Bakeries have been the center of neighborhoods and communities for thousands of years, whether it’s Indian chapatis, Arabian pita, French baguettes, Chinese steamed buns, Mexican pan dulce, Ethiopian injera, San Francisco sourdough bread, and the list goes on. Not everyone could build and maintain an oven in their home but most of them liked bread. Along with the oven, you needed grain ground into flour and someone who was prepared to get up at ungodly hours to heat the oven and bake the bread so it would be ready for the public as the sun rose. My partner, Tarmo, baked bagels at the downtown Bagelry in Santa Cruz for several years so I got to live the experience of the baker’s wife as he got up at 3 a.m. to go to work, and I rolled over in bed to enjoy the warm expanse of his vacated space.
This week’s recipe is for very rich and sugary cookies like the kind you find in bakeries. They are quick to make but ensure that your butter is at room temperature. If the butter is too soft, the cookies will spread too much, and if it’s not soft enough, the cookies don’t spread enough. As you can see from the photo, mine should have spread a bit more. Also, these cookies are very light colored so it’s a good idea at the halfway point while they are baking, to turn the tray around in the oven. After that, check them near the time they are due to be done so they don’t turn brown.
The recipe is from the website laurenslatest.com. Lauren advertises herself as a Pro Recipe Developer from New York City, a place where it seems they have job titles like that. Her recipe was for lemon cookies, but oranges and limes also work.
Citrus combined with sugar makes a pleasant sweet and sour flavor. Citrus plants are tropical and native to southeast Asia from the Himalayas southeast to Australia but luckily have been hybridized into sweet and sour varieties that grow around the world, even in our area. Once your citrus tree gets going, you have enough for the entire neighborhood.
Citrus Crinkle Cookies
½ cups butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 whole egg
2 teaspoons lemon, orange or lime zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon, orange or lime juice
¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoons baking powder
teaspoons baking soda
1½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter baking sheets or cover with parchment paper.
In a bowl, sift or whisk flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
In a large bowl, mix cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, egg, lemon zest and juice and beat smooth. Scrape sides and beat again.
Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Scrape sides of the bowl and mix again briefly.
Pour powdered sugar onto a rimmed plate. Roll a heaping teaspoon of dough into a ball and roll in powdered sugar. Place on the baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.
Bake for 9-11 minutes or until bottoms begin to barely brown. At the halfway point, turn the tray around. When cookies are done, remove from oven and cool cookies about 3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Lightly dusted with powdered sugar, notice how pale these cookies are even though they are done and ready to eat.