If you live in New York City, you know that one of the bravest things a New Yorker can do is to tackle Trader Joes during the rush hour. And by rush hour, I mean pretty much every weekday after 11 a.m. and weekends (except Friday and Saturday after 9 p.m.). It’s a scary place, that Union Square Trader Joes. Shoppers shoving into you with their carts. People fighting over the last carton of strawberries. Workers trying to explain to people exactly where the line starts. In order to maneuvere what seem like impossibly narrow aisles (it’s really just all the people crowded into them), it’s best to leave your cart in a designated area and make a mad dash for as many items on your list as you can carry, all the while hoping no one’s moved your cart by the time you get back, or mistaken it for their own.
In the midst of the overcrowding and tension that defines the New York TJ’s shopping experience, I’ve considered it a well-deserved reward to round the area of the line where the sample station is, and to help myself to some of the always perfectly-brewed free coffee. This is the moment I’ve been anticipating ever since I shot a “don’t mess with me look” at the person who tried to steal my spot in line; ever since I realized that they were out of the medjool dates again; ever since I walked into this crazy establishment and contemplated walking out a thousand times. Believe me, after this extreme sports-like shopping experience, a Dixie cup full of coffee never sounded so good.
Imagine my disappointment, then, when I endured the Trader Joes rush last week only to find that instead of coffee, there was a dispenser full of CRANBERRY JUICE waiting for me at the sample station. I went through all this for…CRANBERRY JUICE?!?! was my intitial — and I thought very justified — reaction. But then I realized that this was a cranberry cider that had been mulled with cloves and ginger and orange peel and apples. Hmmm…maybe I could come around to this cranberry juice thing after all.
Anyways, long story short, I actually did enjoy the mulled cranberry juice, which became my inspiration for this sweet, tart and spicy gingerbread. It’s all of my favorite flavors of this season (including pumpkin, which adds extra moistness and flavor), and goes really well with a cup of — you guessed it! — coffee.
Gluten-Free Cranberry Gingerbread:
After many attempts at this recipe, I feared that the tension between a bread that doesn’t fall apart and a bread that isn’t overly gummy would come to an impasse. Alas, this final version seemed to find a resolution between the two extremes, though a few tips may help to ensure you don’t end up with a gummy layer at the bottom of your loaf: 1) bake this bread for the full cooking time; even if it seems overly cooked on the outside, it will remain moist on the inside. 2) Try dividing the batter into two separate, smaller loaf pans, and 3) If you can, try baking this bread in a convection oven, which will help the heat to distrubute more evenly (in which case, you may actually need to reduce the baking time).
1 1/2 cups sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch (can substitute potato starch as well)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons flax seed meal
1/4 cup canola or grapeseed oil, plus more for greasing
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon NuNaturals liquid stevia
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup hot water
zest of one orange
1 cup fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, xanthan gum, spices and flax seed meal. Add pumpkin, applesauce, oil, agave, stevia and vanilla extract. Whisk until combined. Fold in hot water and orange zest and mix into batter until it all comes together. Fold in cranberries.
3. Pour batter into a pre-greased 4.5×8.5″ loaf pan. Smooth out the top of the batter with a spatula. Bake in preheated oven for 55-60 minutes, or until a long toothpick comes out clean. Cool in loaf pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then turn out bread onto rack and let cool for another 10-15 minutes before slicing.