While everyone else goes nuts for pumpkin spice, for me the first day of fall means it’s seasonally appropriate to bust out the molasses. Because gingerbread is everything. But it’s unreasonably disconcerting to make ginger/molasses treats in summer. Maybe I’ll get over that someday… in the meantime, it’s now fall, and I can dig into fall flavors to my heart’s content!
As it happens, I’m moving next month. Or, at least, hitting the road for an indefinite period before relocating to parts unknown. It occurred to me, therefore, that I should start working my way through the pantry instead of acquiring more ingredients to stockpile. So, when I opened my cupboards this week and realized I had the better part of a full bottle of blackstrap molasses hanging out in the corner, I was pretty sure I could figure out something to do with it.
A few years back, I acquired an entire cookbook devoted to gingerbread. You’d think I would have worked my way through this miracle of creation, but I’ve foolishly neglected it in the intervening years. No more!
I found this recipe for gingerbread that specifically called for blackstrap molasses, and I was not disappointed. I was, however, subjected to the same visual bait and switch that I (sadly) have done to you! The recipe in the book called for a 9 x 13 pan, but the pictures were of a loaf of gingerbread. A nice, sturdy loaf.
Naturally, I didn’t trust the discrepancy since the author didn’t forewarn me (like I have done for you, dear reader). So, I made the batter, poured 70% of it into a loaf pan, and then realized I’d made a mistake. There was too much batter for a single loaf and, realistically, probably not quite enough for two full loaves. Thus, I poured the excess batter into a 9 x 9 pan, and pulled that out 15 minutes before the loaf. Both were delicious, though the textures were a bit different.
When I make this again I’ll definitely go for the 9 x 13. The wider, flatter cake turned out fluffier and lighter in a really nice way. The good news is that regardless of pan shape, the batter yields gingerbread that’s rich, delicious, and not too sweet.
This would be even better with some fresh whipped cream, but it’s a lovely on its own. I brought it into my co-working space yesterday, and it vanished along with everyone’s morning coffee. It can masquerade as dessert, but it works well as a morning pastry or afternoon snack that you don’t have to feel too guilty about.
Basically, I’m a big fan.
Blackstrap Molasses Gingerbread (from Great Gingerbread by Sara Perry)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup blackstrap molasses
- 2 large eggs, well beaten
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
Preheat the oven to 350° F and grease a 9 x 13 pan.
In the bowl of a a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with an electric mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy (2-3 minutes). Stir in the molasses until smooth, pausing to scrape down the bottom and sides.
Beat the eggs together in a small bowl (using a fork) until relatively well combined. Then, add the eggs to the mixer and beat until smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom again.
Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves into a medium bowl, then add it to the molasses mixture. Beat on low just until combined.
Measure out the cup of boiling water, then add the baking soda to the measuring cup. It will foam up and do chemically things that are fun. Carefully pour the water into the batter, and mix/beat/stir until well combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. (But check it at 30, ’cause I could be wrong!).
Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes or so before cutting into squares. It’s real nice warm.