Archive | March, 2010

A Tale of Three Cookie Sheets

21 Mar

Recently, hubby and I trekked to the big city for a cheapo dinner (his favorite kind) and he surprised me by purchasing a chocolate chip cookie for me whilst I was making the obligatory potty stop before the trek back to the wilderness. (So much for sugar detox, right?) I could have looked past the milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet, but Lord, I’ll never forgive the preservatives in those “fresh baked” dailies. It must be bad if I can taste it because unnatural, preserved beyond eternity doesn’t usually bother me at all. I’m just in it for the sugar buzz.

However, had it not been for the laughably bad commercially sold cookie that is marketed as “fresh baked daily,” I never would have been in the mood for a real chocolate chip cookie. Thanks or blame? You decide.

Having nothing better to do, okay- that I wanted to do, I cooked up a scientific experiment.

For my little foray into the scientific world, I used the exact same recipe but 3 different sheet pans/cookie sheets. One is the run of the mill jelly roll pan, one an airbake (which may or may not be a copyrighted term) type, and the last one a non-stick airbake pan. No, I don’t know why I have 3 different cookie sheets in my kitchen. It’s a recent development. I decided to not ask why, but just accept them for who/what they are.

This recipe is for a chewy cookie and experience with it has taught me that if you bake them until they look like all other cookies (that is, nice and brown), they will be as hard as your husband’s head when he thinks mixing your pink shirt with his tighty whities is a stellar way to save time and energy. Each batch of cookies was baked for the exact same time.

First up: the regular airbake pan.

These had to cool longer than usual in order to get them off the sheet in one piece. I assume this is because the pan retains heat longer? Good to know.

Next: the non-stick air bake pan:

As you can see, they are puffier than the other batch. However, they soon deflated to look like all the rest.

Lastly, the jelly roll pan:

I baked them for the same amount of time as the other pans even though (when I’m not experimenting so as to eat cookies without guilt) I normally bake them a minute or two longer. These look under-done. In fact, they looked under-cooked for a full 24 hours. They even tasted a bit like it. Not enough to keep away the chow hounds, but still.

For the last trip through the oven, I used the regular airbake pan again but this time I left them in the oven until they looked like cookies are supposed to look when they are done. They weren’t nearly as soft, yet they never reached the rock solid stage they do when I’ve cooked them for the full time with the jelly roll pan. Still edible, but not as yummy.  At least, not as yummy for those of us who like our cookies chewy.

Side by side comparison in the same order as baked:

Left to right: regular airbake, non-stick airbake, jelly roll pan

Again, left to right: regular airbake, non-stick airbake, jelly roll pan

Once more for the folks with short-term memory loss, left to right: regular airbake, non-stick airbake, jelly roll pan

Below is the last batch that I baked until brown. “How dry I am! How dry I am!”

What, you might ask, did I learn from this experiment? Nada dang thing. Except my cookie recipe is soooo much better than the ones for 2 bucks at that one restaurant. You know, the one with the subs. They should stick to bread and meat. 

Clean up volunteers get a free cookie!

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Blech! I now officially hate shaped pans!

6 Mar

Hello all, Frosting chick here.  As you may or may not have gathered by now, I’m not a big user or fan of shaped pans.  I guess they kind of come in handy, as far as a decorating guide, especially when making trade marked characters, but over all, I’m a carving kind of girl.  That got reaffirmed recently, when I had an order for a doll cake.  You know the ones, the cake part is shaped like a ball gown, and folks usually use some cheap/chintzy doll picks for the rest of the babe.  Well, first of all, I hate the picks.  I like using the full bodied doll.  Now, with my extensive (read: ONE doll cake) experience, I thought I should give the shaped pan a try.  I’ve had it for almost a year now, and finally got an order for a doll cake, so what the heck?  If I had to choose one word for the experience, it would be (#)@&*#$(*&%)#(*(*@!!!!! screamed loudly at this miserable failure.  I’m not denying that there  could be some operator error here, but damn, it shouldn’t be this bad!

Now, this is after an HOUR of baking.  Yes, an hour.  Used my trusty cake tester, it came out clean.  How could I have misread a thin metal wire that gets stuck into cake? “Impossible!” I say, but apparently not.  I sat the cake out to cool, walked by about 20 minutes later, and the above is what I found.  CRAP!  what to do!?!?!  I did what any resourceful young lady would do, I slapped that sucker back in the oven.  Alas, ’twas all in vain.  Thought I could at least salvage the cone part, but that’s where all the unbaked batter had sunk to.  It’s currently back in the oven, if nothing else, I can feed the fam some failure cake.  And that was not meant to be either.  I mean, I love my family, couldn’t possibly let them near it, no matter how much the hubby clapped in delight at the thought of cake in the house…

I mean, it’s not like I haven’t done a doll cake before…..

but it was 4 round cakes and carved.  I really REALLY wanted this pan to work.  I hate having something around, especially something cake related, that I’m not using.

Side note:  Fondant chick is at this very moment reading this, grasping at her string of pearls and fanning herself at the blasphemy I’m spewing.  She loves her some shaped pans and has quite the collection.  She could open her own “Shaped Cake Pan” museum (and cakery) with just what she has tucked away in her cake closet (and I’m not sure that the “man of the house” is even aware of her addiction).  She’s got a mean “shaped pan radar”, the likes of which I’ve never seen.  We went yard sale-ing last spring and that girl was on it!  We had pans out the ying-yang.  I frequently receive e-mails (while I’m stuck in my cubicle furiously pounding away on the computer for the man) of her latest pan acquisitions, it’s crazy!

Alright, onward and upward.  I’ve baked new cakes, have them carved, covered, and ready to go. 

Thanks to the powers that be that invented adjustable shelves in a ‘fridge!  Much better than that stupid, ignorant, icky shaped pan.  Which, by the way, while I REALLY wanted to take a hammer to that sucker out in my driveway, I have found it a nice home, with another home baker.  I warned her how much I hate it & the problems I had with it, and she’s graciously accepted it anyway.  Kind of reminds me of the old joke “EW, this is horrible, taste this!”, but instead was more like “Hey, I have this doll pan, and I hate it, want it?” she – “Sure, how much do you want for it?” me – “Just take the damn thing.  It sucks and I don’t like it.”  I guess one cakers hate is another cakers treasure.

So, how about you?  Got any cake horror stories you’d like to share?

PS: Fondant chick and I are heading to the home show tomorrow, will hopefully get to meet Mary Alice and Geof Manthorne from “Ace of Cakes”.  Wish us luck!

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