Gingerbread Cookies

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gingerbread cookies | apt 2b baking co

My favorite gingerbread cookies have been up on the site, but a little hidden within another post, for a long time. So, this year I decided to give them a little refresh and some new fun photos. These can be made into cookie ornaments too! Just make sure to bake them for an extra minute or two, until they are crisp and dark brown, and don’t forget to poke a hole in the cookies before baking. I love the contrast of the deep golden cookies and white icing so I tend to ice these guys really simply with lines and dots of royal icing and lots of sparkly sanding sugar.

Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing

makes about 3 dozen 3-inch cookies

adapted from Simply Recipes

3 1/4 cups (415g) all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg

1/4  teaspoon finely ground black pepper 

1/4  teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

14 tablespoons (200g) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup (110g) packed dark brown sugar 

1 large egg

1/2 cup unsulfured molasses 

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and spices together. 

In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg, then the molasses and mix until well combined. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. Divide the dough in half, wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour before rolling.

Heat oven to 350ºF and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Working with 1/2 of the dough at a time roll the dough 1/8-1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured surface using a lightly floured rolling pin roll. Use a cookie cutter or stencil to cut out desired shapes then place them on the prepared baking sheets. For cookie ornaments, use a skewer to poke a hole through the top of the cookies before baking.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies have just barely begun to brown. For cookie ornaments bake the cookies until they are lightly browned all over and firm to the touch. Cool the cookies on the sheet pans for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack
to cool completely. Decorate as desired.

Royal Icing

1 pound confectioners sugar, sifted

6 tablespoons pasteurized egg whites

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch salt

For the Icing

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment combine all of the ingredients. Whisk on low speed until the sugar is moistened, then turn the mixer up to medium and whisk until smooth and glossy. 

For piping lines and shapes you’ll want thick icing. When you lift the whisk out of the bowl the icing should flow in thick ribbons that will hold their shape when they fall into the bowl below. Add a bit more confectioner’s sugar to the mixture if necessary to achieve this texture. Fill a piping bag with the icing and have fun!

For flooding and complete coverage of the cookies you’ll want thinner icing that holds its shape for a few seconds, then melts into the icing in the bowl. Add a bit more water, one teaspoon at a time to achieve this texture. Color the icing as desired.

Use the icing right away or store in an airtight container, with a piece of plastic wrap pressed against the surface to prevent a skin from forming, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Stir until smooth before using. Color the icing as desired.,

Royal Icing Tips and Tricks

Fit a piping bag with a small round tip #1 or #2 to pipe lines and shapes and/or another piping bag with a slightly larger tip #3 or #4 for flooding. Fill each bag with the corresponding icing and have fun! Practice on a piece of parchment paper if you are nervous, but truly if you think you messed up - just cover your cookies with sprinkles! 

For the trees in this post I used the flooding icing to draw a line around the border of each cookie, then filled it in completely and sprinkled to my heart’s content. After the trees had dried slightly I went back and used the piping icing to draw the trunks. 

You can also use a spoon to cover the cookies with thinner flooding icing or dip them, have fun! Don’t worry to much about it!

If you are adding sanding sugar or sprinkles to your iced cookies you’ll want to add them just after you pipe the icing. Royal icing will develop a dry skin very quickly, so have your sprinkles at the ready.

If you’d like to pipe lines that sit on top on top of flooded cookies, let the flooding icing dry all of the way or the lines will melt into the flooded icing.

In any case make sure to let the cookies dry all of the way, uncovered, before stacking or packaging, I like to leave mine overnight.

gingerbread cookies | apt 2b baking co

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs (yossy arefi)

Craft projects are not the usual subject matter of this blog, but I think we can all agree that these naturally dyed easter eggs are too beautiful to not share. There are a ton of in-depth tutorials for naturally dyed eggs online and I pulled information from many them, but this tutorial from The Kitchn is a good place to start if you are new to natural dyes. Better Homes and Gardens also has a great list of foods you can use as dyes.

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs (yossy arefi)
Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs (yossy arefi)
Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs (yossy arefi)
Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs (yossy arefi)

For the eggs in this post, I used three dyes: one made from shredded red beets (pink and maroon tones), one made from shredded purple cabbage (blue and green tones), and a mix of the two dyes (mauve and gray tones). I used both white and brown eggs which provided really beautiful, subtle color variations that I love. I also dyed some eggs yellow with turmeric, but the results were a bit pale so I didn't include them in these photos. You can also over-dye naturally green and blue eggs laid by Aracuna hens, which I have done in the past. The results are just stunning, but the eggs can be a bit pricey so I skipped it this year. 

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs (yossy arefi)

A quick announcement! This here blog was nominated for a Saveur Blog Award in the Best Baking & Desserts Category, and I am thrilled! Thank you to whoever nominated me! If you feel compelled, visit Saveur to vote for your favorites in all 13 categories. So many wonderful blogs (and people!) are up for awards, and I am honored to be among them. 

General Method for Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

You'll need about 1 cup of dye matter (shredded beets, shredded cabbage or check this post for more color options ) per 1 cup of water, and about 4 cups of dye per dozen eggs. Scale up or down depending on how many eggs you'd like to dye. Hot tip: Shred your beets in the sink to avoid spattering red all over your kitchen.

To prepare the dyes, combine the dye matter with the appropriate amount water in a saucepan, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15-30 minutes. Check the dye occasionally for color, you want the liquid to be a couple of shades darker than your desired finished egg color. Strain the dye into a clean container and let it cool to room temperature. Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar per 1 cup of dye. 

Meanwhile, hard boil your eggs and let them cool.

Arrange the cooked eggs in a container or containers (ideally in a single layer) and pour the dye over the top to submerge the eggs completely. Transfer the containers to the refrigerator, and let the eggs sit in the dye baths until they reach your desired color. I let my eggs sit for almost 24 hours. Remember that when the eggs dry they will be slightly lighter in color than when they are wet, like a stone picked up at the beach.

Carefully remove the eggs from the dye baths, give them a quick rinse, pat dry, and you're done! You can rub the eggs with a bit of vegetable oil to give them a sheen and enhance the color a bit if you like.

Now, who has a great recipe for deviled eggs?

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs (yossy arefi)