Christmas is coming, and some food ( in this case, desserts) are prepared in advance in order to mature for the holidays. This is the case with Polish gingerbread (pierniczki) which, thanks to a beautiful blend of honey and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg , ginger, and cloves bring out the flavor with time.
Being on a gluten-free diet (tdue to my possible gluten intolerance and autoimmunity testing), I was looking for different solutions to making pierniczki, which have always been at home for the holidays – whether commercially made or home baked. Finally I found the solution – with buckwheat flour. Buckwheat is not a cereal like oats or a grass like wheat or spelt, but in the same family as sorrel and rhubarb, and has many medicinal properties. The rutin in buckwheat strengthens the walls of blood vessels, and is used to treat chronic venous insufficiency. Buckwheat has procyanidins – important anti-inflammatory agents that eliminate harmful free radicals and protect against cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Buckwheat is also being studied as a medicine for lowering blood glucose levels in diabetics, and also reduces high cholesterol levels and gallstone formation.
Buckwheat flour together with spices like cinnamon, which improves glucose levels and increases insulin sensitivity in diabetics, as well as cholesterol and triglycerides, also has a strong anti-inflammatory action, killing colon cancer cells. Cloves, the food with the highest antioxidant value, and are very anti-inflammatory. Nutmeg kills colon cancer cells and leukemic cells, with antibacterial properties against certain strains of Streptococcus. Adding real raw honey, these cookies are truly health, anti-cancer, and (according to many) delicious.
These pierniczki can also be made by replacing the the buckwheat and potato flours with wheat flour, spelt flour, or a mixture of these two flours.
Pastry board and roll
1 kg (2.2 lbs) flour – 700 g (1.5 lbs) buckwheat flour
300 g (0.7 lbs) potato flour
1 1/3 cup of milk
1 1/3 cup cane sugar
200 g (less than a 1/2 lb) of raw honey
4 teaspoons of baking soda
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon of cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon star anise
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger (optional)
Gingerbread jam for inside (optional)
fat (butter, goose/duck smalec, coconut oil, etc) to grease
flour to roll
1.Slightly heat 1/3 cup of sugar for about 20 seconds, then add the rest of the sugar, honey, milk and spices to the saucepan and heat while stirring well until everything is nicely mixed
2. Place the liquid potions into a bowl, slowly add the flour with baking soda and mix well.
3. Cover the dough with a clean cloth and put away to ferment for anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 hours ( if doing a longer ferment, cover the bowl with a cloth or plate and mix evenly every couple of days)
4. Roll out the dough on a pastry board, sprinkling flour on the board to prevent sticking. Roll out the gingerbread to 1-2 cm thick, and put on the greased pans. If you want to make gingerbread cookies with jam inside, make 2 slighly thinner equal sized molds, watering the cookie edges, putting 1/4 teaspoon of jam in between and sealing the cookies
5. Bake in the oven at 190 deg C for 20 minutes or until golden and grow . Depending on the molds, you can get 40-50 pierniczki, which can leave plain or put icing or chocolate frosting on top. Then place in an airtight container until ready to eat.
Enjoy – Have a Healthy and Merry Christmas! Wesołych Świąt!