As a ratio baker, I use ratios and weights to bake, so this is more of a how to guide than an actual recipe.
Ratio baking cookies has eluded me since I tried them last year. This year, with the holidays coming up and with needing to entertain young cooped up children (thanks, pandemic), I decided to try cookies again. With Christmas coming up, gingerbread cookies felt like a fun idea. What child wouldn’t like squirting icing onto gingerbread men and women?
The cookie ratio is 3:2:1, which means 3 parts flour to 2 parts fat to 1 part sugar. The problem I had last time was I only got a dry shortbread, of which I was not a fan. Tons of research later, I discovered the ratio should actually be more like 3:2:2 so the fat and sugar should weigh about the same. What a game changer that has been! With it, I’ve made gingerbread cookies and apple pie cookies.
I also discovered a secret about cookies. Shh! Eggs are not strictly necessary. See, the ratio doesn’t mention them, but I’ve only made one or two cookies that don’t call for eggs. I decided that, since they didn’t seem to be necessary, I simply wasn’t going to use them. At least, not for now, and not for my gingerbread cookies. None of us missed the eggs. Perfect for people who can’t or don’t eat eggs!
You Will Need
The Cookie Ratio
The cookie ratio I used is 3:2:2. It’s 3 parts flour to 2 parts butter to 2 parts sugar. That means the butter and sugar should weigh about the same. To get the weight of the flour, divide the weight of the butter (or sugar) in half and then multiply by 3.
How to Make Gingerbread Cookies
Gingerbread usually uses molasses, but I never have molasses on hand. I’ve read honey and sugar are common, so I substituted molasses for brown sugar and honey so I get the sweetness and the darker color. Though, if you have molasses, no reason not to use it!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare a lightly greased or parchment paper covered cookie sheet.
The honey and brown sugar serve as the sugar so their combined weight should be about equal to the weigh of the butter. One stick of butter weighs 113 grams so, if you use one stick of butter, the combined weight of the honey and brown sugar should be around 113 grams.
Cream the brown sugar, honey, and butter. Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
Add the flour, baking soda, and gingerbread spice. Mix well.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour. If refrigerated for longer, the dough will harden and will need to sit at room temperature until it softens enough to be rolled out.
After refrigerating the dough, place it on a floured surface and roll to desired thickness. Cut into shapes and place on cookie sheets. These cookies have very little spread, so placing them about an inch apart will work fine. The thinner they are, the crisper they will be.
Bake for about 10-12 minutes, but be careful as, once it starts to darken, it turns over into burnt very quickly, so remove once the edges start to darken.
What I Did
When I don’t have to, I don’t cut up butter, so I started with one stick of butter (113 grams).
The cookie ratio of 3:2:2 calls for the sugar to be about the same weight as the butter. I put honey and brown sugar into my mixing bowl, making sure their combined weight was about 113 grams. Since my kids aren’t fans of the flavor of honey, I used more brown sugar than honey.
To the sugar I added the softened butter and creamed them together and then mixed in the vanilla extract.
To another bowl, I weighed out my flour. To get the weight, I divided 113 by 2 and then multiplied that number by 3 to get approximately 170 grams of flour.
I added about a teaspoon of baking soda, a couple of tablespoons of gingerbread spice, and just a pinch of salt to the flour. This was then added to the butter and sugar mixture. I mixed it until it was fully combined and became a soft dough.
Then I wrapped the dough in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for about an hour.
I liberally floured my surface and rolling pin and floured both sides of the dough. My kids have been looking for the crispier gingerbread people, so I rolled my dough to about an 1/8 of an inch or so (or, as flat and thin as I dared) before letting them cut out the people. Do make sure the dough and the surface are well-floured as the dough has a tendency to stick to anything not floured enough. Then I placed the shapes on a prepared cookie sheet.
My cookies backed at 375 for about 12 to 15 minutes. When fully cooled, I made icing from powdered sugar and water (the more liquid you add, the runnier it will be) and decorated, following a 3 year old’s directions.