Ginger Bread

Gingerbread hot from the oven, cooling next to my mug of tea.

Gingerbread hot from the oven, cooling next to my mug of tea.

I love this recipe! It tastes better than any other gingerbread recipe I’ve tried and it’s faster and easier to make, too. A child could make this. A college student or person starting out in their first apartment could make this because it requires nothing more in the way of appliances or utensils than an oven, 2 bowls, a spoon and a loaf pan. I melt the butter in the microwave, but even that’s optional: it can be melted on the stove. This recipe is adapted from a public domain recipe in The Women’s Institute Library of Cookery, Volume 1: Essentials of Cookery, Cereals, Bread, Hot Breads which is available as a free ebook in many formats from a number of online sources including Project Gutenberg and Manybooks.net. The only change I’ve made to the original ingredients is that the recipe below uses 1 tsp more ginger than the original. The original recipe did not specify the size of the pan, the temperature of the oven, or the cooking time: those details are what I’ve come up with on my own. I’ve also rewritten the instructions which were lacking in specifics and details (not to mention the lack of microwave!).

IMG-20130929-03151There are two unusual things about this recipe, both of which caught my eye immediately. One is that unlike most gingerbread recipes, this isn’t cake-like and cooked in a flat pan such as brownies are. The other thing that struck me is something I’ve never seen before: the butter is added to the batter last. The technique looks fairly normal up to that point: dry ingredients are mixed together, wet ingredients are mixed together, then they’re combined. But the butter is usually mixed with sugar first in most recipes for bread-type baked goods. That’s best done with a mixer. Here, with the butter melted and added last, all the mixing can be done easily by hand. Why not combine the butter with the wet ingredients? The melted butter is hot or at least warm: it will not play well with the egg—or for that matter the cold milk. I tried this once, thinking that I’d cool the butter with the milk and then combine with the egg. The butter went from liquid to solid in nothing flat when it came in contact with the cooler ingredients. The old cookbook knows best! 🙂

It can be a little awkward stirring the butter into a dough that’s already come together, but it works, making this the easiest gingerbread ever! 😀

2 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. molasses
1/4 c. butter or margarine (1/2 stick or 4 Tbls)

Preheat oven 350.

Melt butter gently in the microwave (or stovetop). Combine the flour, baking powder, soda, sugar, salt, and spices in a medium-sized bowl. In another bowl, beat the egg. Add the milk and molasses to the egg, beating in well with a fork or spoon until the mixture is homogenous. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir, then stir the melted butter into the batter. Pour the batter into a well-greased (I spray with PAM) 4″x 8″ loaf pan, and bake 50 minutes at 350.

Turn out onto wire rack and let cool somewhat. When it’s cooled enough that you won’t burn yourself, but is still warm, cut a slice and enjoy! (Try it with a ginger beer, or toast it and spread with peach or ginger preserves!)

To Make Gingerbread Men:

Mix as above, then add approximately 1 cup more flour to make a workable dough. Roll out thinly. Cut out gingerbread men using your favorite mold (mine are ninjas and zombies). Bake 10 mins on greased cookie sheets. Cool, then add icing and decorate as desired.

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