For years, I’ve been following Abigail Johnson Dodge’s feature articles in Fine Cooking magazine. She recently landed the cover of Bon Appetit magazine too with her Peppermint Meringue Cake. As a food writer, cooking teacher and the author of four cookbooks, Ms. Dodge clearly knows what she’s doing in the kitchen. Baking is her specialty, so I was excited to get my hands on a copy of her book: The Weekend Baker- Irresistible recipes, simple techniques, and stress-free strategies for busy people. The book is divided into three sections for the 100+ recipes, and takes readers from simple projects referred to as “Baker’s Express“: Supermoist Banana Muffins, Emergency Blender Cupcakes and Jalapeno Cornbread Wedges to “Baking in Stages“: Chocolate-Macadamia Biscotti, Three-Bite Whoopie Pies and Rich Orange Butter Cake and then finally “Productions,” where Dodge demystifies seemingly complex desserts by breaking the recipes into smaller, manageable parts that can be executed over the course of several days: Layered Chocolate Mousse Cake, Lemon Chiffon Pie with Pretzel Crust and Overnight Brioche Braid. It seems like this is a realistic approach to writing a baking book.
There have been two covers featured for her book, and I have the copy that shares Ginger Crackles as the cover image. Abby describes these as a chewy gingersnap with a soft, moist texture. They’re “crackles” because the tops are ridged with beautiful cracks. See my notes below to see how this recipe turned out.
Yield: 3 dozen cookies
Prep Time: 25 min
Cook Time: 13 min
2 1/4 cups (10 ounces/284 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. table salt
8 Tbsp (4 ounces/113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup (2 ounces/57 grams) vegetable shortening
1 cup (8 ounces/227 grams) granulated sugar, plus 2/3 cup (5 1/4 ounces/149 grams) for rolling
1 large egg
1/4 cup (2 fl ounces/58 ml) light molasses
1. Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment or nonstick baking liners (like Silpat).
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Whisk until well-blended. In another large bowl, combine butter, shortening, and 1 cup sugar. Beat with an electric mixer (stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or handheld mixer) on medium-high speed until well combined. Add the egg and molasses and beat until well-blended. Pour in the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until well blended.
3. Pour the remaining 2/3 cup sugar into a shallow bowl. Using a small ice-cream scoop about 1 1/2 inches (4cm) in diameter or your palms, shape the dough into 1-inch (2.5cm) balls. Roll each ball in the sugar and set 2 inches (5cm) apart on the prepared cookie sheets.
4. Bake 1 sheet at a time (make sure to use a cooled sheet for the second batch) until puffed and lightly browned around the edges, about 13 minutes. Transfer the cookie sheet to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Using a spatula, lift the cookies from the sheet onto a rack and let cool completely.
*The dough can be made, shaped, and the balls coated with sugar through step 3 and then frozen for up to 2 months before baking. For best results, position the shaped dough snugly on a small cookie sheet and freeze until very firm. Then pile the frozen balls into a heavy-duty freezer bag and store in the freezer. When you're ready to bake, remove only the number of cookie you need, place them on the prepared cookie sheet, and leave them on the counter while the oven heats up. Bake as directed in step 4.
*The cookies can be prepared through step 4. Layer them between sheets of parchment or waxed paper in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
*I chose to measure my ingredients instead of weigh them
*I used butter-flavored shortening.
*The recipe does not call for chilling the dough, and my dough was rather soft-ish. I'm wondering if that's why my cookies didn't turn out quite as thick and crackly as those pictured on the cover of the book. Or maybe it's because I didn't weigh my ingredients? They were delicious anyways.
*I want to know how to get the sugar to look all crusty and wonderful like the cover photo. I rolled my cookies in regular sugar (twice) but it tended to melt into the cookie while baking. I admit that for my cover photo, I lightly dampened my cookies and dipped them in sugar again (in an effort to make them look more like the actual cover photo).
Source: The Weekend Baker
Great recipe- we all loved this cookie. It froze well too, individually tucked into zip baggies for school lunches.
Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?
Yes. I would imagine that the “weekend baker” type of person is one that probably bakes up a lot of cookies. Cookies were a good choice for the cover, and they happened to be delicious ones too.