December. Shop ‘til you drop. Jingle Bells. Santa. Does it get much better than that? For me, seeing my little nieces would make it better, they are much too far away halfway across the world. I know where I want to spend Christmas next year, Springfield Illinois with those two little bundles of joy and mischief. I miss Christmas shopping more than I would have ever imagined. I would take treacherous icy roads in a heartbeat to be headed to the Holidazzle or to be on my way to watch my favorite holiday production that a comedy club called Brave New Workshop in Minneapolis puts on annually. It’s never the same, but always ridiculously funny and current.
December is a magical time, a hectic time, a time for hot cocoa, gingerbread, and snow angels. The more times you can have any of those three things, the more successful your December. Three things those little nieces of mine are going to be doing a lot of with me when I get back to the US of A. We will be heading to Chicago and it will be the perfect (cold) place to get in the mood for the holidays. I already have plans to go ice skating and shopping on the Magnificent Mile to my heart’s content.
Here in Okinawa it’s not as festive as mainland Japan, and mainland is still far behind the US in terms of Christmas celebration. The one thing we get here that provides a little holiday mood is Starbucks gingerbread lattes. Christmas is never ever the same without those in my corner of the world.
Today’s post is trying to answer the question: What would you get if gingerbread and bran muffins had an illegitimate child?!? That’s what I wondered as I ate an apple bran muffin some time ago. The molasses in the muffins faintly reminded me of gingerbread. I thought perhaps some way we could make gingerbread more healthy, more breakfast friendly. When you eat it you can’t expect a traditional piece of gingerbread, it’s a little more dense than gingerbread cake, more of a gingerbread bar. Neither is it exactly like a bran muffin – spicier, more molasses-y, made for the holidays.
- 1 cup water
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
- 1 ¼ cup wheat bran or finely processed All Bran***measured after processing ***
- 1 cup dried cherries (optional)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons ground ginger
- 2 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- ⅔ cup dark brown sugar
- 1 cup molasses (regular not robust or blackstrap)
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 egg whites
- Heat oven to 350F and line 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, bring water to a boil. Add baking soda which will cause a foam. Turn off heat and let stand for 5-10 minutes until it has cooled somewhat. Whisk in olive oil, dark brown sugar, applesauce, and molasses. Set aside if still warm to cool another 10 minutes before adding egg whites and stirring to combine.
- Meanwhile, sift together whole wheat flour, bran, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Stir in dried cherries.
- Add molasses mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined.
- Pour batter into prepared pan, bake for 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Cut around the edges, invert onto rack then again onto serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar and serve. Top with whipped cream if desired.