So, I complained today: for the holiday there is no snow, no rain, no tree, no moczka, no poppy seeds roll nor bigos. I didn’t have that last year neither or two years ago… . Since I came to U.S Christmas time always reminds me of Polish food more than on any other time year round.
Back in Poland my mom would always cook moczka and layer gingerbread cake. The entire house was filled with the aroma of gingerbread spices, chocolate and cooked moczka. I know, I’m talking about moczka like it’s something that everybody knows about. In MY Christmas this is the main dish. I don’t have to have anything else to feel like Christmas is here. Just give me a cup of this chocolaty-fruity-nuty-gingerbready pudding like something and I am the happiest person on the entire world. Every single household who makes it has it’s own recipe. This dish is magic and I can not make it… . I’ve tried once and it didn’t turn out tasty. Only my mom knows how to make the best moczka. So it seems that I will have to wait for Christmas in Poland to finally taste my favorite Christmas dish. How many years will that be?! I think it would be much faster if I learned how to make it – lazy me.
Anyway this post it’s not about moczka. It’s about gingerbread cookies I finally made today. They were inspired by Polish Mama on the Prairie after I read one of her post in which she was sharing her gingerbread cookies recipe. Before that I wasn’t planning to bake anything Polish.
I’ve decided that if I want to make gingerbread cookies they need to be fluffy and thick and reminds me, at least, a little of pierniczki toruńskie. While looking for a good recipe I found out that a good gingerbread cake or cookies should be made at least two weeks before the day you’re planning to eat them, sometimes months before. It’s because they get very hard after they are baked and they soften after resting for long period of time. So as you probably figure it out, there is not time this year to experiment with those kind of recipes.
Finally I found something that I thought will work this year (go here for original recipe in Polish). Funny enough this is not recipe for Polish gingerbread cookies but for German called Lebkuchen.
It took me two days to make them. On the first day I made candied orange and lemon zest and gingerbread spice mix.
Ingredients for the gingerbread spice mix:
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
3/4 tsp cloves
3/4 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp nutmeg
To make candied orange and lemon zest took me a little bit longer.
Zest from 2 peeled oranges and 1 lemon. Cut into strips, boiled for about 10 minutes. Drained and dried. When they were dry I cooked them in a mixture of:
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
until the liquid was almost gone.
Left on cooling racks overnight.
Ingredients for gingerbread cookies:
1 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
15 Tbsp blended almonds (make almond flour)
3 tsp gingerbread spice mix
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup honey
3/4 stick of butter (6 Tbsp)
1/2 cup candied zest*
In a medium bowl mix the dry ingredients: flour, almonds, gingerbread spices, baking soda and powder, cinnamon.
Heat the honey and butter in a sauce pan over a low heat until the butter is melted. Let it cool down until lukewarm and pour over mixed dry ingredients. Add candied zest. You can use spoon or mixer at this point and mix it well. Cover and leave to in a cool place.
The dough may look very sticky and hard to shape any cookies from it. Don’t worry after it cools down it gets harder and easy to work with.
When the dough is ready preheat oven to 355 F. Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Roll the dough into a small balls not bigger than a medium size walnut. Place them on baking sheet about 1 inch apart. They will rise and spread.
Bake for about 15 minutes.
Transfer to a cooling rack and let it cool completely.
Decorate the next day.
I have never had them before but as I can assume they are going to be better and better the longer you keep them. Tomorrow I’m planning to cover them with powder sugar icing or melted chocolate. Can’t decide, yet.
Anyway, I am happy that something feels like Christmas, finally. It more smells like feels but it doesn’t matter. I’ve been so focused on baking and preparing sweets that I actually forgot that christmas dinner is something more that fudge, pies and cookies only. I need to change it tomorrow or we will end up eating pasta on Saturday… .
* In my opinion (and my husband’s) those cookies have too much candied zest. They taste really zesty. I am not sure but I might boiled the candied zest for too long and that’s why they came out too hard as for my taste. They might be ok if you want to eat them just like that, but if you want to use them in those cookies (or any other cookies) they seem to be to hard and stick to teeth (a lot). Next time I will use zest made the way I always make it.
Happy Holidays, my friends!!!
- Authentic LEBKUCHEN, Gingerbread recipe from scratch. Wonderfully simple. (heypaw.wordpress.com)
- Gingerbread Cookies (thecooksnextdoor.com)
Don’t be shy and let me know what’s hiding in your head!