I asked people on Instagram what they're favorite things to do with spicebush (Lindera bezoin) was, and I got a big range of answers. One thing that popped up more than others though, was gingerbread, and, I have to say it's pretty fun.
I do think though, that the flavor of spicebush is much more along the lines of white pepper than allspice, so do keep that in mind when considering if you want to give it a shot. The good news is, spicebush is not quite as strong as something like cinnamon, so it's not going to offend anyone either way.
Know your molasses
Typical American gingerbread typically has a large amount of molasses in it. While I do love that dark, nearly black syrup, the flavor can be strong, and I found in the first and second tries I did with this that the molasses completely overpowers the spicebush. It was still good gingerbread, but it didn't taste like spicebush gingerbread.
It's good to know your molasses varieties here. Blackstrap is crazy strong, and using something like ⅔-1 cup like a lot of recipes call for is way too strong for a cake like this in my opinion.
A better option is using light molasses, sorghum syrup, or barley malt syrup, or, you can do as I do here and use a combination of honey for flavor and a touch of molasses for color. Maple syrup contains more water than all of the aforementioned and should not be used here.
The best gingerbread I can remember having was in a little cafe near San Francisco, and, instead of whipped cream, it was served with pumpkin ice cream. It was delicious. I love the color that orange brings to the plate here, as well as the flavor, so I made a simple pumpkin mousse instead of pumpkin ice cream (too much effort) or whipped cream (too plain). It's optional, but it brings it to another level.
- 1.5 cups cake flour
- 3 cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1.5 teaspoons Baking soda
- 1 tablespoon spicebush
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- ⅔ cup warm water
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- Pinch kosher salt
- ⅔ cup honey or ⅓ honey and ⅓ cup apple sauce
- 2 Tablespoons molasses
- 4 oz cooking oil
- 1 egg
- 1 recipe pumpkin mousse (optional)
- Lightly toasted butternuts and black walnuts, optional
- Preheat and oven to 350F.
- Grind the spices until fine in a spice grinder (including the baking powder to break up any lumps if needed) then mix with the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients except the egg and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- When the mixture has cooled, add the egg and mix in. 30-35 min. Serve warm or gently reheated, garnished with the pumpkin mousse and toasted black walnuts and butternuts, if using.
- 1 can pumpkin
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
- 2 sheets leaf gelatin silver grade
- ½ cup maple sugar or light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons gallium extract or vanilla extract
- Soak the gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes or until softened. Heat the ¼ cup cream and ¼ cup maple or other sugar with the gelatin in a small 1 qt pot and whisk on medium heat until dissolved.
- Add the pumpkin and whisk to combine, heating until hot throughout. Remove the pot to cool to room temperature.
- Mix the cream and remaining maple sugar and whip to soft peaks.
- Fold the mixture into the pumpkin cream mixture thoroughly, then allow to set in the refrigerator overnight or for at least a few hours to allow the gelatin to firm up. Scoop the mousse into a pastry bag with a fluted tip for the best presentation.