This is the first gingerbread I ever made, and still the best I’ve had. It’s rich and spicy and soft and moist, with the unusual touch of a bit of streusel on top (which takes no extra effort, as it’s just a bit of the dry ingredients before the wet are added). Gingerbread is one of my favorite winter desserts; its spicy, homey richness is just the thing on a chilly day.
This version stays good for at least a week, and in fact gets moister with time. I often serve it with ice cream, and in the photo I have gilded the lily further with a simple butterscotch sauce (for the recipe, see Smitten Kitchen).
Like so many of my old favorite recipes, this one is from Crescent Dragonwagon – in this case, The Dairy Hollow House Cookbook. I so wish I had been able to visit Dragonwagon’s Dairy Hollow House bed and breakfast before it closed years ago!
I have changed the directions slightly over the years, and the optional candied ginger is my addition.
1.5 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, cold
1-2 tablespoons candied ginger, chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 scant teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons molasses
1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease (or spray with Pam) an 8-inch round or square baking pan.
Combine flour, sugar, ground ginger, and cinnamon in a food processor bowl, if available, or a large bowl. Add the butter, cut into four pieces. Pulse with the metal blade or use two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients. You want the largest pieces of butter to be about the size of a pea.
If using food processor, place flour mixture in large bowl. Measure out 1/4 cup to use as streusel and set aside.
Stir baking soda and salt into buttermilk; add molasses and egg and stir well. Pour into dry ingredients and stir together just until thoroughly combined. Pour into prepared baking pan; top with the set-aside streusel mixture. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. (The streusel mixture will have moved into the center; that’s fine.)
Serve warm or at room temperature, with ice cream, whipped cream, or plain. For a really elegant yet unintimidating dessert, serve in wide bowls accompanied by Butterscotch Baked Pears.