I am woefully behind on the blogging, and I’m afraid I still don’t have the time or energy right now to do this anywhere near as well as I’d like to, but something is better than nothing, right? Anyway, in a (probably futile) attempt to catch up, here is the Sunday project from two weeks ago: Honey Gingerbread, served with a compote of apples and quinces and topped with a generous dollop of sweetened mascarpone. While I love ordinary gingerbread, using honey instead of molasses gentles the cake, letting the spices warm and soothe you instead of being overwhelming, and serving it with the sweet fruit and the creamy cheese turns a humble snack cake into an unpretentious but still elegant dessert that could unapologetically round out a fancy meal.
Since the accompaniments are so simple (just add quinces to your favorite applesauce recipe, and stir a spoonful or two of sugar into a container of mascarpone), I will only give the recipe for the gingerbread. I will, however, encourage you to consider serving it with the garnishes, since the combination of textures and flavors is fabulous. If you don’t have access to quinces, you could use a combination of tart and sweet apples instead, but quinces add such a wonderful, exotic floral note to any fruit dessert that they are absolutely worth paying the extortionate prices whenever you can find them.
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 cups honey
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, spices and salt.
In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt together the butter, sugar, and honey. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly, then mix in the milk, eggs and dissolved baking soda.
Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into the pan and bake until firm but springy when touched, 45-60 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in the pan before cutting into squares.
Notes: This gingerbread, like any gingery, cinnamony cake or cookie, will only improve if you give it a bit of time to sit. While it’s wonderful fresh from the oven, it will be even spicier and more flavorful for breakfast the next day.