Christmas Series | Gingerbread
December 14, 2020
Happy Holidays! This holiday season I am celebrating with a 12 days of Christmas baking! Every day for the next 12 days I will be posting the Christmas treat that I baked in my kitchen. I'll share which recipe I used, a little history about the recipe, the steps involved in making it, and, of course, delicious pictures.
For the first day of Christmas baking, I made gingerbread. After whipping this up, I'm wondering why it's called gingerbread and not gingercake. It's so spicy and an absolutely perfect snack for the colder weather. This recipe calls for TWO tablespoons of ginger powder AND one tablespoon of freshly grated ginger! This gingerbread is packing all the flavor, and I'm here for it.
History Lesson: Ginger root was first used in Asia due to its possible medicinal properties. Ever been told to drink a ginger ale to calm your upset stomach and nausea? Yep, they’ve been telling people to do that for a while now! People began to believe that ginger was a miracle drug. In fact, Henry VIII became a strong advocate of using a ginger mixture to build a resistance to the plague. Besides its curing abilities, ginger was also used to mask the flavors of preserved meats during this time.
Thanks to the Silk Road, ginger made its way into Europe and other neighboring areas by the 11th-century. By the 15th century, gingerbread started to become something you would find on a dessert table instead of a medicine bottle. Forms of the gingerbread cookie and cake-like bread started to emerge. European women gave their knights a piece of gingerbread for good luck in tournaments. Some even ate a gingerbread husband in order to increase their chances of finding a husband!
Gingerbread eventually made its way into the United States. In American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, the first American cookbook, there were three different recipes for gingerbread. One of those recipes was for the cake-like bread that I’ve made today. This is usually a dark cake made with molasses, sugar, and ginger.
This cake-like version of gingerbread became to be very popular in America. George Washington’s family was very familiar with gingerbread. His mom actually served it to Marquis de Lafayette. It started to be called Gingerbread Lafayette because of this. The bread recipe was passed down through many generations of Washingtons. I wonder if the recipe is still around? And if so, who has it??
Gingerbread is still really popular today whether it’s in the cake or cookie form. You can find it on many Christmas dessert tables around the world! You can find my sources and read more about gingerbread here and here.
Let's talk about the recipe! This gingerbread recipe comes from America's Test Kitchen. You can buy the cookbook to find the recipe or you can click here.
I love this recipe for many reasons. The large amount of ground ginger added plus the grated ginger makes this gingerbread the perfect amount of spicy. If a gingerbread isn't spicy then I don't want it! I also liked how this recipe uses vegetable oil inside the batter which makes for a perfectly moist cake.
The recipe begins with boiling the stout (to reduce some of the alcohol) and adding the baking soda to the warmed beer. This ensures that some of the acid is neutralized before even baking. This allows the baking powder to work better and help with the rise. The other wet ingredients which includes eggs, molasses, and oil are stirred into the dry ingredients. Within the dry ingredients you find cinnamon, pepper, ginger, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Once thoroughly mixed, it goes into a preheated oven for about 45 minutes! Enjoy the smells of Christmas flowing out of your oven during this time.
Overall, this gingerbread is a winner. My husband and I devoured it with large glasses of milk. I highly recommend if you love your gingerbread to pack a punch!
See you all tomorrow. Happy Baking!
December 14, 2020 by Laura Bullock