09 May 2013

Gingerbread on the Fly

 Every artist is a cannibal
Every poet is a thief
Both kill their inspiration
And sing about the grief

--U2, “The Fly,” from Achtung Baby (1992)

Why am I sharing my signature dish? Why not. It’s carried me through pre-ganism (when I was testing out this vegan thang because I thought it would keep me safe from other issues with food…subject for another post). It’s carried me through breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks as a vegan and likewise when I became gluten-free.

Like U2, it’s been in my life so long that whenever I make it/listen to it, I find something new. Each experience goes deeper. Yes, baked goods are truly that important to me. Particularly as I experiment with GF flour combinations, this bread is my guru in the kitchen. I baked it on the fly on Sunday as I did not expect to be in a situation where I needed dessert. The quick-n-dirty variation is at the end of the main recipe.

Gingerbread (*the* signature dish)

1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pitted dates (use two cups of your favourite dried fruit—my usual combination is 1 cup raisins, 1/2 cup dates, and 1/2 cup prunes, apricots, and/or craisins)
1 cup water
1/2 cup sweetener (maple syrup, agave nectar, organic sugar, raspberry syrup, brown rice syrup, molasses, you get the picture)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly grated if you can get it)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or regular whole wheat or all-purpose flour, any one is fine, if you can eat the glutenz)

GF variations:
1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/2 cup sorghum flour, 1 cup King Arthur Flour GF All-purpose flour (a mix of rice, tapioca, potato, brown rice)


2 cups Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose GF Baking Flour (if you can handle the chickpea-plasticky taste in your baked goods, which I cannot)


1 1/2 cups brown rice flour, 1/2 cup sorghum flour, 2 tablespoons cornstarch (I like this the best)

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (for GF blends)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the dried fruit, sweetener, salt, and spices.  Bring to a boil and cook two minutes or until thick. Remove from heat and let cool and thicken for 15 minutes to overnight. Alternatively, combine the dried fruit, water, sweetener, spices, and salt in a 1-quart glass measuring cup and microwave, covered, for 10 minutes.  Set aside and let cool. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease an 8-inch square pan (or an 8*4-inch loaf pan or 9-inch glass pie plate or 10-inch cast-iron skillet).

In a large bowl, sift then whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and xanthan gum. Add the cool or mostly-cooled fruit mixture and mix well. Watch for dry spots with all types of flour. Transfer to the prepared pan and give the pan a hard tap to settle the stiff batter. Bake for 30 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test. Obviously baking in a loaf pan takes about 10 minutes longer and the bread will be flat on top.

Cool in the pan for fifteen minutes or so. Invert a cooling rack on top of the pan and flip the bread onto the rack. Turn the bread to right-side up and slice when mostly cool.

Sometimes I cook the fruit the night before and bake it in the morning once the fruit has become, for lack of a better word, goopy.  You can use any kind of dried fruit in the recipe, as long as you have about two cups of bite-size pieces.  Sometimes I add nuts and chopped crystallized ginger, too.

Sunday’s quick-and-dirty gingerbread variation, AKA: Gingerless gingerbread for the peregrino

16 ounces raisins
1 cup Simply Organics Raspberry syrup (I chose it because the first ingredient is brown rice syrup and it had xanthan gum, which I didn’t have for the flour mix)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

I followed the usual procedure and baked it for 30 minutes in an olive-oiled cast-iron pan. It worked out well, if a little crumbly.

Bread for the journey.
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