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Holiday Health Alert – Cut Out Sugar – Cut in Cookies
Skip the Christmas sugar cookies because your child is allergic to sugar and wheat? In no case! This article aims to convince you that the infamous sugar cookies are easy to make in a healthy way without the use of processed sugar and flour. You may know these two white wonders as the evil twins most likely responsible for the symptoms I refer to as holiday fog. That sugar overload and crashes, irritability and stomach aches are just a few. If you’re wondering how to make wholesome cookies with natural and organic sugar-free frosting, read on and get ready to roll out the dough.
Add sweets without the harmful side effects. That in itself is a miracle. First, I’d like to tell you about the origin of these heaven-sent cookies and why I want to share these treats with you and your family.
Christmas means making a mess in the kitchen with the kids: white confections mask everyone from head to toe, even the dog and kitten. Nothing lights up a child’s face like making Christmas cookies, even a Christmas tree.
I like sugar cookies because they are creative for kids. The dough is strong and can be rolled out over and over again, and the cut-out characters make for a story you can imagine. As a child, all I could do was gleefully anticipate eating an angel, Santa, and Rudolph the Reindeer. About five times each. This festive joy was inevitably distracted by horror. Soon I will feel the sugar rush into my fat little body. I have always been 45 pounds overweight. My joints hurt and my digestion was bad throughout the night and into the next day. Memories of the warmth of my mother’s kitchen, the freedom to express myself with cookie cutters, and the ultimate disappointment of ill health just didn’t mix. This was not a recipe for success. Sugar cookies used to mean joy and pain. At least they did for me and I did something about it. I just wanted joy.
I picked up a sugar cookie recipe from my Aunt Diana, Sicilian by birth, pizza to cannoli dough expert, and when she sings the Ave Maria, it brings me to tears. Any woman who sings when she bakes, you know is going to roll out some delicious dough. So I took my aunt’s family recipe, used my transcription method, turning the white processed sugar and flour into sugar/gluten free alternative ingredients, and created cut out sugar cookies to share with everyone.
I use alternative ingredients to white wheat flour, such as Bob Redmill’s All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour, which combines garbanzo beans, fava beans, tapioca, and potato starch for just the right cookie texture. I use white rice flour for the white color of the cookies and to flour the dough and cookie cutters. Xanthan gum is a necessary ingredient in gluten-free baking and is added to keep flour gluten-free. Only a small amount of this vegetable gum is needed.
I replace the sugar with agave, stevia, and a combination of oligofructose and erythritol in a product called Swerve, which can be found at pcflabs.com, select Whole Foods, and health food stores. Organic erythritol is a fermented polyol or sugar alcohol that does not affect digestion. Swerve also adds oligofructose, which is inulin from chicory. Both ingredients have no glycemic or very low glycemic index and are very easily absorbed. Neither promotes tooth decay.
Swerve is the most affordable healthy baking sugar substitute that looks and acts like baking sugar. Swerve replaces bulk and hardness, and adds ultra-low-calorie sweetness to the recipe. Simply using erythritol products without added oligofructose, such as ZSweet and Zero brands of erythritol, is not suitable for baking because the taste is not as sweet, but plain erythritol works great as a table sugar for sprinkling on cereal and yogurt. They can be found at both Whole Foods and online health food stores.
Also, my Aunt Diana’s recipe uses sour cream, which gives the dough extra moisture and elasticity, resulting in great flavor and a dough that can be rolled out many times. The easy roll factor is very important when it comes to making these cookies with kids.
You can use soy yogurt instead of dairy products, but it can change the color of the dough to a darker one. The original appearance of the dough should be on a white background, and the color of the glaze can be pink or green for a holiday theme. Another way to avoid sour cream is to use Total 2% Greek yogurt. This is a healthy version that still uses dairy.
Knowing the substitutes, it’s time for the tricks of cooking the recipe.
“Gently roll out the gluten-free/sugar-free dough with a rolling pin dusted with white rice flour between two sheets of waxed paper. Make sure both sides of the dough are also lightly dusted with white rice flour. White rice flour is my flour of choice for rolling out gluten-free dough because it is grainy and non-sticky. Also, dust the cookie sheet with white rice flour. Dip a thin metal spatula into the white rice flour to lift the cut out cookies and carefully place them on the baking sheet,” are words you would hear me say in a cooking class or on my Sweet Truth Cooking TV show on Veria. The hands-on, interactive class is the best way for those interested in learning alternative gluten-free/sugar-free baking techniques to experience the tactile difference between this healthy dough and the old-fashioned white flour dough. To understand the gluten-free content, you need to see and feel how the new dough behaves: how it takes longer to knead, looks more crumbly, sticks to your hands, takes more effort to roll out, falls apart easily and, ultimately, bakes and browns faster than traditional sugar/wheat dough.
Sound difficult? Trust me. It’s worth a little extra effort and buttering to make this dough work like magic and turn out healthy cookies that everyone will love. The best part is that you’ll feel good about feeding it to the masses. Practice makes perfect when working with dough. Use your senses to know when to stop rolling the dough. There is also a kitchen timer in a key safety device for perfectly baked gluten-free cookies.
The above tricks are just a few fun new tricks to use when it comes to the art and science of creating your own alternative style version of your favorite sugar cookie. Like interval training, these techniques make a big difference: sugar/gluten free baking allows you to eat your cookies and eat them too! No extra calories, bloating, weight gain or overeating because there is no sugar or white, processed flour. Sugar cookies aren’t just for the holidays, as popular culture would have you believe. Check out Starbucks, Gelson’s, or your local bakery. They all sell whimsical, colorful, kid-like sugar cookies that want to nibble on all year round and for every change of season. It’s not only during the winter holidays that sugar cookies enter our veins and raise our glucose levels. But who wants to give up cookies? And the glaze. Um, no!
As for the frosting, again, Swerve found at pcflabs.com is the sugar of choice and tastes the best. You can also use natural fruits and vegetables for food coloring in the frosting, adding beetroot juice for pink or red and juicing kale or spinach for green. Use unsweetened coconut and goji berries for extra charm and creativity!
This cut out sugar cookie recipe tastes and looks just like the real thing. Now, when I make these cookies, the kids each come to the table and can get out of their chairs feeling clear, energized, creative, and healthy. They are at peace with themselves and their stomach. Have a good time!
cut out sugar cookies
frosted sugar, wheat and gluten free agave cookies
DOUGH 1 cup vegetable shortening 1/2 cup Swerve alternative sugar 2 eggs 1 tablespoon vanilla 1 cup sour cream 1/2 cup light agave 2 drops Stevia Vanilla Creme liquid 3 cups gluten-free flour 1 cup white rice flour 1 cup potato flour 4 packets or 2 teaspoons of Stevia Plus powder 2 teaspoons of baking powder 1 teaspoon of baking soda 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum
GLAZING 1 cup Swerve alternative powdered sugar 2 teaspoons unsweetened almond milk 1 dropper of liquid stevia and vanilla cream 2 teaspoons light agave 2 teaspoons beet juice (optional)
For the cookies: with paddle attachment in a stand mixer, butterscotch and Swerve. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. Add vanilla, sour cream, agave and liquid stevia and mix.
In a separate bowl, sift together the gluten-free flour, white rice flour, potato flour, stevia powder, baking powder, baking soda, and xanthan gum.
Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, add the pre-sifted dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix. Clean the sides of the bowl. If necessary, first add a little flour to your hands, then shape the dough into a ball. Wrap in polyethylene. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight to firm up the dough.
Between two floured sheets of wax paper, roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thick. Remove the top layer of wax paper from the dough. Cut out cookies using floured molds and place on an ungreased baking sheet. This dough is very strong and can be rolled out many times.
Bake at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes. How thick or thin you roll the dough will determine how long you bake the cookies. Keep a close eye on the cookies. The cookies should not be browned or even golden, but will appear white when done. The cookies are ready when they spring back to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.
For Frosting: To make powdered Swerve, place Swerve in a large blender and blend on high for about five seconds, then measure out 1 cup. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix well the Swerve, milk or water, liquid stevia, agave, and fruit or vegetable coloring powder. Beat the glaze for 2-3 minutes until glossy. Cover cooled cookies with glaze.
Output: five dozen cookies.
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