Happy birthday, darling. Here's to 151 years of zaniness and pluckiness and cheeriness and cantankerousness.
This birthday card is a day late. Sorry about that. If you knew my track record with sending birthday cards on time, you'd know that a day late is darn timely.
Since I couldn't wish you a "Happy Statehood" in person, I bought sunflowers in your honor. Also, I baked you a batch of whole (Kansas) wheat ginger molasses cookies.
I'm pretty sure it's Kansas flour. Once, Bob Moore told me that Bob's Red Mill buys most of its hard white winter wheat from Kansas. He founded the company, so I took him at his word. I used that flour, so hopefully these cookies are a product of Kansas. Perhaps even of Wellington, Wheat Capital of the World? That last assertion's a stretch, but it tickles me to entertain it.
I remember baking bread for Kansas Day at Washington Elementary School. Kind Mrs. Decker helped us mix the flour, yeast, and salt. We kneaded the dough at our desks (after washing them first!) We learned how to pat the dough, flip it, then press down again until it was springy and smooth. We waited--so impatiently!--for the dough to rise, then our friendly cafeteria ladies helped us bake them. That day, I learned that bread tastes better when you bake it yourself.
Kansas Day Bread Baking--what a fantastic tradition. Imagine it: warming your home each January 29 with freshly baked bread. Once I dial in how to bake bread that doesn't double as a door stop, I'll turn Kansas Day bread-baking into a ritual. Until then, Kansas, you get a batch of my finest down-home-delicious cookies. They're full of sweet whole wheat, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, and sugar.
Amy--a fellow Kansan-turned-Portlander--recently turned me on to these deadly delicious ginger cookies Stumptown Coffee sells. (Locals: we believe they're supplied by Nuvrei Patisserie in the Pearl?) I've approximated their taste with this recipe, but they're heartier in texture because of the whole wheat. If you'd like a flatter, more craggy cookie, use 1/2 all-purpose flour and 1/2 whole wheat.
Whole Wheat Ginger Molasses Cookies
adapted from BH&G's Giant Ginger Cookies
- 4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour* (for flatter, more chewy cookies, use 1/2 all-purpose flour like Hudson Cream and 1/2 whole wheat flour)
- 2 Tb. ground ginger
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups shortening (I used a mixture of 1/2 unsalted butter and 1/2 unrefined coconut oil.)
- 2 cups unrefined sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 3/4 cup coarse sugar for coating
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Mix together the dry ingredients (spices, flour, salt) in a bowl and set aside.
Beat the shortening in with an electric mixer for 30 seconds, until light and fluffy. Beat in the sugar for a minute, then the eggs and molasses. Scrape the sides of the mixing bowl occasionally. Mix in as much of the flour as you can without over-stirring.
Shape dough into either 1" balls (for sensible-sized cookies) or 2" balls (for giant, bakery-sized cookies.) Roll the cookies in coarse sugar and place at least 2 1/2" apart on each cookie sheet. I was able to fit 8 or 9 cookies on a sheet with plenty of elbow room.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-14 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown and puffed. Don't over-bake the cookies or they won't be chewy. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to a week. Makes 25 4" cookies or 50 2" cookies.
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