January 5, 2016

english gingerbread

Well HELLO, friends! Now that it's no longer Christmas, please enjoy my oh so timely photos of my Christmas crackers. (insert nonsensical humming here)

You might have noticed I've been a bit sparse in these parts, but that's the way the wind blows. I do have a re-design planned for the blog (for real this time! not like the "for real this time!" that I've been saying for 2 years...), but the fact is that I've accepted that I can only really devote time to this space about two times a week. Three if I'm on FIRE, but I'm not on fire. At least I hope I'm not.

I'm a bit torn as to how I'd rather proceed. Carry on with a couple of weekly posts that I can devote more time and photos to? Or more often, with a single photo?

As in, do you want to see more BOOKS actually thrown on here, one photo, a description and away we go, a la Instagram style? Or do we all like to see me draping my books with props and my sweaters? (those posts take longer to do). Tell me friends. I've been trying to figure this out for awhile. I feel like if I'm going to do a post, I SHOULD DO A POST. Because Instagram is the place for the one photo thing.

Well I'm so glad we figured that out.

And now let's talk about gingerbread!! OH HOW I LOVE gingerbread. I wonder if any of you love it as much as I do? I think Nigella Lawson loves it as much as I do. Now here's how I like to eat it - warm, with butter. I've tried it with lemon curd, and that's very nice and all, but really, I just need a bit of salted butter.

I did post on Instagram that I felt like I was circling really close to The Perfect Gingerbread Recipe. I had every gingerbread recipe I felt most strongly about opened up and lying on the floor, and I was cross referencing the ingredients. That passes for a good time for me! I realized a couple of things.....

Gingerbread improves with age. I used to not believe that, but you must BELIEVE that. A lovely fluffy cake texture will be best right out of the oven, but the FLAVOR will improve in two days time. Just heat it up and smear on more butter. And just keep eating. Also I believe this:

Gingerbread should HURT you a little when you eat it. I personally like the ginger to be so pronounced that it burns a bit. I think less than a tablespoon of ginger is a waste of time. You might disagree. My husband disagrees. I made the recipe you see here with less ginger, as the recipe called for, and he preferred the more mellow taste. So, I'm going to give you a spectrum of ginger to use and then leave it up to you.

Here's more about the flavor thing I just mentioned - So, I made this cake for Christmas Day, took it to my mom's and we all ate it. It was pleasant. My mom wanted a stronger flavor. I was like, meh. I've made better. And then I took it home. I was a little empty inside, thinking, why did I even bother, the ginger wasn't enough to punch me in the nose.

Then Julia and I ate some the next day. And the day after that. And we both were like OH MY WORD, it's magical!

This recipe comes from my 'Crabtree & Evelyn Cookbook', which I've gone on record saying that it's in my Top 5 favorite cookbooks. Nigel Slater did the food styling for the book. This recipe is very very good. It does not use milk, like Nigella's recipe, which is going to be the next recipe I try, I'm stunned I've never made it. It's more fluffy cakey than my other gingerbread recipe, which is more sturdy and dense. I LOVE GINGERBREAD, in most all of its incarnations, and that's why I like to discuss it so much, and why I have so many recipes for it. I think this one would be Nearly Almost Perfect if I had tripled the ginger called for. You decide.

Don't overcook. If a few crumbs are sticking to the cake tester, that's ok. (wet batter is not ok though) Gingerbread should be MOIST.

ENGLISH GINGERBREAD from 'Crabtree & Evelyn Cookbook'


2 and 1/2 cups flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger (USE AT LEAST 2. Or 3. Or a tablespoon)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2  cup (one stick) butter
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root (To me, this is a waste of time. I think it's better to just increase the amount of ground ginger)
2 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons powdered sugar


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt together and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the butter, brown sugar, molasses, and corn syrup over low heat, stirring, until butter is melted and sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, cool slightly, and stir in the lemon zest and ginger root. (see above note)

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the butter mixture and the eggs. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and well blended. In a small bowl, combine baking soda and boiling water and stir until dissolved. Pour over batter and stir gently until batter is well blended.

Pour batter into a 9 -inch square buttered and floured baking pan and bake in the center of the oven for 35-40 minutes (check on the earlier end), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (almost clean) Let cake cool in the pan. Dust the top with powdered sugar before baking.

-Makes 20 pieces.

So what do you think? Do you have a favorite recipe? Do you have Thoughts on How Much Gingerbread is supposed to hurt? Will you make gingerbread after Christmas? (i'm making at least one more batch) These are Deep Thoughts, my friends. Existential questions that might only lead to more questions......


  1. Just to be annoying, I love your more-elaborate-than-one-photo posts! I agree that instagram style should be saved for instagram. On the other hand, if it means the difference of you posting or not, do the simpler posts. We will still come see what you have to say!

    1. Thank you Bethaney!!!! I feel like-minded. Let's keep IG as it's meant to be used. xoxo

  2. Clearly I have been missing out on the gingerbread front - my only experience with gingerbread has been with hard, crumbly, untasty stuff. I was underwhelmed and never looked farther. The realization that there exists such a thing as moist or "cakey gingerbread" has opened new horizons for me! =)

    Regarding your blog - I love the longer posts with more photos - especially with books. Sometimes one photo of a book isn't enough to sell me on it. I also don't mind waiting a longer time between posts because then it is more exciting when a new one appears. I find myself growing bored with sites that post every day - they start to feel forced and blah after a while. Either way, I am curious to see your re-design!

    1. OOOOOH well then I will patiently sit back and wait for you to congratulate me on changing your life then, ha ha ha, when you try gingerbread cake!!!

      thank you my sweet friend, for the input - that's how I feel. I get all excited when I see a post from someone who hasn't posted in awhile!

    2. i'm curious to see a redesign as well, especially since I have NO idea what I want to do, ha!

  3. So funny ... my first thought on seeing the Christmas crackers was YAY, because we are celebrating the 12th and last day of Christmas today. :D

    This reminds me of the gingerbread cake my mom used to make during the winter. :) And I absolutely agree with you about ginger, as do my children ... my 3 year old gobbles down pickled ginger by the pawful when we order sushi, which is a bit much even for me. :D

    1. Oh fun!! I want to do more next year, with having a really celebratory Twelfth Night. So it's less sad, and more glad, you know? I need to figure out how to make or get a Kings' Cake!

      Laughing a ton at the mental image of your toddler eating all that ginger, looooooooooove it!

  4. I love all your photos, but I would definitely be happier with less or simpler photo content and you being able to post more.

    1. Thank you Maureen!!! I'm toying with the idea of a long post, a shortypants post and then my Friday post. :) I'm telling you, Instagram has been a game changer for me! I get to see more from my favorite blogs, even if they don't have a post up! I LOVE it!

  5. Merry Twelfth Night! I want some gingerbread! I finally found a gingerbread cookie recipe to love, and now, I don't know what I did with it! It is printed on a card from our little western town living history museum, and Big Sis just happened to pull it out of her coat pocket while we were in DC. I wanted to share it with everyone, but while I know it made it home, it's disappeared.

    However, this gingerbread loaf looks incredible and I may have to make it tomorrow. It's snowing tonight. Snow and Epiphany and gingerbread - that sounds delightful.

    1. MERRY Twelfth Night!! (a day or so late). If you find that gingerbread recipe, you make and then show and tell!!!!

      Lucky you with the snow!! We got a tiny sprinkle and then back to the grey sludge. I miss my Christmas tree, just took it down yesterday!!