Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Sugar Cookie experiment - fun with Shortening Powder

I've been wanting to experiment with my shortening powder for a while. I used a little in my pizza dough recipe, but it is supposed to be melted in that recipe. I wanted to know how it would fare in something that requires a larger quantity, and that usually requires it in solid form. I have an awesome Sugar Cookie recipe I got from my friend Amy that uses shortening instead of butter, and it is our family's favorite sugar cookie recipe now.  I thought this would be the perfect chance to see how the shortening powder substitutes into a recipe where shortening plays a much more critical role.

Here is the regular, non-food storage recipe.
Sugar Cookies
2 ¼ c flour
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
½ c shortening
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 Tbsp milk (if dough is too dry)

Cream together shortening and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, then add dry ingredients. If dough is too dry, add milk. Refrigerate if too soft.  With extra flour, roll out dough to no less than 1/4” thickness and cut with desired cutters. Bake at 375 for 5-6 minutes (watch them carefully so they won’t get too hard!)
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Rather than reconstitute the shortening, I decided that since I could use powdered egg, shortening and milk (I normally add 1-2 Tbsp of milk to my regular recipe to get it the right consistency), I would first try putting all the dry ingredients together, then simply adding the right amount of water and vanilla afterwards. I also decided that since I would be experimenting, it was best to start with a half batch.  So I started by putting the following dry ingredients into the bowl:

1/2 c sugar
1/4 c shortening powder
1 tbsp egg powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/8 c flour
1/2 tsp powdered milk (not Instant)

Then I blended them all together with a fork. Once blended, I added 1/2 tsp vanilla to 3 1/2 Tbsp of water, created a well in the middle of my dry ingredients, poured the water mixture into it like below.

 I mixed it with my fork, and it became wonderfully crumbly, but too dry to stick together like cookie dough should.
So I added 1 Tbsp of water. It wasn't enough. I added a second tablespoon, and that wound up being too much. So I added 1 tsp powdered milk (dry). It was still pretty sticky, but I figured the flouring process when I rolled it out might help.
I had to GENEROUSLY flour the dough, the pin, the surface, etc. I found it helpful to have a little pile of flour to dip my cookie cutter into to help it cut into and pull away from the dough without sticking. After I cut all the shapes out, I gathered up the scraps, mushed them together, and rolled it out for more cookie cutting. This second half of the dough was MUCH better than the first as far as consistency. Because I had probably another 1/8 cup of flour kneaded into it. I finished cutting out all the dough, and baked the cookies at 375 for 5 minutes.
When it came time to taste them, the first few were good, but a little too chewy or gummy. The second few that had the extra flour kneaded in were much better. But as my hubby described them, they were too "bready" compared to what a regular sugar cookie should taste like. So I embarked on the second half of my experiment - reconstituting everything separately and then creaming, adding wet, then adding dry ingredients, like the original recipe calls for.

So I started by reconstituting some Powdered Milk. The ratio is 1 cup water to 3 Tbsp Powder. I wasn't planning on using that much, so I did 1/2 cup water with 1 1/2 Tbsp of Powder. Put it in a glass jar, shook it up to mix it, then left it in the fridge while I went to work on the shortening.

So the shortening ratio according to shelf reliance is 1 cup shortening powder + 1/4 cup water = 1 cup shortening. So I did 1/4 powder + 1 Tbsp Water to get the 1/4 cup shortening that I needed. 

when you first start mixing up the shortening powder, the powder floats on top of the liquid. Then it starts to get a little crumbly like below.

But whisk it with your fork for another 30 seconds or so, and it starts to turn into a liquid cream consistency (see below).

I noticed, however, that it seemed to go down in volume when I got it to this consistency. So I poured it into a measuring cup just to check, and look how much it wound up making!
My 1/4 cup measuring cup looked like it was only half full! I decided to mix up another 1/4 c powder + 1 Tbsp water, added it to my measuring cup, and now it was full. So important lesson learned from experience:

1 cup shortening powder + 1/4 cup water = 1/2 cup shortening

That's probably why my first "all dry" version didn't have the right consistency. It didn't need more milk or water, it needed more shortening. So I was going to have to go back and try the all dry method again.

But first to finish the "reconstituted" method. I had stuck the shortening in the fridge to see if it would harden up when cold, and it did. I left it in for only 20 minutes or so, and it was starting to harden. It was hard enough that it stuck to the measuring cup when upside down. Had I left it in longer, I'm sure it would have been just as hard as regular shortening gets when chilled.

So I creamed the shortening and sugar together with my beaters. Then I reconstituted 1 egg in a separate bowl, added the vanilla, and beat that into the sugar/shortening. When I was done, it was pretty liquidy (see below)

Once I added my dry ingredients, the consistency was so perfect, I didn't need to add any of the milk I had prepared in the fridge. I just plopped is straight onto my floured surface and it rolled and cut smoothly.

But would I have such great luck with the revised "all dry" method? I had to try. So this time I put twice as much shortening powder in, omitted the milk powder all together, and when i added the water, I added 1/4 cup water (2 Tbsp for the shortening, 2 Tbsp for the egg). Blended with a fork, and it was too dry still. I could squeeze the crumbs together with my hand to form large clumps, but they crumbled apart if touched even slightly.

So I added 1 Tbsp of the powdered milk (reconstituted) that I had sitting in my fridge. That was all it needed. It was perfect!

 Rolled it out, baked at 375 for 5 minutes and here's how they turned out.

I asked Dustin which he liked more between the reconstituted batch, or the revised all dry batch. The Revised all dry batch was his favorite, which I love, because I can make the whole thing with just a bowl and a fork, and I don't have to wash out a greasy shortening covered measuring cup. Bonus!

So here's the final winning recipe. This is just a half batch, so it'll make you about a dozen decent sized cut out cookies.

In a bowl, combine the following:
1 1/8 cup flour
1/2 cup THRIVE shortening powder
1 Tbsp THRIVE Whole Egg Powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp Baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

Whisk together with a fork until all powders are blended. In a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup water with 1/2 tsp vanilla. Then pour water mixture into dry ingredients, and blend with fork. If too dry, add 1 Tbsp milk (can use 1 Tbsp prepared THRIVE powdered milk). Roll out on floured surface to about 1/4" thickness. Cut with desired cutter, put on greased cookie sheet and bake ate 375 for 5 minutes.

Super fast, and super yummy. I hope you enjoy!

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