How but in custom and ceremony

Are Innocence and Beauty Born?

—William Butler Yeats



Saturday, December 1, 2012

Quicken the deepening chill of winter with the sweet snap of gingerbread. This dark and densely moist bread has a complex dimension of flavor, with hints of molasses, caramel and even chocolate.

The recipe employs an ancient food preparation technique experiencing a renaissance in health-food circles—soaking grains. Studies have shown that this preparatory soaking neutralizes anti-nutrients, multiplies the amount and availability of enzymes and vitamins (especially B vitamins), and partially breaks down difficult-to-digest proteins (including gluten). You will also find that soaked grains develop a wonderful, complex flavor. Yes, soaking grains does require forethought, but it is a quality worth cultivating in this modern culture of rush.

This gingerbread is sweetened with a “whole sugar” known variably as rapadura, panela, or uncrystallized evaporated cane juice. It is made by pressing the juice from the sugar cane and boiling away the water; there is no further refining, so rapadura retains most of its vitamins, minerals, and trace nutrients. The balancing effect of these nutrients helps to modulate the rise in blood sugar. Rapadura has a delicious toffee flavor because all the molasses is preserved. It is not crystallized, but has a grainy texture. Rapadura is available at many health-food markets.


2 2/3 cup freshly ground whole wheat flour

2 cups buttermilk, kefir or yogurt

3/4 cup butter, softened

3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger

2/3 cup rapadura

1/3 cup blackstrap molasses

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon dried ginger

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

Soak flour with buttermilk, kefir or yoghurt for 12 to 24 hours in a warm place. Cream rapadura with butter, molasses and eggs. Blend in remaining ingredients and blend this mixture with the soaked flour mixture. Pour into a buttered and floured 9-inch by 13-inch pyrex pan. Bake at 350℉ for about an hour. ❖


October 29, 2010      Originally published as “Gingerbread & Switchel” on the blog Cabbages and Kings.

December 1, 2012    Revised and expanded for publication as “Gingerbread” on the blog Linnet on the Leaf.