News You Can Use: 15 Tips for Baking with Low Vision

A New Year’s party or a holiday gathering is an excellent reason to bake a treat for loved ones. Many of us have favorite family recipes that are used to prepare holiday meals.

“My go-to family recipe is for Pfeffernüsse Cookies—German gingerbread cookies that I have been baking for over 20 years,” says Jean Kalscheur, the Council’s Education and Vision Services Director. Her family recipe makes small, crispy cookies that are good for dunking in coffee or milk.

Involvement in cooking and baking should not be limited to those who can see. Use the techniques and adaptive products outlined below to cook and bake holiday favorites to impress your friends and loved ones.

Note: Scroll to the bottom of this article for Jean’s Pfeffernüsse Cookies.

15 Tips for Holiday Baking

Tip 1: Make the recipe accessible.

  • If the recipe is in printed text
    • Enlarge it on a copy machine.
    • Take a photo of it and enlarge on a tablet.
  • If the recipe is handwritten, ask a friend to type it into a text file using 20-point font or larger.
  • If reading isn’t an option, create an audio version.
    • A text file can be read by computer, tablet, smart phone, or Victor Reader Stream.
    • Have someone read it into a digital recorder. One option is the PenFriend (sold in Sharper Vision Store and at store.WCBlind.org/store/labeling).

Tip 2: Read through the entire recipe before beginning. This gives the opportunity to check that all ingredients are available and helps with planning the time needed to complete the recipe.

Two hands reading brailled text of a recipe in a cookbook. A black Trek reader is also on the table.

Tip 3: Set aside several sheets of parchment paper, a funnel, and several wide-mouthed cereal bowls.

Tip 4: Gather all ingredients and place them into a baking pan. This prevents having to search for something when in the middle of preparing a recipe.

 

Tip 5: Use high contrast measuring cups and spoons. For example, use black cups to measure white flour and white spoons to measure cinnamon. (Braille and high contrast measuring cups and spoons are available at the Sharper Vision Store and at store.WCBlind.org/store/kitchen).

Tip 6: Dipping measuring cups or spoons into ingredients is easier than pouring ingredients into the cups or spoons. For dry ingredients, use the flat side of a knife to level off the top. When leveling dry ingredients, work over a piece of parchment paper. Fold the parchment paper in half and return excess ingredient to its original container using the funnel.A hand places an small container marked “allspice” into a baking pan. The grey metal baking pan contains a tin of flour, bag of sugar and other small spice containers.

A close-up of a hand holding a one-cup black measuring cup. The cup contains white flour and a butter knife is being used to scrape the excess back into the flour container.

Tip 7: When measuring ingredients that come in small spice containers, such as allspice, ginger and cloves, empty the small container into a cereal bowl. Use a measuring spoon to scoop the necessary spices for your recipe out of the bowl. Return the excess left in the cereal bowl to the spice jar using the funnel.

Tip 8: For wet ingredients, stabilize the measuring cup on the counter using a damp towel or washcloth. Put one finger on the edge of the cup. Pour slowly with the other hand. You will feel the liquid when it reaches the top. For small amounts of liquid, dip the measuring spoon into the liquid.

Tip 9: Crack eggs into a clean cereal bowl. Feel for any shell pieces and take those out before adding the eggs to the recipe.

Tip 10: When mixing dry ingredients into wet ingredients using a mixer, always start the mixer on low to prevent a cloud of flour. Another option is to place a towel or flour sack over the top of the bowl.

Tip 11: Using parchment paper on cookie sheets gives contrast and makes clean-up easier. After baking, slide the entire parchment sheet off onto a cooling rack and then remove cookies. This reduces trying to find cookies with a spatula or turner. Put parchment paper back onto the cookie sheet for the next batch.

Tip 12: To easily form and place balls of cookie dough onto parchment lined cookie sheets, use a round tablespoon, a small ice cream scoop, or a melon baller.

Hand-rolled cookie dough balls are placed on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Tip 13: A push-pull oven ruler (available at the Sharper Vision Store and at store.WCBlind.org/store/kitchen) is great to get oven racks in and out without touching them.

A push-pull oven ruler pulls out the oven rack holding 15 brown-colored cookies.

Tip 14: Use extra-long oven mitts to take cookie sheets off of the oven rack (available at the Sharper Vision Store and at store.WCBlind.org/store/kitchen).

Tip 15: Determine when the baked goods are done with a talking timer, a large print timer, or a braille timer (available at the Sharper Vision Store and at store.WCBlind.org/store/kitchen). Or set an alarm on a smart speaker, such as a GoogleHome or Amazon Echo.

A close-up photo of a black and white kitchen timer.

Find helpful kitchen tools and more at the Sharper Vision Store, or by visiting store.WCBlind.org/store/kitchen.

Jean’s Pfeffernüsse Cookies

Yield: 8 dozen

Pfeffernüsse cookies in the center of a light brown plate with gingerbread holiday trees around the edge of the plate.

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup molasses

1/3 cup water

6 to 6-2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup crushed aniseed

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Confectioners’ sugar

Instructions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. (See Tip 9).
  3. In a separate bowl, combine corn syrup, molasses and water; set aside. (See Tip 8).
  4. In yet another bowl, combine the flour, aniseed, baking soda and spices. (See Tips 6 and 7).
  5. Add to creamed mixture alternately with molasses mixture. Adjust flour if dough becomes too heavy. The dough is very stiff. Mix in the final amount of flour with a wooden spoon if using a hand mixer. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  6. Roll into 1-inch balls. (See Tip 12).
  7. Place 1-inch apart on parchment-lined cookie sheets. (See Tip 11).
  8. Bake at 400 degrees for 11 minutes or until golden brown. (See Tip 15).
  9. Put about ½ cup confectioners’ sugar in a paper or plastic bag. Put warm cookies in the bag and shake. Remove and cool on wire racks.

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