So You Think You Can’t Bake

It’s fall, and nothing tastes or smells more like fall than ginger and cloves. One simple and tasty way to add that aroma to the house is to whip up a batch of little gingerbread dudes. I promised an easy recipe to my blogging buddy, and it’s time I make good.

My beloved husband cooks like an art major, feeling in his soul that a recipe is only a suggestion, a mere jumping off point in a quest for self-expression. It makes his cooking interesting and his baking inedible. Therefore I offer a step-by-step guide with pictures for those creative spirits who aren’t sure why their bread has the consistency of a black hole.If you already know what you’re doing, copy the recipe and have a great day! Everyone else, follow me.

Here’s what you need:

1/2 C Butter (softened, not melted)

1/2 C Sugar

1/2 C Molasses (NOT blackstrap)

2 egg yolks

2 C Bread Flour (you can use all-purpose, but your men won’t be as fluffy)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp cloves

2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

And here’s what to do. In technicolor.

1) Cream your butter and sugar.

"Cream" on low speed. Sounds violent, but if you keep your fingers out of the way, no one gets hurt.

2) Combine in Molasses

Molasses was intended by God for use in gingerbread. Alone, it tastes awful. High in iron, though.

3) Beat in egg yolks. You don’t need any special gadget to separate the yolks. Save the whites. You can use them in the bread recipe I’ll post soon.

To separate, hold egg a bowl and gently pour from one half of the shell to the other.

4) In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients and blend well with a fork.

Baking calls for exact ratios. Use a knife to level off your flour and spices.

Can't you just smell it?! Yum!

5) Add dry ingredients to your butter mixture in small amounts. I use medium or high speed since the batter is thick. Blend until smooth.

A little at a time so it blends well.

This is what it looks like when you're done. It has little waves in it.

6) Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or put it in a small, air-tight bowl and put it in the refrigerator for at least an hour. It seems unfair to have to wait. Leave the house if you must. It makes the time pass faster. You can put it in the freezer if you have to, but I am always afraid that the butter will crystallize. No idea what that would do to the taste, but I avoid unnecessary crystallization in my life whenever possible as a matter of principle.

So close, and yet so far away. An hour. Take this time to catch up on all those shows on DVR.

And now, the fun begins! Here’s the creative opportunity you’ve all been waiting for! Here’s what you need:

Yes, I do recommend wax paper. Buy some now, thank me later.

1) Lightly sprinkle some flour on a piece of wax paper and on your rolling pin. You can roll if out directly on the counter if you want to, but, wax paper makes it easier to remove even the most reluctant gingerbread dude and get him  to your baking sheet.

2) Roll out your dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Use your cookie cutter of choice. Or use a sharp knife and create your own amazing shapes.

In ten minutes, I will EAT you! Be afraid, little gingerbread dude!

3) Remove your shape from the wax paper and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, depending on your oven.

4) Cool for a minute or so, and then remove to wire rack (if you have one).

Five reasons why life is worth living.

And that’s all there is to it. Here are a few tips.

Buy your spices at a place that sells them in bulk and lets you scoop them yourself. I paid about 1/4 the price I would have paid for prepackaged stuff. And it’s way fresher.

The spice amounts can be adjusted according to taste, but try the recipe as-is a time or two first. Too much cloves or ginger will burn your tongue. No joke.

An air-tight wrap or container is important in the fridge. It keeps the dough from drying out.

Put your cookies in an air-tight container before they have cooled completely. The stay softer that way.

Make friends only with people who have no sense of smell. If they can’t smell your cookies, you won’t have to share.

Enjoy, and let me know how they turn out!