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Fresh Gingerbread for a cold winter’s day

 

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We finally have gotten a little cool weather here in south Florida.  Firewood has started to appear in grocery stores and I’ve been able to COMFORTABLY wear a jcrew puffy vest I recently bought.  It’s winter!  Seeing that we have so few cold, even cool days, this family spends every chilly evening alongside a roaring fire.  We read our books listening to the crackling wood; while Jimmy responds to his never-ending emails I might do a bit of needlepoint, work on a recipe or troll Pinterest just to see what I can see.  Our dog, Pericles, always joins us.  A creature of habit, he trots into the living room and scopes out his spot.  Lying down on a worn Persian rug, with paws crossed (he’s SUCH a noble dog!), a long, deep sigh is let out as he closes his eyes for a peaceful nap with his favorite people.  Our 1940 house is old, by Florida’s standards, with hardwood floors, beamed ceilings and floor to ceiling bookcases.  It’s been described as a “charming Key West cottage”.  But cottages can feel damp inside when it rains.  And chilly when the temperature drops.  All those chinks, gaps and little holes you can’t even see behind walls….or somewhere, somehow let in cold and dampness.  So in spite of electric heat, a toasty fire hissing and popping is most welcome during those brisk, drizzly evenings.  James and Jimmy enjoy the fires too, I think.  I mean, tell me the man who doesn’t like to set something on fire?  I rewarded my men with a fresh-out-of-the-oven, sweet slab of gingerbread.   Earlier in the week I set out to find the tastiest version and after quite a few fails I finally found perfection.  Fails so mediocre I threw them in the trash.  I was surprised to find the majority of blog recipes and even the British, Two Fat Ladies, renditions produced dry, flat-tasting cakes.  Guess who knocked it out of the park?  Our very own Mattie.  Yup.  Martha Stewart’s recipe threw the old school, powdered ginger out the window and called for fresh ginger…and not a small amount either.  1/2 cup PACKED yielded a moist, warmly spiced cake fresh from the oven that had me leaning against the kitchen counter, eyes closed savoring the soft bite of ginger alongside the chocolaty taste of molasses.  It was heaven!  I had planned on a spicy cream cheese icing but, honestly, I didn’t want anything to mask the flavor or texture of this unpretentious, simple cake. It isn’t even in need of a dusting of confectioners’ sugar but I gave it a light coat only to dress it up a bit.   And, unlike so many other gingerbreads, this cake didn’t need to age…not one moment.  It was everything you hope it will be straight out of the oven.  The only thing I changed in the recipe was I used dark molasses instead of light.  I love molasses and the quarter cup called for in the receipt would not have changed the gingerbread all that much.  As with other quick breads and cakes try to resist the urge to over mix and you will be awarded a rich cake with a tender crumb guaranteed to warm all!

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GINGERBREAD

Martha Stewart’s recipe threw the old school, powdered ginger out the window and called for fresh ginger…and not a small amount either.  1/2 cup PACKED yielded a moist, warmly spiced cake fresh from the oven that had me leaning against the kitchen counter, eyes closed savoring the soft bite of ginger alongside the chocolaty taste of molasses.  It was heaven!  I had planned on a spicy cream cheese icing but, honestly, I didn’t want anything to mask the flavor or texture of this unpretentious, simple cake. It isn’t even in need of a dusting of confectioners’ sugar but I gave it a light coat only to dress it up a bit.   And, unlike so many other gingerbreads, this cake didn’t need to age…not one moment.  It was everything you hope it will be straight out of the oven.  The only thing I changed in the recipe was I used dark molasses instead of light.  I love molasses and the quarter cup called for in the receipt would not have changed the gingerbread all that much.  As with other quick breads and cakes try to resist the urge to over mix and you will be awarded a rich cake with a tender crumb guaranteed to warm all!

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup light molasses, (I used dark)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed minced fresh ginger, (I minced mine in the mini-food processor)
  • confectioners’ sugar, for dusting, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350° with rack in the lower third of oven.  Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Line the bottom of the pan with waxed paper, then spray the paper.  Dust the entire pan with flour and shake out the excess.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, turbinado sugar, cinnamon and salt; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together molasses, eggs, oil and the buttermilk.
  4. Dissolve baking soda in the cup of boiling water.
  5. Fold the baking soda and molasses mixtures into dry ingredients until combined.  (DO NOT OVERMIX.)
  6. Fold in the minced ginger.
  7. Scrape batter into the prepared pan; bake until cake is set around the edges and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
  8. Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a cooling rack.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

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