Baking is one of my favorite things to do and during the Winter Holidays I make Gingerbread Houses and I teach other people how to make Gingerbread. This past December, in addition to my classes I baked and built four different houses. One for the Cancer Support Community’s Holiday Boutique, one for a sample for my class, one for home and one as a gift. There are two ways to bake the houses – one is to cut out the pieces from the unbaked dough and the other is to bake the dough first before cutting out the pieces. The advantage of the second method is that the pieces will all fit together without additional trimming after the baking process. The disadvantage is that there are going to be a lot of sections of cookie that will not be big enough for any house, except for the chimney and how many of those do you need? Now we do love to eat the leftovers but when there are a lot of leftovers, you can only so much.
As I said, Baking is one of my favorite things to do, but another one of my favorite culinary activities is to turn leftovers into new products and that is what I did with the leftover Gingerbread pieces. I pulverized them to a fine crumb in my Food Processor and turned them into a Waffle Batter. If you like Gingerbread, then you certainly will like Gingerbread Waffles. Here is how I did it.
- Break up the leftover Gingerbread pieces into sections that will fit in your Food Processor that has been fitted with the Chopping Blade. Use the Pulse Button to break up the pieces into small pieces and then turn it on to finely chop the Gingerbread pieces. You should end up with a medium to fine crumb.
- Measure the Crumbs – 2 cups of Gingerbread Crumbs will make enough waffles for 3-4 people.
- Use your Food Processor (do not wash out the bowl) or a large mixing bowl. Beat 3 Eggs until well mixed and then add 1 1/2 cups Buttermilk and blend together.
- Combine the Gingerbread Crumbs with 1 1/2 cups of All-Purpose Flour, 1 tsp. Cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger and 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda. Add to the Buttermilk/Egg mixture and Pulse, just until mixed. If doing in a bowl, with a whisk, just mix until the Ingredients are blended – DO NOT OVER-MIX! (Over-mixing Waffle, Pancake or Muffin Batter will make the product tough.
- Stir in 1/4 cup Melted Butter.
- Heat your Waffle Iron until the indicator light tells you the Iron is hot. If necessary, lightly oil or spray the surface of the Iron.
- Pour approximately 1/2 cup of Batter on each section of you Waffle Irons Grids (this will vary, depending on the size and shape of our Waffle Iron)
- Close and Bake until the steaming stops. Keep the baked Waffles warm in a low oven until you are ready to serve them.
- Serve with Fruit Compote and or Maple Syrup and melted Butter. The Waffles in the Feature Photo are served with crisply cooked bacon.
- For the Fruit Compote,I melted about 2 Tbsps. of Butter along with Brown Sugar (2-4 Tbsps.). I then added pitted and halved Cherries, Blackberries and fresh Pineapple pieces. This will work with just about any fruit – Apples are great with Gingerbread as well as Bananas, Mango or Papaya.
And this is how you use leftover Gingerbread to make Waffles! As a convenience, I have also listed the ingredients below.
2 CUPS Gingerbread Crumbs
1 1/2 cups Flour
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground Ginger
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 1/2 cups Buttermilk
1/4 cup melted Butter
Baking is one of my favorite Kitchen Activities and I especially love making bread and the Winter Months are the ideal time to do it. Not only will the result be a delicious product but your kitchen and your home will be warm with the fresh fragrance of baking bread and the communal warmth your family will feel when sitting down to the table and enjoying freshly buttered bread with their meals.
I love to watch the dough raise up and the smell of freshly baking bread is indeed heavenly. When a fresh loaf comes out of the oven your taste buds perk up and your mouth waters for a slice of that hot, buttered bread!
One of my favorite type of breads is Ciabatta. Ciabatta is Italy’s answer to the French Baguette. It was created in 1982 to stop the influx of French Baguettes into Italy. The Bakers there were afraid that the use of the Baguette would hurt there business. Ciabatta is a crusty bread with a chewy inside texture. It is fairly simple to make, although it does take a little bit of time but if you do spend the time, the dough is so nice and easy to work with it is actually fun, not work to make this bread. And when you eat it with melting butter it is so good you can practically swoon over it.
So let’s go through the actual steps of making Ciabatta (the complete recipe is at Recipe for Ciabatta
- You have to make a starter that is called a Poolish. The best time to do this is the night before you plan to make the bread as it has to proof for at least 10 hours.
- Once the Poolish is proofed, add the Olive Oil and mix it in with a Dough Spatula, if you have one; if not, then use the next best tool that you have – perhaps a Wooden Spoon.
Then you add the remaining ingredients and knead the Dough; a standing Electric Mixer fitted with the Dough Hook is the best to go but if you do not have one, then just make use of your Elbow Grease and knead the dough by hand.
Finish making the Dough and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.
Next comes the fun – stretching and folding the Dough to develop the gluten. This is a four step process, although you can shorten the process by eliminating any of the subsequent stretching and folding turns. (If you do this, your bread won’t have the true Ciabatta texture – somewhat like the texture of sour dough but without the sour taste) I figure that if you are going to make the Ciabatta and if you have the time, it is well worth it to go through the whole process and not eliminate any of the stretching turns)
A – Flattened Dough before Stretching
B – Bottom and Top Folds (fold from the side closest to you)
C – Sideways Folds – fold from the right side to the middle and then from the left side over the right side fold
D – Complete fold – cover and let rest 20 minutes before flattening and folding again
Once the stretching process is finished, then you allow the dough to rest for another 50 minutes before placing it on your baking sheet for baking. The Dough can be made into a loaf or cut into rolls – whatever you do, unlike most yeast breads, do not flatten the dough – just gently transfer it to your greased and floured (use cornmeal or Semolina on the pans) baking sheets.
In the photo below left, the loaf is on a Pizza Paddle and below right, the loaf is on a Baking Stone.
The traditional way to bake Ciabatta is to place it on a greased and floured pan and bake it in the middle of the oven with a pan of water on the rack under. The steaming water helps to give the bread its chewy crust. The Baking Stone is an alternative way to bake the bread. It still comes with a nice crusty exterior.