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.
The Thanksgiving Table
Today is a different kind of day. Usually posts on this blog come about with the narrative and I manage to squeeze in a recipe. But sometimes when you really stumble upon a winning recipe, it speaks for itself. We'll likely make these beans for Thanksgiving this year. They're one of those simple stunners that you initially think couldn't be much of a thing. And then they come out of the oven all sweet and withered and flecked with herbs. You try one and you realize they are, in fact, a pretty big thing.
I always force myself to wait until after Halloween to start thinking much about holiday pies or, really, future holidays in general. But this year I cheated a bit, tempted heavily by the lure of a warmly-spiced sweet potato pie that I used to make back when I baked pies for a living in the Bay Area (way back when). We seem to always have sweet potatoes around as they're one of Oliver's favorite foods, and when I roast them for his lunch I've been wishing I could turn them into a silky pie instead. So the other day I reserved part of the sweet potatoes for me. For a pie that I've made hundreds of times in the past, this time reimagined with fragrant brown butter, sweetened solely with maple syrup, and baked into a flaky kamut crust. We haven't started talking about the Thanksgiving menu yet this year, but I know one thing for sure: this sweet potato pie will make an appearance.
It has begun. Talk of who is bringing what, where we'll buy the turkey, what kind of pies I'll make, early morning texts concerning brussels sprouts. There's no getting around it: Thanksgiving is on its way. And with it comes the inevitable reflecting back and thinking about what we're thankful for. And about traditions. The funny thing about traditions is that they exist because they've been around for a long time. Year after year after year. But then, one Thanksgiving maybe there's something new at the table.
I didn't expect green beans to bring up such a great discussion on traditions, sharing of poems and how a piece of writing can linger with you. So thank you for that. Your comments pointed out how important people and place are and how food takes the back seat when it comes right down to it. Even if you feel quite warm towards Thanksgiving and are looking forward to next week, reading about recipe suggestions and meal planning online and in magazines can start to feel tiresome right about now. Why? Because I suppose when it all comes down to it, in the big picture it doesn't matter what we all serve anyway. Next year, you likely won't remember one year's vegetable side dish from another. What you'll remember are the markers that dotted the year for you: whom you sat next to at the table, a toast or grace, and the sense of gratitude you felt for something -- large or small.
I got a text from my mom the other day that read: demerara sugar? I responded back with a question mark, not sure what she was referencing. It turns out she was experimenting with a new pie recipe that called for the natural sugar and wasn't sure why she couldn't just use white sugar as that's what she's always done in the past. A few days later we talked on the phone and she mentioned she'd let me take charge of the salad for Thanksgiving this year as long as there was no kale. No kale! And I wanted to do the mashed potatoes? Would they still be made with butter and milk? In short, we're always willing to mix things up in the Gordon household. Whether it's inspiration from a food magazine, friend or coworker, either my mom or one of my sisters will often have an idea for something new to try at the holiday table. But what I've slowly learned is that it can't really be that different: there must be pumpkin pie, the can of cranberry sauce is necessary even though not many people actually eat it, the onion casserole is non-negotiable, the salad can't be too out there, and the potatoes must be made with ample butter and milk. And while I was really scheming up an epic kale salad to make this year, there's a big part of me that gets it, too: if we change things too much we won't recognize the part of the day that comes to mean so much: the pure recognition. We take comfort in traditions because we recognize them -- because they're always there, year after year. And so today I present to you (mom, are you reading?): this year's Gordon family Thanksgiving salad.