I think it’s taken me this long to try out this recipe (from Back to Basics) for two reasons. First, the raisins. Second, it’s kind of a Christmas-y recipe, and I’m usually so excited to get to our standard Christmas favorites and try a few new ones that it gets overlooked. And like a sad Christmas tree that’s losing its needles, for some reason, gingerbread loses its appeal by the time Epiphany rolls around. But this year, I decided that ginger has its place beyond the 12 days of Christmas. Santa brought me some lovely ginger-scented bath items in my stocking this year, and the scent is just seems fresh and clean to me. The crystalized ginger and orange zest in this recipe give it a brightness that counteract the heaviness of the molasses. And, I eliminated the raisins. Because, well, raisins.
The recipe itself, with its strong dose of molasses, reminded me a little bit of Indian pudding, a New England dessert featured in this NPR piece. (“We like people to try it and eat it, because most of the people like it,” says Wayside innkeeper Steve Pickford. “It’s sweet, it’s sugary, it’s good. But, it looks like crap.” For some reason, that line still makes me giggle out loud. I need to get out more.)
A side benefit of this recipe is that it’s egg-free. Five years ago, I might not have noticed this, but we’ve become hyper-aware of our friends’ allergies, especially in our kids’ classes. I think the molasses and the sour cream work as binding agents, so the eggs aren’t missed.
Here’s the finished product.
You can see it on one of my favorite features of our new kitchen, which is a butcher-block island in the center of the room. Not only does it provide extra storage and counter space, but it’s super-easy to clean, and it’s safe to set down really hot dishes there, straight out of the oven or off of the stove. I love it more than I thought I would.
And as long as I’m gushing about the kitchen, can I show you my spice cabinet?
It’s a door above and to the right of the range/oven, and when you open the door, you can slide out the narrow shelves of spices. There’s a little lip in front of and at the very end of each shelf, so the spices don’t fall off. My husband was the first one to notice it during one of our walk-throughs, and it’s one of the little details that makes me smile. And I know that we’re really settled in this house because I could find the molasses and crystallized ginger for this recipe without tearing the whole house apart.
The gingerbread was a hit, and oddly enough, didn’t feel too Christmas-y for January. It was easy enough to throw together with things from the cabinets, and it’s a nice size (8×8) for a tea or dessert party.