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Saffron Snickerdoodles and the Secret Sauce to Blogging

Saffron Snickerdoodles

Back in the early days of blogging, links were the best way to discover new sites, content, and voices around the Internet. Everyone seemed to have a blogroll, and anyone who knew anything about search would tell you that this was one of the best ways to get found on the Internet. For example, if I were to write about the best snickerdoodles, as I am today, I’d ask my blogging friends to all link to my post.

When I first created a blog (which, by the way, was known as ‘eating/sf’), I didn’t have any friends who blogged. But I thought I did. After writing approximately three posts, I promptly emailed three of my favorite food bloggers, asking them if they would please consider adding my blog to their blogrolls. At the time, of course, I took their radio silence personally and wondered how the heck I’d ever make friends with these Internet celebrities. I probably would have quit blogging then and there because, frankly, I’m a sensitive person. But Matt convinced me that making friends with celebrity bloggers wasn’t really the point. I’m so glad we had that talk.

Saffron Snickerdoodles

Over the years, we’d have many talks about this and other topics related to blogging that I had never imagined when I created my original Blogger account. First and foremost, I discovered, there was no secret sauce to blogging. Just like in real life, making friends with people online happens organically. People stumble onto each other’s sites, or get introduced by friends of friends. Sometimes what you write is well-received and shared. And sometimes it’s not. Back in the day, the way to find stuff was primarily through links on popular blogs, but now, blogging has become much more democratized.

Saffron Snickerdoodles

I’ve noticed that fewer ‘big’ blogs are linking, and much of the sharing is happening on social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +). I’m still a big believer in the blogroll. For me, it serves a number of purposes. It offers insight into what others are reading and therefore divulges a bit about the blogger’s perspective and interests. It helps smaller bloggers get found on the Internet. And it creates a sense of camaraderie.

There are many, many reasons to invest time into social media to build a community and share content. But as sharing skews heavily toward the visual side, I think it’s still really important to share the old-fashioned way: through links, email, and the good ‘ol blogroll.

Saffron Snickerdoodles

I diverged, as I often do, but what I am really here to tell you about is snickerdoodles. The best. The funny thing is, these snickerdoodles aren’t really snickerdoodles in the traditional sense. They’re not made with cream of tartar or rolled in cinnamon. This recipe comes from what has become my second go-to baking book (the first being Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain). I had spotted them first on Heidi’s site before I had this cookbook, and before I had ever purchased one from a Blue Bottle stand. I had to try the real thing before making them at home and after having plenty of both I must say: these are the real deal.

If you’re afraid of using saffron here, take my word for it: take the plunge. The only thing you’ll be sorry about is not doubling the recipe.

Saffron Snickerdoodles
adapted from The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee
*makes 9 cookies

30 threads of saffron
1/2 vanilla bean, split
2 tablespoons of milk
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 cup of butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon of real vanilla extract

1. Grind the saffron threads to a powder using a mortar and pestle. Next, scrape the vanilla bean seeds into a small saucepan. Add the vanilla bean pod, milk, and crushed saffron. Cook over very low heat until bubbles begin to appear on the edges (around 180 or 190 degrees F). Remove from the heat, cover the pot with a lid and let steep for about ten minutes.
2. Sift the flour and baking soda into a bowl and set aside.
3. Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on low speed until smooth. Beat in the sugars and salt on low speed until combined.
4. Scrape the sides of the bowl and continue beating the mixture until it’s light and fluffy.
5. Remove the vanilla bean pod from the milk (squeeze off any liquid and pulp). Combine the milk, egg and vanilla extract in a medium bowl and whisk until blended.
6. With the mixer running, slowly beat the egg mixture into the butter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then continue mixing for another 30 seconds or so (until smooth). Add the flour mixture and beat until just combined.
7. Remove the dough from the bowl of the stand mixer, shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of three hours or up to five days.
8. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
9. Form 1/4 cup portions of dough into balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 16 minutes, rotating the baking sheet midway through the baking time. The cookies are done when they are golden and puffed. They come out of the oven looking thick, but will buckle as they cool (you want them to do that).
10. Cool cookies on the pan for 10 minutes before removing. These cookies are best eaten warm, but can be stored in an airtight container for up to two days. You can also keep the dough in the refrigerator for several days, baking a few at a time, when the craving strikes.

Musical Pairings: Local Natives – Hummingbird + Saffron Snickerdoodles

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Posted by Kasey

Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

  • Good thoughts here, Kasey. Relatable. And, for the record, I always like when you diverge. : )

  • DessertForTwo

    My how blogging has changed, hasn’t it? All it takes is one Pinterest-worthy photo to change your life!

    I’ve been thinking about these cookies ever since Heidi shared them. Now I’ve REALLY got to make them πŸ™‚

  • Laura

    Yes, long live the blogroll. Although I am newer to blogging if I’m being real, I appreciate a good old links page. I like that insight, that window into places admired by someone that I admire also. It reinforces those community vibes, which is one of the more rewarding parts of the whole online creativity + publishing scene. Also, just took a peek through your links and found a bunch of really great new-to-me sites. The system works!

    And heck yeah saffron in snickerdoodles (duh).

  • Funny, I just this weekend added a blogroll to my sidebar. The more I blog, the more I realise how important the community is.

  • Amen to blogrolls and cookies with incredible height.

  • elalderson

    Oh gosh, the blogger days. I remember right after I started blogging I joined Tuesday with Dories and was so excited to be on the list on so many different blogs. There’s so much inspiration and I always love to see what others are inspired by! Great post (and you just gave me the kick to go add it back into my site via the sidebar!)

  • sara forte

    such a fabulous book! I love it too. I need to cook more from it, Hugh mostly just obsessed about the coffee info. I don’t even feel like I’ve been at this *that* long, but you’re right, it seems the blogroll faded a bit, but that is how I found all the blogs I started reading – through other peoples blogrolls. Crazy stuff. Good luck at your ALT talk!!!

  • Nicole

    Always love hearing your musings on blogging. And snickerdoodles are one of my favorite cookies, so I’ll have to try this version. Saffron — who knew?

  • I’ve been thinking about bringing my blogroll back! It is nice to see everyone’s favorites. I’m probably the only person on the planet that doesn’t really like traditional snickerdoodles, but I am totally down with these. And come to think of it, I have some amazing cinnamon that could make me love the traditional ones, too. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • I totally agree with you. It doesn’t matter if we are trying to make friends online or offline. After all, we would never stop strangers and ask them to be our friends {I guess πŸ™‚ }.
    And Amen you didn’t stop blogging!

  • kickpleat

    I do love a blogroll as I find it’s a trusty recommendation to discover new blogs. And I’d love to try these cookies. I’ve never had a good snickerdoodle even though it’s the kind of cookie I think I’d love. Love the twist on these!

  • Thank you, Shanna! There are plenty of meanderings here πŸ™‚

  • So, so true! On the one hand Pinterest is very democratic, but on the other, it really does focus on the visual vs. the written word which, to me, is still so so important. These cookies are bomb-diggity. Make them asap!

  • Completely agree, Laura. Honestly, it is one of the most valuable things I get out of blogging – the human connection behind our computer screens is invaluable. And I’m glad you found some new blogs through our blogroll…there’s so much good stuff out there to be found and shared.

  • Yay! So true. I sometimes feel like I don’t update my blogroll enough…this post definitely puts the pressure on, but I’m glad I self-imposed it.

  • Sing it, sister. πŸ™‚ xo

  • Omg, I totally remember Tuesdays with Dorie! I never participated but I do remember those lists. I feel that in some ways, blogging has become a lot more democratic, but at some expense. I’m glad you are rethinking your blogroll! Whether it’s in the sidebar, on a separate page, I think it’s a nice thing! x

  • Yup, same deal; Matt is all about the coffee section. I remember that feeling of great discovery whenever I’d stumble on a new blog thanks to a larger blogger…I still relish that feeling! I so wish you were coming to Alt…next time πŸ™‚ xo

  • I love being surprised by a flavor profile and I must say that these cookies are intensely buttery, flavorful, and allow you to fall into a daze…I have, for the record, eaten three at once (despite the height). I’m glad you enjoyed the post! x

  • I surprise myself sometimes when it comes to traditional recipes…sometimes, one small twist or a ‘secret’ ingredient really takes it to the next level. I discovered some great blogs through your blogroll (when you had it). I do hope you bring it back! xo

  • Not to mention…some great Etsy shops – you have an eye for curation!

  • Thanks, Vanessa. Agree 100%. I’m so glad I didn’t stop blogging, too. πŸ™‚

  • I think you would like these for sure πŸ™‚ As for blogrolls, I agree that it’s the trust that I have in bloggers whose sites I read that really help fuel my interest in other sites..I hope this trend is just that…a trend that will pass.

  • this is nuts – i made these from reading Heidi’s blog MONTHS ago. I froze most of them and just had a really strong hankerin’ for one last night, so i cooked 1. and now today, you have also posted about them. BONKERS. didn’t you love them?

  • Yup! I pretty much can’t have them sitting in my freezer because I will just make one every night of the week..don’t get me started…but yes, one of my favorite cookies ever. And that means a lot coming from someone who generally mostly gravitates to things that contain chocolate.

  • cheekychilli

    Loved this post! I thought along the same lines too some time ago and decided to do something about it because A) I’ve never been much of a fan of trends and more importantly B) the blog roll helped me discover some of my favourite blogs years ago, many of which I continue to read today. Plus it helps to have them all in one place, what with other sites going defunct (yeah, Google Reader). I love my favourite reads page as much as anything else on my blog, because people are doing some great things out there and this is my own little standing ovation to them for what it’s worth.

  • chezus

    Really lovely post, Kasey. I enjoy blogrolls as well, and we are currently having ours revamped as we think it is an asset to a site, as an introduction to new people. Half of the sites we ead were because of the blogroll. By the way … great cookies too!!

  • I love that you called your blogroll a ‘standing ovation’ – definitely agree. πŸ™‚

  • Thanks, Denise! Really love thinking about the blogroll as an asset to the site..I couldn’t agree more. Excited to check out your revamped one πŸ™‚

  • I like your thoughts on this. I agree – I love the blogroll, and like being able to support (even if it’s just a little bit) blogs that really resonate with me. And, as you mentioned, it’s how I found so many great blogs, and blog friends.

    Also, I had the same problem when I first started blogging – I just assumed ‘big’ blogs would love to link to my recipes and follow my blog! It was so depressing for a few weeks there, when no one responded. πŸ™‚

  • Jessie Snyder | Faring Well

    I really enjoyed reading this – so true about how relationships form organically overtime is this unique world of blogging. Such a huge fan of how everyone loves to promote one another, what a neat community! And then there are these snickerdoodles. Holy mother of yum. I need to try to veganize these ASAP cause I’m drooling! Thanks for sharing <3

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