Our Spicy Holiday Treats

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MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
With ginger you can make a wide assortment of spicy Christmas holiday treats. 

Recently, MOTHER EARTH NEWS’ staff taste-tested several ginger
recipes for this issue’s Herb Garden column. And after
sampling–or should we say devouring–the holiday
fixings, we couldn’t resist offering instruction for some
additional spice-filled treats, along with the
honors-winning recipe given in “Benefits of Ginger for Cooking and Healing.” So the top four
runners-up are presented here, as well as sourcebook
information and some notes based on our own cooking
experience.

Christmas Gingerbread Loaf

This recipe is adapted from Louis de Gouy’s
The Bread Tray  (Dover
Publications).

Start preparing the fruity-flavored delicacy by sifting
together 4 cups of bread flour, 2 teaspoons of baking soda,
1 1/2 teaspoons of ginger, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 1 1/2
teaspoons of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of cloves, and 1/4
teaspoon of nutmeg. To this dry mixture add 1/4 cup each of
chopped nuts, seedless raisins, and mixed chopped candied
fruit (we also included 2 tablespoons of minced preserved
ginger).

In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup of melted butter or other
shortening (we used vegetable shortening), 1 cup of
buttermilk (our recommendation) or sour milk, 1 cup of
molasses, 1 cup of honey, and 4 whole eggs. Beat the liquid
ingredients until they’re thoroughly blended, then add that
mixture to the dry combination and stir vigorously. Pour
your prepared batter into two generously greased bread pans
(Our chefs dusted the tins with ground ginger first)
and bake the loaves at 350°F for 50 to 55 minutes, or
until the centers are firm. Cool the holiday bread before
slicing, and serve the sections with whipped cream topping.
You can store leftover pieces–if there are any–in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Gingerbread People

The Junior League of Shreveport, Louisiana included this
recipe in its book, Revel, which is available for $11.20
postpaid from Books Unlimited. The transforming touch which
makes this soft cookie so delectable is provided by the
freshly grated orange peel.

Cream 2 sticks of butter or margarine with 1 1/2 cups of
sugar. Then add 1 egg and beat the batter until it’s light
and fluffy. Now, mix in 4 teaspoons of grated fresh orange
peel and 2 tablespoons of dark corn syrup or molasses. In a
separate bowl, combine 3 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of
baking soda, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ginger,
1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of cloves. Add these ingredients to the creamed mixture before blending
everything well.

Chill your prepared dough thoroughly. Then, working with
small amounts at a time (leave the remainder in the
refrigerator until you’re ready to use it), roll it out to
1/4″ thickness on a lightly floured board or pastry cloth
(we found that the latter made it easier to lift the
cookies).

After you cut out your gingerbread figures, place the spicy
desserts an inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and
bake them for 8 to 10 minutes at 375°F. Cool the snacks
for a minute before removing them from the pan. Now, you’re
ready to decorate … and to share. 

Ginger Biscuits

Our next recipe is adapted from Cooking WithSpices and
Herbs
edited by Judith Gaulke (Lane Publishing Co.,
Menlo Park, California). The collection is out of print at
present, but you might find a copy at your bookstore or
public library.

Ginger biscuits proved to be a great favorite with our
workers, even though we had to serve them cold. Hot,
slathered in butter, they’re absolute mouthwatering! We all
agreed that crystallized ginger is the “secret ingredient
that gives these biscuits their wonderful flavor and
texture.

To make the holiday treats yourself, mix together 2 cups of
flour, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt,
and 1/4 cup of sugar (if honey is used as a substitute, add
it to the liquid ingredients). Now, cut 6
tablespoons of solid shortening or butter into this mix
until resembles small peas in size, and stir 1/2 cup (about
3 ounces) of finely chopped crystallized ginger until the
sweet morsels are evenly distributed. Next, beat 2 eggs
lightly in a measuring cup, then add enough milk to
make 1/2 cup of liquid. Pour this into your flour mixture
and blend the combination with a fork.

At this point, you can shape the resulting dough into a
ball and knead it gently four or five times on a lightly
floured board. Then roll or pat it out to about 1/2″
thickness, cut the pastry with a biscuit cutter (or
the rim of a small drinking glass), and arrange the
disks, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between them, on a
greased baking sheet. The recipe will make approximately 15
large or 30 small biscuits

Brush the tops of the pastries lightly with melted butter
or cream, and bake the ginger rounds in a 425°F oven
for about 10 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Serve
them up hot!

Jamaican Gingerbread

This robust loaf is from The Garden Way Bread
Book
by Ellen F. Johnson (available for $9.95
postpaid from Garden Way Publishing Co).

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Sift together 3 cups of
flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of
baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of
allspice. In another–and larger–bowl beat 2
eggs until they’re light in color and slightly thickened.
Add 1/2 cup of melted butter (or part butter and part light
oil which was our preference), 1/2 cup of unsulfured
molasses, and 1 cup of evaporated milk (or you can
use–as we did–a half-and-half blend of milk and
cream).

Beat the liquid ingredients again, then stir in 3
tablespoons of grated fresh ginger root (if that’s
unavailable, 1 tablespoon of ground ginger will do), 1/2
cup of chopped crystallized ginger, and 1 cup of chopped
nuts. Now, fold in the flour mixture–blending it in
with a spatula until it’s just incorporated–and pour the
batter into a large, well-greased loaf pan. (Again, we
pre-dusted our container with ground ginger.) Bake the bread
for 50 minutes or, until its top feels springy and a test
straw in the middle comes out clean.

Let your Jamaican treat rest in the pan about 10 minutes
before removing it to a rack. Finally, serve thin slices
topped with sweet butter, whipped cream, or whipped cream
cheese. Ah … delicious!