Gingerbread and Morroco

One wouldn’t associate Gingerbread and Morocco – then again, one need not.

I spent last weekend working on two recipes from the Baking with Julia cookbook – Moroccan bread and Gingerbread baby cakes.

Let’s start with the Gingerbread baby cake. The Gingerbread baby cake, shown on the left, was baked in small 4″ diameter cake pans – it was simply heavenly! I am sure some of my friends can attest to this as well.

The only challenge I encountered with the recipe was regarding the use of expresso powder. Originally I purchased French Roast Expresso coffee beans and then had them ground to a fine powder for the recipe. But when I was rereading the recipe before starting the project, I realized that the expresso powder would not work – the powder would not dissolve and would probably taste like sand in the cake. So I had to go out and purchase some of the ‘instant’ expresso or dark roast coffee powders and use that instead.

The recipe made 8 little cake rounds. The inside of the cake was moist, dense and flavorful. The combination of real ginger, ground ginger and pepper really gave it a punch, which was softened by the dense cake consistency.

I served the cake with grappa-infused whipped cream & marscapone topped with sweetened glazed lemon rind. The only other challenge was trying to determine what drink suits this dessert the best. Possibly port?

The second cooking adventure for the weekend included a taste of Morocco. The Moroccan bread looks similar to Indian Naan or Tandoori Naan or Pita bread, although it has a very different flavor and consistency. The Moroccan bread is made with a sourdough and barley flour – which almost gives a beer-like scent as it is being made and baked. It was also molto delicioso! The bread making was a two day project, as the sponge (starter dough) is started with yeast and flour. Then after allowing the dough to ferment or sour for a day, it is combined with barley flour and allowed to rise for several hours.

The actual kneading process is much simpler than some other breads. The preparation of the dough and actual toasting of it is simple – it isn’t baked, it’s actually toasted in a skillet and then finished under the broiler. The bread tasted best fresh out of the oven. It also tasted better if the dough was rolled out to a 1/4″ thick round and no thinner.

I served it with some kheema (a flavorful indian meat dish similar in consistency to sloppy joe meat that is traditionally made with minced lamb but can be made with minced turkey and contains other spices, peas, onions, etc).

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