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Snow Day Bake Day

Snow means the whole world comes to a standstill in my odd little corner of the world. Just one inch means that school is cancelled, cars are abandoned along city streets, and the frightened natives empty grocery store shelves of emergency supplies in anticipation of being snowbound overnight. Mimi's Kitchen has its own odd response to snow.

When the first flake falls I run a quick check to assure myself that the pantry is well stocked with flour, sugar, cocoa, nuts, chocolate chips, and dried fruits. The refrigerator is home to plenty of butter, eggs, and milk. The only question I leave to chance is the question of what to bake. Am I in the mood for muffins, cookies, bread, or cake?

When I awaken to a blanket of snow, or even a light dusting of flakes, I am double delighted. My eyes get to feast on the beauty of the world and I get to stay home and enjoy flinging flour and sugar and cocoa about as the eggs are whipping and the butter is creaming. Sadly recipes for baked goods call for room temperature butter and eggs and The kitchen was still quite chilly in the early hours of my snowcation; my butter was too hard to turn into cookies. My eggs were still nestled in their bin in the refrigerator.

I used to skip this warming step. When the cookie mood struck I wanted to bake, not wait. Whether it is the patience that comes with age or a growing knowledge of how to achieve the perfect crumb I now take the time to warm key ingredients. Butter should be soft enough to "cream with sugar until light and fluffy." Eggs will mix in just fine straight from the refrigerator but they make for a lighter texture and greater lift in cakes, especially, when they are warmed to room temperature.

Winter sunshine on a particularly cold day is perfect for gently bringing butter and eggs to room temperature. To begin Snowcation 2018 I needed to warm my butter and eggs in my still chilly room. I needed to fill a plate with sticks of butter. I needed to fill a bowl with eggs. I needed my baking ingredients to warm to the perfect temperature because only then would I have the pleasure of watching the magic happen when butter and eggs meet sugar and flour. I needed a sunbeam!

I truly treasure the quiet hush of the gently falling snow. It never lasts long in my odd little corner of the world.

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