Hello everyone! Welcome to Blogmas Day 19! Today I wanted to share my experience baking gingerbread cookies from scratch.
So if you’ve been here for at least two months you’ll know I gained a ton of second hand confidence from The Great British Baking Show and decided to try my hand at baking. I made a pretty successful attempt at a spiced honey cake with cream cheese frosting recently. Now, with the holidays coming up, I wanted to do a gingerbread cake with gingerbread cookies for Christmas but wanted to test out the cookies as well as have cookies to share with my DIY night friends and co-workers this week before Christmas.
Now, if you search my blog you’ve seen I’ve baked plenty of stuff before over the years but that’s always been from a mix up until that above mentioned cake. Now, I’m making stuff from scratch! It’s a whole new world.
Step One: Prep for the Bake
So, I actually did a lot of the shop for this one back when I made the spiced honey cake because Target had a promotion of spending $50 on groceries and you get a free $10 gift card. I had gone prepared with my list of ingredients for that cake only so I quickly looked up the recipes for the gingerbread cake and cookies to pick up too. Since I was rushing through it though I didn’t grab everything, plus some of the stuff was perishables so I chose to wait to get them like oranges. I also changed my recipe for the cake so there was a few things that I didn’t have and that I needed. I might do a separate post about the cake but for now I’ll focus on the cookies. I picked a recipe that I found from a site called “Gimme Some Oven” and that’s what I followed for both the cookies and icing.
I do have to say, starting to bake was quite expensive because I needed everything. From flour to a million types of sugar to a ton of spices to the bakeware, it all added up quite a bit. However, this shop was sooooo much cheaper because I was just buying what I needed for this specific bake. Since the sugar and flour and everything doesn’t get used up super quickly and will last a few bakes, it ends up being quite easier to shop as you go.
I mentioned the last time how baking could be wasteful but I think it’s because I was so strict to following the recipe. I did learn you can substitute a ton of stuff, and a quick Google search will help with that. Or just make something else with it! For example, I had gotten a carton of buttermilk for the spiced honey cake and only used a third of the carton, if even. In order to use more of it I looked up a buttermilk pancake recipe and made pancakes from scratch! I already had the other items such as flour so that was super easy to whip up! I probably should have blogged about it but maybe next time since it goes with the “from scratch” theme. I didn’t have to substitute anything for the cookies but I totally would have if I felt that I needed to.
Step Two: The Bake
As I mentioned, I followed a recipe I found online but later when I was on YouTube I saw Ro from Nerdy Nummies made a very, very similar recipe for cookies that was super easy to follow along. I don’t think the recipe I followed was super easy but I think it might be just how it printed out was weird. But one example was that it called for an optional orange zest in the list of ingredients but in the directions it never mentioned when to add it. It wasn’t hard to figure out, but it was just annoying that it was left out completely at the end.
I did do this bake over two days, making the dough on one day and then actually baking it the next. The recipe said to leave the dough to chill for at least two hours or overnight and I decided to do overnight as I’ve heard that makes a better cookie. I’m nothing if not committed guys. After mixing up all the dough the recipe prompted me to split the dough into two and then wrap them separately. I do have to admit, this is where I worried that it’d all gone wrong as the dough was super sticky. When I watched Ro’s video it didn’t look sticky at all and the recipe didn’t say it would be. But I did a quick Google search and it said chilling it would help or more flour would so I wasn’t too panicked after that. More on that later.
Also on day one I made the powdered sugar icing. Honestly, I struggled a bit with this one as first it was way too thick and then way too runny so it was a battle of adding more flour and then more milk and then flour and milk and on and on until I finally got something that looked like it would work. I put it in tupperware and put it in the fridge so it’d be ready to go for the next day after the cookies were fully baked.
The next day I took the dough out of the fridge and prepared to roll it out. Unfortunately, it was still sticky on the inside of the dough so I had to add a ton more flour to it in order to be able to roll it out and then make the cookies. I’m not sure why it took so much more flour. I used 3 1/4 cups per the recipe and I looked at Ro’s which says 4 cups but I ended up using at least 3 more cups when I was rolling out each half I think. It took so much to get it to not stick to everything and pull apart when I tried to lift the cookies. It was so frustrating! My best guess is that it was the molasses. The recipe I followed had 1/2 cup but Ro’s had 3/4 of a cup so I’m not really sure. Either way, I finally got cookies out of the dough and put them on parchment paper. I think I ended up with around 50 cookies or so, and then I started the bake!
I preheated the oven to 350 degrees and while I waited for it to heat up I put a batch of cookies into the fridge as I heard freezing them for a few minutes beforehand helps the cookies hold their shape. Then I put the cookies into the oven, put the next batch into the fridge, and there began a fun cycle! The recipe said the cookies would take 8-10 minutes but seeing as how I felt my oven ran hotter from the cake, I checked at about 6-7 minutes for all my batches and they all were ready after that time. Because I was working with two cookies sheets I was able to get the next batch in quickly each time. Once all the cookies were baked and cooled on a cooling tray, I then started to ice them!
Step Three: Decorate the Bake
Since I made so many batches, the first sets of cookies were ready for icing by the time I was done. I still cleaned up first to allow extra cooling time for the rest of the batches and then began to get the icing on the cookies.
Unfortunately my piping bag ripped apart after one cookie so then I tried to freehand it with a spoon but it was really messy. I’d wanted to do some with the outline of each cookie and then filled in and then some with just dots, stripes, or just smiles and buttons for the people shaped ones but it didn’t work out. After that I grabbed a plastic bag finally and used that to pipe the icing onto the cookies but it still was messy and didn’t look too great. Oh well! I ended up just icing the big cookies as I ran out of icing. I would have made more but I felt that the cookies were good without it too and so the smaller ones I left with no icing. I’ll need to buy a new piping back next time I’m at Target!
So my plans are to take these to both DIY night and then to my work so that people can enjoy them. We’ll see if they do or not!
Thanks for reading!
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