Monday, April 20, 2015

whole-grain gingerbread

Monday, April 20, 2015

We're going to start off my Megan Gordon-inspired week of posts with a delectable gingerbread.  I'm almost always keen on gingerbread cookies, particularly the giant, soft ones covered in sugar, but until recently, I'd not made any effort to bake gingerbread.  My mom used to make a simple one from a boxed mix that she dressed up with homemade lemon syrup, and I always had such fond memories of it that I almost didn't want to recreate it-somehow sacrilegious not to have it at home.  However, Megan's recipe for gingerbread seemed just different enough and just wholesome enough to give a shot.  Whole Grain Mornings is a breakfast cookbook, after all.  If this gingerbread could pass as breakfast I definitely wanted to make it!

As you can see from the photo, my little guy relishes the gingerbread.  It's very, very good-deep and rich but also hearty.  I'm not normally a big fan of gingerbread cookies that have a strong presence of molasses, so I was shy about putting so much into the bread, but it's very subtle.  The spices and little bits of orange zest really shine through.  When I make it, I do sprinkle a tiny amount of powdered sugar on the top, mostly for the pleasing aesthetics of a snow-topped cake, but precious little A isn't getting that benefit.  For him, I cut the gingerbread into big squares which he enjoys after his afternoon nap, preferably with a big glass of "Mater milk."

Whole-Grain Gingerbread, adapted from Whole Grain Mornings, by Megan Gordon

Notes: Megan's cookbook focuses on the use of whole grains (in case you hadn't figured that out yet!), which has aided and inspired me to learn more about various flours and sugars.  Spelt flour, a primary component in this recipe, is actually quite similar to all-purpose flour, and it can often be used interchangeably.

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup packed muscovado sugar or brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger (optional-I almost never have crystallized ginger on hand, so I've never made the gingerbread with it, and haven't missed it)
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 (optional)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 large egg, beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter and flour a 9-inch square pan.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, the three kinds of ginger, cloves, cinnamon, orange zest, and pepper.  Use your hands to break up any clumps of sugar, and whisk well.
3. 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.  With a little arm power, the mixture will soon look like a loose brownie batter.
4. 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.  Any leftovers can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 4 days.

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