Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Late Taste of Terroir - Gingerbread & Lemon Sauce

Couldn’t let January end without one more recipe.

I baked this to take to a friend recovering from surgery. Served with the Lemon Sauce recipe from my Mom, it is pure comfort food.

The problem was that it smelled so good that Sweetie and I had to have a piece. That was so successful that we shared one more piece. It’s a wonder that any of the gingerbread made it to my friend’s house. I used 2% milk that I soured with some apple cider vinegar for that batch, but then decided to make another batch for the weekend using buttermilk as in the original recipe. Both work just fine. I also added some minced candied ginger for little zaps of pure ginger flavor here and there and took out the vanilla extract. With all of these heavy duty spices, the poor vanilla just gets lost.

Try this warm with warm lemon sauce. You can also make it as orange or vanilla sauce, but I think lemon is the perfect match for the gingerbread.

It is a couple of days late for the event, but the lemon sauce qualifies this post for A Taste of Terroir 2009 event that Anna of Anna’s Cool Finds is doing to highlight local and regional flavors. So sorry I’m too late, Anna.

I made my sauce with the lovely Meyer lemon from a friend’s tree in Healdsburg on the Russian River. It has a milder flavor than Eureka lemons (the ones you usually find in the grocery store) and is slightly less acidic, too. It makes a truly awesome Lemon Sauce.

Doesn't this look yummy?

Spicy Gingerbread
Based on a recipe from Williams-Sonoma Muffins

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (7 ½ oz/235 g)
½ teaspoon bakind soda (bicarbonate of soda)
¼ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons ground ginger (freshly ground is recommended)
1 ¼ teaspoons grounds cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon candied ginger, finely minced
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (4 oz/125 g)
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar, light or dark (3 ½ oz/105 g)
2 large eggs
2/3 cup molasses, light or dark (4 oz/125 g)
2/3 cup buttermilk (5 fl oz/160 ml)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (180 degrees C.) Grease and flour an 8 or 9 inch (20 or 23 cm) square baking pan or dish. If using a glass baking dish, use 325 degrees F (165 C) for oven temperature.

On a sheet of waxed paper, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and cloves.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Beat in the molasses. Add the dry ingredients in 2 increments, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. Beat well until fluffy and smooth yet thick.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake until the top is dry to the touch and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, 35-40 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes.

Serve the gingerbread warm or at room temperature, cut into squares. Can be garnished with whipped cream or lemon sauce or lemon curd.

To make as small cakes, spoon the batter into the cups (or used greased muffin tins) to 2/3 full. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until the toothpick test (above) works. Let cool briefly, then turn out onto a rack to cool. (I flipped mine on a plate so that the top was up.) Once cool, cut into squares.

For a treat, serve with Lemon Sauce.
Nancy’s Lemon Sauce

½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice (I used Meyer, but any lemon juice and zest is fine.
Zest from 1 lemon

In a saucepan, mix the sugar and cornstarch thoroughly. Gradually add the boiling water, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and boil at full boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Add butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and stir until well blended.

Variations: Vanilla Sauce – use 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in place of lemon juice and zest.
Orange Sauce – Use 1 cup orange juice in place of the water. Add zest of 1 orange in place of lemon zest. Omit lemon juice.


  1. Oh, you mock my pain with your photographs of Meyers. Aaaargh!

    This. Looks. So. Tasty.
    I think you were right to remove the vanilla extract. Even pure vanilla seed pith might have been lost; ginger is one tough customer.

    I love buttermilk -- in baking, anyway -- and this sounds like it would be zingy and tasty and fresh. Kudos to you for ending the month on a high note, and am looking forward to February!

  2. Man, does that sound yummy!

    I don't know if T. told you, but you might want to try adding black pepper, as well, because it really just helps out that spiciness. Yum!

  3. wow I wanted to bite into this cake! Yes, it's full of terroir! Thanks for thinking of me!

  4. Yay someone else who thinks lemon goes with gingerbread. I made cupcakes like this once and my friends gave me odd looks - but its delicious. Love the idea of serving it warm.

  5. Tadmack,Come back to CA and have Meyers, do. In the meantime, regular lemons make a lovely sauce, too.

    Davimack, it is yummy.Give it a try. Add the pepper, too. Sounds even better than my version.

    Anna, I thinkof you often!

    Katie, Yes, it seems an odd combination, but it really works to have the gingerbread and lemon together.