Sample Recipe from
Sweet and Natural Cookbook
Makes 1 to 1 1/2 dozen 5 x 3 1/2-inch cookies
Children are partial to gingerbread men because they're so much fun to decorate and they double as edible Christmas tree ornaments. (Poke a hole in the top for trimming with ribbon or yarn.)
These cookies are a vast improvement on Ginger Snaps, those store-bought childhood staples containing enriched four, sugar, vegetable shortening, molasses, corn syrup, corn flour, ginger, leavening, salt, caramel color, and a preservative.
The flavorings in this recipe are based on Mary Ball Washington's (mother of the President Washington) gingerbread. Famous in its time, it contained 18 ingredients, including 3 kinds of sweetener (light molasses, dark brown sugar, and honey), butter, sherry, eggs, baking soda, milk, and cream of tartar. (Mace is a spice extracted from the fibrous coating of nutmeg.) Instant grain "coffee" powder and the sweeteners create the authentic color.
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
4 teaspoons powdered ginger, or 2 tablespoons peeled and grated small fresh ginger, or half of each.
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup light vegetable oil (canola, walnut, etc.)
3/4 cup pure maple syrup or part barley malt syrup
1/3 cup instant grain "coffee" powder
1/4 cup currants or fruit-sweetened dried cranberries for decoration
1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment or brush with oil.
2. Mix dry ingredients. Include fresh ginger with wet ingredients, and to release color and flavor of grain "coffee," whisk it with wet ingredients. (Note: Finely ground instant grain "coffee" dissolves easily in room temperature liquid, but for grain "coffee" granules, heat the wet ingredients together and let sit until "coffee" granules have dissolved.) Add wet mixture to dry. Mix well and shape dough into a cohesive ball.
3. Roll out dough 1/4 inch thick between sheets of waxed paper. To maintain uniformly dark color for gingerbread dough, flour only the bottom sheet. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. ( I have 3 sizes ranging from 2 to 10 inches in height. It's fun to cut out the bigger ones and then cut out little ones from the remaining small pieces of dough.) Transfer to baking sheets and then press currants or dried cranberries in place for eyes, nose, mouth, and 3 buttons.
4. Bake cookies until golden on the bottom, 10 to 12 minutes.
For more innocent cookies - less rich and sweet - substitute less oil (1/3 cup) and substitute up to 1 cup barley malt for maple syrup. Add more flour as needed.
Gingerbread Cutout Cookies: Include currants or cranberries in the dough and roll out 1/4 - to 1/2-inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters - 3-inch hearts or stars are nice. Yield is 2 to 3 dozen cookies.