Michael Pollan made a suggestion that I thought was great: Eat all the fried food you want, as long as you fry it yourself. His hypothesis is that most people wouldn’t want to bother with the hassle more than once in a great while, so fried food wouldn’t be the norm in anyone’s diet.
The members of Tuesdays with Dorie seem to agree, because not many people were excited about the prospect of frying this week. People brought up grease fires, spilled oil, kitchens that smelled for days afterward. Caitlin went so far as to spearhead a bake-the-sherben movement.
Can it be that easy? Can we skip the pot of oil and just throw the sherben in the oven? That would make these cookies downright healthy too, for a dessert at least, since there’s only a pittance of fat in the dough itself.
I tried it. I baked a few sherben dry, a few brushed with oil on one side, and a few brushed with oil on both sides. I fried the remaining dough, and then Dave and I compared.
About the dough baked without any oil, Dave said, “It’s like a breadstick covered in powdered sugar.” The cookies that had been brushed with oil on one side and on two sides were virtually identical and were just slightly better than the dry dough – a little less chewy and a little more puffy.
But the fried dough, that’s where it’s at. Actually, where it’s at is in my belly, because I couldn’t resist them – light and crisp and coated in powdered sugar. And while there were no fires and no odors, Pollan is right – cleaning up the pot of oil is hassle enough to keep me from frying often. But these cookies were worth it.