06 December 2010

the elusive gingerbread

with apologies to friends who were reading serendipitous last year at this time, i am once again bringing up the perennial holiday subject of gingerbread. never a fan of it as a child, in december i become obsessed with duplicating a particular gingerbread served as a simple dessert at a local ladies auxiliary christmas luncheon. but this stuff is anything but simple. it's dark. it's moist. it's flavorful without being overly spicy. and it's amazingly delicious. i tasted it again on saturday and now the old gingerbread fervor has returned for yet another season.

it's made with an old secret recipe, the ladies tell me with twinkles in their eyes. every town baker uses the same recipe so the gingerbread will be consistent for each seating. one woman slipped and told me the secret was in the molasses. of course, i have experimented with amount and types of molasses. sulphured. unsulphured. blackstrap. this year, i have some locally made, in the cupboard, waiting for baking time. 

last winter i think i made five attempts, trying duplicate this elusive gingerbread, but to no avail. so i ask you, dear readers...what do you know about gingerbread? is it all created equal? are there tricks to the making or baking of it? what makes a dark, moist, not too dense or spicy gingerbread? your thoughts and recipes shamelessly accepted.


14 comments:

Gwendolynn Harris said...

I'm sorry. I have no idea. But now I REALLY want to make gingerbread! I'll be reading every singly post, with molasses at the ready! lol
Good luck!

Tabor said...

All baking recipes vary tremendously. What I find interesting is how tastes change culturally over the years.

Jaderbomb said...

This gingerbread looks very good!! I plan on making one this weekend!! Thanks for inspiring!!

~she~ said...

I've never been a fan but maybe I need to try it again. Your piece of cake looks pretty yummy! Sorry, no recipes or tips to share with you.

Star said...

I *adore* gingerbread. Looking forward to the recipes. I just use the one in the Fanny Farmer's cookbook, and it comes out wonderfully.

susan t. landry said...

dear friend in collaborative quest of the holy grail,

excellent discussion here (URL) with several possible leads/variations (good parting of the waters on the matter of gingerBREAD vs gingerbreadCAKE, too):

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/291391
xo
susan

Jenny Schouten Short said...

I made carrot cake this weekend for my Dutch family and they laughed. They looked for the carrots and laughed again. Then they tasted the cake (Duncan Hines brought with me from Texas) and melted at the taste. Cinnamon, nutmeg, spices but no carrots. Funny and fun, sharing cultures. xxoo

Anonymous said...

I don't have a recipe for you, but a request that you get those ladies to spill the beans, or rather, the molasses! After all, we should share at this time of year, right?
Nance

Aurelia said...

I read your post earlier today and had a think.

What I came up with is a recipe that I think could be what you're looking for :) It has molasses and seems to tick all the boxes, so hopefully it'll help you out! I've put it up on my blog for you and anyone else looking for a great gingerbread recipe too.

http://modernwomans.blogspot.com/2010/12/gingerbread-loaf-recipe.html

Let me know how you get on, I know how frustrating it can be when you can't get hold of a recipe you really want!

chris said...

thanks to susan t. landry and to Aurelia for posting links to recipes, most of which look quite promising. if any of them pan out (pun intended!), i'll be sure to let you all know. Star, i was looking online for the Fanny Farmer recipe and found this link which says that Fanny Farmer had eight different gingerbread recipes! no wonder it's so hard to find the right one! Jenny Schouten Short, your Duncan Hines story made me laugh - especially the no carrots part! and nance, no way those ladies are parting with that recipe!!

lynn said...

I would be glad to taste your trials!

Aging Tomboy said...

You know, I can't say I've ever made it actually.

T. Clear said...

Gingerbread! Yum!

Here's my favorite, from the Silver Palate Cookbook:

http://inpraiseofleftovers.com/2010/01/28/gingerbread-with-meyer-lemon-glaze/

Anonymous said...

The most recent issue (January/February 2011) of Cook's Illustrated has an extremely comprehensive analysis of gingerbread cake. I will be using that method myself from now on. Hope it helps!