Gingerbread from the Splendid Table

From: The Splendid Table [mailto:mail@mpr.org]

Subject: WEEKNIGHT KITCHEN: "Lynnes Gingerbread"

Dear Friends,

This gingerbread is the quintessential dessert for a cold winter night. In fact, I am not above having a bowl of basically low-cal vegetable soup and then making this the "main course" with some fresh pears and, of course, whipped cream. It's the "eat dessert first (or second)" philosophy of life.

Moist, dark, spicy, and not too sweet, the cake comes together quickly with easy-to-find ingredients. If you are going out to buy molasses, go for organic. That might be "blackstrap," which is intense with a hint of bitterness. If so, increase the sugar to 1/2 cup. My additions of candied ginger and black pepper spark the other ingredients and were usually in gingerbreads of the past.

This could bake while you're eating that soup, or a real dinner. Serve it warm with whipped cream, a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, applesauce or poached fruit, like pears, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Leftover gingerbread keeps five to seven days, well wrapped, at room temperature, and it freezes beautifully for up to three months. You can warm it for serving.


Copyright 2003 Lynne Rossetto Kasper. All Rights Reserved

Makes 9 servings

2 cups, less 2 tablespoons, all-purpose unbleached flour (measure by spooning into cup and leveling)

1 generous teaspoon baking soda

Generous teaspoon salt

Grated zest of small orange

2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger

1 tablespoon ground ginger

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup dark molasses

3/4 cup very hot water (190 degrees F)

1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1. Butter and flour an 8-inch square baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.

2. In a mixing bowl, beat together the rest of the ingredients except the egg. When almost frothy, beat in the egg and quickly add the flour mixture.

3. Stir only until thoroughly blended. Pour into pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until a tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack in the pan for a moist cake. For a drier consistency, cool 10 minutes then turn out of pan.


* Add two teaspoons of grated fresh ginger if you want even more kick.

* For a new take, substitute 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder for 1 teaspoon of the ground ginger.

* Beating in the flour mixture instead of just stirring until blended could make the gingerbread tough. Beating activates the proteins in the flour, called gluten. This is great in yeast bread, but makes for elasticity rather than lightness in cakes and pastry.