Perhaps because of the houses our family create and construct at Christmas time, I have come to associate gingerbread with a treat that is enjoyed around the holidays.
An Armenian Monk introduced the gingery goodness to Europe in 992, teaching French Christians how to bake the loaves, and now it would seem almost every country and culture has their own version. In New Zealand, Mum would make a wonderful rich and flavorful ginger cake – at any time of the year – and then efficiently and effortlessly whip up a wonderful lemon sauce to spoon over the top.
Maybe it’s the persistent dreary and rainy days, but I have been hungering for the comfort of this warmly spiced, delicious bread. I baked a couple of batches – and happily consumed it at breakfast and for afternoon tea with a cup of hot milky tea.
GINGERBREAD WITH MILK CHOCOLATE CHUNKS
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
1/4 to 1/2 cup finely minced, peeled ginger
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces milk chocolate chopped into small pieces
Grease a 9-inch square cake pan. Heat oven to 350F.
Heat the butter and water in a saucepan until the butter is melted. In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, molasses and honey. Whisk in the egg and ginger. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and soda.
Whisk the hot butter mixture into the honey mixture. Add the flour mixture and stir until smooth, stir in the chocolate, and scrape the batter into the pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool on a rack. Invert the cake, remove the pan and peel off the parchment.
Recipe adapted from AY Magazine, December 2013
WHOLE GRAIN GINGERBREAD
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup crystallized ginger
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup molasses
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 egg, lightly beaten
Heat oven to 350F.
Butter and flour a 9-inch square pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, the three kinds of ginger, cloves, cinnamon, orange zest and pepper.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the molasses and honey and cook, stirring, until the mixture is warm but not boiling. Pour into the flour mixture and stir to combine.
Add the milk, yogurt and egg and fold together until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the edges pull away from the pan slightly and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
Let the gingerbread cool completely in the pan before slicing and serving.
Recipe adapted from USA Weekend, December 2013