Oh boy, the first real post! I've had a craving for gingerbread for the past couple weeks, but never got around to gathering up the ingredients for it (I never seem to have buttermilk when I need it...). This gingerbread recipe was adapted from the cookbook "Flour" by Joanne Chang and from King Arthur Flour's recipe here. Joanne's book was given to me as a gift from a colleague this summer (well, she was more like my mentor... I was just a lowly intern, whom she took under her wing. Thanks Hala!). I've also made her ginger molasses cookies (are you sensing a theme here?) and an adapted version of her lemon-raspberry cake... They were both amazing.
I finally got my act together and made some gingerbread for study break last night. Study break happens every Wednesday and Sunday night in my dorm (the best dorm, Maclean, woot), when a student or RA (or RH for that matter, otherwise known as Resident Head) provides a snack. I like to use study break as an excuse to make new things that I've wanted to try, but for which I haven't been quite motivated enough to buy the ingredients. Since we get reimbursed for the study break ingredients, it's an excellent motivator. But we have to make enough for ~50 people (since not all 100 students are around to eat it), so I can't get too overzealous about making weird/time-consuming/expensive/difficult recipes.
Hence this gingerbread. I liked how easy the King Arthur Flour recipe was, since I didn't have to wait for the butter to soften or spend 6 minutes using my hand-mixer to cream butter and sugar. Melt the butter, whisk with the other wet ingredients, add the dry mix, and BAM. Nomnoms. But I wanted to add a little pizzazz, a little drama, because my life isn't that exciting. What's more exciting than espresso? Probably a lot of things, but it's so delicious, I couldn't resist. I don't just casually have an espresso machine lying around [sadly]; however, I do casually have some instant espresso powder lying around [luckily]. So I co-opted the coffee glaze from Joanne's recipe, simplified the preparation of King Arthur's, and added some pizzazz (espresso + fresh ginger + allspice = PIZZAZZ!). The result was delicious - especially since, when I poured the glaze all over the piping hot gingerbread, it sank in and made an extra ooey-gooey top layer. The dry and fresh ginger combo brought out different layers of spiciness, which with the earthy aroma of espresso made for a really yummy treat. This week will probably bring more treats, since I'm a stress baker/eater... You're welcome.
To prepare the fresh ginger, simply use a spoon to scrape off the skin and use a zester, or the smallest side of a box grater, to grate the flesh. For peeling the skin, you could also just use a vegetable peeler or a knife, but the skin is soft enough that using a spoon is easy. I tend to eye-ball how much ginger goes into the batter – the 3 tablespoons is just an estimate – and I grate it right into the mixing bowl to catch all of that great gingery juice.
Regarding the Ceylon cinnamon – if you don’t have it, don’t worry about it, just use regular cassia cinnamon. But you could always use this recipe as an excuse to go buy some… (trust me, it’s lovely). The flavor is so much subtler than cassia, and not as bitter. It’s sweet and a little citrus-y even.
1 heaping teaspoon espresso powder
3 tablespoons fresh ginger
1/4 cup hot water
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup black-strap molasses
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
In a large mixing bowl, combine the espresso powder, grated ginger, and hot water, and leave it to steep for a couple minutes while melting the butter. Add the butter to this mixture, followed by the molasses, buttermilk, and egg. Whisk to combine.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (flour through allspice). Whisk this dry mix into the wet ingredients from above. Once they’re combined, pour the batter into a prepared 9x13 inch pan and bake at 350°F for 25-35 minutes. In the meantime, make the yummy espresso glaze:
1 heaping teaspoon espresso powder
1 tablespoon hot water
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 cup powdered sugar
These measurements are somewhat estimated – I just add a little more powdered sugar or cream depending on the consistency I want. First mix the espresso powder and hot water until the powder has dissolved. Add the cream, then whisk in the powdered sugar until combined.
Once the gingerbread has finished baking, immediately pour on the glaze. Let it cool to room temperature before slicing. Serving with a little whipped cream doesn’t hurt one bit.