the Christmas season so joyous.
Baking fills the house with the aroma of spices, vanilla and other delicious scents, creating a holiday spirit. Some bake for the sheer joy of it and are amazed that flour, sugar, eggs and a few other ingredients combine to make beautiful cookies, breads and other goodies. Some of you bake to share — several of my friends bake dozens of cookies to give to neighbors. Some skilled bakers will try more challenging recipes just for the fun of it.
On Saturday afternoon, I invite you to stop by Cooking at Bonnie’s Place, where I will be autographing my cookbook, “Cooking With Bonnie: Farm To France.” At 1:15 p.m., I will conduct a complimentary cooking demonstration featuring one of the recipes from my cookbook. I would love to visit with you and hope you will join me for a cup of coffee while you relax in my kitchen, enjoy the demonstration and sample the recipe of the day, as well as my freshly baked homemade cinnamon rolls. As always, I welcome your questions, and here are the ones I have received this week that relate to baking:
Q: Why do cookie and cake recipes usually say to add eggs one at a time? Why can’t they just all be added at once?
A: There is a scientific reason for adding eggs one at a time. Eggs are primarily water, and in baking, they are usually added to a butter mixture. Water and fat are difficult to combine. The addition of one egg at a time lessens the concentration of fat, making the eggs easier to mix into the batter.
Q: Why do some recipes say to sift flour and others do not?
A: Sifting is necessary when making a very light product such as angel food cake. However, the alternate method of stirring, scooping and leveling off is fine for most recipes. Both methods will produce a cup of all-purpose flour that weighs in at 4.5 ounces if done correctly. If you are baking and not measuring the flour correctly, your end product may be less than perfect. Too much flour will produce a heavy or dry baked good.
Conversely, if you did not add enough, your bread or cake may collapse, or your cookies may spread without enough flour to provide the structure needed.
Baking is science-based, and ingredients are formulated in proportions to render an excellent product. One should not tinker too much with the core ingredients in a bakery recipe. Always use proper measuring equipment for the job —good metal measuring cups for dry ingredients and glass measures for wet ingredients and a good set of measuring spoons for smaller ingredients.