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Archive for the ‘Gingerbread’ Category

Gluten Free Gingerbread, copyright 2012, gfcelebration.com All rights reserved

Gingerbread, for so many of us, is synonymous with the Christmas holidays. There are certainly many different types of recipes available, but this particular one is one of our family’s favorites, and has been converted into gluten free, using Oma’s special recipe. Gingerbread was Oma’s specialty around Christmas and I have many fond memories of her in her tiny kitchen, lovingly preparing this delicacy, made just once a year. If she invited one of us to help her, that was truly special. It is not a ginger cake, but a true traditional German-style gingerbread. While baking, it will fill your house with the beautiful scent of its combination of spices – ginger, anise, cloves and cinnamon.  In the olden days, this type of gingerbread was made using peculiar ingredients, such as “Hirschhornsalz,” “potash” and “natron.”  Some of these ingredients supposedly provided softness to the dough, and, no doubt, insured  greater longevity of the end product. After researching these ingredients, that  makes sense, especially considering the Ancient Egyptians used some of them  for embalming purposes. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?!? Naturally, we would never use any of these more questionable ingredients in our recipes. If you insist on their inclusion, you may do so at your own risk. However, they are simply unnecessary, and we don’t know why anyone would even want to.

Gluten Free Gingerbread, copyright 2012, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

This gingerbread is delicious and is very easy to make. Provided you have the following ingredients on hand, you can enjoy your first taste in a couple of hours. 

Gluten Free Gingerbread, copyright 2012, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick of organic butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup coconut sugar, or sucanat
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground anise
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4-1/2 cups gluten free flour, consisting of 2 cups brown rice flour, 1-1/2 cups tapioca flour, 1 cup sweet rice flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. guar gum
  • 1 tsp.  ground psyllium seeds
  • 2-1/2 tsp. gluten free baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. Himalaya salt
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut milk
  • parchment paper, enough to line at least two baking sheets
  • your favorite cookie cutters, such as gingerbread men and women, trees, stars, hearts, etc.

Topping Ingredients:

White chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts (optional)

White Topping:

  • 1 cup organic powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Dark Topping:

  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. peppermint extract

Measure out all the dry ingredients (flour, guar gum, baking powder, baking soda and psyllium seeds) and blend well in a bowl. Set aside.  In a large bowl, cream the butter, adding the sugar, vanilla extract, eggs, honey and spices, a little at a time. Blend well. Add the flour, about a cup at a time, to this batter, until you have a kneadable dough. Shape the dough into a thick log, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Remove the gingerbread dough from the refrigerator. Cut the log into three equal pieces. Leave out one third to roll out, and return the rest of the dough into the refrigerator, well wrapped.

Line at least two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Gluten Free Gingerbread, copyright 2012, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Dust a baking board with a little sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to not less than 1/4-inch thickness. If you accidentally roll them out thinner, you will ultimately be making ginger snaps, instead of gingerbread cookies. Still very good, but a slightly different result.

Select your cookie cutters and cut out the gingerbread, placing them about one inch apart on the cookie sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes. Watch this process carefully. We live at high altitude and they tend to bake very quickly. If you are at sea level, you may require an additional 2-5 minutes. Place the baked cookies on a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Keep shaping any left over dough into a ball and roll out again. Remember to sprinkle a small amount of sweet rice on the board, before rolling out another batch of dough. Repeat this process as often as necessary. When the first batch of dough is nearly used up, add another third of the dough to it from the refrigerator. If you choose large shaped cookie cutters, naturally you will go through this process very quickly, and likewise it will take a little longer with smaller size cutters.

Let all the cookies cool completely before decorating, or frosting.

Gluten Free Gingerbread, copyright 2012, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

For the white frosting, simply blend the powdered sugar with the lemon juice. Then either spread even layers of it on the cookies, or place it in a pastry bag and decorate them to your heart’s content.

For the dark frosting, melt the chocolate chips, in a double boiler, adding the peppermint extract to the melted chocolate, combining the two ingredients very well. Again, either spread even layers of it on your choice of cookies, or use a pastry bag with the addition of a fine tip, for decorating.

Top them with your choice of white chocolate chips, dried fruit, or nuts (optional).

Gluten Free Gingerbread, copyright 2012, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

This gingerbread will fill your house with the beautiful scent of ginger, cinnamon and cloves and stores well in a cookie tin, for several days.

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Gingerbread Cake, copyright 2012, gfcelebration.com All rights reserved

This week’s TWD recipe heralds the beginning of the holiday baking season, at least for us. Anything involving gingerbread is a definite favorite in our house, invoking fond memories of baking with Mom and Oma – three generations in the kitchen, gathered around the table, cooking and baking together. Albeit a very rare occasion, made possible only during our not so frequent visits to Germany.

Instead of its namesake, today’s recipe  reminded us more of the British “treacle cake”, served on bonfire night, than the typical gingerbread, or German Lebkuchen, that we are familiar with.  Treacle cake, to the best of our knowledge, in addition to the liberal use of ginger, both fresh and dried, is made with other spices such as nutmeg and cloves, but otherwise is almost identical to this gingerbread cake.

Gingerbread Cake, copyright 2012, gfcelebration.com All rights reserved

For anyone wishing to make this cake, the precise recipe can be found in Baking with Julia on page 247-248. Karen of Karen’s Kitchen Stories, is the host for this recipe and has the original directions and ingredients listed on her website.   Please also check out the contributions from the other members of our group by checking this link.

Naturally, our contribution is entirely gluten free with the following substitutions. Instead of 2 cups of regular flour, we substituted 1 cup each of brown rice flour and tapioca flour with the addition of 1-1/2 tsp. of guar gum. Since we couldn’t find espresso powder (is there such a thing?) we used instant coffee granules, which seemed to work just as well. We only had raw cocoa powder in the house and used that instead of the regular unsweetened cocoa powder. As always, we replaced the brown sugar with coconut sugar, but we cut down the recommended 2 cups of molasses to 1-1/2 cups. Other than that, we followed the recipe exactly as it is written in the book. We turned our recipe into a cake, using a 10-inch spring form, lined with parchment paper, instead of the called for baby cakes, requiring a 50 minute baking time.

Gingerbread Cake, copyright 2012, gfcelebration.com All rights reserved

It baked beautifully, filling the house with the sweet and gingery smell of Christmas. What a very welcome change to the smell of house paint, that has taken up most of our spare time over the last two weeks. November and December, at least so far, have been exceptionally mild with temperatures that have allowed us to paint – a job that had been waiting to be completed for some time. The previous owners had selected a rather bright tone of red for the trim, which over time with the high UV at our high elevation had degraded into a rather unappealing orange brick red.  None of us  ever appreciated the color choice, and are happy to finally be able to change it into a more beautiful creamy white. A couple more days and it should all be done – weather permitting.

Gingerbread Cake, copyright 2012, gfcelebration.com All rights reserved

Yesterday, after coming in cold and sore from painting, we finally got to taste the cake, prepared yesterday morning. It was everything the recipe promised – just not gingerbread. It was moist and rich with the predominant flavors being ginger and molasses. This cake is delicious and we would be making it again, but only for the special occasion of the holidays. It is very rich. We served it with a dollop of whipped cream.

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In preparation for our new book, which will be available in just a few days, we wanted to add an updated recipe for a gingerbread house. In our first book, A Celebration of Gluten Free Baking, we featured a small traditional gingerbread house, which was very easy to make. This time we wanted to honor the Southwest traditions and build a two-story pueblo-inspired Southwest house, complete with vigas, the traditional chili pepper ristras and furnished with lights. Southwest cuisine, in general, is known for its indulgence in spices. So we adapted the recipe to reflect that, still keeping with the traditional spices, but more of it.  Our gluten free flour blend was also updated, leaving out one and adding another. I think we succeeded. The consistency and flavor is just like the one my grandmother used to make, and her recipe was not gluten free.

Our house filled with the most wonderful aroma of baking delicacies around the holidays. The recipe itself is quite straightforward. All you need is a willingness to do it.  It is especially fun to do this with children.

All parts used are edible and completely gluten free, except for the wooden skewers (unless you are a beaver) which represent the vigas and also allow for the main frame support of the house.

All the gluten free decorations are from surfsweets (gummy fruit), yummy earth (lollipops), Glutino (pretzels and pretzel sticks), as well as dried fruit and sliced almonds. You can easily find all of these ingredients at your local health food store, or, at this online retailer. We embellished the house with a couple of items from our local Hobby Lobby dollhouse section, because we just couldn’t reign in our ever increasing enthusiasm with this project.

The most complicated part involved threading the LED Christmas lights through both stories of the house.  But once the lights shone through the parchment paper lined windows, all the perceived difficulties quickly dropped into the background.

Once the icing was in place, we were only limited by our own imagination and/or the availability of gluten free decorations. The trees and bushes were created from juniper tree and lavender bush clippings from our property. The pond from glossy construction paper, lined with almonds. The little ducks we found at Hobby Lobby, together with a broom, ax and wood pile.

In the spirit of sharing, we agreed to display it at the Tijeras, New Mexico community library as part of  their yearly Christmas display.  The project was all the more worthwhile, seeing the wonder and excitement in the little kids’ eyes, once they got to explore the display. If you happen to live in the greater Albuquerque/Santa Fe area, go on over and take a look and let us know what you think.

As I am penning this post, the snow clouds have gathered all around and it is now snowing quite heavily and very cold outside, around 21°F.

At last we wanted to share this beautiful view from our kitchen window. This is one of the perks of living at a high elevation here in New Mexico.

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