Saturday, November 07, 2009

Time for a Little Holiday Baking

This gingerbread is absolutely scrumptious in any season, but to me, it definitely tastes like autumn!

It's from the book With a Measure of Grace: the Stories and Recipes of a Small Town Restaurant, by Blake Spalding and Jennifer Castle. They own a Buddhist-based restaurant, Hell's Backbone Grill in Boulder, Utah.

All of the recipes look wonderful (even the pork recipes, which, coming from me, is really saying something!), but the gingerbread is one I keep coming back to.

Dark Magic Gingerbread

3 cups white flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tsp ground ginger
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp Chimayo chili
1-1/2 sticks butter
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups dark molasses
1-1/4 cups boiling water
1/2 cup diced pear
1 tbsp chopped crystallized ginger

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13" baking pan

2. Stir or sift well together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices.

3. In a large bowl, beat butter until it's creamy. Gradually add eggs and sugar and beat with an electric mixer on high until batter is light in color and texture, about 2-3 minutes. Slowly beat in the molasses.

4. Add flour mixture and stir with a spoon until it's just combined. You don't want to overmix this cake.

5. Stir in boiling water slowly, mixing well, then add the diced pears and crystallized ginger.

6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed on top.

Butterscotch Sauce

1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract or Scotch whiskey

1. Combine butter, water and corn syrup in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over medium hear, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the butter is melted.

2. Add sugar and stir until it's really dissolved--completely smooth and no linger making gritty scraping sounds.

3. Increase heat and boil without stirring until the mixture starts to brown around the edges. Start stirring as this point, and continue to stir as it thickens and turns a darker brown.

4. When it just barely begins to smoke, remove from heat and pour in cream (be careful here, because it can sputter and get kind of wild). Stir until it's completely dissolved. If it's stubborn and won't melt, place briefly over low heat and stir the lumps out.

5. Add salt and vanilla or Scotch and stir well.

The sauce will keep for up to a month in the refrigerator and is great to have on hand. It can be reheated in the microwaver or a double boiler. (Also very good on vanilla ice cream!)

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