Gingerbread for Yule
Today I am sharing some info on particular ingredients. This time of year we tend to do more baking than ever so it’s great to see the correspondences and a little of the history of some the ingredients we use. Also is my recipe for gingerbread cookies. Nothing says winter like the scent of freshly baked gingerbread.
Honey’s associations are the sun and air.
Honey was the world’s first sweetener and has been suggested that humans have been gathering honey as far back as 10,000 years ago.
Honey has been sacred to many cultures all over the globe. It was also honored because it’s produced by bees and that in itself was viewed as a miracle.
Knowing this, honey is a great ingredient to have during celebrations. You can drizzle a little over Sabbat or Moon cakes, or include a spoonful with the cake as an offering to deity.
Honey represents wisdom, love and happiness.
The Mortar and Pestle
The mortar and pestle is an indispensable kitchen tool. It can grind up fresh and dried herbs, nuts, coarse salt and whole peppercorns, blend dry ingredients together and is steeped in magical symbolism.
The bowl of the mortar and pestle symbolizes feminine energy and transformation while the pestle symbolizes masculine energy.
In traditions that celebrate The Great Rite between the God and Goddess the mortar and pestle symbolizes this as well.
We recommend every magical cook have one. They are perfect for magical focus because you are grinding by hand, it furthers connects you to what you are doing. Something the food processor just doesn’t capture.
Molasses is ruled by Scorpio and Mars. Molasses makes a great scrying liquid. It’s dark and shiny surface makes it easy to read. Molasses is also commonly used in love and attraction spells.
Molasses is said to encourage a good work ethic and to bring about strength.
Molasses comes in a few different forms that you may see on the grocery shelf. Molasses is the by product of the sugar making process.
The different types or “grades” of molasses are determined by how long it boils. They are as follows:
- “Light molasses is produced after the first boiling of the sugar cane or sugar beet. It is light in color and sweet in taste because only a small amount of sugar has been extracted. Light molasses is also known as “sweet,” “Barbados,” “first” or “mild” molasses. This type of molasses is commonly used as an ingredient in baking, marinades, rubs and sauces, or even as a topping on toast or oatmeal. When added, it can make cookies softer or breads crustier, according to Recipetips.com. Dark molasses, also known as “full” or “second” molasses, results after the second boiling and more sugar is extracted. It is darker in color, thicker and less sweet. It can still be used in a recipe that requires molasses. It is the ingredient commonly used in gingerbread cookies.” http://healthyeating.sfgate.com
- “Blackstrap molasses is the syrup produced after the third boiling. It is very thick and dark in color. It is also bitter in taste. Due to its bitter taste, it should not be used as a substitute in recipes that call for molasses. Blackstrap molasses is the version of molasses that is supposed to have the most health benefits. It can be found in many health food stores. Blackstrap molasses contains the highest vitamin and mineral content of all the types of molasses since it has been concentrated the most by the three boilings. It is a good source of iron. According to the American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food & Nutrition Guide, 1 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses contains 3.5 milligrams of iron. It also contains several other minerals and vitamins such as calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, selenium, potassium, vitamin B6 and niacin.” http://healthyeating.sfgate.com
- “Fancy molasses is a type of molasses that is very sweet. It is commonly used as a topping for pancakes or biscuits. Fancy molasses is condensed from the pure juice of the sugar cane so it’s the lightest and sweetest of the different types of molasses. Cooking molasses is a blend of fancy molasses and blackstrap molasses. When used in recipes, it results in baked goods that are less sweet but with more molasses flavoring than just using fancy molasses. Molasses can also be made from products other than sugar cane and sugar beets. Pomegranate, sorghum, carob and dates are all used to produce molasses, especially for Middle Eastern cuisine.”
Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
(This is the gingerbread my mother always made growing up and still makes to this day!)
1 cup Crisco shortening (do not substitute)
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup water
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
Cream the shortening, brown sugar, molasses and water together thoroughly. Combine the remaining 6 dry ingredients. Stir into creamed mixture gradually. Mix well, then work with hands to form smooth dough. Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours for easier rolling and cutting. Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll dough ¼ inch thick and cut out whatever shapes you want. Bake for 10-12 minutes until edges are lightly browned. Cool and decorate. I like to use royal icing to decorate my cookies.