Archive | December, 2012

Lebkuchen (German Gingerbread)

23 Dec

I’ve been away, I know.  I had a houseguest, and then I went to Ohio for my cousin’s wedding, and I haven’t baked much since we last encountered one another on whatever platform you favor.  I myself have been living on my iPad, which finally has Chrome and Tumblr apps that are quite lovely.  What a rockin’ device.

So the week or two in review?

Two of my wonderful friends and I went carolling on the Subway

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and made $34!  We weren’t even trying to collect any money.  So we got waffels at Wafel and Dinges, and split the bounty three ways for optimal dinges-tasting.

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Annnd a lot of city adventures which I will not recount to you right now because you are probably intrigued by this strange word in this post’s title that I claim to mean gingerbread.

Well.

My grandmother was German, so my mom grew up having German foods and desserts on occasion, including this gingerbread.  I’ve been making it since I was a wee sprog–the page in the cookbook is caked with flour and sticky with molasses, and clouds of powdered sugar float up when you thumb through.  I don’t bother with other gingerbread because this is so good.  It’s a lot more bitter than regular gingerbread, so you absolutely must dip them in chocolate or shake powdered sugar onto them.  I’m experimenting with honey glaze at the mo.

I know.  You’re thinking, “If I HAVE to dip stuff in chocolate….”

Sacrifices must be made.

So.

You can roll the dough into a log and cut of slices, or roll it out into a big round flatness and cookie cutter it to ribbons, as I did.  Which is obviously more fun, but your dough, your life.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, unsalted
  • 2/3 firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup molasses, plus more as needed
  • 3 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • I think I threw in a pinch of cardamom, who knows, it can’t hurt

This recipe, by the way, is from a book entitled Cookies, by Hilaire Walden, which we have had forever.

So the recipe:

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Beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the egg and the molasses…

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and beat until well-combined.

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Throw the dry ingredients together into a medium bowl.

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Sift all of that into the molasses mixture.

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I hate sifting.  I don’t know why.  It just bugs me.

Anyway, stir together until combined, then turn dough over and knead to fully incorporate all the ingredients.  I always always always end up with crumbly dough, so I add molasses until it adheres enough to mold.  You really can’t damage this stuff by adding half a jar of molasses, trust me.

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So roll that into a cute little ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for half an hour.  Go paint your nails, refresh Tumblr, take pictures of sandwiches, or make a pillow fort.  Whatever you want to do.

Now come back.  Here, you can roll out the dough into a log, cut off slices, and refrigerate those for 30 more minutes.  OR you can roll it out for cookie cutter-ing.

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Cut cookies out, like you do, and transfer to non-stick or greased baking sheets.

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Refrigerate for another half hour, and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

When they’re done fridging out, bake for about 8-10 minutes.  If you went the cookie cutter route, you should probably underbake them a bit unless you like crunchy cookies.

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So now you dip them in chocolate.  I was going to do that, but my chocolate seized, so there went that plan.  Instead, I put them in a bag with powdered sugar and tossed them around a bit.  Don’t shake them, because they’re a bit fragile (well, the bees were)–just turn them over and over in the bag until evenly coated.

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And how cute is that?  Especially the bees!  They actually sell bee cookie cutters at Sur la Table.  I was so excited.  They sell other shapes too, but so what.

 

I’m Team of Rivals, but I’m not ready to review that, so instead allow me to direct your attention to a magazine that I have long-loved.

I’ve been subscribed to Wired for a few years now, first enjoying getting the print edition in the mail, and now happily downloading the iPad issue every month.  It’s still a great print magazine because it is a great magazine, period.  If you’ve never read a copy, the best way I can describe it is to say that it’s full of things you could never imagine you’d be interested in, but that you will dog ear and highlight and circle for later Googling.  I had no idea what a pupfish was or why I should care about all 57 of them… until yesterday when I read an article on them in the November issue.  Likewise, I learned about the patent wars and patent trolls, epic scavenger hunts, and secret society codices.  They do really excellent product reviews, too, which is helpful when you’re trying to buy something like a camera and the best criterion you can come up with is… something that takes pictures.

It’s doubly excellent if you have an iPad, because they embed a lot of cool stuff in the pages like videos of people using The Most Dangerous Object in the Office This Month, downloads of sample chapters from books they review, interviews of innovators and inventors featured in the magazine, and moving graphics that are just nifty.

The best thing about the magazine, though, is that it’s so much fun.  Never a dull page.

Anyway, you should subscribe, you will love the hell out of it as I do, I promise.

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