From Scratch: Rich, spicy gingerbread tastes like autumn
I like to eat with the seasons. When the weather turns cool, it's time for foods that remind me of autumn.
Lately I've been craving gingerbread. It's been a while since I've made one, because the full-bodied flavor just doesn't seem right for summertime eating. If you're a gingerbread fan like me, this is one cake you won't want to make from a box mix. I was given a piece of such a box mix cake once and was unable to identify it as gingerbread.
This gingerbread recipe is quite spicy. You won't mistake it for anything else. At first I was reluctant to give it to my York County friends and neighbors, thinking they would be put off by the strong flavors.
However, I was pleasantly surprised by the reception it has gotten from almost everyone. Perhaps it is because the molasses flavor is reminiscent of shoo fly pie, another fall favorite of mine.
To begin, gather the following ingredients. For the spices, I suggest Kramer's at either Central Market or the New Eastern Market. The spices there are sold by weight, so you can buy just what you need.
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup hot tap water
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 9" cake pan. Even though mine is non-stick, I still give it a quick spray with Pam.
In a medium-size bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and pepper. Set aside.
In a larger bowl, mix together the melted butter and molasses. Stir in the water. Add the eggs and mix well.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Be careful not to overmix, as this will develop the gluten in the flour and make the cake tough rather than tender. I usually do all of the mixing by hand.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake 30 to 40 minutes.
You can tell when it is done: It has risen in the center and is slightly pulling away from the sides the pan.
To be sure, stick a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean, the cake is done.
No need for icing as this cake stands well on its own, but a little whipped cream or ice cream will only make it better.
— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section.