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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Alpha Bakers: Gingersnaps

This week we're back to small portions folks!

For these cookies, I made 1/3 recipe this time. How, you might wonder, would I adjust the 1 egg and 1 egg white by 1/3. I first calculated the 1/3 amount of egg and egg white needed in grams. Then I separated the egg yolk from the egg whites. Then I weighed them separately. The egg yolk weight 16 grams so it's normal size, so I split it into 1/3 (5 grams). I add the amount of egg whites needed for 1/3 of egg weighted. Are you still with me? And lastly I added then 1/3 additional egg whites.

It dawned on me recently (thanks Rose), that I should probably mention any high altitude adjustment that I make on recipes. I think all of the Alpha Bakers are at sea level so this is probably not very interesting. But perhaps it can be useful for others reading this blog if they happen to be at high altitude. Denver is at 5,000 feet above sea level so adjustments needs to be made for cooking and baking.

I usually adjust two things: leavening agents and liquid. Decreasing leaving agents is because at high altitude baked goods rise more quickly. The second adjustment is increasing liquids. I always thought that increasing liquids is because it's so dry here but that is not the only reason. At higher altitude, evaporation happens faster so add that to the dryness baked good taste less good. Some folks adjust the dry ingredients: increasing flour, reducing sugar, etc. I feel that increasing flour is counter-intuitive to adding liquids to prevent dryness so I never really bother with that. As for sugar, Rose's recipes is not too sweet so that's not needed, in my opinion.  It is not as complicated as it might have sounded. Trust me on this - I almost failed high school chemistry.

For this gingersnaps I adjusted the baking powder and baking soda by about 20%. I didn't measure very accurately since it's impossible to split 1 teaspoon baking soda into 1/3 and then reduce 20%. Let's just say I measure 1/3 of it and then take a bit off.

I waited until everything is being mixed in the mixer, the batter almost come together with the stated amount of eggs. There's still a few stray crumbs left and the batter feels a tad dry to the touch, so that's when I added 1 tablespoon of egg whites to it and mix it by hand. I avoid using the mixer at this step since it is harder to mix a dough that's already come together with additional liquid - at least that's how I think of it in my head haha.

1/3 recipe yield 10 cookies, all exactly 27 grams.

They look so pretty with these cracks, unlike our backyard stamped concrete with its hideous cracks.

Step by step photos:

Melt the butter and golden syrup on the stove at low temperature. Can I just say that I love golden syrup! Thank you Rose for bringing this magical liquid into my life.

It takes a few minutes and then it looks like this.

Combine the dry ingredients in the mixer bowl. I don't have baker's sugar so I used the alternative combination of sugar and light brown sugar.

Egg separating party. The bowl on the right is the mix of 1/3 egg and 1/3 egg whites. The other two bowls are the remaining egg yolk and egg whites. I cooked the leftover eggs on a non stick pan for a snack :).

1/3 dough.

It feels a bit weird to bake these directly on a baking pan without using parchment or silpat. But I saw Raymond's post this morning and that's how he did it so I am following (thanks Raymond!).

Amazing how 11 minutes in the oven made them spread and crack!

I really like them. But I can't taste the ginger at all! It is probably because I eat a lot of ginger. I use them almost every week in cooking and I love crystallized ginger and have made my own - the homemade version is quite strong. So next time I will up the ginger amount.

Alpha Bakers is a group of bakers who are baking through The Baking Bible, Rose Levy Beranbaum's latest cookbook. Come check out the rest of the group at Rose's Alpha Bakers.

Click here for a full listing of all the recipes we are baking.


  1. Every time I come to your blog, I know I will be in a math class... LOL - they look amazing. They were a hit over at Casa P ... they lasted 2 days tops. I cannot get away with 1/2 cookie recipes over here... both, my husband and stepson, love them too much. They would revolt.

    1. Math class, LOL! 2 days for 30 cookies?!? Wow.

  2. ב''ה

    I used fresh ginger and thought that was why the ginger flavor was weak. I didn't get nice cracks like yours.

  3. Your photos look so beautiful! I always enjoy coming to your blog and admiring all your photos! Beautiful cookies!

  4. Your cookies are so lovely, I got no cracks! Yours are much prettier than mine. I didn't find the ginger quite strong enough. Do love the recipe, though. Happy Baking, Jenn!

  5. Beautiful photographs of great looking cookies! I always wondered about the high altitude baking instructions.

  6. Jenn you are amazing with your math and your adjustments. You are so good at it. Look how beautiful your cookies look. May I ask why you cut your recipes in thirds?

    1. Thanks Kim! I adjust recipe in thirds for portion control. I am the person who eat most of these things and there's no way I can eat a whole recipe. I still have 1/2 a panettone in the freezer.

    2. Yes, I'm on the verge of joining Weight Watchers, and I can't imagine how to count my points while baking like this. Baking 1/3 of the recipe is one way to hold back. Good job Jenn.

  7. Three cheers for golden syrup - it's one of my favorite finds.

    Don't you love how easy it is to scale Rose's recipes down? I wish every recipe included gram weights. Lovely photos, as usual. I can't believe you can't taste the ginger in this recipe - you spicy thing you ;). Great post - hope you'll stop by to see mine.

    Patricia @ ButterYum

  8. Hi Jenn, thanks for your kind comments. Yes, a quadruple batch was too much for my plastic mixer blade. The dough really DIDN'T hold together without the egg--that's why I had Smitty pressing the sugar-flour-butter mixture together into "baseballs" and wondering why in the heck it wasn't working????

    ( for the whole tale)

  9. ok all that talk about adjustments for high altitude made my head spin. you have to do so much math to bake! not just the altitude adjustments but then you cut everything down into little portions! wow. anyways your cookies look perfect so obviously you know what you are doing, ms. math lady. :)

  10. Jenn, February is start of the Seville season around here but the weather has been so odd that anything is possible. Here's a source

  11. You cookies and picture are beautiful! I love learning about the adjustments you make for altitude.

  12. Gorgeous!

    It is really interesting reading about the high altitude adjustments.

  13. Your calculations are a bit mind-boggling :) I love your backdrop in the top picture and of course your cookies are lovely looking.


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