ewein2412: (christmas)
http://www.hbook.com/history/letters/wilder_1953_letter.asp

We made it last night. I baked it at 375 F (160 C in my fan oven) for 55 minutes, nearly twice as long as the directions advise, but it's WONDERFUL! More clove-y than gingery, we all agree, and if I were to make it again I'd probably substitute another teaspoon of ginger for the teaspoon of allspice. It made two loaves.

It is 9.15 a.m.--the sun is just coming up. (It is true that official sunrise here was 8.41 a.m., but it takes another half an hour to clear the hills across the valley).

HAPPY BIRTHDAY [livejournal.com profile] sdn! I am eating Christmas tree Peeps in your honor.
ewein2412: (Default)
Annie Gensler was my great-grandmother's next-door-neighbor in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

Simmer in a pan for ten minutes:

3/4 cup butter or lard (I use butter)
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup New Orleans molasses (in the UK, I substitute 1 tin of Lyle's black treacle. In the US you could substitute 1 cup dark Karo syrup for a less molasses-y flavor).

Stir occasionally. Let cool for ten minutes. Add:

1 beaten egg
2 tsp baking soda dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water

Stir, then add:

1 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
5 tsp ginger (or more!)

Mix in approximately 4 cups flour (in the UK, you need to use Strong White Bread Flour. In the US, all-purpose flour is fine. Don't get me started on this weird subject).

Chill dough for an hour or so before rolling and cutting. Bake cookies for 5-10 minutes (depending on size) on ungreased baking sheets at 350 F/170 C (160 C if you're using a convection/fan oven).

A NOTE ON ROLLING:

Use lots of flour on the dough, your rolling surface, and your rolling pin. My grandmother is a firm believer in the combined artillery of pastry cloth and rolling pin sleeve to keep rolled dough from sticking, and I have become a convert to this process. The more flour you add to the dough the drier and *doughier* it gets. Add fresh dough to the ball you're working with to keep it from getting too dry.

I apologize for not posting this recipe in time for Christmas. BUT, it doesn't have to be Christmas and you don't have to be a) Christian or b) Pennsylvania Dutch to eat gingerbread cookies. You don't even have to own a cookie cutter; an upended glass works fine in a pinch. Using cool cookie cutters is more fun, though. I made a huge squadron of Spitfires and Lancaster bombers last year during one of my nerdier obsessions. I also have a beautiful set of snowflake cutters that my aunt gave me, which you can make lacy patterns with.

It might take a little practice to get the consistency of the dough *exactly* right. But this is the best gingerbread recipe I've ever used. Good luck and enjoy!
ewein2412: (Default)
This morning, the soul of organization, I mixed up double the recipe of "Annie Gensler's Gingerbread Cookies." Annie Gensler was the next-door-neighbor of my grandfather when he was growing up in a small town in central Pennsylvania. There is NO gingerbread cookie recipe to beat hers. The dough is so failsafe and malleable that Mark, the four-year-old, can use our snowflake cookie cutters without his creations falling apart. You can roll this dough a millimeter thin and cut little stars that bake in two minutes to the crispness of potato chips; twice that thick and you can make walls for gingerbread houses, and they won't break.

Anyway… I mixed up this double recipe this morning, so that I had one of those stoneware mixing bowls FILLED with cookie dough, and stuck it in the fridge to cool to the proper rolling consistency (that of clay) ready for Sara, the seven-year-old, to come home from school and get to work. Four hours later I got out the dough, excavated a lump for Sara to roll, and realized I had forgotten to put in:

2 teaspoons cloves
2 teaspoons cinnamon
A QUARTER OF A CUP OF GINGER

So. Impossible to add and mix any more dry ingredients to something the consistency of clay. We have got Treacle Cookies. (They would be Molasses Cookies in the US, but I've found that one tin of Lyle's Treacle is an excellent substitute for one cup of mild molasses.) Sara says she likes them better "without the peppermint" anyway.

Unfortunately I will still be driven to produce proper gingerbread cookies before Christmas, so it's back to Tesco's ["Death of the Soul"], since I've used all the flour, treacle, and butter in the house.

This all reminds me of something, but I don't know what exactly.

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