As a little girl I wanted to be Martha Stewart.
My best friend and I took it upon ourselves to create a publication for young girls, such as ourselves, who dreamed of being the crafter, cook and exceptional decorator that Martha is. Our magazine was called, Mini Martha Living.
It ran for one issue.
Oh but what an issue it was. We included recipes and how-to’s. There were sewing, beading and origami projects with hand-drawn illustrations to aid in the learning.
We studied the grownup version of the magazine with precision and mimicked the layout right down to the fonts that vary in size in boldness adorning the cover.
We were so proud of our magazine and quickly learned that publication is a tough business.
That childhood dream has followed me into adulthood.
I get goosebumps at the site of her crafting closet filled with neatly labeled boxes and spindle after spindle of delicate ribbons. Her potting shed makes me weak in the knees as I dream of spending hours out there starting seeds and arranging beautiful cut flowers freshly plucked from my garden.
A perfect afternoon is me with a cup of good coffee completely immersed in a pile of past issues eager to crease the corner of the page that will soon be my next project.
As I’ve grown up I have come to realize that I will never rise to the status of Martha Stewart. I am okay with this. I will never find the need to iron my sheets. And I’m pretty sure – as hard as I try – it is impossible to fold a fitted sheet as concisely as she seems to be able to.
But what I have recently realized is that I can decorate gingerbread cookies. Now they aren’t as perfect as hers but again she irons her sheets – I do not. In fact I call it an accomplishment if I manage to make my bed (sorry mom).
I take it one project at a time, ever increasing my Martha Stewart-ness. Today I start with cookies.
These gingerbread cookies are as lovely on the inside as they are on the outside. Soft and spicy. Sweet and complex. A beautiful and rich mahogany color with an dark molasses flavor.
I love the heat of these cookies. I increased the amount of pepper but if you don’t like that much warmth feel free to keep the pepper to 1 teaspoon.Some other delightful additions may be orange zest, lemon zest or finely chopped candied ginger.
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
1 cup unsulfured molasses
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses. Add flour mixture; combine on low speed. Divide dough in thirds, and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough 1/8-inch thick. Cut into shapes then transfer to prepared baking sheets.
Freeze for 10 minutes before baking (or refrigerate for 15 minutes) Bake for 9-12 minutes. If you like a crisper cookie you can bake longer. I like them soft so I took them out at 9 or 10 minutes. Let cookies cool on wire racks.
Decorate with royal icing.