Once again I am indebted to the baking imagination of my friend Richard for this recipe for gingerbread from The World of Baking by Delores Casella. Richard told me the story of visiting New York City and going to a hole in the wall bakery that he found in his travels in Greenwich Village. Here he tried the Molasses cookies, which were small and surprisingly crisp, warm and sharp in flavor. Richard then told me that secret to a good molasses cookie is to add a little cocoa and black pepper to them. (Who knew? I am really fond of molasses cookies. They remind me of the Hermits, a dessert bar, that my mother made. That’s another story.)
Gingerbread reminds me of desserts at school and this was one that I really liked. It’s the molasses flavor that I crave, but Richard went one step further and made the Gingerbread of Gingerbreads. The kind that might convince kids to try it! (Remember the gingerbread house in the story of Hansel and Gretel? Was that a warning against eating too many sweets or what? Ha!) Richard’s recipe is darkly, daringly, gingerly-breadly delicious.
1 cup of boiling water, coffee, or orange juice (Richard used coffee)
1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup light or dark molasses, maple syrup, or honey (Richard used dark molasses)
3 large eggs
2½ – cups sifted flour (Richard added 2 tablespoons of cocoa)
1 Tsp salt
1½ Tsp baking soda
1 Tsp ginger
1 Tsp cinnamon
1 Tsp nutmeg
Richard added crystallized ginger to the batter – “Fresh ginger that has been slowly cooked in sugar water and rolled in coarse sugar to preserve it. Also known as candied ginger or glace ginger, it has a wonderful sweet spicy taste and is commonly used in desserts and can easily be made at home.” Read more: http://www.food.com/library/crystallized-ginger-65#ixzz1nWJZ2FFk Retrieved February 26, 2012.
Pour boiling water over the combined butter, sugar & molasses. Stir until butter is melted and set aside to cool. When mixture is cooled beat in eggs. Sift the flour with the salt, soda and spices and stir into liquid mixture. Beat just until smooth and turn batter into a buttered 9’ X 13’ baking pan. Bake in a 325˚F oven for 1 hour, or until done.
Dress with sweet heavy cream, whipped cream, ice cream or whipped cream cheese topping.
Who is that nibbling at my house?
 Casella, Delores; “A World of Baking” David White, Inc. 60 East 55th Street; New York, NY 10022; 1968; Page 275.