I don’t like rainy days. Dark, wet, cold mornings are downright dreary and they tend to drop my mood well below the glass half full zone. I’ve heard some folks describe these rain soakers as “cozy” and “a great day to squirrel away with a good book and a hot cup of tea”. While the tea sounds great, I’ll take a sunny day – warm or cold – over a gray one everyday. Add rain to that gray day and my gloom factor doubles down.
Today is one of those days. Clouds abound, the rain is pounding and the bitter air has me chilled to the bone and feeling more than a bit glum. It would be oh-so easy to slip into a funk and waste away on bad TV and even worse food but on this day I’m choosing to bake. Baking has been my refuge for as long as I can remember. Even as a very young girl and long before I recognized the therapeutic powers of baking, I gravitated towards baking in times of great sorrow and pain. Don’t get me wrong here. I’ve baked in an abundance of happy times as well but baking proved to be a profound coping mechanism for me during the low times in my life. With reflection, I see this clearly and I’m grateful for all those cakes, breads, muffins, cookies and scones that saved my sanity and, in turn, brought me great joy. The smells, the tastes, and creative and tactile process of creating something that brings other people such joy is remarkably healing.
This sun-less, chilly day is a far from a terrible day but I rate it as a sad, four out of ten so I’m choosing elevate my mood. I’m choosing to bake. With butter softening on the counter, I’m setting my sights on this simple, classic cookie – the Snickerdoodle. Last Monday, I sent my daughter back to DC with a box of these babies and she reports that her office mates devoured them within an hour.
Warning: I’ve veered from the classic Snickerdoodle recipe just a tad. I’ve dropped the “drop” part of the process preferring instead to make my ‘doodles slice n’ bake-style. You’ll notice two new ingredients that I’ve added into the mix: cornmeal for a little nubby (and I mean that in a good way) texture and a little coconut oil in place of some of the butter for a slightly crisper bite. (If you don’t have coconut oil, use 4 ounces of butter.)
Bring on those healing powers and remember that Everyday is a great day for baking! .
Cornmeal Snickerdoodle Slice ‘n Bake Cookies
Makes 20, 3-inch cookies.
1 1/4 cups (5 5/8 oz./159g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 1/8 oz./32g) finely ground cornmeal
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. table salt
4 Tbs. (2 oz./57g) unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbs. (1 3/4 oz./50g) coconut oil
2/3 cup (4 5/8 oz./131g) granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 Tbs. granulated sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Make the dough
- Whisk the flour, cornmeal, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl until well blended. Put the butter and coconut oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using an electric handheld mixer fitted with wire beaters). Beat on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy and lighter in color, 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat on medium until blended, about 1 minute. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until the mixture is well blended.
- Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a 10 inch log (1 1/4-inch diameter), lightly flouring hands as needed. Wrap the log in plastic wrap. Using scissors, cut an empty paper towel roll lengthwise, arrange the dough log inside the paper towel holder and secure with tape (this keeps the log nicely rounded.). Refrigerate until the dough is firm enough to slice, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
Bake the cookies
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F (180°C/gas 4). Line two cookie sheets with parchment (I don’t use nonstick liners. for this cookie because the cookies spread out too much.). Put the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix with a fork until blended.
- Unwrap the log and set on a cutting board. Using a thin, sharp knife, cut into 1/2-inch (12 mm) slices, dredge in the sugar-cinnamon mixture leaving a good coating on top and arrange, sugar side up, about 2 inches (5 cm) apart on the prepared sheets. Bake, one sheet at a time, until golden brown around the edges, 12 to 14 minutes. Move the sheet to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Using a large spatula, move the cookies from the sheet and set on a rack until cool enough to eat or cool completely and stow in an air-tight container for up to 4 days.