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About Shirley O. Corriher

Shirley O. Corriher has a B.A. in chemistry from Vanderbilt University where she was also a biochemist at the medical school. She has consulted for food producers such as Procter & Gamble and Pillsbury, taught and lectured throughout the United States and abroad, and has written about food science for publications as wide ranging as Cook's Illustrated and the Journal of Biochemical Engineering. Her first book, Cookwise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking was a bestseller and won the James Beard Award for best food reference and technique book of 1997. From 2005-2007, she was a top secret consultant on the last Joy of Cooking revision. She lives in Atlanta with her husband.

Snowflake Cookies

Snowflake Cookies

Prepare one recipe of the dough for Great Grandmother Schorr's Moravian Molasses Cookies, below. Roll out the dough according to the directions. Cut with a snowflake cookie cutter. Bake as directed in Steps 4 to 8 of the recipe. This will make about 30 intricate snowflakes.

Baking cookies requires care and attention. The baking sheet, the oven, the position in the oven, and the time all matter.

Baking sheets are a personal preference. A heavy sheet is an advantage. You don't want a sheet so thin that it may warp violently in the middle of baking and plaster your cookies against the oven wall. Primarily, a heavy sheet distributes the heat for more even baking.

The darker the sheet, the more heat it will absorb and the faster the bottoms of the cookies will brown. Some cooks are accustomed to the dark sheets and use oven positions and temperatures to account for their fast cooking.

My personal preference is for heavy, dull aluminum pans because of their wonderfully even heat conductivity. At a good cookware shop, you an buy commercial quality aluminum half-sheet pans that are excellent.

My favorite pans in the world are flat sheets of very heavy aluminum (more than twice the thickness of any that you can buy) that I got out of the scrap bin at a sheet metal company. They polished the sharp edges so that I would not be cut by them.

New expensive ovens cook very evenly throughout and really do cook evenly with several pans on different racks. But most ovens do not, so I have always advised cooking one pan at a time in the center or slightly above the center of the oven.

Many chefs advise rotating the pan once during cooking for more even baking.

As far as cooking time goes, cookies really need to be watched. I think most cookies should be removed from the oven when they just start to brown around the edges The cooking time is so short that a minute matters, and some cookies will taste burned if they are allowed to brown.

Grandmother Schorr's Moravian Molasses Cookie Dough

1/4 cup (1.6 oz/45 g) shortening
1/3 cup (2.5 oz/72 g) light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (118 ml) unsulfered molasses, such as Grandma's
1 1/4 cups (5.7 oz/162 g) spooned and leveled all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (7 g) baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons (3 g) ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons (3 g) ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons (3 g) ground ginger
Nonstick cooking spray optional

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the shortening and sugar with a mixer until fluffy. Add the molasses and beat until well blended. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cloves, cinnarnon, and ginger. Add one-third of the dry mixture to molasses mixture and blend in on the lowest speed. Add another third and blend in, then add the final third and blend in. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave on the counter overnight.

2.Bonnie uses a large flour sack that is well floured as a surface to roll out the dough. I think a floured pastry cloth will work perfectly. Take a handful of dough and shape it into an 8-inch (20-cm) disc, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) high, as you might do in making a pie crust. Keep the rest of the dough tightly covered.

3. You want to use only the smallest amount of flour possible to keep the dough from sticking. This takes practice. Roll as thin as you are comfortable. Bonnie said sometimes when Grandmother Schorr was in a hurry she didn't bother to roll them really as thin as they should be. Your first time or two making these, you may want to settle for a little short of see-through thin.

4. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F/163°C.

5. Cover a baking sheet with Release foil (nonstick side up), or parchment sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

6. Cut the cookies with a fluted 2 1/2-inch (6-cm) cookie cutter and place on the baking sheet about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart.

7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until edges just begin to color.

8. Remove the foil or parchment with the cookies to a rack. Allow the cookies to cool 2 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Copyright © 2008 by Shirley O. Coriher. Reprinted from Bakewise with permission from Scribner, a Division of Simon and Schuster, Inc.

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The James Beard Award-winning, bestselling author of CookWise, Shirley Corriher, presents BakeWise--an accessible compendium that combines cooking know-how with the simply explained science behind successful baking.

It has been more than a decade since Shirley Corriher's CookWise became a must-have book for home cooks and professional cooks alike. Now, more...

Also by Shirley O. Corriher: