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.
Winter Soups and Stews
If your house is anything like ours, last week wasn't our most inspired in terms of cooking. We're all suffering from the post-election blues -- the sole upside being Oliver's decision to sleep-in until 7 am for the first time in many, many months; I think he's trying to tell us that pulling the covers over our heads and hibernating for awhile is ok. It's half-convincing. For much of the week, instead of cooking, there'd been takeout pizza and canned soup before, at week's end, I decided it was time to pour a glass of wine and get back into the kitchen. I was craving something hearty and comforting that we could eat for a few days. Something that wouldn't remind me too much of Thanksgiving because, frankly, I can't quite gather the steam to start planning for that yet. It was time for a big bowl of chili.
Last weekend it was so windy – apocalyptically stormy, you could say – that our tent at the farmers market was uprooted by gusts of wind that were not messing around. I wasn't there, but apparently despite being heavily weighted down and with four customers holding onto each corner, it quite literally blew down the block. Sam, from across town, was reporting trees falling on every block and traffic lights out across the city. The next morning on a walk with Oliver around Green Lake, we were met with that same biting wind and ended up retreating for a hot chocolate instead. 'Tis the season in Seattle: we all get a little giddy and ahead of ourselves when we spot the cherry blossoms and daffodils, and I always trick myself into thinking that with the start of daylight savings time, summer must be right around the corner. In truth, before we had Oliver, we'd often travel somewhere sunny for a little mood boost around this time of year. When I moved from California, many friends – other (empathetic) 'expats' now living in the Pacific Northwest – recommended this: if you know what's good for you, they'd all say, go find the sun in February or March, and we would follow that advice faaaaaithfully. But with a baby, this just isn't where our priorities are this year, and I've found myself relying on other antics like buying out of season strawberries, drinking white wine with dinner, buying a new pair of sandals that likely will not see the light of day for the next two months, and making big, colorful pots of feel good, springy soup. Let's not kid ourselves: Cherry blossoms or not, Seattle's no Palm Springs when it gets down to bathing in the sunlight. But if you step outside onto your little porch, smell the honeysuckle blooming, take notice of the longer, lighter days and think about how you simply can't wait to see your baby crawling around on the sand when it's warm enough to stroll down to the beach, it starts looking better in its own light.
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).
One of the things I wanted to accomplish before really returning to work in earnest was to print some of our honeymoon photos and get them into an album. This project has taken far longer than expected as I find myself daydreaming about the craggy streets of Naples and meeting up with our friends Mataio and Jessica for a late night slice of pizza which we ate sitting on the sidewalk before embarking on an aimless but wonderful stroll of the city. There are photos of our balcony by the sea, most with tanned limbs, sandy sandals and a Campari and soda gracing the periphery of the frame. There was the little grocery store up the hill from our apartment on the Amalfi Coast that had the sweetest, tiniest strawberries and the best yogurt in little glass jars. Tomatoes drying in the sun, Aperol spritzes and salty peanuts before dinner at the bar across from the church square where all the neighborhood kids played kickball. As I sit here typing this now, photos remain scattered on my desk and it's likely they may not make it into the proper slots in the album anytime soon. Of course, they have me dreaming of sunshine and long days with little agenda, but they also have me thinking about the simplicity of our meals in Italy and how truly easy it was to eat well. Coincidentally, a few days ago Rachel Roddy's lusty new cookbook (can we call it lusty?!), My Kitchen in Rome, arrived at our doorstep. Clearly it was time to set the photos aside and get into the kitchen.
And suddenly, it's fall. I find that realization always comes not so much with the dates on the calendar as it does the leaves on the ground, the first crank of the heat in the morning, the dusky light on the way home from an evening run. Because we were gone on the train for nearly a week, I feel like fall happened here in Seattle during that very time. I left town eating tomatoes and corn and returned to find squashes and pumpkins in the market. It was that quick. And so, it only seemed fitting that I make this soup, one that has graced the fall table of each and every apartment (and now house) I've ever lived. In fact, I'm surprised that I hadn't yet made it for you here, and delighted to share it with you today.