OK, admittedly the last thing I need right now is more cookies in the house. In fact, last night I had told myself that there would be no baking today. My digestive health is suffering and I needed a day free of refined sugar and white (albeit unbleached — thank you, King Arthur!) flour. And I knew I had a full day of baking ahead of me on Saturday (which will be interesting since I’m having my pupils dilated that morning too).
However, those godawful gingerbread men from yesterday still stare at me from the racks in my kitchen. (Remember how I hate to throw food away? That’s why they are still in my kitchen and not at the curb.) So before breakfast this morning I perused my cookbooks and found a gingerbread recipe that met my needs. What this means is it wouldn’t necessitate dipping too heavily into my supply of eggs and butter. And it made less than 50-some cookies.
The recipe seemed a bit unconventional to me. You heat the molasses, add butter, sugar and milk. Then add the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt and spices) and form a dough. I was concerned the heat would cook the dough, but apparently not. Then you roll, cut and bake. I was surprised to discover that the men rose and expanded a bit in the oven, which distorted their shape a bit. I don’t remember this from my previous forays into gingerbread man making. I’ll just define them with the icing instead.
This batch is subtly sweet, spicy, crisp but with a touch of chewiness inside. In short, they are everything gingerbread men should be.
Anyone who knows me well knows two basic facts about me: 1) I don’t like to waste food, and 2) I have a big sweet tooth. Another fact: I haven’t baked anything from a box in quite awhile. But going through my baking stash the other day, I came across a boxed gingerbread mix I received last Christmas. As I said, mixes aren’t my thing these days, and I would’ve donated it to the local food pantry if only I could’ve checked the sell-by date (I couldn’t find one) on the box. Given that the ingredients were flour, brown sugar, molasses and spices, I felt safe making it for our consumption though. I’ve made gingerbread from scratch many times so I feel reasonably assured I know what it’s supposed to taste like. The fact that the mix was made with whole wheat flour should’ve raised some mighty big red flags, but I felt hopeful. I mean, it had molasses, brown sugar and spices in it, right? How bad could it be?
Yuck. Yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck.
Why is it doughy? Why is it salty? Why is there no discernible sweetness at all? And what is that weird aftertaste? My sweet tooth aside — it is truly devoid of sweetness. I wasn’t even planning on baking gingerbread cookies this Christmas but now I almost feel have to if only to remind myself how good it can be.
Why is this cookie so angry? Because no amount of royal icing can make him sweet.
(Not even this much.)