Sunday, October 14, 2007
does gingerbread need molasses?
So, why the confusion? There's a fascinating history of gingerbread here. Essentially, gingerbread in its many iterations from flat and crispy to cakey and soft, has been baked in Europe for centuries. When immigrants arrived in America they brought their recipes with them, but adapted them to local ingredients. Since sugar was rare and expensive in the early colonies, cooks substituted other sweeteners. In Northern New England, it was made with maple syrup as sweetener, and in the south with sorghum molasses. For some reason, those southern cooks seem to have been more convincing than the Vermonters, and molasses as a component of gingerbread stuck.
The interesting thing about this is the freedom it gives you to experiment. Try brown sugar, or honey, or if you are feeling flush, maple syrup. Ironic that what was once an inexpensive substitute for sugar is now the exact opposite.
I think tomorrow I will try making it more gingery - maybe some fresh ginger grated in, and maybe some crystallized ginger too. and a new bottle of ground ginger to replace the antique from the box where the baking goods are STILL stored.
*translation - the one without molasses