I felt like making gingerbread the other day. I also needed to do something with half a dozen apples I'd bought the week before. They were on the mealy side, and no one wanted to eat them as they were.
I looked at a couple of cookbooks for inspiration, and after a little thought and a quick check in the pantry, I worked up this recipe. I hope you'll give it a try and let me know what you think. I can tell you this – Alex can't get enough of them.
Here's the ingredient list:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 T sour cream
1 cup boiling water
extra cinnamon and sugar
First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter enough muffin tins to make 28-30 muffins. (I had one pan that made a dozen muffins, two that each made eight, and I used a ramekin for the excess batter. Just in case you're interested.) Alternatively, you can grease a 13 x 9 inch pyrex baking dish.
(And yes, I get sidetracked all the time by interesting picture possibilities…)
Okay, back to the cooking.
Now, the slicing of the apples was kind of an experimental process. I wanted uniform cross-section slices. So I started by slicing off the stem end and the flower end of the first apple so it was a uniform width, cross-wise. Then I peeled the apple, and then I sliced it (cross-wise again) into four relatively-equal-in-width pieces. Like so.
Oh, and see the little star-shaped cookie cutter? I thought it would be prettier to cut out the core with some shape other than a circle. The star was perfect. I'd thought of using a heart, but I didn't have one the right size – they were either too big or too tiny. The star was the perfect size to cut around the seeds.
I also found a round cookie cutter that was just a tiny bit smaller than the bottom of the muffin tin. I trimmed the slices of apple with this cookie cutter so they'd fit. No picture of that for some reason. I must be getting lazy.
Anyway, mix together some sugar and cinnamon – I like about 3/4 of a cup of sugar and a tablespoon of cinnamon, but use whatever ratio you like. Toss that with your apple circles in a bowl.
Get your water boiling now….
You've got your butter and sugars (brown, molasses, maple syrup) combined. Now you need to add the dry mixture and the egg/sour cream mixture, alternating additions – first a third of the dry, then half the wet, a third of dry, the rest of the wet, and the rest of the dry. Mix only until combined; you don't want to overwork the flour as it'll make your gingerbread tough.
Now, if you were just making this in a large baking dish, I'd say pour it in. But with the muffin tins, you need to take a little more care. I used a small ladle. You want the batter to come to about a half inch of the lip of the tin.
Once you've got all the batter distributed, put the muffin pans (or baking dish) in the oven. Bake for about ten minutes, and then rotate the pans and bake for another 5-10 minutes. The gingerbread should be slightly springy to the touch and pulling away a bit from the edges of the pan. If you're using a 13 x 9 inch pan, you'll need to bake for about 30 minutes total, so rotate at about fifteen minutes and start checking at 25 minutes.
Let the muffins cool one minute in the pans, and then invert the pans onto a flat plate or cutting board or whatever works. Let the pans rest, upside down, for a few minutes so that gravity will help you.
I found that when I inverted the pans and slammed them a bit in the process, that helped knock the gingerbread out. If the gingerbread comes out but the apple stays behind, use a thin spatula or a spoon to nudge the apple out and just place it back on the gingerbread where it belongs.
Or you can just eat them slightly warm, without any extras. I don't think you'll be disappointed.