My poor husband has had enough, again. Our library looks like a book vomitorium, and I’m the guilty party. Books are everywhere, floor to ceiling, as my cookbook collecting habit strangles the room. There are books old and new all over the floor, seeping out into the hallway. Jesse spent much of the weekend trying to organize the chaos, but with little luck.
I cannot help this though. Each book is a time stamp, holding history still while I absorb information, much of which has been lost to today’s cooks and bakers. Jesse will hopefully forgive me, as my collection grows into other rooms.
I purchased a 1948 copy of Brer Rabbit’s New Orleans Molasses Recipes this past weekend at an antique store, but instead of baking from it, I found a more appealing recipe online and used that instead! Yeah, I am in so much trouble.
Looking at the ingredients, I realized this recipe has very old roots. A good amount of vinegar is used to tenderize the dough, so that it can be rerolled quite a few times if needed. It may have been made with lard originally, because it needed an extra egg to get to gingerbread consistency with shortening. These cookies are real gingerbread, well ginger cookies really, leaving me to wonder why and when “bread” was eventually added.
The cookie stamp comes in a kit from Williams Sonoma. We had a lot of fun making up sayings and putting in the letters. Of course not all of our words where um, holiday appropriate, but they made me burst into evil giggles. We ate all these though, and only the happy cheerful ones remain in my freezer. Rolled Gingerbread Cookies
Rolled Gingerbread Cookies
1 cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup molasses, warm in microwave if difficult to pour
2 Tablespoons white vinegar, (Don't worry there will be no taste of vinegar.)
1/2 teaspoons salt
2 to 3 teaspoons ground ginger, to taste
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
5 cups all purpose flour
In a stand mixer, cream shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs, molasses, and vinegar. Add the salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves and mix to combine. Add the baking soda and mix in. Add the flour about 1/3 at a time and mix until combined.
Spoon the dough about equally onto three pieces of wax paper. Wrap up, press into a 1 inch disk, and store in a gallon size bag. Chill dough for several hours or overnight.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and sit on the counter for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat them oven to 375 degrees and cover cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Place a disk between two sheets of new wax paper. Roll 1/8 to ¼ inch thick. *If dough sticks to wax paper, flour lightly until it stops sticking* Cut out shapes and place on parchment 2 inches apart. Bake for 6 to 9 minutes depending on the size thickness of your cookies, or until no longer wet looking.
Cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes, then move to wire cooling racks. Once cooled, decorate as desired.
Want to fancy up your gingerbread? This is a fantastic royal icing recipe. If you have a kitchen scale, use it. You’ll get much more accurate results.
2 3/8 cups (315 grams) powdered sugar
¼ cup (60 ML) All Whites 100% Liquid Egg Whites (The pasteurized stuff in a carton)
2 ¼ teaspoons cream of tartar
A very small dash of lemon, vanilla, almond, or other extract or oil of your choice.
In a stand mixer fluff up the powdered sugar to break up any clumps. Add the egg white, cream of tarter, and extract. Beat on low spend until mixed, then on high speed for 5 minutes.
Cover the extra icing with a damp towel while using, or store in an airtight container right away as the icing will harden immediately.
To thin the icing, add a half teaspoon of water at a time until desired constancy.
Ginger Cookie recipe adapted from COOKS.COM. Royal icing recipe adapted from “Gingerbread House Book” by Ella Harris. Book is in her Bake and Build Gingerbread House Book & Kit.