“Hey sweetie, do you want to read books?”
Lu bounces across the room, almost skipping. Her eyes grow wide and she shouts, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
We go over to the mound of books that are always spilling from the blue and red tubs in the corner of the room. The bookshelf in her room is bulging with books (and only neat and tidy, without books on the floor, on an occasional basis), so we had to make reading areas all around the house.
Our daughter moves. In fact, she almost never stops moving. She dances at 10 seconds of music coming through the radio. She wiggles and squirms, climbs and jumps. She taught herself how to dribble a soccer ball the first time she saw one. These days, she stands on the chair we keep at the kitchen counter for her, turns around backwards, puts her hands on the counter and hoists herself up only on the strength of her arms.
She is clearly her daddy’s daughter.
However, in several long stretches of the day, she says, “Sit a mama?” She clambers into my lap and we grab books on either side of us and start reading. The list of bedtime books has grown epic. Not only do we need Cowboy Smalland Papa Small, but we need The Little Familytoo. And that’s just from the Lois Lenski collection.
This girl loves her books, devours them, remembers them, talks about them, wants to read them again, reads out words on the page to amaze me, and says, over and over: “Please again?”
She is clearly her mama’s daughter.
One of her absolute favorite books is Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett. Lu turns the pages, excited to see what will happen every time. That darned gingerbread baby jumps out of the oven and into the world, shouting, “Catch me if you can!” I have the whole thing memorized by now. Lu almost does too. But I love most the fact that when she sees the first image — of the warm spacious kitchen, the mother stirring batter in a bowl, the little boy reaching for a cookbook on the shelf — she always says tenderly, “Bake with mama from the cookbook!”
(These days, when I have to go make an appearance and will be away from her for a few hours, she says,” Mama give a talk about the cookbook?”)
And so, this holiday season, I had to figure out how to make gluten-free gingerbread babies for Lu.
Sadly, I am about the least crafty person around, so the decoration here is pretty shabby. In fact, when Danny saw the photo on top, he immediately started laughing and said, “That one on the left looks like your dad.” He’s right. Oh man, that wasn’t my intention.
Luckily, Lu doesn’t care. When I first handed her one of these, she said, “Gingerbread baby!” And then she licked off the frosting buttons and ate the cookie. “Hmmmm…tastes delicious!”
Next batch I just slathered the cookies in royal icing. Okay, so it looks like they fell face forward into a snowdrift. What can I say? I’m so not crafty.
However, now I can make gingerbread babies for our daughter.
We’re giving away a copy of our cookbook today. If you are gluten-free, you will want to start baking with your kids. Once you have made our crusty bread, our multi-grain waffles, and the peanut butter brownies, you will feel comfortable in the kitchen with those flours.
We’re also giving away a copy of Gingerbread Baby to one lucky little family.
Just leave a comment, telling us a story about baking with family during the holidays. Or your favorite book to read with children. Or, tell me how un-crafty you are!
Along with this, the lovely Kim Maes of Cook It Allergy Free is having a gingerbread house contest. And she’s giving away an iPod touch! If I can’t decorate these gingerbread babies without them looking smeary, you know I’m not making a gingerbread house. But you could! This recipe is perfect for gingerbread houses, if you cut the baking soda in half and let the pieces sit for a day or two before you work with them. Don’t wait. Start baking!
GLUTEN-FREE GINGERBREAD PEOPLE, adapted from In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite: 150 Recipes and Stories About the Food You Love
For years I have been searching for a gingerbread men recipe that made me want to eat more. True gingerbread tastes dark with spices, mingling in the mouth and surprising us with each bite. So many gingerbread men — including the ones with gluten that I ate before I had let it go — failed to intrigue me. The standard stuff has become pale brown, overly sweet, and usually under-baked. No thanks.
Melissa Clark came to the rescue around here again. Her gingerbread cookie recipe, which she normally bakes up as frogs, is resplendent with spices: cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, as well as cinnamon and ginger. Better yet? The fresh orange zest and grated gingerroot. Oh my. This one made my mouth happy.
Even if the decorations were atrocious, Lu still loved these. It’s the cookie that matters, in the end.
560 grams gluten-free all-purpose flour mix
40 grams almond flour
1 teaspoon psyllium husk
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
230 grams (2 US sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup molasses
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh gingerroot
Combining the dry ingredients. Combine the flour, almond flour, psyllium husk, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, baking soda, kosher salt, nutmeg, cloves, and black pepper in a large bowl. Whisk them all together to combine and aerate.
Combining the wet ingredients. In the bowl of a stand mixer (if you have one), mix the butter and sugar together until they are well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the molasses, egg, vanilla, orange zest, and fresh ginger. Run the mixer on low speed until everything is combined thoroughly, about 2 minutes.
Finishing the dough. With the stand mixer running on low, add the dry ingredients, about ¼ of it at a time, mixing in between until the flour has disappeared entirely into the dough. Continue this until all the dry ingredients have been added. The dough will be a little sticky to the touch. Don’t worry.
Refrigerating the dough. Divide the dough into four pieces. Wrap each in plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator. Chill the discs in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.
Baking the cookies. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Put one of the discs of dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Roll out the dough, through the parchment paper, to about 1/4-inch thick. (I like the cookies a bit thicker, so I made them about ½-inch thick. It’s your preference that matters.) Cut out the cookies using your favorite gingerbread man cookie cutter. Gather up all the scraps into a ball and roll the dough out one more time. (After that, toss the scraps. Or, if you’re like me, throw the random shapes onto the baking sheet and eat them later.)
Bake the cookies until the centers are firm to the touch, about 15 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.
We found that the cookies taste even better the next day, so save at least some of them for frosting the day after you bake them. A couple of them, however, you’re going to want to eat right away.
Makes about 72 cookies.