Gingerbread

How very fortuitous that my solemn vows to not cook and to not blog are simultaneously undone in concert, here. New Years is necessarily about the rethinking of stubbornnesses. And so it has been, for me, a long, long rethinking over the holiday. Thanks to unshirkable obsessive compulsive tendencies, I have structured my bread-baking task list according to Cook’s Illustrated’s Baking Illustrated. Their efforts with “test kitchening” appeals to my scientific proclivities. Thanks to unshirkable pickinesses, however, I decided to skip the first recipe: Banana Bread, for banana reasons. Now that I cook does not mean I have become unpicky. So shall come to pass unsurprising omissions like Date-Nut Bread with no dates. I do not feel the need to defend myself for these choices; I am the chef.

SO—to begin,

Gingerbread recipe from Baking Illustrated.

Note: for stronger ginger flavor, replace ground ginger with 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger and 3 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger.

serves 8

Ingredients

2¼ cups sifted (9 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon Dutch-processed cocoa
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
¾ cup mild or light molasses
¾ cup (5¼ ounces) sugar
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup milk
1 large egg

Directions

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of an 11×7-inch baking dish; dust with flour tapping out the excess.

Whisk together the flour, baking, soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and coca in a medium bowl.

Beat butter, molasses, sugar, buttermilk, milk , and egg in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed. Add the dry ingredients and beat on medium speed until the batter is smooth and thick, about 1 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Do not overmix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.

Bake until the top springs back when lightly touched and the edges have pulled away from the pan sides, about 40 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack and cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Gingerbread can be wrapped in plastic, then foil, and refrigerated up to 5 days

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Ooh-ooh, 5 stars. It made two loaves in my bread pans (since I don’t have an 11×7 dish) Tastes great with English Breakfast Tea.  I had tasters n=6, and all gave 5 star ratings. I first brought the bread over to a neighbor of whom I have become most fond, Janelle, and she had two guests, Aubrey and Pat. We watched an episode of Parenthood and swiftly ate loaf 1. Few small issues: I used dry buttermilk powder and added ½ tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to give it a little extra sourness and enhance the reaction with baking soda (which I overdosed a bit because I fear it might be dead having sat in my freezer for probably three years). This seemed to not ill-affect the product. I also used dark molasses though the recipe called for mild—I would be happy to try it again with mild, but I don’t think dark overpowered the flavor.

Loaf 2 was consumed with Kristen as we were on our way to yoga in which the teacher’s message was—loosen your grip on fear for the new year. Maybe by the end of the year, I will be ready to try the banana bread… but for now, there are many more to enjoy ahead!Image

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