In winter, there’s no happier combination than ginger, molasses and apples.
If you’re trying to avoid tasteless fruits by eating seasonally and locally, you’re probably eating a lot of apples this winter. (My new favorite are Pink Lady apples, which can be found at MOM’s and some grocery stores.)
I get a lot of teasing for my love of molasses-based foods, such as gingerbread, baked beans, brown bread and molasses cookies. To me they are delicious winter fare and the smell of them cooking makes me less grumpy about the never-ending cold weather. After you try this recipe, I hope you’ll feel the same!
Ginger Ginger Gingerbread
1 very large Pink Lady or other crisp apple
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon cardamom
3 cubes crystallized ginger (optional but delicious)
¾ cup Reed’s Original Ginger Ale
1 ½ sticks of butter
¾ cup white sugar
¾ molasses, unsulfured
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9x9 inch square baking pan with cooking spray.
Core your apple and cut into ¼ inch slices. (Because I’m lazy and buy organic, I don’t bother to peel apples, but you can if you prefer.) Place slices in the baking pan and sprinkle the brown sugar over them. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together thoroughly all the dry ingredients and spices. Set aside.
Cut butter into small pieces. Peel the wrapper off the butter, but leave the stick on the wrapper. Cut the stick of butter lengthwise and turn it to the next side and cut it lengthwise again. Keeping all 4 pieces together, cut into thin slices across.
Meanwhile, pour ¾ cup Reed’s Ginger Ale in a 4-cup measure or medium bowl. Heat in microwave until boiling. Remove from heat, add the butter and stir until mostly melted.
Use your garlic press to mash the crystallized ginger cubes into the butter mixture and stir well to incorporate.
Add sugar, molasses and eggs to butter mixture, beating very well after each addition.
Make a well in your dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients and stir. Small lumps are okay, but you do want it well-mixed.
Pour batter over the apples, bake 45 to 55 minutes, or until the gingerbread pulls away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
You can find Reed’s Ginger Ale at Travilah Oak Market. Penzey’s on Rockville Pike or MOM’s Organic Market are the best choices for fresh spices.
Molasses is a byproduct of processing sugar cane into table sugar. “Light,” “mild” and “Barbados” molasses typically refer to molasses from the first boiling of sugar cane. This molasses is sweeter and has a fairly mild taste.
“Dark” molasses is from the second boiling and is just a smidge bitter. “Blackstrap” molasses is from the third boiling and is almost black. Blackstrap contains a significant amount of iron, calcium and other minerals and tastes the most robust. If you’re a first-time user of blackstrap, you might want to use part blackstrap and part honey.