SPICES–Senses awake to cinnamon, cloves, ginger & nutmeg in the cool autumn season. To satisfy my own sensibilities, I spent a relaxing Thursday afternoon filling the air with the fragrance of baking spicy GINGER COOKIES.
With the holiday season upon us, it is wise to bake in double batches. Having a treasure trove on hand both in cookie jar and freezer comes in handy. Treats for small group? No problem. Spontaneous entertaining? Break out the cookies & coffee. Too much fun and no frazzle.
Another relaxing tip for baking day is to put on favorite music or study tapes to fill in the gaps between timer DINGS. The CD set-of-the-day was one borrowed from a friend–Chip Ingram on Romans 12. Not only was I stocking my freezer, my spiritual mind enjoyed a re-fill.
With the last cookies cooling on the kitchen counter, the lovely fall weather lured me outside. What began as a walk in our garden with a cup of coffee [and cookie] ended with pulling Fox Grape vines out of a hedge row. I couldn’t resist creating a few gnarly grapevine wreaths from the fresh vines. Grapevine is meaningful for me as I have done several Bible studies on John 15–the vine and the branches-while demonstrating how to wind these homey country wreaths by hand. Tuck in a few botanical elements like rosemary, sage, pine and rose hips, and it becomes a fragrant gift for friends–even more meaningful since it is all from my own garden. On a whim, I decided to fill a small basket with the bounty of the afternoon. It’s all about cottage lifestyle, and living natural in every season.
Sharon’s famous soft Ginger Cookie recipe follows. I can call it “Sharon’s famous” because I truly searched for over thirty years for certain outstanding traditional recipes. Several have already been shared in Seasons of Farm Grove–more to come.
I doubled this recipe for you; reduce it by half if you desire a more moderate family sized batch.
Sharon’s tips for perfect cookies: Butter and eggs at room temperature. Measure flour accurately by filling cup and leveling with knife. If baking in a very warm kitchen, place dough in refrigerator between batches.
Happy autumn baking. Eat one or two warm ones for me.
GINGER COOKIES–On The Soft Side
[Makes About 6 Dozen]
3 cups butter, softened
4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup dark molasses
8 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons baking soda
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl with mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla and molasses until blended. Beat in two cups of the combined flour, salt, baking soda, and spices until well mixed, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula.
2. With spoon or mixer, slowly stir in remaining flour to make a stiff dough. Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls or use cookie scoop; place 3 inches apart on parchment-lined or lightly greased cookie sheets. [I use French Silpat mats on air-bake cookie sheets for perfect cookies.] I bake these 8 cookies to a sheet in 4 rows of 2 cookies each row.
3. Sprinkle cookie balls with sugar. Lightly grease the bottom of a flat-bottomed 3-inch glass; dip into a small bowl of additional sugar. Use glass to flatten cookie balls to 3-inch diameter, dipping each time in sugar. BAKE COOKIES ABOUT 11 MINUTES OR UNTIL SET BUT SOFT. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to a rack to finish cooling. Cookies should be slightly chewy when cooled. Store in airtight containers; freeze half of the batch. Cookies freeze beautifully.