Gingerbread cookies

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It seems that the images of gingerbread cookies would pop up each time I went into IG or FB and this spur me to bake my own gingerbread cookies. It was timely too since I have just read The Gingerbread Man story to Faith and I had wanted to have a baking session that is related to the story.

I only know one recipe for such a cookie and that is from Dorie Greenspan. Her speculoos’ recipe is awesome and I know I will not need to look any further. Speculoos are crisp brown-sugar cookies whose predominant spice is cinnamon. Eating them will definitely make you think of Christmas.

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This recipe yields about 24 large cookies and the rolled-out dough needs to be chilled for at least 3 hours.

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour20151221_081308
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 98g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature

1. Whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices together in a bowl.

2. Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Add the sugars and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and continue to beat until it, too, is blended into the butter and sugars. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until the flour disappears into the soft dough. You may have some flour at the bottom of the bowl, or the dough may not be entirely smooth, but that’s normal. Using your hands or a spatula, reach into the bowl and knead or stir the dough 2 or 3 times, just enough to get rid of any dry spots.

3. Divide the dough in half. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper until you have a circle that’s about ¼ inch thick. As you’re rolling, turn the dough over a couple of times and pull away the paper or plastic, so you don’t have rolling creases in the dough. Put the rolled-out rounds of dough on a cutting board and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days)

4. When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 180C. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

5. Choose a cookie cutter and remove 1 circle of dough from the refrigerator. Peel off the top piece of wax paper or plastic and cut out as many cookies as you can from the dough, carefully lifting the cutouts onto the lined baking sheet. Collect the scraps and set them aside to combine with the scraps from the second piece of dough.

6. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes (or 12 minutes in my case for large cookies), or until they are lightly golden and brown around the edges.  Allow the cookies to rest on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
7. Repeat with the second round of dough, making certain the baking sheet is cool before you put the cutouts on it. To use the scraps, press them together, roll them into a circle, and chill them before cutting and baking.
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I got the little girl to decorate the gingerbread man using sprinkles after I have piped the border using Royal Icing. While in the midst of doing it, the baby decided to poo BIG time and I had to leave the job to Faith while I bathed him. When I came back, she had taken the piping bag and piped on two cookies.
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These are her creation.
A piece of art, I must say. ;p
I will get her to do a better job next year.

[Foodie Friday] Buckwheat cookies

It was a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing and I wanted to test if the oven is still in working condition. So I thought why not bake some cookies using the ingredients I had at home. Looking through the recipes I have on the blog, I decided to go for buckwheat cookies and got the little one to join me. It’s a fuss-free recipe which I needed at that moment!

20151113_155957All ready to help out!

While the little ones were napping, I got the following ingredients ready:

1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
110g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg yolk, beaten

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1. Heat the oven to 325F/ 165C. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir with a whisk to mix (easy for the girl to do). Using a standmixer, beat the butter in a bowl until fluffy and add the egg yolk. Beat in the dry ingredients in 2 batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions.

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2. Form tbsp of dough into balls and place 1 1/2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Use a fork to press the dough into 3/8-inch-thick rounds. This is the part which I got the little one to help again and she’s elated.

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3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden around the edges. Cool on a rack.

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Isn’t it easy?

(Gluten-free) Lavender shortbreads

For a while now, I have been reading up on gluten-free recipes and how the different ingredients work together when it comes to baking. This came about when a friend challenged me to bake a gluten-free cake for her since she is gluten intolerant.

I must say it isn’t easy for me to comprehend the endless combination of different flours, some of which are not used in my kitchen. There doesn’t seem to be a clear cut explanation of the types of flour to use when and in what quantities, unlike the more conventional types of baking recipes that I’m used to. Many gluten-free recipes and books put me off until I came across this particular one – The Gluten-free Baker by Hannah Miles. The pictures are attractive enough and the recipes are straight-forward. This is exactly what I need to start my gluten-free baking adventure.

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I decided to try something simple to minimise failure. Cookies, aren’t they simple enough? We all started off with cookies, didn’t we? So I chose the lavender shortbreads since I have a good supply of culinary lavender in my pantry. Don’t waste!

For gluten-free baking flour, I choose to work with Bob’s Red Mill’s all-purpose baking flour. Granted that you can mix certain types of flours (such as tapioca flour, potato and rice flour) to make your own gluten-free flour but they are too complicated for me at the moment so I choose the ready-combined ones. In my recent baking, I have also switched to using organic raw sugar as compared to caster sugar whenever possible. The following is the adapted recipe.

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Ingredients

115g unsalted butter, softened
50g organic raw sugar
85g gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
2 teaspoons culinary lavender, finely ground
85g ground almond
a little milk, if required

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream together until light and creamy. Sift in the flour and add the lavender and ground almond. Bring together to a dough with your hands. If the mixture is too dry, add a little milk t moisten it ( I didn’t have to do that).

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3. Transfer the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper. Using the parchment paper, roll the dough into a long sausage shape with about 4cm diameter. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. At times, I prefer to use the freezer.

image 4. Once the dough is firmed up, cut into 1-cm thick slices and arranged on the prepared baking sheet, each at a small distance apart (they will enlarge when they are being baked). Press the back of a fork down into each shortbread to make ridges (for a nicer look but I forgot to do that!)

5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet before serving.

:: These shortbreads will keep up to 5 days if stored in an airtight container.

I was pleasantly surprised at how tasteful the shortbreads are. The cookies truly smell delicious as you remove them from the oven. If you are into gluten-free baking, this is one recipe you might want to try!

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Growing with the Tans

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all wonderful moms out here! This year’s has been especially meaningful because Faith could articulate that greeting to me as she handed me a card she made from school ( with the teachers’ help, of course) and the lollipop flower that she received from Kids’ Church. It really warmed my heart as she ran towards me with the gift and said a Happy Mother’s Day to me. *heart melted* imageBeing a parent is tough. I mean, no one prepares us for that. In a way, we are thrown into that role but thankfully, we can always draw reference from our own parents and fellow moms and dads who are good role models. This year, for Mother’s Day, I got Faith to bake some sugar cookies and involved her in decorating them, just for the fun of it. It does promise a messy kitchen and table but the most important thing is she had fun. image To make the cookies, you need:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar ( I used a little less than that)
1/2 egg 1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven at 175C before baking.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

3. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to cream until they are mixed well.

4. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together and add to the wet mixture a little at a time until it is completely mixed in.

5. Place the cookie dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll to a thickness of 0.5cm (or your desired thickness).

6. Chill for about 2 hours so that it will be easier to cut out the cookies using the cutters.

7. Cut out the dough using cookie cutters.

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8. Bake at 175C for about 10 minutes or until the edge starts to turn brown. Do place the cookies of the same size together on the sheet pan when you bake. This is to ensure consistency in baking of the cookies. imageAfter the cookies are baked and cooled, I got Faith to spread the surface with a little of the strawberry jam.

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Thereafter, I used edible flowers and got Faith to smell them. She would have to sprinkle the flowers onto the cookies and then you would have decorated cookies! Simple?

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Happy Mother’s Day!

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Foodie Friday: Chocolate Cookies

Got an idea to get Faith to be more involved in the kitchen by getting her to do some real work instead of rummaging through the drawers.

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Faith loves biscuits and she can just have them for her meals. Of course, the mother says NO to that idea but she can always have some as treats. I always have sheets of rolled sugar cookies in the freezer because you never know when you have guests or when your stomach calls for them! Besides, these sugar cookies can keep long in the freezer and yet can be ready to be munched in a short time.

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All you need are sheets of rolled sugar cookies dough, 2 round cutters of different sizes, a sheet pan and parchment paper/ silpat. After cutting the dough into circles, make a round mark using the smaller cutter.

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And then show the little one how to make holes using a sugarart tool. I thought this tool is just the right size for her. Note her concentration level and joy! Of course, you wont get nice buttons but it doesn’t matter!

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You can use toothpick too but it’s a tad too thin for Faith to use. Besides, you can’t make big holes with that.

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Faith gets to eat ONE cookie for her hard work!

There are so many recipes for sugar cookies on the Internet but this is the one I use.

230g unsalted butter
120g caster sugar
50g dark brown sugar, packed
1 egg
336g all-purpose flour
35g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius.
2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Cream the butter and sugars together for 2 minutes. Stop, scrape and cream for another ½ – 1 minute.
4. Beat in the egg until well combined.
5. Add the sifted flour mixture to the creamed mixture 1 cup at a time, beating after each addition.
6. When the last cup of flour is added, mix by hand. The dough will be stiff by now.
7. Divide dough in 2 balls and wrap in cling film until ready to use. (This dough will last 2 weeks in the refrigerator and up to 2 months in the freezer)
8. Bake at 180 degree Celsius for 10 – 12 minutes (depending on thickness of dough) or until the edge starts to turn brown.