Air: Baking’s Key Variable - Chemical Leaveners (part 2) - Baking Soda - Gingerbread Cookies

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Gingerbread Cookies

Chemical leaveners aren’t always used to create light, fluffy foods. Even dense items need some air to keep them enjoyable.

In a bowl, mix together with a wooden spoon or electric beater:

½ cup (100g) sugar

6 tablespoons (80g) butter, softened but not melted

½ cup (170g) molasses

1 tablespoon (17g) minced ginger (or ginger paste)

In a separate bowl, whisk together:

3¼ cups (400g) flour

4 teaspoons (12g) ginger powder

1 teaspoon (5g) baking soda

2 teaspoons (3g) cinnamon

1 teaspoon (1g) allspice

½ teaspoon (2g) salt

½ teaspoon (2g) ground black pepper

Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl with the sugar/butter mixture. (I use a strainer as a sifter.) Work the dry and wet ingredients together using a spoon or, if you don’t mind, your hands. The dough will get to a crumbly, sand-like texture. Add ½ cup (120g) water and continue mixing until the dough forms a ball.

Turn out the dough onto a cutting board coated with a few tablespoons of flour. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is about ¼″ (0.6 cm) thick. Cut it into shapes using a cookie cutter or a paring knife and bake them on a cookie sheet in an oven set to 400°F / 200°C until cooked, about eight minutes. The cookies should be slightly puffed up and dry, but not overly dry.

Baking gingerbread cookies is, of course, a great holiday activity with kids.

Gingerbread Cookie Frosting

In a microwave-safe bowl, mix together with a fork or electric beaters:

3 tablespoons (40g) butter, softened but not melted

1 cup (200g) powdered sugar

1 tablespoon (15g) milk

1 teaspoon (4g) vanilla extract

Add food coloring if desired. Microwave the frosting for 15 to 30 seconds—long enough to melt the frosting, but not so long that it boils. This will give you a frosting that you can then quickly dip the cookies into and that will set into a nice, thin coating that adheres well to the cookies.

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