Right now I have some gingerbread in the oven. It’s your grandmother’s recipe. I’m not sure how it will turn out because I used a little too much baking soda. I may have got a little distracted belting out “Maybe This Time” with Liza. Oh, I should mention I considered not using vegetable shortening for a hot second, but then I imagined Grandma Pat running after me with a wooden spoon, threatening me within an inch of my life for not using shortening, particularly Crisco. It was terrifying. Needless to say, I used the Crisco. I think it will pay off.
This effort is not my best. As I mentioned earlier, I was very distracted by my debut in Cabaret, playing one night only at Carolyne’s Kitchen, but on top of that, I don’t actually own an 8×8 pan, which is called for in the recipe. I’m using something that looks like an 8×6, so we’ll see how that turns out. The gingerbread has been baking for about 20 minutes thus far, and it still looks pretty wet in the middle. (The recipe says to bake for 25 minutes.) Now, while we wait for the gingerbread to finish baking, why don’t we all listen to some Liza?
I decided to make gingerbread tonight because yesterday was the epitome of a fall day. The sky was a brooding, steely blue, threatening to rain at every turn, red and yellow leaves decorated the streets and sidewalks, and the air had that telltale crisp chill. Above all, it smelled like fall. Yesterday, I spent the entire workday listening to Nina Simone and drinking copious pots of tea, all while working, of course. Today was beautiful, nearly perfect. The sun was shining, and it was almost warm. Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy, which is perfect for more tea and a deliciously spicy and warm baked good. I am all about preparation.
The gingerbread is out of the oven. It took about 40-45 minutes to bake. Hallelu! I didn’t ruin it! You can’t taste the extra baking soda. The sides aren’t dry.
I have not frosted the whole pan of gingerbread because I firmly believe that everyone has the right to choose how much frosting to put on their baked goods. I am usually not a huge fan of frosting and am often forced to scrape a bunch off, and really that’s just wasteful.
The plan for this gingerbread is to pair with a giant pot of coffee and become breakfast for Ellie and me tomorrow morning. What a charming way to start a dreary day in Upstate.
Dearest Anne, you already know this recipe, but for our potential readers, I post it below as you sent it to me.
“Grandma McLeod’s Gingerbread”
1/4 c. vegetable shortening (and it’d better be Crisco, or Grandma Pat will find you and scold you)
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. baking soda, divided
1/2 c. molasses
1 1/2 c. white flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 c. boiling water
1 large egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 325F.
Cream the shortening by mashing it against the sides of the mixing bowl until creamy.
Add the sugar and beat thoroughly.
Put 1/2 tsp of the baking soda and the molasses in a small bowl and beat until the molasses becomes “light and fluffy”. Then, mix into the shortening/sugar thoroughly.
In a bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, spices and salt; set aside.
Stir together the boiling water and remaining 1/4 tsp baking soda. Gradually add about one third of this mixture to the molasses mixture, then add one third of the dry ingredients. Repeat until you’ve added all of the water and dry ingredients, then add the beaten egg and stir batter thoroughly.
Grease an 8 x 8 baking pan and sprinkle with a bit of flour. Pour batter into the pan.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out cleanly.
THEN EAT THEM.
Kisses and kitten,