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 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.
This time last week I was up in the Skagit River Valley sitting in the early fall sun eating wood-fired bagels and chatting with farmers, millers and bakers at the Kneading Conference West. I made homemade soba noodles, learned the ins and outs of sourdough starters, and sat in on a session where we tasted crackers baked with single varietal wheats. It was like wine tasting, but with wheat and the whole time I kept pinching myself, thinking: THESE ARE MY PEOPLE! I don't get the opportunity to be a student much these days -- usually on the other side of things teaching cooking classes or educating people at the farmers markets about whole grains and natural sugars. So to just sit and listen with a fresh (red!) notebook and a new pen was surprisingly refreshing. I miss it already. Thankfully, this cookie recipe has come back as a memorable souvenir, and one that is sure to be in high rotation in our house in the coming months.
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.
I am writing this on Saturday afternoon on a day when we had big plans to conquer pre-baby chore lists, but Sam's not feeling great and my energy's a little low so it hasn't been quite what we'd envisioned. My goals for the morning were to repot a house plant and make some soup and I've done neither. I will say that the sweet potato and fennel are still sitting on the counter eagerly awaiting their Big Moment -- it just hasn't come about quite yet. Sam and I were both going to attempt to install the carseat, but it started to look really daunting so we abandoned ship; it's now sitting proudly in the basement, also eagerly awaiting its Big Moment. So it's been one of those weekends -- the kind you look back on and wonder what it is you actually accomplished. At the very least, I get the chance to tell you about this hearty cranberry cornbread. I know maybe it feels premature in the season for cranberry recipes, but hang with me here: slathered with a little soft butter and runny honey, there's nothing I'd rather eat right now on the cool, crisp Seattle mornings we've been having lately.