April 12, 2013 by epaduani
When I first bought Beard on Bread and started to look through the many different recipes, I was surprised to see one for Gingerbread. I had always thought of gingerbread as a cookie, or maybe a cake, but never as a bread, even though it has bread in its name. Apparently I’m not alone in my thinking as Jim felt the need to begin this recipe by saying “Many people consider gingerbread to be a cake, but it was originally meant to be a bread served at lunch or dinner with sweet butter.” I looked up gingerbread on Wikipedia, and though I didn’t find any reference to it originally being served as a bread at lunch or dinner I did learn that it is over 1,000 years old. Gingerbread was first brought to Europe by an Armenian monk named Gregory of Nicopolis in 992 AD. If it is still around today, it must be good.
Gingerbread [6 good servings]
1 cup light or dark molasses
1/2 cup boiling water
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
Like all of the baking powder and soda breads, the prep time for this bread would be minimal so I started by preheating my oven to 375°. I made the batter by pouring the molasses (I used dark molasses) into a large mixing bowl and then adding the boiling water and butter. I had softened the butter for a few seconds in the microwave so that it would more easily melt in the molasses/boiling water mixture, but just to be safe I stirred it up really good for over a minute. Then I added the salt, ground ginger, and baking soda and stirred the batter lightly. Then I stirred in the 2 cups of flour “to moisten and mix the ingredients.”
Now that I had my completed batter I poured it into my square baking pan that I use for brownies (Jim said to use a 9 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan but I didn’t get out a ruler to check the dimensions of my pan). Though he didn’t mention buttering or flouring the pan, I still gave it a little spritz of cooking spray just to be on the safe side. I put the pan in the oven and set the timer for 25 minutes.
Jim said to cook it for “25 to 35 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed lightly and the bread pulls away from the sides of the pan.” Since the top didn’t spring back when I pressed on it at the 25 minute mark I put the pan back in the oven for another 5 minutes. Even after those 5 additional minutes I still wasn’t happy with the springiness of the top so I put it back in the over to let it go for the full 35 minutes. When the buzzer went off at 35 minutes I checked the springiness of the top and was content. I took the pan from the oven, removed the gingerbread from the pan and placed it on a cutting board to cool for a few minutes.
Considering that Jim said that he felt this bread was “best served slightly warm with plenty of butter”, I let the bread cool for maybe 10 minutes before finally slicing into it. The bread had a beautiful deep brown color from the molasses and you could smell the ginger coming from it. I took a bite and could immediately taste the ginger, though it wasn’t overpowering. The bottom of the gingerbread was probably perfect at the 30 minute mark, but it wasn’t burnt or hard. It sort of created a firm platform to hold it all together. I buttered the next slice that I cut and, no surprise, it tasted even better. For a 1,021 year old treat, it sure tasted good for its age. Maybe the new pope will make Gregory of Nicopolis into St. Gregory the Baker one day soon.