Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Sour Cream Cookies

At my surprise party last week, I was reminded of the cookies that Mom usually baked around Christmas time. They are soft  and yellow-white with a sugary icing and sprinkles. Having only one at a time is not an option. Jenny sent me the recipe she uses, which I hope to use when we go stay at the Evermore Barn.
Sour Cream Cookies

2 C. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 C. shortening (I use room-temperature butter)
3/4 C. sugar
1 egg
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 C. sour cream

I got my copy of the recipe over the phone from Mom. I only have the ingredient list, not the instructions, but I just make it as I would any other cookie recipe. Old school recipes always want you to sift the flour, but I never do and they turn out fine because we're living in the Modern Age of Finely Ground Flour.

Preheat oven to 375. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. (Truth be told, I don't do this either, but it's a good idea so that everything is evenly distributed.) Cream together shortening/butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in half of the sour cream, then half of the flour mixture, repeat. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Jody said that she icings them while they are warm, but I always wait until they're cool.
Jody responded, "I never sift the dry ingredients, just mix them with a fork.  I also never use sour cream in the sour cream cookies.  I add about 1 tsp of vinegar to 1/2 cup evaporated milk and let it sit a few minutes before adding it."

Jenny added, "I use sour cream if I have it and sub if I don't, but I don't measure the vinegar and use whatever milk I have and sometimes a combo of nonfat with a shot of half & half."

If there are other variations out there, let me know. I want them to be perfect, just like Mom's.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kolache vs. Potica (a northern region dispatch)

Nothing says Christmastime like baked goods, and for Duke-Dippers, the baked good that says it best is kolache. The kitchens at my work are brimming with goodies, and on today's early morning reconnaissance I came face to face with what I consider the holy grail.

That's right kolache! Except, wait a minute, it's not kolache. The package says "potica." A quick search reveals that potica is the common Slovenian name and kolache is more of a catch-all term for cakes. Have Duke-Dippers been eating potica all these years (gasp!)? Probably, but who cares!

In my official role as investigator I took a slice of the kitchen potica back to my desk... uh, I mean back to my lab for analysis. There were minor differences in what we grew up with -- a little too much nutmeg and walnuts that were chopped into almost a paste instead of being left a little chunky, but all in all it was surprisingly close to the real thing.

Northern Minnesota residents seem to be particularly fond of the cake. And now that I know this, another conundrum has been cleared up for me. About a year ago, I started hearing people talk about kolache (pronounced: "ko-LATCH-ee"). What the "you betch-ya" state refers to as kolache is actually more of a breakfast roll with a sweet filling. So if you find yourself here for a visit, now you'll know what to order and not be disappointed.

In the case of kolache vs. poticia, I say let them live in harmony. Eat them both.

Na zdravĂ­ (cheers)!