This week delivers you the first recipe by Mrs Green who has worked hard on several roll-outs of different variations of the recipe before she was happy with the final version. I had something else planned initially, but that something else needs some work before it can be let out into the world. Mrs Green stepped in because she's been in a baking mood. I was pleased, because pre-plant based eating, Mrs Green was an enthusiastic and competent baker, but she has so far found plant-based baking a bit too far from her comfort zone. It seems that now that there is specific and baby-led demand for Mrs Green's baked goods again, she has re-entered that space with her plant-based whole foods hat on. This is very good news to all of us, Little Boy Green in particular.
So, this week you can make Gingerbread à la Bethnal Greens. This recipe is packed with great nutrition with broccoli, spirulina and kale... only joking... No broccoli. It does, however, have a good dose of blackstrap molasses which is to the world of sugar as wheatgerm is to the world of grains. Super-super-superhero. It's got iron, it's got calcium and magnesium, it's got key trace minerals like copper and manganese and selenium and potassium. It's got lots of other good things that I will not type out here. It also has a deep, adult, rich and aromatic sweetness so much more satisfying than the one-dimensional processed white sugar.
Mrs Green is generally easy to please, and she is not a culinary snob. However, she has strong feelings about gingerbread, so for this week only, she embarked on the project because she felt I could not be entrusted with this singularly important task. In the process, we have had multiple recipes and lots of gingerbread. We thought we had found a winner after the first attempt turned out too dry (Mrs Green had to add water to the rested dough before rolling it out - not ideal) and - more gravely - tasting of too virtuous, to quote the lady in charge.
The final recipe included here has as much good stuff as you can have in what is basically not a nutrition-rich dish overall. The recipe also shows some optionality that shows the later experimentation with consistency (flax egg to make the dough more pliable), flavour (the spicing is adjusted in favour of ginger and less ground cloves and the last version added black cardamom seeds) and sweetening agents (blackstrap molasses and dates alone did not bring the note of caramel Mrs Green thinks is a hallmark of real gingerbread). Adjust away to suit your own tastes or preferences.
All in all, the last week or so has been heavenly for Little Boy Green, who has been making all of the sweet treats together with Mrs Green. The mother and son baking duo have had a ball, and we are now all out of icing, gold cupcake moulds, sugar baubles and silver sugar beads. Little Boy Green has mastered his dough-rolling technique and understands about spacing the cookie moulds on the rolled out dough to maximise the number of cookies cut out of a single rolling. We have eaten our body-weight in gingerbread, baked and decorated with friends (who got the more virtuous recipe but were far too nice to be anything than entirely polite about the Calvinist gingerbread), and made gingerbread decorations that are now hanging off the Christmas tree. We are ready for the festivities.
- 3 - 3 1/2 cups sprouted wholewheat flour (adjust to get desired consistency, a soft and pliable dough that comes off the edges of the bowl) - keep some extra for rolling out
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 3 tbsp water
- 1/2 cup rapeseed, coconut or groundnut oil
- 125 g (7 big dates) Medjool dates
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
- (optional for added sweetness) 1/2 cup coconut sugar, melted with 1 tbsp of water
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp ground true cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- (optional) 1 tsp ground allspice
- (optional) 2 large pods of black cardamom, seeds ground and husks discarded
- Make flax egg (mix the ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp of water) and let sit for at least 5 minutes untilall other wet ingredients have been added.
- Puree the dates with 1/2 cup water.
- Mix together the flour, baking soda and spices (if you are using them, make sure you grind the cardamom seeds quite fine).
- Add the oil, the blackstrap molasses and vinegar to the dry ingredients, mix well.
- Add the pureed dates to the flour mixture, mix well.
- Melt the coconut sugar and add to the flour mixture and mix well.
- Add the flax egg to the flour mixture and mix well.
- Roll into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least an hour but, for best results, overnight.
- When ready to make, roll out onto a floured surface.
- Cut out cookies and roll the leftover dough out again - repeat.
- Cook for approximately 10 minutes in the middle level of a 200 C oven. Adjust cooking time higher or a little lower depending on the thickness the cookies are rolled out at. Thicker roll will result in softer cookies (Mrs Green’s preference), thin roll-out will yield a crisper finish (favoured by Little Boy Green), same goes for shorter/ longer cooking time. Keep an eye on them during the last few minutes as a mere minute could be the difference between a spicy sweet cookie and a charred bittersweet one.
- Once cooked, take out and let cool out completely to allow cookies to harden, then decorate as desired.
- If you would like to string them to hang on your tree, then poke a hole into them when they are still soft before they cool, we used a chop stick.