A batch of snickerdoodles brought to a staff meeting began my illustrious career as the workplace baker at the YMCA Childcare center. One taste of the sweet, spicy golden cookies, and the other teachers were hooked- they were impressed by my apparent flair for baking, and from that day on, I was the go-to girl for birthday cakes and all other special occasion treats. I was more than happy to undertake that role, but I always found it funny that what convinced them of my talent was one of the simplest goodies ever to emerge from my kitchen.
A sugar cookie dressed up with a dusting of cinnamon, the snickerdoodle is composed of mere pantry ingredients: butter, sugar, eggs, and flour, and has a much fancier name than makeup. Older recipes for this classic utilize a combination of cream of tartar and baking soda as a leavening agent, which give the resulting cookie its characteristic tang, whereas more current recipes call for baking powder instead. I’ve made them both ways, and in my opinion, you can’t go wrong. Snickerdoodles are deliciously addictive and it’s hard to eat just one!
Though the etymology is debatable, the name “snickerdoodle” has been traced back to the German word “schneckennudeln.” “Schnecke” means “snail” in German, and according to “Slumps, Grunts and Snickerdoodles: What Colonial American Ate and Why” by Lila Perl, a “shnecke” was also a German name for a cinnamon pinwheel that resembles snails. The development of the name probably reflects the cookie’s history, which dates back to Nineteenth century New England, when cookies were given odd and whimsical names like Graham Jakes, Jolly Boys, Tangle Breeches, and Kinkawoodles. No matter how they were dubbed with such a quirky moniker, most would agree that “snickerdoodles” is as fun to say as they are to eat.
In a stroke of serendipity, Spike of Spike Bakes selected snickerdoodles as this week’s pick for SMS. I had consulted The Sweet Melissa Baking Book for that very recipe recently when I was assembling my package for Operation Baking GALS. You may have noticed the special icon on the right column of my site that designates my participation in this amazing charitable organization. Operation Baking GALS is a group of volunteer bakers from all across the country who come together each month to collectively send homemade goodies to troops currently deployed overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a fantastic way to show our support and give these brave men and women a little piece of home.
After my first three rounds of baking, I was inspired to take on a leadership role by organizing a bonus team with a unique mission. Team Oven Loving for the Recovering was born to serve the courageous soldiers who are recuperating from injury at the Army Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. My heart ached for the pain (both physical and emotional) they face every day, but I knew that the wonderful Baking GALS volunteers could help lift their spirits by sending along their thoughtful and delicious care packages. By working with Command Master Chief Wendy Fischer and head Baking GAL Lyndsay Leybold, we developed a plan and a partnership, and I have been proud to lead this extraordinary team for the last 4 rounds of baking. Our packages are incorporated into a special Friday night program, where the soldiers and their families come together to share a delicious home-style meal, ending with cookies and treats galore. I recently received a letter from the Command Master Chief expressing their deep appreciation for our generous contribution, but in truth, it has been my honor and privilege to bake for these admirable soldiers and their families. Operation Baking GALS and Team Oven Loving for the Recovering hold a permanent place in my heart, and I am looking forward to continuing my work with this exceptional organization. If you’re interested in more information or getting involved, please feel free to get in touch with me either right here in the comments section of my blog or via email at email@example.com. And for a little inspiration, here’s a look at the 20+ dozen cookies I’ve sent so far! 🙂