Cooking with Maine Women Writers: maple gingerbread

Here in Maine, spring is starting to peek shyly around the corner. Snow still lies thick over most of the landscape, but there are spots where bulbs are tentatively poking their heads above ground. As the days begin to warm but the nights are still cool, a delicious time of year arrives – maple syrup season!

At the end of last year, I shared with you some holiday recipes from our collection of cookbooks. Now I’m back to share some delicious maple recipes – lovingly tested by yours truly. The cookbook is Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook that once belonged to A. Carman Clark, whose papers are here at MWWC. This 1959 volume contains almost 400 pages of down to earth, classic recipes, including chapters on Company Specials, Cooking for a Crowd and Homemade Relishes. Showing its farm roots, there are two (yes, two!) dairy chapters – Butter and Cream and Milk and Cheese. The recipes I chose come from the Special Sweetenings chapter in a section titled Sugar Country Treats.

When I went looking for a maple recipe to make and share with you, I had a few basic requirements:

  • It had to be new enough that I could actually make it  – no “add a teacupful of sugar” or “bake in a moderate oven until done.” Cookbooks have gotten more precise over time and though a hundred year old recipe might be tasty, I’m not entirely confident in my ability to recreate it with vague instructions.
  • It couldn’t contain an obscene amount of butter/sugar/eggs/cream/etc. While this maple gingerbread is no health food, it’s not as bad as some recipes I ran across – one contained 11 egg yolks!
  • It had to be relatively simple. As cookbooks have gotten more precise, some recipes have gotten quite complicated. With two small children at home, I wasn’t about to attempt meringue sculptures or frizzle anything or weave pie crusts into elaborate shapes.

What I came up with was this maple gingerbread topped with maple pie topping (whipped cream).

It was a delicious pale gingerbread – lighter than I was used to because of the lack of molasses – and very moist and tender. The maple flavor is almost entirely masked by the ginger but gives the perfect amount of sweetness to the cake. It paired nicely with the slightly sweet, slightly maple-y whipped cream topping. My coworkers can attest to the deliciousness – the batch was gone before day’s end!

Pouring out the delicious maple syrup.

Combining the syrup with sour cream.

The batter! Very lightly colored, and somewhat stiff.

The finished product, fresh from the oven.

My electricity-free whipped cream making method – place the heavy cream in a mason jar and shake until thick and creamy. Add maple syrup and shake some more!

Gingerbread with topping.

Do you have any favorite maple recipes you’d like to share?

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