Did You Know? In London, during the seventeenth century, gingerbread bakers had the exclusive right to make it, and only at Christmas and Easter were other citizens allowed to join in.
Christmas is almost here, and in my opinion, it's only second to Halloween. I don't really know why, it's not like we get presents on Halloween, I've just always liked the idea of dressing up, carving pumpkins, candy apples, and all that cinnamon-scented autumn stuff. But that's besides the point...it's almost Winter now, and just thinking about Christmas can put anyone in a good mood.
We just got our tree on Friday, and being the sole decorator in my house, I thought I had better get to work. It's not that no one offers to help. It's just my OCD takes over, and I would much rather do everything on my own. I like things a certain way, and I like my tree and house to look like a magazine picture. So I'm sorry to say (well not really), that there's no colored lights and preschool decorations in this house. It was hard to convince my brother and sister to get on board with putting all their decorations away for the first few years, but now it's just assumed that I'm taking charge, and creating a new theme for our holiday.
I don't mean to sound like some sort of Christmas basher or anything, in the end everyone is really happy how our house turns out. They just need a little help to get there. Anyways, on to the baking. Every year my sister asks if we can bake gingerbread cookies while we decorate the tree, and every year I end up doing everything by myself. Now this particular episode is not because I like to do all of the baking. She just assumes "we can bake cookies" means "you can bake me cookies." I don't really mind, I'd probably tell her she was doing it wrong anyways. As long as someone is there to do the dishes (most likely my mom), I'm all set.
So here they are, finally. I healthed up this recipe a bit, hoping no one would notice, and in the end they turned out great. No one thought twice that they had far less butter and sugar than the usual cookie. They're chewy and spicy and everything a gingerbread cookie should be. If you like a harder cookie, I'm sure you could just bake them a bit longer, or eat them the next day. Icing is really just a preference, but we're into decorating, so I added currants for eyes and buttons before baking, and then piped on icing for a pretty Christmas effect.
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup molasses
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons water
In a medium bowl whisk together flours, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a larger bowl, combine sugar and butter, and beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until fluffy. Add molasses and egg, blend. Add flour mixture, a little at a time, to the molasses mixture. Beat on low until blended. Divide dough in half, shape each into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350
On a lighty floured surface, roll dough into a 1/4-inch thick round. Cut with desired cookie cutters, and place 1-inch apart on a greased cookie sheet (this is when I put the currants on mine). Bake for 7-8 minutes. Let cool on sheet for a couple minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Icing: Combine sugar and extract. Mix in water one tablespoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. Pour into a zip-lock bag, and trim a tiny bit off the corner of the bag. Pipe icing onto cookies however you wish.