If you’ve ever followed a cooking recipe, you’ve probably felt the frustrations of the impreciseness of cooking.
A cup of flour! A tablespoon of butter!! A teaspoon of olive oil!! And a pinch of salt?!!! Are we cavemen?!!!… ahem. Sorry about that! Moving on.
As a scientist, I have felt it too. Even more so, I’m always left wondering whether a few extra grams of flour in a cup would have made the perfect cake.
But worry no more, because science is here to lend us a hand. It is time to turn cooking into a precise science. And because it’s Christmas we shall do precise cooking with the most Christmassy of the Swedish recipes – Pepparkakor – the Swedish ginger cookies.
So, I took on the challenge of adjusting this recipe to an almost real scientific protocol. Naturally, most cookie recipes will yield insane amounts of cookies that might end up all burnt. But we scientists know better, and before the actual experiment, we do tests and adjustments to the protocol. So here, instead of the 9 dozens of cookies (that’s 108 cookies, in case you’re wondering) from the original recipe, we shall bake a much more reasonable amount… One. Yes, one single cookie!
And it goes like this:
– In a glass beaker, containing a magnetic stirrer, warm 1.1 ml of corn syrup to 50˚C;
– Add 18.5 mg of freshly grated orange zest;
– To this mixture, add 2.1 g of unsalted butter and 18.5 g of sugar. Stir the mixture at 20 rpm;
– Once the solution is homogeneous, remove from the heating block and let it cool down to room temperature;
– In a separate beaker, break and whisk 1 large egg. Afterwards, pipette 417 µL of the egg to the solution. Keep stirring to obtain an homogeneous solution;
– In a separate beaker, weigh and mix the following: 4.15 g of all-purpose flour, 33.3 mg of ground ginger, 42.6 mg of cinnamon, 38.9 mg of ground cloves, 37 mg of baking soda, and 23.1 mg of salt;
– Increase the stirring speed of the solution to 200 rpm, and slowly add the flour mixture to the solution (this may require an extremely strong magnetic stirrer, or mixing in whichever way you can). Keep mixing until the dough is formed;
– Cover the beaker with a double layer of plastic wrap and leave overnight at 4˚C;
– The next day, set your incubator to 190˚C;
– Using a falcon tube, roll out the dough to a thickness of approximately 6 mm;
– Use a scalpel to cut the dough to the desired shape (which of course should be science-related);
– Transfer to a tray covered with a baking sheet, and incubate in the pre-warmed incubator for 7 to 8 minutes;
– Once the cookie begins to brown, remove it from the incubator and let it cool down to room temperature before eating.
– Baked pepparkakor can be stored for up to 2 weeks in an air-tight container, or for up to 1 month at -20˚C;
– Enjoy your cookie, and repeat the protocol for more.
In the process of making all the unit and measurement conversions I found some useful online tools, that I’m sharing below.