Tag Archives: baking

The Gentleman’s Sour Cream Sugar Cookie – Pillowy Perfection for Decorating

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Does it seem I make a disproportionate amount of sweets? I think it’s my genetic legacy; my Granny never skips dessert. And when we have family gatherings there’s always a “sampler” – multiple choices. It’s a wonder we’re not all obese.

But holidays and occasions, like Wednesdays or laundry day, warrant special treats, and that’s what I am going to deliver.

I am sure you’re familiar with those plastic containers of sweet, sweet pillowy cookies in the bakery at the market. Well, why not take that idea and improve upon it? I am also going to offer you two icing options: one that will set up and harden, and one that will be smoother and creamier. The choice is yours.

The secret here is the sour cream. It established the light textural component that give this cookie its signature bite.

I had a little kitchen helper during my test run. This is my 2 year old nephew, Tyce. Making cookies with family always makes it more fun.

So let’s get going!

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup butter flavor Crisco
  • 2 cups white sugar (vanilla sugar would be especially nice*)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 5 1/2 cups flour

Turn your oven on to 375 and allow to preheat. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream butter, Crisco, and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. A teaspoon of almond extract would also be nice here if you like that flavor.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add a cup at a time to the bowl with the mixer on low. Mix ONLY until combined.

Working in batches, roll onto a floured surface, 1/4 to 1/3 inch thickness. Yes, that is on the thick side for a sugar cookie. Just trust me here.

Use your favorite cookie cutter and stamp out shapes. Now, given the consistency of this dough, intricate forms are going to really frustrate you. Stick with basics.

Put the cut dough on the parchment lined sheets, and slide them into the preheated oven.

Watch them like a hawk! You will want to pull them when they are still very pale and NOT browned. I pulled mine at only 6 minutes (using a convection oven) and they were perfect. Really, timing is crucial.

Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

And now the fun begins!

Royal icing dries hard, which is best for intricate decorating. Here’s how you make that:

What you need:

  • 3 cups 10x powdered sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • vanilla or almond extract
  • possibly a few drops of water

In a very clean electric mixer bowl, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they get white-ish. Sift the powdered sugar and add it to the eggs. Add your favorite flavoring component.

Beat until everything is combined. Depending on your needs, determine whether you need a drop or two of water. Remember, you are one frosting these things, so get it to the consistency that you need. Add colors, etc, and use your creativity!

Option #2 is a stiff buttercream that actually tastes better than royal icing, but doesn’t set up super hard.

What you need:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine softened butter and sifted powdered sugar. Allow to combine, add flavorings. Eyeball the milk quantity; start with 2 tablespoons. If you want it a little looser add a third.

Frost to your heart’s content!

I hope this brings your taste buds and tummies holiday happiness.

xo,

The Gentleman Caller

Full downloadable PDF here: Sour Cream Sugar Cookie

*vanilla sugar: fill a jar with regular white sugar. Insert a vanilla bean and allow to sit for a few weeks. The sugar will take on the aroma.

Spiced Up Holiday Apple Pie

Printable PDF at the bottom of the page!

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Happy Holidays, Ho Ho Hos. I am back with another treat for your holiday table that’s gonna send you straight to the treadmill January 2nd. But we’re American, that’s what we do. So cook, enjoy, celebrate, and don’t fret right now. Eat PIE.

My Granny was an exceptional pie maker, and she passed on her skills to my Aunt Marcie, who is also an exceptional pie maker, my sisters and my stepmom Laurie. Laurie was so determined to become a pie master that she had Granny give her a full instructional kitchen seminar and Laurie video-taped it. Maybe I should get ahold of that video and post it here! On second thought, maybe not because my Granny is really cute and someone would probably see it and put her on TV.

There’s a different pie for every palate, but one enduring classic and likely favorite of most people is apple. Here I will provide you a spiced up version guaranteed to delight your guests and their taste buds with its aroma, looks, and deliciousness.

What you need:

  • One recipe of The Gentleman’s Perfect Pie Crust http://thegentlemancaller.net/perfect-pie-crust/
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • about 8 apples (3 lbs.) ideally a mix of greens and reds (Granny Smiths & Fujis are my ideal combination)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh nutmeg*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • zest of a lemon
  • juice of a lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 pats of butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half, beaten with one egg yolk
  • turbinado, coconut sugar or other coarse sugar for sprinkling on top

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Zest the lemon. Cut it in half, set one half aside. Fill a large bowl halfway with water; squeeze half the lemon in the water and drop the rind in there, too. Peel apples, core, and quarter them, and put them into the mixing bowl filled with water and the half lemon squeeze.

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Process the apples in a food processor with the slice attachment. This is going to give you a consistent slice. Put your apple slices in a large bowl (you can dump the water and re-use the one you just had them in), add the flour, sugars, honey, spices, lemon zest and the juice of the other half of the lemon. Let it rest a sec. *Regarding the asterisk beside the spices, grinding or grating your own makes them more robust. If you have a grinder and a microplane grater, use them on your spices and get more flavor.

If you’ve followed the Perfect Pie Crust recipe, you should have two disks waiting for you in the refrigerator. Roll out one of your disks on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 9 inch pie plate. Trim the excess.

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Spoon the apple mixture into the bottom crust. Place the 5 pats of butter evenly dispersed on top of the apples.

Roll out your second crust. Roll on the top of the apples to cover with ample overhang.

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Using your kitchen shears, trim around the perimeter leaving about a 1/2 inch overhang. Tuck the overhang under and crimp the edges. Crimping is simply the process of smooshing the two crusts together and creating a nice looking rippled pattern.  If this isn’t something you do often, you might get a little frustrated. Stick with it; take deep breaths.

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Put 5 little vent slits  in the top crust. You may also cut a little decorative vent if you like.

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Brush the top with egg yolk and cream mixture. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

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As you can see, I put the pie on a baking sheet with a piece of foil. Pie has a tendency to leak, and scrubbing baked sugar out of your oven is not a chore you have time for at the holidays. Or ever.

Final step pre-oven (and I should have photographed this): make 4 four inch strips of foil. Crimp them together end-to-end so that you have about a 48 inch strip of foil. Carefully place this around the perimeter so that it’s not really touching but gently resting on the crimped edge. There is a silicone tool for this process https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/adjustable-pie-shield/1017857401?Keyword=pie+shield but foil works just as well.

Into the oven she goes!

One hour at 400 degrees. At about 45 minutes remove the foil cover on the edges. Continue baking for 15 more minutes.

Yes, your house is going to smell heavenly but you MUST allow it to rest for at least an hour after you remove it from the oven. Otherwise it’s gonna be slop pie. And you’ll probably burn your tongue on the molten sugar. So just wait, ok?

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Look at that! Don’t worry now, friends… I am going to post an easy ice cream recipe that you don’t need an ice cream machine to make very soon. Perhaps an egg nog ice cream… Pie and ice cream is an unbeatable combination.

Hope yours turns out beautifully.

That’s all for now.

xo,

The Gentleman Caller

SPICED UP HOLIDAY APPLE PIE

Perfect Pie Crust

Printable PDF at the bottom of the page!

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Kwana – Hannu – Christmas Corridor is here! Time to spread love and cheer! And glut ourselves on fatty carbs! Ahhh, thank the baby Jesus in the manger for elastic waistbands.

Pie is one of the many tools of the devil for me. I love pie. I LOVE PIE. Actually, I like well-executed pie. And I can be a pretty critical taster. As a pie critic, I feel it’s my duty to provide you readers a tool to add to your arsenal. Pie crust is a skill one evolves, but this basic recipe will help you in your plight for pie perfection.

Warning: I am going to use Crisco. Don’t throw your computer out the window or block my site. Give it a try. I shall be waiting here to gloat when you’re ready to concede how good it is.

This recipe is for a double-crust pie or 2 blind bakes.

Here’s what you need!

Pie Crust

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (I like a little more than that personally but that’s just me…) salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes, frozen
  • 1/2 cup (half a log) butter flavor Crisco, cut into pieces, frozen
  • 1/3 cup cold water with two ice cubes in it

This is a deceptively easy list of ingredients, isn’t it?

Sift dry ingredients into the bowl of your food processor. Add the butter and Crisco. Pulse judiciously, about 8 seconds worth of pulsing. (See video for visual in the Holiday Apple Pie post.)

Pour water in a slight stream through the feed tube while pulsing. Add just enough – if it’s humid you might need only a quarter cup. If it’s dry you might need almost half a cup.  This is where judgement comes into the mix. It should not be dry, but shouldn’t be wet or tacky, and you must not process it more than 30 seconds. You can test this by squeezing a little ball together and seeing if it sticks.

Form two equal size balls. Avoid touching it too much or kneading/overworking it. Flatten into disks. Wrap with plastic or put into Ziploc bags.

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See the flecks of frozen butter still intact? That’s your goal.

Put your wrapped disks into the fridge for at least an hour! These also freeze really well for future use.

See Holiday Pie entry for further inspiration.

That’s it for now.

xo,

The Gentleman Caller

PERFECT PIE CRUST