It is April in Iowa. That can mean warm spring showers and blooming daffodils. Robins hopping about on the lawn. Well, it is snowing little pellets outside. My daffodils have been beaten into the ground after two days of hard rain, and the robins are all wearing hoodies. It is April in Iowa.
To warm up the day, I made gingerbread. It made the house smell spicy, and dispelled some of the gloom from the weather.
Laurie Colwin was the first person I ever read who was a "food writer." She wrote about her family, and the challenges of cooking for them as a working mother. I admired her because she wrote for Gourmet Magazine, but in an accessible, non-elitist way. In her wonderful collection, More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen, she writes that there are three things you must do to make good gingerbread: use fresh ground ginger, use lots of it, and opt for golden syrup over molasses. I happened to have the ingredients in the house, so I was all set.
- 1/2 cup golden syrup
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 egg
- 4 tablespoons buttermilk
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 heaping teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- pinch of salt
I had the last 1/2 cup of a bottle of Lyle's Golden Syrup in the cupboard left from making Alton Brown's pecan pie last Thanksgiving. (No Karo syrup for Alton, thank you very much!) I melted it together in a pan with the butter. I beat the egg in a small bowl, and added the buttermilk to it. Then I sifted together all the dry ingredients into a large bowl, and added the egg/buttermilk mixture and then the syrup/butter mixture and stirred until combined.
Now at this point the batter looked very light to me. I wanted it to look darker, so I cheated and added a dollop of molasses. To intensify the ginger taste, I also grated in some fresh ginger and added 2 tablespoons of candied ginger that I had on hand. (I love ginger!)
I buttered and floured a 9-inch square baking pan, and put the batter in it. I baked this in a preheated 375 degree oven until a toothpick came out cleanly--about 30 minutes. You will want to test it along the way though, so you don't dry out the gingerbread. Mine got just a little too brown around the edges.
This recipe is easy and doesn't take a lot of time. You could certainly use molasses if you didn't have golden syrup in the house. Colwin says that it is fabulous plain. We ate it warm spread with butter. And then for dessert, I heated up some marmalade and spooned it over the top with a dollop of whipped cream.
It is spring in Iowa, and in my house no one is noticing the snow.