The smell of baking gingerbread in the air for many of us elicits feelings of Christmas. Gingerbread, when homemade, is one of the more healthy dessert choices. Ginger is great for digestion, inflammation, has been shown to reduce cancerous cells, and even help with high blood pressure. Cinnamon is great for helping to regulate blood sugar, LDL Cholsterol and contains small amounts of fiber, calcium, iron, and manganese and cloves are good for reducing inflammation, assisting in digestion and even boosting sexual health. What more could you really ask from a cake or cookie?
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup molasses
2-1/2 all purpose flour, coconut or almond flour
1-1/2 tsps baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup hot water
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2.Grease and flour a 9-inch square pan.
3.In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter.
4.Beat in the egg, and mix in the molasses.
5.In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.
6.Blend into the creamed mixture.
7.Stir in the hot water. Pour into the prepared pan.
8.Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
9.Allow to cool in pan before serving.
The History of Gingerbread:
One of the earliest forms of gingerbread can be traced back to ancient Greece and Egypt where it was baked for ceremonial purposes. Gingerbread made an appearance in Europe when 11th-century crusaders brought the spice back from the Middle East for the royal cooks to experiment with.
As ginger and other spices became more affordable gingerbread caught on. The earlier European recipes consisted of ground almonds, stale breadcrumbs, rosewater, sugar and ginger.
The paste was pressed into wooden molds. At the time these were not just regular cakes… They became carved works of art which served as a sort of story board that told the news of the day, bearing the image of new kings, emperors and queens, or religious symbols. The finished cookie might be decorated with edible gold paint (for those who could afford it) or flat white icing to bring out the details carved in.
In the 16th century, the English replaced the breadcrumbs with flour, and added eggs and sweeteners, resulting in a lighter product. The first gingerbread man is credited to Queen Elizabeth I, who impressed visiting dignitaries by presenting them with one baked in their own likeness. Gingerbread tied with ribbon was popular at fairs and, when exchanged, became a token of love. On a more practical note, before refrigeration was invented, crumbled gingerbread was added to recipes to mask the odor of decaying meat because of its fragrant aroma.
So next time you take a bite of this deliciously rich cake, share its history and health benefits with others!
Happy Holidays from all of us here at HCBL