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(Ginger) Bread & Butter

Posted Jan 15 2011 7:35pm
I told y'all how last weekend I was seized by the impulse to make Katie 's Gingerbread Butter
and that, upon gathering together whatever nuts I could find (and no, that did not include my roommates*), I realized with a shock that I had no molasses!

*Bad joke. Sorry.
I remedied the situation, of course, but what stuck with me was the fact that I had made it through the entire holiday season without making gingerbread or gingersnaps or soft, chewy ginger cookies. [I did make Gingersnap Truffle Balls , but not molasses was required.]

When I was little, one of my favorite desserts was homemade gingerbread topped with lemon sauce (or blueberry sauce...also delicious). Warm, spicy, sweet, and yet savory...it's like a crazy tastebud twister of yum.

So, today, I decided to make gingerbread. Of course, I have a favorite gingerbread recipe that I discovered years ago, of which I vaguely remember eating multiple cake pans (I somehow lacked load pans in college so everything bread or cake-like was made into 9" circles or muffins).

Why I didn't stick with that recipe, I will never know.

[OK, total lie. I do know. It's because I have come to a point where I can NEVER just "follow a recipe." It is like I have some physical malady that requires me to alter and change and play or else I will suffer extreme pain.]

The whole adventure started because we had all of these frozen ripe bananas.
Including one that looked just like a giant vanilla bean. Having once made an incredible banana bread with crystallized ginger as a key component ( Dark Chocolate Ginger Banana Bread ), and having the culinary know-how that bananas and ginger are, in general, always a good match*, I figured, why not just put some mashed banana in the recipe?
*Didn't I also once make a banana soft serve and ginger ale float? Yes, yes I did.

And why only put in white sugar? [Brown sugar and bananas is also always a good idea.] So, into a large bowl, I put butter, sugars, and banana.
As I was measuring out the white, all-purpose flour into a separate bowl, I thought, "Why not keep on healthifying" and threw in some wheat flour. And then, struck by a stroke of maybe-or-maybe-not genius, added some oats as well. [Also lots of spices and some baking powder....even though the original recipe clearly called for baking soda and I consciously used the wrong one.]
My electric hand mixer had fun creaming together the butter, bananas, and sugar. As well as an egg that I borrowed from my roommate. [And by 'borrowed' I mean, 'used in exchange for sharing gingerbread.']
Now, if you don't like molasses, you won't like gingerbread. The original recipe called for an entire cup of the stuff...and in retrospect, I probably would use even MORE next time.
Oh yeah....that's the stuff...
This is the most fun part of the whole recipe, because you get to feel like one of those Moroccan mint tea pourers whose worth is judged based on how far away they can pour from the table and still make it perfectly into the teacup.
This was the first time I tried the no-stick trick (heehee, that rhymes) of spraying the measuring cup with cooking spray before putting in the molasses. And it worked! It came cleanly out! [No scraping with your finger and then putting it in your mouth and realizing that that high of a concentration of molasses, as with vanilla extract, is not always the best plan.]
Blending everything together...well, for the most part. Chunks of banana? Eh. Who cares?
I added the 'dry' ingredients to the 'wet ones'.*

*Also a brand of antibacterial wipes, useful to keep around in classrooms and automobiles worldwide.
And blended well...(then scraped the sides). In the microwave, I zapped 1 cup of water for about 3 1/2 minutes, until it was boiling and bubbly, then poured it into the mixture... ....and stirred it up! Having another favorite recipe that featured boiling water (Cooking Light's Whole Wheat, Oatmeal, and Raisin Muffins ) used to 'pre-cook' the oats slightly before baking, I allowed the batter to sit for about 10 minutes or so.
Well, it might have been 15 in all, because I didn't look at the clock until after I took sufficient photographs. [If you are not photographing, this is the perfect time to check my blog ....or something less fun, like wash some of the dishes you used.]

You can either bake this in a 9" pan, for a thicker bread, or two loaf pans, for a thin one. 35-45 minutes in a 350 degree oven later....SUCCESS!
I like to test with a fork, rather than a toothpick. I feel like the awkward holes in the middle add character....(or I'm just too lazy to search for toothpicks)
You can sprinkle some powdered sugar on it for pretty-fication, if you like.
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Banana Oat Gingerbread
(adapted from allrecipes.com 's " Favorite Old-Fashioned Gingerbread ")

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (or dark brown...whatever)
1/4 cup butter
1 small ripe banana (about 1/2 cup mashed)
1 egg
1 cup molasses
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup hot-to-boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 loaf pans or one 9"-square pan with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, cream together sugars, butter, and banana.
3. Blend in egg and molasses.
4. In a separate bowl, combine flours, oats, baking powder, and spices.
5. Add "dry" ingredients to "wet" ingredients, blending until just incorporated.
6. Pour hot water over batter; stir well. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes.
7. Put batter into pans and cook for 30-45 minutes, until you determine the bread is done...using any method you prefer (toothpick, fork, or chopstick stuck in the middle....guessing....whatever).
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So whatever happened with my desire to make Katie 's Gingerbread Butter ?

Well, obviously that didn't go away. And, despite my thanking her on her blog for providing her exact measurements...well, I went ahead and just made up my own version anyway.

It didn't help that I was working without a whole lot of peanut butter...I only had a little left from my roommate who is in Madagascar, and therefore gives up the right to maintain 'dibs' on her peanut butter. I also had some of my Insta-Mixed-Nut-Butter , made from the CVS can of "fancy mixed nuts," and some random cashews. And then there was the almond butter I brought back from Pennsylvania after winter break. Sadly, not full of honey almond butter, but regular almond butter I stole from my mom's Costo-sized container. [No, I am not above stealing food from my family.] I figured, I was already just going crazy with the butters...I might as well just play around with the whole darn recipe. So...you'll need about 8 tablespoons or so of prepared nut butter (or 6-7 + 2-3 of nuts), plus 1 1/2 tablespoons of molasses and a teaspoon or so of vanilla extract. Also, add a whole lot of cinnamon (a heaping teaspoon), plus 1 teaspoon of ginger, and about 1/2 teaspoon each ground cloves, nutmeg, and allspice. [Feel free to alter as you wish.] Remember, do NOT lick the molasses spoon. This will NOT taste as good as you think. As with other homemade nut butters, it will take quite a while to get creamy...and you might started to get impatient. Try to walk away for awhile, so you don't see the food processor rockin' and rollin' (and maybe even smokin'). Eventually you''ll see the nutty oils come out, and everything will be silky smoooooth. Make sure to scrape the edges so you don't end up with pockets of powder (also known as 'spice').
And also, remind yourself that "Oh yeeeeeah....molasses is really sticky...so this nut butter is probably going to be a little thicker than usual..."
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Gingerbread Nut Butter
(adapted from Katie's Gingerbread Butter )

8 tablespoons nut butter (of your choosing...peanut butter, almond, and cashew are recommended)
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.
2. Devour.
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In all honesty, I ate most of mine straight out of the jar I stored it in. (And I'm already on my second batch...this time made completely with almond butter and still just as delicious.)

But one morning, I mixed my yogurt with both Gingerbread Nut Butter and Spiced Pumpkin 'n Pear Butter ...
It was so good... ....I'm pretty sure it is illegal in 27 states.
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