Baking is to me, what alcohol is to most: a relaxer, stress reliever, giant distraction from my life…which is why I do it so often! I rarely eat what I bake, but THIS was a major exception!
I’ll admit it…I stalk Alexis Stewart’s blog. She is an amazingly talented baker and always shares her resources. Last week when I saw her gingerbread project I got really excited. I have never made gingerbread before, even though it is one of my favorite holiday cookies! So I took her recipe, a revamped recipe from 1950’s Gourmet magazine, and got to work. The result was SPECTACULAR.
This recipe is not for those of you who like easy baking, as the dough was very challenging to work with. Here is the recipe:
Into a bowl sift 2 3/4 cups cake flour. Add 3 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1 scant tablespoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon each of cloves and ginger, both ground, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sift the mixture. In another bowl combine 1 cup brown sugar, 2/3 cup dark molasses, 1/2 cup butter, 1 beaten egg, and 1/4 teaspoon allspice, and mix all together well. Stir the brown-sugar mixture into the dry mixture and knead until all the flour has been worked in. Divide the dough and roll it, half at a time, into a sheet 1/3 inch thick. Cut out the gingerbread men with a floured cutter. Transfer the forms to a buttered baking sheet and use pieces of seedless raisins and candied fruits or nuts to make the eyes, nose, and mouth. Bake the gingerbread men in a moderately hot oven (375° F.) for 12 minutes, or until they are lightly browned. The gingerbread men may be hung on the Christmas tree.
I ran into a lot of problems handling the dough. At one point is says to knead it…and let’s just say that my attempt to knead involved my husband scraping the dough off my hands with a spatula. So, chill it before you stick your hands in! I had a hard time rolling it out too, because it stuck to the cutting board like crazy. So, chill the dough first & flour the board like crazy. When I say like crazy…I mean it:
The flour that remains on the cookies can be brushed off with a towel when they come out of the oven. I liked the idea of gingerbread stars, but thought they were quite boring looking. I took a drizzle recipe from my baker buddy, Miss Maggie, and mixed 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar with milk (until it looked like the consistency of a male bodily fluid that shall remain nameless…)and put it in a ziploc bag, snipped the tip & striped the cookies. When the drizzle dried it ended up sparkly and was just beautiful!!
These look as good as they taste. Bake less for chewy cookies, more for crispy ones. I baked for 10 minutes & should have left them in for just 8. I like my gingerbread chewy…next time!
I think it might be time to invest in a cute handmade apron…but a floured belly is the badge of a good baker!