For those of you who know me well, or even if you have perused this blog long enough, you know I am not much of a baker. I just don’t care all that much for sweets, but the reason I don’t bake really has to do more with my ability.
Baking is more of a science to me than savory cooking is. It requires strict guidelines, devout patience and a delicate hand. All of these are difficult for me. I truly enjoy the creativity that exudes from me when I am creating a new recipe, and I feel like when I bake that creativity is zapped. In fact, until recently I felt like those that bake really had no talent, and I kind of looked down on them. Ok, I admitted it!
So lately I have been baking treats at home more frequently than normal, and I came to the realization last night that I actually enjoy doing it. While I was decorating these cookies to bring to my Big Boy’s end of season baseball game, I noticed how all the stress that I has built up all week slipped away as I focused on steadying my hand to make these fine dotted lines for the laces of the baseball. And now I realize the talent that bakers have is that ability to be patient and rigid — which still is not my talent — but I now I know it is an ability that I have in my toolbox.
So with all that said, please be kind when critiquing my baseball laces as this was my first stab at decorating cookies that I feel was a complete success.
There are two girls on the team, so I made a few with pink laces–really that was before I realized I had to use just the food coloring to decorate and NOT mix it with the frosting.
1 cup salted butter
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cooking oil (I used vegetable oil)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
For Meringue Powder Icing:
2 tablespoons meringue powder
2 3/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1. In a large mixing bowl beat the softened butter on medium speed for 30 seconds. Then add powdered sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt and beat on medium speed until fluffy.
2. Add cooking oil, eggs and extract and beat until just combined. Next, gradually beat in as much of the flour as you can, then stir in any remaining flour. Cover and chill dough about 30 minutes or until needed.
3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. When ready shape into 1 1/4-inch balls and arrange the balls 2 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. With the bottom of a glass dipped in flour flatten each ball to about 1/4 inch thick.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool. TIP: if you use parchment paper, you can gently slide the entire paper with the cookies on it to the cooling rack.
5. When cool (waited until the next day, but normally about an hour) make the frosting by beating the meringue powder and 1/4 cup water until combined, then beat in 2 3/4 cups of powdered sugar. Use an offset spatula to spread the thick white frosting. You could also die it with gel food colors at this point too. For the baseballs, I spread the white frosting and let it dry for 20 minutes before using the end of a wooden skewer dipped in red gel food coloring to make the laces.
Makes 4 dozen cookies.
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book, 1998.