Don't you just love Mother's Day?! When I was growing up, us kids would go down to the kitchen super early and make my mom breakfast in bed. It was nothing fancy, and once involved a huge poster board sign saying Happy Mother's Day. Is breakfast in bed made by children ever delicious or... errr, edible? Who knows, but the experience is amazing.
Love is so strong and it fills the air around Mother's Day as all children - young and old - give a shout out to their mom. And that includes my mom, who I truly believe is the very best mom in the world. The kind of woman that I hope to be exactly like when I have children of my own. And that goes for in the kitchen too...
My mom never bought boxed food or pre-made cookie dough - I actually don't think I've ever eaten a pancake from a boxed mix! Her large flour and sugar jars are always stocked. Homemade cookie dough always in the freezer, for emergencies. And everything from scratch.
My mom has these little ways about her in the kitchen, that I didn't appreciate until I got older. And some of the most important lessons I've learned took place right there. She taught me how to lattice a pie, brown butter, make jam and bake the best cookies every time. Her tips and techniques have carried with me and I still use them today.
So, in honor of my mom - the woman behind the reason I bake today - here are 15 baking tips that I've learned from her and I've carried with me in the kitchen...
- Always make the pie dough from scratch - it's too easy not to! [It's simply butter, salt, a touch of sugar & cold water...] The butter and water should be cold. And never over-work the dough.
- Look, it's OKAY to eat cookie dough...
- Homemade cookies can take 10 minutes to whip up if you have the recipe memorized.
- That being said.... Nothing beats homemade cookies. Nothing.
- You can bake cakes ahead of time. Wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap and then wrap in aluminum foil. Freeze until ready to frost. (up to three months!)
- Need an easy, forgiving dessert? Make a crisp. Place fruit in a baking pan and then top with a mixture of oats, butter, brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon and bake.
- If the butter isn't room temperature when you start to make cookies - don't sweat it! Just beat it until smooth.
- Invest in a large cookie jar.
- Buy flour and sugar in bulk. So you always have some to refill the jars sitting on your counter.
- Make homemade ice cream sandwiches: Bake cookies. Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream between two cookies to make sandwiches. Wrap individually in plastic wrap and keep in the freezer.
- Kids LOVE pancakes. Always homemade. Never from a box.
- Messed up a brownie or cake? Cut it into chunks and make a beautiful layered parfait with whipped cream and berries.
- Always sprinkle powdered sugar on top of brownies.
- Spray the inside of the muffin tin liners with a nonstick spray before pouring the batter in.
- Homemade is ALWAYS better.
And a post about my mother would not be complete without sharing her recipe for chocolate chip cookies. I think this was the first cookie I learned to make. Each and every time I make it, I think of my mom. It's the reason why I'll be serving over 200 of these very cookies at my wedding this month. The baker and person I am today - is because of my mother.
My Mom's Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (my mom will also use margarine)
- 1/2 cup Crisco/shortening (or you can just use another 1/2 cup of butter)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1-2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chocolate chips
- In a mixer, beat the butter and shortening until creamy and well-beaten. Add in the sugars and beat until creamy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time. Then add the vanilla and beat until smooth.
- Add the salt, baking soda and flour slowly. Beat until combined.
- Add in the chocolate.
- Then, using a cookie scoop, scoop dough out onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 9-10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking.
- Let cool a few minutes before removing to a wire rack. Store in an air-tight container or freeze for up to 3 months.
Happy Mother's Day!!