Monday, April 30, 2012

IT ALL STARTED WITH A GINGERBREAD MAN

Momsu says it all started with visions of gingerbread men hanging by red ribbons on her first Christmas tree fifty years ago. She had two cookbooks - The Joy of Cooking and Better Homes & Gardens "New" Cookbook. She picked a ginger cookie recipe from BH&G - the book just seemed friendlier with its red gingham cover and it had pictures – such as they were. The recipe called for shortening – she figured that meant butter and that’s what she used. The cookies were very sticky and a real pain to roll out. When baked and hung they were so soft the ribbon holes tore and all of the men fell off the tree. It was a disaster! Eventually she figured out that “shortening” meant Crisco and she hasn’t had any trouble since. She hasn't hung them on the tree either! She says she’s tried other ginger cookie recipes but this one is the one everyone likes the best. Momsu and her daughters Nina and Jill make ginger cookies to decorate not just at Christmastime but all year round.
Here he is - the original gingerbread man from a cookie cutter that's 50 years old - still decorated exactly the same way with currants and a red hot. Nina makes them every year for Christmas now and one year added bite-sized stars to the mix. Find him on aprons and a postage stamp at Nina's Zazzle Shop.

Here's the recipe:

GINGER COOKIES
Printable Recipe

oven 375┬║

1 cup shortening (Crisco)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup molasses
2 tablespoons vinegar
5 cups enriched flour
1 1/2 teaspoons soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves

Cream shortening with sugar. Stir in egg, molasses, and vinegar. Beat well. Sift dry ingredients; stir in. Chill at least 3 hours or longer - even several days!

On floured surface roll to 1/8 - 1/4 inch. Cut in shapes. Place 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375┬║ about 8-10 minutes (depending on thickness). Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on rack. Makes 4-5 dozen big cookies.

Notes: To avoid getting too much flour into the dough when I roll it out I use a cloth-covered board and I roll the dough between dowels to get it perfectly even. Also I place plastic wrap (Saran) on top when I roll.

I've started to weigh my flour which I find MUCH easier. One cup flour = 5 ounces.

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