As the temperatures finally fall and finals approach, five expert chefs in UW-Madison kitchens are working harder than Santa’s elves to bake up some holiday joy.
For more than 15 years now, bakers at UW-Madison’s Dining and Culinary Services, a division of UW Housing, have been whipping up assorted cookies for Badgers hungry for holiday spirit… and a healthy dose of sugar. We headed into the kitchens in the new Gordon Dining Center, where we met Alayna Bartley, Keith Blew, Nicole Morgenau and Scottie Prentiss, the men and women in charge of these tasty treats.
What makes UW Housing’s holiday cookies extra special?
Scottie: A lot of holiday cookies are factory produced these days. From start to finish, all our cookies are made by hand right here on campus.
Best gift you ever gave or received?
Scottie: My six-quart Kitchenaid mixer
Nicole: The Griswold’s moose mugs from Christmas Vacation*
*Ssh, don’t tell Nicole’s dad and ruin the Christmas surprise!
The flavor that makes me think Christmas is …
Scottie: Pumpkin, cinnamon, all the spices – anise, clove, ginger
Nicole: Peppermint … even though I personally can’t stand it!
What’s your favorite holiday treat?
Nicole: My mom’s oatmeal chocolate caramel bars
Alayna: For nostalgia reasons, my mom’s burnt almond cookies
Do you enjoy baking at home? Or do you get enough of that at work?
Alayna: Every year, my whole family spends at least a few days baking together
Scottie: I have small kids at home, so they try to help … mostly with the eating
What type of music do you listen to while baking?
Alayna: Soulful music, oldies … like Etta James or Sam Cooke
Scottie: Whatever my kids choose …
Keith: Whatever my wife chooses!
Tips for amateur bakers from the pros:
Nicole: Always measure properly. Use a scale and measure by weight if you can.
Keith: Read the instructions!
Alayna: Double-check your tablespoons and teaspoons; don’t keep your salt and sugar too close to each other; and if you’re making a big batch of cookies, try a few samples first to make sure they are the right size and consistency.
Scott: Use good equipment.