Cooking: Classic Gingerbread

This recipe will allow to you make a house and at least a dozen and a half cookies as well. It takes some elbow grease to get the flour kneaded in, but the finished product is soft enough to be extremely tempting, but firm enough to construct a house out of.

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1-1/3 cups molasses
4 eggs
8 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 egg whites

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Stir in the molasses and eggs. Combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, baking soda, salt, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger; beat into the molasses mixture. Gradually stir in the remaining flour by hand to form a stiff dough. Divide dough into 2 pieces.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Place pieces 1 inch apart onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Icing
In a medium bowl, sift together confectioners’ sugar and cream of tartar. Blend in egg whites. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat for about 5 minutes, or until mixture is thick and stiff. Keep covered with a moist cloth and plastic wrap until ready to decorate.

Cooking: Best Ever Sugar Cookies

I just realized I’ve never put any cookies on here! With a blog name like mine, that’s almost sacrilegious. Lucky for me it’s almost Valentines. And if you’re like me, sugar cookies with pink frosting go hand-in-hand with Valentines Day. (Don’t worry Launi, your gestational diabetes will be over soon and we’ll bake to our hearts delight!) Confession: I have the hardest time when it comes to sugar cookies. I can never seem to get them right. Either they’re too brittle, or I didn’t roll them out thick enough, or I mess up the frosting. But, I finally found a recipe that I love!! It’s the kind-of recipe that makes people like me wonder how you did it, and if it’s possible for someone under 60 who hasn’t spent a huge chunk of their life in the kitchen to replicate. And the answer is yes! I don’t know what it is about this recipe, if it’s the double leavening with the baking soda and baking powder, on top of the 3 eggs that are added, but these beauties rise like you’ve put yeast in them. They also have a beautifully light and soft texture. I think that might be from the sour cream/sour milk that you add to them. Best of all–there’s no fridge time, no chilling the dough overnight, or for a few hours, or at all! They are my one and only sugar cookie from now on. And I’m so happy that I found them, and can finally make peace with the sugar cookie world.
I actually got the recipe from a ward cookbook. Those people in Millville sure can cook! That’s what I love about ward cookbooks. They’re like little gems among the cookbook world. They’re tried and true recipes, and usually not anything too fancy.

So, here is this gem of a recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream or 1 cup sour milk*
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 to 6 cps flour (I used 5)
  • orange zest or lemon zest-optional

Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time. Add cream/milk and dry ingredients, using only 4 cups of flour. Add vanilla. Gradually add just enough more flour to make it so you can roll out dough from a 1/4″ to 1/3″ thick on a floured surface. Cut with cookie cutter. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes on greased cookie sheet. Cookies will remain white.
*To make sour milk combine 1 cup milk with 1 TBS vinegar, and let sit for 5 minutes.

Plain, simple, easy. Frost with your favorite cream cheese, or butter cream frosting. Or whatever frosting floats your boat.

What is it about pink buttercream that makes me happy?? Probably nostalgia. The frosting that I used was from none other than the famous Magnolia cookbook. See? I told you I’d share. It’s what compliments their famous vanilla cupcakes. It’s actually not so much a buttercream frosting as it is an old fashioned confectioners’ sugar and butter frosting. It’s wonderful, and the trick is all in the mixing. You have to mix this baby for a good while before you get the right consistency. And for those of us without kitchen aids, it can be a lot of work, but it’s worth it!
Magnolia’s Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6-8 cups confectioners’ sugar

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. **I halved this recipe and it was just enough for all of the cookies.

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Cooking: Holly Hipps’ Sweet Rolls with Walnuts and Clementine

This recipe, unfortunately is not from Magnolia. But, this is the first cinnamon roll recipe that I mastered. My mother has a divine, decadent one from the Lion House that I inherited. But I’m scared of it. It requires dough hooks for an extremely sticky dough, which results in a heavenly, moist cinnamon roll. I used to make them perfectly, and then one day my world crashed down around me, and every time I made them they flopped. So, this is my standby.

Today, I made these rolls with the regular cinnamon-sugar filling. Then I added some alterations: coarsely chopped walnuts and some clementine juice and zest to cream cheese frosting. The frosting is typically more of an icing, but I’m a cream cheese fan. And I was the one making them. The result of my hard labor?
I ate three.
By myself.
And I don’t regret it. I’m excited for breakfast so I can eat more. Don said they were, “awesome”. Which is high praise. Especially since he’s not a frosting freak like I am. Some times I don’t know how we got together.

The thing that I like about this recipe is that Holly Hipps (a neighbor of my in-laws, and a baker to boot) has broken it down into a pretty idiot proof recipe (which I definitely needed until this last year before yeast and I became friends). Don almost didn’t let me share this recipe, because it is held sacred in his family. It’s that good. Did I mention that cinnamon rolls are fun to make? It’s the grown-ups way of playing in the mud. I prefer to do everything by hand, stirring, kneading, spreading the butter, cinnamon sugar, etc. There are very few tools and clean-up needed that way. And it makes me feel like I’m five again, making mud pies. That’s where it all started.

So, here it is:

Ingredients:

Dissolve:

  • 1/2 c. warm water
  • 2 TBSP dry yeast
  • 1 TBSP sugar

Melt together:

  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 3/4 c. shortening

Mix:

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp salt

Add the cooled shortening mixture to the yeast mixture, You don’t want to add it hot because you’ll kill your little yeast friends. Then add that to the egg mixture. Blend well, and add 7 cups of flour. Knead several times, place in a greased bowl in a warm, draft free place. (I like to fill a glass 9″ x 13″ cake pan half full of the hottest water I can get out of the tap and place it on the bottom rack of the oven. Then I cover the greased bowl, with it’s contents, with a dish towel and let it rise). Let double in size. You will know it is double the size when you stick your index finger in and it leaves an indentation in the dough. Punch down (my favorite part), roll out to about 1/2-1/4 inch flat in a rectangle shape. Soften one cube of butter, and spread with hands (or a pastry brush if you’re a pansy) on the now rectangle dough. Make a cinnamon-sugar mixture (I guest-a-mate, but it works out, I did 3 TBSP of sugar to about a 1/2 tsp of cinnamon) and sprinkle THICKLY over the butter. There’s nothing worse than bland cinnamon rolls. Sprinkle with coarsely chopped walnuts. Roll the long side to form a little cin-a-dough log. Then, (and this is my other favorite part), take a string and slip it underneath the log, then switch both strands from one hand to the other so that they are crossing, pull, and cut sections measuring about 1 inch wide. Place on buttered (because you’re worth it) cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Let rise until double the size. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes (mine were a little less, ovens vary, so check on your rolls, if the smell done, they probably are).

Frosting:

  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 1 pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 to 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • about 1 TBSP fresh clementine juice (or to taste)
  • 1 to 2 tsp(s) of clementine zest

Clementine Frosting:

Combine butter and cream cheese, beat with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugar, one cup at a time until mixture reaches spreading consistency. Add juice and zest. The juice will change the consistency of the frosting, so you might need to add more sugar.

Alternate Icing:

  • 1/2 c. margarine/butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients and add enough canned milk until smooth. Frost over cooled sweet rolls.

Spread icing/frosting with a rubber spatula on cooled cinnamon rolls. Or, if you’re like me, warm rolls since I can never wait until they cool to eat them, and I like the half-melted frosting look.
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