Old Tradition Meets New: Ginger Cutout Cookies
Oct28

Old Tradition Meets New: Ginger Cutout Cookies

I didn’t grown up with Halloween, so even after living in the US for 21 years (how did that happen?!), it doesn’t have the same meaning for me as the die-hards around me. (I’m sure if I had grown up collecting pails of candy with my friends, and dressing up in lavish costumes, it would be my fayyyvorite holiday!)  But I did grow up with a tradition of ginger cookies. My love for ginger “biscuits”—as we called them in South Africa—began with these very gingersnaps that my step-mom, Pam, used to make. They’re characteristically crunchy, but if you prefer a chewy cookie, just bake for less time. I like them perfectly crispy around the edges with just a little chew in the middle. Yum! If you’re not gonna frost them, painting them with egg gives them a glossy sheen, but if you forget this step (like I did) they will still be delish!   My favorite taster said they’re just right! (She’s munching on a ghost cookie—in case you’re wondering.)   I found the cute jack-o-lantern cookie stamp set at Sur La Table. Would you believe I FORGOT to use them and just managed to scrape three together with the last offcuts of dough!     And even after being rolled and re-rolled they were still pretty yummy! Though I did leave these in the oven for about 30 seconds too long so they’re crrrrrispy! Make sure to keep an eye on them because every minute counts!   In my recent trip to South Africa, I poured over Pam’s recipe book, taking snaps of all my childhood favs. (I sure wish I would’ve been more interested when I lived there.) How cool is this? The original recipe from her mom, Nan, who was a fabulous baker.   You know I just couldn’t stop there though, right? I modified the recipe (after my usual hours of research and testing) which called for creaming the eggs and sugar. (Yes, you read that correctly) There are so few recipes that require this step, that I decided to go with the simpler method of whisking and stirring—from Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book (fabulous book) . I mean, why bring out the mixer unless absolutely necessary, right? And this way my daughter can be involved in the mixing too—not just the cutting and frosting. You might be wondering why they call for such a large amount of baking soda (2 teaspoons). This is so that they rise dramatically and then collapse, leaving the cute crackles on the surface. It also allows for better browning and the cracks in the dough allow more moisture to escape, making them crispier. Refrigerating the dough deepens...

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Extreme Makeover for OrnaBakes and Bulkas on YouTube!
Aug26

Extreme Makeover for OrnaBakes and Bulkas on YouTube!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since I launched OrnaBakes, with my Cinnamon Bulkas (yeast buns). Since then I’ve learned so much—about blogging, and cooking! You wouldn’t believe how much time and effort goes into each post… and how many programs and platforms I’ve had to master. (WordPress, MailChimp, iPhoto, iMovie, YouTube, Evernote, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, the list goes on…) When I started I barely even knew how to hold a full size camera, and was terrified to remove the memory card for fear of inserting it the wrong way into my Mac. Sam probably regrets nagging me to learn how to use iPhoto for all those years, because now every computer, camera, and iOS device in our house (of which there are many) is overtaken with pictures of food! It’s very rewarding to see what a long way my pics have come since my first post. Exhibit A: Featured Image from First Bulkas Post (9/27/12) Exhibit B: Updated Bulkas Post (Pic Optimized for Pinterest in 4:5 ratio, proven to get the most pins) These heavenly buns are my personal favorite, and along with my Crunchies—another traditional South African treat—are my Signature Bake. While perfectly sweet and buttery, they aren’t too rich—so your family can enjoy them anytime. (And they don’t completely break the calorie bank!) What better a recipe for the launch of my brand new site (So exciting!) I recently had a blast teaching a class on how to make them. My friend Liat’s sweet daughter Chloe was my Sous Chef. Watch the YouTube clip and see for yourself how simple it is. Proudly edited by yours truly—so please go easy on me. 🙂 Thank you to my saintly husband, Sam, for taking the time to record the class. And for listening to me go on about my website for hours on end… (He banned me from saying “bulkas” ever again!) They’re a little time-consuming, but well worth the effort. I’ve added step-by-step instructions, illustrations, and video clips to the recipe, so there’s no guesswork. Click here for the updated Cinnamon Bulkas Recipe. Just in time for the upcoming Jewish New Year Growing up in South Africa, it was our family tradition to break the fast on Yom Kippur with a warm Bulka (a/k/a Boolke). I wish that my Auntie Phyllie could see me sharing her special tradition with my little Aja. OrnaBakes 2.0 Rockin’ logo designed by sweetheart Sammy Jay Purkin! My Trader Joe’s and Costco Shopping Lists are now super-easy to navigate and print. It’s a snap to add comments or share your favorite recipes or posts. You can search recipes by diet, holiday, country, or type. A...

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