December 9, 2009


Yesterday I spent the afternoon baking gingerbread. Well, re-baking gingerbread. Last week our cub scout troop made gingerbread in a jar to take home as a Christmas gift. And can I tell you that baking with four boys (and a three year old sister) offered all kinds of hilarity. We learned some valuable lessons, such as what happens if you turn the mixer on to the highest setting while someone is dumping in the flour and what cinnamon tastes like if you eat it on it's own.

After they left I put them in the oven to bake so I could hand them out this week. When I came back to check on them I found the oven off and the cakes half cooked. The power had flickered at some point and the oven had not come back on. So I scooped out the gummy mess, washed the jars and set them aside to make a new batch in time for the next meeting. This was only my second foray into baking in a jar, which I thought was a fun little holiday gift, and my first attempt at baking gingerbread.

I don't actually remember eating real gingerbread as a kid. Cookies, yes, but not the bread. In fact the first time I remember having it was the first Christmas after Will and I were married. We had driven up to Mt. Hood for some snowshoeing around Triangle Lake and were wet, cold and starving when we stopped at a tiny little restaurant called The Soup Spoon. The menu had two or three kinds of soup and gingerbread for dessert. It was warm and gooey and sweet and spicy and perfect after a long day of tromping through the snow.

After that we always tried to go to The Soup Spoon on our frequent treks into the mountains but rarely found it open. And in the year since I'd almost forgotten about gingerbread until I was fiddling around with the whole cake in a jar thing. Now I'm on the hunt for the perfect gingerbread recipe (the one I made with the kids was good, but not very spicy since I didn't think the boys would like that).

As for the Cake in a Jar, they turned out very cute. You can really bake any quick bread or cake recipe (or boxed mix) in a canning jar. In my limited experience, the straight sided style is better since it makes removing the cake easier. Just mix up your batter, grease the jars, fill them half way and bake as directed. If they poof up over the top a little you can ease it back down a bit and use wax paper with the ring instead of the metal lid that comes with the jar. Top them with fabric and ribbon and poof! Insta-gift for coworkers and neighbors.