Next Stop: America’s Best Baking Challenge or not

  I’ve been on a little kick here lately watching The Great British Baking Show with Paul Hollywood (gorgeous blue eyes) and Mary Berry (the dignified doyenne of baking) ((Yes, I had to look up the word ‘doyenne’. It is the nice way of calling someone old or senior in their profession.))
Anyhoo, I absolutely fell in love with the contestants with their naturally messy hair, crooked smiles, amazing skills and heartfelt love for each other. Unlike the American version with a few bakers wearing waayy too much makeup, some slamming cupboards, and one particularly big head making snide remarks. In the British show, the contestants cheered eachother on, while in the good old US of A we saw temperatures rise, refrigerator doors left open and the squashing of a few soufflés.(Very sad.)

On Wednesday nights a group of sweet ladies come to my house for bible study. I try to have something a little sweet to eat to go with our decaf coffee. I’m ashamed to say that I have served cake from Panera Bread and even offered the cheating break n’ bake cookies from the refrigerator section of the grocery store. HEAVENS TO BETSY! If Paul or Mary ever found out of my slovenly work…oh dear.

Well, after watching the first season of British tarts, sponges and biscuits, I got inspired to do more baking. Last Wednesday, I made a cream cheese pound cake which turned out quite dense and not very good, if I say so myself. 

So this week, I decided to keep it simple and bake a batch of sugar biscuits. Or sugar cookies as you Yanks would call them. I pulled my trusty red and white checked Better Homes and Gardens cook book out of the cabinet and found Best Loved Melt-in-Your Mouth Sugar Cookies. 

 It has to be a winner.  

  The first batch I baked on a Silpat baking sheet. Using an ice cream scoop, I placed the freshly mixed dough on the silicon sheet. When baked, the batter spread out and did not brown.

The recipe said to not let the edges brown. (And I had the voices of my guys in my head saying “I like soft cookies and wiggly bacon.)  

 So the next batch, I used the same scoop, but baked them on a regular metal pan with parchment paper. Personally, I like the color of the bottoms, but if sweet Mary Berry were to look at them she would shake head in disappointment over the sinking tops. Hmmmm what to do…. 

 For the third batch, I went back to the Silpat, but used chilled dough instead. Would that make a difference? Not much. 

 The experiment continued with the fourth batch. I used chilled dough on the dark pan with parchment paper and flattened the balls of dough slightly before baking. I’m thinking these are lovely biscuits! 

 Then of course my last batch turns out like this! Paul would turn these puppies over, scratch the bottoms and look at me with those piercing blue eyes and said ” These are over baked. I’m not sure I can eat this.” To that, I’d probably wipe away a nervous tear, take a big ol bite out  one of the brown cookies and say “I appreciate that Mr. Blue Eyes, I mean Paul, but for me….I like my cookies crunchy and my bacon crispy.” 

  So I won’t be invited to compete in the next baking competition, but at bible study tonight, we’re going to have a sweet time.

 I do have to say that one bright shining star of the American Baking Competition, was Francine Bryson. She schooled up old Paul, (yup, Paul Hollywood judged for this show also), on the deliciousness of chocolate, peanut butter and bacon all in one pie! He had serious doubts as she was making it, but after one forkful, he is a BELIEVER! Francine was a runner-up in the competition, but came out way ahead of the winner in class, humbleness and great baking. 

I have to be honest with myself. I will never make it onto a baking show. I probably won’t ever try to bake my own croissants, Victoria Sponge cakes or Schichttorte. But I just might give my hand at baking  Purdy’s Peppermint Pie, “Slap-Yo-Momma” Fudge Cookies (which Jeff Foxworthy, the host, had to translate to the British judge), a salted caramel cheesecake and maybe even a cast iron skillet of Redneck Cracklin’ Corn Bread!

Hey! Thanks for dropping by Ya’ll! 


Sending Some Ho Ho Ho

20131210-073551.jpgWhat is the first thing these guys ask for every Christmas season?

20131210-073649.jpgReindeer cookies!

20131210-073728.jpgHere is the super easy recipe for these delicious cookies. You will need Refrigerated Peanut Butter Cookie Dough in the tube, small pretzels, M&Ms, (and I usually use chocolate chips, but I didn’t have them, so I didn’t use them! So there.)

20131210-074210.jpgAfter slicing the dough into 1/4inch-1/2 inch circles, my assistant pinches the bottom to form the reindeer chin.

20131210-074358.jpgI guess you could turn them into skulls for Halloween or a snowman, if you look at it upside down or even light bulbs for Thomas Edison Day! (Is there such a day? Oh well….)

20131210-074614.jpgNow add pretzels for the antlers.

20131210-074715.jpgDon’t worry about if the pretzels are broken. I think it gives the reindeer some character.

20131210-074821.jpgTime to give these sweet guys some eyes and a nose. I usually use chocolate chips, turned upside down-flat side up, for the eyes. But as you know I don’t have any, so…..We are using the green candies for the eyes and red for the nose.

20131210-075035.jpgOne issue I have to deal with is the number of red M&Ms that are left in my hand. What’s a girl to do?

20131210-075248.jpgSam is hoping one will jump off the tray. A few weeks ago, I made some cookies and while they were cooling on the rack, I went to vacuum. When I walked back into the kitchen, there was an empty cooling rack on the floor! Sam innocently sat there wagging her tail. Needless to say, she got kicked outside. Anyway…bake the cookies for 10 min at 350 degrees.

20131210-075719.jpg“Psst….Do You Hear What I hear?”

20131210-075835.jpg“Ah shucks…I think I’m sweet on you.”

20131210-080022.jpg“Dear Santa- I want a dolly and he wants a truck.”

20131210-080150.jpg“With bows in my hair, I’m ready for the party!”

20131210-080233.jpg“Wrinkles don’t mean I’m just old. These are lines of living!”

20131210-080355.jpgSo, see that handsome kid in uniform there on the left? Well, he’s starting his college exams this week. What would help him study and succeed during this stressful time? Reindeer Cookies!!! A box has been packed and shipped to Charleston. Enjoy, Sweet boy!

Do you have any special treats that you bake or make during the Christmas season? Share with me in the comment section below! Thanks for stopping by!