Saturday, December 12, 2009
the sweet smell of gingerbread... continues!
Oh ginger... what a wonderful spice! I love it in my cooking - pickled, minced, sliced, diced... anyway you prepare it, I heart ginger. Which is why I'm very drawn to ginger sweets (actually, candied ginger is one of my favourite candies... seriously. almost addictive)... so I decided to keep baking with it this past week. On the menu, gingerbread people. My ginger people weren't decorated in my kitchen, since I gave them to my friend Tonya, so that she and her daughter could decorate them this weekend.
With the remaining dough I decided to use a circle cookie cutter and make little round disks that I then sprinkled with sugar prior to baking.
This recipe is thanks to Heidi @ 101 Cookbooks - I used some fresh ginger as well as the dried ground ginger, which I felt gave the cookies a real punch. A good, simple, dependable recipe that holds well to the rolling pin and cookie cutters. Highly recommended. :0)
4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp ground ginger
knob of fresh ginger, finely minced
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 c. dark brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup molasses
large grain sugar for decoration
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.
Using your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until it is light and fluffy. Incorporate the brown sugar and beat until creamy. Blend in the eggs one at a time and then the molasses. Add the flour mixture, add half the flour, incorporate and then add the rest of the flour... keep your mixer on low speed. Once that's done, divide the dough in half and wrap both halves in plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour - I allowed mine to sit in the fridge for 24 hours.
When you're ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 F and line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.
If you've allowed the dough to set for quite some time in the fridge, take it out just a little before you'll want to roll it out - so that it warms up just a bit (take it out about 5 minutes before you would start rolling it).
Lightly flour your working surface and then gently roll out the dough; I use the same technique as I do with my pastry dough, rolling in one direction and turning the dough in a clockwise motion until I end up with about 1/8-inch thick dough.
Then grab your ginger people - or any cookie cutter of your choice, and start cutting the figures out of the dough. I made a dozen people - 6 boys and 6 girls (for the decorating party) and with the remaining dough I cut out rounds and sprinkled those with the large grain sugar prior to baking them.
The key to gingerbread is not over baking the cookies; make sure that the sides are a little firm but that there is still a little give when you press down on the top of the cookie. Between 8 - 11 minutes... depending on the size of the cookie (the people 11 minutes, the rounds 9 minutes).
Decorate as you wish... I look forward to seeing what was created with my cookie base ;0)