STRANGERS AMONG US
Let me first start off by saying "Howdy" to all you Swap Bot people and that I am SOOO sorry you got partnered with me! I don't have a follow button (I don't know what that is) and I'm not artsy at all. I can't make cute envelopes or bottlecaps with pictures in them. I just know how to cook. So if you like food, some sarcasm, and an occasional laugh or two, then you can follow along. (I understand if you're just doing this to boost up your ratings too. I don't blame you.) But feel free to contribute your comments if you'd like and welcome to my time-consuming hobby for 2010.
For all of my friends and family who've been reading along since the beginning, I will let you in on a little secret "guilty-pleasure" I sometimes indulge in. It's called swap-bot.com (the hyphen is needed). It is a great place to "swap" things with people. I've done two so far. Recipes and blogs. But the things you can swap run the gambit of homemade stuff to store bought stuff (or technical things like e-mails and blog sites).
I will warn you though that you should not get over-zealous and join a bunch of them right away. This site (and the people you deal with) will rate you as you go. If you don't complete a swap..that's very bad!! You will get a bad rating that people will check out. If you do a half-hearted swap, people will call you out on it and rate you as such. So my suggestion is to start off with one swap at a time to get the feeling of how they work. (That's why I started off with the recipe one over e-mail). It is a lot of fun! Plus, you get to deal with people from different parts of the country (even different parts of the world). So go, all my crafty friends, and check it out. I think you'll like it.
Okay, I knew this day was going to come. Having had a Bon Appetit magazine subscription, I knew that some of their recipes use ingredients that even I have a hard time finding! Case in point = the ginger preserves for this recipe. They even give a brand name, "Robertson's". Okay. I checked 2 major grocery stores and 2 not so major grocery stores. NO LUCK! So, what does a resourceful chef do? He makes his own! I found a bottle of quince jam and heated it up with about 2 Tablespoons of chopped fresh ginger, then cooled it off in the fridge. Tastes like ginger preserves to me.
I don't know if it was me not reading the recipe fully or just being lazy, but I had to substitute some ingredients I didn't have in the house. I just didn't want to go to the grocery store AGAIN!
Self rising flour: You can make your own self-rising flour (if you don't want to go buy an entire bag for just one recipe). Here's how. Makes 1 cup "self-rising flour":
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Mix well before adding to recipe
Pumpkin Pie Spice: Makes about 1 Tablespoon
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
3/8 tsp (almost 1/2 tsp) ground allspice
3/8 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of clove (optional) too much clove can overpower everything! use sparingly
Light Molasses = Honey
I only had dark molasses and it would have overpowered the recipe, so instead I used honey. (Because I threw away all the corn syrup and will never use corn syrup again! Corn syrup is bad...real bad!!)
Brown Sugar: (Had)
Anjou Pears: $1.48
Quince Preserves: $2.49
Self-Rising Flour: (Made/Had)
Pumpkin Pie Spice: (Made/Had)
Fast: No. It took a while since it's a cake. Baking was about an hour and prep was about 25 minutes (It'll take you about the same amount of time even if you have all of the real ingredients).
Easy: No. I base this solely on the ginger preserves. They are hard to find, but necessary for the recipe. If you don't add it, your cake batter will be messed up. I suppose you could substitute some other flavor, but since this is suppose to be "gingerbread" you need the ginger flavor.
Fresh: Surprisingly, yes. I can really taste the fresh ginger flavor and the pears. This cake is uber sweet! (Lots of sugar in it..sorry diabetics). Slightly undersweetened whipped cream goes great with this cake as it will cut the sweetness and balance out the tang of the ginger.
Overall: This is a keeper recipe. I definitely will stick to the honey as it plays well with the other flavors of the cake. I think molasses would be too "in your face". I will still search for ginger preserves for the rest of the year, but in the meantime stick to my creative substitution.
Tomorrow is Tip Day! And welcome again Swap-botters!