Dalai Mama Dishes

by Catherine Newman

Catherine Newman cooks for the family

Dalai Mama Dishes

Catherine Newman cooks for the family

Back to Blog Main Page


Posted November 10, 2008
Find more about cake , dalai mama , gingerbread , quick dessert
0  | 
I found this helpful Thank You! Your vote will be tallied soon!


The photo the unbaked batter submitted to the Dog-Doo Look-Alike contest.

One of the fantastic set of dishes I got at the Salvation Army. Also, gingerbread.

A very pink child enjoying her afterschool snack.

Talk to the hair.

This is just the kind of gingerbread you crave when dinnertime has suddenly become pitch-black and cold, as it now has, and you feel like it's midnight all the time and like you're up in Scotland drinking whiskey from the bottle and waiting for spring. It's big, soft, and comforting, like the down comforter of the cake world, and it fills your house with the spicy, delicious smell of holiday baking, even on a regular old school night. Plus, it will take you no more than 10 minutes to get it into the oven, I promise. Or, as we say to the kids when we are quite sure about something but don't want to get into it later, if there is, say, a surprise hurricane or earthquake, I almost promise.

The recipe is hand-written in my recipe binder, and when I was trying to figure out how properly to credit it, I naturally consulted my mother. "Is this your gingerbread?" I asked, and she said, "Oh, is it this?" and pulled out a recipe card titled "Mummy's Gingerbread" that calls for, among other things, treacle, and the mystifying measurements ½ egg and also 1 gill milk. "I don't think it's that," I said, "seeing as how my gill has been, er, missing since the middle of the nineteenth century." Hmm. "Is it this?" And strangely, there it was-an ancient clipping from the Times, called "Edna's Blueberry Gingerbread." I have never in my life added blueberries (I didn't even write that part when I copied the recipe), but I suppose you could. But then it would go from a big, comforting cake to a more challenging cake studded with hot, puckery berries, which is not what I'm going for at all. Still, if you want to try adding "1 cup blueberries, lightly floured," be my guest.

I was going to make a note here about how this is a great way to get more iron into your diet, what with the legendary iron-containing properties of molasses, but when I looked at my molasses bottle, I noticed that, to achieve your daily requirement, you'd need to swallow 25 tablespoons of it. If you're anemic, try eating the whole pan of gingerbread all by yourself, and let me know if you feel a burst of energy afterwards (I'm being ironic. Ha ha.). But I will tell you that Ben and I were talking over dinner about how your body actually needs small quantities of various metals, which surprised and delighted him. "Wow," he said. "If I died and you melted me down, would there be enough copper in me to make even, like, a tiny, tiny dollhouse spoon?" Kill me.

I like to grate the nutmeg fresh-not because I'm fancy or because I think it makes such a big difference flavorwise, but because it's such a pleasant thing to do, and it's a little job I can give the kids. If you've never tried this, do: it involves buying whole nutmegs and a tiny grater, and it's a small and worthwhile investment.

½ cup sugar
½ cup room-temperature butter
2 eggs
1 cup molasses
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt (I use one scant teaspoon of kosher salt)
¼ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger (the powdered spice)
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons baking soda

Heat the oven to 350, and butter and flour a lasagna-sized (10 by 14 inch) baking pan. Now, in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time, followed by the molasses. Take a moment to stop the mixer and scrape the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure there's no butter hiding out down there. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, spices, and salt (and by "sift together" I mean, of course, whisk together, because I'm lazy like that), then mix them into the batter until they just disappear. Now measure the boiling water (I do this right in the dirty molasses cup), add the baking soda to it, call your kids over to see the amazingly foaming mixture, explain the science of it (each crystal of baking soda actually contains a tiny, burping angel), and beat it gently into the batter, which will now seem incredibly runny, which is fine. Pour it into your prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until the cake is starting to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick comes out clean or with crumbs on it, rather than ooky batter still. Serve with whipped cream, if you like, or plain. Yum.

Get a printable version of this recipe.

Member Comments On...


Back to Main Blog Page
Search Recipes

About Catherine Newman

Catherine Newman is the author of the memoir, Waiting for Birdy: A Year of Frantic Tedium, Neurotic Angst, and the Wild Magic of Growing a Family, available online and in bookstores nationwide.

March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
August 2006
Please log in ...
You must be logged in to use this feature.

Thank You!

Thank you for helping us maintain a friendly, high quality community at Family.com. This comment will be reviewed by a community moderator.

Flag as Not Acceptable?

We review flagged content and enforce our Terms of Use, in which content must never be:

See full Terms of Use.