It’s usually only once a year that the houses of varying size and complexity are constructed because there’s great preparation, care, and creative effort involved. But ahh, when they are finished it’s always worth the effort — the detailing, the setting — if only for the aroma and taste — an instantly festive experience. Gingerbread houses, houses covered with a variety of candies and icing, are popular holiday decorations as well as being good to the last bites.
Ginger can be traced back to crusades during the 11th century, when the spice was carried back to Great Britain and European capitols and became a popular ingredient for spiced cake and a crisp flat cookies, and in thick, fragrant bread. Widely available in the 1700s, it wasn’t until the 19th century that gingerbread was modernized. The Grimm brothers, who wrote the German fairy tale about Hansel and Gretel, two children wandering through the woods who discovered a witch’s house made of bread, cake and candies, made gingerbread houses a regular holiday tradition.
With help from the experts at Espresso Love in Edgartown, we offer our readers their recipe for the Espresso Love Gingerbread Bar. It may not be the entire house, but it is a good beginning.
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted before measuring
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon (tsp) baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup hot water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Stir in melted butter, molasses, egg, and buttermilk. Beat in hot water. Pour batter into a generously greased and floured 8-inch square pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until cake springs back when lightly touched with finger.
Coat with powdered sugar and serve with fresh whipped cream.