Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Temperatures have been hovering near the freezing mark. It's been so cold that if you breathe deeply, you can feel the individual nose hairs in your nose stiffen up and your lungs pinch in rebellion. Really, that does happen. Finally after a brief cold (freezing!) spell, the temperature actually rose to 27 degrees, and it felt warm! People were scuttling about, bare-headed, gloveless and scarfless because because of the springlike weather.
For most of us, however, reality does, sooner or later, prevail, and we recognize cold weather for what it is, and we sink back into our woolens and flannels. However, the one good thing I can think to say of cold weather is that it makes me think about warm spices. Warm spices makes me think of gingerbread, and gingerbread makes me think of this recipe.
This recipe has long been on the back of the Grandma's Molasses jar, for eons it seems, although I noticed on the last couple of jars I purchased it wasn't there anymore, and it's not the same recipe on their website. So for posterity (and myself) I am posting it here. It is my absolute favorite recipe, redolent with spices, moist, perhaps a bit heavy. Just a slice of heaven with a good dollop of real whipped cream.
Back of the Grandma's Molasses Jar Gingerbread
8 tablespoons (1 stick butter or shortening)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup Grandma's molasses
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon grated orange zest (optional)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Let me start off by saying, I do not use the orange zest or the chopped nuts. Never had them in gingerbread and probably never will. They just don't seem to belong in a gingerbread, in my opinion. Same goes for lemon sauce. For the life of me, I don't see why folks do that. I want to taste every molecule of those wonderful spices. You can add lemon sauce if you want; please just don't tell me if you do.
Have ready a greased 9-inch square baking pan. Heat your water so that it's ready when you need it. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl beat butter with sugar and molasses until well combined. Mix in eggs.
Sift in dry ingredients to above wet mixture, alternating with water, until just combined. (What they're saying here is , 1/3 of the dry ingredients, 1/2 cup of water, 1/3 of the dry ingredients, the rest of the water, and then the rest of the dry ingredients.)
Pour into your prepared pan and bake about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool.
This cake tastes better the next day; the spices have a chance to bloom and ripen and deepen in flavor. It could almost make me forget that there is a winter.