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Channing Curtis' holiday baking tips

We spoke to a couple of East Texas professionals for some tips to make sure your cookies don't burn and your cakes rise evenly

TYLER, Texas — There's just something about the holidays that makes me want to pull out the old recipe books and get to baking something delicious. 

However, there's more to making a good dessert than just following a recipe. Just ask Robert Owens, owner of Traditions and Corner Bakery in Tyler. 

"I's more in the procedure than it is in ingredients a lot of times," said Owens.

Traditions is known for their holiday special, the pumpkin roll. It's difficult to make but Owens says, like with any baking project, it just takes some practice. 

So here are four baking tips that we can all use, especially when trying to impress a crowd:

  1. First, read your recipe all the way through. You want to make sure you're following the instructions properly and you don't mix in an ingredient too soon. 

"There's reasons why, you know, you put it in a mixing bowl, or you add this first and then that first, you know, you want to sometimes make sure the flour and the sugar mix oil together," said Owens.

2. When baking cookies, chill your dough for at least an hour in the fridge before cooking them. Just ask Lara Plasencia with the Pied Piper Bakery in Lindale. 

"Freeze or chill your dough," said Plasencia. "Make your cookie dough, put it in one of those big Ziploc bags, make it nice and flat so that you're not dealing with the ball, leave it in there for an hour or two then you bring it back out. Now you can actually start rolling it out and it's colder. So when you put it in, it's not going to burn because it's not a mess and it's not going to lose its shape, it's going to hold shape better"

3. Don't stick your cookies right on the pan. Use parchment paper because it'll help them not burn.

"That's a huge thing, because a lot of times what will happen is if you put it on that metal, it will burn," said Plasencia. "It gets too hot but that parchment paper acts as a barrier"

4. If you DO burn your cookies, that's OK, no need to panic! 

"If you end up making one that's a little bit too dark of a secret is flip it over and then ice the dark part," said Plasencia. "That way if you're giving them as a gift to someone else, they're not turning it over and going on. She burnt this one. They're actually going wow, she did a really good job. And they'll never know because the frosting is covering up the dark."

In case you need a starting place for making cookies, here's my go-to recipe for "Chan's Christmas Cookies" that are always a hit with my friends and family!

Chan's Christmas Cookies

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 cup of salted butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla 
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • If you have almond extract or peppermint extract add in 1 teaspoon of each)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together your flour, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside. Mix your butter, sugar and brown sugar until creamy. Add in the eggs and vanilla until well blended. Slowly mix in your flour mixture (a little at a time) until it's completely blended and you have a nice sticky dough. Roll the dough into balls and spread them out about two inches apart on your cookie sheet. Cook for nine minutes and enjoy!

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