A wonderful loaf with three forms of ginger! This one can easily become gluten-free with a 1:1 gluten-free flour blend. Simple to make - no mixer required. Grab a couple bowls, your best whisk, and bake up a little holiday merriment!
Quick deets on this gingerbread recipe
I'm not going to insult your intelligence by explaining the glorious treat that is gingerbread. What I will explain is my friendly advice on how to pack as much beautiful, ginger flavor into your loaf or muffins. How easy it is to make gingerbread minus tons of sugar, and the most important tip to remember when mixing.
The makings of gingerbread spice
Ground ginger is obviously the main spice in any gingerbread recipe. But what I find with many recipes online, is they forget the importance of the supporting actors.
Subtler spices like cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg will get lost if not given a fighting chance. Ginger on its own is simply pungent and lacks nuance, but it truly shines when forced to play nice with others.
Gingerbread ground spice blend
- 2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- About ½ teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom (not traditional, but a delicious addition)
Using this as a base, you can create your own gingerbread spice mix and avoid the fillers found in some brands. The spice is delicious sprinkled on oatmeal, added to pancake batter and even shaken over coffee grinds before brewing for a spiced holiday cuppa.
How to make the ultimate triple-ginger loaf
My favorite way to bake gingerbread is to go all out by using every form of ginger available. Start with a well-balanced spice blend like the above, then up the ante with fresh and crystallized ginger.
Fresh grated ginger. The raw form of ginger can be found in most produce sections, and is ready for action after a quick peel and grate.
Using the edge of a small spoon, scrape away its thin skin. Then grate one to two tablespoons using the small holes of a box grater of microplane. Fresh ginger is best combined with the wet ingredients (it will cause clumping if mixed with the dry ones).
Crystallized (candied) ginger. This intense, chewy candy is a wonderful way to add a sweet surprise to every other bite. If you can't find crystallized ginger at your local grocer, many specialty stores carry it. I like to fold a couple tablespoons into the batter at the end and garnish the top of the loaf.
What not to do when mixing traditional gingerbread (or any quick bread)
The method for any quick bread, this gingerbread included, is the wet-dry mixing technique:
- Whisk the wet.
- Sift the dry.
- Mix together.
Simple, easy and a fun baking project to do with kids. What not to do is to let them go to town with the whisk once the two sets of ingredients are combined. Once the wet and dry ingredients have just come together, stop.
The batter should be fully incorporated, but will have lumps. I've seen recipes that call for whisking quick bread batters "until all the lumps are gone" Please, don't do this.
Why not, you say? Wheat flour contains proteins that form gluten (another protein) when exposed to moisture. Too much friction after that happens will lead to too much gluten. Too much gluten is bad for the light and tender loaf business.
Tips for mixing gluten-free batters
Now for gluten-free quick breads we're flipping to the other side of the coin. These flours need to be mixed very well. No gluten, so no problem.
The resting secret. The real key to a gluten-free loaf that bakes up fluffy and doesn't sink upon cooling is in resting. A half hour spent in the pan before baking allows gluten-free batters to stabilize.
Unlike wheat flour whose proteins form structure-building gluten chains when mixed, gluten-free flours of course don't do this. But allowing starches like rice, corn and sorghum additional time to absorb moisture and gel together, you create a sturdier bake.
Baking + serving any quick bread
The rule of thumb I learned in culinary school and still live by, is when the top springs back when lightly touched, it's done. If you prefer to use the toothpick method, don't wait until it comes out clean to take your gingerbread out of the oven.
Once the crumbs on the toothpick are dry, take it out.
Why? There will always be a little more baking that happens after you remove your loaf from the oven. I find if you bake until the toothpick comes out completely clean, you've dried out the crumb.
What about gluten-free? Same. If you let your batter rest, there is no need to bake your gluten-free breads into oblivion and dry them out.
Cool any quick bread about half of the way in the pan, then use a butter knife to loosen the edges, and carefully turnout. Store any gingerbread bake tightly wrapped at room temperature.
Cutting back on the sugar when baking
For this gingerbread recipe or any quick bread like my banana bread with sour cream, less sugar doesn't have to mean less flavor. In this recipe the molasses adds a subtle, earthy sweetness, and a little bit of brown sugar balances it out.
Craving something sweeter? Use up to three-quarters of a cup of brown, muscovado or granulated sugar to sweeten it more. Bake just the same, until the top springs back when lightly pressed in the center. Then glaze it!
Simple + sweet cinnamon-vanilla glaze
A simple way to decorate a quick loaf is with an easy vanilla or spiced glaze! Whisk apple cider or milk little by little into a cup of sifted powdered sugar until you get a thick but pourable frosting.
Add flavorings like vanilla extract or cinnamon to your liking. Always pour any glaze onto a cooled loaf, and sprinkle the glaze with ground cinnamon or more candied ginger after drizzling.
I like to warm my slice and spread it with a little butter, or take it to the next level with a spiced compound butter. Warming the gingerbread a little allows its amazing aromas to release, and softens it slightly.
That's if there's any leftover from the day I bake it!
Yours in holiday spice,
Loads of wonderful holiday spices, this one that easily becomes gluten free and dairy free. With three forms of ginger, this gingerbread loaf is quick, easy and perfect for the holidays!
- 10 ounces/2 cups all-purpose flour or 10 ounces/2 heaping cups 1:1 gluten-free flour blend like Bob's Red Mill
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 eggs
- ¾ cup apple cider (or not-from-concentrate apple juice)*
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 2 ounces/¼ cup/4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted or avocado oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
- ¼ cup brown sugar, optional (up to ¾ cup sugar if you want it more like a cake)
- 2 tablespoons candied ginger pieces, or candied ginger chopped small
Vanilla-Apple Cider Glaze
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
- 1-2 tablespoons spiced apple cider
- pinch of salt
- vanilla extract
- Grease an 8" or 9" loaf pan*. Preheat oven to 350° F.
- In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (or sift them onto parchment for easy clean up).
- Peel the skin off a small branch of fresh ginger with the edge of a spoon. Grate about two tablespoons worth using a microplane or on the small holes of a box grater.
- In a medium bowl, combine grated ginger with remaining wet ingredients and whisk well.
- Combine wet and dry ingredients in one of the bowls. If baking with all-purpose flour, be careful not to over-mix batter, only mix until just combined. If baking gluten-free, whisk vigorously until the batter is well mixed.
- Pour batter into loaf pan and smooth top with spatula. Sprinkle with small pieces of candied ginger and press them in slightly. If baking gluten-free, let batter rest for 30 minutes before baking.
- Bake for 40 minutes, just until the top springs back when gently pressed, or for gluten-free until a toothpick comes out nearly clean. Cover loosely with foil if loaf begins to brown before done baking.
- Cool in the pan, then turn out onto a plate.
- Store covered tightly at room temperature, or wrap and freeze.
Apple Cider Glaze
Sift confectioner's sugar into a medium bowl. Add one to two tablespoons of spiced apple cider or milk, and whisk until it smooths out. Whisk in vanilla extract and any spices, if using. Drizzle over cooled gingerbread loaf.
If you don't mind dairy, you can use milk in place of the apple cider.
Keywords: gingerbread, gingerbread loaf, gluten-free gingerbread
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