I love hearing how different people do their holiday baking. Some start weeks in advance preparing and freezing. Others participate in cookie swaps to exchange and learn recipes. My girlfriend spent three straight days, Friday – Sunday baking with her mom, batch after batch of holiday cookies. She also described it as baking and drinking (to keep the enthusiasm going).
Each year I comb through my recipes, make a list, and then run out of steam and end up baking only half of my intention. I love new recipes but I just can’t go without the old favorites, frosted sugar cookies and spritz. I’ve tried newer versions but they never are as good. Both recipes come from my well worn 1963 Betty Crocker Cookie Cookbook. As far back as I can recall, I remember my mom and I baking these same cookies year after year.One year I bought a new cookie press, dumb idea. The new one made it maybe 2 years before warping out of shape and yesterday it hit the trash in favor of the old aluminum one my mom had. Over time I’ve tried to change ingredients under the guise of being healthier, unsalted butter for margarine, etc. but they never turn out the same. Tip: In the old days they used salted butter, substituting un-salted can make for bland flavorless cookies. Of course I have to play with the colors too, gel colors don’t mess up the batter or stain your hands. These spritz cookies remind me of poinsettias.
If you have the KitchenAid Stand mixer, this plastic pouring shield is the best accessory. It keeps the flour and other ingredients from flying about the kitchen.Armed with a 2ft square by 8″ high box full of cookie cutters collected over the years, the old-fashioned ones from my childhood are a time -tested favorite. No tight corners for the cookie dough to get stuck in and break off. I do stick with just a few so as to better manage the following day’s hours of frosting. My mom used a Tupperware mat to roll out dough on, so do I but they don’t make them the same as they used to mine has separated and needs replacing. Crap, I just checked the website, they don’t make them period! Tear-fest.
In a pinch Siplat baking mats work pretty good for rolling out dough on or to bake on when the recipe calls for a greased baking sheet. It takes hours, but I enjoy the frosting part the best. My husband kept checking on me (to see if I was done yet) and observed no assembly-line method would work, I have to do the Christmas trees one at a time. Gel food coloring is by far the best advancement. That old liquid stuff never produced the saturation level of color I require for frosting.
So in my 40 some years of baking, yes I started young, I’ve learned that while the world has progressed and technology has changed, at the holidays there is nothing quite like the old fashioned cookie. There is no substitute or shortcut for a good recipe.