Spread can be such a lovely word. You know, like something soft and creamy that is slathered on bread and tastes divine.
Like describing a tableful of food served to friends and family: ’That was some spread Sheila put out”. (Don’t ask me who Sheila is. She’s my imaginary hostess for purposes of this post.)
It’s a great verb, too. Like when you spread the blanket out on the ground for a picnic. Or when you’ve spread the Sunday New York Times out in front of you to read for hours while you sip your never ending mug of coffee.
Spread can also take on an ugly image. Take those men on New York subways who sit with their legs spread out so far that they take up three seats AND trip people in the aisle. Don’t even get me started on that spread.
And then there’s the spread that really sticks in my craw. You know what I’m talking about. You use your favorite animal cookie cutter, for instance, carefully cutting out row after row of lovely cookies to decorate. Bake them at the appropriate temperature for the appropriate amount of time and what happens? You’ve baked up a batch of Rorschach cookies. The dreaded cookie spread.
Do you know how this can occur? By being overzealous when creaming the butter and sugar. You CAN overbeat the butter and sugar, resulting in too much incorporation of air in the dough, which then leads to the aforemetioned cookie disaster that you really want to avoid.
Here’s how to cream butter and sugar so this won’t happen:
Start with room temperature butter. Not melted butter, but butter that’s perfectly soft to the touch. Scale it and the sugar into the mixer bowl.
Start your engine….um, I mean, your mixer. A medium speed will work perfectly well.
Stop after the combination begins to look like this and scrape the sides of the bowl down with a rubber spatula.
When the mixture has been flung via centrifugal force all over the sides of the bowl like this,
you’re pretty much done. That’s what creamed butter and sugar should look like.
Proceed with the rest of the cookie recipe and see if you notice any difference when you bake off the cookies.
Then, spread the word.