January 16, 2013

Gingerbreadness

I told Andrew that I had to go make gingerbread while the light was still good. He informed me, “Oh that sounds important.” I was like, “SAY WHAT FOOL????” And he said, “Why don’t you write about chocolate chip cookies? I’d read that post TWICE.”



Also:
“Gingerbread’s kinda gross.”

“WHY DON’T YOU LIKE GINGERBREAD???” (that was me.)

“I don’t know, why would you like gingerbread? Wouldn’t you rather have a cookie? Or pie?” At that point, I could feel adrenaline coursing through me and realized that I was about to sashay on down the path of Not Zen. I’m choosing to be more zen this year (It’s not working so far.)

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I hope you’re feeling like reading me EXPOUND today, because I have SO MANY THINGS TO SAY ABOUT GINGERBREAD. I love it. I always have. If you do not also love it, well I guess we can still be friends, or FRENEMIES, but we’ll definitely be fighting. Which is ok, I love to fight. (which is why I’m trying to be more zen. I shouldn’t be writing about gingerbread, it’s too inflammatory of a topic.)

Let me pause and get serious for a moment. Gingerbread has a very substantial and complex taste. It’s DEEP. It tastes deep. You feel like you are experiencing something when you eat it, as opposed to eating an Oreo or a doughnut. It has history behind it. (or at least it tastes like it.) It’s comforting and warming and calming, all at the same time. It will make your tummy feel better, if it’s upset in any way, because ginger is magical like that.

gingertranq4My first gingerbread experience was a mix from a box, I think from a company called Dromedary? Is that even still around? (yes it is! looky see!) My mom made a lemon sauce for it and IT WAS SO DELICIOUS.

Let me also clarify that we’re talking about gingerbread CAKE, not cookies. I’m ‘meh’ about gingerbread cookies. As wild as I am for the cake, I prefer molasses cookies to gingerbread men. WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE, you are maybe wanting to know. Molasses cookies are soft and puffy pillows of heaven, (here are some that I made that are awesome) whereas gingerbread men and women and babies tend to be flat and weird.

_DSC0048Why else do I love gingerbread? It is so DELIGHTFULY BRITISH, or so I imagine in my mind. Here’s a funny thing, have you noticed yet that I want to be British, Scandinavian, and also Asian?

It goes well with hot chocolate OR tea. Or milk, if you like dairy.

You can eat it while watching tv and feel VERY COZY. You can read a book with it and ALSO FEEL THE COZY. It ages really well! It gets better a day or two after you make it!

gingertranq1Also, it’s nice with butter. Or lemon sauce, or applesauce, or powdered sugar. It’s such a tremendous vehicle for various flavorings.

What I have not done, yet, is try it the way my BFF Nigella makes it…with chocolate frosting. I knew she was my BFF when I saw that she had done something so TREMENDOUSLY SHOCKING. Have you EVER? I had never. Heard of anything so daring and shocking. So BRAVE, really, to embark on new shores of gingerbread experimentation like that.

_DSC0042It’s such an old fashioned treat, which makes it COOL. Because I think being like an 80 year old British lady is the epitome of cool. (IT IS.)

I have tried many many many recipes for gingerbread cake. Most are a WASTE OF TIME because they call for something dumb like a teaspoon of ginger. A TEASPOON OF GINGER? Like, can one even TASTE a teaspoon of ginger? WHY EVEN BOTHER MAKING IT AT ALL???

gingertranq6No no my friends. None of this teaspoon biz. PUT IN A TABLESPOON OR WALK AWAY FROM THE GINGER BOTTLE. This is clearly not the treat for you, if you can’t put on your big-kid underwear and face up to something approaching a tablespoon of ginger.

(at this point Andrew looked and saw how much I had written and was like, “Um, you’re wasting a lot of time on such a minor thing.” Shrieking ensued. “Well, gingerbread’s ok, I guess.” I called him a rude and saucy name.

_DSC0038I have three favorite recipes. Martha Stewart has a great gingerbread snacking cake (I LOVE SNACKING CAKE) that is very nice because it makes a 9” by 13” sheet pan, which is good for serving gingerbread loving hordes. Do you know people who love it that much? Or are you going to a fun winter party? I want to go to a fun winter party.

My Crabtree & Evelyn cookbook has a FABULOUS recipe that I am not sharing with you today. Next holiday season I will. It’s great but hard-ish. It uses molasses AND dark corn syrup, regular ginger AND grated ginger, lemon zest and other wonderful things. That cookbook was put together by Nigel Slater (WHO IS AWESOME, LOVE YOU NIGEL) and this other gingerbread recipe he did looks somewhat similar. I just realized that I love a Nigel and Nigella.

_DSC0054So here’s the recipe I AM giving you. From a very unlikely source. This book, about kid lunches. I love the book and I love this recipe. It yields 2 loaves of gingerbread cake! For the work of one cake, you get two! You can eat one and freeze one! You can eat two! You can give one away! (why would you do that??)

STICKY GINGERBREAD (from ‘Healthy Lunchboxes for Kids’)

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup black treacle or molasses
2 eggs, beaten
12 oz (about 2 1/2 - 2 2/3 cups) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon ginger (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups warm milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line 2 loaf pans with parchment paper. (or spray with nonstick spray, that's what I do.) Put the butter, sugar, and molasses into a large saucepan and heat gently, stirring constantly until melted. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and then stir in the beaten eggs.

Mix in the flour, cinnamon, and ginger into the melted mixture.

Mix together the baking soda and the warm milk. Add to the ginger mixture, mix well, and pour equal amounts into each pan.

Bake for 55-60 minutes. The top of the cake will be slightly golden and a skewer should come out clean.

Makes 2, 2 lb loaf pans.

(NOTE: After Andrew has his cake, warm from the oven and smeared with butter, he said "I take back everything I ever said about gingerbread." YEAH I THOUGHT SO. Cheeky devil. This is not the spiciest gingerbread I've ever had. But children in particular will love it. It's soft and has a really pleasing outer crust and it has a sort of velvety, melting texture, which I'm wondering if that comes from the low cooking heat?)

26 comments:

  1. Sounds amazing and I'm obsessed with your measuring spoons now.

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    1. Ok the measuring spoons! I will ask my mom in law where she or her sister found them. I was so enchanted with them when I won them at our family holiday gift exchange that I shoved them down into my shirt so they could see I was NOT going to let anyone snatch them away from me (which can sometimes happen in these gift exchange games :)

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  2. My Mum used to buy McVities gingerbread (the wrapper stuck to the cake in a very delicious way) and serve in in thick slices covered in custard. Yum. We can't get molasses here, which of course, makes me want it all the more.

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    1. I think black treacle is very very similar to molasses! I know McVities brand! The British emporium and tea shop that I sometimes go to has things from that line.

      CUSTARD. That also would be so fabulous on top of gingerbread!!!

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  3. I read your post but kept scrolling back to your mearuring spoons. They look so intriguing and beautiful! Those need a post for them alone!

    Gingerbread is so yummy. Can't make them like in the store though. Did I mention before that I was a terrible baker? But thanks for the recipe! I'll save it for when I feel brave enough to try :)

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    1. Gingerbread is very forgiving Cherie!! You can even mix it all by hand. I'm going to try and track down a source for the spoons, they were a gift :)

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    1. Today was 25 this morning. Cold for us! :)

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  5. I am so with on gingerbread cakes/loaves vs the cookies. Not so big on the cookies, either. I was thinking about making gingerbread this week, but now I'm going to make Nigella's clementine cake instead. I have a big bag of clementines to use up! Although the idea of all that ginger and molasses... Hmmmmm....

    Your husband is funny.

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    1. YOU'RE MAKING THE CLEMENTINE CAKE???? I have that recipe and have always wondered about it! Oh please do a post and tell about it and put a pic and let me enjoy the experience vicariously with you!!

      3 people have made me weep with laughter. My brother, Jenny from My Favorite and My Best and my husband.

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  6. OH! OH MY! This post is all really about the dynamic that is Melissa and Andrew. Really, that's what its all about. You both seem to have such strong opinions... is there no opposites attract in this relationship? Two dominate personalities unite? Is this explaining the firecracker that is Julia? Great post! This is what blogging is about... I'm not sure I'll ever capture it like you do.

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    1. Ha ha ha ha! Ok here's the deal, we ARE opposites, but who like the same things. We like kung fu, zombies, sci fi, Downton Abbey (he might be giving me side eye about that) and tea. We have many many similar interests but he was born with natural Xanax running thru his veins whereas I have some kind of permanent PMS condition. He also likes to say things that make me freak out. And I prod him to supply me with Andrew Opinions so I can write them down, tee hee. Julia is the genetic result of coming from a long line of off-their-rocker Southern women, she'll be so pleased to hear that someday :) -- (not implying that all southern women are crazy, just the ones in my family, ha!)

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  7. YUM! I love gingerbread cookies. But gingerbread bread? Awesome! And how lovely are your measuring spoons? Gorgeous photos too!

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    1. Thanks you Michaele! The spoons! I gotta track down the source of the spoons! I'm on it!

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  8. Oh, gingerbread! My favorite one is from one of Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking books (complete with similar gingery raptures)...I think it's called Damp Gingerbread. It has Lyle's Golden Syrup in it, which I used to be able to find at Whole Paycheck but can't seem to find anymore (or perhaps I just keep forgetting to look).

    I gave up on gingerbread men (even though I found a pretty spicy recipe). Instead we make molasses cookies (the smitten kitchen ones are good) and pipe designs on them, like snowflakes and trees and festive words (or video game characters or snakes).

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    1. MELISSA. Oh my GOODNESS, I adore Laurie Colwin and I have her books and I used to make Damp Gingerbread all the time and I love it and her...I did a post on her Tomato Pie!!! I was going to mention her and her love for gingerbread but I thought this post had already run away with me, ha ha.

      As much as I loved her gingerbread recipe, these new ones I have tried have moved up in the rankings for me. But no one can write about gingerbread the way Laurie did. She would have frosted gingerbread for her birthday paries! I love love love her books on food.

      I've had great success finding Golden Syrup, which I just used to make Treacle Tart, at my local grocery store which is nothing special, in the syrup section!!

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    2. I think the problem is that I moved from the city of Chicago out into the suburbs, where apparently there is no great call for golden syrup. Or if I want it, I'll have to go the Fancy Market and pay my first child's college savings for it.

      You've read her novels, right? TELL ME YOU'VE READ THEM! Once you've read anything by her, you can't get it out of your head.

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    3. I HAVE NOT. and I've been meaning to for yrs and yrs. Didn't she write one called 'Happy All the Time'? Which book of hers should I read first??

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  9. Ahh I love your blog! It really made me chuckle, and I LOVE gingerbread so we will defiantly get along :)

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    1. Thank you so so much! I'm very happy that gingerbread is allowing us to make each other's acquaintance!! :)

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  10. I am totally with you on the tablespoon. Otherwise, don't bother. I feel awfully smug because I have a husband who loves gingerbread. Nanny nanny boo boo. Anyway...

    I don't think I've ever made gingerbread in a loaf. I've made it in a square cake tin and recently I tried a recipe that used like a 7x11 or something crazy that NOBODY uses and I only had one because somehow it made it to our house one day. Maybe it's my mother-in-law's? Don't know. Not going to ask because I'm keeping it.

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    1. Let me tell you, I have a 7 x 11 " pan and I LOVE the thing. It's such a nice little size!

      If you have a gingerbread loving husband you should make this! b/c then you will have a cake and a spare! :)

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  11. Haha Melissa I giggled to myself so many times reading this. Such fun!

    I like gingerbread, I don't understand all the hate for it. Perhaps its because most people associate gingerbread with those horrible cookies you can buy in the supermarket rather than a sumptuous cake bread like this. I don't know. Having said that I used those gingerbread cookie things in a milkshake recipe on the blog recently and it was lovely!

    Namaste, and all that. (is namaste zen? I don't ink it is. Wrong part of Asia...)
    Happy baking!

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    1. dude, i totally linked your gingerbread milkshakes on my Cool Stuff list a couple of weeks ago! They look amazing!

      I think you're right about the misconception regarding the cookies and the cake...:)

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  12. Yum! Gingerbread cake is like the loveliness that I remember from childhood as well (boxed, fyi) and also I remember these super yummy gingerbread ice cream sandwiches I ate one new years when I had pinkeye. Ever year since I had a child I have looked for those gingerbread ice cream sandwiches (they were soft gingerbread too fyi) so I can give them to my kids-- they are no where to be found! WHY????

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    1. gingerbread ice cream sandwiches???? i will not rest until I try them or figure out how to make them....

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