Cookery Rhymes: Smiling Girls Rosy Boys


(Yes, those are gingerbread zombies attacking a garden gnome circa 150,000,000 BC)
Smiling girls, rosy boys,
Come and buy my little toys;
Monkeys made of gingerbread,
And sugar horses painted red.

Ginger bread its precise origin is unknown, although it is clear that ginger itself originates in Asia and was brought back during the crusades to Europe. Beyond the baking activity of gingerbread, when kids graduate from playing with blocks they can step up and become beginning architects. Gingerbread is a sweet food-product flavored with ginger and typically using honey or molasses (treacle) rather than just sugar and a great building material for an afternoon of construction. The Roman architect Vitruvius in his treatise on architecture, De Architectura, asserted that there were three principles of good architecture, lessons he most likely learned from his parents during family activities.
Firmatis (Durability) – It should stand up robustly and remain in good condition.
Utilitas (Utility) – It should be useful and function well for the people using it.
Venustatis (Beauty) – It should delight people and raise their spirits.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup dark molasses
2 large eggs, at room temperature

1. Cream the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in molasses until well combined then add eggs.
2. Combine flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, allspice, and cloves in a large bowl. In a separate medium bowl, stir together buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Add half buttermilk mixture and once batter is smooth add another third flour mixture. Add remaining buttermilk and mix until incorporated. Add remaining flour mixture, and beat until incorporated and smooth.
3. Heat oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in middle. Coat a 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan with butter, dust with flour, and tap out excess. Pour into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and cake is pulling away from sides of pan, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Creaming, in baking, is the technique of blending ingredients usually granulated sugar together with a solid fat like shortening or butter.

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