Sunday, 21 December 2014

Easiest gingerbread cookies

Easiest gingerbread cookies

You can't have Christmas without a batch (or two) of gingerbread cookies. Am I right? It's practically mandatory. And much as I love gingerbread cookies (and cookies of any kind) I am not partial to the whole 'make the dough then chill for an hour' business. I am way, way, way too impatient for that. I want my cookies and I want them now... and I have finally found the perfect recipe for gingerbread that requires none of the pesky chilling or waiting around. You make the dough and use it straight away – and what's more, the cookies keep their shape perfectly and get even better with time. 


I have a friend in the States to thank for the recipe – she told me it was foolproof I can I can totally vouch for that. The dough is a dream to work with, the cookies have plenty of snap and the recipe is perfect for building gingerbread houses or edible Christmas ornaments. That's right, it's practically magic.



Easiest gingerbread cookies

For the gingerbread
Makes 20-40 depending on size (enough to share!)
85g | 3oz soft light brown sugar
200g | 7oz treacle /blackstrap molasses (or half treacle, half golden syrup)
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
pinch ground white pepper
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
115g | 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1 egg, lightly beaten
440g | 15.5oz | 3 1/2 cups plain flour (plus more for dusting and rolling)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C (340F)  and line 3 heavy trays with baking paper (you may need to bake the cookies in batches).
  2. Put the sugar, treacle and all the spices in a medium saucepan and heat gently, stirring constantly, until it reaches boiling point. Take care it doesn’t burn.
  3. Take off the heat and stir in the bicarbonate of soda – the mix will start to foam up. 
  4. Add the butter and stir until completely melted. Mix in the beaten egg and transfer to a large bowl.
  5. Gradually add all the flour, stirring it in, until the dough is fairly firm. 
  6. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured worktop and gently knead into a ball. If the dough is too soft, sprinkle with a little flour. It should be the consistency of Play-Doh, pliable but not sticky. Slice in half (or thirds) keeping the dough you aren’t using covered with cling fillm.
  7. Roll the dough out to about 6mm ( about 1/4 inch) and cut out shapes with floured cookie cutters. Transfer the cookies to the prepared trays and bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through, until the cookies start getting coloured at the edges. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely until firm. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Easiest gingerbread cookies

For the Royal Icing
3 egg whites (90g | 3.1oz)
500g | 4 cups icing (powdered) sugar, shifted (more, or less as needed)
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Method

  1. Put the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Start whisking on low speed until frothy.
  2. Increase the speed and once the egg whites form soft peaks, start adding the icing sugar one tablespoon at a time. Continue to whisk until it forms firm peaks. The longer you whisk the stiffer the icing will become. Keep the royal icing covered otherwise it will quickly dry out. If the icing is too thin you can add more icing sugar. If too thick, thin it with a little lemon juice or water. You will want the icing to be quite thick if you are making a gingerbread house
  3. Put the royal icing in a piping bag and snip a very small hole at the tip. Use the bag to pipe lines on the cookies – holding the bag a small distance away from the cookies while you are piping. If you wish to fill (flood) the cookies, thin half of the icing with a little water and use it to fill an outlined cookie – pushing the icing to the edges using a toothpick. Leave to dry completely at room temperature.
Easiest gingerbread cookies

My decorating skills are almost non-existent. If you have a steady hand and lots of patience you can get a lot fancier when decorating these cookies. I actually prefer the pure white royal icing but you could tint it with paste food colouring if you like. If you want to add decorations make sure you stick them on before the icing dries.

This recipe is perfect for gingerbread houses (check out my recipe complete with templates on AO At Home blog) or for making edible Christmas ornaments – simply make a hole (using a straw) on the cookies prior to baking and thread some ribbon or butcher's string to hang them on the tree. 

Easiest gingerbread cookies

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Festive nibbles: blini 'pizza' & a giveaway!

Festive nibbles: blini 'pizza' with smoked salmon

One thing I know about parties and festive gatherings is this: think how many nibbles you will need based on the number of people coming. Now double the amount and you will be just fine. Same goes for alcohol by the way – better have too much than too little. When it comes to canapés I usually underestimate how hungry people will be and then scramble madly to fill the gaps with crisps and crudités. Well this time I won't be caught lacking and I have the most beautiful personalised serving board to show off with courtesy of Getting Personal

Getting Personal have a very extensive range of personalised gifts from calendars and mugs to glassware and sweets – perfect not just for Christmas but birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, Valentine's Day and so on. What's more they are offering one of their personalised serving boards to a lucky Supergolden Bakes reader – scroll down to the bottom of the post for a chance to win. This board is a real conversation starter – and needless to say it would make an excellent gift for food bloggers!

Blinis are perennially popular nibbles but who has the time to make dozens and dozens of mini pancakes? This blini 'pizza' is a lot easier to prepare (and doesn't contain yeast) – a large savoury pancake which can be made in advance and served sliced so that everyone can share. It really is so simple – and it would work really well for brunch too. 

Festive nibbles: blini 'pizza' with smoked salmon
Festive nibbles: blini 'pizza' with smoked salmon

For the blini 'pizza' - makes 2
Adapted from Sainsbury's magazine
100g | 3.5oz buckwheat or wholegrain spelt flour
150g | 5.3oz self-raising flour
1 tbsp polenta (optional)
2 large eggs, separated
300ml | 10 fl oz whole milk
50g | 2oz butter, melted
1 tsp salt

For the topping
300g | 10oz smoked salmon
2 tbsp horseradish sauce
150g | 5.3oz sour cream
2 tbsp lemon juice
200g | 7oz raw beetroot, cut into matchsticks (I used candy cane beetroot)
2 large handfuls wild rocket leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper

Method
  1. Melt the butter in the microwave or in a saucepan and set aside. Separate the eggs and whisk the egg whites till you have soft peaks and set aside.
  2. Sift the flours, salt and polenta in a large bowl. Add the egg yolks and mix them in. Gradually add the milk and 1 tbsp melted butter and mix with a hand whisk until you have a smooth batter. Fold the egg whites in.
  3. Pour enough melted butter to cover a 23cm (9in) frying pan. Once the butter is gently sizzling pour in half of the pancake batter and swirl until it covers the whole pan.
  4. Cook over medium heat until bubbles appear on the surface and the pancake is almost set on top. Invert the pancake onto a plate and then slide it back into the pan uncooked side down. Cook for a further couple of minutes then transfer onto a plate and keep warm. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
  5. Slice the blini into eights but keep together. Top with the smoked salmon and beetroot. Drizzle with the horseradish sauce and scatter the rocket leaves on top. Season with freshly ground pepper and serve.
Notes: make the blinis in advance and keep in the fridge, covered with clingfilm for up to a day. Reheat slightly before serving.

Festive nibbles: blini 'pizza' with smoked salmon


Win a personalised serving board


Terms and conditions
> Giveaway open to UK residents over the age of 18 only.
One winner will receive a personalised serving board from Getting Personal.
> The giveaway ends on the 8th of January 2015.
Please comment on this blogpost before proceeding with other entry options.
> Entries using an automated process or software to create bulk entries will be disqualified.
> The winner will be randomly selected, announced in the Gleam giveaway box and contacted via their provided e-mail address shortly afterwards. Please claim your prize within 4 days of being notified.
> Check out my other giveaways
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