Christmas Cookie no 3: Gluten-Free Gingerbread People
The heads will be the first to go
Gluten-free baking is new to me. This is my second dip in this dietary specialty pool. I seem to have vegan baking down, so this can't be much harder? I'm pretty sure that gluten free baking requires a grasp of different flours (potato, chickpea, rice) and thickeners (guar and xanthan gum) in proportions slightly different to wheat flour. I'm not sure how these flours taste baked into cookies and in what combinations. I'm dying to know but for now I'm using an all purpose mix and hoping for the best.
This recipe makes a crispy cookie, nice crunch. A softer ginger bread guy would have been a little nicer, but with this mix of flours. The texture is good though. Not too gritty. They don't have that melt in your mouth wheat feel, but they definitely are more in the food than cardboard category too.
Picking a flavorful cookie like gingerbread means that even if the texture is different, at least I know the spice will be right. Spicy gingery cookies are always important this time of year anyways. Gluten-free friend bear with me. I think I'm gonna be okay at this. This recipe is adapted from the Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef.
Gluten-Free Gingerbread People
1 stick of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
zest of one orange rind
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups all purpose gluten-free baking mix
Mix sugar and butter in the bowl of a standing mixer until fluffy and white, about 7 minutes. Add molasses, egg and vanilla and mix for another 2 minutes. Add baking soda, salt, and next 6 ingredients. Mix for about one minute until combined. Add half of the gluten-free baking mix and mix until combined. Add remaining baking mix and mix again until combined. The dough will be sticky. Chill it covered in the fridge for one hour to overnight.
Preheat oven to 350. Dump dough onto a long piece of wax paper (parchment would probably work better), and split dough in half. Place one half of the dough back in the fridge so it stays cold while you work. Cover remaining dough on wax paper with another piece of wax paper and roll about 1/4 inch thick. Peel back top piece of paper, and lightly replace paper on top of dough. Now flip over and peel back the other piece of paper. I found this step helps to release the thick sticky gluten free cookies.
Stick free dough rolled in waxed paper
You're ready to cut out cookies. Before you pick out that multi-faceted snowflake cookie cutter or cute octopus cookie cutter consider that this dough is challenging to work with. Its going to fight you a little by sticking and warping. I suggest using simple shapes with round corners. People are simple, and round. Also remember that everyone loves to bite the head off a little ginger bread person.
That star never made it to the baking sheet. Choose simple cookie shapes
Cut out your shapes and carefully move them to your cookie sheet. Re roll scraps out and continue to cut until all the dough is rolled out. You can also roll your dough out on your cookie sheet if you are having big problems with sticking. Just remember to leave some space between shapes.
Decorate cookies as you see fit. I'm using raw sugar for natural look. I don't really see what's so festive about red lake dyes 40 and 15. Raisins, currants, nuts, and other dried fruits look great too. Bake for 15 minutes. Move cookies to a cooling rack with a spatula. You may choose to ice your cookies at this point. Good for you if you have time for this. I would like to remind you that icing your cookies makes them harder to store and ship without damage.