As the holidays are fast approaching it’s time to buckle down, do some editing, and priorities your holiday baking choices. Gingerbread tops my list this year. Gingerbread covers all the bases, it’s easy to make, and who doesn’t have some fond gingerbread memories from holidays past!
Gingerbread’s origins go back to the Roman times and later popularized in Europe by an Armenian monk’s baked gingerbread in France in 922. Spiced ginger loafs and gingerbread men then spread across Europe. Gingerbread’s popularity in North America dates back to the mid 17th century and remains an American holiday favorite to this day.
In the recipe that follows I have upped the ante by using both dry ground ginger and grated fresh ginger along with freshly ground white pepper and the traditional gingerbread spices. This produces a dense, moist, and flavorsome holiday spiced “loaf” that reflects both its past and present and is sure to please one and all!
Needed: a 5 by 10 inch loaf pan, well greased with butter, the bottom of he pan lined with parchment and also greased.
- 3 slices Italian or sourdough bread, crust removed and cut into cubes
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Gingerbread batter :
- 2 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground all spice
- ¾ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 12 tablespoons ( 6 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into cubes
- 1½ cups light brown sugar
- 3 regular eggs
- ½ cup molasses
- 1 cup whole milk
Preheat the oven to 350 f/ 180 c with the baking rack set in the middle position.
For the crumb topping, spread the cubed bread onto a baking sheet and put in the preheated oven and toast until firm with coloring. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Then place the toasted bread in the food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse to a course meal.
Add the ground ginger and sugar and pulse together with the bread crumbs into a fine meal. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and set aside to use later.
In a large bowl combine the flour, ground and grated fresh ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, all spice, white pepper, sea salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Whisk the ingredients until well combined and set aside.
Place the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until the mixture is fluffy, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
Then add the eggs one at a time until they are incorporated into the butter sugar mixture. Reduce the speed to low, add the molasses and mix until combined.
On low speed begin adding the flour mixture in three additions alternately with the milk until the batter is smooth.
Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan and even out the surface. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the surface and transfer to the oven and bake for approximately 55 to 60 minutes, turning the pan from front to back half way through the baking.
Test he loaf by inserting a skewer into the center of the loaf. If it comes out clean the loaf is done. If not, return it to the oven and bake for 10 minute intervals and testing until done.
Transfer the loaf to a cooling rack. When the loaf is cool enough to handle, run a knife around the edges of the pan and invert the loaf onto a sheet of parchment. Promptly turn the loaf upright and cool to room temperature.
The gingerbread is ideally best served warm. Slice the loaf as you would a bread loaf and you are ready to serve.
I like to serve each slice with a schmear of salted caramel sauce (see recipe here) and a dollop of Greek yogurt.
If the gingerbread is cold, slice and plate individual thick slices with a generous schemear of salted caramel and the dollop of Greek yogurt on the side. Pop in the microwave for 20 seconds and voila!
The warm caramel sauce glazing the gingerbread makes an undeniably “guilty pleasure” that is worth every last bite!