It's uncharacteristically cold here these days. I'm not quite ready for the chill of winter. This pan of gingerbread filled the house with the scent of warm spices and brightened my mood. It's one of my favorite fall and winter desserts. It's also a recipe from one of my favorite food writers. Laurie Colwin wrote a column many years ago for Gourmet magazine. Hers was the first page I would turn to when the magazine arrived each month. Her food-related stories were funny, down to earth, and entertaining. She felt like a friend as she described the day to day events of her life. She had a daughter whom I determined to be about the same age as mine. I loved how she described the difference in her cooking style after having a child; how her fancy twine for tying up the chicken was being used by her child to form spider webs on the kitchen chairs. Ms. Colwin died suddenly at the age of forty-eight, leaving behind her husband, daughter, and the legacy of her wonderful writing. I treasure the two little books she wrote based on the Gourmet columns: "Home Cooking" and "More Home Cooking". It's nice to read them again, curled up in a comfy chair, with a cup of tea, and a piece of her delicious gingerbread. Although I've added a few additions of my own, the recipe is essentially Ms. Colwin's. So, if your day needs some warmth and spice, give this a try.
(makes one 9-inch square pan)
9 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces Lyle's Golden Syrup (you will need the entire jar)**
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
Mascarpone Whipped Cream, for serving
Pomegranate seeds, chopped candied ginger, or ground cinnamon, for garnish.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Melt the butter with the syrup in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Set aside. Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Stir in the chopped candied ginger. Add the syrup mixture and blend together. Add the egg and milk and whisk together until well mixed. The batter will be thin. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. The edges of the cake will pull away from the pan and the middle should be just set. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out. Portion into generous squares and serve warm, with a heaping spoonful or two of mascarpone whipped cream. Sprinkle over a few pomegranate seeds, some chopped candied ginger, or a light dusting of cinnamon.
(adapted from a recipe in "More Home Cooking" by Laurie Colwin)
**If Lyle's Golden Syrup is not available to you, try substituting 3/4 cup each of light corn syrup and molasses.
Mascarpone Whipped Cream
(makes about 1 cup)
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl until blended and very soft peaks form. Do not over mix. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.