Monday, 10 December 2012

Gingerbread cookies

The festive season is upon us . . . doesn't it come around so quickly! Right on schedule my girls have been asking for gingerbread biscuits or 'cookies', depending on your inclination . . but we've already had this discussion here :) This is our second batch for the month as they're a popular addition to the lunchbox as well as a hit with playdates! It's always a fun activity to get out the cookies to decorate as an after school activity :) 

We do tend to associate this recipe with Christmas, but I have been known to make them at other times of the year. I developed this recipe a few years back and have now not only adapted it for the TM, but I also mill whole grains for the recipe rather than purchase ready-made flour. This does give a slight grainy texture to the cookies which my girls are very used too, but if you are only in the early days of experimenting with 'healthier versions' on your children, you might like to start with half white, half whole grain flour. This recipe is inherently higher in dietary fibre due to the wholegrains and also lower in sugar than most gingerbread recipes. There is the option to grind your own cinnamon and cloves too if you purchase them whole these days. 

I use blackstrap molasses in this recipe which imparts a robust flavour as well as a deep brown pigmentation to the gingerbread. Molasses is the dark sticky syrup which is removed from cane sugar during the process of making refined white sugar. It is also a very good source of iron, calcium and a variety of other minerals. If you prefer a lighter-style gingerbread, golden syrup also works very well, or try half and half. Have fun!

Gingerbread cookies (oat & spelt)
makes 3 dozen medium-size cookies

150g whole oats
350g whole spelt grains (or use wholegrain spelt flour)
100g unsalted butter, cut into chunks
100g rapadura (sucanat) or raw caster sugar
170g unsulphured blackstrap molasses (or golden syrup)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 1/2 tsp ground dried ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon (or 2 cinnamon quills)
1/4 tsp ground cloves (3 whole cloves)
1/4 tsp salt 

Add whole oats and spelt grains to the TM bowl and grind into flour on speed 9 for 2 minutes. Decant the flour and set aside. You could also grind your own whole cinnamon and cloves at this step.

Add the butter, molasses and sucanat to the TM bowl and mix together for 1-2 minutes at 60°on speed 2 or until the butter has melted. If you don't have unsalted butter, use salted butter and omit the 1/4 tsp salt. Add the egg and bicarb soda and mix on speed 3 for 10 seconds

Return the oat and spelt flour to the TM bowl with the ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt - I like to use Himalayan salt, which is pure, uncontaminated and unrefined. 

Set the lid to closed position and combine on interval speed for 30 seconds or until the ingredients just come together to form a stiff yet slightly sticky dough. You may need to add more flour here if your mixture is too sticky, particularly if you are using white spelt in place of wholegrain spelt. 

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface (or your Thermomat), then use Turbo pulse 1-2 times to clear any dough from under the blade. Shape the dough into a smooth disc and wrap up inside your Thermomat (or cover in plastic wrap) and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Don't be concerned that the dough is sticky, it will stiffen in the fridge. 

Preheat fan forced oven to 180°C. Roll out the dough to approximately 6mm thickness. Cut into your shapes of preference and place on lined baking trays. Press the dough scraps together and roll out again. My girls love to get involved here . . . we have accumulated a beautiful collection of cookie cutters over the years :)

Bake 10-12 minutes or until the cookies begin to brown a little on the edges. Cool slightly on the trays before transferring to a cooling rack. 

Once your cookies are cool, decorate with homemade royal icing if you like. I make my own icing sugar from raw sugar, hence the off-white colour of the icing which gives a lovely rustic, homemade touch to the cookies and sure beats loading my children up with corn syrup, artificial flavours, colours and an assortment of other additives you'll find in the commercial ready-made stuff! I use a piping bag with a small tip, but you could easily pop some icing in a small ziplock bag, cut of the very tip and let little fingers do the decorating :)

  • As mentioned above, for a lighter coloured cookie without the robust flavour of molasses, use golden syrup or half & half
  • Use half white spelt flour and half wholegrain flour
  • Use 100g of whole raw almonds in place of 100g wholegrain spelt if there are no nut allergies in your family
  • I used this combination for the dry ingredients recently, which worked really well. Simply grind the almonds, spelt grains and oats first, set aside and return to the TM bowl with the white spelt flour at step 3. 
    • 100g raw almonds
    • 200g spelt grains
    • 100g whole oats
    • 200g white spelt flour

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