Then he unveiled his perfect gingerbread design -- tessellating trees. They nest and interlock perfectly -- like scissors catching right and gliding through wrapping paper. The only issue was there was still waste at the edges, but that was more user error than a design flaw.
Cookie bakers know that it’s a total pain in the dough when you’re cutting out your favorite designs with irregularly shaped cutters, only to be left with a whole lot of cookie bits that you need to combine and re-roll and do it all over again to infinity, or until there’s none left. In the ultimate geeky cookie hack, a blogger has cracked the code and figured out the most mathematically logistical way to get the most cookie stamping bang for your buck.
Blogger Martin Lersch is a chemist by profession and a food enthusiast, too. He loves to hack basic kitchen things like how to get the perfect pour-over coffee or how to calculate the right amount of yeast for baking. The leftover cookie dough problem was bugging him, so he decided to try to figure out a way to maximize cutting cookies without any extra. With shapes like circles, there are inevitably little diamonds left over. Squares work, but they make for a boring cookie. He discovered that tessellation patterns both solved the leftover problem and were aesthetically pleasing.
For an example of tessellation, think of artist M.C. Escher’s patterns like these:
In tessellating patterns, the shapes perfectly repeat and interlock, leaving nothing behind or in between.
Though the M.C. Escher's bird pattern is very pleasing and the cutters themselves do exist, it's not exactly the most Christmasy design ("Twelve Days of Christmas" birds aside).
Lersch looked at some other cutters like puzzle pieces and even thought up his own designs he could 3-D print, but it still wasn't Christmas magic.
In the spirit of community and perfecting his theory, he offered his cookie cutter shapes for download. You can get the tree, plus a Penrose dart and kite. You'll need a 3-D printer, but those are actually easier to find nowadays than when Lersch first printed his cutter in 2012.
And leaving no stone unturned, Lersch also shared his gingerbread recipe, which is actually a Norweigian version called pepperkake.
Forget gingerbread houses -- these are the cookies of our geeky dreams. Sadly, these will not likely impress your friends at a party because even though the dough will retain its basic shape, it will still puff, shrink and grow enough to a degree where the finished cookies might not tessellate. But hey, you'll know how much fun it was baking them and this serotonin boost is just for you. Happy baking!