Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ah! (Four) Gingers!

GF, Corn-Free, Vegan
Gingerbread Cutouts
The outward look of my family is one that really makes you marvel at the weird things genetics can to to offspring. If you were to see my grandparents, mom, dad, sister and I together in a group, you might pick out that my sister and my dad had something in common, or that my mom and grandma have a similar fine cheekbone structure. But me? Well, I look almost nothing like my immediate relatives. I'm a fair bit taller than any of my female blood relatives (though my male relations are tall, so I got a boost there). Unlike my sister, who has an enviable swarthy, almost olive complexion and a face structure that allows her to pull off any hats or glasses she tries on (even really, really bad ones), I'm pale, apt to burning after 15 minutes in the sun and the only reason I wear hats or glasses at all is to avoid skin cancer and see more than 6 inches in front of my face (literally). I'm also the only "ginger child"... the "red sheep" of the family if you will. As a kid, I hated it, since along with my chronically red face it meant that all the "cool" clothes in the store looked awful on me, but I've come to embrace, and even love, the genetic anomaly I've been given.

Of course, I really started to defend my redheaded appearance after the Harry Potter movies started coming out, sparking a round of "ginger" jokes. Ironically, I don't actually know any other natural redheads, but at the same time I believe that we're all just as loveable as the rhizome that our colouring is (mistakenly) named after. Since when you look at the colour of a ginger root, it's a mousey brown when the peel's still on it's gnarled frame, and after it sheds the paper-like layer it's a gorgeous, straw-blonde. So why the association with redheads, I ask? Why don't we get called "PEI beaches" or "topazes"? That makes just as much, if not more, sense than "gingers".
Homemade Candied Ginger

Anyways, I've taken advantage of all the flavours and variations the ginger root has to readily offer the home baker this holiday. From grating the fresh rhizome to using ground, dried powder, dicing sugar-coated candied slices, folding in chunks of sugar-soaked crystalline spice and even making my own candied ginger and ginger caramel a la Alton Brown, it's been in no short supply here! I rounded up the goods from the past week of bakery into this one post, for everyone's holiday cheer - especially my good friend and past teacher Verity, who is the biggest ginger fan I know!

And for those of you wondering, the title is adapted from a line in the (very awesome) A Very Potter Musical.

Verity's Very Ginger Chewies
Makes 25 
½ cup shortening
¼ cup butter
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
¾ cup Demerara sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 tbsp corn syrup
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 ¼ cups oat flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cardamom
1 tbsp ground ginger
½ tsp cloves
1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger, 25 pieces reserved for topping 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F, line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicone. 
  2. Cream together shortening, butter, fresh ginger and Demerara sugar until fluffy. 
  3. Add molasses, corn syrup, and egg, beating well. 
  4. Beat in flours, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, and spices. 
  5. Fold in candied ginger.
  6. Roll into tablespoon-size balls, placing on the cookie sheets ½-1" apart. Flatten slightly and press a chunk of reserved crystallized ginger into the tops. 
  7. Bake 10 minutes. Cool completely on the sheets. 
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 139.6
Total Fat: 6.0 g
Cholesterol: 12.3 mg
Sodium: 22.1 mg
Total Carbs: 23.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.1 g
Protein: 0.9 g

GF, Corn-Free, Vegan Gingerbread Cutouts
Makes about 40
½ cup brown rice flour
½ cup sorghum flour
½ cup arrowroot starch
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
Pinch black pepper
½ tsp salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon guar gum
½ cup molasses
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1/4 cup softened vegan margarine
Extra rice flour for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together and set aside.
  3. Cream molasses, sugar and margarine.
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients and beat just until a stiff dough forms.
  5. Place dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap lightly dusted with rice flour. Roll out to 1/8” thickness and cut out shapes.
  6. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 10 minutes in preheated oven, or until cookies are firm to the touch.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 54.9
Total Fat: 1.3 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 12.2 mg
Total Carbs: 10.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.4 g
Protein: 0.4 g

Dark and Sticky Ginger Cake
Makes one 9" pan, 9 pieces
¾ cup (75 g) Cookin' Greens Kale (or chopped frozen greens like spinach)
Juice and zest of 1 orange
3 tbsp ground flaxseed
2 packets stevia (optional)
2 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
½ cup molasses
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
½ cup flour
¾ cup spelt flour
1/3 cup oats
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cardamom
½ tsp sea salt
½ cup hot coffee
½ tbsp baking soda
2 tbsp minced candied stem ginger (in syrup)
  1. Preheat the oven to 325F, grease a 9" pan.
  2. In a small, covered saucepan, cook the kale with the orange juice 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and transfer to a blender or food processor with orange zest, flaxseed, stevia, canola oil, brown sugar and maple syrup. Puree smooth.
  4. Add molasses and fresh ginger, blend in well.
  5. Add flours, oats, ground ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt, pulse in until just combined.
  6. Stir together the coffee and baking soda, add to the blender or food processor and pulse in.
  7. Pulse in the stem ginger.
  8. Bake 45 minutes. Cool completely in the pan before turning out.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 211.8
Total Fat: 4.5 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 44.4 mg
Total Carbs: 42.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.0 g
Protein: 3.6 g
What's your favourite baking spice?

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