It’s one of those technically spring-but-feels-like-winter Saturdays when I itch to be outside, but the outside doesn’t seem to want me. A wan light—bright but not quite sun—highlights the starkness of the bare trees. Although a few warm days have melted some of the snow, more than a foot of it remains on much of the landscape, packed hard with a crusty top that tricks you into thinking you can walk on it, until the next step plunges you knee deep. It’s too icy for taking the dogs and going snowshoeing, so I resorted to tromping around the yard, collecting sticks and surveying the broken tree branches that we’ll have to cut down when the snow is finally gone, while throwing balls for Dixie and Mavis. They’re those bright orange Chukka balls—easy to see on the snow unless they sink, which they did today, prolonging the hunt. The happy result: two now-sleeping pups.
I tell myself to embrace this inside time and not to spend it doing chores, but to knit, read, and bake—all of which bring me joy. I’ve realized that knitting, a new-ish pastime, gives me in winter what gardening does in summer: a meditative means of creating something (hopefully) beautiful. And baking is therapeutic at any time of the year.
This recipe is from “Home for the Holidays: Festive Baking with Whole Grains,” by Ken Haedrich. It’s a wonderful book of both sweet and savory recipes, and I’ve made many of them with great success, including for our first-ever blog post, way back in February of 2010. (Cranberry-Cornmeal Soda Bread). Although it has “holiday” in the title, I use this book much of the year, but especially in the fall and winter. With maple sugaring season in full swing, this maple-y, spicy gingerbread is a good way to use up the rest of last year’s syrup before you restock. I love ginger, so the fact that there’s both ground and candied ginger makes me happy.
*Thank you to Victoria Cookware for sending us this fantastic cast iron pan.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2/3 cup molasses
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/3 cup minced candied ginger
- 1 tablespoon sugar