Basics of Holiday Baking
The first thing you must know is that successful baking can be summed up with one simple formula: You have to strike a balance between structure and moisture. Everything else is frosting on the cake. The main ingredients responsible for providing structure are flour and eggs, while sugar and fat contribute and hold moisture. Too much flour in your cookie dough is what results in those sad little hockey pucks. But too little structure—which is
to say too much moisture—can make your cake too dense or, worse, a wet, gooey mess. And that's before you tackle light baking, which by definition alters and adjusts this delicate balance.
Here, we offer a collection of healthful recipes developed by a couple of pastry chefs and put through the paces in our Test Kitchen. We've added annotations that explain the basic kitchen science that yields best results. Pick a treat, and step up to your stove with new confidence as you gear up for the sweetest season.