Saturday, January 14, 2012

A little bit late (or early) for the festive season: Gingerbread

I have never, in all my years of life, made gingerbread.

Up until now.

That fact is quite amazing when you consider the number of times I harassed my poor, long-suffering mother when I was a child to help me bake gingerbread in order to make a gingerbread house – which is still a dream of mine by the way.

Whenever I used to bake biscuits (or cookies, depending on which part of the world you hail from), they would always be either plain butter or plain butter chocolate. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the recipe was from a Japanese source, but they always ended up being in the shape of Pokemon. I loved Pokemon. In fact, I still do!

This time, I tried a no butter and no sugar version of the traditional Christmas treat (yes, I know, Christmas was nearly three weeks ago).  They also happen to be from my lovely adopted (as far as I’m concerned ;-P) family from Green Kitchen Stories. Apparently their recipe is a take on the traditional Swedish gingerbread cookie, pepparkaka. If these are any indication of traditional Swedish sweets, I’m keen as a bean to try some other treats from that corner of the world. They’re not too bad… not too bad at all. Mmm. Yum.

Although the original recipe from GKS calls for cloves, I couldn’t find any in my cupboard so I just threw in some extra cinnamon and ginger to make up for it. Also, because last year’s festive season has long finished and this year’s is still 11 months away, I decided to make a greater number of smaller flower-shaped biscuits rather than the usual Christmas-y shapes. These could also be vegan if agave nectar was to be used in the place of honey.

Gingerbread Biscuits (adapted from Green Kitchen Stories)
Makes 30-50, depending on the size of the biscuit cutters

1 cup almonds
15 dates
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp honey
3 tsp ginger, grounded
3 tsp cinnamon, grounded
1-1,5 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

1. Place the almonds in a food processor or blender and grind them until they resemble a flour. Add dates, oil, honey, ginger and cinnamon and pulse until everything is mixed into a dough.

2. Sift together the flour and baking soda and start kneading the flour into the dough, little by little. The dough is ready when it can be formed into a moist, round ball without being sticky. Put the dough in the fridge over night or for four hours.

3. Preheat the oven to 150°C and line a baking pan with parchment paper. To prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling pin, sandwich it between two sheets of cling wrap and roll it until it is about 4-5mm thick. Cut the dough with your biscuits cutters of choice and transfer the gingerbread to the parchment paper. This dough is a little bit more brittle than your typical dough so it helps to be careful when transferring.

4. Bake for 7-12 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the biscuits. These contain almonds so they burn easily so try to keep an eye on the oven so as to make sure not to overdo them.

5. Cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

In hindsight, I probably should have used the bigger biscuit cutters; they’re quite addictive and the small size makes it even easier to reach into the container and just have one more

- Matilda

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