"Next to a great forest there lived a poor woodcutter with his wife and his two children. The boy's name was Hansel and the girl's name was Gretel. He had but little to eat, and once, when a great famine came to the land, he could no longer provide even their daily bread."
~Hansel and Gretel
We all know the story, right? The woodcutter and his wife abandon the kids deep in the forest. Eventually the kids find a witch's cottage - a house made of bread - in the woods, but she is determined to fatten them up to eat them! Don't worry...this one ends well for the kids. Not for the witch.
We make lots and lots of gingerbread during the holidays. So, when D mentioned that he wanted a more cakey gingerbread for this batch, we opted to make a dough similar to what you use for Puerquitos, Mexican gingerbreads. Thankfully, my Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf made the dough and rolled them out while I was busy making cranberry sauce, cranberry curd, and boules and boules of sourdough.
- 1¼ cup organic dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup butter, room temperature
- 2 large eggs, 1 for dough and 1 for finishing
- ⅓ cup milk (I used whole milk)
- 1" knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¾ cup molasses
- ¼ cup maple syrup (you can substitute honey)
- 6 cups flour
- ½ cup candied ginger (diced or use flakes)
- 2 egg whites, or more to thin icing
- 6 cups organic powdered sugar, or more to thicken icing
- juice from 1 to 2 organic lemons (I used a Meyer lemon)
Beat brown sugar and butter together in a large bowl until well-combined. Add 1 egg, milk, and grated ginger; beat again until smooth.
Add baking soda, all the spices, molasses, maple syrup, and candied ginger. Beat again.
Stir in 4 cups of flour. Gradually add remaining flour, using a wooden spoon. Once the dough starts to become stiff , quickly knead in the flour. It should come together into a ball.
Split dough into two balls. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper to approximately ¼" thickness.
Use a cookie cutter to cut out your gingerbreads.
To go with the traditional shape of the Mexican puerquitos, D used a pig cutter. For the rest of the dough, we used a Christmas tree, stars, hearts, and plain circles. Place on prepared baking sheet. Re-roll dough and repeat until your dough is gone.
Beat the remaining egg, then brush a thin coat over the dough before you put it into the oven.
Place in preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes - until cookies just start to turn golden around the edges and are slightly raised. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Once they are cooled, you can decorate them with royal icing.
Beat the whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar and lemon juice. Beat for another minute. If the icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it's too thin, add more sugar. This icing may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
After making all the Thanksgiving pies for me, the boys were tired. So Jake helped me decorate.
I made some silly mask-wearing gingie heads with the plain circles. I figured it was a fitting tribute to this crazy year.
Then I was inspired by some henna tattoo designs and made more lacey patterns on the hearts and the Christmas trees.