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Generally Recognized As True: Gingersnaps / Pepparkaka

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Gingersnaps / Pepparkaka

After spending a bit of time reading through Michel Suas's "Advanced Bread and Pastry", this evening I tried a small batch of a variation on one of the recipes inside. The book is excellent, by the way. It is written and formatted as a textbook for professional bakers in-training.

These are the Swedish version of gingersnaps. They are crunchy once cooled completely, and they contain a number of spices besides ginger. The recipe for my small batch was put together using bakers' percentages, and is based only on one cup of flour, so it only makes about 7 of the type shown in the picture -- about 4-5" in diameter. While I'm experimenting, I don't want to make too many in case I make a mistake and the batch isn't too good.

Bakers' percentages base all ingredient weights on their relationship to the weight of the flour, making it easy to create custom batch sizes by calculating based on your desired amount of flour. For example, a bakers percentage of 86% butter means that the weight of the butter in the recipe is 86% of the weight of the flour. For a recipe with 125g of flour, the weight of butter would therefore be 125g * 0.86 = 107.5g.

  • 125g all-purpose white flour
  • 63g room temperature butter
  • 21g canola oil
  • 86g sugar
  • 38g molasses
  • 25g egg
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger

The main modifications of the recipe are in the use of 25% canola oil in place of butter, the addition of fresh ginger and a small reduction in the amount of ground ginger. If I'd had a reliable source, I would have added some orange zest, too. But I haven't got any organic oranges at the moment and they coat the other ones in all kinds of strange chemicals.

I also modified the preparation a bit -- I was forced to because of the canola oil addition, which required refrigeration of the dough to make it handleable. I experimented with canola oil because it reduces the richness a bit, and is a bit more healthy if you eat quite a bit of butter elsewhere in your diet.

So, the recipe...

Combine the dry ingredients except the sugar, but also including the fresh ginger. Cream the butter, sugar and canola oil together. Beat the egg and add it to the creamed mixture in a slow stream while mixing at the same time (similar to how add the oil when making fresh mayonnaise, although the rate of stream isn't quite as death-defyingly critical). Add the molasses and combine.

Combine the wet and dry mixtures. I used my hands to do this, and the dough was then too sticky to really do anything with, so I scraped as much as I could back into the bowl and put it in the fridge for about 45 minutes. If you use all butter, the dough isn't quite as sticky.

After 45 minutes, preheat the oven to 300F. While that's doing, scoop the dough into 1.5" balls into an insulated cookie sheet and then put the sheet in the fridge for about 5 minutes or until the oven is pre-heated (whichever comes later). Then, put the sheet into the oven.

Bake for 22-24 minutes, remove from the oven and leave the cookies on the sheet for about 10 minutes, and then transfer them to a cooling rack for cooling. Let them cool completely. Mine didn't go completely crispy until they'd completely cooled and spent overnight in a sealed plastic container.

That's all! If you want smaller gingersnaps, you can reduce the size of the balls and reduce the cooking time by a couple of minutes.

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