It was a Saturday morning and I had a craving for cookies. But it went beyond just ravaging a package of Oreos from the 7-11. I wanted to MAKE cookies. As I mentioned before, I’m an aspiring children’s book writer (both middle grade and young adult). I’m currently working on a young adult novel where my seventeen-year-old main character, Tess, who loves cooking, receives a family cookbook for her birthday and decides to cook her way through it as a way to uncover/connect family history/secrets. Her family is Polish-American (they immigrated in the early 1900s) so what she’ll be cooking is predominantly Polish and Polish-adapted food. I figured to get a real sense of some of her potential recipes I would buy a few Polish cookbooks and turn my kitchen into Tess’ test kitchen.
With that in mind, I figured I would throw caution to the wind and not whip up a batch of classic chocolate chip or sugar cookies –- I would be adventurous and try something new. I picked out Piernik (which I knew nothing about) but the ingredients of honey and sugar intrigued me (as in they are both delicious ingredients).
The first thing I remembered once I started to make the dough was that I don’t have a rolling pin and it’s pretty hard to roll out dough without one. I substituted a rolling pin for a wine bottled that I wrapped up in wax paper – it did the trick, all be it sort of sloppily. (I went out and bought a rolling pin a day later.)
I lack any kind of Polish vocabulary (and I thought a google search for "Piernik" would be cheating) so I knew that whatever was going to pop out of my oven would be a total surprise. Well, it turned out to be a good surprise… apparently Piernik means gingerbread!
Unlike thin gingerbread (the kind you think of when you picture of gingerbread houses or those crispy gingerbread men whose arms you can snap right off when you’re have a fit of man-hating rage), these Polish cookies were a bit thicker and had a nice, hearty consistency and feel. Even though the recipe didn’t call for it, I iced a few of them and let the icing harden which I think made them all the better (let’s get real, icing improves everything. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the iced cookies so you'll have to settle for seeing them naked.)
These were definitely a nice fall/winter cookie, but since I love cookies I enjoyed them for the spring, too. They aren't a candy-like, sugared-up, kid-friendly cookie, but they ARE a perfect accompaniment to tea or coffee and for people who don't like sweet-sweets.
Overall rating: 7 out of 10.
Recipe-- Pierkink (Compliments of Old Warsaw Cookbook)
4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
2 t. baking soda
½ t. cinnamon
¼ t. ginger
1 t. vanilla
1 T. water
Beat the eggs well. Add sugar and blend in honey and vanilla. Then add the soda dissolved in 1 T. of water. Slowly stir in sifted flour, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Mix all the ingredients together well. Roll dough to a thin layer on a floured board and cut into large heart shapes. (I did stars since I didn’t have a heart cookie cutter.) Brush with egg white and dust with powdered sugar. (I also only did this for half of the cookies, the other half I iced with pretty pink icing.) Bake in a moderate oven for 15 minutes, on a greased floured baking sheet.