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Wednesday, April 4

Hospital Gingerbread



     Gingerbread was often given as a comfort food to soldiers in the army hospitals. One Civil War nurse says that after spending the day tending to the wounded she found a sutler's stand and bought a some gingerbread for the wounded soldiers.
    
     It wasn't always a source of happiness though. This item itself caused many fights. Documents say that soldiers were court martialed, beaten almost to death, and even shot over the food they were foraging. These were desperate times were the majority of the soldiers lived right on the edge of starvation.


RECIPE
Ingredients:


  • 2 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour


  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger


  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda


  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves


  • 1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening, room temperature


  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature


  • 1/2 cup sugar


  • 1/2 cup unsulfured (light) molasses


  • 1 large egg


  • Preparation:


    Sift flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat shortening and butter in large bowl into light. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in molasses, then egg. Add dry ingredients. Using spoon, stir until mixture forms dough (dough will be very soft). Divide dough into thirds. Gather each third into ball; flatten into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
    Sift flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter, lemon peel and tangerine peel in large bowl until light. Add 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup powdered sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in egg. Add dry ingredients. Using spoon, stir until mixture forms dough (dough will be soft). Divide dough into thirds. Gather each third into ball; flatten into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated. Let soften slightly, if necessary, before rolling out.)

    Shaping and Baking Cookies:

    If you're making both kinds of cookies, work with one type of dough at a time.
    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously flour work surface and rolling pin. Place 1 dough disk on work surface (keep remaining 2 dough disks refrigerated). Press rolling pin into dough several times to flatten slightly for easier rolling. Roll out dough to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness, frequently lifting and turning dough to prevent sticking. Using assorted cookie cutters dipped into flour, cut out cookies. Transfer cookies to ungreased nonstick baking sheets, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Gather dough scraps together and reserve.
    Bake until cookies turn brown on edges, about 15 minutes. Let cookies stand on sheets 1 minute. Using metal spatula, transfer cookies to racks and cool completely.
    Repeat rolling, cutting and baking with remaining 2 dough disks as described above, being sure to cool cookie sheets before making each batch. Combine all reserved dough scraps and shape into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap disk in plastic and freeze until firm enough to roll, about 30 minutes. Repeat rolling, cutting and baking as described above. Store cooled cookies in airtight container at room temperature until ready to decorate.

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