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Calling All Gingerbread Detectives — Post-Christmas Update


I just sent my boyfriend off to work with two giant foil-wrapped pieces of fresh gingerbread cake. How lucky is he to be the significant other of the obsessed baker-blogger? It’s day three of the search for perfect gingerbread and even though there’s still work to do to find the one true recipe, it sure was nice to have a plate of fresh gingerbread with warm lemon sauce for Christmas dinner dessert, whatever its shortcomings. You’d think I’d get tired of baking and tasting the stuff but I still can’t get enough. Good thing I’m on the stationary bike every day. Update: We have tried four recipes so far and procured the chefs’ molasses of choice, Steen’s Pure Cane Syrup, plus several jars of different types of molasses found at most supermarkets, among them “Grandma’s Original” and “Plantation Blackstrap.” We’ve also been out there on the ‘net looking around, and were not surprised to find that this holdiay gingerbread obsession is shared by a lot of us food bloggers. And we are happy to announce that we have a contender! The promising recipe, found by my sister, Janet, as I mentioned in my previous post, is pictured on the left: Edna Lewis’ Dark Molasses Gingerbread, adapted from The Gift of Southern Cooking, by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock (Random House, 2003.) On the right is a very good, well-spiced but lighter version from Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen by the late Laurie Colwin (Harper Perennial, 2000.). So what do we do now? 

We take Edna’s recipe, which has the moist, dark, intensity of the Mennonite recipe we love but lacks its generous spices, and add more spice in the proportions found in one of the first recipes we found, “Grandmom Lindner’s Favorite Gingerbread Cake” (which can be found in our first post calling for all gingerbread detectives.) We’ll also try a different molasses in Edna’s recipe since she specifies only that the molasses be “dark” and does not clarify whether that means “regular,” “robust,” or “blackstrap.” The proportion we used of 1 cup Steen’s (which is a delicious sweet syrup by the way somewhere between dark corn syrup and regular molasses) and 1/2 cup blackstrap gave us the desired color and texture but left a more bitter aftertaste than desired. We’re hoping that 1 cup of “Grandma’s regular” and 1/2 cup Steen’s might do the trick. Stay tuned! When we find it, the ultimate gingerbread recipe will be posted in a new One Badass Cookie column soon. And if you’re reading this and you’ve got a tip or recipe for us to help us on our way, use the comments link above to let us know.

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Nancy, I’m not surprised that it came down to these two.  Edna Lewis was such a wonderful cook.  And Laurie Colwin a beautiful writer.  Both were women of great sensitivity.  Can’’t wait to try the final one.

    –  (December 26 2009 at 5:31)

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