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.
It turns out that returning from a sunny honeymoon to a rather rainy, dark stretch of Seattle fall hasn't been the easiest transition. Sam and I have been struggling a little to find our groove with work projects and even simple routines like cooking meals for one another and getting out of the easy daily ruts that can happen to us all. When we were traveling, we made some new vows to each other -- ways we can keep the fall and winter from feeling a bit gloomy, as tends to happen at a certain point living in the Pacific Northwest (for me, at least): from weekly wine tastings at our neighborhood wine shop to going on more lake walks. And I suppose that's one of the most energizing and invigorating parts about travel, isn't it? The opposite of the daily rut: the constant newness and discovery around every corner. One of my favorite small moments in Italy took place at a cafe in Naples when I accidentally ordered the wrong pastry and, instead, was brought this funny looking cousin of a croissant. We had a wonderfully sunny little table with strong cappuccino, and, disappointed by my lack of ordering prowess, I tried the ugly pastry only to discover my new favorite treat of all time (and the only one I can't pronounce): the sfogliatelle. I couldn't stop talking about this pastry, its thick flaky layers wrapped around a light, citrus-flecked sweet ricotta filling. It was like nothing I'd ever tried -- the perfect marriage of interesting textures and flavors. I became a woman obsessed. I began to see them displayed on every street corner; I researched their origin back at the hotel room, and started to look up recipes for how to recreate them at home. And the reason for the fascination was obviously that they were delicious. But even more: I'm so immersed in the food writing world that I rarely get a chance to discover a dish or a restaurant on my own without hearing tell of it first. And while a long way away from that Italian cafe, I had a similar feeling this week as I scanned the pages of Alice Medrich's new book, Flavor Flours, and baked up a loaf of her beautiful fall pumpkin loaf: Discovery, newness, delight!
I had every intention of starting a new tradition this year and hosting a cookie swap with some of our local friends, but somehow the season really got the best of me and it just hasn't happened. But! That hasn't stopped me from getting a head start on holiday baking; I posted a photo on Instagram the other day of some of my very favorite holiday cookbooks, and asked if there was a way we could all just take the whole week off to bake instead of work. Judging from the responses, it seems I'm not the only one who thinks this would be a really great idea. But back here in reality, cookie baking is relegated to later evenings or, I hope, this weekend we'll find some time to eek in a few batches (the recipe for Sam's mom's Nutmeg Logs is up next, and I'm set on making gingerbread men to take with us down to the Bay Area). Right now on our countertop, we've got a batch of these crumbly, chocolatey, whole grain shortbread that have proven to be a big hit. The ingredient list is small and simple, the technique foolproof, and I think they're a real standout in a sea of holiday cookies.
Hello from the other side! I realize we haven't been back here for a few weeks, and I'm sorry for dropping into a little black hole. My cookbook deadline was Monday, so I've been a writing and editing machine, stepping away from the computer to occasionally clean the house like a crazy person or throw together a most random lunch or dinner. But somehow it all came together although there was something strangely anti-climactic about sending it off: In the days when you'd print out your manuscript and have to walk to the post office and seal it up carefully to send to the publisher, I imagine it would feel much more ceremonial and important --you could stroll out of the building and do a cartwheel. Or high-five a fellow customer on your way out. Instead, I was sitting in our dining room on an incredibly rainy, dark Monday afternoon unable to hit "send." My sister Zoe told me to just close my eyes and do it. Sam gave me the thumbs up. So around 3 p.m. that's what I did. With the click of a button, just like that: it was finished.
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.
We've been waking up early these days with baby Oliver. I've always been a morning person, so this isn't particularly challenging for me -- although the middle of the night feedings have proven to be really tough. There has been a lot of finessing of sleep schedules and figuring out how Sam and I can both get enough to function well the following day. And just when we think we have it down ("gosh, aren't we lucky we have a baby that sleeps?"), everything changes. When I was in the final weeks of pregnancy and would talk about how I couldn't wait for the baby to be here, all of my friends with kids would advise me to sleep as much as possible -- and now I get it. I should've napped more. I should've listened. In getting up at odd times throughout the night with Oliver, I've had the chance to occasionally see some really brilliant sunrises (although not this past week which has been a particularly dark one in Seattle); I've made up some wacky baby tunes that I'm happy no one else can hear; and I generally have a good hour in which I can put him in the sling and walk briskly around the house trying to soothe him back to sleep while also putting away a dish or two or making a quick cup of coffee. In that hour, I can usually get something productive done and this past weekend that something was pear gingerbread.