Over the past few weeks, I’ve been neglecting my blogging duties for a greater good: Alumni Association fundraisers and Thanksgiving!
First, we had a fundraiser in which our group raised money for my old high school. It involved many volunteers and included a food truck and baked goods. Although we didn’t have a great turn out, we still did quite well, including the sale of some donated sugar and gingerbread cookies I iced with our high school logo.
For the gingerbread, I used Martha Stewart’s recipe; which I love because it makes it easy to make a huge batch of cut outs in one swoop: http://www.marthastewart.com/315628/gingerbread-snowflakes. The only changes I made were the following:
- Use coconut oil instead of butter: Any baked good which requires a ‘creamed’ fat can use coconut oil including, cakes, cookies and muffins. I don’t recommend them for pies as it doesn’t provide the steam needed to achieve flakey layers in a crust.
- Use fresh ground cinnamon: Lately I’ve been using fresh Ceylon cinnamon instead of pre-ground cinnamon. Often I’ve read that pre-ground spices have fillers in them to increase their volume and to keep them shelf stable.
- Use fresh chopped ginger root instead of powders: Using a coin sized piece (about a nickel) of fresh ginger for each teaspoon, finely chopped in a small processor makes a world of difference in the flavor of your baked goods.
One drawback of using fresh ginger is that when you roll out your gingerbread cookies, you may find small chunks which does effect the consistency of the dough. All I do to remedy this is pull them out and patch up the dough, easy-peezy! This can also be remedied by instead using a microplane: https://shortandsweetrecipes.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/the-micro-plane-and-the-reamer-always-welcome-guests-to-your-dishes/, instead of a processor/chopper. This recipe also worked great for making the shells of my Gingerbread Pumpkin Tartlets.
These methods also work great in pumpkin pie, which I made for Thanksgiving this year. Traditional pumpkin pie uses the classic Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie Recipe: https://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/18470/libbys-famous-pumpkin-pie/. When I make this recipe I do a couple of very small tweaks:
- Use only light brown sugar: I have completely removed the granulated sugar from the recipe and instead use all brown sugar for both measurements. It gives the pie a much deeper flavor in the final product.
- Use fresh ground cinnamon: For the reasons listed above I ‘soak’ the cinnamon in the sugar, eggs and milk mixture to bloom the spice for the pies. Cinnamon is fat soluble, so doing this short step let’s the flavors meld beautifully!
- Use fresh chopped ginger root: Instead of using the standard powdered product, you’ll find that fresh ginger gives a wonderful warmth to the pie along with the other spices.
If you buy a few roots at a time and don’t use them all you can peel the skin and slice them into more usable coins. Place them on a sheet tray in the freezer and store in a freezer safe bag. You can then store them for months and bring them out as needed. Give this root a try in your next bake and see what you think! Have a wonderful weekend!