There are certain things in life that occur time and again that, try as I might, I simply cannot brook. The partial list alone, which really does shame me, includes: aggressive gum-chewing, wet towels on the bathroom floor (which oddly does not annoy me quite as much as mismatched socks found under various pieces of furniture, which I think underscores my flexibility) and people who bring store-bought baked goods to an event when the note sent home from whatever person is torturing you with this request for treats specifically stated that such goods will be offered for sale.
Miss a parent teacher conference, fail to comb your hair, don’t mow the lawn, fall asleep at your desk during an important Senate floor speech or lay five purses across the movie seats to save them even though you know perfectly well only four friends are coming. But please do not re-sell an Entenmann's donut at the bake sale.
When the instructions call for “something healthy,” as it did for a recent sale for the school 5K, may I suggest Ginger Molasses Pumpkin Bread, which mixes up right quick and is a very big notch above your average pumpkin bread.
I chose this recipe because I assume people might like a hearty slice of bread after a run, rather than a chocolate chip cookie, though I make no health claims about either item relative to the other. What makes this bread special is the ginger kick you get from the mix of fresh and powdered ginger.
The mixing is quite straightforward -- you will note that this is all done easily by hand and that your bowl of wet ingredients will smell vaguely of Christmas. Once you add the ginger, that scent will overwhelm everything else in the bowl, and you will start to worry vaguely about people who don’t care for ginger. This will mellow slightly as it bakes.
If you do not have turbinado or another raw sugar, I would not substitute with granulated; just skip that final step. The results of Foxes’s recipe are a hearty, fragrant loaf, with a crust almost like that of a cake donut on the top, and a soft, deeply ginger body.
Now, the baking directions call for 40 minutes, but my bread was plenty soft in the middle after that time; your oven times will vary but be careful because this bread can look deceptively dry on the top while still plenty moist in the middle. In fact, I will tell you that the person who got the very middle slice may have consumed a bit of undercooked batter. I hope they are more tolerant than me. (Or is it I?) I have no tolerance for my own grammar!
2.5 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Butter and flour a 9" x 5" loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and nutmeg.
In another bowl, whisk together the egg, pumpkin, brown sugar, butter, vegetable oil, molasses, and buttermilk until well combined.
Add the fresh ginger and vanilla extract to the wet ingredients and mix well.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined (do not overmix).
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
In a small bowl, mix the turbinado sugar with the remaining teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the batter.
Bake 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let the bread cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.