Bad-tempered Cookies

It’s quarter to midnight and I’ve just finished mopping tomato ketchup off the floor. Cookies are a nightmare. No really. I’ve had it up to here.

I was a fool. I read Adam’s enthusiastic, nay, evangelical posts about Martha Stewart’s cookie recipe and I had to give it a go. More fool me. Firstly, the recipe needed to be translated from the dreaded American cups. American cups as a baking measurement are just infuriating – for some reason the good old US of A refuses to use scales while baking, just as they cling to pounds and inches. Cups are never the same weight twice, especially when you’re talking about something like flour. Then there’s the ingredients. American All-Purpose Flour is actually somewhere between Plain Flour and Strong White Flour, and American granulated sugar is not as coarse as British granulated but not as fine as caster sugar.

So I took Adam’s recipe, and measured it carefully, substituting approximate British equivalents and … just look what happened:

Isn’t that the ugliest batch of cookies you’ve ever seen? The first set were gigantic and undercooked in the middle, the second and third batches better, but still ugly, the third set I burnt (those ones in the lower right-hand corner aren’t actually double chocolate – they just got baked for half an hour!).

Maybe it wasn’t the cookies after all – maybe they were just a karmic sign, because just after I pulled out the last baking tray, this happened:

You see, all week I’ve been avoiding a couple of kitchen chores: to scrub the kitchen floor and to wash down the skirting boards and door frames in preparation for painting them this weekend. The Ketchup Disaster ensured that I had to wipe down the skirting boards, and walls, and mop the floor. So maybe the cookies were just a sign after all: don’t waste your time on frivolous baking projects, get on the floor and clean, damn you!

So it’s Jeffrey Steingarten’s cookie recipe next – let’s hope I find a better time to try it, karmically-speaking.

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3 comments on “Bad-tempered Cookies

  1. Anonymous says:


    Maybe not appropriate to post here, but…

    Just a quick “Thank you” for taking the trouble to post your ideas for me to Heidi Swanson’s ‘101 Cookbooks’ – I need all the help I can get!

    I’m overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of the support I’ve received. It’s really given me a kick up the behind to actually DO something, rather than just sit and bleat…

    Watch this space. I will be telling Heidi how I get on (pssst… I’ve already made a start…)

    And I love your cookies. I have a sort of ‘affinity’ with them. I wonder why? 😉

    Sincere thanks and best wishes to you,

    (BB-The Unwilling Cook)

  2. louise says:

    Hi Barry,

    Thanks for taking the time to post on my site! I hope my comments helped. I’m really looking forward to hearing how you get on. One thing about foodies – they’re all evangelists who just want other people to eat good food and get pleasure from it.

    By the way, the cookies were actually very good…

  3. ellaella says:

    Hello..tag surfer brought me here. I’m one of the rare Americans who weighs ingredients. One cup of American granulated sugar weighs 210 g, but if I’m dealing in quarter-cups I round it off to 200 g to do the math in my head.

    For all-purpose flour, it’s 124 g per cup, but I round it to 120g if I need to do math. (not my strong suit!) When an American recipe recommends scooping the flour into the cup instead of lightly spooning it, allow 5 oz per cup for that method.


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