Sunday, December 12, 2010

You Can’t Catch Me, I’m the Gingerbread Man…

Holiday baking is a BIG DEAL in our house. We easily go through twenty-plus pounds of flour with the tradition that anyone who steps through our front door leaves with a plate of homemade cookies.

Recently, a friend who is lactose intolerant has inspired a fun project of researching dairy free recipes. It’s interesting to me that many of these recipes have their origins in the Depression or World War II era, when rationing demanded some pretty creative substitutions for butter, milk and cream. I’ll only try recipes that use common, readily available ingredients – no tofu or sunflower butter (whatever that is), thank you very much. So far, every one of those recipes has been a hit for dairy tolerant and intolerant guests.

As fall has turned to winter, I wondered whether any of my traditional Christmas recipes could be adapted to dairy free. Nope, not a chance. The most popular one is an almond cookie that is basically a bowlful of butter, a few eggs, some sugar and the scantest amount of flour to hold the dough together. For most of us, that’s a temporary spike in cholesterol until we hit the treadmill New Year’s Day. For my friend, well I think it could kill her. So back to Google I went, and found a great gingerbread biscotti recipe at that’s both festive and dairy free.

My husband, also, has to watch his sugar intake and every year for his Christmas-time birthday I bake a carrot cake recipe my mother passed along when we were newlyweds. So I’m sharing these recipes here, along with an invitation to contribute your own stories and recipes you’ve discovered so loved ones with health issues can share in holiday traditions.


(ETA: White flour, or half and half of white and whole wheat, can be substituted. Using all white flour gives a more traditional biscottie taste.)

The Gingerbread Biscotti recipe can be found here:

Gingerbread Biscotti
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
3/4 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, mix together oil, sugar, eggs, and molasses. In another bowl, combine flours, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg; mix into egg mixture to form a stiff dough.
Divide dough in half, and shape each half into a roll the length of the cookie. Place rolls on cookie sheet, and pat down to flatten the dough to 1/2 inch thickness.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool.

When cool enough to touch, cut into 1/2 inch thick diagonal slices. Place sliced biscotti on cookie sheet, and bake an additional 5 to 7 minutes on each side, or until toasted and crispy.

Festive Carrot Cake
2 cups flour 
2 Tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt 
¾ cup frozen apple juice concentrate, unsweetened, thawed
2 tsp. baking soda 
3 cups grated carrots
3 tsp. cinnamon 
1 cup raisins
4 eggs 
1 cup walnuts
1 cup oil

Stir together flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Beat the eggs, add oil and vanilla. Stir egg mixture into dry ingredients, add apple juice concentrate. Fold in carrots, raisins and ½ cup walnuts. Spray 8 ½ x 11 pan with baking spray. Pour batter in pan and top with balance of walnuts. Bake at 325° for 45 minutes or until cake tests done.