Sweet ReMarks: Gingerbread, Spice & Everything Nice

by | Desserts, In the Kitchen, Recipes

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Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh gingerbread baking in the oven?

The air fills with gingery cinnamon spices and the richness of molasses. It’s almost like the scent wraps around you like a cozy holiday hug. Gingerbread not only smells like the holidays, but it tastes like the holidays too!

 

Have you ever tried making gingerbread cookies?

They can be a frustrating mess if you don’t really know what you’re doing. It’s probably the softest of all cookie doughs. If you don’t keep the dough constantly chilled, they just won’t work. To make cookie baking a pleasant experience, here is the basic method with some helpful hints along the way.

 

Gingerbread Cookie Dough

Unsalted Butter                       8 oz. (or 2 sticks)

Shortening                              8 oz.

Dark Brown Sugar                  1 Cup

Molasses                                 ¾ Cup

Large Eggs                             2 each

Fresh Grated Ginger              ½ teaspoon

All Purpose Flour                    4 Cups

Baking Soda, sifted                2 teaspoons

Cinnamon                               2 teaspoons

Powdered ginger                    2 teaspoons

Allspice                                   1 teaspoons

Cloves                                     1 teaspoon

Black pepper                           1 teaspoon

Salt                                          ½ teaspoon

 

The “creaming” method

The dough itself is fairly easy to make. It is made by using the “creaming method.” The creaming method is when you paddle your butter (or fats) and sugar(s) together until it creates a soft mass without lumps. Then add eggs one at a time and the vanilla extract. Scrape, scrape, down the bowl, after each egg. If you use fresh grated ginger, add it now. Last, mix in your dry ingredients. That’s the easy part.

 

Now comes the important steps of rolling out & keeping it chilled.

HINT #1

 

When the dough is soft it is effortless to roll out. Simply place a cookie sheet-sized piece of parchment on your work space. Place a baseball size of gingerbread dough in the center of the parchment. Push the gingerbread ball down slightly to make it easier for that first pass of the rolling pin. Then place a second piece of parchment on top. Begin to roll it out but no more than ¼” thick. Take your bowl scraper and scrape up the excess dough. Place this gingerbread sheet in the refrigerator. Now, continue rolling it out until all the dough is in sheets. You can stack them in frig as you go.

 

 

Once the dough is rolled out you will need to cut your shapes and bake.

Your dough must be completely chilled. (You may need to move it to the freezer for 5 minutes if it gets too warm.)

 

HINT #2

 

As soon as you remove one layer of gingerbread from your refrigerator, make sure you peel off the top parchment paper, then gently lay it back on. Immediately flip the dough sheet over and peel off the other parchment paper. This loosens the dough from the parchment, so the cut-out shapes don’t stick to it. (The dough should feel firm but not rock hard. If too cold the shapes will break.)

Cut shapes. Re-roll the scraps as you go.

 

Bake 325F for 12 – 17 minutes depending on desired crispness.

 

 

 

HINT #3

If you want perfect clean edges to your gingerbread cookies, press your cutter into the shapes once again immediately upon removing the baked cookies from the oven. Do this before they cool otherwise, they will break.

 

 

Decorate with royal icing and candies or dust with powdered sugar.

 

Gingerbread photos courtesy of Keli Marks

 

 

 

Pastry Chef Keli Marks

Pastry Chef Keli Marks is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. She received a full year education at the French Pastry School in Chicago, IL in exchange for being the very first assistant to Jacquy Pfeiffer & Sebastien Canonne, MOF when they opened the school in 1996.

Keli has been on the Food Network on three separate occasions: Sugar Rush, Romance Novel Cake Challenge and The Holiday Baking Championships. In addition, she was on the Chicago chapter’s board for Les Dames d’Escoffier from 2009 – 2011 and was a guest pastry chef at the famed James Beard House in NYC in 2013.

As the pastry chef owner of Bakery 28, she incorporates local ingredients from farmers within the Carolinas and promises to only use natural ingredients.

 

 

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