Thursday, December 13, 2007

Gingerbread: Part I

Last year I learned too late that there are two types of gingerbread recipes: the one you want to eat and the one you build a house with. I started to search for a yummy recipe for gingerbread people online and I found that most people were not happy about the gingerbread recipes they were finding. Then I found a recipe on a blog where the woman made the recipe by trial and error and they are delicious.

Here is the woman's recipe directly from her website:
  • 3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature, softened)
  • 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses

1 In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.

2 In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses. Gradually add the flour mixture; combine on low speed. (You may need to work it with your hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.) Divide dough in thirds; wrap each third in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight. Before rolling out, let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. If after refrigerating the dough feels too soft to roll-out, work in a little more flour.

3 Heat oven to 350°. Place a dough third on a large piece of lightly floured parchment paper or wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll dough 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate again for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to cut out the cookies. Use either a cookie cutter or place a stencil over the dough and use a knife to cut into desired shapes. Press raisins, chocolate chips, or candy pieces in the center of each cookie if desired for "buttons".

4 Transfer to ungreased baking sheets. Bake until crisp but not darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Let sit a few minutes and then use a metal spatula to transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired.

I made one batch of dough and divided it in half to roll out cookies on two separate occasions. First, I made cookies for Jove that he put sprinkles and colored sugar on to decorate before we baked them. A few days later, I baked the rest for a play date with our mom's group. I made icing out of confectioner's sugar, milk and food coloring and the kids each got to ice a few cookies. I put a small amount of icing into plastic sandwich bags and then tore a tiny hole in the corner, so the kids could squeeze out the icing as if it was in a pastry bag. You could also give them a small dish and a toothpick or small spoon for them to apply it with, but this could get a lot messier than the bags.

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