Recipes so good it oughta' be a sin!


Friday, January 17, 2014

Springerle Cookies

I'm still on the German kick with some delightful Springerle cookies. These anise flavored shortbread cookies are a German staple for holidays. They have a wonderful simplicity that actually takes a good bit of time to achieve.

The key to Springerle is the Springerle Rolling Pin or molds. The designs on the cookies are imprinted using these devices. For my cookies I used a fairly inexpensive rolling pin available at Amazon. Obviously, it's not the best out there but it gave me a good idea of what can be done with this traditional baking method. I'll be investing in some more intricate and pricey versions in the future!

The biggest difference between Springerle and regular shortbread is the drying process. The cookies must dry on the pans for 12-24 hours before being baked at a low temperature. This drying and low temp baking preserve the designs in the cookies. I used a pizza cutter to cut apart my cookies, but for a really nice edge you can choose to use a pastry wheel and get a beautiful scalloped edge.

Anise is the preferred traditional flavoring but you can substitute just about anything. I think vanilla or lemon would be wonderful too! Grab yourself a Springerle rolling pin or mold and give these guys a try!


Springerle Cookies


A traditional German cookie with beautiful designs and a light anise flavor.

Ingredients
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. anise extract (or 1/2 tsp. anise oil)
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
Cooking Directions
  1. Line cookie sheets (non insulated) or half sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs on high speed until they are light in color and form a ribbon that slowly disappears when the paddle is lifted. Add sugar, butter, and baking powder; beat at high speed for 15 minutes, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in anise oil or extract. Gradually beat in flour until well mixed.
  3. Lightly flour your springerle rolling pin; set aside.
  4. On a lightly floured board, knead the dough a few time. The dough will be sticky so knead in just enough flour to make it manageable. Using a standard rolling Pin, roll into a rectangle about 1/2-inch thick. Make sure you don't roll the dough too thinly because it will get another roll with the springerle pin.
  5. Using your floured springerle rolling pin, roll slowly and firmly over the previously rolled dough to make a clear design.
  6. Using a sharp knife, cut cookies apart and trim off outside edges. Place cookies on your prepared cookie sheets.
  7. Roll out scraps of dough and repeat. Be sure to flour the rolling pin and board before each pressing.
  8. Place cookies on prepared cookie sheets. Let cookies stand, uncovered, 12-24 hours to dry.
  9. Preheat oven to 325°. Place oven rack in middle of oven.
  10. Bake one sheet at a time only. Bake 10 minutes until slightly golden on bottoms, but white on top.
  11. Remove from oven and transfer cookies to wire cooling rack to cool. Let cookies stand 8-12 hours to completely dry before storing.
  12. Store cookies in airtight container with a piece of bread so that they don't become rock hard. In 4-8 days they will be perfect for eating as the flavor develops and permeates the cookies.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Butterkuchen (Butter Cake)

Ich koche eine Butterkuchen in meiner K├╝che.

Yes, that's German. It means: I am cooking a butter cake in my kitchen. A few months ago Michael and I started using a little online app for learning German. That's his heritage (Koch means Cook) and he also loves singing German lieder. So, it was natural for him to learn. I decided to join in so we could share learning the language.

For Christmas I got him Rosetta Stone German and we've been having fun really working our way through. Since we've been doing so much German lately, I figured I would try some German sweets. So far, I've done two. The first is the Butter Cake which is traditionally served with morning coffee or afternoon tea. It's sweet, but not too sweet and uses yeast for its lift. When I do this again, I will probably depart from tradition and utilize a large springform pan to give it something to cling to when rising. The traditional method, given here, uses a simple jelly roll pan which doesn't provide anything for the dough to grab onto when rising.

Regardless, this is a delicious sweet!


Butterkuchen

Ingredients
  • 4 1/2 cups Unbleached Flour, divided
  • 1 package Rapid Rise Yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk, lukewarm
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, divided and softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
Cooking Directions
  1. Spray a jelly roll pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, add 7 Tbs. butter and 3/4 cup sugar and beat until combined. Add egg, milk, yeast, salt and 4 cups flour. Switch to dough hook and beat on low speed until dough comes together and forms smooth ball. Add a bit more flour if necessary.
  3. Allow dough to rest for 30 minutes covered, then form into a ball and transfer to a greased bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375°.
  5. Lightly flour a board or countertop and roll the dough to about 1/2 inch thickness. Transfer to the prepared jelly roll pan. Let dough rest for another 15 minutes.
  6. In the meantime, combine 1/2 cup sugar. When dough has rested, dimple the dough with your hands or back of a wooden spoon. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar mixture.
  7. Cut 9 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and spread across the dough and cinnamon sugar. Place pan in oven and bake for 25 minutes until the topping has caramelized. If necessary turn on the broiler for last 2 minutes and watch closely to caramelize the sugar topping.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cut the cake with a pizza cutter or large knife into squares.
Prep time: 75 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 100 minutes
Yield: 20 pieces
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

If you're a regular visitor you know that in addition to baking one of my passions in life is dog rescue. Recently, we decided to start our own rescue group dedicated to helping people keep their pets in their homes and when that is not possible finding homes for those animals without the need to go to an animal shelter first.

It's a noble goal and it turns out some other folks had been thinking along those lines. I had a chance to have over Marcie Velan from No Kill Pima County over for coffee to talk about their efforts to save the lives of dogs and cats and how our groups can work together toward that goal.

For our coffee klatch I decided to make us something decadent to enjoy while we talked about such serious issues: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake. Now, my previous cheesecake experiences have turned out less than stellar. They've all been good but the presentation was not always what I wanted - cracked tops, crusts that fell apart, etc.

This cheesecake turned out to be easy to make and nearly foolproof. I've also learned a few tricks since my last cheesecake adventure. First, I actually bake them a little lower than called for in the recipe. Second, I dispensed with the traditional "water bath" which always seemed to make matters worse instead of better. This time, my crust was perfect and the cheesecake beautiful!

If you're cheesecake shy, give this one a try! You'll be glad you did.



Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake



A decadent chocolate and peanut butter cheesecake that is amazingly easy to make!

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups Chocolate graham crackers, finely crushed
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 8oz. packages Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 cup smooth Peanut Butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tbs. milk
  • 1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. espresso powder
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 300°. In a medium bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar. Press into a 9-inch spring form pan and 1 inch up the sides and set aside.
  2. In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, 1 package of the cream cheese until smooth. Add the peanut butter and beat until well combined. Fold in 1 lightly beaten egg. Set aside mixture.
  3. In a small sauce pan, heat the chocolate chips over low heat until melted. Add the milk, vanilla and espresso powder and stir until smooth. Cut the remaining cream cheese into cube and stir into the chocolate mixture until smooth.
  4. Pour half of the chocolate mixture over the prepared crust. Spoon the peanut butter mixture over the chocolate and very carefully spread to edges. Pour remaining chocolate over peanut butter.
  5. Place spring form pan on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes or just until set. The edges will look slightly risen and dry while the center remains darker and shakes just slightly when the pan is moved.
  6. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 15 minutes. Using a small sharp knife, loosen the edges of the crust from the pan. Allow to cool another 15 minutes then remove the sides of the spring form pan. Allow cheesecake to cool completely then cover and chill at least 4 hours. Remove from refrigerator 15 minutes before serving.
  7. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts or drizzle with peanut butter ice cream topping.
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 95 minutes
Yield: 16 pieces
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Retro Cinnamon Sugar Coffee Cake

A couple weeks ago I got a Keurig K65 Coffee Maker. Normally, I'm not a big coffee drinker, but in our last six months in South Carolina, Michael and I lived in a very quaint guest house/cabin owned by a friend. We got in the habit of having coffee each morning during that autumn and winter. We really enjoyed that time sitting and sipping coffee each day.

So, when I had a chance to get a new coffee maker, I decided to try out one of these newfangled "single cup" brewers. I have to say I'm hooked. We don't drink coffee by the pots, usually it's a cup and then if we have another it might be hours later. Traditional coffee brewers entail a lot of waste therefore and as you know, I'm loathe to waste food.

I can have a cup in the morning and Michael can have one before work. Then we can share another when he comes home for lunch. No wasted pots of coffee and no horrible pots where I put in too much or too little. Each cup is delicious.

Anyway, enough with the advertisement. Along with the coffee I wanted something sweet. I've been doing really great with my diet and actually am having to remind myself to eat something so I don't shave too many calories during the day. A little calorie splurge on a sweet treat would be good.

I love old cookbooks and old recipes. I began leafing through a vintage cookbook from 1959 entitled The General Foods Kitchens Cookbook. It's a hefty tome full of line drawings and the odd color page. There are lots of little gems in this book, one of which I stumbled upon. The actual title of the recipe is "Novelty Coffee Cake." I don't know exactly what is novel about it, but it is easy to make and mouth wateringly delicious with your morning coffee.

The flavor profile reminds me of that Fair Food favorite, Elephant Ears. Lots of cinnamon and sugar that melt together for a great topping and a vanilla base that is somewhere between a doughnut and a cake. In fact, the batter or dough reminds me of a very sticky bread dough. You don't pour this cake in the pan, you pat it into the pan.

If you need a quick morning treat, this is perfect. About half an hour from start to finish and served warm with a great cup of Joe and a little whipped cream, well let's just say, your day will start off right!



Retro Cinnamon Sugar Coffee Cake


A great morning treat with coffee from the 1950's and reminiscent of a great Fair Food favorite- Elephant Ears!

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbs. milk
  • 2 Tbs. melted butter
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Grease and flour a 9-inch round layer cake pan and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Add egg and beat thoroughly.
  4. Add the flour mixture alternately with the 1/2 cup of milk, beginning and ending with the flour.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared 9-inch cake pan and spread evenly to edges. Using a sharp knife form deep ridges in the batter.
  6. Sprinkle with mixture of 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. Bake for 20 minutes.
  7. Pour the milk and melted butter over the top of the cake and bake for another 10-15 minutes longer until a cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Cut into wedges and serve warm.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Yield: 6 pieces
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Coconut Nougat Bon-Bons

Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. In this case I managed to both win and lose. My intention was to make a Brazilian treat called Cocada. I found a lovely recipe online at Yummly.com. It looked incredibly simple so I set to work.

I gathered all my ingredients and pulled out my trusty medium saucepan. In went the butter, in went the condensed milk, in went the whole milk and coconut. I turned on my stove burner to medium, pulled out my favorite wooden spoon and started stirring. About 3 minutes later I realized I'd forgotten to dump in the sugar. Whoops! Oh well, we weren't that far along what could it hurt? I dumped in my sugar and went back to stirring.

The directions told me that in 5-10 minutes my mixture would thicken and begin to pull away from the sides and bottom of the pan. OK....

Stirring the pot for what seemed forever!
5 minutes. Nothing.

10 minutes. Nothing

15 minutes. Nothing

20 minutes. Nothing

25 minutes. Maybe something? Or am I just wishing and hoping?

30 minutes. OK, I'm pretty sure it's getting thicker.

35 minutes. Bubbly and decidedly thicker. It's beginning to pull away from the bottom like a thick gravy. Is this where I'm supposed to be?

At 35 minutes I'd had enough. Stirring constantly my arm was aching and I was tired of standing. I poured out my mixture on the prepared cookie sheet as directed. It was sort of thick. Maybe it will thicken up more as it sits. Right?

2 hours later. It's sort of like taffy. 24 hours later. Still like taffy. I pull a piece off. Tastes great, but still not a crunchy "coconut bark" in sight. Hmmm....

What to do? Much like my Mama I'm loathe to chunk perfectly good food in the trash. Suddenly, inspiration hit. Why not pull out some melting chocolate and some powdered coconut and make bon-bons (or truffles or whatever you want to call them)? Would it work, though?

A little sprinkle of coconut, a little jelly roll log.

I stuck the nougat/taffy/coconut stuff in the fridge for a couple hours all rolled up in a log. Then I got out a bowl and hit the microwave with my chocolate bits. A minute later I was ready to go. I used a cookie scoop to portion out the nougat then rolled each into a ball by hand. I then dipped them in the chocolate and set them on a cookie sheet lined with non-stick foil to set up. Before each dried I sprinkled them with the powdered coconut.

Know what? They were dang good! Even Michael who doesn't care for coconut said they were great. Take that See's Candies!

So, when life hands you lemons make lemonade and when life hands you nougat instead of Cocada make Bon-Bons!



Coconut Nougat Bon-Bons



Recipe by Buck Bannister adapted from Vanessa Figueiredo
Soft chewy coconut centers enrobed in a decadent blend of dark and milk chocolate.

Ingredients
  • 14 oz. Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 tbs. + extra for work surface butter
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 5 oz. + extra for sprinkling Shredded Coconut
  • 2 cups sugar, sifted
  • 16 oz. dark chocolate melting wafers
  • 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tsp. instant espresso powder or instant coffee crystals
Cooking Directions
  1. Line an even surface with non-stick foil and butter. It may be a baking sheet or a kitchen counter.
  2. Over medium heat, in a medium sized saucepan place the condensed milk, whole milk, butter and coconut. Stir constantly for 3-5 minutes. Add the sugar to the mixture. During this time, keep stirring the mixture.
  3. After 20-35 minutes, the mixture should begin to thicken. When the mixture starts to release from the bottom and from the sides of the saucepan, turn off the heat and spread, evenly, onto the prepared baking sheet/kitchen counter and sprinkle with a little coconut.
  4. Let it cool for 1-2 hours or more. Once it is cooled, it should have a taffy like consistency. (If it is hard, you have successfully made Cocada. Pat yourself on the back and break it into pieces and serve.) Otherwise, roll the nougat up into a roll like a jelly roll, cover with the foil and stick in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. When the nougat has chilled 8-12 hours, take it out of the refrigerator and prepare for the dipping.
  6. Line a baking sheet or flat surface with non-stick foil or wax paper and set aside.
  7. In a small bowl (preferably with steep sides) melt the chocolate and milk chocolate in the microwave. Use 30 second increments and stir between each one until chocolate is smooth. Stir in the espresso powder or coffee crystals.
  8. Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop up some of the nougat. Roll into a ball using your hands. (It will be sticky.) Dip the ball into the chocolate and cover completely. Place the covered piece on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with a little powdered coconut.
  9. Allow all pieces to cool and then store in a cool, dry area for up to 2 weeks.
  10. Note: To make the powdered coconut place shredded coconut in a blender or spice grinder until finely chopped. If you want a crisper coconut you can toast it before grinding.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes
Yield: 30 pieces
Print This Recipe

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Banana and Chocolate Snack Cake

It probably seems like I have abandoned everyone. I assure you that is not the case! For the past few months I have been trying to lose weight and eat a little better. That's sometimes hard to do when I'm baking every day or at least a few times a week.

For that reason, I've cut back on my baking a good bit as I've shifted my "treats" to more fresh ingredients and fruits. The results have been good. I've dropped almost 30 pounds and am feeling better. So, I decided to feature a little recipe that uses one of my favorite fresh fruits, bananas.

While the posts here aren't as frequent, you can always find great recipes, contests and more on the Facebook Page. Be sure to check it out!

This snack cake is really quick and easy. You can have it put together, baked and ready to serve in about 30 minutes. The chocolate and banana together is a delicious combo and adding some hot fudge sauce or caramel to top it off makes this a really nice dessert to share with friends and family. Add a couple banana slices on top or a dollop of cinnamon flavored whipped cream on the side for an even more elegant dress up to this simple cake.




Banana and Chocolate Snack Cake


Quick and easy snack cake made with fresh bananas and chocolate.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup small chocolate chips
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8x8x2-inch baking pan; set pan aside. In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, beating until combined. Beat in egg until well combined. Beat in banana and vanilla until combined. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. (Batter may appear slightly curdled.) Stir in chocolate pieces. Spread in prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 20 minutes. If desired, serve warm with fudge or caramel topping and banana slices. Makes 9 servings.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: 9 pieces
Calories per serving: 232
Fat per serving: 8g
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Friday, May 3, 2013

Pennsylvania Dutch Ginger Snaps

When I was a kid my grandmother used to buy these wonderful gingersnaps at our local grocery store. I have no idea what the brand was but they came in brown bags. They were very crisp and thin with a really big ginger burn.

I've always loved those gingersnaps and wondered how they got that "burn" on the back of the tongue. I've tasted all kinds of ginger and none of it had quite that kick. So, how do you accomplish a real ginger burn in a cookie?

The answer comes in the form of a tip I read long ago by a cookie chef: Cayenne pepper. Add a little cayenne to the mix wakes up the ginger and provides that delectable little gingery burn in the cookies.

I've made this recipe two weeks in a row. On week one I went strictly by the original recipe which is Pennsylvania Dutch. The second week I added the cayenne. The difference is simply amazing. With the cayenne you get a big hit of ginger flavor without "tasting" the cayenne itself.


Pennsylvania Dutch Gingersnaps



A wonderful gingersnap with a bit ginger taste courtesy a secret ingredient!

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup sugar + extra for rolling
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3 Tbsp. unsulphured molasses
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg or cloves
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Cooking Directions
  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and molasses and beat until combined and smooth. Sift together the spices, flour and baking soda and add to wet ingredients. Beat on low speed just until combined. Form into balls (about 1 tablespoon size) and roll in granulated sugar. Place on prepared baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes or just until edges begin to brown. Cool on wire racks.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes
Total time: 17 minutes
Yield: 2 dozen

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Lafayette Gingerbread

Here's a wonderful gingerbread recipe that claims descent from one used by George Washington's mother, Mary. The story goes that when the Marquis de Lafayette visited her after the American Revolution she served this wonderful spiked gingerbread to him, thus the name.

I'm not entirely sure how true that story is. The recipe does align with many traditional gingerbread recipes from the southeast including the use of alcohol and brown sugar. There's an old recipe from Charleston that is quite similar that uses whiskey in place of fortified wine as well as a bit more sugar.

Regardless, it's a delicious recipe. I found that it was one of those that works best having "rested" overnight (or ideally 24 hours). This gives the lovely flavors time to meld and develop fully. Right out of the oven the taste of the wine used in the recipe can be a little strong, however by the next day the flavors are perfect.

You'll find this a moist gingerbread that has a delicate crumb. Be sure that if you use raisins that you flour them first and stir them in by hand. Over mixing the batter will turn out a gingerbread that is tough and too chewy!

The Marquis de Lafayette
The recipe calls for Ruby Port, Madeira or Cream Sherry as the alcohol content. All would be great. I chose a bottle of Madeira I had in my wine rack but I also think using some Grand Marnier could be delightful with the fresh orange zest and juice. Also, I think if you do use the raisins, giving them a soak in your alcohol of choice would make this even better!

Speaking of orange juice. I did something a little different with this recipe. Michael recently had to have a new juicer and decided on the Nutri-Bullet from the TV shows. First of all, it works great and I love that it doesn't take up half my counter space like his old one. Since it was sitting next to the mixer I wondered how it would do "juicing" my orange instead of me standing there squeezing out orange juice. Long story short - worked great. I got a wonderful juice (albeit thicker than hand squeezing) that added an extra pop of flavor to the gingerbread that I don't believe I would have gotten otherwise. So, if you have one, consider peeling your orange and using it instead of doing the juicing by hand.


Lafayette Gingerbread



A delicious gingerbread made with fortified wine and fresh orange juice.
Adapted from: From a Southern Oven by Jean Anderson

Ingredients
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup seedless raisins (optional)
  • 1 Tbs. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground mace
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. fresh grated orange zest
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup unsulphered molasses
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup ruby Port, Madeira, or cream sherry
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tbs. warm water
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and spray a 9x9x2-inch baking pan with non-stick spray and set aside. If you are adding raisins, toss them with 1/4 cup of the flour in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Combine flour with spices and salt in a large bowl and whisk lightly to mix.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together butter, brown sugar and orange zest until light (about 3 minutes). Beat in eggs one at a time and continue beating 2 minutes until light. Add molasses and beat just until combined.
  4. With mixer on low, add milk, then Port, and then orange juice alternately with flour mixture. Begin and end with flour mixture. Dissolve baking soda in warm water and mix into batter. If using raisins, fold into batter with a spatula along with all remaining flour. Be careful not to overmix the batter at this point!
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and use a spatula to spread it evenly. Bake on middle rack of oven about 35-40 minutes or until the gingerbread begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Serve with whipped cream if desired.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

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