I vividly remember when my love affair with gingerbread began. It wasn’t what you think: it had nothing to do with Christmas. Instead it was sometime in the summer, sometime in elementary school. My family was on vacation in D.C. and decided to spend the day at Colonial Williamsburg, a living history museum in Virginia. I was really excited to be there – I’d read a bunch of historical fiction about the Colonial era. As we wandered the grounds, we bought a pack of gingerbread as a snack. One bite of that spicy, cakey treat and I was hooked. These were round, soft cakes with the perfect dose of molasses and the perfect blend of fragrant spices. I’ve been a gingerbread fan ever since.
Back in the Colonial days gingerbread was enjoyed throughout the year, for a variety of occasions. These days, it’s largely associated with winter and Christmas. Come winter molasses goes on sale, and I buy copious amounts. I like to experiment with new takes on gingerbread flavors, from muffins to cake. As many of you prep for this week’s Christmas baking frenzy, I’d like to share some of my favorite molasses-based recipes.
Tartine’s S0ft Glazed Gingerbread: This is my absolute favorite, go-to gingerbread recipe. It’s from a renowned bakery based in San Francisco’s Mission District, but a friend actually sent me the recipe a before I even lived in SF. This is the cookie that comes closest to those first gingerbread cookies back at Williamsburg, too. Cakey, spicy, fragrant. I tend to treat myself to a slice over at Tartine, then bake my own take on it at home, too.
Next on my list: