Strolling New York City streets during the height of fall when all the leaves are changing and golden light glints off the brownstone windows. This is what I envisioned when I bought tickets to attend my cousin’s September wedding earlier this month: Sam and I would extend the trip for a good day or two so we could experience a little bit of fall in the city. We’d finally eat at Prune and have scones and coffee at Buvette, as we always do. Sam wanted to take me to Russ and Daughters, and we’d try to sneak in a new bakery or ice cream shop for good measure. Well, as some of you likely know, my thinking on the weather was premature. New York City fall had yet to descend and, instead, we ambled around the city in a mix of humidity and rain. When we returned home I found myself excited about the crisp evening air, and the fact that the tree across the street had turned a rusty shade of amber. It was time to do a little baking.
These cookies were a real treat to make for many reasons — the main one being that they’re made with all purpose einkorn flour from Jovial Foods and the recipe is from Carla Bartolucci’s new cookbook, Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat. I worked with Carla and the Jovial Foods team a few years ago, helping them develop recipes for their website and blog using the flour. If you’re not familiar with the grain einkorn or einkorn flour, it is a wheat similar to emmer, spelt, durum and soft wheat, but it’s an ancient species that’s more nutritious than modern wheat (30% more protein and more B vitamins and antioxidants). Many people who don’t tolerate modern wheat claim to do just fine with einkorn (Bartolucci’s daughter, for example) and after moving from Connecticut to Italy in 2006, Carla became enamored with the grain for that reason alone and began the process of growing, harvesting and selling einkorn.
If you’re interested in the way that einkorn’s gluten is different from other wheats or how baking with einkorn flour is different than baking with an all-purpose flour, Carla’s cookbook has some great information. After working with this flour for a few years, I can attest to how easy it is to incorporate into your favorite recipes — which is exactly what the Einkorn cookbook does. It’s a breath of fresh air in its approach to recipes: there aren’t 15 adjectives per recipe title or overly fancy, fussy baked goods. This is food you actually are going to want to bake for your typical week: Coconut Pound Cake, Einkorn Cornbread, Slow Rise Classic Sticky Buns, Ciabatta. But now we need to talk about these cookies.
I’ve made Ginger Molasses Cookies on the blog before a few years back, and I love the recipe. They are a different beast though: they are bigger and have more heft thanks to the bread flour. These cookies I’m sharing with you today have more of a subtle spice profile and a really nice, light chewy texture. These are snacking cookies. These are breakfast cookies. These are evening tea cookies. The method is quite simple and nothing you won’t be familiar with: they’re essentially a wet and dry ingredient affair, so pretty difficult to truly mess up. I will say, however, that you’re going to pull the cookies out of the oven and it’s going to seem as though they’re not done: they’ll be quite soft in the middle. But trust that they firm up as they cool. If you leave them in the oven longer (as I did with my first batch) you’ll end up with much more of a crisp, gingersnap texture. And while those certainly didn’t go to waste in our house, chewiness always reigns, no?
Because they’re so enthusiastic to share their wonderful einkorn flours and products with you, Jovial Foods is offering a 15% discount and free shipping (!!) on everything in their online shop (excluding grain mills and the cookbook); to redeem the discount, simply type in the code SWEETSPOONFUL at checkout. Offer expires 10/22/15.
While you can’t use the discount code for the cookbook, it is already an amazing deal through their website (and it’s autographed); it sells for a 25% discount off list price, and they offer free shipping. And towards the end of October, Jovial Foods will begin to sell their whole grain einkorn flour again (versus the all-purpose einkorn flour which I used for this recipe), which will be a treat to work with, so keep an eye out for that. You can sign up to be notified when it’s back in stock and ready to order.
I hope you all enjoy the recipe and are finding a little piece of early fall wherever you live.
Note: I was sent a review copy of Einkorn, as well as a complimentary bag of Jovial Foods einkorn flour to use for this recipe.
The reason for using melted butter instead of creamed butter in a cookie is to release the small amount of water in the butter into the flour quickly. This helps develop the flour’s gluten and gives a chewier rather than crispy texture to the cookie. This technique works perfectly with einkorn flour, since the flour is slower to absorb fats, and the wonderfully soft texture of these ginger cookies is proof of that. The cookies come out of the oven really soft and although they might look underbaked, they set up perfectly after cooling.
Reprinted from Einkorn
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a second bowl, stir together the butter, the 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar, molasses, ginger, and cinnamon. Add the egg and whisk together until well combined. Add the flour mixture and mix with a spatula until the dry ingredients are no longer visible. Let stand for 15 minutes to give the flour time to absorb the wet ingredients.
4. Spread the remaining 3 tablespoons granulated sugar on a small plate. Roll 1 1/2-inch (45 g) balls of dough between your hands and roll them in the sugar to dust completely.
5. Place the balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 16 minutes until the cookies have spread and are barely firm to the touch. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Glimpses of Spring
We returned home from San Francisco on New Years Eve just in time for dinner, and craving greens -- or anything other than baked goods and pizza (ohhhh San Francisco, how I love your bakeries. And citrus. And winter sunshine). Instead of driving straight home, we stopped at our co-op where I ran in for some arugula, an avocado, a bottle of Prosecco, and for the checkout guys to not-so-subtly mock the outlook of our New Years Eve: rousing party, eh? They looked to be in their mid-twenties and I figured I probably looked ancient to them, sad even. But really, there wasn't much sad (or rousing, to be fair) about our evening: putting Oliver to bed, opening up holiday cards and hanging them in the kitchen, and toasting the New Year with arugula, half a quesadilla and sparkling wine. It wasn't lavish. But it's what we both needed. (Or at least what we had to work with.) Since then, I've been more inspired to cook lots of "real" food versus all of the treats and appetizers and snacks the holidays always bring on. I made Julia Turshen's curried red lentils for the millionth time, a wintry whole grain salad with tuna and fennel, roasted potatoes, and this simple green minestrone that I've taken for lunch this week. Determined to fit as many seasonal vegetables into a bowl as humanly possible, I spooned a colorful pesto on top, as much for the reminder of warmer days to come as for the accent in the soup (and for the enjoyment later of slathering the leftover pesto on crusty bread).
It turns out shopping for wedding dresses is nothing like they make it appear in the movies. Or at least it hasn't been for me. Angels don't sing. Stars don't explode. Relatives don't cry. There isn't a sudden heart-stopping moment that this is, in fact, "the one." To be honest, I always knew that I wasn't the kind of gal for whom angels would sing or stars would explode but I did think I'd have some kind of moment where I could tell I'd found the best dress. Instead, my mom flew into town and we spent three (yes, three!!) days shopping for dresses, and since then I've been back to the stores we visited -- and I'm more undecided than ever. Tomorrow morning I'll return with my friend Keena to try and tie this business up once and for all. Cross your fingers.
When I was single and living alone in the Bay Area, I made virtually the same thing for dinner each night. I ate meals quickly while in front of the computer. Or even worse: the television. This most often included what I call "Mexican Pizzas" which were basically glorified quesadillas baked in the oven until crispy. Sometimes, if I was really feeling like cooking, I'd whip up a quick stir-fry with frozen vegetables from Trader Joe's or a mushroom frittata using pre-sliced mushrooms. Mostly, though, it was Mexican Pizzas -- a good four or five nights a week. Today, thankfully, dinner looks a lot different. Meals in general look a lot different. How would I explain that difference? I think that ultimately how we feel about our life colors how we choose to feed ourselves and the importance that we place on preparing our own meals.
Today was 75 degrees in Seattle and it seemed the whole city was out and about drinking iced coffee in tank tops and perhaps not working all that hard. When we have a hit of sunshine like this in April (or, really, any time of the year), we're all really good at making excuses to leave the office early -- or, simply, to "work from home." I just got back from LA last night, unpacked in a whirlwind this morning, and took Oliver to meet up with three friends from our parents group at the zoo. The only other time I'd been to the Seattle zoo was once with Sam a few years ago when we arrived thirty minutes before closing and ended up doing a whirlwind tour -- sprinting from the giraffes to the massive brown bear to the meerkat. The visit today was much different: we strolled slowly trying to avoid the spring break crowds and beating sun. I managed to only get one of Oliver's cheeks sunburned, and he even got in a decent nap. A success of an afternoon, I'd say. Coming home I realized we didn't have much in the fridge for lunch -- but thankfully there was a respectable stash of Le Croix (Le Croix season is back!) and a small bowl of this whole grain salad I made right before I left town. It's the kind of salad that's meant for this time of year: it pulls off colorful and fresh despite the fact that much of the true spring and summer produce isn't yet available. And for that reason, I make a few versions of it in early spring, often doubling the recipe so there's always the possibility of having a small bowl at 1 p.m. while the baby naps in the car seat, one cheek sunburned, windows and back door open -- a warm breeze creeping into the kitchen.
On Monday our little family of three is headed to the airport at 6 am to board our first with-baby cross-country trip. We'll be visiting Sam's family in New Jersey for a few days, then renting a car and driving over to meet up with my family at my mom's lake house in the Adirondacks. Sam's younger sister and her kids have yet to meet Oliver; my grandpa has yet to meet him, and Oliver has yet to take a dunk in a lake, see a firefly, or spend quality time with energetic dogs -- of which there will be three. A lot of firsts. This week my family has been madly texting, volunteering to make certain meals or sweets on assigned days while we're at the cabin and it got me thinking about really simple, effortless summer desserts -- in particular, ones that you can make while staying in a house with an unfamiliar kitchen and unfamiliar equipment and still do a pretty bang-up job. I think fruit crisp is just that thing.