Embrace winter vibes with this fragrant, Whole Grain Orange Gingerbread Loaf and pair it with an Orange Manhattan to toast the season of new goals and fresh starts.
My fresh Passion Planner arrived in the mail- so many blank pages waiting for goal setting, to-do lists, “not to-do” lists, and reflections. I watched a video on Bullet Journaling, so the bullets, X’s, *’s, O’s and <>’s are flowing! In the words of the Rustbelt Farmer, I “better have a productive year!”
Revisiting the start of 2017, my past Passion Planner was a flurry of goals and big ambitions. There was an overwhelming drive to jetpack work and life and launch, but the busy roadmaps belie a discontentment. At the start of 2018, I spent my routine time looking back. I reviewed the year, to better appreciate the highs, understand the lows and reiterate my overall good fortune and privilege.
I waxed nostalgic, but I concluded feeling less pressure to have all my visions mapped out before January fades. This subdued feeling may be in part because I feel a stronger need to care for myself, both physically and mentally. I’m allowing the year to unfold a bit more organically and to submit to hibernation while I can.
There’s so much in store for 2018, so many loose ends and longterm goals finally tying neatly into something substantial. I just want to enjoy this journey, to raise a glass and take in the smells that waft from a warm oven. This Gingerbread Loaf is a bit of both!
This Gingerbread Loaf lands somewhere between a cake and a breakfast treat. It’s wintry and comforting, with a pick-me-up burst of citrus from the glaze. It pairs well with a Manhattan, but I also include directions for adding that Manhattan to the Gingerbread Loaf (poke-cake style). The cocktail flavoring is subtle, but adds a little something to make each bite a little more worth savoring.
… and it’s made with whole grain goodness (obviously)!
Here’s to the comforting winter treats and the mellower times of year.
Whole Grain Orange Gingerbread Loaf
About this Recipe: Either pair this Gingerbread Loaf with a Manhattan cocktail, or throw the cocktail in the loaf poke-cake style (optional). The loaf can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Loaf can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
Yield: 1 loaf
2 cups organic sprouted spelt flour (such as One Degree Organic Foods)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3/4 cup unsulphured or dark molasses
3/4 cup hot water (about 100°F)
1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon fresh grated orange (~ 1 organic orange)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup packed coconut sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature (free-range/organic)
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Optional Manhattan* Poke Cake Method
2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce sweet vermouth
2 to 3 dashes Angostura Bitters or Wigle’s Pomander Orange Bitters
*Note: These are also the ratios to yield one cocktail.
1 cup organic powdered sugar
3 to 4 Tablespoons orange juice (no pulp)
Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan or line with parchment. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper together until combined. Set aside.
In a separate bowl or dish, whisk the molasses, hot water, ginger and orange zest together.
In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute.
Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 1 minute until creamed together. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
On medium-high speed, beat in the egg and vanilla extract until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed.
With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the hot water/molasses and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Avoid over mixing. Batter will be thin. Whisk out any big lumps.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Top with chopped walnuts.
Bake for around 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
For the Poke Cake Method
Mix the bourbon, vermouth and bitters in a graduated measuring cup. Immediately after removing the loaf from the oven, poke the surface several times with a cake tester or toothpick. Pour the bourbon mixture over the surface.
Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely before removing loaf.
For the Glaze
Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice together. Drizzle over cooled loaf.