With sweet treats playing a star role in our kitchens this time of year, baker and photographer Yossy Arefi’s blog Apt. 2b Baking Co. is an excellent resource to keep at the ready. I first met Yossy at the Saveur Blog awards and was drawn to both her vibrant, seasonal recipes as well as the way she captures them. Her photography depicts yummy yet real, perfectly imperfect scenes from the kitchen. Today Yossy shares with us one of her favorite holiday goodies (and ours!) — gingerbread cookies with royal icing. And for more of her enticing confections, check out her upcoming book, Sweeter Off the Vine.
NAME: Yossy Arefi
PROFESSION: Food Photographer/Stylist, Recipe Developer & Creator of Apt 2b. Baking Co.
COOKING MAKES ME FEEL… Relaxed, most of the time…
ESSENTIAL KITCHEN TOOL? I love my simple maple rolling pin – we have made countless pies, tarts, and cookies together.
THREE INGREDIENTS YOU COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT? For baking – butter, vanilla beans, flours (and sugars!) For savory cooking – olive oil, lemons, flaky salt
SOUNDTRACK IN YOUR KITCHEN? Oooh, it depends a lot on my mood…sometimes I listen to music, but lately I prefer podcasts. I love Fresh Air, Radiolab, The Ted Radio Hour, Start-Up, and Mystery Show, among many, many others.
CAN NEVER RESIST… warm chocolate chip cookies with flaky salt
MIDNIGHT SNACK? Usually something sweet with a sip of cold milk to wash it down
QUIRKY FOOD HABITS? I know this isn’t really a quirk, but I think just about every dish can be improved with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
ANY BAKING HOLIDAY TRADITIONS? These cookies!“ I started my blog as a way to hone my baking and photography skills, and along with those things it has led to so many wonderful real life connections and friendships. I am constantly surprised by how wonderful and supportive the online food community is and I am so happy to be part of it.
Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing
Makes about 3 dozen 3-inch cookies
- 3 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3⁄4 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1⁄4 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg
- 1⁄4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1⁄4 teaspoon allspice
- 1⁄2 teaspoon orange zest
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 14 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
- 1⁄2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1⁄2 cup unsulfured molasses
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and spices together.
- 1 egg white
- 1⁄2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 3⁄4 cup confectioners sugar
- In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg, then the molasses and mix until well combined. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. Divide the dough in half, wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour before rolling.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Working with 1/2 of the dough at a time roll the dough 1/8-1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured surface using a lightly floured rolling pin roll. Use a cookie cutter or stencil to cut out desired shapes then place them on the prepared baking sheets. For cookie ornaments, use a skewer to poke a hole through the top of the cookies before baking. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies have just barely begun to brown. For cookie ornaments bake the cookies until they are lightly browned all over and firm to the touch. Cool the cookies on the sheet pans for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired.
- Combine all of the ingredients and beat with a hand mixer (or in a stand mixer) until stiff peaks form. If the icing seems too thick, add a few drops of water or lemon juice. If it seems runny, add a few table- spoons of confectioner’s sugar.
- Use a pastry bag fitted with a #2 or #3 round tip and the stiff icing to add lines, shapes and dots to your cookies. Sprinkle with colored sugar, sprinkles or nonpareils if desired, just make sure to do it while the icing is still wet.
- To make the cookies into ornaments, thread a string through the hole and tie it to make a loop.