Monday, December 9, 2013

Gingerbread with Fresh Ginger

I've tried many gingerbread recipes.  I've settled on a slight variation on this one. It's the perfect amount to make two 9"x13" baking sheets, suitable for the 5"x7"x8" house in my Complete Guide.  For best results, you should make the gingerbread dough on one day, refrigerate it overnight, and roll and bake it the next day.  You'll want to bake the gingerbread for a bit before cutting out the pieces.  Otherwise, they'll expand while baking and they won't fit together as expected.

Gingerbread with Fresh Ginger
Makes 2 9"x13" baking sheets

6 cups (1lb 14oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1.5" cube of fresh ginger, grated
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp) unsalted butter (slightly softened)
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz) packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup dark molasses
1 Tbsp water

Making the Dough

Whisk together dry ingredients in large bowl and set aside.  Using a stand mixer, cream butter with brown sugar at medium speed until well combined.  Beat in eggs, molasses, fresh ginger, and water until well mixed.  Mix in half the flour mixture until smooth.  Add the rest of the flour and stir gently.  Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead until dough sets into a nice ball.  Put the dough into a big ziploc bag in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

Rolling the Dough

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Take the dough out of the fridge to let it warm up for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut out two pieces of parchment paper the size of the baking surface of your baking sheets.  The parchment paper is essential!  Trust me, you do not want to forget the parchment paper.  

Cut the dough into two pieces.  For each piece, roll it out as flat and evenly as you can on each piece of parchment paper.  If it extends off the end, cut that piece off and replace it on one of the inevitably missing corners.  It doesn't have to cover every inch, but you should make sure that all the pieces from your pattern fit on what you have rolled out.

Carefully slide each dough-covered parchment paper onto each baking sheet.  Try to make sure that there aren't any creases in the paper when you do this or they can compromise the structural integrity of the house.  (Though once it's baked and set the gingerbread is surprisingly forgiving of superficially damning structural flaws.)

Baking the Dough and Cutting Pieces

Put the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Take the baking sheets out, lay out the pattern on the dough.  Using a sharp knife, carefully cut all the edges.  If you are making stained glass windows, be sure you cut the windows as well.  Do not try to lift or separate the pieces at this time.  If you have any spare area, this is also a good time to use cookie cutters to make some extra cookies.  May I recommend gingerbread men to populate your house?  Or just cut random shapes for cookies to eat.

Put the baking sheets back in the oven for another 10 minutes.  At this point the thinner edges are probably all going to be well cooked and can be removed to keep them from burning.  Check on the gingerbread every 5-10 minutes.  Overall, it'll probably be about 45 minutes total for the walls and roof.

Take the sheets out of the oven and let set for 5 minutes.  Carefully transfer the pieces to a cooling rack.  They may still be a bit soft, but after a couple of hours of cooling they'll be nice and solid.

Next step in building the house:  (optional) stained-glass windows, and then the royal icing!

All pictures copyright Rebecca Stanek, all rights reserved.

No comments: