- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, plus a little extra for the pan
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (3 to 4 ounces)
- 2/3 cup (packed) brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup molasses
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1. Do the following at least an hour ahead of time: Unwrap the butter, and place it in a large bowl. Use a dinner knife to “chop” it into 1-inch pieces, and let it stand at room temperature to soften.
2. Adjust the rack to center position, and preheat the oven to 350°F (325°F if you’re using a glass pan). Put a little soft butter on a paper towel or a piece of waxed paper (or a butter wrapper) and lightly grease the “floor” and corners of a 9 x 13-inch pan. (No need to grease the sides.)
3. Combine all the dry ingredients except the sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk slowly to blend, and then stir in the grated fresh ginger, whisking until it’s distributed. Set this aside.
4. Crumble the brown sugar into the softened butter from step 1. Use a hand-held electric mixer at high speed (or, if you don’t have one, use a whisk, with enthusiasm) to beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the molasses and the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. (Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl a few times during this process.) Add the vanilla extract, and continue to beat for another minute or two until everything is well combined.
5. Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, slowly whisking just enough to mostly blend. Then pour in approximately 1/3 of the buttermilk, and stir it in. Continue with another 1/3 of the dry mix, and another 1/3 of the buttermilk (dry-wet-dry-wet-dry) until all the ingredients are in the big bowl. Switch to stirring with a spoon as the batter thickens, mix from the bottom of the bowl after each addition–just enough to thoroughly blend without over-mixing. (It’s okay if the finished batter is not 100 percent smooth.)
6. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, taking care to scrape all of it in with a rubber spatula. Then use the spatula to spread the batter into place.
7. Bake in the center of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is springy to the touch, and/or a toothpick inserted all the way into the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the gingerbread to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before cutting into squares and serving. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.
Serve this gingerbread with Sweetly Coated Walnuts (recipe here) and a big spoonful of whipped cream or Greek yogurt–or some vanilla or fruit-flavored frozen yogurt. It’s also delicious with freshly cut fruit in season.