What connects Abe Lincoln and Queen Elizabeth I? Gingerbread Men! Sohla explores two distinct but delicious recipes for these classic spiced cookies, in this holiday edition of Ancient Recipes.
– ⅔ cup whole milk
– ⅔ cup sorghum syrup
– 4 cups all-purpose flour
– 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
– ½ teaspoon saleratus
– 1 tablespoon ground dried ginger
– ½ cup (1 stick) cold salted cultured butter, cut into cubes
1. In a small bowl, mix together the milk and sorghum syrup.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, saleratus, and ginger. Add the butter and cut into the flour until the mixture looks like a coarse cornmeal.
3. Add the milk mixture into the flour mixture and mix well with a spoon.
4. Heat oven to 325F. Break off a piece of dough a little larger than a golf ball. Place it on the work surface and roll it lightly under your palms to form a pencil-thin rope of dough about 12 inches long.
5. Break off a 4-inch long piece and set aside. This will become the arms.
6. Fold the remaining rope in half to form a narrow, upside down V. Grasp at the folded top, pinch together 1 inch down from the top and twist, forming the head and neck.
7. Place the arm piece across the back and under the neck. Gently press to secure. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat these steps with the remaining dough.
8. Bake until the cookies are lightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes. Watch closely as the sorghum or molasses in the dough tends to burn quickly.
Elizabeth I’s Gingerbread Recipe:
– 3 loaves whole grain bread
– ½ pound granulated sugar
– ½ ounce ground cinnamon
– ½ ounce ground dried ginger
– ½ ounce ground dried licorice root
– ½ ounce ground anise seeds
– 1-quart white wine
– water as needed
1. Cube the bread and spread it out onto a sheet tray to stale for a few days. Grate the bread in batches until fine. Pass the crumbs through a coarse mesh sieve to sift away the bigger crumbs.
2. In a large saucepan, mix together the sifted crumbs, cinnamon, ginger, licorice, and anise. Add the wine. Bring to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, until you have a stiff paste. Add water as needed to achieve a paste consistency
3. Transfer paste to a bowl to cool.
4. Shape in the cookie molds & scrape off any excess.
5. Arrange on a sheet tray, and bake at 350F until done. The time will depend on the size of the cookie molds.
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Ancient Recipes with Sohla takes the food you know and love and traces it back to its origins. In each episode, Sohla El-Waylly details the surprising history of some of our favorite dishes as she attempts to recreate the original version using historical cooking techniques and ingredients. Along the way, Sohla highlights the differences between the ancient recipe and how we would prepare the modern version today.
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