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Thursday, January 30, 2003

Baker's Dozen

Why is a baker's dozen 13 of something? I think it should be 11. I realized this today as I was making cookies...for every 12 I put into the oven, only 11 made it into the cookie jar. Warm and gooey cookies are just too good to resist, and I wouldn't blame any baker for eating a few of them soon after they come out of the oven. Finishing with groups of 11 is easy - put 12 on the cookie sheet (which fits really well, 3 rows by 4 columns), bake them, take them out, eat one, and put the other 11 in the cookie jar. How could you end up with 13? Put 14 on each cookie sheet? What's that, 2 rows by 7 columns? That wouldn't fit most cookie sheets very well. A checkerboard pattern of 3-2-3-2-3 might fit pretty well, but that is exactly 13, so then you can't eat any of them. As the baker in this case, I find this unacceptable. I suppose you could just make as many cookies as the batch allows, then eat however many it takes to leave youself with a total that is a multiple of 13 - like making 60 cookies and eating 8 of them for 4x13=52 cookies. But to do that you'd probably have to wait until all the cookies are baked, and there are all sorts of reasons for this being a bad idea: 1) You might be eating way too many cookies all at once. 2) If by some chance you make 13 dozen (or some other common multiple of 12 and 13), then you wouldn't get any cookies. 3) You don't get to sample one from each "sub-batch" that comes out of the oven. 4) You're never more "the baker" than while you're actually baking, and if it's "your" dozen, you shouldn't have to wait for the final count. Wouldn't this all be easier if baker's dozens were groups of 11? Maybe we could call groups of 13 "eater's dozens", since that's who they really seem to benefit in the first place. Or maybe I should just find something productive to do while making cookies instead of counting and overanalyzing...

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