Sunday, April 3, 2011

One Last Gingerbread

It snowed again. I couldn't believe that one. I had to go digging in the back of the coat closet to find my Sorrel boots and ski gloves so that I could go outside and shovel. I swear to God I've shoveled enough snow this winter to cover a small state, like Rhode Island or West Virginia. So you can imagine my frustrated surprise and smoldering anger as I banged around the basement trying to remember where I had put the snow shovels. Of course I've already planted the peas and fava beans, which should both be fine. But the patch of spring mesclun mix that's just beginning to germinate-is that going to make it? I'm about to fly into a gardener's rage. Are gardeners supposed to fly into rages? I'll wind up in gardener's anger management:

"My name is Michael and I began yelling at the garden in 2011. No, wait–it was 2010 with the Japanese garden beetles and the cut-worms. Or was it 2009 and the lead-contamination in the soil?" Then an elderly lady in a wide-brimmed straw hat and canvas tool-apron leans over and gives me a long, firm hug of support.

If it's going to keep snowing then I'm making gingerbread and that's all there is to it. I've got all these apples left over from a photo shoot, so it's going to be an apple-ginger bread. Try and stop me.

Apple-Ginger Bread
adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 pounds (about 4) apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter @ room temperature
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon micro-planed fresh ginger
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup molasses
4 large eggs

In a medium saucepan, combine the 1/3 cup sugar, lemon juice and apple chunks and cook over medium heat until the apples break down (5-10 minutes). Cover and continue to cook another 5 to 10 minutes until the whole thing looks like applesauce. Let cool.

Preheat the oven to 350˚

Butter 2 loaf pans and line with parchment paper.

Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and all the dry spices.

Into a small bowl, combine the milk, vanilla.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, 1 3/4 cups sugar, molasses and fresh ginger on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk mixture; beat until just combined after each addition, being careful not to overmix. Add the applesauce and mix to combine again.

Divide the batter between the two loaf pans and bake until a skewer or cake tester comes out clean - approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes and then run a knife around the edges and invert the pans to release the loafs. Let the loafs cool completely before slicing (if you can wait).