When I was teaching at Korea Christian University, I was at a Freshman Orientation, and when they introduced me, someone screamed, “Cookies!” Yes, I have a reputation for making cookies in Korea. Many students and other Koreans have eaten my cookies happily. I have also taught Korean friends how to bake cookies. Koreans love cookies, but since ovens are scarce in Korea and most homes don’t have ovens, the women don’t learn how to bake. They think if they want something baked, they must go to a bakery. However, I have figured out how to make cookies without having a big fancy oven like Americans have.
To begin with, here in Korea, you must find an oven. The cookies I made today, I made in what is called a confectioner’s oven. A friend of mine brought it to me from the American military base several years ago, and if I use it, I must use a transformer because it uses American electrical voltage. However, there are times my transformer goes out, and I can’t find another one, and when that happens, I use a toaster oven.
You can find toaster ovens easily in a shop that sells electrical items in Korea, and they aren’t as expensive as buying a big huge oven. There are advantages to using a toaster oven over the confectioner’s oven because they are smaller and the ones you find in Korea use Korean electrical voltage.
My confectioner’s oven was packed away, and I was using a toaster oven, but the lack of space in our apartment makes us bump into things, and my daughter bumped into the toaster oven, and it fell, and the glass in the door broke, so we had to throw it away and get the confectioner’s oven out. A toaster oven is sold for only 100,000 won which is about $100, and that is cheap for an oven. The confectioner’s oven is a little more, but not much, but I haven’t seen them in Korean stores, and they sit on the cabinet like the toaster oven.
Begin by taking your cooking butter out of the fridge and letting it get soft. American mothers use shortening, but here in Korea, there is no shortening, so I use cooking butter. In Romania, there also was no shortening, and I had to use butter. In Nigeria, they actually sold a type of shortening that was in a big can like shortening, but it was yellow. It was actually a type of margarine. Margarine works too.
After a couple of hours, actually begin the baking by turning your oven on and setting the temperature. Set your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or if your are using a Korean oven, set your Korean oven to 176 degrees Celsius. Let your oven heat up while you are putting the cookies together.
Get out a large mixing bowl. Measure one cup (225 grams) of cooking butter and put it in the bowl. Next, measure 1 1/2 cups (112 grams) of sugar and add it to the butter. Push it into the butter with a spoon and combine them. Next, add two eggs. Push the eggs into the butter and sugar mixture and mix them around.
Next, add 2 3/4 cups (approximately 575 grams) of flour. Before you mix the flour in, put 2 teaspoons of baking powder into the flour, then mix the flour and the baking powder into the butter, sugar, and egg mixture together. Keep mixing. It will turn into a dough. Here in Korea, we can find baking powder, but if you are in a country where you can’t find baking powder, baking powder is half baking soda and half cream of tartar. Keep mixing everything until you have a stiff cookie dough.
Next, get out a large cookie sheet, a large flat pan. If you are in America, we have special cookie sheets to bake our cookies on, but none of the ovens I have used overseas are big enough for a cookie sheet. If I use a toaster oven, a pizza pan or a large cake pan works. Today, I am using a pan that came with my confectioner’s oven that fits exactly into the oven. Test your pans before you use them and make sure you have a large flat pan that can easily be put inside your oven.
Next, put two tablespoons of sugar and two teaspoons of cinnamon into a dish.
Take a piece of the dough and make a ball. Roll the ball around in the cinnamon and sugar mixture, then place it on the cookie sheet or whatever kind of flat baking pan you have. Put as many of these cinnamon and sugar covered balls as you can on your cookie sheet and make sure there is space between them because they will grow.
You won’t be able to use all your dough at once. When your cookie sheet is full, put it in the oven you have been heating. Let it stay for about 8-10 minutes.
While the cookies are baking, make balls with the rest of the dough and cover them with cinnamon so they will be ready for the next batch.
After the cookies have baked for about 8-10 minutes, take them out of the oven and use a spatula to take them off the cookie sheet. If you leave them on the cookie sheet, they will stick, so take them off while they are still hot. I have some cooking racks, but I’m not sure where they are, so I put my cookies on a big plate to cool. While the first batch is cooking, put the rest of the cookie dough balls with cinnamon and sugar on them on the baking sheet and put them in the oven to bake.
While they are baking, if there is no more dough, then it is time to begin cleaning up. I often wash dishes while I am cooking because it is harder if I leave a big mess.
After the next batch has been in the oven for 8-10, take them out and put them on the plate with the other cookies. Turn your oven off. Enjoy your cookies!
I am making mine because when I made biscuits the other day, my Korean son in law made a whole meal out on the biscuits. I could tell he was needing me to bake more. People will love your cookies! If you are a teacher like I was, share them with your students like I often did, the students will love you! You don’t need a big fancy oven to bake cookies in Korea. Choosok, a major Korean holiday is coming, and if you make these for your family on Choosok, they will be thrilled!