This week I got to conquer one of my lingering culinary fears, Gingerbread. While I have always been fascinated by the beauty and whimsy of gingerbread houses, I was equally daunted by the intricacy and patience this craft surely required. Luckily, I had a great teacher, Dr. Heather Richardson from Piedmont Hospital and an inspiring "creative director", Lisa Vingerling founder of Pink Heals.
Our frenzy of gingerbread baking started last Monday, in preparation for a gingerbread turkey crafting class scheduled for later in the week. Much to my surprise, the recipe for the gingerbread dough was quite simple to put together and easy to roll and cut. The scent of the spice mixture was intoxicating, and the enthusiasm of Heather and Lisa made the experience all that more enjoyable.
So, while I may not be ready to enter a gingerbread house contest, I feel quite confident in my ability to craft a Thanksgiving turkey, and am certain to make some gingerbread boys with kids this Christmas.
I encourage you to take the time to embrace your inner child and let your creative juices flow this holiday season. I have included the recipe that we used this week. It was adapted from The Gingerbread Architect by Susan Matheson and Lauren Chattman.
Gingerbread:1 cup Vegetable Shortening
1 cup Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
4 tsp Ground Ginger
1 tsp Ground Cloves
1 cup Dark Molasses
2 large Eggs
2 TB White Vinegar
5 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine shortening and sugar until well combined. Add the baking powder, ginger, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves and beat until well incorporated. Add the molasses, eggs and vinegar and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary. Add the flour, one cup at a time and mix on low until smooth. Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a rough square. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least three hour or up to three day. Roll to 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch thickness and bake at 375 degrees for 12-14 minutes. Baking time may vary depending on the size and thickness of your pieces, so adjust accordingly. Yields 3 1/2 lbs.