The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, Mom!
The other day I came across a lost recipe for gingerbread—the soft cake gingerbread—that had somehow found itself amongst important LLC papers in my business file folder. (This is not surprising, really. Filing is NOT my strength!) I have been looking for this recipe for ages and was so excited when I found it because I wanted to bake something nurturing and homey, warm and comforting, to bring to a friend.
“Hmmm,” thought I. “Is it weird to make gingerbread in April?” And then I decided that this recipe is so delicious that it is kind of a shame to only make it one time a year. Why not make it year round?
Gingerbread has a long history in Europe, starting in Medieval England and spreading to the rest of Eastern Europe. The flat, cookie-type gingerbread is traditional in Germany and Scandinavia, but the cake-type has an English origin and later became popular in the US, made with molasses. (Even George Washington’s mother developed a recipe for gingerbread cake.)
Years ago, a friend of a friend gave me the basic recipe I am sharing here, but I have added some extra spice to make it even more tasty (the original recipe only called for the allspice and ginger). This cake is heaven. I made it with gluten-free flour and you would never know it. (Interesting note…my 1970’s The Joy of Cooking has a “wheat-less” gingerbread cake that they say is even better than their recipe made with regular flour, so maybe there is something inherent in traditional gingerbread that makes it conducive to alternative flours.) What makes this recipe so delicious is the minced fresh ginger. Your whole house will smell like a hug when you make it. This is the ultimate comfort food! NOTE: make sure you use fresh spices, as they loose their strength after about 6 months. I wrote about this here and here.
2 ½ cups all purpose flour (or gluten-free flour blend such as Pamela’s Artisan Flour)
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon Penzey’s apple pie spice, or ½ teaspoon cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon cloves, and ½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup unsulphered molasses
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup boiling water
1/3 cup peeled fresh ginger, minced
Preheat oven to 350. Sift together first 5 ingredients and set aside. Mix sugar, molasses, eggs, and oil. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until blended. Add baking soda to boiling water, then add to gingerbread mixture, blending well. Add fresh ginger and pour into a buttered and floured 9-inch square baking pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Serve plain or with whipped cream on top!