Wednesday is the one day of the week that I actually have what I call my ritual "moment to myself lunch" with the New York Times Dining Section. This past week, I grabbed the morning paper as it arrived at the bakery and searched feverishly for the section. I knew it would be devoted to Christmas and I just couldn't wait until lunchtime—my recent lunches have been pretty short; almost non-existent due to my busy baking schedule. This particular morning, I headed to my office paper and coffee in hand and closed the door. The article was titled, The Gifts? I Forget. But The Meal! I loved reading all the food memories and recipes from nine of the most respected food writers of our time.
When I came to Kim Severson's contribution, I was extremely moved. It wasn't what I had expected or wanted to read. Kim's mom Anne, suffers from Parkinsons Disease. I experienced my own mother's 25 year battle with this debilitating disease. Kim shares her mom's recipe for Gingersnaps and expresses her hope that maybe her mom can muster up enough strength, to roll the tender balls of dough between her shaky hands, just one more time.
I quickly tweeted Kim and made Anne's Gingersnaps the next morning. As you can see from my photo, they came out great. These slightly soft and delicate cookies are perfectly spiced and are exactly what you would expect from a classic ginger cookie. In honor of my mom, Dore Blume, who would have loved these cookies and as an homage to Anne Severson, Merry Christmas.
Christmas is almost here, and as usual I can be found in my favorite place, the bakery "baking my buns" off. I have been making gingerbread cookies all week and I surprised myself by finding the time to break down this recipe from the very large batch that we make at the bakery. I wanted you to have the recipe in time for Christmas, and I did it! In my previous post (lesson), I teach you how to decorate your favorite Christmas cookies by dipping them in tempered chocolate and then sprinkling them with dragees (silver balls). I love gingerbread and would probably make it all year round if they weren't considered by many, to be a Christmas cookie.
There is a wonderful biscuiterie in Brussels called Dandoy, that specializes in biscuits (cookies) and speculaas (gingerbread). I have been to the shop several times—never leaving without several bags filled with boxes of cookies. I adore the thin and crispy ones and prefer them to the thicker cookies that are made by pressing the dough into a decorative wooden mold. I think they are the best I have ever eaten. (Dandoy has been baking speculaas everyday of the year since 1829.)
I love cookies and adore making them. Most of all I love to eat them. For me, the perfect cookie is always crispy, very buttery, not too sweet, has a hint of salt, and lots of vanilla flavor. When Christmas rolls around gingerbread cookies take center stage at the bakery.
My cookies are very crisp and have a real snap when you bite into them, not to mention the right amount of ginger flavor. I always decorate these cookies with chocolate as I am not a lover of royal icing and food coloring. These ginger tree cookies are dipped in white chocolate and sprinkled with small silver candy balls (dragees). The important thing to know is that you must temper the chocolate. You can use this technique for decorating your own favorite cookie recipes.
and what better time than now, to enjoy Stollen. If you asked most people about Stollen, they would say " Oh no, I don't like fruit cake, not for me". That is because they have never tasted a good one or should I say an authentic one. You see, it is really a holiday German bread with a cake-like texture, which is due to the prodigious amount of butter in the dough. I vividly remember the first time I ate a real stollen; the dried fruits had been perfectly plumped before incorporating them into the yeasted dough, and the nuts had been lightly toasted to bring out their true flavor. My friend and fellow baker Michael London carefully taught me how to form the traditional shape. As you can see in Quentin Bacon's photo, the folded edge is prominent on the top of the stollen. That is the classic look which you rarely see anymore; anyone who really knows stollen will agree. You will see the photo I took of myself making this fold in the recipe below.
Yesterday morning began like any other day. I arrived at the bakery and passed through the retail area, said good morning to the girls at the counter and whipped around the bend into the bakery kitchen. The production room was bustling with activity and my mind was whirring with thoughts of chocolate dipped Christmas cookies and getting ready to make the stollen.