Sunday, December 19, 2004

Baking for Christmas

How’s your Christmas baking going? From Monday on I’m going to be busy with both daytime and night-time work, so I did the biggest part of the baking this weekend.

So, I got this much done. I’m not making too many cookies this year, but ***** I gave gingerbread house a try!! *****Here’s what I did.

1) Maccha (ground green tea) cookies

I’ve worked hard to make my own maccha cookie recipe this year, and this is as far as I got. No more maccha cookie experiments for the rest of the year! I got tired :(

What was so difficult? Well, I once tried out a shortbread-type “maccha cookie balls” recipe I found on the net, and I liked them. Then I got this crazy idea of making tree-shaped maccha cookies for Christmas, and started making changes to the recipe. I didn’t want to lose the shortbread-like texture, but at the same time wanted to cut them into shapes with cookie cutters. So this recipe is what I came up with… the best I can do at this point.

Maccha (ground green tea) cookies
85g butter
40g sugar
100g flour
1 1/2 to 2 tsp maccha (ground green tea)
20g almond powder
1/2 tsp cornstarch
Less than 1/8 tsp baking powder

Cream butter, add sugar and mix well. Sift all the dry ingredients together and add to the butter& sugar mixture. Mix well and pat into a ball. (It’s very dry so you need to really press with hands.)

To make maccha cookie balls … Rest the dough in fridge for apx. 15 min. Preheat oven to 170C. Shape dough into small balls, roll in granulated sugar, place on cookie sheet and flatten a little with finger. Bake for 18 to 20 min. (or until the cookies are set) at 170C and if not done, bake for additional 4 to 5 min. at 140C. (Do not brown.) Garnish with icing or powdered sugar.
* Cake flour is recommended.

To make Xmas-tree shaped cookies … Put dough in a plastic bag, pat and roll out to 6 to 7mm thick, keeping the dough inside the bag (so that the dough won’t stick to the rolling pin or your hands.) It’s pretty dry and cracks easily in the beginning, so keep patting and pressing until the dough gets a little greasier and holds together better. After resting the dough in the fridge for apx. 15min, cut open the plastic bag and cut out the dough (on the cut-opened plastic bag) with a slightly floured cookie cutter. I always use plastic bag like this because this way I don’t need to flour the dough and rolling pin, which means less risk of making the cookies harder.
* All-purpose flour is recommended.

About the maccha…For baking, I always use the maccha that my mom gives me. She teaches tea ceremony and gives me old leftover maccha that she doesn’t want to use for practice any more. This maccha is probably more bitter than the green tea powder available at stores for baking. So with her maccha, I felt 2 tsp. was the maximum I could take… if used more, it would be too bitter for me.

2) Gingerbread house
This is my first time ever, so I planned carefully. I made templates beforehand and followed the recipe step by step. The only change I had to make was replacing molasses with dark syrup and honey, because I can’t find molasses anywhere around here.

I wished someone would have told me that the template would stick to the dough if placed directly on it…

I didn’t know the gingerbread dough would swell that much. When the slabs came out of the oven, there were absolutely no straight lines anywhere! So I cut off the edges with a nife.

When I tried to put roof slabs on, I realized that they were too small!!! OMG, I didn’t think about the thickness of each slab when I made the template!!! Ahhhhhhh!!!! :O So I had to bake bigger roof slabs.

The name "cement icing" made me laugh, but it actually is cement.

I also made some gingerbread people out of the dough left.

Hope everything stays OK until Christmas…


ting-aling said...

Oh, the work you have to do for Christmas. I just canned some fish for fancy baking for me this year.

Fish Fish said...

Kawaii!! Tabete mitai na~

obachan said...

> Jonny --- Thanks. This recipe could be improved somehow, but for now I’m satisfied with this.
> ting-aling --- Looks like you’re very busy with parties, right? This time of the year I have to work so hard at Izakaya pub for other people’s parties, so I wanted to have some fun baking these at home ;)
> fish fish --- I’m going to add some more decorations to the house. It’ll be more Kawaii house on Christmas day. Wait and see : )

pinkcocoa said...

hi hi obachan
I am thinking about making gingerbread house for xmas too but just havent had the time to do it yet. hehe. thanks so much for the tips ;-) Hopefully I really get around to doing it!

I made maccha cookies the other days too. It tasted nice when still fresh but after a night, they became soft. :-( Maccha cookies is surely a hard one! I have tried so many version. @_@

obachan said...

Hi pinkcocoa,
Now my maccha cookies are soft, too. (TT) I guess I baked them too early...

Unknown said...

what a lovely house you built. my kittens are asking to make one but i just have to yield to the busy-ness of the season and say, not this year. yours looks so "sweet" with the ginger bread people. hmm maybe there is time?..

obachan said...

Hehe.. I gave my gingerbread house a final touch. How's that?

Rei said...

Obachan Sensei,
I'm not having luck finding almond powder for the Green Ma-cha tea cookies (for cutting into sakura blossoms). Do you think almond paste will work or too sticky. I was going to use powdered sugar to roll out if too sticky. I like your idea of the plastic bag to roll out difficult or crumbly dough.
Once again thank you for your help, ideas and suggestions.

obachan said...

I have never used almond paste, so I have no idea. The texture may turn out quite differently. And I have no idea how much of the paste should be used. Sorry.

I'm just sharing ideas with fellow bakers, so I'm not a sensei (and I never want to be). ;)